- Jean (c. 1525-1570) et Josias (c. 1560-1626) Mercier: L'amour de la philologie à la Renaissance et au début de l'âge classique
This work presents a series of essays on Jean Mercier, philologue of the sixteenth century and notable Hebraist, and Josiah Mercier, son of Jean, and also a philologue and humanist. Of the ten essays and avant-propos of François Roudaut in the collected papers of the Collogue d'Uzès, seven are devoted to Jean Mercier and three to his son, Josiah. The study of Mireille Olneière and Pierre Pelissero provide interesting and necessary details about the life of Jean Mercier. [End Page 578] Although Jean Mercier was very important in Hebraic studies in the Renaissance, his contributions to Renaissance scholarship are not all that well-known, and this series of essays provides us with significant information about the growing importance of Hebrew studies during the reign of Francis I and their significance in regard to reform within the Roman Church and likewise among Protestant reformers.
Four of the contributions deal with the Hebrew language studies of Jean Mercier and his belief in the necessity of a knowledge of Hebrew in order to understand the mysteries of creation. The titles of the articles dealing with Mercier and the significance of Hebrew are as follows: "Les éditions hébraïques de Jean Mercier et les manuscrits hébreux" by Jean-Pierre Rothschild, "Jean Mercier et l'arameen" by Sophie Kessler-Mesguick, "La kaballe chez Jean Mercier" by Jean-François Maillard, and "Note sur Jean Mercier et l'ancien Testament" by Franco Giacone. All these discussions are exemplary in detail and in careful scholarship: Maillard's contribution is especially noteworthy in its specificity as well as its broad view of the use of the Kaballah, or the lack of it, by various humanist reformers. He carefully weighs Mercier's use of and interest in the Kabbalah between linguistic considerations and an interest in esoterique literature. Maillard notes: "Contrairement à Postel qui donnait à la kabbale le statut privilégié de litérature quasi canonique et en dépit d'une attirance, voire d'une sympathie indéniables, Mercier en a fait un usage modéré sans jamais donner quant à liu, des traités ou des exégèses aussi exclusivement fondées sur celle-ci" (101).
Franco Giacone, in his "Jean Mercier en son tempo, Documents nouveaux et pièces liminaires," presents epigrams, one Latin, four Greek, and one Hebrew, in which Mercier urges the study of Hebrew in order to understand "les mystères de la Création, les mystères des prophètes, le sens de la nouvelle loi" (25). In the second contribution of Giacone to this volume, "Note sur Jean Mercier e l'ancien Testament," the author discusses Jean Mercier's In Genesin and provides an interesting comparison of Mercier's commentary on Genesis with that of Jean Calvin. Mercier's discussions of syntactical problems are illuminating; especially fascinating is the use of the plural ELOHIM with a singular verb. Giacone explains that Mercier held that the mystery of the Trinity is symbolized, the noun being an allusion to the Trinity and the verb to the Trinitarian Unity. For Calvin the Hebraic plural did not indicate the three persons of the Trinity; rather the plural indicated that "Dei virtutes sonet quas in creando mundo exseruit" (138). Claude-Françoise Brunon writes of Jean Mercier as a translator with meticulous detail in "Jean Mercier traducteur d'Horapollon."
The final three articles are entitled "Le livre de famille de Josias Mercier" (Roger Zuber), "Josias Mercier, éditeur de Darès le Phyygien" (Louis Faivre d'Arcier), and "Josiah Mercier commentateur des Annales de Tacite" (Olivier Devillers). The last articles provide the reader with a careful study of the humanist philologue Josiah Mercier. Every study...