The Worlds of Knowledge and the Classical Tradition in the Early Modern Age

Comparative Approaches


Recent research has established the continued importance of engagement with the classical tradition to the formation of scholarly, philosophical, theological, and scientific knowledge well into the eighteenth century. The Worlds of Knowledge and the Classical Tradition in the Early Modern Age is the first attempt to adopt a comparative approach to this phenomenon. An international team of scholars explores the differences and similarities – across time and place – in how the study and use of ancient texts and ideas shaped a wide range of fields: nascent classics, sexuality, chronology, metrology, the study of the soul, medicine, the history of Judaeo-Christian interaction, and biblical criticism. By adopting a comparative approach, this volume brings out some of the most important factors in explaining the contours of early modern intellectual life.

Contributors: Karen Hollewand, Dmitri Levitin, Jan Machielsen, Ian Maclean, C. Philipp E. Nothaft, Cesare Pastorino, Michelle Pfeffer, Jetze Touber, Timothy Twining, and Floris Verhaart.

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Dmitri Levitin is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He works on the history of pre-modern knowledge; his most recent monograph is entitled The Kingdom of Darkness (Cambridge, 2021).

Ian Maclean is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and an honorary Professor of the University of St Andrews. He works on the intellectual traditions of the higher disciplines, and on book history. His most recent monograph is Episodes in the Life of the Early Modern Learned Book (Brill, 2020).
List of Figures

  Dmitri Levitin

Secular Classical Scholarship

1  National Traditions in Scholarship
The French and Dutch Schools of Classical Scholarship at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century
  Floris Verhaart

2 Sex and the Classics
The Approaches of Early Modern Humanists to Ancient Sexuality
  Karen Hollewand

The Arts

3 “Three Days and Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth”
Chronological Debates over the Period of Christ’s Rest in the Tomb in the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
  C. Philipp E. Nothaft

4 The Early Modern Study of Ancient Measures in Comparative Perspective
A Preliminary Investigation
  Cesare Pastorino

5 The Pentateuch and the Immortality of the Soul in England and the Dutch Republic
The Confessionalisation of a Claim
  Michelle Pfeffer


6 Sacred Medicine in Early Modern Europe
  Jetze Touber

7 The Reception of Hippocrates by Physicians at the End of the Seventeenth Century
A Comparative Study
  Ian Maclean


8 What’s in a Name? Essenes, Therapeutae, and Monks in the Christian Imagination, c.1500–1700
  Jan Machielsen

9 Publishing a Prohibited Criticism
Richard Simon, Pierre Bayle, and Erudition in Late Seventeenth-Century Intellectual Culture
  Timothy Twining

10 European Scholarship on the Formation of the New Testament Canon, c.1700
Polemic, Erudition, Emulation
  Dmitri Levitin


Anyone interested in the histories of pre-modern knowledge and classical reception.
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