New learning

Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch classical scholar and theologian, made new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament; he collated many Greek texts, made a critical edition of the Latin Vulgate and then improved the Latin. His first edition of 1516 was the first Greek New Testament in published form. The second edition of 1519 was used by Martin Luther in making his German translation of the New Testament. Erasmus remained a Catholic, but Luther, a professor of theology at Wittemberg University, initiated the Protestant Reformation. His 1522 translation of the New Testament into German made the Bible more accessible to the people. His religious position attracted the opposition of King Henry VIII, who defended the Roman Catholic Church and the supremacy of the Pope in his Assertio septem sacramentorum of1521, a work which earned for Henry the title Defender of the Faith from Pope Leo X, and a vigorous riposte from Luther, Contra Henricum regem Angliae (1522).

KJV Title Page

'His writings present a better picture of the man than this portrait' according to the Greek text of this engraving of Desiderius Erasmus by Albrecht Dürer, 1526. Fitzwilliam Museum P-9.1936
Reproduction by permission of the Syndics of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.


Martin Luther in a woodcut portrait from Philipp Heilbronner’s Der unschuldige, demütige … und gravitetische Luther (1599). Acton.d.5.147