Caspar Olevianus

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Caspar Olevianus, German Reformer, was born on August 10, 1536 and died on March 15, 1587. He was the co-author, along with Zacharias Ursinus, of the Heidelberg Catechism. A helpful bio is found here.

olevian.jpg


See also this thread.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Caspar Olevianus, German Reformer, was born on August 10, 1536 and died on March 15, 1587. He was the co-author, along with Zacharias Ursinus, of the Heidelberg Catechism. A helpful bio is found here.

olevian.jpg


See also this thread.

Thanks Andrew!

It's good to see folk remembering Caspar.

That picture is an early 17th century sketch. It's probably not accurate. Compare it to this 1565 drawing:

Olevian1565.TIF


There are a couple of minor errors in the account linked.

1. Olevian and the Calvinists were expelled in 1576. They controlled the Palatinate for about 15 years.

2. He was very productive in his period of "exile." The account might give the impression that all he wrote was to help prepare the catechism.

There is little evidence that either his Firm Foundation or Farmer's Catechism were written relative to the HC. FF was published in '67 after the HC and the FC was written before its relations to the HC are unclear. They are certainly useful guides to interpreting the HC, however.

He published a number of things after his exile including a massive 700 page Latin commentary on Romans (on which I'm working now), as well as other Latin commentaries on other Pauline epistles. He also published his most famous work On the Substance of the Covenant of Grace Between God and the Elect (1585) on which I plan to do more work in the coming years, DV. There is considerable reflection on these works, however, in my new book. De substantia was a formative text for Reformed federal theology. Cocceius cited it as one of his chief influences.

I recommend highly the English translation of Vester Grund (Firm Foundation) done by Lyle Bierma. His new book on the HC (including Ursinus' smaller and larger catechisms) is also a must. Now that folk can read Ursinus' catechisms for themselves, they can see not only how clearly he taught the covenant of works, but also how clearly he aligned the covenant of works with the "law" as a hermeneutical category, i.e., it is not gospel (!) and how clearly and insistently he distinguished the covenant of grace as "gospel" from the law and the covenant of works.

FF is one of the most edifying and solid things you will read this year. For starters, he began with the covenant of redemption in the first Q and A!

rsc

[Edited on 1-2-2006 by R. Scott Clark]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Thanks, Dr. Clark! I appreciate the info. I think it is immensely profitable to learn about the life and works of the great Reformers, and Olevianus definitely qualifies. I very appreciate your labors and those of others who have strived to make him more accessible to modern English readers and students of church history.

What would you recommend in the way of good biographies to read about him?

Can you tell me more about the Farmer's Catechism? I am entirely unacquainted with it.

I looked for his picture in Beza's Icones and Thulin's Illustrated History of the Reformation, which have both been illuminating to me, but was surpised not to find his picture there.

I did find this portrait, apparently done in 1566:

38-01.jpg
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Good Ol' Caspar! I LOVE this guy...!!!

"A Firm Foundation: an aid to understanding the Heidelberg Catechism" is an astonishingly useful volume - with an extensive historical intro by L. Bierma.

It really proves the second-generation Reformed had a heart!

Better understanding of the truth = deeper emotion.

:2cents:

R.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot

What would you recommend in the way of good biographies to read about him?

The introduction through p. 73 (intro, ch 1 and ch 2) of my book and esp. 2 are biographical. That is the most up-to-date biography of Olevianus.

Can you tell me more about the Farmer's Catechism? I am entirely unacquainted with it.

Not much. He wrote it shortly after he arrived in Heidelberg. It was a German catechism aimed at the Volk. It wasn't widely used and was almost certainly discarded after the publication of the HC in early '63. I think the substance of it is reflected in Firm Foundation. I haven't done much work with it.

I did find this portrait, apparently done in 1566:

38-01.jpg

This painting was done in 1605, not 1566.

It purports to show in at age 30.

The TIF to which I linked is the earliest and most likely rendering of Olevianus. As time passed and his legend grew, the paintings tended to reflect the painter or the period more than Olevianus. For example, the commonly printed 19th century painting is completely romantic whereas the 1565 sketch shows him haggard, white-headed and white-bearded, slightly cross-eyed at age 29/30!

That's much more likely likely than the later portraits. Life was hard in the 16th century. Clean food and water were hard to get. Sickness was almost constant as was death. The plague swept through Heidelberg at least once during the Calvinist tenure there. The '65 sketch reflects a man who is living through those realities.

rsc
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Thanks again, Dr. Clark! Your book is high on my list; I hope to acquire it soon.

