Out of the Flames is an extraordinary story - providing testament to the power of ideas, the enduring legacy of books, and the triumph of individual courage.
Out of the Flames tracks the history of The Chrisitianismi Restituto, examining Michael Servetus's life and times and the politics of the first information during the sixteenth century. The Chrisitianismi Restituto, a heretical work of biblical scholarship, written in 1553, aimed to refute the orthodox Christianity that Michael Servetus' old colleague, John Calvin, supported. After the book spread through the ranks of Protestant hierarchy, Servetus was tried and agonizingly burned at the stake, the last known copy of the Restitutio chained to his leg.
Servetus's execution marked a turning point in the quest for freedom of expression, due largely to the development of the printing press and the proliferation of books in Renaissance Europe. Three copies of the Restitutio managed to survive the burning, despite every effort on the part of his enemies to destroy them. As a result, the book became almost a surrogate for its author, going into hiding and relying on covert distribution until it could be read freely, centuries later.
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone follow the clandestine journey of the three copies through the subsequent centuries and explore its author's legacy and influence over the thinkers that shared his spirit and genius, such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson, Clarence Dorrow, and William Osler.
When Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for heresy in 1553, he had spent much of his life running from the Church. Born into a noble Spanish family, he studied medicine and the humanities extensively. By age 20, he had written a treatise on the Trinity that incensed Church authorities and led him into self-imposed exile. But the book that doomed Servetus was Christianismi Restitutio (Christianity Restored), which challenged, among other ideas, John Calvin's doctrine of predestination and argued that God exists in all people and all things. The reaction to Servetus's text was so vehement that all copies discovered were destroyed. As the Goldstones (book collectors and authors of Used and Rare, etc.) reveal, three copies of the book still exist. In this lively account, the authors vividly recreate a Renaissance world of revolution and reform in which the dissemination of ideas flourished thanks to the printing press. They also trace the paths of the surviving copies of Christianismi Restitutio as they make their way through the hands of Voltaire, Rousseau, Jefferson and physician William Osler. More than a theological treatise, the Christianismi Restitutio contains a paragraph that explains pulmonary circulation, decades before William Harvey generally credited with this discovery announced his find. The Goldstones offer both a portrait of an important but neglected Renaissance humanist and a testimony to the power of books to shape minds and hearts. Illus. (On sale Sept. 17)
What a wonderfully written inspirational history of printing and how Michael Servetus' used this incredible technology we so take for granted today to change the world. I found his zeal and passion for the "truth", and his willingness to fearlessly write and publish to be truly inspirational.
Thank you for such a wonderful perspective on history and for an eye opener on truth.