- Desiderius Erasmus
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger
Full name Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus Born October 28, 1466
Rotterdam, Burgundian Netherlands, Leo Belgicus
Died July 12, 1536(aged 69)
Basel, Old Swiss Confederacy
Era Renaissance Region Western philosophy Main interests Christian philosophy, Renaissance humanism
Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style and enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists." He has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists." Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament. These raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.
Erasmus lived through the Reformation period, but while he was critical of the Church, he could not bring himself to join the cause of the Reformers. In relation to clerical abuses in the Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within. He also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps. He died in Basel in 1536 and was buried in the formerly Catholic cathedral there, which had been converted to a Reformed church in 1529.
Erasmus was his baptismal name, given after St. Erasmus of Formiae. Desiderius was a self-adopted additional name, which he used from 1496. The Roterodamus in his scholarly name is the Latinized adjectival form for the city of Rotterdam.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Writings
- 3 Sileni Alcibiadis (1515)
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Representations
- 6 Works
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Desiderius Erasmus was born in Holland on October 28th. The exact year of his birth is debated but some evidence confirming 1466 can be found in Erasmus's own words. Of twenty-three statements Erasmus made about his age, all but one of the first fifteen indicate 1466. He was christened "Erasmus" after the saint of that name. Although associated closely with Rotterdam, he lived there for only four years, never to return. Information on his family and early life comes mainly from vague references in his writings. His parents almost certainly were not legally married. His father, named Roger Gerard, later became a priest and afterwards curate in Gouda. Little is known of his mother other than that her name was Margaret and she was the daughter of a physician. Although he was born out of wedlock, Erasmus was cared for by his parents until their early deaths from the plague in 1483. He was then given the very best education available to a young man of his day, in a series of monastic or semi-monastic schools, most notably a Latin school in Deventer run by the Brethren of the Common Life (inspired by Geert Groote). During his stay here the curriculum was renewed by the principal of the school, Alexander Hegius. For the first time ever Greek was taught at a lower level than a university in Europe, and this is where he began learning it. He also gleaned there the importance of a personal relationship with God but eschewed the harsh rules and strict methods of the religious brothers and educators.
Ordination and monastic experience
In 1492, poverty forced Erasmus into the monastery. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood and took vows as an Augustinian canon at Steyn at about the age of 25, but he never seemed to have actively worked as a priest for a longer time, and certain tenets of monasticism were among the chief objects of his attack in his lifelong assault upon Church excesses.
While at Steyn, Erasmus fell in love with a fellow monk, Servatius Rogerus, and wrote a series of passionate letters in which he called Rogerus "half my soul". He wrote, "I have wooed you both unhappily and relentlessly." This correspondence contrasts sharply with the generally detached and much more restrained attitude he showed in his later life. Later, while tutoring in Paris, he was suddenly dismissed by the guardian of Thomas Grey. Some have taken this as grounds for an illicit affair. No personal denunciation was made of Erasmus during his lifetime, however, and he took pains to put distance in later life with these earlier episodes by condemning sodomy in his works, and praising sexual desire in the context of marriage between men and women.
Soon after his priestly ordination, he got his chance to leave the monastery when offered the post of secretary to the Bishop of Cambray, Henry of Bergen, on account of his great skill in Latin and his reputation as a man of letters. In order to allow him to accept that post, he was given a temporary dispensation from his monastic vows on the grounds of poor health and love of Humanistic studies, though he remained a "secular priest". Pope Leo X later made the dispensation permanent, a considerable privilege at the time.
Education and scholarship
In 1495, with the bishop's consent and stipend, he went on to study at the University of Paris, in the Collège de Montaigu, a center of reforming zeal, under the direction of the ascetic Jan Standonck, of whose rigors Erasmus complained. The University was then the chief seat of Scholastic learning, but already coming under the influence of Renaissance humanism. For instance, Erasmus became an intimate friend of an Italian Humanist Publio Fausto Andrelini, poet and "professor of humanity" in Paris.
The chief centers of Erasmus's activity were Paris, Leuven (Louvain in Brabant), England, and Basel; yet he never belonged firmly in any one of these places. His time in England was fruitful in the making of lifelong friendships with the leaders of English thought in the days of King Henry VIII: John Colet, Thomas More, John Fisher, Thomas Linacre and William Grocyn. At the University of Cambridge, he was the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity and had the option of spending the rest of his life as an English professor. He stayed at Queens' College, Cambridge from 1510 to 1515, and may have been an alumnus.
In 1499, while in England, Erasmus was particularly impressed by the Bible teaching of John Colet who pursued a style more akin to the church fathers than the Scholastics. This prompted him, upon his return from England, to master the Greek language, which would enable him to study theology on a more profound level and to prepare a new edition of Jerome's Bible translation. On one occasion he wrote Colet:
"I cannot tell you, dear Colet, how I hurry on, with all sails set, to holy literature. How I dislike everything that keeps me back, or retards me."
Despite a chronic shortage of money, he succeeded in learning Greek by an intensive, day-and-night study of three years, continuously begging his friends to send him books and money for teachers in his letters. Discovery in 1506 of Lorenzo Valla's New Testament Notes encouraged Erasmus to continue the study of the New Testament.
Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression. Throughout his life, he was offered many positions of honor and profit throughout the academic world but declined them all, preferring the uncertain but sufficient rewards of independent literary activity. From 1506 to 1509, he was in Italy: in 1506 he graduated as Doctor of Divinity at the Turin University, and he spent part of the time at the publishing house of Aldus Manutius in Venice. According to his letters, he was associated with the Venetian natural philosopher, Giulio Camillo, but, apart from this, he had a less active association with Italian scholars than might have been expected.
His residence at Leuven, where he lectured at the Catholic University, exposed Erasmus to much criticism from those ascetics, academicians and clerics hostile to the principles of literary and religious reform and the loose norms of the Renaissance adherents to which he was devoting his life. In 1517, he supported the foundation at the University, by his friend Jeroen Van Busleyden, of the Collegium Trilingue for the study of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek—after the model of the College of the Three Languages at the University of Alcalá. However, feeling that the lack of sympathy which prevailed at Leuven at that time was actually a form of mental persecution, he sought refuge in Basel, where under the shelter of Swiss hospitality he could express himself freely. Admirers from all quarters of Europe visited him there and he was surrounded by devoted friends, notably developing a lasting association with the great publisher Johann Froben.
Only when he had mastered Latin did he begin to express himself on major contemporary themes in literature and religion. He felt called upon to use his learning in a purification of the doctrine by returning to the historic documents and original languages of sacred Scripture. He tried to free the methods of scholarship from the rigidity and formalism of medieval traditions, but he was not satisfied with this. His revolt against certain forms of Christian monasticism and scholasticism was not based on doubts about the truth of doctrine, nor from hostility to the organization of the Church itself, nor from rejection of celibacy or monastical lifestyles. He saw himself as a preacher of righteousness by an appeal to reason, applied frankly and without fear of the magisterium. He always intended to remain faithful to Catholic doctrine, and therefore was convinced he could criticize frankly and virtually everyone. Erasmus held himself aloof from entangling obligations, yet he was the center of the literary movement of his time. He corresponded with more than five hundred men in the worlds of politics and of thought.
Publication of the Greek New Testament
The first New Testament printed in Greek was part of the Complutensian Polyglot. This portion was printed in 1514, but publication was delayed until 1522 by waiting for the Old Testament portion, and the sanction of Pope Leo X. Erasmus had been working for years on two projects: a collation of Greek texts and a fresh Latin New Testament. In 1512, he began his work on this Latin New Testament. He collected all the Vulgate manuscripts he could find to create a critical edition. Then he polished the Latin. He declared, "It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin." In the earlier phases of the project, he never mentioned a Greek text: "My mind is so excited at the thought of emending Jerome’s text, with notes, that I seem to myself inspired by some god. I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense." While his intentions for publishing a fresh Latin translation are clear, it is less clear why he included the Greek text. Though some speculate that he intended to produce a critical Greek text or that he wanted to beat the Complutensian Polyglot into print, there is no evidence to support this. He wrote, "There remains the New Testament translated by me, with the Greek facing, and notes on it by me." He further demonstrated the reason for the inclusion of the Greek text when defending his work: "But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep." So he included the Greek text to permit qualified readers to verify the quality of his Latin version. But by first calling the final product Novum Instrumentum omne ("All of the New Teaching") and later Novum Testamentum omne ("All of the New Testament") he also indicated clearly that he considered a consistently parallelized version of both the Greek and the Latin texts as the essential dual core of the church's New Testament tradition. In a way it is legitimate to say that Erasmus "synchronized" or "unified" the Greek and the Latin traditions of the New Testament by producing an updated (he would say: "purified") version of either simultaneously. Both being part of canonical tradition, he clearly found it necessary to ensure that both were actually presenting the same content. In modern terminology, he made the two traditions "compatible". This is clearly evidenced by the fact that his Greek text is not just the basis for his Latin translation, but also the other way round: there are numerous instances where he edits the Greek text to reflect his Latin version. For instance, since the last six verses of Revelation were missing from his Greek manuscript, Erasmus translated the Vulgate's text back into Greek. Erasmus also translated the Latin text into Greek wherever he found that the Greek text and the accompanying commentaries were mixed up, or where he simply preferred the Vulgate’s reading to the Greek text.
Erasmus's hurried effort (Erasmus said it was "rushed into print rather than edited") was published by his friend Johann Froben of Basel in 1516 and thence became the first published Greek New Testament, the Novum Instrumentum omne, diligenter ab Erasmo Rot. Recognitum et Emendatum. Erasmus used several Greek manuscript sources because he did not have access to a single complete manuscript. Most of the manuscripts were, however, late Greek manuscripts of the Byzantine textual family and Erasmus used the oldest manuscript the least because "he was afraid of its supposedly erratic text."  He also ignored much older and better manuscripts that were at his disposal.
