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Character Study: Erasmus

Clearview Today / Abidan Shah
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2023 9:00 am

Character Study: Erasmus

Clearview Today / Abidan Shah

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July 12, 2023 9:00 am

In this show, Dr. Shah talks about an important figure in Church history and in the field of New Testament Textual Criticism.

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What's going on, listeners? Today is Wednesday, July the 12th.

My name is John Galantis. I'm here once again with Dr. Abbadon Shaw, and you're listening to Clearview Today with Dr. Abbadon Shaw, the daily show that engages mind and heart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can find us online at, or if you have a question for Dr. Shaw, anything you'd like to write in, suggest we talk about, send us a text at 252-582-5028. You can also email us at contact at You guys can help us keep this conversation going by supporting the show, sharing it online, leaving us a good review on iTunes or Spotify, anywhere that you get your podcasting content from.

We're going to leave a link so that you can do just that. We're going to set you up for success, so that you can set us up for success. And, Dr. Shaw, it's like I'm really excited for the verse of the day, which I am, because today's verse of the day is Galatians 5-1, and it says this, it says, Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. And I know some translations say, for freedom Christ has made us free, but I love the New King James here, because it's so causal. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, because he's made you free, now we get to stand fast.

You know, the Fourth of July weekend, I talked about that. As Americans, at the heart of who we are as Americans is freedom, liberty, independence, that we want to live under submission to no one. Of course, we are submitted to God. And yes, we are submitted to the authorities, but not in a subversive way. It's a willing submission. And so stand fast, therefore, in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.

Of course, we understand what the Judaizers were doing in Galatia, what the party of the circumcision was trying to do. But still, at the heart of what it makes us Christians is that we are free. We're no longer slaves to sin. We're no longer slaves to Satan. We are free. And if you haven't experienced that freedom, come to Jesus Christ, and you will find freedom through him. It's just encouraging to hear you say that, because I know you were born in India, and you saw firsthand how Christians really were not free to pursue their religious liberties. They weren't free to worship in the way that they saw fit. You could do it as long as you were not making trouble, or as long as you were kind of towing the line, so to speak.

Well, let me clarify. Growing up, there was a lot of freedom, but we saw that freedom waning, kind of going away, in, I would say, the late, late 80s, and then early 90s. Now, here and there, there were pockets of persecutions, but Christians were strong. India was still very secular in that way, that Christians had freedom.

But coming in the 90s, 2000s, and now, it's a whole different world in India. So moving to America then, but you did see a culture shift coming to America. Was it for the positive, where, man, this place is so free, and everybody's really great? Or was it more like, these people really don't know how good they have it? Yeah, I would say the latter would be better description, because I grew up free, in a sense. I didn't grow up in bondage, in the sense of being persecuted all the time. There were times, but overall free.

But coming here, and I see people complaining and griping, and that's when I was like, I don't think they understand what freedom looks like, and they're living it, yet they don't appreciate it. Yeah. That's a good point. Well, happy Wednesday. How was your day so far? So far, it's been great. Busy day, but good day. That's good.

That's good. We've got a great show for you guys. We are going to come back in just a moment right after this. If you have any questions or suggestions for new topics, make sure you send us a text, 252-582-5028, or you can always visit us online at We'd love to hear your suggestions. We'd love to hear how God is moving and transforming your life through this radio show.

Thank you so much for texting us, and we'll be right back after this. Hey there, listeners. I'm Jon Galantis.

And I'm Ellie Galantis. And we just want to take a quick second and talk to you about Dr. Shah's and Nicole's book, 30 Days to a New Beginning, daily devotions to help you move forward. You know, this is actually the second book in the 30 days series. And the whole point of this devotional is to help us get unstuck from the ruts of life. You know, when it comes to running the race of life, it matters how you start, but a bad start doesn't ultimately determine how you finish the race. You can have a good finish even with a bad start, and that's where this book comes in.

No matter who you are or where you are in life, you're going to get stuck. Instead of going out and buying some gadget or some planner, like I know I've done several times, 30 Days encourages you to find your fresh start in God's Word. Life doesn't have a reset button, but our God is a God who does new things. His mercies are new every day, which means every day is a new chance for you to start over. You can grab 30 Days to a New Beginning on We're going to leave a link in the description box below, and if you already have the book, let us know what you think about it.

That's right. Send us a text, 252-582-5028. Share what God has done in your life through this devotional. Hey, maybe we'll even read your story on the air. Ellie, you ready to get back to the show?

