Document Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

4-20-2011

Abstract

The relationship between the two well-known theologians, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Martin Luther, has been thoroughly discussed over the centuries, especially concerning their debate over free will. Although this debate would eventually lead to a parting of the ways, there was a time during the Reformation when Erasmus and Luther worked to bring about reconciliation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Protestants. As a humanist, Erasmus communicated his religious ideas and opinions through a variety of texts and discourses. His dialogue, "The Religious Banquet," is an unexpectedly useful prism through which to view Erasmus' commentaries on the Church. The banquet topos itself reflects the convivial desire to unite opposing groups in the hope of avoiding discord and hostile confrontation. Throughout "The Religious Banquet," Erasmus alludes to disputes that Luther had with the Church, while at the same time issuing warnings to his audience – and perhaps implicitly to Luther – about the dangerous consequences that these theological arguments might bring about. Although he never directly mentions Luther in this work, Erasmus' choice of the banquet genre suggests that he may have been trying to extend the proverbial olive branch in what was quickly becoming a heated theological debate.

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