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Erasmus [mjm file] 11012008
file NR 01 In Northern renaissance history pages uploaded first, 11 nov 2008
[today’s editing 11052008] This has been formated and not as the file. No additions
Copyright © 2008 Michael Johnathan McDonald
Latin Name: scholarly name Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. (1446? – 1536)
Most Significant Message of Erasmus’ entire body of work is: The Unity of the Church is the most important of all. Doctrinal disputes take second precedence to the first precedence of unity of the entire Christian people. Desiderius argues this from scriptural interpretation of the apostles who were the first church and spread the word to live as Christ did, which had no institutional foundation. Therefore, any institutions is subordinated to the living principle that unity of the spirit of the people in Christ’s virtuous paths must take precedence over the unity of matter of physical space, such as buildings used for institutional laws both secular and religious. Therefore, under multiple spatial-material structures, Christians will always be unified by a single source of spirit which binds together a large body of like minded people with the same intending goal – to live the virtuous life.
Terms: Erasmusian Christian Humanism: Tying Classical reason and philosophy to the Religious Writings of the New Testament and the patristic church.
Term: via moderna or nominalist tradition. These were distinctive views on free will held by late-medieval theologians of the via moderna. ( See Nauert)
The Unity of the Church is the most important of all. This was Erasmus’ last great treatise for Justification of the Christian Church.
Significant: A Catholic Reformationist, the founder of the new Catholic ideology: Unity of Christian takes precedence of doctrinal debates (or views). His message, the unity of the Christian church pervades all justifications on theological disunity/debate. Therefore, Luther (Calvin, etc. Protestants) was condemned if he did not realign or commit to a compromise with the Roman Catholic Church. It was Luther who had broken away from the Church and not the later, as Rome saw it then. Today, it may mean a compromise could take place, even until today. This would also imply the reunification with the Eastern Orthodox Church, even though theological disunity is rampantly evident.
Two hallmark works that are the foundation of Desiderius Erasmus: “The Handbook of the Militant Christian (1503), and The Praise of Folly (1509, pub. 1511).
The Handbook of the Militant Christian (1503)
Parts are rules for the Militant Christian
Nature of Man
Nature of Man: ( Flesh/body, (mortal, emotion, feeling, sin), Soul (intermediary, will), Spirit (immortal, truth, wisdom, knowledge)
Part II One needs a blind faith in God and God is only truth
(Rule 1) “Place great reliance on the Scriptures [...] if you believe God exists, then you must believe that He speaks the truth. Convince yourself that nothing you perceive with your senses is as true as what you read in the Scriptures.”  We doubt nothing in the divine promises.”  According to whom these words are accredited to (For Erasmus, it is figures of the Bible and the early Church fathers) men interpret the spirit which then Erasmus equates with God’s intentions communicated through them to him who will interpret them correctly and disseminate these “divine promises” to the public. However, many books that could have made it into the Bible today were voted down in 325 A.D. How do we know that these books are not supposed to be “divine promises?” The answer is Erasmus had no idea that they had existed. How would Erasmus’ argument change today with the extra biblical writings now authenticated?
Part II Passion leads to perdition, mortification of the flesh leads to life
(Rule 2) “We act upon the promises without delay and hesitation.”  With resolute purpose we must be prepared to undergo loss of everything – property, life itself—for Christ’s sake. The kingdom of heaven does not belong to the lazy.”  Passion leads to perdition, mortification of the flesh leads to life.  “You know we enough that if you desire to live with Christ, you must be crucified to this world. Then why delude yourself life a fool?”  Note, that this statement contradicts the thesis of The Praise of Folly.
Part II ‘Give up Pleasures of the body’
(Rule 3) “I feel that fear is one of the real obstacles to the pursuit of virtue.”  “Give up the devil and seek after Christ.”  “Christ sums this all up, ‘Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.’ To put it quite briefly, nothing is more pleasurable than a peaceful conscience, nothing more wretched than to have the mind tormented with a bad conscience.”  This statement also contradicts The Praise of Folly. In the Praise of Folly, Erasmus misattributes Socrates claiming that philosophers should steer a course away from public office, in which Folly contends in the wrong course of action. Here Erasmus in his own voice, claims the opposite truth form what he claimed in The Praise of Folly. Here, steering away from public political life is what Christ meant by taking up his yoke because one will find a peaceful consciousness and one will not be forced to lie or keep some complicated promises to contending groups – such as the part of politics. “Take a man in high political position. No one in his right mind would aspire to such a position if he were aware of the difficulties that beset such an office.” 
Part II St. Paul claims that flesh is mortal and spirit is immortal
(Rule 4): “’The foolishness of God is wiser than men.’” Let this be a guide to your every action.”  The veneration of the saints should be second in importance to pleasing God, as Christ. (Rule 4) Examine your life so that you are putting Christ first instead of worldly success.  On the Inner and outer parts of a man and his two parts found in Holy Scriptures (Spirit, not flesh, is everlasting, and flesh and spirit serve two masters). “If you are flesh alone, you will not see God, you will not be saved. Make it your determined effort, then, to become spiritual.”  This statement is contingent upon St. Paul claims that flesh is mortal and spirit is immortal: “For he who sows in the flesh will also reap corruption [of the soul] but he who sows in the Spirit will reap life everlasting [of the soul].” “ Justification of argument: “It is always a great source of embarrassment to me to realize that the great majority of those who bear the name Christian act for the most part as if they were dumb beasts. Most of them as such slaves to their baser appetites that in this spiritual combat they are unable to distinguish between the dictates of reason and the promptings of passion. They actually believe that they are behaving in a reasonable manner so long as they act upon what they feel or see. In fact, they consider that alone to have existence which is perceptible to the senses. Their only criterion for right or wrong is that which appeals to their desires.” Resolution/Christian Humanism:“ “I think it is agreed that the authority of the philosophers rests upon the fact that they state what is contained in a different manner in the Scriptures. What the philosophers term “reason” St. Paul calls either “the spirit” or the “inner man” or occasionally the “law of the mind.” What they refer too as the “passions” he calls “the flesh,” “the body,” “the outer man” or the “law of the members.” 
Part VII: Of the three parts of man: spirit, soul, and flesh
“Following St. Paul and those prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah and Daniel, Origen speaks of a threefold division in man. The body or the flesh is our lowest. Because of the original transgression Satan has, as it were, inscribed upon this part of the law of sin whereby we are inclined to evil. Failure to overcome this inclination brings us completely under his control. The spirit, on the other hand, may be said to represent us as a reflection of the divine [pre-Platonic echoes] nature of our Creator. Here we find the original pattern of the divine mind wherein the eternal law is engraved by the finger of God, the Holy Spirit. This is that part of us that binds us to God and makes us one with him. Finally, there is the third part, resting between the other two, which makes us sensual and subject to the terrible fate of those who live according to the flesh.” 
“Let me sum up how we distinguish these various components of man. The spirit has the capacity of making us divine; the flesh tends to bring out our animal nature; the soul is what really constitutes us as human beings. It is the spirit that gives us the qualities of religion, obedience, kindness, and mercy. The flesh makes us despisers of God, disobedient, and cruel. The soul, on the other hand, is indifferent, neither good nor bad itself. Let me show you how the threefold tendency operates in actual life. You respect you parents, you love members of your own family, your friends. Certainly we cannot honestly say that there is any real virtue in this. Yet, not to do so would immediately be condemned as evil. Even those who are not Christians are expected to love those who are near and dear to them. This is found in the very nature of things and can hardly be imputed to meritorious action. But take a situation were reverence toward parents, or love of children, must be sacrificed for the love of God. Here the soul finds itself torn in two directions. The flesh beckons in one direction, the spirit cries out in the other. The spirit argues that you must obey God as you owe Him all you have. The flesh will answer, “If you disobey your father, he will disinherit you, you will be accused of disrespect and lose your good name. Besides, God will not notice this, and if He does, you can be later reconciled with Him.” The soul begins to waver. If, holding the spirit in contempt, she turns to the harlot, that is, to the flesh, she will be one body with it. On the other hand, if , spurning the flesh, she rises to the spirit, she will be transformed into the spirit alone. How would you act in like circumstances? 