Let's do it. Welcome back to Clearview Today with Dr. Abbadon Shah, the daily show that engages mind and heart for the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can visit us online at, or if you have a question for Dr. Shah, any topics you'd like to write in and suggest we talk about, send us a text at 252-582-5028.

You can also email us at contact at Dr. Shah, I'm so excited for today's episode. We're doing another character study. Recently, we've been going through the lives of different men and women who have impacted the church, impacted Christianity, and we're diving into, I would say, and maybe you can kind of build this up a little bit more, one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance era. Yes.

Yes. We were talking about Erasmus. Erasmus was this Dutch humanist, but don't misunderstand that humanist is not in the sense of how we talk about people being humanist or humanism, the glorification of humanity.

No, humanist in the Renaissance definition meant people who studied the classics. He died. He died on July 12th in 1536, I believe. And so that's why we wanted to talk about him today, because today is that anniversary of his death and how much he contributed. Just like you said, he was a humanist. He was a scholar. And just his work in the New Testament, we were kind of talking about it a little bit off mic. I mean, do you want to just kind of lay the groundwork for who this guy was?

Sure. So, you know, keep in mind, Renaissance is full blown right now in Europe, and he is born in 1466 in Holland. Now, when I think of the Renaissance, I'm thinking of like the Renaissance fair, like the nerdy guys that dress up in like the jester's outfit, eat like a lamb of mutton and lamb. Well, I mean, that's like more like a medieval something.

But they call it the Renaissance fair. I guess so. But see, you know, with the coming of, with the falling of Constantinople, 1453, and even prior to that, a lot of scholars in that part of the world were running away. They were escaping and heading towards the West because they knew once the Turks get in, and they're not going to live in peace with Christians, they're not going to live in peace with those who are studying ancient cultures, because to them it is, we are now the owners of this land. Were the Turks Muslims? Oh, yeah. Okay. So this was Crusade era or?

No, no, this is past that point. But still conflict between Islam and Christianity. Muslims, Islam and Christianity. But here the Turks just were just repeatedly making their way towards the West. And now they conquered Constantinople, 1453.

When that fell, okay, they were already running away. But all of these Greek and Latin scholars, I mean, Greek scholars, I should say, not Latin, but they pretty much made their escape to a place like Florence. And they brought with them all these ancient writings, all this ancient knowledge. And people who knew some of these things, don't think that people just like sitting there ignorant, but they knew some of these things. But when you have these sources in front of you now, and when you have scholars who can teach you and guide you, it changed the West.

Okay. So this is a Renaissance. So 1453 and Erasmus is born in 1466.

So like right in the beginning of it. Right in the beginning of this Renaissance. So he, so the Renaissance really hadn't had a chance to bloom yet. He's kind of one of the, I'm guessing he's one of the most instrumental figures in the, He's blooming. He's blooming by this time. After three years?

Well, I would say 1453 to 1466, 1213. Okay. Okay. Right. But he's a little boy.

I mean, he's not going to start that at two years of age. By the way, just to talk about his upbringing, he was born sort of an illegitimate son of a Dutch priest. Scandalous. Scandalous. Yeah.

I mean, it was kind of a sad situation. But he had parents, but then keep in mind about the same time as the Renaissance is taking place, there's also a plague that has been around Europe for a while. But the Black Death is still going on?

Yes. It's still going on. I mean, it's not as full blown as it used to be, but it still comes in in waves. And both his parents died. From the plague? From the plague. The bubonic plague, right?

It's this nasty stuff. And they died. And when that happened, sort of became orphaned. And so they had to go here and there. And some people encouraged him to join the monastery, which he really didn't want to do that. But this is the start of this man.

We're going to talk about him and some amazing accomplishments. It's a difficult start. It's a very difficult start to try to get your grounding going when already the world is changing. It's shifting. It's rearranging around you. And now you lose your parents. You lose your stability. You have no real cultural stability, because everything's kind of in flux.

How do you get started when you're doing something like that? Well, he joined the monastery, the Augustinian monastery. And this is about 1488.

So 1466-76-86. So 20-some years later, he is in the monastery, and he writes one of his first works called The Anti-Barbarians. I mean, who are the barbarians to him? I mean, this is kind of a hard lesson to understand. I mean, these are people who are discouraging him from classical studies. Like other scholars who are... Not necessarily always scholars, but people who are telling him, you know, you need to stick to the Bible. And reading all this other stuff is not going to benefit us.

