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BOOK REVIEWS 99 the role of Candidus in Alcuin's circle (at the expense of the more frequently discussed Fredegisus, the author of a curious letter On Nothing and Shadows), and his observation that the "nominalism" that some older historians thought they saw in this early medieval period "is almost entirely an illusion" (p. 149). This volume is filled with historical information. In my opinion, however, Marenbon is too imprecise about the philosophical problems he discusses. Thus, for instance , the theory that all souls are one is described as a theory of "The World Soul," although that term refers to an entirely different doctrine. Again, the problem of universals is anachronistically described as a problem about the relation between a class and its members (p. 5)- On this description, the nominalist position is characterized unintelligibly as holding that "the class" is "a descriptive term" (ibid.). Indeed, although the problem of universals is a major recurring theme throughout the book, Marenbon never states clearly and unambiguously just what he takes that problem to be. This is indicative of what I find to be the main fault of the book. Too often philosophical views are mentioned without being stated or evaluated without being examined in detail. For instance, Fredegisus is said to have been "fascinated with the techniques of logic for their own sake," although his letter "gives a distinctly unfavorable impression of the mental powers of its author" (p. 63). In another work, now lost, Fredegisus employed arguments Marenbon describes as "crude" but nevertheless "far too sophisticated" for the apparently even less capable Agobard of Lyon (p. 66). Yet the evidence presented for these sweeping verdicts is very meager indeed. Marenbon's text is accompanied by an index, a bibliography of manuscripts and printed sources, and three appendixes. One of the appendixes contains a very welcome complete and critical edition of the "Munich Passages" from the circle of Alcuin. PAUL VINCENT SPADE Indiana University Marion L. Kuntz. Guillaume Postel, Prophet of the Restitution of All Things: His Life and Thought. International Archives of the History of Ideas, vol. 98. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 198x. Pp.xv + 27o. $39.oo. Guillaume Postel was a typical Renaissance figure, given his knowledge of many languages and his achievements in mathematics, geography, cosmography, and medicine . But there was a division in Postel between the man of high intelligence, lofty ideals and spirituality. Thus he became the champion of a world united under the French king and the Judeo-Christian religion. In his later years he considered it his mission to restore the pristine origin of man. It is far from easy to unravel the various strands that make up his personality. But Professor Kuntz has admirably succeeded in giving a vivid picture of her subject's complex character. Following a chronological order, the author has traced Postei's career in three chapters entitled~"Viator," "Comprehensor," and "Congregator." Through her ex- 1OO HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY tensive research in archives Kuntz was able to throw new light on many episodes of Postel's long life. At the College of St. Barbe, in Paris, he associated with Spanish and Portuguese students, learning their languages in addition to Latin, Greek, Hebre w, and Arabic. The author found evidence to the effect that Postel had contact with Damifio de Gois, the Portuguese nobleman and intimate of Erasmus, with whom he shared an interest in the faith of the Ethiopians. During his two trips to the Orient Postel collected valuable manuscripts and books and gathered new information of the people living there. He gained a reputation as an outstanding Orientalist in highest circles. Postel's religious affiliation is controversial. He criticized some tenets of both Catholics and Protestants. After his experience at the hospital in Venice, his first translation of the Zohar, and the publication of the De Orbis terrae Concordia Postel favored Judaism and, as Kuntz believes, may have converted to the ~[ewish faith as early as 1547. His personal contacts reflect his religious independence. He was on friendly terms with the renowned publishers Oporinus and Bomberg and the physician-publisher Zwinger. He admired Melanchthon and at the same time fully approved of Ignatius of Loyola's spiritual reform. He...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 99-101
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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