Encounters with a Radical Erasmus: Erasmus' Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe

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University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 2009 - History - 326 pages

Although Erasmus is now accepted as a harbinger of liberal trends in mainstream Christian theology, the radical - even subversive - aspects of his work have received less attention. Beginning with a redefinition of the term radicalism, Peter G. Bietenholz examines the ways in which the radical aspects of Erasmus' writings inspired radical reactions among sixteenth- and seventeenth-century readers.

Bietenholz examines the challenges to orthodoxy in Erasmus' scholarly work on the New Testament and the ways in which they influenced generations of thinkers, including John Milton and Sir Isaac Newton. Turning to other aspects of Erasmus' writings, the author shows the ways in which his opposition to war encouraged radical manifestations of pacifism; how his reflections on freedom of thought and religious toleration elicited both warm approval and fierce rejection; and the ways his critical attitude helped foster the early modern culture of Scepticism.

An engaging look at Erasmus' theological, philosophical and socio-political influence, Encounters with a Radical Erasmus will prove useful to scholars of humanism, theology, the Reformation and Renaissance.


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About the author (2009)

Peter G. Bietenholz is a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan.

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