A summer exhibit at Pitts Theology Library will focus on the fifteenth century Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus and his production and publication of the first Greek New Testament. “A Most Perilous Journey: Erasmus’ Greek New Testament at 500 Years” will run in the Pitts Exhibit Gallery from July 15 through September 15 during regular library hours, with opportunities for guided tours in July, August and September. Learn more.

Richard M. Adams Jr., head of public services and reference and systems librarian at Pitts, curated the exhibit and calls Erasmus’ Greek translation of the New Testament “a landmark event in the development of the Bible.” It signaled a growing emphasis on returning to original source material when translating the Bible, an idea that characterized developing reforms of the church, Adams explains.

The exhibit will feature all five editions of the Greek New Testament produced during Erasmus’ lifetime, allowing visitors to trace how the text changed over his decades of work. Other exhibit items highlight the shifting form of the Bible in the 16th century, the development of Erasmus as a scholar, and his philological and theological work in a critical time of reform. Prominent pieces on display will include 15th century Bibles in Latin and German, examples of Erasmus’ interpretation of Scripture, his popular satire “Praise of Folly,” and responses highlighting the controversial nature of his work.

Culminating in a display of Bibles influenced by Erasmus, the exhibit also presents other major Greek and Latin Bibles of the 16th century and rare, early vernacular translations, including Luther’s German New Testament, Tyndale’s English Bible, and a first edition of the King James Bible.

In describing the importance of Erasmus’ life and work, curator Adams quotes John Colet, a peer of Erasmus and dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, when Colet received the first edition of the Greek New Testament: The name of Erasmus shall never perish.

“This exhibit celebrates the fact that, after five hundred years, this sentiment remains true,” Adams says.

Learn more about the exhibit.