Medieval and Late-Medieval
The Legacy of Literal Prophecies of Christ
A significant part of the weight of Aegidius Hunnius’s charges against Calvin is precisely the fact that Hunnius has the Christian interpretive tradition of the Psalms behind him. Concerning these eight Psalms in particular, Hunnius time and again asserts that they are rightly interpreted only as literal prophecies of Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and kingdom.1 Second, Hunnius points out that past interpreters repeatedly used these Psalms to teach the doctrines of Trinity and the two natures of Christ—teachings he finds lacking in John Calvin’s exegesis of these Psalms.2 I provide a representational piece of the medieval and late-medieval interpretation of the eight messianic Psalms considered in this study by looking at the commentaries of the Glossa Ordinaria, Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1349), Denis the Carthusian (1402-1471), and Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples (1455-1536). Indeed, there are strikingly consistent agreements between these exegetes concerning the primary content of these Psalms as prophecies of Christ and teachings of Trinity and the two natures of Christ, plus interest in the descriptions these Psalms provide concerning the virgin birth of Christ and the sacrament of Eucharist. In truth, there does appear to be a shared Christian interpretive tradition of these eight Psalms, to which Hunnius has every good reason to appeal.
Although each of the sources considered here has its own particular features, the agreement among them is considerable. Therefore, this chapter is arranged according to their common