Article

Lorenzo Valla

Craig Kallendorf

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0129
Lorenzo Valla

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
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Lorenzo Valla 1407–1457 was the great provocateur among the early Italian humanists, a dazzlingly original intellectual who launched frontal assaults on the traditional way of doing things in one field after another, then pilloried the scholars who criticized his efforts. He attempted to reorient dialectic by integrating it into rhetoric, then tried to redefine the standards for good Latin style according to classical usage. Those who found themselves unpersuaded by his work included some of the best scholars of the day, whom he assaulted in polemics that remain legendary even now. Valla was not a simple iconoclast, however, but a complicated figure who resists facile analysis: he was accused of heresy by the Neapolitan Inquisition for his attempt to integrate Christianity with the ancient philosophical system that seemed least compatible with it and challenged the authenticity of the document granting temporal authority to the church, but his application of humanist philology to the New Testament also marks the beginning of modern Biblical scholarship. It should come as no surprise that over the last couple of generations, a figure like this has attracted some of the best scholars working in Italian Renaissance humanism, nor should we be surprised to learn that Valla remains as capable of arousing controversy today as he was in his own lifetime.

Article.  8064 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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