Compendium Theologiæ Christianæ





Shoults Collection Eb 1642 W



[Cambridge]: [Roger Daniel]


Poet and civil servant John Milton (1608-74) composed a systematic theology consisting solely of beliefs which scripture validated. More than half of his Christian Doctrine is made up of thousands of biblical citations, arranged under headings. All this work was modelled on that of Johannes Wollebius or Wolleb (1589–1629), a Swiss Protestant theologian. However, whereas Wollebius was orthodox, summarising mainstream doctrines, Milton often veered away from what he read in Wollebius. For example, regarding the Protestant Last Supper in contrast to the Catholic Mass, Wolleb’s writes: 3. Christus se non in Sacra Coena, sed in cruce obtulit; at in Missa sua Christum offerri volunt. (3. Christ did not offer himself in the sacred Supper, but on the Crosse; but they [Catholics] will have Christ to be offered in their Masse.) Milton’s version is: 3. Christus se non in sacra coena, sed in cruce obtulit; in Missa Christus quotidie a sacerdote sacrificatur. (3. Christ did not offer himself in the sacred supper, but on the Crosse; in the mass Christ is sacrificed daily by the priest.). Here the poet keeps the first half verbatim, then hinges the contrast more starkly with no conjunction. He puts the description of Catholic practice more strongly, stressing ‘daily’ and ending with a figured climax, echoing sac- in his last two words.
(Chosen by Dr John Hale, Fellow, Department of English and Linguistics, Otago)


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Johannes Wolleb, “Compendium Theologiæ Christianæ,” | OUR Heritage, accessed May 31, 2024,