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Theses Year : 2024

A tree in this world. Theodore Beza, contemptu mundi moralist

Un arbre en ce monde. Théodore de Bèze, moraliste du contemptu mundi

Abstract

My PhD proposes to examine how the Ancient idea of « contempt for the world » was perceived, and then transformed by the French Calvinist Reformer in the second part of the sixteenth century.To contextualize the « disdaining », or « despising » of the world, is a translation of « contemptus mundi ». Based on the ideas of renunciation and detachment, main topics of this thema accuse wealthy, it evoked those dangers or obstacles - the pursuit of wealth, the way of the flesh, the quest for glory - in the pursuit of God. This points to both a monastic ideal of piety and an ecclesial doctrine. It was a topos in moral literature, especially in the piety of the Devotio Moderna movement of the emerging Renaissance. « Contempt for the world » seemed, in this context, to afford a position from which to critique its defects, harnessing the humanist reception of Ancient philosophy and new Biblical exegesis. How this topos evolved to become a major theme for Protestant Reformers, however, has not yet received the attention it deserves. It is, however, an important way of understanding their « imaginary » (« l'imaginaire »), and an essential element in their « cultural anthropology ».The PhD focuses on the French and French-Swiss Calvinist experience in the sixteenth century. It has three aspects to it :a) The role of « disdaining the world » in the works of John Calvin and of his elaboration of his human anthropology.b) Its role in the mental and spiritual evolution of his principal followers, Theodore Beza (1519-1605), who favored a via media recomposition from the medieval and classical traditions.c) How their reformulation of the « disdaining of the world » played out in its broader diffusion through new genres and media (icones and emblemata, for exemple) in the course of the sixteenth century. My research is therefore situated within the historical methodologies of mentality, historical cultural anthropology and reception theory.The subject is very broad and interdisciplinary. To provide specificity, its second aspect (the case of Theodore Beza) provides the central focus for research and reflection. His itinerary began in Orleans and Paris in the context of humanistic latin poetry and evangelism, as well in the upheavals caused by the persecutions. His conversion to Calvinism in 1548 encouraged him to flee and settle first in Lausanne, then in Geneva. There, after his mentor John Calvin's died in 1564, he became the leader of the continental European Reformation until he died in 1605. Each of these periods, considered as « moments » of the history of the Reformation history, enable us to buid our thesis on the study of the main topics of his works: conversion, the institution of new norms in building churches through disciplinary, confessions of faith and polemics, sanctification, eschatology, meditation on death and vanity of this world “below”.Beza played a far-reaching role in the adoption of upright Christian attitudes to adopt in face of the theatre of changing world. Beza's work provide a specific way of documenting how he reformulated « disdain for the world » became his very particular and personal ethical conception. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, this refashioned « disdaining of the world » became more broadly constitutive of Calvinist image of itself in Europe, and these images constitute the final element of the research program of this PhD.
Inspirés par les idées de détachement et de renoncement, les thèmes cléricaux et monastiques du contemptus mundi dénoncent la richesse, la chair et la gloire comme autant d'obstacles dans la quête de Dieu. Ils devaient, cependant, être renouvelés à la faveur de sa réception humaniste tandis que la Réforme, de son côté, avait besoin d'une doctrine du mépris du monde qui lui soit propre. La façon dont ce topos est transformé par Théodore Bèze au XVIe siècle pour devenir un thème majeur pour les réformateurs n'a pas encore reçu l'attention qu'elle mérite. C'est pourtant une manière importante de comprendre leur « imaginaire » à partir des mentalités, de l'anthropologie culturelle et de la théorie de la réception. Via les genres littéraires à sa disposition, Théodore Bèze favorise une reconfiguration du contemptus mundi à partir des traditions médiévales et classiques. Son itinéraire commence à Orléans dans le contexte de la poésie latine humaniste et de l'évangélisme, ainsi que dans les bouleversements provoqués par les persécutions. Sa conversion au calvinisme le conduit à l'exil. La reformulation du mépris du monde à travers ses thèmes de prédilection comme la conversion, les normes et la discipline des églises, les confessions de foi, la sanctification, l'eschatologie, la méditation sur la mort et la vanité de ce monde… s'est traduite par une diffusion plus large du motif à travers de nouveaux genres et médias. Bèze a joué un grand rôle dans l'adoption d'une conception éthique personnelle d'une attitude chrétienne droite à adopter face au théâtre d'un monde en mutation. Cette reconfiguration du mépris du monde est devenue constitutive du rayonnement calviniste en Europe.
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Dates and versions

tel-04576077 , version 1 (15-05-2024)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : tel-04576077 , version 1

Cite

Alain-Cyril Barioz. Un arbre en ce monde. Théodore de Bèze, moraliste du contemptu mundi. Histoire. Sorbonne Université, 2024. Français. ⟨NNT : 2024SORUL028⟩. ⟨tel-04576077⟩
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