ABSTRACT

This study analyzes a debate in the mid-sixteenth century between the Tridentine theologian, Domingo de Soto, and the Strasbourg Reformer, Martin Bucer. The subject of their controversy was the meaning of Rom 8:19–22 and its “groaning creation.” De Soto, working within a medieval tradition of interpretation that included Thomas Aquinas, argued that the verses could not have reference to creatures beyond human beings and the astral bodies. Bucer by contrast endorsed a fully cosmic reading of the text. Their debate not only highlights the diverging paths of scholastic and humanistic exegesis in the early modern period, but also holds lessons for theological interpretation today. In particular, this study dialogues with recent attempts to retrieve “Christian Platonism” by Matthew Levering, Hans Boersma, and others. It is argued that de Soto and Bucer’s debate presents serious challenges for historical narratives that bind “sound” biblical exegesis to a particular school of metaphysics.

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