1st Edition

Humanism and Religion in Early Modern Spain John of the Cross, Francisco de Aldana, Luis de León

By Terence O’Reilly, Stephen Boyd Copyright 2022
    416 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    416 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Humanism and Religion in Early Modern Spain brings together twenty-five essays by renowned historian Terence O’Reilly.

    The essays examine the interplay of religion and humanism in a series of writings composed in sixteenth-century Spain. It begins by presenting essential background: the coming together during the reign of the Emperor Charles V of Erasmian humanism and various movements of religious reform, some of them heterodox. It then moves on to the reign of Philip II, focusing on the mystical poetry and prose of St John of the Cross. It explores the influence on his writings of his humanist learning – classical, biblical and patristic. The third part of the book concerns a verse-epistle by John’s contemporary, Francisco de Aldana. One chapter presents the text with a parallel version in English, whilst two others trace its debt to Florentine Neoplatonism, particularly the thought of Marsilio Ficino. The final part is devoted to the humanism of the poet and Scripture scholar Luis de León, and specifically to the confluence in his work of biblical and classical motifs.

    This book is essential reading for scholars and students of early modern Spanish history, as well those interested in literary studies and the history of religion. (CS 1102).

    Introduction by Stephen Boyd

    Part I. Humanism and Religion

    1.‘Humanism and religion in the Omelías of Jorge de Montemayor’

    2. ‘Meditation and contemplation: monastic spirituality in early sixteenth-century Spain’

    3. ‘The religious writings of Juan de Valdés (c. 1509–1541)’

    Part II. John of the Cross

    4. ‘St John of the Cross and Carmel’

    5. ‘The text and the context of Que bien sé yo la fonte / que mana y corre'

    6. ‘John of the Cross and the Bible’

    7. ‘Psalm 136 and the romance "Encima de las Corrientes"’

    8. ‘The Figure of Aminadab in the Writings of St John of the Cross’

    9.‘The Psalter in Golden Age Spain: St John of the Cross and Psalm 62:2’

    10. ‘San Juan de la Cruz and the Fathers of the Church: Song 1:3 in the Cántico espiritual

    11. ‘Latin and Vernacular in the Cántico espiritual of St John of the Cross’

    12. ‘The exegesis of the Song of Songs in the Cántico espiritual’

    13. ‘Human and divine love in the Cántico spiritual of Saint John of the Cross’

    14. ‘Chiasmus and the Art of Memory in the Cántico espiritual’

    Part III. Francisco de Aldana

    15. ‘Friendship and contemplation in the Carta para Arias Montano

    16. The Carta para Arias Montano: a parallel text

    17. ‘The Christian Neoplatonism of Francisco de Aldana in the Carta para Arias Montano

    Part IV. Luis de León

    18. Luis de León and the Hebrew Truth of Scripture: the Affair of the Biblia de Vatablo

    19. ‘The Ode to Francisco Salinas’

    20. ‘The image of the Garden in La vida retirada

    21. ‘Luis de León and the Ascension of Christ’

    22. ‘The movement of thought and feeling in the ode to Juan de Grial’

    23. ‘Luis de León and Galicia: a close reading of Virtud, hija del cielo

    24. ‘The Poetic Voice of Luis de León in No siempre es poderosa

    25. ‘Luis de León and the Moriscos: a close reading of Ode XXII (La cana y alta cumbre)’


    Terence O’Reilly is Professor Emeritus of Spanish at University College Cork, and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. His principal field of research is the literature and history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain. His publications include From Ignatius Loyola to John of the Cross: Spirituality and Literature in Sixteenth-Century Spain (1995); The Bible in the Literary Imagination of Golden Age Spain (2010); and The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Contexts, Sources and Reception (2020).

    Stephen Boyd has written extensively about the literature and art of the Spanish Golden Age, particularly the writings of Cervantes. His publications include The Art of Cervantes in Don Quixote. Critical Essays (2019), which he edited with Trudi L. Darby and Terence O'Reilly.

    ‘It is not uncommon for a book to be promoted as "essential reading". That is what the publisher Routledge does in its description of Humanism and Religion. Having studied the book, I consider the encomium to be, in the present case, valid. Terence O’Reilly, Emeritus Professor of Spanish at University College Cork and member of the Royal Irish Academy, provides scholars and students of sixteenth century Spanish spirituality and literature, with insights and understandings which are necessary for a more complete correct appreciation of the authors treated’ - Iain Matthew OCD, Teresianum (2023/1).