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The Unfolding of Words

The Unfolding of Words: Commentary in the Age of Erasmus

with the assistance of P.M. Swan
Karen Mak
Nancy Senior
Series: Erasmus Studies
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    The Unfolding of Words
    Book Description:

    The Unfolding of Wordsbrings together international scholarship to explore crucial changes in writers' interactions with religious and classical texts.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9596-2
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Judith Rice Henderson
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxii)

    • ONE Theory and Practices of Commentary in the Renaissance
      (pp. 3-24)

      ‘It is a bigger job,’ writes Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), ‘to interpret the interpretations than to interpret the things, and there are more books about books than about any other subject: we do nothing but write glosses about each other. The world is swarming with commentaries; of authors there is a great scarcity.’¹ A little earlier in the same chapter, entitled ‘On Experience,’ he writes: ‘Who would not say that glosses increase doubts and ignorance, since there is no book to be found, whether human or divine, with which the world busies itself, whose difficulties are cleared up by...


    • TWO Erasmus’s Paraphrases: A ‘New Kind of Commentary’?
      (pp. 27-46)

      Thanks to the parallel efforts of two large collections dedicated to the work of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536) – the annotated critical edition of his texts (ASD) and their translation into English (CWE)¹ – Erasmus’sParaphraseson the New Testament have been the subject of renewed interest in the last few years. This is shown, for example, by the recent publication of two important essay collections dedicated completely or in part to theParaphrasesof Erasmus:Holy Scripture SpeaksandLes paraphrases bibliques aux XVIeet XVIIesiècles.² Preparation of the annotated ASD edition of theParaphraseson Matthew and...

    • EDITOR’S ADDENDUM: Translating an Erasmian Definition of Paraphrase
      (pp. 46-54)

      In his monumental study of Erasmus’s grammatical and rhetorical works, Jacques Chomarat justifies including a chapter on theParaphrases on the New Testamentby citing a definition of ‘paraphrase’ in a letter written by Erasmus on 21 april 1522 to the philosopher and theologian Luis Coronel: ‘Est enim paraphrasis non translatio, sed liberius quoddam commentarii perpetui genus, non commutatis personis’ (Allen, Ep. 1274, lines 38–9). Chomarat goes on to distinguish paraphrases from annotations as types of commentary practised by Erasmus. From Erasmus’s definition of ‘paraphrasis’ in this letter to Coronel, Chomarat then draws three conclusions:


    • THREE The Actor in the Story: Horizons of Interpretation in Erasmus’s Annotations on Luke
      (pp. 55-69)

      Hermeneutical theory since Gadamer has familiarized us with the idea that every act of textual interpretation entails a ‘fusion of horizons,’ an adjustment between the reality projected by a text and that otherwise assumed by the text’s receiver or interpreter.¹ The process in question can seem so transparent, there is often no need for specialized vocabulary to describe it. But some cases are more challenging, and the biblical production of Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) presents one of them. When we attempt to apply this classic hermeneutical model to hisAnnotations on the New Testament,potentially relevant horizons of interpretation proliferate...

    • FOUR The Function of Ambrosiaster in Erasmus’s Annotations on the Epistle to the Galatians
      (pp. 70-85)

      The late fourth-century commentary by the author now known as Ambrosiaster performs an important function in the biblical scholarship of Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536). In producing a new Latin translation of the New Testament, Erasmus often adopts the text of the Latin Bible as it is quoted in Ambrosiaster’s commentary. Erasmus also frequently cites or refers to Ambrosiaster’s commentary in his ownAnnotationson the Pauline Epistles, including the one to the Galatians that is the special focus of this chapter. Second only to Jerome in the number of times that he is mentioned explicitly in theAnnotations, Ambrosiaster clearly...

    • FIVE Erasmus’s Biblical Scholarship in the Toronto Project
      (pp. 86-98)

      Although the biblical scholarship of Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) stretches over the vast terrain of his work, it comes to sharp focus particularly in hisAnnotationsandParaphrases, both of which find a legitimate place within the definition of ‘commentary.’¹ Erasmus’s letters about the process of composition and publication of these commentaries in his lifetime form a fascinating record of the interplay of chance, opportunism, hard work, enthusiastic support, bitter hostility, and amazing success. The enterprise undertaken by the editorial board of the Collected Works of Erasmus and the University of Toronto Press to make Erasmus’s biblical scholarship speak English...