“I think it is a great mistake, indeed, to call virtuous those actions that proceed entierly from natural inclinations. These are even certain passions that some mistake for virtue. Take a judge, for example, who condemns a felon simply because this gives him a feeling of self-righteousness [but what about doing it because of following precedence/law?]. Can you say that he acts in a virtuous way? If he upholds the law for his own evil purposes, for financial gain or personal reputation, his condemnation of the prisoner is tantamount to murder. If, on the other hand, his treatment of the criminal is motivated by personal concern and genuine equity, he acts according to the spirit [This is actually a Socratic argument, recorded about how Socrates felt about judges and their ethical decision making; here spirit is knowledge as reason and not passion as base desire, and therefore is in accordance to the will of God or in the Christian humanistic sense, the laws of the state or region]. I feel that entirely too many people confuse what are really natural gifts or endowments with virtues. You will find that certain individuals are not in the least bothered by temptations of the flesh. Actually, this is an indifferent matter. We can speak of virtue in this regard only in the overcoming of an evil inclination. There are some people, too, who get a great deal of consolation out of attending divine services, Mass, vespers, and novenas. If they do this merely because they find pleasure in the ceremonies, because it is emotionally pleasurable or because it enhances their reputation, then they ought to examine their motives. They are in great danger of deceiving themselves. How many there are who, while in the very act of praying, pass judgment on those who are not naturally prayerful. Or again, in the matter of fast and abstinence, what virtue is there if, while you fast, you mentally condemn someone who fails to observe this regulation.” 
Part II Physical sight is the ugliness of the soul in sin, Platonist Allegories Church fathers & revelations
(rule 5) Subsidiary rule: ‘Pray that the Sun of Righteousness may shine upon you;’  (Main rule) “[...] consider yourself to be good religious striving for perfection, let your acts be those of one who sincerely desires perfection.”  Subsidiary rule explained: “[...] our physical eyes are mere shadows of reality.”  “[...] present day theologians are a pathetic group. Most of them lack eloquence, the charm of language, and the style of the Fathers [parsing paradoxes?]. Content with Aristotle, they treat the mysteries of revelation in the tangled fashion of the logician. Excluding the Platonists from their commentaries, they strange the beauty of revelation.”  This is basically the Plato argument of invisible forms of symmetry and as beauty and perfection. In many universities in Europe, Aristotle at this time was still considered the first ranked academic source of the ancients. The Bible links the darkness with void, sin and sadness, and the light as beauty, grace, God, wisdom and righteousness. Since light cannot be seen with the eye, it is just a manifestation upon physical properties such as atmosphere (who we understand it today), or (back then) the surface of the ground when it touches a surface, it was conceptualized as a manifestation from God. God brought light to the world, and it was good, and this light revealed ( revelation) the ugliness of things that were under the cover of darkness, which is associated with sin, ugliness and mortality. Sense we imagine God in our minds, we imagine him as perfect. For our eyes, we see physical things that are deformed, and not perfect. Therefore, the mind is superior than the eyes and the mind can reveal things by conceptualization. “The Sun, for example, in the visible world might be compared to the divine mind [Spirit, God].”  Erasmus observed, “Yet no less an authority than St. Augustine prefers to express himself in the flowing style that so enhanced the lovely writings of this Platonist school. He prefers them not only because they have so many ideas that are appropriate to our religion but also because the figurative language that they use, abounding in allegories, very closely approaches the language of Scripture itself.”  In contention or sophistication, Erasmus claims, “I find so many Christians [...] as superstitious as pagans.”  Attending Masses as an excuse for salvation and not by living like Christ at all times of the day will not save one.  The Ceremony of baptism will not save you either, unless you live at all times in the way of Christ.  “Charity does not consist in many visits to churches, in many prostrations before the statues of saints, in the lighting of candles, or in the repetition of a number of designated prayers. All these things God has no need.”  Paul declares charity to be the edification of one’s neighbor, the attempt to integrate all men into one body so that all men may become one in Christ, the loving of one’s neighbor as one’s self.”  “I’m not advocating that you neglect the mandates of the Church or that you despise honorable traditions and godly customs. If, however, you consider yourself to be good religious striving for perfection, let your acts be those of one who sincerely desires perfection.” 
Part II To defend Virtue investigate opinions regarding the true nature of good and evil, the unity of opinion after enquiry Socrates intends in virtue. Erasmus’ life thesis is here contained in rule six.
(rule 6) The unity of all Christian churches must takes precedence over all individualist churches of Christianity. To get there, “go directly to the archetype of godliness, Christ Himself.” “Socrates might be mentioned here, as he points out that virtue is nothing other than the knowledge of things that are to be sought after or of things that are to be avoided, with a distinction made between knowledge of goodness and love of it. Vice, then, can proceed from no other source than wrong opinions. Both he who loves Christ and follows Him and he who loves evil pleasure think that they seek something that is good for themselves. The world had never advanced in goodness to the point where common opinion does not still give its approval to what is basically evil....”  This argumentation comes from Book II, of Plato’s The Republic.
Part II Rules Seventh to Twenty-two
(rule 7): Turn our minds to things spiritual and one will be happy. To stay free of vice we have to be prudent. “Avoid sin for the simple reason that Christ loves you.”
(rule 8): “If you have frequent and heavy temptations, do not begin to worry that God feels you are not good enough for Him.” 
(rule 9): “Careful generals set guards even in times of peace.” 
(rule 10): “Make a violent effort to put sinful thoughts out of your mind.” 
(rule 11): “Place all hope of victory in His benevolent kindness. After temptation remember your own unworthiness and immediately thank God.”  Do not become proud after you conquer temptation.
(rule 12): “It is not sufficient for a soldier merely to repel an attack; he must also seize his attacker’s weapons and turn them against him.” 
(rule 13): “Treat each battle as it is your last, and you will finish, in the end, victorious.” 
(rule 14): “If a person, like a true Christian, detests one vice, he must, like true Christian, detests all of them.” 
(rule 15): “Do not compare the difficulties of combating temptation with the pleasures of the sin. Do compare the bitterness of the fight with the bitterness that sin brings.” 
(rule 16): “What makes a man evil is not that he sins but that he loves his sin.” 
(rule 17): Each temptation has its own remedies. There is, however, one remedy that can be applied to any and all temptations, and that is the Cross, which is the example of those who fall, the refuge for those who toil, and the weapon for those in the fray. If you want to meditate successfully on the Cross, you must have a plan of action, realizing that you are fighting a life-and-death battle.” 
(rule 18): ”[...] When passion stirs us to commit sin, we recall how loathsome, abominable, and detestable sin is [...].”
(rule 19): Compare the two opposing forces. You make God your enemy by sinning, and by sinning you set up for your master the Devil. Your innocence makes you God’s friend, with rank and privilege of a son.” 
(rule 20): “Virtue is worth seeking for itself. Each virtue has an opposing sin whose very causes should be avoided. Keep this in mind if you want to take part in the glories of heaven.”  “The horrors of a troubled conscience are the worst consequence of all things that come from sin.” 
(rule 21): We can die unexpectedly, and life is short, so “how foolish is would be to continue living the kind of life that would damn us forever if we died unexpectedly.” 
(rule 22): “The worst evil is hardness of heart.” “The path down to hell is quick, slippery, and easy.” 
Part II Special Remedies for Particular Vices
Part II Opinions Worthy of Christians
“Let us always stand before you as the paradoxes of true Christianity: that no Christian think himself to have been born for himself, nor wish to live for himself. All that he has, or is, he does not credit to himself; he gives credit to God as Author of all his goods and considers them to be the common property of all.”  Thomas More’s Utopia, has the theme of common public property. “Embrace Christianity with your whole heart.” 
