Scriptural Authority and Biblical Criticism in the Dutch Golden Age

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Dick van Miert, Henk Nellen, Piet Steenbakkers, Jetze Tourer
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , December
     464 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Eric Carlsson forthcoming.


Scriptural Authority and Biblical Criticism in the Dutch Golden Age explores the hypothesis that in the long seventeenth century humanist-inspired biblical criticism contributed significantly to the decline of ecclesiastical truth claims. Historiography pictures this era as one in which the dominant position of religion and church began to show signs of erosion under the influence of vehement debates on the sacrosanct status of the Bible. Until quite recently, this gradual but decisive shift has been attributed to the rise of the sciences, in particular astronomy and physics. This authoritative volume looks at biblical criticism as an innovative force and as the outcome of developments in philology that had started much earlier than scientific experimentalism or the New Philosophy. Scholars began to situate the Bible in its historical context. The contributors show that even in the hands of pious, orthodox scholars philological research not only failed to solve all the textual problems that had surfaced, but even brought to light countless new incongruities. This supplied those who sought to play down the authority of the Bible with ammunition. The conviction that God's Word had been preserved as a pure and sacred source gave way to an awareness of a complicated transmission in a plurality of divergent, ambiguous, historically determined, and heavily corrupted texts. This shift took place primarily in the Dutch Protestant world of the seventeenth century.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Dirk van Miert is Assistant Professor of Early Modern Cultural History at Utrecht University.

Henk Nellen is Senior Research Member at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences at Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands and Emeritus Professor of the History of Ideas of Early-Modern Times in the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Piet Steenbakkers is Senior Lecturer of the History of Modern Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Utrecht and Emeritus Professor of Spinoza Studies at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

Jetze Touber is Lecturer in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication at the University of Utrecht.

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