The judaizing Calvin: Sixteenth-century debates over the messianic Psalms
This dissertation explores the interpretations of Luther, Bucer, and Calvin on a set of eight messianic psalms to demonstrate key debates concerning exegetical strategies, correct doctrinal content, and the proper role of Jewish exegesis in Christian Psalms reading. Moreover, this study examines the exegeses of Luther, Bucer, and Calvin in order to (a) reveal their particular theological emphases and reading strategies, (b) identify their debates over the use of Jewish exegesis and the factors leading to charges of “judaizing” against Calvin, and (c) demonstrate how Psalms reading and the accusation of judaizing serve distinctive purposes of confessional formation.
Luther, Bucer, and Calvin employ their readings of these eight psalms to promote particular confessional agendas. The reading of these psalms as containing prophecies of Christ and teachings of Trinity, the two natures of Christ, the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the distinction of Law and Gospel characterizes Luther's confessional program. Central to his Psalms reading is the depiction of Jews as Christ's enemies, which he redeploys against Catholics to align them with the negative attributes of the Jews found in these psalms.
While Bucer maintains several aspects of Luther's interpretation, he uses them to teach a specifically Reformed theology through his emphases upon election and God's beneficence. Bucer also displays a distinctive methodology in his use of typology and Jewish exegesis. Calvin, however, eclipses the readings of these psalms as pure prophecies of Christ in favor of a historical reading through the example of David. Thus, Calvin gives limited christological readings and elevates biblical Jews, such as David, as supreme examples for Christian imitation, rather than depicting Jews as Christ's enemies. Calvin does not use these psalms to teach Trinity and Christ's dual nature, but to teach Calvinist doctrines of God's providence, beneficence and election. Consequently, the Lutheran Aegidius Hunnius accuses Calvin postmortem of judaizing, and David Pareus defends him. Through the debate of Hunnius and Pareus, the author shows that the accusation of judaizing is a weapon Protestant reformers deployed against one another to discredit a rival Protestant group and to serve purposes of confessional identity formation.