The Praise of Folly
The Praise of Folly: Latin: Stultitiae Laus, sometimes translated as In Praise of Folly, Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid) is an essay written in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam and first printed in 1511. He had dedicated it to Thomas More. Erasmus revised and extended the work, which he originally wrote in the space of a week while sojourning with Sir Thomas More at More's estate in Bucklersbury. In Praise of Folly is considered one of the most influential works of literature in Western civilization – but it is not part of the Protestant Reformation, but more correctly the Catholic Reformation. Its criticism have been taken out of context for centuries, but rectified and accepted as positive by the Catholic Church c. 1960s. In a sense, Protestants embraces a neo-Christianity, reared upon semi-humanistic learning, resulting in an unfocused declaration of individualism of doctrinal supremacy. But the doctrinal arguments were all based upon uncritical and unreasonable examination of the classical texts, Roman, Greek and other books on antiquity. Individuals took their semi-literate knowledge to the public and gave eulogies which were based upon folly, and often fallacy. Desiderius was not attacking the Catholic Church, in as much as attacking the entire public domain of knowledge accredited to Paganism. Desiderius’s argument is that After insufficient classical training, including bilingualism, many individuals declared themselves the expertise in their fields, without understanding their folly of misuse of knowledge. Desiderius’s book on the Praise of Folly is a sophisticated but critically weak attack upon paganism. It is clear by reading conscientiously The Praise of Folly Erasmus had not read Plato’s cannon and to a lesser extent understood its eloquent arguments. Much of this is attributed to the quickness to which the book was written, and the lack of contemplation of its contending arguments. On the surface level, one finds Erasmus’ main theme: individuals in society who exhibited an undisciplined education will pass themselves off as experts on the sacred domain of pagan knowledge (e.g. everything unChristian). This undisciplined fluid movement had been adopted by the lower order of the Church and was also a retroactive to include the Greek Philosophers. Erasmus generalized the Stoics, who in more astute studies of the Classical period Greek Philosophers, they did not represent. Erasmus equates the human senses to a constellation of moral arguments he intends are necessary in society in which he calls folly. In contrast, human senses are the anti-thesis of wisdom or reason. This is a fallacy argument. Yet Erasmus constructs his book sophisticatedly, first by seeding his thesis that paganism is being promoted in monasteries and by the Catholic Church threw poor education, and writes against these views in the first part of the book – Erasmus in the voice of Folly. Then claims he is of a pagan god, and then argues later in the book that these paganisms promoted by the philosophers are devoid of true wisdom, because they do not include the ‘emotions.’ These emotions are laid out in first part of the book and they appear to be what Erasmus is arguing against as man’s moral and ethical way of life. However, as the book moves along, he champions these emotional outbursts -- these ideas coming from the early Church father’s and the some biblical figure’s quotes – in which we understand as part or even the main significance of Erasmus’ life’s work. He brought these writings to the public. As example in The Praise of Folly, Erasmus reveals “Jeremiah states this even more when he says: ‘Every man is made foolish in his own wisdom.’ It is to God alone that he attributes wisdom, regulating foolishness to mankind. A little bit before this he says: ‘Let no many glory in his wisdom.’” Erasmus uses these quotes from the bible, as he does with early church father writings to frame the Greek philosophers as liars. To some of contemporary Helens of Athens, wisdom could be attained by studious undertakings of the deductive scientific model Socrates articulated. Others attributed wisdom to pagan gods, which had books based upon earlier writings of others – including agriculture, math, geometry, astronomy, the sciences in general, biology, and even political science after Aristotle, &c. Erasmus does this constructing against pagans to place Jesus Christ and God (or both as God) as the only supreme entity that can depart wisdom. Yet, it is a Christian God, and is therefore a fallacy argument from many other religious and non-religious group-perspectives. Ironically, it is not a fallacy that Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus gained his literary skills under the auspices of Greek philosophers and Roman Republic and Empire literature. Misunderstood for centuries, The Praise of Folly was determined to be Anti- Catholic. Attacking some of the Church’s 14th -16th century practices (salvation history, and the hierarchy of the Latin church) appeared to undermine the Church at that time -- to many who could not understand its sophisticated attack upon paganism. Erasmus has us embrace Folly because apostles were fools according to St. Paul, and God loved fools and sent his son to save the fools of mankind.  In order to achieve the status of the fool, one must embrace sin and the folly principle-attributes Erasmus praises. It is a semi-Lutheran creed of predestination argument, based upon Greek humanism connected to the English Hellenist schools that Thomas More had been involved in, and Erasmus had written this partly during their friendship in England. Thomas More, in his Utopia, was for religious tolerance, but intended that every citizen must be affiliated with a religious movement. Erasmus in the praise of folly attacks the pagans as a non-viable movement which explains the difference in attitude of these two humanist thinkers. Most of the Christian arguments are parsing, selective and indiscriminate. Armies of God in the Old Testament are not for war but for uniting good against evil.  Another example is “[A]s often as Holy Scripture indicates absolute happiness is does so under the name of peace. Isaias says, ‘My people shall sit in the beautifulness of peace.’ The psalmist says, ‘Peace upon Israel.’”  These are the only two quotes that justifies Erasmus’ claim that God’s absolute happiness is under the name of peace. This is selective construction, and all scholastic attempts, even at thousands of pages of notations and arguments, these studies have never come to this conclusion. Erasmus’ construction was influenced by Thomas More’s intention of social conflict in England. More wanted a peaceful civilian population and in a public setting, as so did Erasmus. In monasteries, relative peace had been achieved, but it was not to be in the public in which was part of Erasmus’ efforts. These efforts were to get the message out of love and peace is Jesus’ way and we must demonstrate living like him in the public and not behind close doors. Yet, in order to make this view, he had to reconstruct the Old Testament, and parse its findings in which the public had no knowledge of in the first place. By parsing, Jesus had also claimed to come not in peace but to present a sword. Many commentators of Jesus’ period intend he was one of the many revolutionaries who advocated the overthrow of Roman occupation of the Holy Land, and his proactions at the Market Place demonstrated not peace but vigilantism and aggressive behavior. Many statement by Jesus of divide and conquer prove disturbing in contrast to his messages of love and peace. This could be explained in that he was discoursing to different individuals and communities. Most people intend that when Jesus’ words are recorded, he is addressing the general population of mankind, and not a select audience in which the recorder had taken note from a source that was supposedly there to witness it. By understanding this, we understand that Jesus was not contradictory, but was indeed a rabbi/ philosopher who addressed individual wants and enquires as individual lessens predicated upon needs of that individual or small group.
Folly is Erasmus and so what is his declaration? (The Praise of Folly)
“My greatest boon, of course, would be if it were possible for me to assume the power, intelligence, and likeness of God, so that my words would not be doubted.” 
Argument of Folly (The Praise of Folly)
Folly, a proper name that Desiderius uses to speak from, in the first person, is a self deprecated and sophisticated attack on other would-be know-it-alls.
My father was [...] but Platus, god of Riches, the Father of Gods and men [...]” At his nod, now as before, all things sacred and profane are turned topsy-turvy. By his judgment, war, peace, empires, plans, judgments, assemblies, marriages, treaties, pacts, laws, arts, sports, important matters (my breath is almost gone)—in brief, all public and private affairs – are governed. Without his help that the whole group of deities of the poets’ making and even—I will speak more boldly – the most eminent gods themselves, either would not exist at all or certainly would live very meagerly at home.” 
What or Who or Whom is Folly?
Folly is born in the fortune Islands. “In these islands there is no labor, or old age, or any sickness,”  and selective agriculture grows wild and plentiful. Erasmus is well versed, or at least some-what, in Plato on Socrates. He understands that humans are constructed upon conditions set around them in their environment. Folly falls into this category of constructed individuals as well. Yet, folly is a determinant of many entities linked to our myths and traditions – as history has constructed many entities (e.g. groups, people, civilizations).
At the fortune Islands, Folly was raised by drunkards, representing Bacchus’ and his offspring, and ignorance, daughter of Pan. His attendants of his household while growing up were Self-Love, Flattery, Forgetfulness, Laziness, Pleasure, Madness and Sensuality. Also: Intemperance and Sound Sleep. Folly intends with learning of these things in youth, Folly can “bring all things under my subjugation, even emperors.” 
