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The term ‘Semipelagianism’ is usually taken to refer to fifth- and sixth-century teachings of Hadrumetum and Massilian monks. The term originated, however, with sixteenth-century Protestants who used it to describe a view of salvation by human effort in combination with grace. Theodore Beza invented the term in about 1556, applying it to the Roman Catholic view of grace and human will. The Lutheran Formula of Concord (1577) used it to designate Lutheran synergists. Initially, therefore, the term referred to contemporaneous teachings. Starting with Nicholas Sanders (1571), however, Roman Catholics introduced a shift of meaning, with fifth-century Massilians becoming the central connotation.
The standard medieval view of New Testament Apocrypha was that they were Christian writings (related to matters treated in the canonical books of the Bible), which had to be treated with caution and often dismissed as heretical. A list of the Apocrypha figured in the [Pseudo-]Gelasian Decree. In the Renaissance, for authors such as Lèfevre d'Etaples, Nicholas Gerbel and many others, the term assumed a multiplicity of meanings, both positive and negative. This article shows that although no attempts were made in the early 16th century to bring N. T. Apocrypha together into a corpus, the editors' ambivalent and complex attitude to texts such as the Laodiceans or Paul's Correspondence with Seneca led to their definitive marginalisation and encouraged their subsequent publication (by Fabricius and others) as corpora of dubious writings.
In his work on Bucer's concept of the church, published in 1984, Gottfried Hammann underlined the importance of the Reformer's biblical commentaries which, he claimed, allow us to grasp the nature of the church as Bucer understood it from his reading of the Old and the New Testament. According to Hammann, Bucer's concept of the church is first sketched out in his commentaries and merely elaborated upon in his other works.
Unfortunately, Hammann does not investigate any of the biblical commentaries in detail and so does not tell us how the Reformer's basic theology of the church is developed in them. This curious-seeming lacuna in Hammann's work will not appear curious at all to those familiar with the sheer length and lack of structure of the commentaries and with Bucer's notoriously complex and unattractive Latin style. This, added to the fact that so far only one of Bucer's commentaries, that on the Gospel of John, has been made available in a modern critical edition, will explain why students of Bucer's thought have been reluctant to tackle them or, in the case of the Synoptic commentary, have fallen back upon August Lang's classic but partial study of 1900.
Laurence Tomson is, perhaps, best known for his translation of L'Oiseleur's edition of Beza's Latin New Testament into English. He was also secretary to Walsingham from 1574 and a member of the English ‘Presbyterian’ party.
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