In the 2nd (1519) edition, the more familiar term Testamentum was used instead of Instrumentum. This edition was used by Martin Luther in making his German translation of the Bible for his own religious movement. Together, the first and second editions sold 3,300 copies. Only 600 copies of the Complutensian Polyglot were ever printed. The 1st- and 2nd-edition texts did not include the passage (1 John 5:7–8) that has become known as the Comma Johanneum. Erasmus had been unable to find those verses in any Greek manuscript, but one was supplied to him during production of the 3rd edition. That manuscript is now thought to be a 1520 creation from the Latin Vulgate, which likely got the verses from a fifth-century marginal gloss in a Latin copy of I John. The Roman Catholic Church decreed that the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute (June 2, 1927), and it is rarely included in modern scholarly translations.
The 3rd edition of 1522 was probably used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (Worms, 1526) and was the basis for the 1550 Robert Stephanus edition used by the translators of the Geneva Bible and King James Version of the English Bible. Erasmus published a definitive 4th edition in 1527 containing parallel columns of Greek, Latin Vulgate and Erasmus's Latin texts. He used the now available Polyglot Bible to improve this version. In this edition Erasmus also supplied the Greek text of the last six verses of Revelation (which he had translated from Latin back into Greek in his first edition) from Cardinal Ximenez's Biblia Complutensis. In 1535 Erasmus published the 5th (and final) edition which dropped the Latin Vulgate column but was otherwise similar to the 4th edition. Subsequent versions of Erasmus's Greek New Testament became known as the Textus Receptus.
Erasmus dedicated his work to Pope Leo X as a patron of learning and regarded this work as his chief service to the cause of Christianity. Immediately afterward, he began the publication of his Paraphrases of the New Testament, a popular presentation of the contents of the several books. These, like all of his writings, were published in Latin but were quickly translated into other languages, with his encouragement.
Beginnings of Protestantism
Attempts at impartiality in dispute
Martin Luther's movement began in the year following the publication of the New Testament and tested Erasmus's character. The issues between growing religious movements, which would later become known as Protestantism, and the Catholic Church had become so clear that few could escape the summons to join the debate. Erasmus, at the height of his literary fame, was inevitably called upon to take sides, but partisanship was foreign to his nature and his habits. In all his criticism of clerical follies and abuses, he had always protested that he was not attacking the Church itself or its doctrines, and had no enmity toward churchmen. The world had laughed at his satire, but few had interfered with his activities. He believed that his work so far had commended itself to the best minds and also to the dominant powers in the religious world.
Disagreement with Luther
Initially Erasmus was sympathetic with the main points in Martin Luther's criticism of the Catholic Church, describing him as "a mighty trumpet of gospel truth" and admitting that, "It is clear that many of the reforms for which Luther calls are urgently needed.” He had great respect for Martin Luther, and Luther always spoke with admiration of Erasmus's superior learning. Luther hoped for his cooperation in a work which seemed only the natural outcome of his own. In their early correspondence, Luther expressed boundless admiration for all Erasmus had done in the cause of a sound and reasonable Christianity and urged him to join the Lutheran party. Erasmus declined to commit himself, arguing that to do so would endanger his position as a leader in the movement for pure scholarship which he regarded as his purpose in life. Only as an independent scholar could he hope to influence the reform of religion. When Erasmus hesitated to support him, the straightforward Luther felt angered that Erasmus was avoiding the responsibility due either to cowardice or a lack of purpose. However, any hesitancy on the part of Erasmus stemmed, not from lack of courage or conviction, but rather from a concern over the mounting disorder and violence of the reform movement. To Philip Melanchthon in 1524 he wrote:
I know nothing of your church; at the very least it contains people who will, I fear, overturn the whole system and drive the princes into using force to restrain good men and bad alike. The gospel, the word of God, faith, Christ, and Holy Spirit – these words are always on their lips; look at their lives and they speak quite another language.
Again, in 1529, he writes “An epistle against those who falsely boast they are Evangelicals” to Vulturius Neocomus (Gerardus Geldenhouwer). Here Erasmus complains, perhaps with some exaggeration, of the doctrines and morals of the Reformers:
You declaim bitterly against the luxury of priests, the ambition of bishops, the tyranny of the Roman Pontiff, and the babbling of the sophists; against our prayers, fasts, and Masses; and you are not content to retrench the abuses that may be in these things, but must needs abolish them entirely...
Look around on this ‘Evangelical’ generation, and observe whether amongst them less indulgence is given to luxury, lust, or avarice, than amongst those whom you so detest. Show me any one person who by that Gospel has been reclaimed from drunkenness to sobriety, from fury and passion to meekness, from avarice to liberality, from reviling to well-speaking, from wantonness to modesty. I will show you a great many who have become worse through following it....The solemn prayers of the Church are abolished, but now there are very many who never pray at all....
I have never entered their conventicles, but I have sometimes seen them returning from their sermons, the countenances of all of them displaying rage, and wonderful ferocity, as though they were animated by the evil spirit....
Who ever beheld in their meetings any one of them shedding tears, smiting his breast, or grieving for his sins ?... Confession to the priest is abolished, but very few now confess to God.... They have fled from Judaism that they may become Epicureans.
Apart from these perceived moral failings of the Reformers, Erasmus also dreaded any change in doctrine, citing the long history of the Church as a bulwark against innovation. In book I of his Hyperaspistes he puts the matter bluntly to Luther:
We are dealing with this: Would a stable mind depart from the opinion handed down by so many men famous for holiness and miracles, depart from the decisions of the Church, and commit our souls to the faith of someone like you who has sprung up just now with a few followers, although the leading men of your flock do not agree either with you or among themselves – indeed though you do not even agree with yourself, since in this same Assertion you say one thing in the beginning and something else later on, recanting what you said before.
