Herculean Labours: Erasmus and the Editing of St. Jerome's Letters in the Renaissance


Author: Hilmar Pabel
The first monograph in English on Erasmus of Rotterdam as an editor of St. Jerome, this book belongs to the growing scholarship on the reception of the Church Fathers in early modern Europe. Erasmus, like other Renaissance humanists, particularly admired Jerome (d. 419 or 420), and he expressed his admiration most conspicuously in his edition of Jerome’s letters. Proclaiming his editorial Herculean labours, Erasmus energetically promoted himself and his publication. Erasmus’ self-promotion cannot be reduced to a secular appropriation of Jerome, however. A detailed examination of a variety of editorial interventions demonstrates Erasmus’ religious purpose, his debt to previous editorial traditions as well as his editorial novelty, and his influence on subsequent sixteenth-century editions of Jerome.

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Hilmar M. Pabel, Ph.D. (1992) in History, Yale University, is Professor of History at Simon Fraser University. He has published widely on the religious thought of Erasmus of Rotterdam, including Conversing with God: Prayer in Erasmus’ Pastoral Writings (Toronto, 1997).
"I strongly recommned [this book] to the many who will find it of interest. Professor Pabel's book is distinguished, ..., for the breadth and depth of scholarship, and it contains material of interest to students of the history of the book and of book design, of editing and publishing, of patristics and the reception of patristic authors, and of the presentation and annotation of ancient texts, as well as to Erasmians and students of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter-Reform."
Daniel Sheerin, University of Notre Dame. In: Renaissance Quarterly, 62:990-991, Fall 2009

"Any study of Erasmus's extensive editorial career would be an overly daunting undertaking, and in this eloquent and engaging monograph Hilmar Pabel has set for himself an ambitious task, which he accomplishes with considerable skill. [...] While referring to Erasmus's efforts as Herculean, Pabel's book is no less so."
Jason Sager, Wilfrid Laurier University. In: Church History, Vol. 79, No. 1 (March 2010)

"Each of the chapters demonstrates the author’s impressive command of sixteenth-century patristic scholarship, offering as they do a wealth of detailed evidence from across Europe. Herculean Labours will be particularly important to specialists in the field of sixteenth-century theology. Yet the book is also strongly recommended to those interested more generally in the circulation of religious ideas in the Reformation era."
Arnoud Visser, Utrecht University. In: Quaerendo, Vol. 42, No. 1 (2012), pp. 76-77.

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Note on References


I. Jerome in Print, 1467-1600
II. Classifying Jerome
III. Portraying Jerome
IV. Elucidating Jerome


All those interested in intellectual history, the history of the book, the Renaissance and Reformation, Erasmus studies, the reception of the Church Fathers in early modern Europe, Church history.