Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Humanism and Calvinism: Andrew Melville and the Universities of Scotland, 1560-1625

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Humanism and Calvinism: Andrew Melville and the Universities of Scotland, 1560-1625

Article excerpt

Humanism and Calvinism: Andrew Melville and the Universities of Scotland, 1560-1625. By Steven J. Reid. (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2011, xiv, 328. $124.95, cloth.)

Andrew Melville was a leading figure in the continuation of the Scottish Reformation following the generation of John Knox. As one of the authors of the Second Book of Discipline (1578) and moderator of the General Assembly of the Scottish Kirk that adopted it, Melville was one of the fathers of Presbyterianism. His project of shaping the Kirk to the pattern of the Church of Geneva, especially in matters of polity, frequently put him at odds with his king, James VI. Melville famously sought to put James in his place in 1596 by telling the king that there were two kingdoms in Scotland, one in which James was head and another in which "Thair is Chryst Jesus the king . . . whase subject King James the Saxt is, and of whase kingdome [is ] nocht a king, nor a lord, nor a heid, bot a member" (161). But Melville, as Steven J. Reid shows in this carefully researched monograph, was more than a theologian and ecclesiastical leader. He was a broadly trained scholar, a skillful Latin poet, and an educational reformer who played a leading part in transforming the medieval universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews into centers of Protestant teaching and scholarship according to the standards of Renaissance universities abroad, as well as of Calvinistic theology.

Melville's career as an educational reformer was frequently stormy, as Reid shows in detail. At Glasgow and subsequently at St. Andrews, where he became principal of St. Mary's College in 1580, members of the teaching staff and administrators who were committed to a traditional curriculum and institutional organization opposed his efforts. At St. Andrews he was also frequently at loggerheads with Patrick Adamson, the Protestant archbishop of the diocese, who was supported by King James VI but opposed by members of the Presbyterian party. The king and his council intervened repeatedly in controversies at St. Andrews. What Melville sought to introduce and sustain at Glasgow and St. Andrews was a humanist curriculum which included classical Greek and Latin literary works read in their original languages as well as Aristotle's works in philosophy also read in the original language. …

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