I am a little confused about the picture because the website it came from says that it was done in 1566, but it does not identify the painter. Oh well, it's not important. I do appreciate the info.

Apparently I drove near his birthplace once in 1991 when I was in Germany on my way to Luxembourg without realizing it. (sigh)

I read something interesting about his last words:

To the question of his colleague Ulsted, whether his welfare was certain, he answered "Certissimus".
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
...I am a little confused about the picture because the website it came from says that it was done in 1566, but it does not identify the painter. Oh well, it's not important. I do appreciate the info.

I suppose the person who identified the painting as being from 1566 misunderstood the Roman numerals. They can be confusing.

I read something interesting about his last words:

To the question of his colleague Ulsted, whether his welfare was certain, he answered "Certissimus".

From p. 162 of my book:

On the morning of the 15th, Jacob Alsted the deacon and Piscator paid him a final pastoral call with the latter reading to him from various portions of Scripture. Bernhard Textor spoke a few words of comfort and they sang a hymn together. Finally, Alsted is said to have asked Caspar if he was confident of his salvation. Olevian´s reply was said to have been: "˜Most certain.´ (Certissimus).

rsc
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Schaff cites a Latin poem by Beza on the death of Olevianus (he wrote one on the death of Calvin too). Can anyone direct me to the full poem, and its English translation?

Theodore Beza lamented his death in a Latin poem, beginning

'Eheu, quibus suspiriis,

Eheu, quibus te lacrymis

Oleviane, planxero?'

The more complete text (but not fully - the full text is somewhere in Beza's letters, in my files) is found here:

Eheu, quibus suspiriis,
Eheu, quibus te lecrymis,
Oleviane, Planxero?
Nam dotibus pares tuis,
Doloribus pares meis"¦.

(As reprinted in K. Sudhoff, C. Olevianus und Z. Ursinus [Elberfield, 1857], 471).

My rough translation is"

Ah, with those who sigh
Ah with those who cry,
Will I have mourned you Olevian?
For your talents are equal
To my sorrows....

I refer to it in the chapter on "humanist-scholasticism" but the poem isn't really all that memorable.

It was sort of expected that someone of one's circle of academic friends (Beza was a sort of mentor to Olevian and edited several of his works through the Vignon press in Geneva) would produce a fitting tribute to a recently deceased friend. The feelings expressed were genuine, however.

rsc
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Caspar Olevianus, German Reformer, was born on August 10, 1536 and died on March 15, 1587. He was the co-author, along with Zacharias Ursinus, of the Heidelberg Catechism. A helpful bio is found here.

olevian.jpg


See also this thread.

Thanks Andrew!

It's good to see folk remembering Caspar.

That picture is an early 17th century sketch. It's probably not accurate. Compare it to this 1565 drawing:

Olevian1565.TIF


There are a couple of minor errors in the account linked.

1. Olevian and the Calvinists were expelled in 1576. They controlled the Palatinate for about 15 years.

2. He was very productive in his period of "exile." The account might give the impression that all he wrote was to help prepare the catechism.

There is little evidence that either his Firm Foundation or Farmer's Catechism were written relative to the HC. FF was published in '67 after the HC and the FC was written before its relations to the HC are unclear. They are certainly useful guides to interpreting the HC, however.

He published a number of things after his exile including a massive 700 page Latin commentary on Romans (on which I'm working now), as well as other Latin commentaries on other Pauline epistles. He also published his most famous work On the Substance of the Covenant of Grace Between God and the Elect (1585) on which I plan to do more work in the coming years, DV. There is considerable reflection on these works, however, in my new book. De substantia was a formative text for Reformed federal theology. Cocceius cited it as one of his chief influences.

I recommend highly the English translation of Vester Grund (Firm Foundation) done by Lyle Bierma. His new book on the HC (including Ursinus' smaller and larger catechisms) is also a must. Now that folk can read Ursinus' catechisms for themselves, they can see not only how clearly he taught the covenant of works, but also how clearly he aligned the covenant of works with the "law" as a hermeneutical category, i.e., it is not gospel (!) and how clearly and insistently he distinguished the covenant of grace as "gospel" from the law and the covenant of works.

FF is one of the most edifying and solid things you will read this year. For starters, he began with the covenant of redemption in the first Q and A!

rsc

[Edited on 1-2-2006 by R. Scott Clark]

Brother,

Can you provide some links for purchase, both for your own work as well as the works mentioned above? I'd appreciate it muchly.

JL
 
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