Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Emidio Campi & Joseph McLelland, eds.


A Reformed theologian’s interpretation of Aristotle’s ethics. (SCE&S 73, PML 9)

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Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, Vol.  73

Peter Martyr Library, Vol. 9

Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562) was a scriptural exegete, but also an Aristotelian philosopher. His voluminous commentaries on Old and New Testament books are complemented by this volume, the only one of its kind in his corpus. As such it provides a window into the complex world of early modern European philosophical translation and commentary, as well as the theology and ethics of the Reformed camp.

Theological commentaries on Aristotle are an important part of the history of the philosophy-theology connection. Thomas Aquinas is an outstanding example, and Peter Martyr Vermigli follows in his steps. It reflects Martyr’s years at Padua studying the “practical Aristotle.” This lecture series, given at Strasbourg 1553–56, provides a running commentary, showing the positive take on The Philosopher, along with the decisive criterion of Scripture. It is a major contribution to the debate on “Reformed Scholasticism,” which casts Beza, Martyr, and Zanchi as protagonists. It supports the thesis of Richard Muller and others that scholasticism is a method rather than a position, a pedagogical mode of organizing doctrine in behalf of clarity and interior logic.


General Editor’s Preface
Editors’ Preface
    Joseph C. McLelland
Text and Translation
Giulio Santerenziano
Peter Martyr Vermigli

Book 1: Happiness
Chapters 1-13

Book 2: Virtue
Chapters 1-9

Book 3: Will
Chapters 1-2

Appendix: Works of Peter Martyr
Index of Scripture References
Index of Classical and Medieval References
Subject Index
About the Editors


Emidio Campi (b. 1943) is professor of church history and director of the Institute for Swiss Reformation History at the University of Zurich. His research has centered mainly on the Swiss Reformation and Reformed Protestantism in early modern Europe. He has organized two major international symposia, the first in 1999 on Peter Martyr Vermigli at Kappel/Zurich. He was coeditor for the publication of its papers, with Frank James III and Peter Opitz: Peter Martyr Vermigli: Humanism, Republicanism, Reformation. The second, dedicated to the work of Heinrich Bullinger, was held at Zurich in August 2004. Among his recent publications are Heinrich Bullinger und seine Zeit; and Architect of Reformation: An Introduction to Heinrich Bullinger, 1504–1575 (with Bruce Gordon). He is general editor of a new series of Bullinger’s works.

Joseph Cumming McLelland (b. 1925) is McConnell Professor of Philosophy of Religion Emeritus, McGill University, Montreal, and Robert Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion and Christian Ethics Emeritus, The Presbyterian College, Montreal; he was dean of the faculty of religious studies at McGill University from 1975 to 1985. His original research on Peter Martyr Vermigli was at New College, Edinburgh (PhD, 1953, under T. F. Torrance). He was president of the Canadian Theological Society, 1968–69, and editor of Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 1973–77. He continues to act as a general editor of the Peter Martyr Library.


[Martyr’s] explorations of philosophical questions arose in the context of biblical commentary; yet it is clear that his studies in Aristotle and Aquinas at the University of Padua enriched his subsequent work in Reformed exegesis.

—Religious Studies Review

Praise and thanks to the general editors...the translators, and others involved in establishing and bringing to publication the Peter Martyr Library.

—Church History

This volume is technically superb, and reflects a consistent team effort.  Though the original Latin text contains obscure terms and phrases, and often indulges in extended detours, the English translation is clean, lucid, and allied with the best interdisciplinary research.... This, along with a good index and a measured use of enriching footnotes, represents the Peter Martyr Library admirably.

—Renaissance Quarterly

This book is part of The Peter Martyr Library project, a joint effort by a group of international scholars who are committed to making Vermigli’s works available in English.  The appendix of the book contains a brief bibliography of Vermigli’s works.  The publication of this commentary is timely, particularly in light of the relatively recent reemergence of interest in the studies of Aristotelian virtue ethics.  This commentary will challenge commonly held opinions that Aristotelian virtue ethics was disappearing with the coming of the Reformation. Anyone interested in theological ethics or the history of the relationship between philosophy and theology in the Reformed tradition will greatly benefit from reading this book.

Calvin Theological Journal


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