Lay Readings of the Bible in Early Modern Europe


The aim of this collection of essays is to bring together new comparative research studies on the place and role of the Bible in early modern Europe. It focuses on lay readings of the Bible, interrogating established historical, social, and confessional paradigms. It highlights the ongoing process of negotiation between the faithful congregation and ecclesiastical institutions, in both Protestant and Catholic countries. It shows how, even in the latter, where biblical translations were eventually forbidden, the laity drew upon the Bible as a source of ethical, cultural, and spiritual inspiration, contributing to the evolution of central aspects of modernity. Interpreting the Bible could indeed be a means of feeding critical perspectives and independent thought and behavior.

Contributors: Erminia Ardissino, Xavier Bisaro, Élise Boillet, Gordon Campbell, Jean-Pierre Cavaillé, Sabrina Corbellini, François Dupuigrenet Desroussilles, Max Engammare, Wim François, Ignacio J. García Pinilla, Stefano Gattei, Margriet Hoogvliet, Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin, and Concetta Pennuto.

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Erminia Ardissino, Ph.D. (1993), Università di Torino, is professor of Italian Literature at that university. She has published several monographs and many articles and critical editions on Dante, Renaissance, and the Baroque age, including an essay on Galileo’s letters (2010).

Élise Boillet is a CNRS researcher at the Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) of the University of Tours. Her field of research is Italian Renaissance biblical and religious culture and literature. She has published a monograph on Pietro Aretino’s biblical works and provided their critical edition.
This fine collection of essays conveys different perspectives on the relationship of the laity to the Bible throughout the early modern period. […] Sprawling throughout this volume are a number of interconnected issues that make this collection especially useful as a guide to the ways the Bible connected people across Europe.”

Donald K. McKim, Germantown, Tennessee. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 3 (Fall 2021), pp. 1026–1028.

"La ricchezza e varietà di esame da casi singoli a riflessioni più generali rendono il volume molto interessante e promettente di altri sviluppi, grazie all’ottima scelta di temi e alla caratura degli studiosi invitati."

Michaela Valente, Roma, in Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance LXXXIII.2, pp. 367-369

"The richness and variation of the research, from single cases to more general reflections, make this volume very interesting and promising for other developments, due to the excellent choice of themes and the caliber of the invited scholars."

Michaela Valente, Roma, in Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance LXXXIII.2, pp. 367-369
Notes on the Editors
Notes on the Contributors

Lay Readings of the Bible in Early Modern Europe: Introduction
Erminia Ardissino and Élise Boillet

PART 1: The Bible in the European History: a Constant Exposition and an Essential Reference

1 Fides ex auditu: Hearing and Reading the Bible
Gordon Campbell

2 Under the Sign of Jonah: the Bible in Early Modern Europe
François Dupuigrenet Desroussilles

3 Some Irreligious Uses of the Bible in the Early Modern Period
Jean-Pierre Cavaillé

PART 2: To Read or Not to Read the Bible: Instructions and Prohibitions about Lay Readings of the Bible in Early Modern Europe

4 The Debate Surrounding Lay Bible Reading in Spain in the Sixteenth Century
Ignacio J. García Pinilla

5 Lay Debates about the Sacrality of the Bible in Sixteenth-Century Geneva
Max Engammare

6 The Bible and the Early Modern Catholic Tradition: from Rome to the Margins of Europe
Tadhg Ó hAnnracháin

PART 3: Lay Readings of the Bible in Early Modern Europe: a Plurality of Books, Uses, and Interpretations

7 Reading the Gospels in the Life and Passion of Christ in French (ca. 1400–ca. 1550)
Margriet Hoogvliet

8 For Early Modern Printed Biblical Literature in Italian: Lay Authorship and Readership
Élise Boillet

9 Bible Production and Bible Readers in the Age of Confessionalisation: the Case of the Low Countries
Wim François

10 The Other Psalm Singing: Biblical Training in the Catholic Petites Écoles during the Late Renaissance
Xavier Bisaro

PART 4: Lay Readings of the Bible in Early Modern Europe: the Formation of Social and Professional Identities

11 Francisco Vallés’ De Sacra Philosophia: a Medical Reading of the Bible
Concetta Pennuto

12 The Finger and the Tongue of God: Johannes Kepler, Reformation Theology, and the New Astronomy
Stefano Gattei

13 Women Interpreting Genesis in Early Modern Italy: Arguments Supporting Gender Equality
Erminia Ardissino

PART 5: Afterword

14 Afterword: the Bible and the Laity in Long-Term Perspective
Sabrina Corbellini

Index Nominum
All interested in early modern European culture and history, the history of ideas, Renaissance Europe, interpretation of the Bible, printing and readership. Anyone concerned in the role of lay people in religious history. Keywords: Bible, Early Modern Europe, Readership, Interpretation, Lay people, Church History, History of Ideas, Reformation, Counter Reformation.
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