Erasmus on using knowledge: (Stultitiae Laus)
“Foolosophers?” “Rhetoricians who think themselves veritable gods if they can bilingual like a horse leech; and they consider it a noble accomplishment if they can subtly work into their Latin orations a few Greek phrases as embellishment even if there is no need for them in speech. Then, if they want an exotic touch, they dig up four or five obsolete words from decaying manuscripts with which they becloud the reader; so that those who understand the words will be all the more pleased with themselves, and those who do not understand admire the more in proportion to their ignorance.” 
Monastery & Monks Supercilious Philosophers (The Praise of Folly)
Supercilious Philosophers have been taken over by the “Monks, kings in purple robes, pious priests, and thrice-holy Popes; also that whole company of the gods of the poets which is so numerous that Olympus itself, spacious as it is, can hardly hold the crowd.” 
Sophocles states ‘ignorance is bliss’ (The Praise of Folly) Passion vs. Reason, How Jupiter fashioned our beings ~Passion 5:1 Reason
Stoics [...] spurn pleasure, or at least they carefully pretend[...]” Desiderius opens our understanding that knowledge and wisdom lead to gloomy countenance, where as ignorance leads to happiness. Since, reason is directly connected in logic to knowledge, and wisdom, passion is directly connected to folly. Yet, Jupiter, in his wisdom, fashioned humans with five times as much folly as reason. Jupiter did this because if we turn the ratio around, the human race would die-off – we all would be depressed, gloomy and would want to end our existence. This is a difficult reality we all do not like to look at, yet it was so important that it was historically argued by the Greek and Roman philosophers. Erasmus’ significance is that he rearticulates the argument well.
“However, now is the time to leave the heavens and, following Homer’s example, return to earth where we again will see nothing joyous or fortunate except by my favor. First of all, you see how prudently nature, the mother and artificer of the human race, has taken pains to make sure that this race shall never lack its seasoning of folly. For, according to the Stoic definition, wisdom is nothing other than being guided by reason; folly, on the other hand, is to be swayed by the whim of passion. Now, in order that man’s life should not be completely sad and gloomy, Jupiter put in much more of passion than of reason –about five-to-one ratio. Because of this fact, he put reason in a narrow corner of the head and left the rest of the body to the passions. Finally, he installed two violent tyrants, as it were, against reason, namely: anger [what later Marxist would intend is the key ingredient to class struggle], which occupies the fortress of the breast and therefore the very font of life, the heart; and lust, which rules a wide empire farther down even to the private parts.”
As the Proverb says, “God brings like to like” (The Praise of Folly) The child has yet to learn about the world, yet traditions hold that humans yearn to become eternally youthful. (The fountain of Youth)
Some Comparisons of youth, of the middle-age and, of old age, as comparable arguments which determined some metamorphoses.  Erasmus argues that children and old people have carefree lives, and the middle-age or ages in between are not care-free, because this time is spent under stress learning, studying and trying to compete against each other – the opposite of like to like. In competition, which determines the in-between periods from a child to old age and death is spent in stressful competition, challenging like of the others’ like. Also, folly possesses the fountain of youth [The ideal]. In some conscientious reading, Erasmus champions only youth and despises old age. Then he argues that old age brings agreeable company, and the pattern of searching for youth (i.e. the fountain of youth in our fables and traditions) is troublesome. He moves on from mortals to express similar attributes of the gods. “For why is Bacchus always young and curly haired? Because, wild and giddy he is, he spends his whole life at parties, dances, revels, and games and he has not truck at all with Pallas. Finally, he is so far from wanting to be considered wise that he enjoys being worshipped in games and revels;” 
Stupidness and Foolishness Bring Happiness (The Praise of Folly)
“Oh stupid god,” they would say [about Morychus], “who was more worthy to be born from a thigh!” But who would not prefer to be stupid and foolish when along with it one is eternally festive, eternally youthful, eternally bringing pleasure and gaiety to others.” Better this than to be deep-minded.”  Therefore, folly is youthful ignorance or old age forgetfulness. Folly is what is sought after by society. Erasmus argues we seek folly because of our base ( body, one of the three parts of the human (Soul & Spirit)) desires, which is conditioned upon the construction of our myths and traditions. “Why is Cupid ever a boy? Why, but because he is a clown and cannot do or consider anything sensible. Why does the beauty of golden Venus forever retain its freshness? Doubtless because she is related to me; [...] Erasmus plays the part of the arguer for Folly].” 
Women are better off than men, thanks to Folly (The Praise of Folly)
“Yet, I do not think that the female sex is so foolish as to be angry at me because I myself attributed folly to them. For if they look at the matter in the right perspective, they would see that, thanks to folly, they are in many ways better off than men.”  Men seek women because of their youthful appearance (as compared to the roughness body features of men) and that Erasmus argues, “[Y]ou have now heard, therefore, where the first and chief pleasure of life arises.”  This part of folly is the sensuality of humans. Here, men strive after fame and glory in pursuit of the most youthful or pretty women – which men ascribe to the ultimate pleasure of life. This affirms Erasmus’ statement: “Women delight for no reason other than their folly,” in this case the folly of men, and men’s praise of folly/sensuality.  Women are the most beautiful of the sexes, and thus sensuality as part of the constellation of attributes to folly, describe the construction of men’s praise of folly. Women are so full of folly that they can tyrannize a tyrant, Erasmus concludes.  Much of this was source reading of ancient Greek and Roman rulers who had been tamed or subdued under beautiful and strong-willed women. Often, these tyrant rulers of antiquity were feared by the masses, and at the same time laughed at, because these women used their “sensuality” to influence or contain a tyrant in public policy. Often in today’s contemporary comparison in linguistical utterances, ‘the women wears the pants in the marriage,’ is often cited as a way to communicate that which a women has in considerable sway to day-to-day decision making within the marriage and even or often some important decisions concerning important matters that might have long term consequences. Erasmus lays it on thick, when he describes that women are naturally beautiful, but they increase their beauty by applying cosmetics. Men, therefore, cannot compete in sensuality, so women are better off than men, thanks to folly.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus Slams Socrates & Plato as Failures
Ironically, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, uses Socrates’ via Plato’s construction of society argument, which is the base methodology of The Praise of Folly.
Since the Monks and priest became a burden of semi-scholastic philosophers to society as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus intends, he took the position as a general stereotype that all philosophers are part of folly. Unfortunately, this is a weakness of Desiderius’ arguments. For example, in The Handbook of the Militant Christian, he interprets some of the Platonic phrases to phrases of the bible citing similar concepts based upon virtue. Here, is a stark contrast to his position in his other most famous of works. Desiderius failed to understand the Apology of Plato, and/or had not read a correct transcription of it. Socrates’ wisdom, Erasmus intends, is folly because he had chosen to drink the hemlock. Yet, we as historians are not convinced that Socrates had an escape plan, as the Apology intends. We know now that some things attributed to Socrates and his lives in Plato’s works are either fabrications or unintentional misinformation. Desiderius fails to understand both Plato and Socrates conviction that a soul will live again in bodily form. Socrates went no-where but back to earth in another age. In Desiderius’ defense, he has not read other sources that contain different aspects of Socrates biography. Socrates, according to these sources, was very much in tune with political life and this explains why he was accused of fomenting opposition to the ruling elite at the Agora (public space). Finally, Plato gives a deeper and more sophisticated argument in which Desiderius did not understand. Socrates does not teach, because we assume (as with Desiderius) the institutions of his day did not meet the criteria of freedom of speech and enquiry. Desiderius complains heavily in letters about the curriculum at Paris, in which he formed his anti-philosophy views and wanted to desperately leave to be able to study other forms of knowledge. Yet, these were selected views and not a freedom to investigate other perspectives. We can speculate the same things happened at Athens and in Greece during Socrates’ period. This did not meet the criteria that Socrates gives the idea that philosophers should be outside of the real of public life and influence. Certainly Plato advocating Philosopher kings are needed in society leave Desiderius’ argument in question as well as a personal contraction of his own historiography. An empirical intention Desiderius probably irrationalized was that after the Militant Christian was printed and read, he had become a literary superstar. Therefore, he gained folly-fame, worship. Socrates, as he points our for his public contention argument, always leaves the public scene being laughed at – there he could never be respected as Desiderius was/is respected. Unfortunately, this conclusion helps frame Desiderius, himself, in the real of folly. However, we can understand this in that the supreme issue is Jesus Christ’s’ supremacy to the will of wisdom. Therefore, anyone in competition, Desiderius must try to defeat in argument. 
