Annotations on Romans

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University of Toronto Press, 1994 - Bible - 480 pages
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The Annotations of Erasmus are designed for those who wish to take the study of the Bible seriously. Erasmus himself declared as much: his Annotations were not written, he implied, to provide pleasant diversions or popular entertainment. They were a work of genuine biblical scholarship. They brought to bear on theological issues of the day the light of Scripture interpreted from its own historical and literary contexts -- often with disturbing clarity. They are, moreover, replete with that Erasmian irony that so effectively exposed the personal and institutional follies of all parties in the early years of the Reformation.

Erasmus wrote annotations on all the New Testament books, but among them all the annotations on Romans must hold a special place. The Epistle to the Romans has been understood as the classic theological statement by the Apostle to the gentiles of the terms on which Divine grace embraced all human beings. Besides, centuries of reflection have made Romans a focus of debate on central theological issues -- for example, the relation of the Divine Persons, the predestination of the saints, the doctrine of justification. To such problems the sometimes tortured syntax of the Greek has often obscured the clarity sought from the divine Apostle. Erasmus understood that all discussion of Romans must rest upon a sure grasp of the author's intent. His task, therefore, in the Annotations on Romans was to clarify the text of the Epistle, and so to illuminate the vision of Paul.

This translation reveals the annotations as a rich storehouse of methodological discussion and semantic analysis, and a fascinating witness to the theological debates of the early sixteenth century.

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About the author (1994)

Desiderius Erasmus was born, probably in 1469, in Rotterdam, Holland. He studied in Paris, traveled in England, Germany, and Italy, and wrote in Latin. Living at the time of the Renaissance when most intellectual concepts were being examined, Erasmus was a great admirer of the ancient writers and edited many of their works. Erasmus remained a Roman Catholic, but believed that many of the priests and theologians had distorted the simple teachings of Jesus. He published an edition of the New Testament-the first edition in the original Greek-in order to make clear the essential teachings of Christianity. Erasmus liked above all things clear and honest thinking; he despised intolerance and persecution. He was the greatest of the humanists because his books, more effectively than any others, propagated a humane philosophy of life, teaching that one's chief duties are to be intelligent, open-minded, and charitable. The most famous and the most influential of Erasumus' books were The Praise of Folly (1509) and Colloquies (1518). These works, written in lively, colloquial, and witty Latin, expressed his ideas on the manners and customs of his time. Erasmus exerted a powerful influence not only through his books, but also through the private letters that he wrote to a great number of humanist scholars in all parts of Western Europe. He carried on extensive correspondences with Thomas More of England. More than 1500 of his letters survive today. Erasmus died in Basel, Switzerland, on July 12, 1536.

Robert D. Sider is the Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Classical Languages at Dickinson College and an adjunct professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan.