Twenty-ninth Annual Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture

A More Radical Renaissance: Erasmus’ Novum instrumentum (1516) in Its Time and Ours

in Erasmus Studies
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The progress of modern editions of Erasmus’ works has brought us to a point where we can begin to reassess the significance of the turn in his career marked by the Novum instrumentum in 1516. When the insights of recent research on Erasmus’ New Testament are combined with scholarship on early modern literary and print culture and in the cognitive history of neo-Latin discourse, the radical novelty of his biblical enterprise appears more clearly.

Erasmus Studies

Formerly: Erasmus of Rotterdam Society Yearbook




P.S. Allen, The Age of Erasmus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914) 7–8.


Lisa Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).


Harry Vredeveld, ‘The Ages of Erasmus and the Year of His Birth’, Renaissance Quarterly 46 (1993) 754–809.


Jardine, Erasmus, Man of Letters 27–82; Aloïs Gerlo, Erasme et ses portraitistes: Metsijs, Dürer, Holbein (Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1969).


Jan den Boeft, ‘Erasmus and the Church Fathers’, The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West: From the Carolingians to the Maurists, ed. Irena Backus, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1995) 2:537–572.


James D. Tracy, ‘Erasmus Becomes a German’, Renaissance Quarterly 21 (1968) 281–288.


James K. McConica, ‘Erasmus in Amsterdam and Toronto’, Editing Texts from the Age of Erasmus: Papers given at the Thirteenth Annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, 4–5 November 1994, ed. Erika Rummel (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996) 81–100.


Stefan Zweig, Triumph und Tragik des Erasmus von Rotterdam (Vienna: Herbert Reichner, 1934); Erasmus of Rotterdam, trans. Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: Viking, 1934). Bruce Mansfield, Erasmus in the Twentieth Century: Interpretations c. 1920–2000, Erasmus Studies 15 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003) 8–10.


Adam Kirsch, ‘One of Liberalism’s Greatest Defenders Doesn’t Deserve His Obscurity: Stefan Zweig and His Overdue Revival’, New Republic, 8 August 2014, Accessed 29 November 2016.


Andrew J. Brown, ‘The Date of Erasmus’ Latin Translation of the New Testament’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 8 (1984) 351–380.


Zweig, Erasmus 63. The original German is more graphic: ‘the movement of his pen in setting down the characters on the silent page seems mechanical and easy (mechanisch und leicht)’: Zweig, Triumph und Tragik 61.


Zweig, Erasmus 71; Zweig, Triumph und Tragik 69: ‘seine Wissensgier … [war] ein durchaus moderner Denkapparat’. As pointed out by John Sutton, ‘Exograms and Interdisciplinarity: History, the Extended Mind, and the Civilizing Process’, The Extended Mind, ed. Richard Menary (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010) 189–225 at 193, ‘if we are cyborgs now, we always have been’.


In Lodi Nauta (ed.), Language and Cultural Change: Aspects of the Study and Use of Language in the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Leuven: Peeters, 2006) 187–203. See also in that volume Lodi Nauta, ‘Linguistic Relativity and the Humanist Imitation of Classical Latin’ (173–185) and the same author’s In Defence of Common Sense: Lorenzo Valla’s Humanist Critique of Scholastic Philosophy (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2009), esp. 269–291.


Moss, ‘Language Can Change Minds’ 194.


Moss, Renaissance Truth and the Latin Language Turn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) 36.


Terence Cave, The Cornucopian Text: Problems of Writing in the French Renaissance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) 332.


Nikolaus Gerbel in Erasmus, Lucubrationes (Strasbourg: Schürer, 1515) sigs. 2r–4r at sig. 4r: ‘denique formulam aliquando praescribet studiosis, qua via, quo Compendio pervenire queant sacrarum litterarum cupidi, ad veram illam Theologiam, ad synceram et inculpatam cognitionem scripturae sanctae, ad apicem studiorum omnium Christum, qui cum deo patre et sancto spiritu Benedictus est in secula.’


See now Vanautgaerden, Érasme typographe 303–309.


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