Hamilton, Alastair 1941-
HAMILTON, Alastair 1941-
PERSONAL: Born May 20, 1941, in Barnet, London, England; son of Hamish (a publisher) and Yvonne (maiden name, Vicino; present surname, Pallavicino) Hamilton; married Cecilia Mucchi, May 18, 1968.
Education: King's College, Cambridge, B.A., 1962, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1982. Hobbies and other interests: "Visiting Islamic movements."
ADDRESSES: Home—Willemshof 4, 2312 MX Leiden, Netherlands. Office—Opleiding Engels, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9515, 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of Urbino, Urbino, Italy, professor of English, 1977-88; University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, professor of radical reformation history, 1987-2001; University of Leiden, Louise Thijssen-Schouten Professor of the History of Ideas, 1986—.
The Appeal of Fascism: A Study of Intellectuals and Fascism, 1919-1945, Anthony Blond (London, England), 1970.
The Family of Love, James Clarke (Cambridge, England), 1981.
William Bedwell, the Arabist, 1563-1632, E. J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1985.
Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The Alumbrados, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992.
Europe and the Arab World: Five Centuries of Books by European Scholars and Travellers from the Libraries of the Arcadian Group, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Sjouke Voolstra and Piet Visser) From Martyr to Muppy (Mennonite Urban Professionals): A Historical Introduction to Cultural Assimilation Processes of a Religious Minority in the Netherlands, the Mennonites, Amsterdam University Press (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1994.
The Apocryphal Apocalypse: The Reception of the Second Book of Esdras (4 Ezra) from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with Alexander H. de Groot and Maurits H. van den Boogert) Friends and Rivals in the East: Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations in the Levant from the Seventeenth to the Early Nineteenth Century, Brill (Boston, MA), 2000.
Arab Culture and Ottoman Magnificence in Antwerp's Golden Age, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: "It is high praise for a scholarly author that he can take a complex and arcane subject and make it appear neither," wrote Andrew Pettegree in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. Pettegree was referring to author Alastair Hamilton, and Hamilton's book The Apocryphal Apocalypse: The Reception of the Second Book of Esdras (4 Ezra) from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. In this work the author, a former professor of "radical reformation history" in the Netherlands, examines 2 Esdras, which was reputedly written by Ezra the Scribe who was among the "minor Prophets" of the Old Testament. The text, according to Utopian Studies contributor Derk Visser, "is a short apocalypse that was probably written at the end of the first century CE. It is thus approximately contemporaneous with the canonical Book of Revelation."
The 2 Esdras' end-of-the-world scenario was quoted freely in its time, but was less well-remembered than the Book of Revelation. All that changed in the later centuries, however. Hamilton shows, said Visser, "the apparent popularity of 2 Esdras after the Middle Ages. It was quoted by authors on the margins of the established Churches, whether Catholic, Calvinist or Lutheran; by authors of such visionary movements as Paracelsians and Rosicrucians as well as by English millenarians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries." In assessing the influence of 2 Esdras, Hamilton "shows a mischievous pleasure in the darker side of Renaissance scholarship," Pettegree commented. "He is also sensitive … to the connections between biblical prophetic scholarship and the contemporary relationship with the eastern world."
The eastern world was indeed a subject of Hamilton's Arab Culture and Ottoman Magnificence in Antwerp's Golden Age, published in 2001. In the sixteenth century, scholar Gorophis Becanus argued, "that not only was language divine in origin, but that its original form was Dutch," as Robert Irwin noted in the Times Literary Supplement. This was an example of the thinking during Antwerp's intellectual golden age; the same Renaissance era saw the rise of artist Albrecht Durer in Germany and the publication of Thomas More's Utopia in England.
But as Europe prospered, was the influence of the mideastern cultures being acknowledged? "In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was rare indeed for scholars to study Arabic in order to understand Islam or the Arabs better," wrote Irwin. "Rather, Arabic was mostly studied for the light its grammar and vocabulary shed on other related Semitic tongues." Hamilton sheds light on some of the leading Arabists of the Dutch Renaissance, including Benito Arias Montano and what Irwin called, "the greatest Arabist of the sixteenth century," Guillaume Postel. But Antwerp was shut off from international contact with the invasion of the Spanish in 1585. And as Hamilton wrote in Arab Culture and Ottoman Magnificence, after that, "with the deaths of the greatest Arabists of the seventeenth century … the interest in Arabic grammar and lexicography, which had been growing ever since the days of Postel, appears to have come to a halt. It would only resume properly in the nineteenth century."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, February, 1994, Sara Nalle, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The Alumbrados, p. 252.
Book Collector, autumn, 1995, review of Europe and the Arab World: Five Centuries of Books by European Scholars and Travelers from the Libraries of the Arcadian Group, p. 410.
Catholic Biblical Quarterly, October, 2001, David Bryan, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse: The Reception of the Second Book of Esdras (4 Ezra) from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, p. 720.
English Historical Review, February, 1996, J. R. L. Highfield, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 169.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October, 2001, Andrew Pettegree, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse, p. 260.
Journal of Modern History, March, 1995, Lu Ann Homza, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 198.
Journal of Theological Studies, April, 1995, R. W. Truman, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 392; April, 2001, A. Frederic Klijn, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse, p. 194.
New Statesman & Society, May 27, 1994, Laurence O'Toole, "Literature and Evil," p. 37.
Renaissance and Reformation, spring, 1995, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 80.
Renaissance Quarterly, autumn, 1994, Allyson Poska, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 691.
Sixteenth-Century Journal, winter, 2001, Robin Barnes, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse, p. 1156.
Theological Studies, September, 1994, Mary Giles, review of Heresy and Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain, p. 587.
Times Literary Supplement, June 24, 1994, Robert Irwin, review of Europe and the Arab World, p. 32; April 21, 2000, Anthony Grafton, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse, p. 5; June 28, 2002, Robert Irwin, "Arabian Antwerp," p. 6.
Utopian Studies, spring, 2000, Derk Visser, review of The Apocryphal Apocalypse, p. 260.