Continuing his chastisement of Luther—and undoubtedly put off by the notion of there being “no pure interpretation of Scripture anywhere but in Wittenberg”  – Erasmus touches upon another important point of the controversy:
You stipulate that we should not ask for or accept anything but Holy Scripture, but you do it in such a way as to require that we permit you to be its sole interpreter, renouncing all others. Thus the victory will be yours if we allow you to be not the steward but the lord of Holy Scripture.
Also, it is said that Erasmus chose to remain a Roman Catholic because of a lecture he heard from Savonarola, the Dominican friar who was highly influential in Florence for a time.Though he remained firmly neutral, each side accused him of siding with the other, perhaps because of his neutrality. It was not for lack of fidelity with either side but a desire for fidelity with them both:
"I detest dissension because it goes both against the teachings of Christ and against a secret inclination of nature. I doubt that either side in the dispute can be suppressed without grave loss."
In his Catechism (entitled Explanation of the Apostles' Creed) (1533), Erasmus took a stand against Luther's teaching by asserting the unwritten Sacred Tradition as just as valid a source of revelation as the Bible, by enumerating the Deuterocanonical books in the canon of the Bible and by acknowledging seven sacraments. He called "blasphemers" anyone who questioned the perpetual virginity of Mary and those who defended the need to occasionally restrict the laity from access to the Bible. In a letter to Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Luther objected to Erasmus’ Catechism and called Erasmus a "viper,", "liar," and "the very mouth and organ of Satan." 
Freedom of the will
Twice in the course of the great discussion, he allowed himself to enter the field of doctrinal controversy, a field foreign to both his nature and his previous practice. One of the topics he dealt with was the freedom of the will, a crucial point. In his De libero arbitrio diatribe sive collatio (1524), he lampoons the Lutheran view on free will. He lays down both sides of the argument impartially. The "Diatribe" did not encourage any definite action; this was its merit to the Erasmians and its fault in the eyes of the Lutherans. In response, Luther wrote his De servo arbitrio (On the Bondage of the Will) (1525), which attacks the "Diatribe" and Erasmus himself, going so far as to claim that Erasmus was not a Christian. Erasmus responded with a lengthy, two-part Hyperaspistes (1526–27). In this controversy Erasmus lets it be seen that he would like to claim more for free will than St. Paul and St. Augustine seem to allow according to Luther's interpretation. For Erasmus the essential point is that humans have the freedom of choice.
As the popular response to Luther gathered momentum, the social disorders, which Erasmus dreaded and Luther disassociated himself from, began to appear, including the German Peasants' War, the Anabaptist disturbances in Germany and in the Low Countries, iconoclasm and the radicalization of peasants across Europe. If these were the outcomes of reform, he was thankful that he had kept out of it. Yet he was ever more bitterly accused of having started the whole "tragedy" (as the Roman Catholics dubbed Protestantism).
When the city of Basel was definitely and officially "reformed" in 1529, Erasmus gave up his residence there and settled in the imperial town of Freiburg im Breisgau.
Certain works of Erasmus laid a foundation for religious toleration. For example, in De libero arbitrio, opposing certain views of Martin Luther, Erasmus noted that religious disputants should be temperate in their language, "because in this way the truth, which is often lost amidst too much wrangling may be more surely perceived." Gary Remer writes, "Like Cicero, Erasmus concludes that truth is furthered by a more harmonious relationship between interlocutors."  Although Erasmus did not oppose the punishment of heretics, in individual cases he generally argued for moderation and against the death penalty. He wrote, "It is better to cure a sick man than to kill him." 
A test of the Reformation was the doctrine of the sacraments, and the crux of this question was the observance of the Eucharist. In 1530, Erasmus published a new edition of the orthodox treatise of Algerus against the heretic Berengar of Tours in the eleventh century. He added a dedication, affirming his belief in the reality of the Body of Christ after consecration in the Eucharist, commonly referred to as transsubstantiation. The sacramentarians, headed by Œcolampadius of Basel, were, as Erasmus says, quoting him as holding views similar to their own in order to try to claim him for their schismatic and "erroneous" movement.
Erasmus died of a sudden attack of dysentery in 1536 in Basel and was buried there in the cathedral. His last words, as recorded by his friend Beatus Rhenanus, were "lieve God", Dutch for Dear God.
Erasmus wrote both on ecclesiastic subjects and those of general human interest. He seems to have regarded the latter as trifling, a leisure activity. By the 1530s, the writings of Erasmus accounted for 10 to 20 percent of all book sales. He is credited with coining the adage, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". With the collaboration of Publio Fausto Andrelini, he formed a collection of Latin proverbs and adages, commonly called Adagia. Erasmus is also generally credited with originating the phrase "Pandora's box", arising through an error in his translation of Pandora by Hesiod in which he confused "pithos", storage jar, with "pyxis", box.
