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Desiderius Erasmus’ Representation Of Paul As Paragon Of Learned Piety

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Chapter Summary

The traditional account of Desiderius Erasmus' interest in the writings of Paul begins with his visit to England in 1499, when he heard the lectures of John Colet, the founding dean of St. Paul's School. The more recent biography of Colet by John Gleason argues for a radical reconstruction of Colet's role in Erasmus' development into an innovative interpreter of Paul's writings. A similar emphasis on inner piety was present in the movement of the Devotio Moderna, which promoted an ascetic Christianity and the cultivation of one's inward disposition toward God. Erasmus' innovative biography of Jerome, which he composed when he was pursuing New Testament scholarship also, may be read as analogous to the representation of Paul. The emphasis on the exemplary role of the person Paul is expressed in brief compass in the Argumenta, or introductory prefaces, to the Pauline Epistles.

Keywords: Argumenta; Christianity; Desiderius Erasmus; Devotio Moderna; inner piety; Jerome; John Colet; Paul; Pauline Epistles

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