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Conversing with God

Conversing with God: Prayer in Erasmus' Pastoral Writing

Hilmar M. Pabel
Series: Erasmus Studies
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 288
  • Book Info
    Conversing with God
    Book Description:

    A close reading of Erasmus' (d. 1536) work on prayer and spirituality that analyses how he understood prayer and demonstrates how his publications on prayer form part of the larger pastoral program that was implemented by the printing press.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7346-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    In this book, I examine how Erasmus of Rotterdam understood prayer and how he taught western Christendom to pray. With the exception of three articles, the theme ʹErasmus and prayerʹ has been neglected by modern scholarship.¹ This neglect lacks justification given Erasmusʹ contribution to early modern European devotion. His exposition of the Lordʹs Prayer, thePrecatio Dominica(1523); his treatise on prayer, theModus orandi Deum(1524); and his prayer-book, thePrecationes aliquot novae(1535), have not received the study and treatment that they deserve.

    Erasmusʹ place in the publication of devotional literature in the age of the Reformation has...

  5. ONE The Principal Elements of Erasmusʹ Teaching on Prayer
    (pp. 21-68)

    A few months after receiving Holy Orders in 1492 Erasmus became a secretary of Hendrik of Bergen, the bishop of Cambrai. David of Burgundy, his ordaining bishop, may have recommended the young Augustinian canon to his episcopal colleague in Cambrai.¹ The year of his ordination signalled Erasmusʹ break with monastic life and his entry upon what eventually became for him a world of scholarly renown.

    Working for Hendrik held out the bright prospect of a journey to Rome for Erasmus, since the bishop had ambitions of becoming a cardinal. By 1495, it was clear that the bishopʹs dream would not...

  6. TWO Critique, Reform, and Defence of Prayers to the Saints
    (pp. 69-108)

    Writing in 1531 to Jacopo Sadoleto, bishop, humanist, and his most fervent supporter in the Roman curia, Erasmus complained of the ʹgreat conflictʹ over prayers to the saints and the reverence shown to images.¹ This conflict arose in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Indeed, a year before Erasmus wrote his letter to Sadoleto, Lutherans and Catholics had crossed theological swords over the invocation of saints at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg. Chapter 21 of Philip Melanchthonʹs Augsburg Confession undermined the practice of invoking the saints by denying it any scriptural justification. Arguing from Scripture and tradition, the Catholic Confutation...

  7. THREE Interpreting the Lordʹs Prayer
    (pp. 109-154)

    Christians in the medieval West prayed not only to the saints but also to God the Father. The Lordʹs Prayer was as much a staple of medieval piety as prayers to the saints. Indeed, the prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples is the best-known and most widely used Christian prayer. Already in the second century of the Common Era, theDidacheenjoined upon believers to pray the words of Jesus three times daily.¹ The Lordʹs Prayer has always held a prominent place in catechesis and liturgy, and, with a sort of unbroken apostolic succession, it has served as a...

  8. FOUR Erasmusʹ Prayer-Book: The Precationes aliquot novae
    (pp. 155-190)

    In thePrecatio Dominica, Erasmus paraphrased the Lordʹs Prayer in the form of seven prayers so that his readers could learn about prayer by praying. In 1535, Froben published another collection of prayers by Erasmus, thePrecationes aliquot novae. This prayer-book was one of many new sixteenth-century devotional manuals, both Catholic and Protestant, that competed with the popular late medieval Books of Hours, celebrated for the beautiful illuminations that many of them contain. Erasmusʹ ʹnew prayersʹ bear witness to his fundamental concepts of the ʹcertain principal part of piety.ʹ

    A brief survey of the history of Christian prayer-books will help...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 191-202)

    The Roman Catechism,Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos, was first published in 1566. Its fourth and last part discusses prayer in general and the Lordʹs Prayer in particular. It begins: ʹIn the pastoral office, instruction in Christian prayer is an especially necessary duty for the salvation of the faithful, and the importance of and reason for prayer would of necessity be lost on many, if it were not handed down by the pious and faithful diligence of the pastor. That is why the principal care of the parish priest should concern itself with this, namely that pious listeners...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 203-240)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-254)
  12. Index
    (pp. 255-261)