During Pope Julius II's reign, he commissioned Michelangelo to design the uniforms for his troops.
The Renaissance Period (1530-1600) was a time of "rebirth." This cultural movement which focused on art, history, and literature had a dramatic impact on Christianity. Its literary focus would impact biblical studies and cause many reformers to question several doctrines of the church based on their study of the Greek New Testament.
The focus on the individual and the natural world would result in persons questioning their personal destinies and roles in the world.
As Girolama Savonarola would point out, the leaders of the church during the renaissance would become preoccupied with renaissance obsession of collecting art, jewelry and books and less involved in addressing the abuses within the church.
Renaissance Humanists regarded the Middle Ages as a 'barbaric' time and tended to idealize the claasical period. Their infatuation with the ancient writings was exhibited in their motto ad fontes, or 'back to the sources.'
This posture impacted the theology of the Reformation. Reformers and Humanists alike tended to view the ancient church and the early church fathers as models of orthodoxy. In fact, many historians (see Cesare Baronius) of the Reformation period sought to demonstrate that their faith, be it Catholic, Lutheran, or otherwise, was consonant with the beliefs held by the early church.
Ad fontes had other consequences as well. The interest in ancient Latin and Greek texts soon resulted in the practice of historical or textual criticism where texts were studied in detail and compared to other ancient texts.
One example of the importance of this practice occurred in the fifteenth century when Humanist Lorenzo Valla's examination of the Donation of Constantine revealed that the Latin document could not have been written in the fourth century.
Humanist scholarship was also applied to the Biblical text. Erasmus’ omission of the Trinitarian formula in 1 John 5:7 of the Vulgate caused quite a stir during his time. Even more significant was the insistence by some humanist scholars that Matthew 4:17 is more properly understood as a command by Jesus for persons to repent rather than the Vulgate’s translation that called for persons to ‘do penance.’ This translation called into question one of the seven sacraments. Luther (in his 95 Theses) and many other Reformers would use this claim as grounds for rejecting the sacrament of penance and other sacraments as well.
© 2004 Mark Gstohl, PhD.