Renaissance Humanism And The Justification Of John Oecolampadius: His Teaching On The Doctrine And A Revision Of Mcgrath’s Portrayal Of The Swiss Reformer -- By: Jeff Fisher

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 09:2 (Oct 2011)
Article: Renaissance Humanism And The Justification Of John Oecolampadius: His Teaching On The Doctrine And A Revision Of Mcgrath’s Portrayal Of The Swiss Reformer
Author: Jeff Fisher


Renaissance Humanism And The Justification Of John Oecolampadius: His Teaching On The Doctrine And A Revision Of Mcgrath’s Portrayal Of The Swiss Reformer

Jeff Fisher

M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2002

Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 2005

Introduction

The recent debates about justification have compelled scholars to reassess the traditional understanding of the doctrine, particularly considering whether the interpretation of the New Testament have been overly shaped by a sixteenth-century lens. These critiques indicate the need not only to revisit what the biblical texts say, but also to properly understand the history of Christian witness in the development of our theology. In important ways, it is accurate to say that the historiography of the Reformation is “no more and no less the historiography of the Renaissance.”1 Paul Oskar Kristeller paved the way for recognizing this reality in his groundbreaking study that overturned the prevailing view that Renaissance Humanism was an anti-Christian philosophical system distinct from the Reformation.2 He demonstrated that Renaissance Humanism is better understood to have been a cultural and educational program which was influential on the emergence of the Reformation movement.3 Two of the most important elements of humanism for the Reformation were the textual and philological return to the original sources, known as ad fontes, and the moral and ethical reform of individuals and communities.4 Lewis Spitz maintains that “Humanism made the Reformation possible,” and identifies one of the “indispensable preconditions for the success of the Reformation” was “an army of young humanists who rallied to the evangelical cause.”5 The purpose of this study is to specifically look at one of these young humanists, John Oecolampadius (1482-1531), who became an influential reformer for the evangelical cause, particularly in the early Swiss Reformation in Basel.

Renaissance Humanism And Justification

At the time of his lectures, Kristeller suggested that it would be interesting to explore the extent to which humanist ideas “exercised an influence on the theological discussions and controversies of the Reformation period.”6 In his various writings, Alister McGrath has applied this suggestion to investigate “the relationship between the Reformation and the two great intellectual movements of the late medieval period—scholasticism and humanism—...

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