Lutheran Humanists and Greek Antiquity

Melanchthonian Scholarship between Universal History and Pedagogy


The textual monuments of Greco-Roman antiquity, as is well known, were a staple of Europe’s educated classes since the Renaissance. That the Reformation ushered in a new understanding of human fate and history is equally a commonplace of modern scholarship. The present study probes attitudes towards Greek antiquity by of a group of Lutheran humanists. Concentrating on Philipp Melanchthon, several of his colleagues and students, and a broader Melanchthonian milieu, a Lutheran understanding of Pagan and Christian Greek antiquity is traced in its sixteenth century context, positing it within the framework of Protestant universal history, pedagogical concerns, and the newly made acquaintance with Byzantine texts and post-Byzantine Greeks – demonstrating the need to historicize Antiquity itself in Renaissance studies and beyond.
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Biographical Note

Asaph Ben-Tov, Ph.D. (2007) in History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His fields of interest are late humanism in Germany and the role of the Classical tradition and Orientalism in seventeenth and eighteenth century scholarship.

Review Quotes

"The work of Ben-Tov, written in a clear and concise style, is a constructive and stimulating read, not only for the historian of the Modern period, but also for the classicist and the byzantinist."

Luigi Silviano, MEG no. 11, 281-284

Table of contents

Note on names and abbreviations

1 Greek Antiquity in Lutheran Universal History
2 Lutheran Humanists and Byzantium: The Scope of Greek Antiquity
3 Lutheran Humanists on Greek: The History of Greek and Greek in History
4 Some Lutheran Readings of Greek Texts
5 Graecia transvolavit Alpes



All those interested in late humanism, historiography in the Renaissance and Reformation, Melanchthon, history of classical scholarship, Renaissance commentaries, Western attitudes to Byzantium and post-Byzantine Greek.


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