Sarcastically, Desiderius argues that philosophers do not “approach” public life. ( to be continued)
Christianity if about Peace ( The Praise of Folly)
“The stoics exclude the emotions as if they were diseases from the wise man; but yet these emotions not only discharge the office of guides to those hurrying to the port of wisdom but they are even accustomed to be present as spurs and stimuli in every performance of virtue, as extorters to well doing.”  By excluding all the emotions, wisdom becomes the arbiter of idol worship, Erasmus intends. Humans from wisdom alone create gods like stone statues, which strips man of emotions creating “a new god or demiurge who never has nor ever will exist.”  “Indeed, to speak more clearly, he makes a man a marble statue, dumb and completely devoid of all human feeling. But if this is what they want, let them enjoy their wise men and love him without any rival in Plato’s republic, or if they prefer, in the realm of ideas, or in the gardens of Fontalus.”  Erasmus misappropriates rationalism with idealism here. It is a mistake, and could be explained in that he had written The Praise of Folly quite quickly. He may have not contemplated on some of his findings, his own thoughts and, as consistent arguments. In fact, Plato’s Law is the rival to The Republic. The Laws is a single class society with a philosopher king and The Republic is a two class society. The Laws have many ideals later formulated by More and Marx in their construction of states.
Erasmus Intends we must Embrace Folly (The Praise of Folly)
Summary of Erasmus’ argument: Erasmus believed that Religion and Learning of knowledge go hand in hand. This is contradicting the early church followers. This also explains why Greek Philosophy and Christianity can go hand in hand. This is opposite of what people argued for during Justinian I’s period.
“But lest I pursue what is infinite, let me sum up. The whole of the Christian religion seems to have a certain relationship with some kind of folly but fails to agree at all with wisdom. If you would like proof of this, take a look at children, old people, women, and fools and see how they, more than others, take great pleasure in the things of religion. They seem to have a natural impulse to stand closer to the alter.
Topics: Plato’s Cave (Conditions & Arguments of the Soul [ mjm Predestination)
“In the first place Christians agree in many respects with the Platonists in that they hold that the soul is submerged and tied down with early chains. It is so impeded by what is crass that it hardly has a chance to contemplate or enjoy the truth.”  [ The truth here is qualified until it is defined in context of this point of topic.]
“Plato defined philosophy as the contemplation of death.”
“The masses do the same thing in admiring only what is corporeal and holding all else as being almost lacking in existence.” 
Erasmus on Predestination ( The Praise of Folly):
As long as the soul uses physical organs only, it is called sane; when, however, breaking its bonds, it attempts to assert its liberty, breaking away, as it were, from its imprisonment, it is called insane. When this condition is due to some ailment, then there is no doubt that it is called insanity. Yet we see people so afflicted, predict the future, understand foreign languages hitherto unknown, and give every evidence of some divine quality. There can be no doubt now that the mind is somewhat liberated from the contagion of the body it begins to exercise its native abilities. We see the same thing in the case of those who are near death. They speak, as if inspired, of things beyond the ordinary. If this happens as a result of studied piety, though not identical with insanity, it is nonetheless so close to it that most will consider it madness. This is particularly true since only a few unimportant individuals stand apart in this respect from the common herd in their way of life. ” 
“In my opinion, what happened in the cave of in Plato’s myth, were he who escaped told the others bound within that the outside held realities rather than shadows, is the fate of most men. Just as they continued to believe in the shadow, thinking him deceived, so he thought them mad to be captivated by such an error. The masses do the same thing in admiring only what is corporal and holding all else as being almost lacking in existence. Religious individuals take the opposite position and are being wrapped up in the invisible to the detriment of the physical. The majority of mankind attributes the greatest importance to riches, bodily comforts, and finally the soul, which many of them do not even believe in, as it is not seen with the eyes. The pious agree in directing their efforts first toward God, the purest of all existence, and in the second place, in what comes closest to Him, namely the soul. The care of the body they neglect. Money they disdain as husks and avoid. If they are obliged to engage in money matters, they do so unwillingly, possessing as if they did not possess.” 
The Handbook of the Militant Christian: 1503 and was published in England by William Tyndale (translated and printed into multiple languages, and editions, brought Erasmus fame). Note, the Erasmus spearheaded printing of his own books, forming friendships throughout his life with printers. He used the printing press as a tool for his vision of Church reform.
the following three elements: the Latin noun desiderium ("longing" or "desire"; the name being a genuine Late Latin name); the Greek adjective εράσμιος (erasmios) meaning "beloved", and, in the form Erasmus, also the name of a saint; and the Latinized adjectival form for the city of Rotterdam (Roterodamus = "of Rotterdam").
As in Rabelais’ criticism of humanist curriculum in “Gargantua and Pantegruel in which dedication to learning takes most of your time in life,” Desiderius says “Dedicate yourself entirely to the study of Scriptures.” (1) “Meditate day and night,” and “nothing will ever terrorize you.” “Also (2), Read sensible Pagan books and Philosophers:” the Best, “ I would recommend Platonist most highly, not only their ideas, but their very mode of expression approaches that of the Gospels – but they must be read in cursory manner and applied and referred to Christ.” 
Scriptures: “I would recommend after St. Paul, Origin, Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine. Too many modern theologians are prone to liberal translations.”  “Read the fathers of the Church, their “deep piety has withstood the test of time.” 
Born at Rotterdam, Holland, 28 October, probably in 1466; died at Basle, Switzerland, 12 July, 1536. He was the illegitimate child of Gerard, a citizen of Gouda, and Margaretha Rogers, and at a later date latinized his name as Desiderius Erasmus. As an illegitimate child he could not by law inherit property. Illegitimacy remained a stigma upon his character for the rest of his life.
Key: He also remained committed to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which Protestant Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination.
Publishing: “In 1500 was issued the "Adagia", a collection of Greek and Latin proverbs, and in 1508 another greatly enlarged edition of the same; in 1502 appeared the "Enchiridion militis christiani", in which he described the nature of true religion and true piety, but with comments that were biting and antagonistic to the Church; in 1505 Lorenzo Valla's "Annotationes" to the New Testament, the manuscript of which he had found in a monastery at Brussels. His introduction to this work is important, for in it occurred his first utterance concerning the Scriptures, laying especial stress on the necessity of a new translation, a return to the original text, and respect for the literal sense.”
“He frequently went to Basle to visit the famous printer Froben, who published henceforth nearly all the writings of Erasmus and procured for them a very wide circulation. In this way Erasmus came into closer relations with German humanism, and his influence did much to increase its prestige in south-western Germany, inasmuch as the followers of the "new learning" in Basle, Constance, Schlettstadt, and Strasburg, looked up to him as their leader. One of his chief works at this period is the "Colloquia Familiaria", first published in 1518, issued in an enlargedform in 1526, and often reprinted. It is a kind of textbook for the study of the Latin language, and introduction to the purely natural formal training of the mind, and a typical example of the frivolous Renaissance spirit.” 
“His edition of the Greek original of the New Testament, "Novum Instrumentum omne" (Basle, 1516), no model of text-critical scholarship, was accompanied by a classical Latin translation destined to replace the Vulgate. Among the notes, partly textual criticism, partly exegetical comments, were inserted sarcastic slurs on the ecclesiastical conditions of the period. “  [this is a rather little polemic]
“Like his teacher Lorenzo Valla, he regarded Scholasticism as the greatest perversion of the religious spirit; according to him this degeneration dated from the primitive Christological controversies, which caused the Church to lose its evangelical simplicity and become the victim of hair-splitting philosophy, which culminated in Scholasticism.”  [ actually this does not seem to be true this statement.]
