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Lecture: Theodore Beza and Translating 16th Century Latin, by David Noe

  • Thursday, November 10, 2016
  • 3:30 PM–4:30 PM
  • Meeter Center

Join the Meeter Center for a fall lecture with Dr. David Noe of the Classics Department on "Theodore Beza as Exegete, Humanist and Polemicist: Translating 16th-Century Theological Latin."

In 1559, Theodore Beza was asked by his friend and mentor John Calvin to respond to the arguments of the Gnesio-Lutheran Joachim Westphal. Calvin had engaged in protracted epistolary combat with Westphal over the nature of the sacraments. In frustration, Calvin quit the field and asked Beza to take up the cudgels. Beza wrote a point by point refutation of Westphal's argument, employing careful exegesis, humanist rhetoric and style, and biting wit to expose – as he saw it – his opponent's flaws. This was published as the Plana et Perspicua Tractatio. In 1561, directly before the Colloquy of Poissy in which Beza defended the Reformed view of the Supper before the French nobility and his Catholic opponents, Beza penned a succinct statement of the Supper entitled Summa Doctrinae De Re Sacramentaria. Finally, in 1577, Beza published a brief summary of the Mosaic law under the three heads that Calvin had made famous in his Institutes, namely moral, ceremonial, and political. In 2016, Reformation Heritage Books brought these works into English for the first time with David Noe serving as translator and Martin Klauber providing the introduction.
This lecture features a discussion of the process of translating these three works, and explores, using multiple examples, some of the challenges of capturing Beza's many registers of theological sophistication and rhetorical precision.
Dr. David Noe is Associate Professor of Calvin's Classics Department. He is interested in all things related to the ancient Mediterranean world, especially Roman philosophy, Greek ethics and religion, and the reception of these ideas in the Reformation and Post-Reformation periods. His current research focuses on these areas, translating theological and philosophical texts from the 16th and 17th centuries, and the continuing development of spoken Latin fluency and pedagogical strategies.

Location details

Meeter Center, Fourth Floor of Hekman Library

November 2016
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