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Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission
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Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission


Eerdmans 1998

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Many scholars have pointed to the influence of Erasmus on the early Swiss Anabaptists and on Menno Simons, an Anabaptist leader from Friesland who founded the Mennonites. Yet the extent of this influence has never been firmly established. Friesen uses new research to build a more convincing case for the early Anabaptist movement’s dependence on Erasmus’s thought by tracing the intellectual origins of both Swiss Anabaptism and Menno Simons to the writings of Erasmus. He is able to link their intellectual origins to Erasmus’s unique interpretation of Christ’s Great Commission as represented in his famous paraphrases of Matthew and Acts.

Praise for the Print Edition

A world-class historian here makes a contribution that will be of great interest not only to his fellow historians but also to biblical scholars. Friesen brings to his task an expertise, particularly in Reformation studies, that Biblicists cannot hope to match, and he traces the story of Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission right into our own era. As a result, his treatment also carries important implications for theologians who are currently engaged in discussion of ecclesial questions. A sumptuous feast for biblical scholars, historians, and theologians alike!

—Robert H. Gundry, Westmont College

Friesen presents the first thoroughly analytical study of the influence of Erasmus on the Anabaptists, showing how Erasmus’s interpretation of Christ’s Great Commission provides the key to understanding the core of Anabaptist belief and practice. Friesen shows that interpreters of Anabaptism and modern descendants of early Anabaptists, torn between rigid biblicism and rationalist theology, have often paid scant attention to Erasmus since the ‘prince of humanists’ did not fit into either mold.

—Peter J. Klassen, California State University, Fresno

Product Details

  • Title: Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission
  • Author: Abraham Friesen
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 106

About Abraham Friesen

Abraham Friesen is Professor Emeritus of Renaissance and Reformation history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. In Defense of Privilege and Reformation and Utopia are among the books he has written.

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