His more serious writings begin early with the Enchiridion militis Christiani, the "Handbook of the Christian Soldier" (1503) (translated into English a few years later by the young William Tyndale). In this short work, Erasmus outlines the views of the normal Christian life, which he was to spend the rest of his days elaborating. The chief evil of the day, he says, is formalism, going through the motions of tradition without understanding their basis in the teachings of Christ. Forms can teach the soul how to worship God, or they may hide or quench the spirit. In his examination of the dangers of formalism, Erasmus discusses monasticism, saint worship, war, the spirit of class and the foibles of "society."
The Enchiridion is more like a sermon than a satire. With it Erasmus challenged common assumptions, painting the clergy as educators who should share the treasury of their knowledge with the laity. He emphasized personal spiritual disciplines rather than institutional sacraments, and called for a reformation which he characterized as a collective return to the Fathers and Scripture. Most importantly, he extolled the reading of scripture as vital because of its power to transform and motivate toward love. Much like the Brethren of the Common Life, he wrote that the New Testament is the law of Christ people are called to obey and Christ is the example they are called to imitate.
Erasmus also wrote of the legendary Frisian freedom fighter and rebel Pier Gerlofs Donia (Greate Pier), though more often criticism than praise of his exploits. Erasmus saw him as a dumb brutal man preferring physical strength over wisdom.
Erasmus's best-known work was The Praise of Folly (published under the double title Moriae encomium (Greek, Latinised) and Laus stultitiae (Latin)). a satirical attack on the traditions of the European society, of the Catholic Church and popular superstitions, written in 1509, published in 1511, dedicated to his friend, Sir Thomas More, and inspired by De triumpho stultitiae, written by Italian humanist Faustino Perisauli born at Tredozio, near Forlì.
The Institutio principis Christiani (Basel, 1516) (Education of a Christian Prince) was written as advice to the young king Charles of Spain, later Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Erasmus applies the general principles of honor and sincerity to the special functions of the Prince, whom he represents throughout as the servant of the people. The Education of a Christian Prince was published in 1516, sixteen years before Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. A comparison between the two is worth noting. Machiavelli stated that, to maintain control by political force, it is safer for a prince to be feared than loved. Erasmus, on the other hand, preferred for the prince to be loved and suggested that the prince needed a well-rounded education in order to govern justly and benevolently and avoid becoming a source of oppression.
As a result of his reformatory activities, Erasmus found himself at odds with both the great parties. His last years were embittered by controversies with men toward whom he was sympathetic. Notable among these was Ulrich von Hutten, a brilliant but erratic genius, who had thrown himself into the Lutheran cause and had declared that Erasmus, if he had a spark of honesty, would do the same. In his reply, Spongia adversus aspergines Hutteni (1523), Erasmus displays his skill in semantics. He accuses Hutten of having misinterpreted his utterances about reform and reiterates his determination never to break with the Church.
The Ciceronianus came out in 1528, which attacked the style of Latin that was based exclusively and fanatically on Cicero's writings. Etienne Dolet wrote a reposte titled Erasmianus in 1535.
The most important work of this last period is the Ecclesiastes or "Gospel Preacher" (Basel, 1536), in which he comments on the function of preaching.
Sileni Alcibiadis (1515)
Erasmus’s Sileni Alcibiadis is one of his most direct assessments of the need for Church reform. It was seen first in Johann Froben’s revised edition of the Adagia published in Basel in 1515. Then, it was published separately by Froben in 1517. This essay compares to John Colet’s Convocation Sermon, though the styles differ. The term Sileni can be understood as something on the inside is more and different than what one sees on the outside. For instance, something ugly on the outside can be beautiful on the inside. In support of this, Erasmus states: “Anyone who looks closely at the inward nature and essence will find that nobody is further from true wisdom than those people with their grand titles, learned bonnets, splendid sashes and bejeweled rings, who profess to be wisdom’s peak”. Erasmus lists several Sileni and then questions whether Christ is the most noticeable Silenus of them all. The Apostles were Sileni since they were ridiculed by others. He believes that the things which are the least ostentatious can be the most significant. For instance, one cannot see the most special aspects of humans. The Scriptures also have Sileni. Erasmus believes that the Church constitutes all of the Christian people. People call priests, bishops, and popes the Church, but they only serve the Church. He criticizes those that spend the Church’s riches at the people’s expense. Riches should not be held above everything else. The true point of the Church is to help people lead Christian lives. Priests are supposed to be pure, though when they stray away, no one condemns them. He criticizes the riches of the popes, believing that it would be better for the Gospel to be most important. Furthermore, the Word of God should be most important for people.
His books' extraordinary popularity has been shown in the number of editions and translations that have appeared since the sixteenth century, and in the undiminished interest excited by his elusive but fascinating personality. Ten columns of the catalogue of the British Library are taken up with the bare enumeration of the works and their subsequent reprints. The greatest names of the classical and patristic world are among those translated, edited or annotated by Erasmus, including Saint Ambrose, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Saint Basil, Saint John Chrysostom, Cicero and Saint Jerome.
