Chapter

Platonic Captivity or Sublime Mystery? The Trinity and the Gospel of John in Early Modern England

Paul C. H. Lim

in Mystery Unveiled

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195339468
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979097 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195339468.003.0006

Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology

Platonic Captivity or Sublime Mystery? The Trinity and the Gospel of John in Early Modern England

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This chapter tells the story of how the Gospel of John and its interpretive traditions and trajectories functioned in the culture of polemic surrounding the Trinity, particularly how exegeses of specific texts were contested, and became a liminal space where multivalent notions of orthodoxy and heresy were formed and controlled. It analyzes the exegetical and theological disputes surrounding the Gospel of John in early modern Europe, with particular attention to the way these debates further shaped the culture of English Christianity. It examines the politics of translation in which disputes over the Geneva Bible glosses, the Douay–Rheims New Testament, and a number of Annotations on the Gospel of John simultaneously clarified and clouded the issues surrounding Trinitarian orthodoxy. After a detailed analysis of a few key Trinitarian treatments of the Gospel of John, the chapter focuses on the various interpretive trajectories of the anti-Trinitarian Johannine exegesis, both Continental and English. It shows how a Huguenot pastor in London, Jacques Souverain, managed to synthesize previously radical ideas which saw the Gospel of John itself as a departure from primitive Christianity, and how the influence of the putatively Platonizing divinity, which he saw as an unbridled abuse of allegorical hermeneutics, further corrupted Christianity.

Keywords: Gospel of John; Trinity; Trinitarian orthodoxy; Christianity; Geneva Bible; Douay–Rheims New Testament; Jacques Souverain

Chapter.  22661 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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