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Maria Kennedy

Abstract

This work is a sociological study of Quakers, which investigates the impact that sectarianism has had on identity construction within the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland. The research highlights individual Friends’ complex and hybrid cultural, national and theological identities, mirrored by the Society’s corporate identity. This publication focuses specifically on examples of political and theological hybridity. These hybrid identities resulted in tensions that impact on relationships between Friends and the wider organisation. How Friends negotiate and accommodate these diverse identities is explored. It is argued that Irish Quakers prioritise ‘relational unity’ and have developed a distinctive approach to complex identity management. It is asserted that in the two Irish states, ‘Quaker’ represents a meta-identity, which is counter-cultural in its non-sectarianism, although this is more problematic within the organisation. Furthermore, by modelling an alternative, non-sectarian identity, Quakers in Ireland contribute to building capacity for transformation from oppositional, binary identities to more fluid and inclusive ones.

Thomas M. McCoog S.J.

Abstract

The British Isles and Ireland tested the self-proclaimed adaptability and flexibility of the new Society of Jesus. A mission to Ireland highlighted the complexities and ended in failure in the early 1580s, not to be revived until 1598. The fabled Jesuit mission to England in 1580 conceived in wistful optimism was baptized with blood with the execution of Edmund Campion in 1581 and the consequent political manoeuvres of Robert Persons. The Scottish mission began in December 1581. The three missions remained distinct in the pre-suppression period despite an occasional proposal for integration. The English mission was the largest, the bloodiest, the most controversial, and the only one to progress to full provincial status. The government tried to suppress it; the Benedictines tried to complement it; the vicars apostolic tried to control it; and foreign Jesuits tried to recognize it. Nonetheless, the English province forged a corporate identity that even withstood the suppression.

Agustín Udías

Abstract

After their restoration of 1814, the Jesuits made significant contributions to the natural sciences, especially in the fields of astronomy, meteorology, seismology, terrestrial magnetism, mathematics, and biology. This narrative provides a history of the Jesuit institutions in which these discoveries were made, many of which were established in countries that previously had no scientific institutions whatsoever, thus generating a scientific and educational legacy that endures to this day. The essay also focuses on the teaching and research that took place at Jesuit universities and secondary schools, as well as the order’s creation of a worldwide network of seventy-four astronomical and geophysical observatories where particularly important contributions were made to the fields of terrestrial magnetism, microseisms, tropical hurricanes, and botany.

Alexandre Coello de la Rosa

Abstract

This article deals with the missionary work of the Society of Jesus in today’s Micronesia from the 17th to the 20th century. Although the Jesuit missionaries wanted to reach Japan and other Pacific islands, such as the Palau and Caroline archipelagos, the crown encouraged them to stay in the Marianas until 1769 (when the Society of Jesus was expelled from the Philippines) to evangelize the native Chamorros as well as to reinforce the Spanish presence on the fringes of the Pacific empire. In 1859, a group of Jesuit missionaries returned to the Philippines, but they never officially set foot on the Marianas during the nineteenth century. It was not until the twentieth century that they went back to Micronesia, taking charge of the mission on the Northern Marianas along with the Caroline and Marshall Islands, thus returning to one of the cradles of Jesuit martyrdom in Oceania.

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Richard J. Oosterhoff

Before their ill-fated efforts at Meaux in the 1520s, the circle of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples undertook a programme of ressourcement in patristic and medieval authors. They especially turned to Boethius, last of the ancients and first of the medievals, whose legacy formed the central corpus for medieval learning. Uniquely, Boethius left mathematical books that hinted at theology, and theological books that drew on mathematics – themes picked up by twelfth-century thinkers and Nicholas of Cusa. The possibility that mathematics might bridge the arts and theology fascinated these early French reformers, and they produced important editions of Boethius, the Victorines, and of course Cusanus. Pursuing the thread of the “mathematical Trinity” through some of these commentaries and editions, this chapter explains why this influential circle – like Cusanus – thought mathematics might be an essential tool in the reform of university, monastery, and even the diocese.

