Six Essays on Erasmus and a Translation of Erasmus' Letter to Carondelet, 1523

Six Essays on Erasmus and a Translation of Erasmus' Letter to Carondelet, 1523

Six Essays on Erasmus and a Translation of Erasmus' Letter to Carondelet, 1523

Six Essays on Erasmus and a Translation of Erasmus' Letter to Carondelet, 1523

Synopsis

This volume comprises four previously published Erasmian studies and two new works. All are attempts at understanding Erasmus' aims, his influence, and his historical image. Professor Olin's earlier essays have generated enthusiastic responses form the community of Erasmian scholars, and thisconvenient gathering is bound to be a welcome collection. It also provides the first translation into English of the preface to Erasmus' edition of Hilary. A major statement of his position as a humanist and reformer, it is one of Erasmus' most important contributions.

Excerpt

These essays are attempts at understanding Erasmus--his aims, his influence, his historical image. Erasmus' true face has always been difficult to delineate, and even in his own day he was the object of serious misunderstanding and contradictory appraisals. Professor Bainton has said that he "has never had his due." All will certainly not be righted in this slim book, nor will every question be answered or obscurity removed. Rather the intention has been to throw light on certain features of Erasmus, some of which have not always been cut in high relief, and to view a more authentic visage. My hope is that I have rendered him some small measure of his due.

The first essay is the most comprehensive. It explores the underlying purpose of Erasmus, the aim of his scholarship and his life's work, and it stresses that his main objective was religious reform. It describes very broadly the character and course of this steadfast endeavor. It may be said to strike the keynote for the other essays in the volume. the second essay focuses on a specific aspect of Erasmus' reform, namely his opposition to war and his concern for peace, and it views his pacifism as an integral part of his religious consciousness and his Christian humanism. the third essay discusses the largest and most important segment of Erasmus' scholarly work--his numerous editions of the early Church Fathers. It emphasizes the extent of his labor and the role it played in his effort to restore theology. the fourth essay examines Erasmus' famous book The Praise of Folly and seeks to explain the structural unity and clarify the meaning of this satiric work. the fifth essay deals with the interpretation of Erasmus by later historians and with the problem of understanding him and his position amid the controversies of his time. My last essay is centered on Ignatius Loyola, but it examines the correspondence between the thought and spirituality of Ignatius and that of Erasmus and suggests the possibility of the latter's influence on the founder of the Jesuits.

To these six essays has been added a translation of Erasmus' long letter to Jean de Carondelet of January 5, 1523 which served as the dedication and preface to his edition of the works of St. Hilary of Poitiers. Written as the religious controversy precipitated by Luther's Ninety-five Theses had led . . .

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