Photo from The Metropolitan Museum of ArtErasmus is one of those writers you may have run into in a theology class or a literature class. His often humorous exposition of Reformation-era society makes for great reading, plus he was BFFs with Sir Thomas More (of Utopia fame). Additionally, you probably know of him from his highly publicized beef regarding free will/bondage with Martin Luther, the 95 theses guy who will probably get his own post one of these days.
Erasmus was a Christian humanist, dedicated to Renaissance ideals of rational education, which included study of classical languages, and resulted in his publication of a revised Greek biblical text and a corrected Latin Vulgate--quite controversial to the Catholic Church.
The thing I find most compelling about Erasmus is his commitment to truth over contention. Even though he was commissioned by the Catholic Church to speak out against Luther, he pointed out the downfalls of both sides, and while it didn't earn him any friends, he was standing up for what he believed to be right. Furthermore, he believed that this dialectic of respectfully differing beliefs was the very key to a good education and the seeking of truth. He didn't want to lay down a black and white doctrine; he wanted to discuss and debate to bring out truth.
What you should read:
(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)Gender Equality:
Erasmus's goal in translating the Bible was to make it accessible to all. In a letter, he wrote, "I wish that all women might read the Gospel, and the Epistles of Paul."
I know pretty much nothing about his view on caring for the environment, but my guess would be that, as an enlightenment thinker, he was more interested in the progress of humanity than love of creation.
He wasn't technically a heretic, but he was basically shunned by both the Catholic Church and the Reformers--all because he was trying to reconcile them in the name of God. Regardless, his works were condemned by the Church shortly after his death.
He stood up to the Catholic Church and Martin Luther all on his own, speaking truth to power and not caring if he was accepted or well-liked.
And, lastly, I couldn't choose just one quote, so here's two:
"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
&&"Even when everyone applauds you, you should be your own severest critic."