THE525: Franciscus Junius’ De Vera Theologia in Context
Instructor: Peter Escalante
Fall Term 2019
Franciscus Junius is not widely known in the Reformed world today, but in his time he was highly regarded and very well connected. His De Vera Theologia influenced later theologians up to the end of the 19th century, and has been recently translated into English. In this course, we will engage in a close reading of this theological master text, while also considering the political and ecclesiastical background of Junius and his work, looking at the politics of Reformation-era Europe, Reformed and Roman Catholic controversies, the question of theological method, and the interaction between theology and philosophy in early modernity.
1. Students will engage in close reading of Junius’ De Vera Theologia, paying close attention to both its conceptual content and to its rhetoric, considering the latter in light of Junius’ times and situation as seen in ancillary assigned readings for their course.
a. Students will read the whole of the De Vera Theologia.
b. Students will survey and summarize the political, ecclesiastical, philosophical, and literary circumstances of the Reformation, including the medieval background.
c. Students will summarize the main differences between Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and Reformed at the time of Junius’ writing.
d. Students will situate Junius within the Reformed tradition by comparing him with other leading Reformed theologians regarding key loci of his theology.
2. Students will not only read early modern sources, but will draw extensively from modern academic research in order to better understand the sources and their contexts.
3. Students will position these primary texts within the European intellectual tradition, compare them to other literatures such as the juridical, historical, philosophic genres, and relate them to our contemporary ecclesial circumstances.
a. Students will ask and attempt to answer the question of whether “theology” plays the same role or even has largely the same meaning now as it did for Junius, paying special attention to the 19th century subjectivizing turn. But further, they will ask an attempt to answer the question of whether Junius’ mode of theology is the same, similar, and/or different from prevalent earlier models of the Middle Ages.
b. Students will rethink the traditional periodization of “late medieval” and “early modern,” “Renaissance” and “Reformation.”
c. Students will ask and attempt to answer the question of how Junius’ texts, and others like it, can be received by ecclesial readers today.
4. Students will communicate their engagement with these primary texts in writing and in seminar conversation.
a. Students will actively contribute to all class discussions online, expressing their own ideas while grounding them in the course readings.
b. Students will compose an insightful, topically focused, well-argued, and thoroughly researched paper at the end of the term.