Reading and numerology in the early French reform

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French humanists and reformers around 1500 drew upon ancient and twelfth-century practices of reading numerologically, in an effort to recover a rich mode of doing philosophy rooted in Christian scriptures. This article is chiefly exploratory, setting out this programme’s sources, practices, and aims within the circle of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples, comparing to the influential projects of the Modern Devotion, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola. The article centres on some examples of how this hermeneutic practice looked in action, before closing with the idea that conceptual ambition made it vulnerable to the mounting pressures of the early French reformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-72
JournalReformation & Renaissance Review
Issue number1
Early online date4 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples
  • Nicholas of Cusa
  • monastic reading
  • biblical exegesis
  • arithmology
  • Odo of Morimond


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