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Hilmar M. Pabel

The publication in 1516 of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s New Testament and his edition of St. Jerome invites an exploration of his concept and deployment of this Church Father’s exegetical authority. A thorough analysis of Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament shows that he appealed to Jerome among other Fathers and on his own. Jerome figures primarily in the main business of the Annotations: the establishment of a correct Latin translation of the text of the New Testament. His role in the theological dimension of exegesis is secondary. Erasmus’s use of Jerome as authoritative support for his exegetical judgments as well as his criticisms of Jerome have the effect of asserting his credentials as an authoritative exegete.

Peter Canisius and the Protestants

A Model of Ecumenical Dialogue?

Hilmar M. Pabel

Some modern interpreters have incorrectly suggested that Peter Canisius was an ecumenist before his time. Their insistence on his extraordinary kindness towards Protestants does not stand the test of the scrutiny of the relevant sources. An analysis of Canisius’s advice on how Jesuits should deal with “heretics” in Germany, of his catechisms, and of his polemical works reveals a typical Catholic controversialist of the Reformation era. Canisius was disposed to display hostility, more than good will, to Protestants.

Hilmar M. Pabel


Scholars have assumed but not proven that Erasmus was a Church reformer. They have located his impetus for Church reform in his editions of the New Testament. A consideration of the orientation of reform aids in analysing Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament. A programmatic return to ancient sources facilitated a philological reform of the text of the New Testament. Furthermore, Erasmus’ recourse to Scripture exposed contemporary aberrations from appropriate Christian conduct. In the case of divorce for the sake of remarriage, Erasmus looked forwards for change more than backwards. Exposing faults and suggesting a change to Church laws on marriage did not constitute the structural reorganization that qualified Erasmus as a Church reformer.