Breather of the Common life: never came out and against the saints, sacraments or indulgences, they promoted the inward example of Christ, an understanding of a way to follow him and lead by his example.
Erasmus school in part was with the Brethren of the Common Life (inspired by Geert Groote) where he gleaned the importance of a personal relationship with God but eschewed the harsh rules and strict methods of the religious brothers and educators.
Erasmus was an illegitimate life.
Marked he carried in his life: Illegitimacy, could not inherent property. But his father was well off enough to send him to the Brethren of the Common Life. Here he learned under the disciple of the cane, Latin of Vergil and Cicero, but this order did do not have the full studia humantatis curriculum reform. Erasmus complained that the discipline method of this order was too quick to pick up their rod, to enforce their language discipline. This was a common practice in these times and held weight of contention for Erasmus for the rest of his life. This discipline, however, made him a good Latinist. Now trained, Erasmus would enter the order of the Augustinian Monk, and so will Martin Luther. Most famous of Augustine’s work is City of God..... These Augustine orders were the best chance to attain this living model and its regime was to live a monastic life. So this explains why monasteries were over populated in the 14th century; also had the best chance of eating regularly. To be celibate was the cost. St. Augustine (c. 4th-5th centuries), wrote on confessions, an autobiography and of a huge volume of sermons. The Orders of Augustine were places in which bishops sought these humanists for their secretary skills.
In 1493, the Bishop of Cambrai takes him away and Desiderius attains a cultivated personality, he becomes a mouth piece for the bishop. He is exceptionally smart, and the bishop sends him to Paris (1495-99). This helps to explain that Erasmus is getting a world class education throughout his life. At Paris, this training is like graduate training. At this time, Paris is concentrating on a curriculum of an Aristotelian fashion, an emphasis on scholastic philosophy. But Erasmus will branch off from this curriculum and become a different theologian. He dislikes the current Parisian theological format.
In 1499, He goes to England. He comes back to the continent for couple of years, works for the bishop. Then goes back to England in search of an addition patron and becomes teacher to King Henry VII’s doctor. And the doctor takes his family down to Italy, and Erasmus gets to drink in the whole classical revival, and he is making his reputation --- he gets an honoree doctorate.
In 1503, he will author the Handbook of the Militant Christian. It is handbook on Christian Humanism, with a northern European style. As a handbook of Christian living, it presents a common way for the masses (the lay persons), without necessary becoming a priest, or entering a monastery or joining the clergy. It objective is for one to become religious and live a religious pious life. The common man could not read in a capacity of the old Church fathers and understand what they had meant. This is why Desiderius was important to the Catholic Reformation. This works helps explain to the commons the original Church father’s understanding of Christianity. This was an attempt to reintroduce the early path(s) of the virtuous life from the Patrine(?) period ( before 325, and Constantine and the Catholic Church’s foundations). Their arguments were directed toward the masses to begin to live the Christian life. You did not have to join the Holy Orders to become and follow the Christ path. Prior to the Holy Orders (the Roman Catholic Church), the Church fathers wrote to the lay people, the common masses. It is in this context that Desiderius becomes famous and is important figure in opposition of the Protestant Reformation. Desiderius represents the Catholic reformation, even though he is contending many of its normative control function and features. This also explains why Desiderius had been misunderstood for centuries, and many believed (as in Holland) he was a Protestant, in which he was never one to begin with and did not attack Luther because of his character and not because of his opposition to Luther from the beginning. The foundational arguments for this are in The Praise of Folley, as the issue of the soul’s role and transubstantiation (mutational graces) functions of the Holy Father. Desiderius, even today, is being misrepresented on widely read Internets, fashioning him as a Protestant reformer. In the 1960s council, the Catholic Church finally began to understand their role and Desiderius’ contributions to the future of their church.
"Enchiridion militis christiani" (1503) is written for a lay audience. He wrote it for a wife who wanted her husband to be a better husband, and so Erasmius was trying to give this man and everyone else a model on how to live a Christian life (Path on the way to the virtuous life). Reviving the Church fathers: they were theologians who lived during the first five centuries after Jesus Christ. Origin, from Alexandria (Egypt), he wrote against a pagan critic, Contra Celecum. Celecum said Christianity does not have principles like the Greek philosophical principles. In argument, Origin said, but wait it does. They were trying to bring Plato and Christ together. It was about reconciling, Christianity and paganism go had in hand.
A big part of the Protestant reformation will be the arguments the Church fathers. We must go back to the patristic church (The church before Constantine, before 325) Patristic (founding writers on Christianity, who act in a paternal like fashion ) church.
Enchiridion militis christiani
In "Enchiridion militis christiani," there is a heavy emphasis on using the scriptures, gospels, and living like Christ? Most people could not pick up bible, and more commoners were now writing on biblical understandings in the languages they could understand – in medieval Latin.
At Alcalà University, the Polyglot Bible program was one such project that Erasmus was asked to fulfill, if he would be a part of the project. Yet, Julius II wanted Erasmus to come down to Rome. He grants him a dispensation in 1506. He then leaves the Augustinian Order (able to withdraw his vows, uncommon then), and gets an independent income that allows him to do his scholarship free of restrictions on patron-projects. Erasmus will also go to work on a Greek version of the New Testament. Up until this time, the official approved Bible was the Vulgate of Jerome. Jerome was in a cave where he thinks Jesus was born, and lived their and transcribes a Greek Bible into Latin. And that particular version is the dominate Bible version for the next 1000 years. Erasmus argued, if one wants accuracy, one must go to the original languages to achieve accuracy. Greek was the common language of the Mediterranean at that time of Jesus’ ministry. And Erasmus did not know Greek, and he began to see Greek being studied in the newly afforded England humanist schools, and so he learned Greek by himself in under four-years. This makes Erasmus more famous. Then he turns his attention toward Christian topics. Of course, this was different from these Italian friends that were looking at Classics – he did not go to the secular classical projects in southern Europe at this time, he wanted to give the rebirth of the Christian Past a unique reformation of its own. Erasmus was in England sporadically during the time span of 1510-14, and close to a decade, it was an important location. He became a professor at Cambridge, he gets to know people surrounding the court, and he gets to know Thomas More, and he dedicates in 1517, the Praise of Folly.
Erasmus Foundational texts
Foundational texts: ( Militant Christen &c) Praise of Folly takes on a voice of satirical critiques of the world, and in the present day. Hypocrisies in Erasmus’s society contain likeness to a Rabelaisian world view but it is not as pornographic as the French negativist. Instead, it is a sober rendition of critical examination on contemporary would views on the Roman Catholic Church and secular and religious Scholasticism. And yet, it retains some fuming criticism of the foibles of his day. This gives him a voice of Christian reason of his day. In many ways, he critiques the world view of the distorted view of indulgences, and the distortion of the salvation economy. He argued the common must have a through soul-production Manuel and these two texts best represent the model.
A treatise of eating of fish. No eating of meat on Fridays during Lent ( 40 days to the crucifixion) and then no eating of meat on Fridays. And Erasmus says this idea of sacrificing, it takes us away from the deeper penance and reform; it distorts the meaning of the Gospel. As time goes on, his critique will go after everyone, and he also criticizes the papacy (however, not attacking with the name of Anti-Christi like Wycliffe)
The Julius excluded (anonymous tract)
And then the anonymous: “The Julius excluded”, a little treatise, the character of Pope Julius II, who had did him favors, lets him out of his vows, stipend, come to court, but this did not mean that Erasmus approved of Julius’ ways.
Story: Julius (II) goes to heaven, knocks on St Peters, and Peter tells Julius that I was not anything, I lived poor. Well I was poor fisherman, no treasure, crucified, and basically Peter is the voice of Erasmus, who tried to draw a distinction between what Peter did and the Pope Julius had done in his life. Julius II was a warrior, controlled people, whereas Peter was a simple man. Julius is excluded from heaven. This came after The Praise of Folly, and it was anonymous. It is usually attributed to Erasmus because of its style.
1518, intellectual superstar. One of the first intellectual superstar’s of the Printing Press and had a close relationship with printers. He ends up publishing many editions of the Praise of Folly in many languages, and Militant Christen goes through many editions, and it was Erasmus that had a hand in this.
