Doru Radosav: Beyond Ethnic Boundaries. The Culture of Banat in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century and the European "Republic of Letters" (p. 78-90)

In the seventeenth century, in Banat there occurred a cultural phenomenon which foregrounds its multi-ethnic, inter-cultural dimension in the following centuries The extra-ethnic intellectual solidarity within the scholarly and academic milieus in which the Romanian scholars from the Banat were present in the seventeenth century consecrates on the one hand the dialogue and intellectual "friendships" and on the other the con-citizenship within the great European Republic of Letters. In the seventeenth century, as a society of "good" letters, this expression is generalized at the level of all knowledge and sciences and designates a large intellectual community, which comprises scholars and men of letters. Gradually, the Republic of Letters extends both geographically and semantically. Thus, there are a number of theses, which the author tries to argue through a brief reconstruction of a cultural phenomenon, situated chronologically between 1582 and 1715. In the view of the author, this phenomenon fertilized a field or a spiritual space, which has promoted multi-ethnic cultural values in the following centuries. Radosav managed to demonstrate that between these chronological landmarks an intellectual, literary effort was underway, progressively well-delineated and structured in stages and sequences which witness developments and gradual fulfillment. In the opinion of the author this cultural phenomenon had three stages: the stage of the translators, the stage of the creators and the stage of the lexicography. Practically, this means the promotion, through translation, through writings in the Romanian language, with Latin orthography and represents a linguistic and cultural innovation which alludes to the Humanist cultural programme. The author shows that the translation of the texts, especially of the religious ones into the vernacular, into Romanian was stimulated by the Reformation and the Counter Reformation.

            Another segment of the study is dedicated to the analyses of the historical and social context, which has favoured the emergence of this cultural programme with a European theme and standard. The answer is given by the Romanian noble families from Banat and by the proselytizing competition between Catholicism and Reformation concerning them. The confessional options of this nobility, either Catholic or Calvinist, permitted a certain type of emancipation from the pressure of Orthodox traditionalism. This can be observed through the cultural initiatives and achievements at the level of cultivating the vernacular language. In this process, the author highlighted several important moments, marked by the translations into Romanian language of important theological texts: the Palia from Orăştie, the Catechism of Petrus Canisius, the catechism published in 1648, and the Psalms. As Radosav well observed, behind all these translations an important member of the developing Romanian cultural aristocracy, like Gheorghe Buitul, István Fogarasi, Mihail Halici the Father, Gabriel Ivul, and Mihail Halici the Son can be found. Offering miniature portraits of these scholars, the author makes use of them to highlight once more the ways in which the Banat area was getting access to the major European cultural trends in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.