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Crofton Black

This is the first full-length study of the Heptaplus, the commentary on the creation narrative of Genesis 1 by the celebrated Italian philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. It focuses on Pico’s theory of allegory. This theory was fundamentally dissimilar to mainstream medieval and Renaissance approaches to biblical interpretation. Rather than use the standard four senses of Scripture, Pico adopted an esoteric hermeneutic stance characteristic of Neoplatonic and kabbalistic exegesis, and developed an allegorical theory based on epistemology and the idea of intellectual ascent. The exploration of this theme makes it possible not only to interpret the Heptaplus in relation to Pico’s other works, but also to assess its role as a response to the contemporary philosophical controversy surrounding the intellect.