Erasmus of Rotterdam (Geer Geertsz) (1466 - 1536)
Dutch scholar and leading humanist of the Renaissance era, who taught and
studied all over Europe and was a prolific writer. His pioneer translation of
the Greek New Testament (with parallel Latin text, 1516) exposed the Vulgate as
a second-hand document. Although opposed to dogmatism and abuse of church power,
he remained impartial during Martin Luther’s conflict with the pope.
Erasmus was born in Rotterdam, and as a youth he was a monk in an Augustinian
monastery near Gouda. After becoming a priest, he went to study in Paris in
1495. He paid the first of a number of visits to England in 1499, where he met
the physician Thomas Linacre, the politician Thomas More, and the Bible
interpreter John Colet, and for a time was professor of divinity and Greek at
Cambridge University. He also edited the writings of St Jerome and the early
Christian authorities, and published Encomium Moriae/The Praise of Folly (1511,
a satire on church and society that quickly became an international best-seller)
and Colloquia (1519, dialogues on contemporary subjects). In 1521 he went to
Basel, Switzerland, where he edited the writings of the early Christian leaders.