Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Wisdom and Folly: Classical Philology and English Literature after the Reformation

Author: David Lyle JEFFREY, Institute for Studies in Religion, Baylor University



European literature of the Renaissance has been typically celebrated for creativity and innovation in its leading authors, writers whose world-view is often imagined to be more decisive a break with the medieval period than their texts, closely studied in context, can warrant. It was not just the new philosophy of this age which shaped the great literary works, but advances in classical philology, not least among the leading religious reformers, such as Erasmus, Luther, Calvin and Beza, all of whom wrote commentaries on ancient Roman texts, and some of whom wrote literary works of enduring value. By employing a combination of historical criticism of the work of leading Reformers with textual analysis of literary works influenced by them, the author tries to show how the Renaissance developed reading and writing practices grounded in biblical hermeneutics—namely the establishing of literary approaches modelled on those developed for texts of the Bible. Although the scope of literary texts which invite analysis of this type is too great for the scope of a single essay, the author hopes that the representative examples cited will justify his contention that classical philology more than academic philosophy provides the foundation for literary work in this period. Accordingly, as is the case in the textual tradition of antiquity, the major topics of intellectual reflection tend to be set forth as something more broadly conceived as a contest between Wisdom and Folly.



wisdom, folly, classical philology, English literature, reformation


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