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Renske Hoff MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Dutch History, Early Modern History, History of Books, Religious History & Theology

Cohort/Start PhD: 2017-2018

In Readers’ Hands: Early Modern Dutch Bibles from a Users’ Perspective

University of Groningen
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Sabrina Corbellini, Prof. dr. Wim François
Aanstelling: vanaf oktober 2017

This research project offers a fresh approach to the production, dissemination and use of sixteenth century Bible translations – key texts in the religious, cultural, social, and political transformations of the sixteenth-century Low Countries. By studying the surviving copies of vernacular Bibles printed by Willem Vorsterman, Jacob van Liesvelt, and Henrick Peetersen van Middelburch (372 from a preliminary overview), the project will provide a unique insight into the interaction between the biblical text and its readers, while also revealing the influence of current devotional practices, pastoral concerns, and theological beliefs in the often centuries-long periods that they were in use. In order to gain an understanding of the Wirkungsgeschichte of these texts, the proposed research will analyze the traces of use, ownership marks, content-related annotations, and even the censorship interventions found in the copies under scrutiny. The research will give a fresh look at the cultural dynamics of a key period in the history of the Low Countries. The approach also testifies to a significant ‘turn’ in the attitude to vernacular Bible translations, characterized by a more nuanced view of the reaction of the (Catholic) Church and intellectuals to the issues of Bible translation and dissemination, as well as by a stronger focus on the ‘human factor’ and the agents involved in this process (translators, printers, users, readers, commentators, and in some cases, censors).