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Erasmus, Desiderius

(ca. 1469–1536). “Prince of the humanists.” B. probably Rotterdam; educ. Deventer and 's Hertogenbosch; spent several yrs. in the Augustinian monastery at Steyn (or Emmaus; near Gouda); ordained priest 1492; entered the service of the bp. of Cambrai; studied philos. and theol. in Paris 1495–96; acquired a distaste for scholasticism*; returned to Holland because of illness; in Paris with interruptions 1496–99; on the 1st of 3 visits to Eng. (1499–1500) he met J. Colet,* who influenced him in the direction of Christian humanism; in Fr. and Holland 1500–05, Eng. 1505–06, It. 1506–09, Eng. 1509–14, Basel 1514–16, Neth. 1516–21, Basel 1521–29, Freiburg 1529–35, Basel 1535–36.

Relationship of Erasmus to the Reformation was ambivalent. He approved of Luther's* assault on abuses; opposed innovations in doctrine and ch. life; avoided siding openly with Luther in hope of maintaining a more influential role as a neutral. Many of Erasmus' friends joined the Reformation; hist. moved beyond him, leaving this moderate idealist an isolated and tragic figure during his last years.

Works include Adagia (ancient Lat. sayings elucidated); Moriae Encomium (“Praise of Folly”); De Libero Arbitrio; Colloquies; Enchiridion; editions of the NT and of ch. fathers.

See also Synergistic Controversy.

P. S. Allen, The Age of Erasmus (Oxford, 1914); J. Huizinga, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, tr. F. Hopman, with a selection from the letters of Erasmus, tr. B. Flowers (London, 1952); P. Smith, Erasmus: A Study of His Life, Ideals, and Place in History (New York, 1923); A. Renaudet, Études érasmiennes, 1521–1529 (Paris, 1939); R. E. Reynolds, Thomas More and Erasmus (London, 1965); M. M. Phillips, Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance (New York, 1965); L. Bouyer, Erasmus and the Humanist Experiment, tr. F. X. Murphy (London, 1959). LWSj

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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