Giovanni Tortoriello

Scala Christus est

Reassessing the Historical Context of Martin Luther's Theology of the Cross

[Scala Christus est. Eine Neubewertung des historischen Kontextes von Martin Luthers Theologie des Kreuzes.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-161472-9
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Published in English.
Giovanni Tortoriello provides an innovative perspective on the historical context of the early Reformation debates. It is believed that the Reformation emerged as a reaction to medieval scholasticism. Through historical analysis, the author challenges this perspective and comes to the conclusion that Luther's theology should be understood as a reaction to the Renaissance's fascination with Platonism, Hermeticism, and Kabbalah.
Since the nineteenth century, scholars have debated the controversial relationships between humanism, the Renaissance and the Reformation. Challenging the dominant narrative on the subject, Giovanni Tortoriello reconstructs the debates that characterized the early Reformation movements. He shows that Martin Luther's theology of the cross developed in reaction to the irenic tendencies of the Renaissance. With the spread of Platonism, Hermeticism, and Kabbalah in the fifteenth century, the identity of Christianity shifted and the boundaries between the different religions thinned. In response to this attempt to minimize the differences among the various religions, Luther reiterated the centrality and uniqueness of the salvific event of the cross. Confessional biases and theological prejudices have obliterated the role that Platonism, Hermeticism, and Christian Kabbalah played in the early Reformation debates. The author reconstructs these controversies and situates Luther's theology of the cross in this historical context.

Giovanni Tortoriello Born 1989; 2012 BA, University of Salerno; 2015 MA, University of Salerno; 2020 doctor of philosophy, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg; 2020−21 postdoctoral researcher, Martin Luther University.


The following reviews are known:

In: —
In: Theologia Reformata — 66 (2023), pp. 403–405 (R.W. de Koeijer)