Humanism, Scholasticism and the Theology and Preaching of Domenico De’ Domenichi in the Italian Renaissance

Author: Ederer, Martin
Domenico de’ Domenichi (1416-1478) was a Venetian-born humanist active in Venice, Florence and Rome, well-educated in the scholastic tradition. He advised Popes Eugenius IV, Nicholas V, Calixtus II, Pius II, Paul II and Sixtus IV on theological matters. Domenichi provides a look at several urban worlds where Renaissance humanism flourished. Even more significantly, his dual intellectual life as both a humanist within the Renaissance tradition and as a theologian within the more medieval scholastic tradition indicates well the complexities of a Renaissance intellectual world critical of the medieval past at the same time those traditions flourished in a world far less secular than once believed. Of Domenichi’s many works – treating theological, ecclesiopolitical, philosophical, devotional and reform issues – his preaching best confronts and integrates the sometimes incompatible multiplicity of intellectual traditions so much a part of Renaissance Italy.


“Dr. Martin Ederer’s probing study of the undeservedly neglected sermons of the humanist theologian Domenico de’ Domenichi makes a fundamental contribution to our understanding of Renaissance Italy.…The 105 extant sermons constituting Domenichi’s oeuvre – all in Latin – stand at the core of Ederer’s research….It is important at the outset to underscore how impressive has been Ederer’s accomplishment in tracking down and analyzing this extensive body of preaching. With only a couple exceptions these sermons remain unpublished, and the original manuscripts in which they are contained, several of which Ederer first identified, are scattered in archives and libraries throughout Italy and even beyond the Alps. As a feat of archival research alone, then, Ederer’s scholarly tenacity means that a revealing new set of historical sources has been brought to historians’ attention. What makes Ederer’s study of Domenichi’s sermons so illuminating, however, is that in terms of both content and form his preaching stands at the confluence of scholastic and humanist intellectual traditions and between medieval and Renaissance cultures…. Domenichi, then, in Ederer’s insightful historical study provides a touchstone to the enduring legacy or scholastic, particularly Thomistic, theology in the Italian Renaissance, but also the intellectual and cultural impact of the humanist agenda, with its admiration for the achievement of classical civilization and its respect for human possibility. In elucidating the form, content, and aims of Domenichis’ preaching, Ederer sheds important light on the ever-fascinating world that is the Italian Renaissance.” – Professor Charles L. Stinger, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

“This is a substantial and well-researched monograph…He writes capably, controlling a large body of information and interpretation, and demonstrating mastery of the relevant literature. Most important to me as a scholar… are the five appendices, in which Ederer lists and analyzes Domenichi’s sermons, orations, treatises, and letters, providing a gateway to an extraordinary rich lode of written materials – including 100 extant manuscript sermons….Ederer’s insights are important and original; the figure he discusses is worthy of a full-length study; his scholarship is both broad and sound.” – Margaret L. King, Professor of History, CUNY

“The volume is a superb study of one of the heroes of the Italian Renaissance….Ederer adroitly handles the works of Domenichi, pointing out their theological, political or literary nature. From this astute handling and survey of Domenichi’s texts, one is able to appreciate the full scope of his writings and intellectual abilities. One cannot but be impressed with the extensive source material associated with each chapter….the conclusion and four appendices, which list the sermons, orations, treatises and letters of Domenichi, and a bibliography of secondary and primary sources complete a well-written, skillfully organized and thought-provoking work.” – Henry J. Lang, Professor Emeritus of History, State University College at Buffalo

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword; Preface; Introduction
1. Domenicus de Dominicis Episcopus Brixiensis
2. Sermo or Oratio: Determinants of Genre
3. Dogmatic Theology: Foundations of the Christian Faith
4. Divinity and Humanity
5. Moral Theology: The Paths to Heaven and to Hell
6. Social and Political Implications of the Christian Message: The Res Publica Christiana and the Imperium Romanum
Conclusion: Humanism in the Service of Scholastic Theology
Appendix A: Domenico de’ Domenichi’s Sermons and Orations: Synopsis of Codices
Appendix B: A Finding-List of Domenico de’ Domenichi’s Sermons and Orations according to Title
Appendix C: A Finding-List of Domenico de’ Domenichi’s Sermons and Orations by Collection
Appendix D: Domenico de’ Domenichi’s Treatises and Letters: Synopsis of Codices
Appendix E. A Finding-List of Domenico de’ Domenichi’s Treatises and Letters
Bibliography; Index