    • SIX ‘Virtual Classroom’: Josse Bade’s Commentaries for the pious reader
      (pp. 101-117)

      In the dedication of his 1492 schoolboy primerSylvae moralesto Jacques and pierre de Semur (Sine Muro), Josse Bade (Jodocus Badius ascensius, 1462–1535) outlined one of the main deficiencies of contemporary education:

      Nevertheless I fear that there will be a lack of those who can understand the written works of learned men because early instruction in letters is so unsuitable. For all the ill-fated schoolmasters [scholastici] take up their learning from theauctores(as they are accustomed to be called) and doubtless are led into the darkness of errors, especially from the commentaries, the purpose of which seems...

    • SEVEN Embedded Commentary in Luther’s Translation of Romans 3
      (pp. 118-139)

      Martin Luther’s translations of the scriptures, the New Testament released in September 1522 (commonly known as theSeptember-testament) and then the complete Bible in 1534, were not the earliest into German, but they were foundational documents of the German Reformation.¹ Their impact also went far beyond the confines of the church. Friedrich Nietzsche declared that this masterpiece of prose by Luther (1483–1546) was the ‘best German book thus far.’² The noted German philologist Adolf Bach claimed that Luther’s translations unified the German language.³ Yet as John L. Flood has recently noted, ‘For all its importance in the History of...

    • EIGHT Commenting on Hatred of Commentaries: Les Censures des Théologiens Revised by Robert Estienne, 1552
      (pp. 140-164)

      Commentary is hard to define as a genrestricto sensu, for it may assume many forms, lengths, and modes.¹ Perhaps its purpose and practice can be defined by its double authorship: it is a writing subsequent to a reading, in other words, the inscription within a text of a second text, which can be an amplification, an explanation, or even a judgment passed on the commented text. Thus, depending on a dual structure (commenting text and commented text), the form of the commentary creates by its very composition a series of binary oppositions, which in turn implies a series of...


    • NINE Rabelais’s Lost Stratagemata (ca. 1539): A Commentary on Frontinus?
      (pp. 167-187)

      Stratagemata, a neo-Latin text by François Rabelais (died 1553) probably published around 1539, is now lost, but this text in praise of Guillaume Du Bellay (1491–1543), seigneur de Langey, is part of the fantasy library of all rabelais specialists, who, without exception, are firmly convinced that some day they will find a copy. They are not alone: the great Canadian author Robertson Davies based the plot of his novelThe Rebel Angels(Toronto: Macmillan, 1981) on a missing manuscript by Rabelais that was supposedly in the collection of the late Francis Cornish, a great bibliophile. But in the minds...

    • TEN Commentaries on Tacitus by Justus Lipsius: Their Editing and Printing History
      (pp. 188-233)

      Justus Lipsius (1547–1606) built his reputation with his annotated editions of two cornerstones of Silver Latinity: Publius Cornelius Tacitus and Lucius Annaeus Seneca. His preference for these authors was undoubtedly encouraged by frequent contact with the French humanist Marc-Antoine Muret (1526–1575) during a two-year sojourn in Rome at the beginning of Lipsius’s career: ‘he arrived in Rome a Ciceronian and departed an admirer of Tacitus and Seneca (though not yet an exclusive one),’ to quote Arnaldo Momigliano.¹ Both Silver Age authors would remain his companions throughout his scholarly life, for he kept studying them, explaining parts of their...

  10. APPENDIX 1: A Survey of Lipsius’s Editions of Tacitus (Text and/or Commentary)
    (pp. 233-234)
    Jeanine De Landtsheer
  11. APPENDIX 2: The Praenomen of Tacitus: Why Lipsius Preferred Caius to Publius
    (pp. 234-235)
    Jeanine De Landtsheer
  12. APPENDIX 3: The Annotations in Leiden UL, 762 B 4 as Source of the Curae secundae
    (pp. 236-239)
    Jeanine De Landtsheer
  13. APPENDIX 4: Lipsius’s Evolving Commentaries: Two Examples in the 1585 Edition, Curae secundae, and 1588 Edition
    (pp. 240-242)
    Jeanine De Landtsheer
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 243-262)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 263-266)
  16. Index
    (pp. 267-278)