So they're not like Vikings and actual barbarians coming in and pillaging his villages. No, no, no. That era has passed. Is he kind of digging them a little bit? No, that era has passed. I mean, is he like digging the other people who are... Oh yes, of course.

He's telling them, he's saying, you are the barbarians, and I am anti-barbarian. But keep in mind, just do the age right now. Okay, born in what, 66, right?

76, 86, this is 1489. So this is like 20, 23 years of age. He writes his book. Still fairly young. Very young, I would say. And he writes this, and then by 1492, he's ordained a priest, and he begins his study at the University of Paris by 1495. So 1495 would be almost like 29 years of age, right?

Yeah, I think so. So 1696, 76, 86, 96, about 29 years of age. And then a lot of the things he does, he even has an opportunity to visit England, and he meets Thomas More, and we'll talk about him maybe in another podcast, and really built a strong friendship with him. So quite a life already. And he's like barely even 30 years old.

Yes. How did he go from there? Well, after that point, he publishes a book of poetry.

And then, you know, a lot of the things are going on. And then he publishes what's known as adages, just like we talk about adage, like an old saying. So this really kind of establishes himself, establishes him as a very reputable scholar in Europe. Because he goes through, I mean, just all the classical authors that are available to him, and he finds pithy sayings and statements, and puts them together. So he's considered humanist, not because, like you said, kind of at the beginning, it's not because he was trying to advance humanity, but he was studying ancients and classics and going back to the foundations to try to build something new, which is kind of a theme we've been talking about here on the show for quite a while.

Not trying to advance humanism, like our secular humanism today. No, that's not what he was truly interested in that, but he was studying other classical authors, which now had made their way to where he was. Do you know to what end he was studying those authors?

Like what was he trying to accomplish by studying them or just to get a better understanding? The big theme of the Renaissance was back to the sources. Let's get back to the original sources. Too much has been caked over by all these other traditions and ideas and opinions and rules and regulations. Let's go back to the sources.

Okay. So I didn't know that. Renaissance was, let's take a step back. Yes, because it was an idea that there was a past golden age that we have forgotten. We have actually gone and hence anti-barbarians.

That's a good point. I did not realize about the Renaissance, because again, we have this romantic picture of the Renaissance where it was these court jesters and these princesses and these jousting, and that's always what I think of when I hear about the Renaissance. So I'm thinking it's like this kind of age of enlightenment where things are getting advanced. To the contrary, they're trying to go back to what worked before. It is headed towards the age of enlightened, which will come very soon. But Renaissance was like going back to this golden age in the past where people were better at creating art, better at governing themselves, better at just name it.

Whatever you can think of, someone in the past has done it better. They had more wisdom back then. So this book that he wrote on adages, and it was a collection of about 4,000 some proverbs and sayings. Can I give you a few of those that he found in these classical authors? On friendship. Among friends, all things should be in common. He's getting it from some ancient writer. On choosing the right parents.

One ought to be born a king or a fool. That's pretty good. On persistence. Let's go with this one. When engaged in a wearying task, persist to the end. I like that one. On effort.

More haste, less speed. God helps those who help themselves. Where is that in the Bible? It's not in the Bible.

Stop that. That's what there was an old psalm my dad used to talk about. There was these two old crows and that's one of them. It was a buzzard and a chicken hawk. The buzzard says, I hear the Lord helps those who help themselves.

He goes for the chicken and the farmer shoots him. I want to see if I can find that. It's called The Lord Will Provide. That's what it makes me think every time I hear that. The Lord helps those who help themselves. This is Erasmus' life. He's advancing.

He's becoming very, very well known. There's often a misquotation. He said, when I get a little money, I buy books and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. It's a misquote because what he really said in a letter to one of his friend and patron, he said, the first thing I shall do as soon as the money arrives is to buy some Greek authors and after that I shall buy clothes. But they often say, this is how much we love books.

This is how sold out he was for the cause. Yeah. Erasmus didn't say that. So one of the things that I've noticed over the years working with you is that you talk to a lot of other text critics and they always seem to bring up Erasmus. What did he have to do with the Bible specifically?

Very, very good. So remember the going back to the sources. So it was not just classical authors, but also when it comes to the Bible, back to the sources.

So let's get back to past the Latin text to the Greek text of the New Testament. Was he trying to find the original text? Was that his? Yeah, that was his goal. Would you say, did he kind of pave the way for textual criticism?

