Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi (1742–1831): A Sketch Of His Life And Works, With Particular Attention Given To His Contributions To The Field Of Biblical Criticism -- By: Gregg Allison

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 12:1 (Spring 1991)
Article: Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi (1742–1831): A Sketch Of His Life And Works, With Particular Attention Given To His Contributions To The Field Of Biblical Criticism
Author: Gregg Allison


Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi (1742–1831):
A Sketch Of His Life And Works,
With Particular Attention Given To
His Contributions To The Field Of Biblical Criticism

Gregg Allison

Elgin, Illinois

The history of the origin and development of biblical criticism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has become the subject of interest of numerous scholars. As new contributions to this field pour in, the old consensus is being reexamined and reworked, and new patterns and connections are vying for attention and validation.1 The focus of much of this attention has been directed toward developments in France, Germany, Holland, and England. This raises the question of the state of affairs with regard to biblical criticism in another European country, Italy. The lack of reference to developments in Italy might indicate that Italian theologians and biblical scholars were uninterested in the matter, or making little or no significant contribution to the field. Or it may

signify that current specialists in the study of biblical criticism have simply overlooked the Italian connection.

In this case the last hypothesis appears correct.2 During the last half of the eighteenth century and the beginning decades of the nineteenth, Italy produced one of the foremost scholars in the area of biblical criticism. His knowledge of the oriental languages was formidable, his personal collection of ancient Hebrew manuscripts was unparalleled, his work on textual criticism was massive, and his familiarity with the “giants” of biblical criticism who had preceded him or who were his contemporaries was extensive. A humble man whose passion for critica sacra led him to refuse offers of prestigious positions throughout Europe so as to remain in Parma, Italy, and dedicate himself to the continued study of Sacred Scripture, Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi (1742–1831) deserves consideration in any treatment of the history of biblical criticism.

We realize that, by focusing on one man, we hardly do justice to the question of the overall Italian contribution to the development of biblical criticism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But a beginning must be made, and a person of De Rossi’s stature is a good place to start. We hope that others will follow with the discovery of other key Italian contributors to the field. Indeed, the need for a “discovery” of De Rossi dictates the nature of this present study: we will sketch the life and the works of this man. Thus, in section I, biographical information will be woven together with reviews of his many publi...

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