The Devil's Tabernacle: The Pagan Oracles in Early Modern Thought

Overview

The Devil's Tabernacle is the first book to examine in depth the intellectual and cultural impact of the oracles of pagan antiquity on modern European thought. Anthony Ossa-Richardson shows how the study of the oracles influenced, and was influenced by, some of the most significant developments in early modernity, such as the Christian humanist recovery of ancient religion, confessional polemics, Deist and libertine challenges to religion, antiquarianism and early archaeology, Romantic historiography, and ...

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The Devil's Tabernacle: The Pagan Oracles in Early Modern Thought

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Overview

The Devil's Tabernacle is the first book to examine in depth the intellectual and cultural impact of the oracles of pagan antiquity on modern European thought. Anthony Ossa-Richardson shows how the study of the oracles influenced, and was influenced by, some of the most significant developments in early modernity, such as the Christian humanist recovery of ancient religion, confessional polemics, Deist and libertine challenges to religion, antiquarianism and early archaeology, Romantic historiography, and spiritualism. Ossa-Richardson examines the different views of the oracles since the Renaissance--that they were the work of the devil, or natural causes, or the fraud of priests, or finally an organic element of ancient Greek society. The range of discussion on the subject, as he demonstrates, is considerably more complex than has been realized before: hundreds of scholars, theologians, and critics commented on the oracles, drawing on a huge variety of intellectual contexts to frame their beliefs.

In a central chapter, Ossa-Richardson interrogates the landmark dispute on the oracles between Bernard de Fontenelle and Jean-François Baltus, challenging Whiggish assumptions about the mechanics of debate on the cusp of the Enlightenment. With erudition and an eye for detail, he argues that, on both sides of the controversy, to speak of the ancient oracles in early modernity was to speak of one's own historical identity as a Christian.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What is refreshing in Ossa-Richardson's approach is that it is free of the smugness, born of hindsight and sense of historical superiority, that is exhibited by many historians when looking back on past scholarly controversies."--Clive Prince, Magonia Review of Books

"Ossa-Richardson has used the pagan oracles to rewrite an important part of early modern intellectual history. His erudition and judgment seem exemplary, and his book should be held up as a monument of modern learning and discretion."--H. C. Erik Midelfort, Renaissance Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691157115
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Anthony Ossa-Richardson is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London.
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Table of Contents


List of Plates ix
Acknowledgements xi
INTRODUCTION 1
PART ONE 11
CHAPTER ONE Authorities 13
CHAPTER TWO Demons 46
PART TWO 83
CHAPTER THREE Nature 87
CHAPTER FOUR Imposture 136
PART THREE 203
CHAPTER FIVE Enlightenment? 205
CHAPTER SIX Solutions 247
CONCLUSION Les lauriers sont coupés 285
Bibliography 291
Index 327
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