I mean, isn't that what textual criticism sort of is? Absolutely. I mean, I would say in a sense he kickstarted that. Really? Yeah.

Okay. Yeah. I mean, Origen and others were doing textual criticism in the early church or in Nicene Christianity or Ante-Nicene Christianity. But it's someone like Erasmus comes along and this was happening in that era because see Renaissance 1453 on, people were going back to the sources. So even among the Catholic church, Roman Catholic church, Cardinal Hymenaeus was trying to put together a Greek text of the New Testament. So Erasmus was sort of on a race to beat Cardinal Hymenaeus, even though he was a priest. Yeah. He was trying to do that.

The publishing world is no different today than it is centuries ago. Right. He was Dutch. Yeah.

Okay. Cardinal Hymenaeus, a Spaniard, right? So he was trying to beat him. Beat him to the punch.

Beat him to the punch. And so by 1516, he prepared, he published his Greek New Testament. Do you feel like, okay, so that kind of brings me to a question that I think is a fundamental question about who you are, not only as a scholar but as a person, because I feel like a lot of times today we're willing to settle for the copy paste sermon. We're not really interested in citing our sources or finding out who actually said this. Like that misquote. Guarantee you 99% of pastors or just people who were talking about Erasmus would be perfectly content to just quote that. But you're like, no, that's not actually what he said.

Let's go back and see what he actually said. There's, I feel like there's very little desire in today's kind of cultural landscape to actually find. Why is finding the source, whether it's academic or whether it's in the Bible or getting back to the original text, why is that important to you? Well, this is what David and I were talking about just an hour ago.

We need more scholarly depth to what we do. Often we're just, you know, quoting and recoding somebody who's already done the work. Without regard to whether or not that person is accurate in their exegesis or accurate in their understanding or accurate in their quotations, we just go with it. It's like, well, they quote it, that's I can do it too. They told a joke, so I can joke too. I can say the same joke. And that's often, by the way, Erasmus did not like jokes. Not a funny guy. No, no, no. He said, if you want to use jokes from the classical authors.

So he didn't like jokes. Anyways, that's beside the point. But he wanted to make sure that we go back to the original. And I think there's so much value when people see that. They see us as credible people. And when you just say whatever, and then two days later, somebody comes and corrects you, or, you know, we're sharing an illustration that's been making its rounds on the internet and then we share that story and that story is just made of garbage.

I mean, how do you think those people feel who listen to us and they come across those stories and go, wait, oh, this story is not real. But our pastor made a great point with it. Right.

Right. And I want to share something that you showed me once that revolutionized the way that I think and the way that I do research was because we were trying to up our video production levels, almost at our video game, but not video games. We were trying to get better at making videos. And so we were going to buy some textbooks on lighting and I came with the Amazon cart and I was like, here's some good textbooks on lighting. And you were like, well, how do you know that they're good textbooks?

And I'm like, well, they got pretty good reviews. You're like, who wrote the books? I was like, I don't know, a guy named, I can't remember his name now. I think it was like Kenneth Brown or something like that. But anyway, he was like, well, but you don't know who he is. I was like, no, I don't know who he is. You're like, but what else has he written?

So we went through and we took like maybe, I don't know, half a day, maybe, maybe even just a couple of hours. And we just researched the guy. Okay. Where is he a professor? He's a professor here. Okay. Let's look up this school.

Is this okay? This is a pretty highly accredited school. What else has this guy written?

Let's look at some other schools that have similar names. And so we did. We're like, yep, there he is too.

So he's, he, he's popping up in all these places. This is a pretty good guy. I would go with this guy. What about this other book?

Okay. Let's Google his name. He's, this is the only book he's written. He's not really talked about on any of, there's just ways to go into it so that you're not buying the thing with the flashiest cover or the thing that's new and hot off the press in the bookstores. That's how you find people who are credible.

And I feel like people don't know that I didn't know how to, how do I find credible people? Right. Right.

Absolutely. And these guys Erasmus and others, I mean, it's brilliant minds, but they were like, I don't know, like a badger. I mean, they would stay on that topic and find the source and find what, what is authentic versus what has been made up and passed down from generation to generation. You know, we're talking about Erasmus. He and Luther never met Martin Luther.

He never met Martin Luther, but they didn't meet, but they knew about each other. Of course. Definitely knew about each other and their works to the point that they wrote works sort of challenging each other. Oh really?