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Thomas M. Izbicki and Luke Bancroft

Nicholas of Cusa became known as the Hercules of the Eugenian cause, supporting Eugenius iv against the Council of Basel. Eugenius had at first been closely allied with Rome’s Orsini clan and served mostly by fellow Venetians. By the time he returned to Rome in late-1443 Eugenius had come to welcome into his circle of advisors a broad cohort whose various skills and perspectives proved invaluable in the struggle to win back authority for a papacy that was at one time threatened on all fronts. How did a pope whose early years were characterized by stubbornness and repeated diplomatic blunders win the adherence of men like Cusanus, Juan de Torquemada, or Flavio Biondo? Eugenius discovered during a troubled reign the need to employ men of talent – men such as those named above – rather than just relying on Orsini clients and natives of the Veneto. Eugenius’ work for unity became more important to Cusanus than the reforms the Council of Basel tried to impose. Nor did service to Eugenius prevent him from seeking, often in vain, reform of Church and Curia. Despite occasional gaffes, the pope became able to recognize merit in these men and others who aided his cause, rewarding their service with favour and promotion.

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Gary W. Jenkins

Cusanus’ 1453 treatise De visione Dei, written as an exercise in mystical theology, marks a final stage in Cusanus’ Trinitarian theology, one developed from his initial statements in De docta ignorantia. Far from being based on a mere reworking of Latin Trinitarianism, Cusanus demonstrates a detailed and imaginative theology that is at once Augustinian and Dionysian. Cusanus had been impacted both in his reading of Dionysius and his understanding of God by his time in Constantinople, and this impact can be traced through his works, beginning with De concordantia catholica (written before his embassy to Constantinople and thus forms the baseline for his understanding of the Areopagite) and through such late works as De apice theoriae. This presents a strange legacy for Cusanus in subsequent thought, since most of the Reformers rejected Dionysius’ hierarchical theology, they would blatantly disdain Cusanus’ ecclesiology in De concordantia catholica; and since they held to the medieval inheritance of God as first actus purus they could never extricate themselves from the interminable debates about relationships within the Trinity. they could never extricate themselves from the interminable debates about relationships within the Trinity.

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Simon J.G. Burton, Joshua Hollmann and Eric M. Parker

Nicholas of Cusa is today widely acknowledged as a seminal thinker of modernity. Yet, in the words of Stefan Meier-Oeser, he still remains a “forgotten presence” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here the theme of the entire volume, and especially the multivalent concept of reform employed, will be introduced and placed in relation to the existing scholarship on Cusanus and early modernity. The rationale for the section division into theological, ecclesiological, perspectival and methodological reform will then be explored. The introduction will conclude with a detailed contextual summary of each of the four sections and the papers within them.

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Edited by Simon J.G. Burton, Joshua Hollmann and Eric M. Parker

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Nathan R. Strunk

In the early modern period theologians reformulated the relation of God in the cosmos to accommodate dramatic shifts in understanding the nature of motion and space brought about by the rise of modern science. An instance of such reform can already be found in Nicholas of Cusa (c. 1401–1464), who was one of the first to respond to the collapse of a stable, geocentric universe that had been replaced by an incessantly moving decentered one. In Book ii of De docta ignorantia, Cusa transposes the Platonic notion of anima mundi into a doctrine of divine omnipresence understood as the moving, living interrelationship of all things. Cusa variously defines “world-soul” as life-giving form, a connecting necessity, an animating principle, and a holism holding the world together. With each of these definitions, Cusa upholds that the living dynamism of divine presence in the world remains consistent with a physical universe in unceasing motion. Two hundred years after Cusa, Henry More (1614–1687) likewise sought to rethink the relationship between God and the cosmos by advancing a doctrine of divine omnipresence that he calls the “universal soul of the world” or the “Spirit of nature.” More revises and challenges Descartes’ conception of space (res extensa) in order to counter Hobbes’ closed, mechanical, and materialistic conception of the world. For More, Spirit like space is extended through the whole cosmos as the principle of its motion, form, and inter-connection – a divine extension mediating the living, vital presence of God within the cosmos much as the soul does the body. In their own ways and for different ends, Cusa and More both transpose the Platonic conception of world-soul in order to reformulate cosmologies that can accommodate and respond to changes in understanding the world initiated by early modern science. Whereas some found in science an occasion to separate God from the world, Cusa and More saw an opportunity to re-form the cosmos and thereby reaffirm the divine living, interconnection “holding together the cosmic frame.”