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Facts about Erasmus

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The Greek/Latin edition of the New Testament, which Erasmus published in 1516, served as the basis for Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German, and William Tyndale’s translation into English in 1526.

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Erasmus, however, was wary of any change in doctrine and believed that there was room within existing formulas for the kind of reform he valued most.

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Erasmus was in sympathy with the main points in the Lutheran criticism of the Church.

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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.

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Erasmus attempted to educate individuals through rational criticism, while Luther desired an aggressive revolution.

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Erasmus was a skeptic; Luther believed in making absolute statements on matters of ultimate concern.

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Enchiridion Militis Christiani, the Handbook of the Christian Soldier (1503) outlined the views on Christian life which Erasmus was to spend the rest of his days in elaborating.

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Partly to clear himself of suspicion, in 1530 Erasmus published a new edition of the eleventh-century orthodox treatise of Algerus against the heretic Berengar of Tours.

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Erasmus did not attempt direct reform of the existing church system.

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Erasmus was unique in that he maintained his independence as a scholar and reformist, yet saw his writings widely accepted and kept the respect and support of many contemporary intellectuals.

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The portraitist Hans Holbein the Younger made a profile half-length portrait in 1523, and Albrecht Dьrer made an engraving of Erasmus in 1526.

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Lisa Jardin’s (1997) introduction to Erasmus’s work noted that Machiavelli set out to define princely duties as maintaining control by political force, saying it is safer to be feared than loved.

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Erasmus held himself aloof from all entangling obligations, yet he was in a sense the center of the literary movement of his time.

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Erasmus dedicated his work to Pope Leo X as a patron of learning, and he regarded this work as his chief service to the cause of Christianity.

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Twice during their discussions, Erasmus allowed himself to enter the field of doctrinal controversy, a field foreign to both his nature and his previous practice.

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Erasmus chose to lead the life of an independent scholar, unhindered by national or academic ties, religious allegiance, or any other connection that might interfere with his freedom of intellectm and literary expression.

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Many of his writings appealed to a wide audience and dealt with matters of general human interest; Erasmus seems to have regarded these as a trifling leisure activity.

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Erasmus applied the general principles of honor and sincerity to the special functions of the Prince, whom he represents throughout as the servant of the people.

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Erasmus’ influence was exercised through his personal contacts, his editions of classical authors, and his own writings.

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Erasmus's literary productivity began comparatively late in his life.

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Ten columns of the catalogue of the British Library are taken up with the bare enumeration of Erasmus’ works and their subsequent reprints.

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Erasmus was a Christian humanist, and in this sense, believed himself to be a better Christian than any pope of his time.

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Erasmus recognized that the future vitality of Christianity rested in the hands of lay people, not the clergy.

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Erasmus lived his entire life as an independent scholar, unhindered by any connection that might interfere with his freedom of intellect and literary expression.

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Luther was a political and religious radical, while Erasmus seemed willing to adapt to the political situation.

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Erasmus suggested further that reading the Scriptures could awaken an “inner religion” which would transform Christians and give them a new motivation to love God and their fellow men.

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Martin Luther's movement began in the year following the publication of the New Testament, and tested Erasmus's character.

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Erasmus went on to study at the University of Paris, then the chief seat of scholastic learning, but already under the influence of the revived classical culture of Italy.

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When Erasmus was charged with having "laid the egg that Luther hatched," he half admitted the truth of the charge, but said he had expected quite another kind of a bird.

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Erasmus’ extraordinary popularity has been demonstrated by the number of editions and translations of his books that have appeared since the sixteenth century, and in the continuing interest excited by his elusive but fascinating personality.

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Erasmus deeply influenced Christian theology during the first half of the sixteenth century.

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Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (also Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam) (October 27, c. 1466 – July 12, 1536) was a Dutch humanist and theologian.

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The discussion between Luther and Erasmus focused on the doctrine of the freedom of the will.

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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.

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The Education of a Christian Prince was published in 1516, after Erasmus’ time in Italy from 1506 to 1509, and twenty-six years before Machiavelli’s The Prince.

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Erasmus’ reluctance to take sides in the debate brought upon him the suspicion of disloyalty to Catholicism.

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Erasmus proposed that a man may properly have two opinions on religious subjects, one for himself and his intimate friends and another for the public.

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Erasmus is still widely read today, because of his open-minded and rational approach to religion and daily life, and because of his satire and sense of humor.