Sebastian Castellio: Dialogi sacri

p. 198

Dialogorvm Sacrorvm Libri Qvatvor. Avtore Sebastiano Castellione. Qvi nunc Postremo Opvs recognouit : Argumenta singulis Dialogis præposuit, & sententias subiecit : ex quibus pueri discant officium, hoc est, quid imitandum sit, aut declinandum. - Pragae : In Officina Georgij Jacobidis Dacziceni, 1579.

Austrian National Library, shelfmark: 309.793-A.Alt-Mag

Sebastian Castellio (Châteillon/Châtillon, 1515-1563) has gone down in history primarily as one of John Calvin’s bitter antagonists. Calvin himself had helped the pastor to be installed at Geneva, but theological differences with the formidable Reformer soon forced Castellio to leave for Basel where, from 1553, he taught Greek at the university. 

In the same year Michel Servet was burnt at the stake for heresy in Geneva. When Calvin sought to justify the execution - chiefly induced by himself - by publishing an apology, Castellio retorted by issuing De haereticis, an sint persequendi (Whether heretics should be persecuted). “To kill a man is not to protect a doctrine, but it is to kill a man“ was the quintessence of his pamphlet.

Whereas Castellio’s fame rests chiefly on his criticism of Calvin’s ethics and theology, his work as a philologist is less well remembered. Still, he published two bible translations (in Latin and French), editions of Greek classics and textbooks for the Latin learner. These last included four books of Dialogi Sacrorum, dialogues between characters of the Old and New testaments enabling the students to improve their bible knowledge and language skills at the same time. Our example (image at left) sees Jaïrus imploring Jesus: „I have an only daughter, dearest Jesus, twelve years old, lying at home on the point of death …“ (Mark 5.22;  Luke 8.41)

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    last update 8/24/2012