Reading Certainty

Exegesis and Epistemology on the Threshold of Modernity. Essays Honoring the Scholarship of Susan E. Schreiner


Reading Certainty offers incisive historical analysis of the foundational questions of the Christian tradition: how are we to read scripture, and how can we know we are saved? This collection of essays honors the work and thought Susan E. Schreiner by exploring the import of these questions across a wide range of time periods.
With contributions from renowned scholars and from Schreiner’s students from her more than three decades of teaching, each of the contributions highlights the nexus of certainty, perception, authority, and exegesis that has defined her scholarly work. Intellectual historians, early modernists, and scholars of Christianity will all appreciate this testament to Schreiner’s influence.

Contributors include: Vincent Evener, Bruce Gordon, Ralph Keen, Mark Lambert, Kevin J. Madigan, Richard A. Muller, Willemien Otten, Daniel Owings, Elizabeth Palmer, Karen Park, Barbara Pitkin, Ronald K. Rittgers, William Schweiker, Jonathan Strom, and Matthew Vanderpoel.

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Ralph Keen, Ph.D (1990), University of Chicago, is Dean of the Honors College and Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has served as the president of the American Society of Church History and is the author of Exile and Restoration in Jewish Thought (Continuum, 2009)

Daniel Owings is a PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago. His dissertation is entitled Idols, Ideals, and Ideology: The Critique of False Religion in the Sixteenth Century. He was previously editor of Sightings.

Elizabeth Palmer, PhD (2007), University of Chicago, is Senior Editor at The Christian Century, and is the author of Faith in a Hidden God: Luther, Kierkegaard, and the Binding of Isaac (Fortress, 2017). She is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Notes on Contributors

Part 1: Forerunners

1 An Exercise in “Thinking Nature": Eriugena’s Periphyseon against the Background of the History of Exegesis and Patristic Reception
Willemien Otten

2 “Blessed Jerome”: The Protestants and the Vulgate in the Sixteenth Century
Bruce Gordon

3 Waiting for the Miracle: Uncertainty, Superstition, and Trust in Jean Gerson
Matthew Vanderpoel

Part 2: The Reformation

4 Early Modern Protestants and the “Hard Knots” of the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Study of Reformation Certainty
Ronald K. Rittgers

5 Melanchthon and the Utility of the Liberal Arts
Ralph Keen

6 Distinguishing Divine and Human Speech: Idolatry and the Words of Institution in the Eucharistic Debates
Daniel Owings

7 The Reformation of Doubt: Incredulity, Faith, the Body, and the Search for Certitude in Early Lutheran Interpretations of John 20:24–31
Barbara Pitkin

8 A Clearness Uneasily Observed: Leprosy, Perception, and Certitude in Calvin’s A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke
Mark M. Lambert

9 Not without Scripture: William Perkins, the Light of Nature, and Proofs of the Existence of God
Richard A. Muller

10 The Suffering and Death of Christ as Epistemological Framework in Reformation-Era Lutheran Teaching: Martin Luther, Veit Dietrich, and Cyriacus Spangenberg
Vincent Evener

Part 3: Into Modernity

11 Visions and Prophets in Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Germany: The Case of Jacob Fabricius
Jonathan Strom

12 “Much More for Use in This Present Age”: Augustine Baker and Life-Writing at Cambrai Abbey, 1624–1633
Karen E. Park

13 Evidence of Things Unseen: John Wesley’s Heremeneutics of Conscience
William Schweiker

14 The Bible and Evangelical Christianity in Fascist Italy: The Vatican and Polemical and Physical Violence
Kevin Madigan

Afterword: Pages on Life’s Way
Elizabeth Palmer

Intellectual historians, church historians, early modernists, and scholars of religion. Keywords: Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicisim, Reformation, authority, epistemology, certainty, scripture, exegesis, hermeneutics, history of interpretation, anxiety, consolation.
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