Ancient Authorities Intertwined

Natural Philosophy, History, and Theology in the Writings of José de Acosta, S.J. (1540–1600)

Clifford Ando, Anne McGinness and Sabine G. MacCormack

The article surveys and interprets the works produced by José de Acosta during his years in the New World and his revisions of, and additions to, those works after his return to Europe. Elucidating Acosta’s engagements with both Scripture and classical literature, the essay urges respect for the various religious, intellectual, and metaphysical commitments that structured Acosta’s arguments. Particular attention is given to Acosta’s wrestling with the limits of ancient geographic knowledge, on the one hand, and to his efforts to understand religion in the New World in light of ancient evidence of knowledge of God before Christianity and patristic essays on the conversion of the ancient Mediterranean.