Erika Rummel

Throughout the dialectical was the domi- nant academic method of . Built on Aristotelian and the summaries and commentaries of medieval exegetes, was the mainstay of the scholastic system. This habit of was challenged in quattrocento Italy by scholars using philological and historical meth- ods in the study of classical texts. For some time the two approaches existed side by side. The dialectic method and its scholastic practitioners continued to dominate the , while humanists (as the enthu- siasts of classical literature came to be called) operated mainly outside academic institutions and eventually began to exert infl uence through the new medium of the printing press. The humanistic method was advocated in accompanying editions of classical texts and discussed in that quintessential humanistic expedient, the personal letter. Letters served as links among members of the humanistic republic of letters and allowed them to form a network of . Published in collections, these missives reached an even broader audience. Programmatic pieces advancing the cause of humanism and the New Learning included Petrarch’s prototype attack on the Aristotelians in his epistle On His Own Ignorance (1368); Salutati’s defence of classical pagan literature in his letter to Giovanni da Sam- miniato (1405); the epistolary exchange between Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Ermolao Barbaro on the respective merits of and (1485); ’ Ratio theologiae, which fi rst appeared among the prefatory material to his edition (1516); and ’s inaugural speech at the of Wittenberg (1518). The last two texts promote the study of as gateways to an understanding of Scripture. In these pieces the authors com- mented on the issues that were of principal importance to humanists: their preference for rhetoric over logic, their emphasis on and studies, the call for a return to the classical and biblical 2 erika rummel sources, and their disdain for the scholastics whom they characterized as barbarian logic-choppers. Early polemics between the representatives of the two movements— humanism and —were often cast in the form of open letters or , genres refl ecting the literary character of the debate at the time. The controversy entered a new phase when humanists began to apply philological methods to the scriptural text. The debate shed its literary image at that point and developed the characteristics of a formal polemic. The exchanges were labeled “apologiae,” adopted an adversarial tone, and were increasingly devoid of literary embellishments. had traditionally been the bailiwick of academic theologians, who therefore regarded humanists as trespassers on their professional turf. In their view, philologically trained scholars did not have the necessary qualifi cations to engage in biblical studies and were likely to introduce doctrinal error. Indeed, the more conservative ele- ments among the theologians regarded any attempt to revise the received text as sacrilege and protested the idea of subjecting the divinely inspired biblical authors to literary and textual criticism. Humanists, by contrast, asserted that a correct reading of the was in the fi rst instance a philological task and therefore within their capacity. Conversely, a lack of language training hampered biblical . This phase in the humanist-scholastic debate is central to the present collection of essays, which focuses on the activities of biblical humanists and their polemics with traditional scholastic theologians. In the fi rst chapter, “Criticism of Biblical Humanists in Quattrocento Italy,” John Monfasani deals with the scriptural studies of Lorenzo Valla, Giannozzo Manetti, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. The three scholars approached the fi eld in characteristic humanistic fashion by consulting the sources: collating Greek and manuscripts, offering new biblical , and studying early patristic and Hebrew com- mentators. This approach attracted criticism and, indeed, the attention of the inquisitors in spite of the that Valla and Manetti enjoyed the patronage of Nicholas V and that critical reviews of the received text were not unprecedented. Medieval theologians recognized that mistakes had crept into the text and listed them in so-called correctoria. These were, however, concerned only with textual corrup- tions, whereas humanists wanted to correct and improve the as well. In that process they could not help but touch on the and of the text. Their engagement with the sources and the early commentators—Christian or Jewish—laid