Martin Luther comes on the scene and shakes up Erasmus.
Erasmus lived during the Reformation; one issue of the time was that of various clerical abuses in the Church, one of the factors that led some critics (following Martin Luther) to embark upon Protestantism and reject the authority of the Pope. Meanwhile others remained committed to reforming the Church from within. Erasmus was committed to the latter cause.
Desiderius Erasmus: a northern renaissance figure who intended the inner search for Christ should be outwardly projected, and knowledge of secular as well as scriptural based research will lead one to conduct a life toward the imitation of Christ of a peaceful manner. Erasmus’s argument opposed Luther’s and some Church doctrine, but Challenged the protestant movement and worked for internal reformation of the Catholic Church. His message had been misinterpreted for centuries. The Roman Catholic Church valued (Paul III, who reformed much of the previous pontificate and papal programs) his humanist skills and more importantly the lay persons, and public adored his rhetorical skills. His works were translated into many languages, many priests used some of his works as practitioner guidebooks, and toward the end of his life, all royal courts and the papal courts courted him for their own.
“A leader of German [ Catholic Christian] humanism, b. at Rotterdam, Holland, 28 October, probably in 1466; d. at Basle, Switzerland, 12 July, 1536. He was the illegitimate child of Gerard, a citizen of Gouda, and Margaretha Rogers, and at a later date latinized his name as Desiderius Erasmus. Eventually his father became a priest. Erasmus and an elder brother were brought up at Gouda by their mother. When nine years old he was sent to the school of the celebrated humanist Hegius at Deventer, where his taste for humanism was awakened…” (NewAdvent)
Do not retreat from life but live as an example of pacifism (what he believed was Christ) in the public domain. Erasmus called it living like Jesus Christ.
Live the spiritual life, not in one’s house where one cannot see you (actually what Jesus told his apostles) but live like Jesus in the public eye and be spiritual in the public eye.
Erasmus wrote accounts of his early life (one in 1516 and another in 1524): Erasmus did not come from a traditional family, meaning it was hard for him to discuss his actual early family life.
· Born: (October 27, 1466/1469 – July 12, 1536) in Rotterdam.
· Mother a widowed daughter of a physician from a village of Severnbergen.
· Father, generally believed to be Roger Gerard of Gouda (father already in the orders, and in 1466; October 27, 1466 Erasmus possibly born).
Produced new Latin and Greek editions on the New Testament
Schooling, patronage, writings, fame.
1493: Not uncommon prelates needed literate persons in help, and Bishop of Cambrai, an aspiring cardinal, asked Erasmus to be his secretary. Henry Bergan became Erasmus’ patron. This allowed Erasmus an opportunity to mingle with European’s finest society.  Financial help was one reward, yet another reward was Bergan allowed Erasmus to attend the University of Paris, under a letter of recommendation.
1487: as a young scholar, Erasmus entered a cloistered order of the Canons Regular of St Augustine at Steyn. The Antibarbari was written during this years, but released later. In the monasteries, inner piety and spirituality ( that he would champion the rest of his life) were taught in monasteries as the way for the pious. This explains why monastic life was so popular as a career alongside working for the state ( going to school included), or becoming a seaman, traveler.
1495 Erasmus went on to study at the University of Paris, in the Collège de Montaigu, a centre of reforming zeal, under the direction of the ascetic John [Jan] Standonck, also a product of the Breathern of the Common Life. Erasmus found out that the restriction on literary freedom at the University of Paris was more cumbersome than at the Monastery. The University was then the chief seat of Scholastic learning, but already coming under the influence of Renaissance humanism. Erasmus revolted against the study of theology. He found that students and faculty squabbled over subtle formalities of Scotus and Ockham. He found this disagreeable.  Erasmus stayed at the University of Paris for four years.
1498-99 He went to Holland to seek additional patronage. This was a time in his life he had enjoyed financial security. His character exhumed a man who bought expensive manuscripts, clothes and expensive dinners. He failed to obtain a degree in theology, but met the French Poet Robert Gaguin and the well-known author Faustus Andrelinus.  He also tutored young English students in Latin: Thomas Grey, Robert Fisher, and William Blount, Lord Mountjoy.
1499: In the summer of 1499, Erasmus received a request by Lord Mountjoy to go to England. He remained there until the next year. This was the first of several stays in England ( three of them). He immediately struck up friendships with Thomas More and John Colet. Erasmus was particularly impressed by the Bible teaching of John Colet who pursued a style more akin to the church fathers than the scholastics. This prompted him, upon his return from England, to master the Greek language, which would enable him to study theology on a more profound level and to prepare a new edition of Jerome's Bible translation.
1500: Notoriety. The liberati now sought after Erasmus after the release of adagia.
1506: Pope Julius II granted Erasmus a long-sought dispensation (like a pension) of ecclesiastical benefits. His illegitimate birth and Monastic vows were suspended, therefore allowing him because of his talent and commitment to reform ( or contend toward the protestant reformation) the Catholic Church. ( Otherwise this probably would have not been allowed for others).
1506 - 1514 He tutored Henry VII’s physician’s kids (Henry VII of England), thus traveling all over Italy ( a dream of his) while France and a northern coalition fought Spain or other coalitions in opposition which were involved in the Italian Wars. In Turin, Erasmus was given a degree as Doctor of Theology. He spent many months in Venice as the house guest of a great printer Aldo Manuzio, who published new and elegant editions of his Adagia. 1509, Erasmus was in Rome and he had received word of his patron Henry VII and the accession of Henry VIII.
1514, this was his third visit to England, he remained there until 1514, and was one of the most productive (The Praise of Folly, revised the Adagia, composed the De Copia Verborum, and continued his work on the New Testament.). He also lectured on Greek and theology at the University of Cambridge.
1517 (Fame): Became an idol of Europe, so Pope released him from his religious vows (Monastery duties). This had been an obstacle to serving secular courts in which the now famous Christian Humanist had been desired. It also freed up Erasmus’ time so he could pursue his dream of independent scholastic study – his own desires and investigations.
1524: “Pressured by the Pope, Emperor [Holy Roman], and princes, Erasmus finally broke his silence and took a definite stand against Luther. The appearance of the De Libero Arbitrio, which he composed in the fall of 1524, marked a change of direction of the entire reform movement.”
1529 moved to Freiburg im Breisgau, “where he lived in April 1529, a man broken in health and spirit, yet determined to carry on the great mission of his life, the restoration of Christian peace and tranquility” , part of Hapsburg.
1535 Returns to Basel in order to work with the younger Forben on his Latin edition of Origen, then summoned by Pope again.
1535, May 31st, The Farnese pope, Paul III, took up a matter for a council and fashioned Erasmus as its spokesperson for Catholic Church reform. The council did not happen for another decade, but Erasmus turned the initial invention down anyway.
Died: 12 July 1536. Fortified by the Sacraments of the Church and repeating , O Jesu, misericordia, Domine libera me; Domine miserer mei.
Conditions: Erasmus sought an independent status for a scholar. He detested the regimen of both monastic life and secular academic life. Erasmus’ represents another individual seeking answers outside traditional instructions and the intending ideologies contain within them.
Writing style: He strips down the arguments to simplistic polarities, yet forming the ultimate unified concentration around a Christocentric ideology of spiritual life (fourth Rule, Enchiridion).
Adagia (1500) ( edited from teacher, made him widely famous)
Enchiridion Militis Christiani (1503)
“The Sixth Rule brings out the image [ note idealism and not realism] of Christ as the prototype of genuine piety in every station of life,” Dolen intends. “In the concluding section Erasmus lists remedies against particular vices, and although there is little original in the presentation, he nonetheless adds a concrete dimension to these remedies by situating them in the mainstream of daily events. The author makes the whole purpose of the little book clear from the onset; it is aimed not at making the reader learned but rather at making him pious.”  [ also not, Erasmus’ conclusion is that Jesus was a pacifist, and held no militant motives; passages that Jesus came to bring the sword, or the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven given to Peter, differ from Erasmus’ interpretation. This explained in that Erasmus did not vision Church dogma (Monastery) or dialectic scriptural teaching(s) ( Paris).
