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Theologia practica: The Diverse Meanings of a Subject of Early Modern Academic Writing

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Chapter Summary

What meaning(s) did the Latin term theologia practica have as a subject of academic discourse in early modern publications? The scope of this question is limited in at least two respects. First, focusing on academic discourse, this chapter considers only publications in Latin that use the expression theologia practica. Second, what seems to be the earliest use of theologia practica as a subject of its own is not limited by confession or geography, the conceptual history from Gisbertus Voetius onward focuses on Reformed sources published in the Dutch Republic, the terminus ad quem being Cornelius van Velzen's monumental Institutiones theologiae practicae. From the Synod of Dordt in 1618 until a Groningen synod held in 1730, the teaching of practical theology had been encouraged but after practical theology thrived in the seventeenth-century and still found some competent supporters, it also had become neglected in some quarters in Van Velzen's own time.

Keywords: Cornelius van Velzen; early modern academic writing; Gisbertus Voetius; seventeenth-century protestantism; Synod of Dordt; theologia practica



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