Today in his native Rotterdam, the University and Gymnasium Erasmianum have been named in his honor. However, Rotterdam has ignored the life of one of its famous citizens for a long time. In 2003, a poll showing that most Rotterdammers believed Erasmus to be the designer of the local "Erasmus Bridge" instigated the founding of the Erasmushuis (Erasmus House), a house dedicated to celebrating Erasmus's legacy. Nowadays in Rotterdam, three famous moments in Erasmus's life are celebrated annually. On April 1, the city celebrates his best-known book The Praise of Folly. On October 28, his birthday is celebrated. On July 11, the so-called Night of Erasmus celebrates the lasting influence of his work.
However, Erasmus's reputation and the interpretations of his work have varied greatly over time. Following his death, there was a long period of time when the citizens of the land all mourned his death. Moderate Catholics felt that he had been a leading figure in attempts to reform the Church, while Protestants recognized his initial support for Luther's ideas and the groundwork he laid for the future Reformation. By the 1560s, however, there was a marked change in reception.
The Catholic Counter-Reformation movement often condemned Erasmus as having "laid the egg that hatched the Reformation." Their critique of him was based principally on his not being strong enough in his criticism of Luther, not seeing the dangers of a vernacular Bible and dabbling in dangerous scriptural criticism that weakened the Church's arguments against Arianism and other doctrines. All of his works were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by Paul IV, and some of his works continued to be banned or viewed with caution in the later Index of Pius IV.
According to Franz Anton Knittel Erasmus in his Novum Instrumentum omne did not incorporate the Comma from Codex Montfortianus, because of grammar differences, but used Complutensian Polyglotta. According to him the Comma was known for Tertullian.
Protestant views of Erasmus fluctuated largely depending on region and period, with continuous support in his native Netherlands and in cities of the Upper Rhine area. However, following his death and in the late sixteenth century, Reformation supporters see Erasmus's critiques of Luther and lifelong support for the universal Catholic Church as damning. His reception was particularly cold by the Reformed Protestant groups.
By the coming of the Age of Enlightenment, however, Erasmus increasingly returned to become a more widely respected cultural symbol and was hailed as an important figure by increasingly broad groups. In a letter to a friend, Erasmus once had written: "That you are patriotic will be praised by many and easily forgiven by everyone; but in my opinion it is wiser to treat men and things as though we held this world the common fatherland of all."
Several schools, faculties and universities in the Netherlands and Flanders are named after him, and so is Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, New York, USA. The European Union's Erasmus scholarships enable students to spend up to a year of their university courses in a university in another European country.
- Hans Holbein is considered to be the greatest portraitist of Erasmus, having painted him at least three times, and perhaps as many as seven; some only survive in versions by other artists. His three profile portraits of Erasmus, two (nearly identical) profile portraits and one three-quarters view portrait were all painted in the same year, 1523. Erasmus used the Holbein portraits as gifts for his friends in England, such as William Warham, the Archbishop of Canterbury (as he writes in a letter to Warham regarding the gift portrait, Erasmus quips that "he might have something of Erasmus should God call him from this place.") Erasmus spoke favorably of Holbein as an artist and person, but later criticized Holbein whom he had accused of sponging off of various patrons to whom Erasmus had recommended, for purposes more of monetary gain than artistic endeavor.
- Albrecht Dürer also produced portraits of Erasmus, whom he met three times, in the form of an engraving of 1526 and a preliminary charcoal sketch. Concerning the former Erasmus was unimpressed, declaring it an unfavorable likeness of him. Nevertheless, Erasmus and Dürer maintained a close friendship, with Dürer going so far as to solicit Erasmus's support for the Lutheran cause, which Erasmus politely declined. Erasmus wrote a glowing encomium about the artist, likening him to famous Greek painter of antiquity Apelles. Erasmus was deeply affected by his death in 1528.
- Quentin Matsys produced the earliest known portraits of Erasmus, including an oil painting in 1517 and a medallion in 1519.
- Colloquia, which appeared at intervals from 1518 on
- Apophthegmatum opus
- Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style (1512) (a.k.a. De Copia)
- The Praise of Folly
- The first tome or volume of the Paraphrase of Erasmus vpon the newe testamente
- A playne and godly Exposytion or Declaration of the Commune Crede
- A handbook on manners for children
- The Education of a Christian Prince (1516)
- De recta Latini Graecique Sermonis Pronunciatione (1528)
- Damião de Góis, a humanist, a close friend and pupil of Erasmus
- Rodolphus Agricola
- Erasmus Programme, which takes its name from this great traveller on the roads of Europe
- Christian humanism
- List of Erasmus's correspondents
- Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Erasmus Student Network
- Mammotrectus super Bibliam
- ^ Gleason, John B. "The Birth Dates of John Colet and Erasmus of Rotterdam: Fresh Documentary Evidence," Renaissance Quarterly, The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Renaissance Society of America, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Spring, 1979), pp. 73–76
- ^ Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953, p. 661.
- ^ “He tried to remain in the fold of the old [Roman] Church, after having damaged it seriously, and renounced the [Protestant] Reformation, and to a certain extent even Humanism, after having furthered both with all his strength.” Johan Huizinga, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation (Tr. F. Hopman and Barbara Flower; New York: Harper and Row, 1924), 190.
