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Pagans and Theologians: An Examination of the Use of Christian Sources in Niels Hemmingsen’s De Lege Naturae

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Reform according to Right Law: the Use of Legal Tradition in Reformation Theology. Issue Editor: André A. Gazal


At the conclusion of his De lege naturae apodictica methodus, a treatise on the law of nature, how it is grasped by the human mind, and how it coheres with the Decalogue, Niels Hemmingsen claims to have eschewed the use of theological sources in his argument, claiming instead to have demonstrated ‘how far reason is able to progress without the prophetic and apostolic word’. Yet the reader of the treatise will notice several citations of theologians alongside those of pagan poets and philosophers. This essay demonstrates that there is less here than meets the eye, that is, that Hemmingsen quotes theologians only to buttress what one can know from natural reason or the classical tradition, even when he is discussing God, and thus he does not violate his own stated principle.

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Theologie und Religion, Allgemeines und Rezeptionsgeschichte der Bibel