Paraphrases on Romans and Galatians, Volume 42

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University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 1984 - Bible - 192 pages
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Erasmus yearned to popularize the New Testament, to make the Bible and the understanding of Scripture available to everyone - to 'the farmer, the tailor, the mason, prostitutes, pimps, and Turks,' in his words. He therefore composed paraphrases in order to simplify and explain Scripture. The Paraphrases were successful beyond his expectations and were quickly translated into French, German, English and other languages.

In them the words of the Apostle Paul provide the core of a text which is expanded to clarify Paul's argument, revealing its assumptions, suggesting its implications, and setting its parts more clearly in relation to each other. In this respect, it is like a commentary.

But the Paraphrases are much more than commentary. They seek not only to clarify, but also to enliven. They bring the reader to a direct confrontation with the Apostle himself by presenting the whole (both core words and expansion) under the persona of Paul, vividly portraying the Apostle's reactions to the situation to which he was responding in this letters. Erasmus takes the images and analogies through which Paul argues his case for 'justification through faith' and expands them into colorful and dramatic vignettes of the inner spiritual struggle and victory of 'everyman.'

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About the author (1984)

Desiderius Erasmus was born, probably in 1469, in Rotterdam, Holland. He studied in Paris, traveled in England, Germany, and Italy, and wrote in Latin. Living at the time of the Renaissance when most intellectual concepts were being examined, Erasmus was a great admirer of the ancient writers and edited many of their works. Erasmus remained a Roman Catholic, but believed that many of the priests and theologians had distorted the simple teachings of Jesus. He published an edition of the New Testament-the first edition in the original Greek-in order to make clear the essential teachings of Christianity. Erasmus liked above all things clear and honest thinking; he despised intolerance and persecution. He was the greatest of the humanists because his books, more effectively than any others, propagated a humane philosophy of life, teaching that one's chief duties are to be intelligent, open-minded, and charitable. The most famous and the most influential of Erasumus' books were The Praise of Folly (1509) and Colloquies (1518). These works, written in lively, colloquial, and witty Latin, expressed his ideas on the manners and customs of his time. Erasmus exerted a powerful influence not only through his books, but also through the private letters that he wrote to a great number of humanist scholars in all parts of Western Europe. He carried on extensive correspondences with Thomas More of England. More than 1500 of his letters survive today. Erasmus died in Basel, Switzerland, on July 12, 1536.

Robert D. Sider is the Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Classical Languages at Dickinson College and an adjunct professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan.