From Judaism to Calvinism : the life and writings of Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580)
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The existing literature on the sixteenth-century Christian-Hebraist, Immanuel Tremellius, is seriously inadequate. Two very short German biographies did appear in the nineteenth century, but nothing substantial has ever been written about him in English, while he has been almost entirely overlooked in the twentieth century by Reformation scholars from all countries. It is the underlying contention of this thesis, however, that his contribution was far more significant than this lack of attention would suggest. The dissertation begins by constructing as detailed a biography of Tremellius as the surviving sources allow. This then provides the necessary framework against which his contribution to the age may be properly evaluated. In particular, the high regard in which he was held by his contemporaries, his activities as a Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament studies, and his written works, especially his Latin translation of the Bible, generally regarded as the pre-eminent Protestant Latin translation to emerge from the sixteenth century, all highlight the important position which he filled. Expressly because the different elements of his contribution have been overshadowed in recent Reformation scholarship, the experiences of Tremellius have much to tell us about the early modern period as a whole. He highlights the importance of both the Jewish and the Italian contributions to the culture of sixteenth-century Protestantism. In addition, the crucial role attached to the finest biblical scholarship, shown both in the efforts to find suitable teaching positions for Tremellius and the success of his Bible editions forces a re-evaluation of Calvinism as a whole. Confessional polemic was undoubtedly a significant feature of the religious culture of the period, but this was something which Tremellius consciously avoided in all he did. Moreover, despite the prejudices against him both as a Jew and as an Italian, Tremellius, simply through the quality of his scholarship, won the respect of figures as exalted as Calvin himself.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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