This biography concentrates on the life, poetry and world view of the Dutch poet and theologian Jacob Revius (1586-1658). Revius was one of the most prominent Reformed opinion leaders in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, who lived through a period of revolutionary changes in science, religion and politics. Whereas many of his contemporaries increasingly emphasized the importance of the human subject in all spheres of life (theology, philosophy, natural sciences, literature, history), Revius fought a battle for objective and universal truths. That this battle would ultimately be lost, he may well have sensed, but it was by no means clear in his time. Revius’ life and thought are approached through his work, which is read in its historical and biographical context by relating it both to a wide variety of archival and printed sources and to historical and modern perceptions of his person. The study of Revius has been fragmented. Only a minor part of his work has been thoroughly studied by theologians and literary historians. Moreover, two separate fields have developed over the years, the one focusing on the theologian Revius, the other on the poet Revius – as if he were two different persons. This biography, by contrast, aspires to offer a fuller and more integrated picture. Disclosing and analysing various hitherto unknown texts, it situates Revius’ work within the theological, philosophical, political, scientific and literary discourses in which he participated. Thanks to Revius’ versatility, this book offers a perspective on Dutch culture in the first half of the seventeenth century. Revius was a poet, philologist, pastor, Bible translator, theologian, philosopher, as well as an historian. His network encompassed the entire Dutch Republic, and he was active in various spheres of society. He wrote on Roman Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, on the Twelve Years’ Truce and regent politics, on the doctrine of predestination and Cartesian philosophy, as well as on education, literature, astronomy, hair-styles and myriad other cultural phenomena. In many ways, his work exemplifies both the orthodox Reformed perspective on seventeenth-century culture and the Reformed effort to influence and shape that culture. Revius’ unique life story, however, does not simply illustrate the historical moment in which he lived. This biography therefore extricates Revius from the circles of preacher-poets and Voetian theologians who usually accompany him in literary history, theology, and the history of science. Since he was not in all aspects representative of seventeenth-century culture and Reformed tradition, his life and thought also serve to complicate and nuance grand historical narratives
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