Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563) – between Humanism and Reformation, Rationalism and Spiritualism

International Conference on Monte Verità, Ascona (CH) 13 – 16 September 2015

Sebastian Castalio: Psalterium reliquaque literarum sacrarum carmina .... Antwerpen: Gerardus Speelman 1555, Dedication to Bonifacius Amerbach.

Since the publication of Hans R. Guggisberg’s monograph on Sebastian Castellio (1997) and Alfred Berchtold’s work (1991) on intellectual life in Basel, research has expanded internationally on (1) Castellio’s texts, particularly the familiar early humanist ‘school texts’ and the posthumously published philosophical and theological position statements; (2) Castellio’s network, which extended well beyond Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich; and (3) the effects of his writings throughout Europe. Discussions of his hermeneutic, his theory of state, his philosophical and theological ideas in France, Germany, England, Spain, Poland and Transylvania have given Castellio a European stature, although he ‘only’ served as a teacher and professor of Greek and was not active in the corridors of either spiritual or worldly power. In particular, his concept of tolerance in De haereticis an sint persequendi (Concerning Heretics, Whether They Are to Be Persecuted, 1554, German 1555, French probably 1557) is not only to be measured against the far-reaching utopian conceptions of Jean Bodin (1529-1596) and Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), but has now come to be compared more closely with those of the young Luther, the Dutch Baptists, Sebastian Franck (1499-1542), Celio Secondo Curione (1503-1569) and Bernardino Ochino (1487-1564). Thanks to this more recent work, we now understand the radical nature of Castellio’s biblical hermeneutic De arte dubitandi et confidendi, ignorandi et sciendi (On the Arts of Doubting, Faith, Not Knowing and Knowing, first published 1981) in a broader context. Now the challenge is to gauge more precisely how Castellio, relying on the text of the Bible, positioned himself in relation to Calvin’s theory of predestination, to the doctrine of justification of the Confessio Augustana, to the fluctuating conceptions of the visible and invisible church, as well as to the question of essence and the knowability of God.

Quite new questions on the understanding of Castellio in his time are made possible by the productions of the Calvin anniversary year 2009, the Amerbach correspondence, finalised in 2010, the editions of the Bullinger correspondence, and the Correspondance of Théodore de Bèze, along with related writings, moreover by the commentary on Melanchthon’s letters and the worldwide access to the early editions of Erasmus of Rotterdam. Castellio’s works fall in the crisis years of the Reformation, that is to say, during the period of unsuccessful attempts at consensus in discussions of religion, controversies over dogma, the consequences of the Augsburg Interim and the French religious wars. Above all, there were the difficulties that the churches in Geneva, Zurich, and in the areas neighbouring Basel, namely of Württemberg and Montbéliard, in England and in the Netherlands, were having to create unity through public demonstration, either by establishing strict external limits or by preparing plans for the peaceful coexistence of the various denominations.

The conference on Monte Verità above Lago Maggiore in Ascona offers an opportunity, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Sebastian Castellio, to consolidate the results of research, to compare national perspectives, to discuss new questions on the basis of newly accessible sources, and to exchange views on editions of his earlier and later writings.

Monte Verità und Blick auf den See Lago Maggiore

Speakers: Jan-Andrea Bernhard (Zürich) – Oliver Bach (München) – Emidio Campi (Zürich) – Hartmut Bobzin (Erlangen) – Mariano Delgado (Fribourg) – Ueli Dill (Basel) – Michael Egger (Bern) – Max Engammare (Genève) – Marie-Christine Gomez-Géraud (Paris) – Ralph Häfner (Freiburg i.Br.) – Carmen Cardelle Hartmann (Zürich) – Hans-Martin Kirn (Gronigen) – Sonja Klimek (Fribourg) – Wilhelm Kühlmann (Heidelberg) – Barbara Mahlmann-Bauer (Bern) – Michael Multhammer (München) – Oliver Millet (Paris) –Uwe Plath (Lüneburg) – Stefania Salvadori (Mainz) – Kilian Schindler (Fribourg) – Mirjam van Veen (Amsterdam) – Herman J. Selderhuis (Apeldoorn) – Pablo Toribio (Madrid) Friedrich Vollhardt (München) – Garry K. Waite (New Brunswick) – Cornel Zwierlein (Bochum).

The conference is public and is intended for an audience with interests in the history of tolerance and freedom of conscience. 20-30 guests are welcome as participants, either for the whole of the conference or on a day-to-day basis.

Speakers and guests will be accommodated at the Hotel Monte Verità, Via Collina 84, CH-6612 Ascona.
See for further informations: Registration and prices

Please use the registration form on this website!