- ^ Erasmus Roterodamus. Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami de utraque verborum ac rerum copia. Libri II. Osnabrucae, 1715
- ^ Smith, Preserved, Erasmus A Study Of His Life Ideals And Place In History. Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1928 pp. 445–446 http://www.archive.org/details/erasmusastudyofh011726mbp
- ^ Huizinga, Erasmus, pp. 4 and 6 (Dutch language version)
- ^ The famous 19th century novel The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade, is an account of the lives of Erasmus's parents.
- ^ Peter Nissen: Geloven in de Lage landen; scharniermomenten in de geschiedenis van het christendom. 2004 Davidsfonds Leuven
- ^ a b Galli, Mark, and Olsen, Ted. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2000, p. 343.
- ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, 2010
- ^ Collected Works of Erasmus, vol. 1, p. 12 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974)
- ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch (2003). Reformation: A History. pg. 95. MacCulloch says "he fell in love" and further adds in a footnote "There has been much modern embarrassment and obfuscation on Erasmus and Rogerus, but see the sensible comment in J.Huizinga, Erasmus of Rotterdam (London, 1952), pp. 11–12, and from Geoffrey Nutuall, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 26 (1975), 403".
- ^ Forrest Tyler Stevens, essay on 'Erasmus’s ‘Tigress’: The Language of Friendship, Pleasure, and the Renaissance Letter', in Queering the Renaissance, Duke University Press, 1994
- ^ Erika Rummel, Erasmus, London, 2004
- ^ Erasmus, Desiderius in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
- ^ Huizinga, Dutch edition, pp. 52–53.
- ^ Anderson, Marvin (1969), "Erasmus the Exegete", Concordia Theeological Monthly 40 (11): 722–746
- ^ Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterdami, Ed. H.M.Allen, (Oxford University Press, 1937), Ep.3032: 219–22; 2682: 8–13.
- ^ Metzger, Bruce. The Text of the New Testament, p. 96–103.
- ^ "Epistle 695" in Collected Works of Erasmus Vol. 5: Letters 594 to 841, 1517–1518 (tr. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson; annotated by James K. McConica; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), 172.
- ^ "Epistle 273" in Collected Works of Erasmus Vol. 2: Letters 142 to 297, 1501–1514 (tr. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson; annotated Wallace K. Ferguson; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), 253.
- ^ "Epistle 305" in Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. 3: Letters 298 to 445, 1514–1516 (tr. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson; annotated by James K. McConica; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), 32.
- ^ "Epistle 337" in Collected Works of Erasmus Vol. 3, 134.
- ^ E.g. at Acts 9:6. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 99–100; Kurt Aland – Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament. An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism,Translated by Erroll F. Rhodes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987. 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, 1989, p. 4
- ^ "Epistle 694" in Collected Works of Erasmus Volume 5, 167.
- ^ Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament. Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 102.
- ^ Paul Arblaster, Gergely Juhász, Guido Latré (eds) Tyndale's Testament, Brepols 2002, ISBN 2-503-51411-1, p. 28.
- ^ Galli, Mark, andm, Olsen, Ted. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2000, p. 344.
- ^ Letter of September 6, 1524, In Collected Works of Erasmus, 1992, University of Toronto Press, vol. 10, ISBN 0802059767 ISBN 9780802059765 p. 380. 
- ^ Epistola contra quosdam qui se falso iactant evangelicos.
- ^ "Circumspice populum istum Euangelicum…" Latin text in Erasmus, Opera Omnia, (1706), vol. 10, 1578BC.  
- ^ The Reformers on the Reformation (foreign), London, Burns & Oates, 1881, pp. 13–14.  See also Erasmus, Preserved Smith, 1923, Harper & Brothers, pp. 391–392. 
- ^ A reference to Luther's Assertio omnium articulorum per bullam Leonis X. novissimam damnatorum (Assertion of all the Articles condemned by the Bull of Leo X, 1520), WA VII.
- ^ Collected Works of Erasmus, Controversies: De Libero Arbitrio / Hyperaspistes I, Peter Macardle, Clarence H. Miller, trans., Charles Trinkhaus, ed., University of Toronto Press, 1999, ISBN 0802043178, ISBN 9780802043177 Vol. 76, P. 203
- ^ Erasmus and the Middle Ages: The Historical Consciousness of a Christian Humanist (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History), 200, István Pieter Bejczy, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 9004122184 ISBN 9789004122185 p. 172 
- ^ Hyperaspistes, Book I, Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol. 76, pp. 204–205. Latin: "Stipulaberis a nobis, ne quid requiramus aut recipiamus praeter Litteras sacras, sed sic ut tibi concedamus, ut eas tu solus interpreteris, submotis omnibus. Sic victoria penes te fuerit, si patiamur te non dispensatorem, sed dominum fieri divinae Scripturae." Opera Omnia (1706), Vol. 10, 1294E–F  Latin & Danish
- ^ Galli, Mark, and Olsen, Ted. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2000, p 344.
- ^ Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami, vol. V/1, Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 278–290
- ^ Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami, vol. V/1, Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 245 and 279.
- ^ D. Martin Luther. Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Briefwechsel, vol. 7, Weimar: Böhlau, pp. 27–40.
- ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia, Desiderius Erasmus Dutch humanist and scholar, Protestant challenge
- ^ Watson, Philip (1969), "Erasmus, Luther and Aquinas", Concordia Theological Monthly 40 (11): 747–758
- ^ Remer, Gary, Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration (University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press 1996) p. 95 ISBN 0271028114
- ^ Froude, James Anthony Life and letters of Erasmus: lectures delivered at Oxford 1893–4 (London: Longmans Green @ Co. 1894) p. 359
- ^ "Desiderius Erasmus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- ^ Huizinga, Dutch edition, p. 202.
- ^ Galli, Mark, and Olsen, Ted. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2000, 343.
- ^ The Age of Erasmus , Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London, by P.S.Allen, Clarendon Press 1914
- ^ Early title page
- ^ Knittel, Neue Kritiken über den berühmten Sprych: Drey sind, die da zeugen im Himmel, der Vater, das Wort, und der heilige Geist, und diese drei sind eins Braunschweig 1785
- ^ Letter 480, to Budé (ed. Allen)
- Bietenholz, Peter G. Encounters with a Radical Erasmus. Erasmus' Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe (2009)
- Dodds, Gregory D. Exploiting Erasmus: The Erasmian Legacy and Religious Change in Early Modern England (2009)
- Emerton, Ephraim (1899). Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. OCLC 312661. http://books.google.com/books?id=Fqo8AAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Desiderius+Erasmus+of+Rotterdam#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-04-18.
- Furey, Constance M. Erasmus, Contarini, and the Religious Republic of Letters. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Quinones, Ricardo J. Erasmus and Voltaire: Why They Still Matter (University of Toronto Press; 2010) 240 pages; Draws parallels between the two thinkers as voices of moderation with relevance today.
- Swan, Jesse G. "Erasmus, Calin, Reading and Living," in: Cahier Calin: Makers of the Middle Ages. Essays in Honor of William Calin, ed. Richard Utz and Elizabeth Emery (Kalamazoo, MI: Studies in Medievalism, 2011), pp. 5–7.
- Winters, Adam. Erasmus' Doctrine of Free Will. Jackson, TN: Union University Press, 2005.
- Collected Works of Erasmus (U of Toronto Press, 1974–2011). 78 volumes published thus far; see U. Toronto Press, in English translation
- The Correspondence of Erasmus (U of Toronto Press, 1975–2011), 14 volumes down to 1528 are published
- Rabil, Albert. "Erasmus: Recent Critical Editions and Translations," .Renaissance Quarterly 54#1 2001. pp 246+ Discusses both the Toronto translation and the entirely separate Latin edition published in Amsterdam since 1969 online edition
- Works by Erasmus at Project Gutenberg
- "Desiderius Erasmus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (1466-1536) Selected works at the Latin Library.
- Charles L. Cortright, "Luther and Erasmus: The Debate on the Freedom of the Will"
- Desiderius Erasmus at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Erasmus and the Age of Reformation at Project Gutenberg (By Johan Huizinga)
- Erasmus House at Anderlecht (Belgium)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- All Works by Erasmus at Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies
- The Erasmus Text Project
- Works by or about Desiderius Erasmus in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Adagia, complete text available online
- The Colloquies of Erasmus. Translated by Nathan Bailey. Edited with Notes, by the Rev. E. Johnson, M.A. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1878). 2 vols. See original text in The Online Library of Liberty.
- The Complaint of Peace. Translated from the Querela Pacis (A.D. 1521) of Erasmus (Chicago: Open Court, 1917). See original text in The Online Library of Liberty.
- Erasmus in Praise of Folly, illustrated with many curious cuts, designed, drawn, and etched by Hans Holbein, with portrait, life of Erasmus, and his epistle to Sir Thomas More (London: Reeves & Turner, 1876). See original text in The Online Library of Liberty.
- A Book Called in Latin Enchiridion Militis Christiani and in English The Manual of the Christian Knight, replenished with the most wholesome precepts made by the famous clerk Erasmus of Rotterdam, to which is added a new and marvellous profitable Preface (London: Methuen and Co., 1905). See original text in The Online Library of Liberty.
- Antipolemus; or, the Plea Of Reason, Religion, AND Humanity, Against War. a fragment; translated from the Latin of Erasmus. – Vicesimus Knox, The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5 . See original text in The Online Library of Liberty.
- The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade on Project Gutenburg
- Interview with Eugenio Garin on the thought of Erasmus, with particular reference to the theme of peace. The interview, available in Italian, English and French, belongs to the series of the Multi-Media Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences.
- Geert Geerts biography from Elsevier Publishers about his self-chosen name
- Dutch online encyclopaedia confirming his real name as Geert Geerts
- Rotterdam Museum expedition on Geert Geerts which is also confirming his real name
Martin Luther WorksA Mighty Fortress Is Our God · On War against the Turk · Large Catechism · Luther Bible · On the Bondage of the Will · On the Freedom of a Christian · On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church · Small Catechism · The Adoration of the Sacrament · The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics · Theology of the Cross · The Ninety-Five Theses · To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation · Confession Concerning Christ's Supper · On Secular Authority · Formula missae · Deutsche Messe · Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants · Smalcald Articles · On the Jews and Their Lies · Vom Schem Hamphoras · On the Councils and the Church Topics People
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.