Oh yeah. Were they on differing sides or were they have differing opinions? Well, or was it like challenging?

Like I want to bring out the best in this guy I want to bring out the, or was it more like, no, I don't like what he said. I'm going to challenge that. Well, to be honest, you know, 1516 is when Erasmus published his Greek New Testament 1517, Luther published the 95 Theses. Very next year?

Very next year. Wow. And he was greatly impacted by the Greek New Testament that Erasmus had published. I mean, Erasmus, of course, in a way dedicated it to the Pope, but Luther praised it as well. I mean, now keep in mind, Pope and Luther on the opposite sides, but Erasmus was sort of like, I'm not going to get involved. I want to stay out of this conflict the best I can. But at his heart, I think Erasmus was more in line with Luther than with the Pope. Yes, of course.

It's like Renaissance beef. It's like he sees like the diss tracks coming out of the diss papers coming out, the diss theses. And he's like, I really, this ain't got nothing to do with me. Yeah.

So he wrote a diatribe on free will. Okay. I think we talked about this at that point. Yeah, we did. It was sort of attacking Luther, but also attacking Zwingli and Oecolampidius.

Okay. These are different people in that part of the world, in the reformation period. What was the name of the book one more time? It's called a diatribe or comparison on free will. Well, Luther came back with bondage of the free will. Bondage of the will. Bondage of the will was his response to Erasmus, and Erasmus was originally challenging Luther with a diatribe of the free will.

That's right. And then Erasmus came back with what's known as hyper aspistes diatribes. But this argument between them went on, but it was at times it was political. At times Erasmus is trying to be like, Hey, I'm going to play the field here and then play the field over here. If you want to read about how Luther talked about Erasmus, I mean, read his table talks and you will come across some of those crazy statements. But anyways, I would say the church has been blessed through Erasmus. He has really done a lot of good and inspired me, definitely, to get back to the sources, to study, to show yourself approved, to not be afraid of classical authors.

We don't have to fear anything. We have to share the gospel. We don't have to force people, but we can persuade them with the truth. And that's how Erasmus was. And one of the things that he didn't like about Luther was that he felt like Luther almost was like the very people that he was opposing.

Somehow I thought you were going to say that. Why do you think he thought that? Because of his contentions with the Anabaptists and the persecution that sometimes went on against the Anabaptists. He felt like, okay, so you left the Roman Catholic church because you know that way of converting people is not right, but now you have the same bias against the Anabaptists.

What are you doing? How can you maintain the same spirit? How can you bring in persecution to convert people? Do you think they became enemies, Erasmus and Luther, or do you think it was just like they had respect for each other, but disagreed wildly with the conclusions? I would say so. Yeah. Like, like regarding persecution, it's funny. He, he, you know, he agreed with Archbishop Robert Leighton who said, persecution was like scaling heaven with ladders fetched out of hell. These guys need to know how to talk. These guys get really right. Yeah.

Scaling heaven with ladders fetched out of hell. My man is pretty slick. Like he knows it's like, he's, it's those little provocative things that, that, uh, you know, is going to get a reaction. But, but it still makes your point. Yeah. Yeah. He was a pacifist, so he didn't like any kind of, uh, he would rather have a verbal warfare. Let's just talk and let me explain to you and let me tie you up in a thousand knots. Yeah. Wow.

But rather than fight and pull out my sword and chop off your head. Erasmus would have been a good, a good contender for TikTok. He'd really be defending himself well on some of these podcasts on TikTok. God was brilliant. I mean, writing books, we haven't even discussed half of his letters. Really?

It's amazing, amazing work. But in 1536, he finally died. That's what we're celebrating today in a sense, his, his death. And there was no priest around. There was nobody there.

And um, it was, it was just very quiet, very peaceful. Wow. Many, many passed away.

Very fitting. And we love, we love doing these character studies. We love looking at the men and women that have impacted Christianity because we, you know, it's not enough just to love what we have today.

We need to know what, why we have what we have and where it came from and the men and women who dedicated their lives to giving us the understanding of scripture that we have today. If you guys enjoyed this topic or you have any suggestions for future topics, be sure to let us know. Make sure you send us a text, 252-582-5028. You can also visit us online at And don't forget, you can support us financially on that same website as Every single time you give, you are making an impact for the kingdom of God. We love you guys, and we'll see you tomorrow on Clear View Today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 10:09:40 / 2023-07-12 10:22:06 / 12

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