The Handbook of the Militant Christian, is about rules for piety.
“First of all we would be siding with those vices that are diametrically opposed to the divine, for how can light and darkness be in agreement.” (p. 30).
“Anyone who concludes a treaty with vice [ however defined?] violates the agreement made with God in baptism. You foolishly cry, “peace, peace,” and at the same time treat as an enemy God, who is alone is peace and the author of peace.” [this is to say that Erasmus did not like dialectics, that is to say, Jesus also said I bring a sword (implying conflict), and one’s parents are enemies.].
1495, with the bishop's consent and stipend, he went on to study at the University of Paris, in the Collège de Montaigu, a centre of reforming zeal, under the direction of the ascetic Jan Standonck, of whose rigours Erasmus complained. The University was then the chief seat of Scholastic learning, but already coming under the influence of Renaissance humanism.
post of secretary to the Bishop of Cambray, Henry of Bergen, on account of his great skill in Latin and his reputation as a man of letters. So that he could accept this post, he was given a temporary dispensation from his religious obligations on the grounds of poor health and love of Humanistic studies. Pope Leo X later made the dispensation permanent, a considerable privilege at the time.
Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression
Enchiridion militis Christiani, or Handbook of a Christian Knight (or: Soldier) was written by Desiderius Erasmus in 1503 and was published in England by William Tyndale.
“During a stay in Tournehem, a castle near Saint-Omer, Erasmus encountered an uncivilized, yet friendly soldier who was an acquaintance of Battus, Erasmus' close friend. On the request of the soldier's pious wife, who felt slighted by her husband's behavior, Battus asked Erasmus to write a text which would convince the soldier of the necessity of mending his ways, which he did. The resulting work was eventually re-drafted by Erasmus and expanded into the Enchiridion militis Christiani, The Enchiridion is an appeal on Christians to act in accordance with the Christian faith rather than merely performing the necessary rites. It became one of Erasmus' most influential works.”
Free Will: The Conflict With Luther
Conflict began in September 1524 when Erasmus published De libero arbitrio diatribè sive collatio (A discussion of Free Will). Martin Luther’s argument was after the Fall of Adam sin was so disordered that free-will could not exist. Luther came up with this idea as a reaction to the papal bull ordering his excommunication. Erasmus never intended to attack Luther, agreed with many of his claims, yet Luther was known to incite reaction through his divisive writings on anyone who had not agreed with his view. To counter this, mainly attacks upon church theologians, Princes, kings and the Pope moved Erasmus to take sides under threat of Catholic contention. The response was this work. Yet, Erasmus also saw an escape clause for his participation. The viciousness and abusive writings Luther used to frame anyone who opposed his reforms, the Rotterdam scholar used this excuse to claim that these attacks could not come from God. In 1520, Luther wrote three revolutionary treaties, in which one of them, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, “flatly rejected the whole sacramental system of the medieval church and denied the authority of the institutional church and its established hierarchy.” Erasmus initially warmed to Luther, but by 1516, Luther had became aware of his ideas and decided that his “reform ideas lacked sound theological foundation.  “Erasmus’ opinion of Luther shifted from cautious approval in 1518 to increasingly strong criticism. These were preserved in letters to private humanist friends but these friends also had warmed to Luther’s revolutionary ideas as well. Luther at this time was a young scholar and had learned much from Erasmus’ translation of the Greek edition into Latin of the New Testament (1516) and his biblical scholarship and thus did not overtly attack Erasmus, but remained with reservations about the “heretical view of free will for which the monk Pelgius had been condemned in the fifth century by St. Augustine.”  By 1517, Luther was writing to friends that Erasmus was not a competent scholar. These criticisms became widely known around the humanist circles. By 1521, Erasmus’ critiques on Luther’s assumptions began to appear “(without his approval) in the publications of other humanist scholars. The collection of his own correspondence that he published in September 1522 made some of these judgments public. He was urging his humanist friends not to embrace Luther’s reform movement even though there were good things in it.” 
“Not until 1523 did Erasmus mention freedom of will as a point of contention in his corrospondance with freinds, once just in passing (Ep 1342, CWE 9:399) and once more clrearly in a letter to Huldrych Zwingli, a friend of long standing and already the leader of the Reformation in Zurich, whom Erasmus still chose to regard as a humanist reformer and not as a committed follower of Luther. Here he mentions Luther’s claim in his Assertiones that al the works of the saints are sin, “that free will is mere words,” and “that man is justified by faith alone and works are nothing to the point,” statement that Erasmus dismisses as “riddles which are of the face of it absurd” (Ep 1384, CWE 10:81).” 
Martin Luther: ( See page on Martin Luther, see at Directory)
"All things whatever arise from, and depend on, the divine appointment; whereby it was foreordained who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it; who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them; and who should be justified and who should be condemned." - Martin Luther
Predestination Martin Luther:
“The doctrine of predestination or election has confused and separated Christians for generations. To believe in predestination is to believe that we are "saved," born-again, or brought to faith in Jesus Christ because God has chosen us for salvation. Both Luther and Calvin believed in predestination. But if the doctrine of predestination is logically "pushed," many difficult questions arise: Does God choose people for damnation? Can the grace of God be resisted? Did Jesus die for all sinners or only for the elect? Can a Christian fall away from the faith?” 
On Mending The Peace of the Church ( Certain sense Erasmus Last Will and Testament)
De Sarcienda Ecclesia Concordia (1533) & letter to Pope Paul III. February, 1535, E.E.XI, 62
About 1533 when he was writing this ‘ ecclesiastical concord’, Europe seemed in travail.
Schmalkaldic stiffened its “resistance to compromise, and the Roman Curia was bogged down in a fruitless effort to negotiate peace with the Protestants,” Dolan writes a commentary on this part of Erasmus legacy. “France, Italy, and Spain were the scenes of religious riots.”  “The King’s Proceedings,” the royal act of supremacy, had torn his beloved England from the Universal Church, and More’s fate had been sealed.”  Erasmus Christian Humanist movement appeared with representatives at every court, after his death in July of 1536, and for many years afterwards. Their objective was to continue a program of tolerance and a program of unification of the Church of living as Christ, according to the early church fathers and Jesus and his disciples. “All of them shared the common conviction that reunion could be achieved only through a cleansing of the Church of its nonessential trappings and a return to that pristine purity reflected in the Gospels and the Fathers.” “The book itself is a commentary on the eighty-third (eighty-fourth) psalm that weaves a beautiful allegory on the Church as the Domus Domini, the House of the Lord.”  “Here we see, as in all his works, the great central themes of Erasmus’ theology, spiritualism and interiorization.” This view is according to Dolan’s interpretation as at least in this review. In On Mending The Peace of the Church, “[H]is enthusiasm is directed more to the universal assembly of faith and charity than to the hierarchal structured visible organization.” 
1) “The strength of Christianity does not consist in ignorance.” The suppression of truth and conceit cannot be used in Christ’s name.  Erasmus does not argue for the revocation of classical philosophers (as the period of Justinian I and the population that desired it, 529? A.D.).
2) In Liber de Sarcienda is “Erasmus’ steady determination to remain above religious partisanship. The extreme radicalism of the reformers, which led them to do away with ancient ecclesiastical institutions, he impartially laments.” 
3) “[...] On Mending the Peace of the Church was met with anything by universal acceptance. The papal nuncio Vergerio forwarded a German translation of the book to the Pope, remarking that its reception in Germany created an impression that Erasmus had defected.”  Luther himself described the work as an Arian intrusion, and the University of Louvian condemned it a few years later.”  “Yet the book continued to exert for many centuries an influence upon those sincerely interested in terminating the internecine conflicts between Christians. Hugo Grotius, a pioneer in international law, found in it an ideal basis for his world court of arbitration.” 
Dolan, John P, The Essential Erasmus, trans., Dolan, 2nd. ed. (New York: Meridian, the Penguin Group, 1983).
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