Desiderius Erasmus
Consilium cuiusdam ex animo cupientis
esse consultum et Romano pontifici dignitati
et Christiane religionis tranquillitati
[Cologne?] 1521

As a devoted Christian humanist, Erasmus realized that the growing controversy between Luther and the Roman Catholic Church could only serve to shatter the unity of Christendom and curtail international scholarship. Characteristic of his moderate and pacifist nature, Erasmus collaborated with the Dominican theologian Johannes Faber in drawing up a plan for reconciling the two parties. In this rare copy of Consilium cuiusdam, published anonymously in 1521, the "prince of humanists" urges Luther and the Pope to consider moderation and arbitration, "lest enormous fruit of the Gospel's harvest perish because of a few little errors." However, Erasmus' plea was ignored. By 1521 Luther had issued his inflammatory pamphlets and burned the Papal Bull. Erasmus turned against the Wittenberg reformer, commencing a famous literary duel.

Ein schöner Dialogus von
Martino Luther und der geschickten
Botschaft aus der Helle
die falsche geystligkeit und das wort
Gottes belangen gantz
hübsch zu lesen

If many of the reformers were at odds with the humanists, they were not above adapting some of the resources devised by the latter, especially pamphlet warfare and satire. Due to developments in printing since the late fifteenth century, pamphlets were inexpensive and could easily be reproduced the perfect means of conveying Luther's message to the people. The new publications contained forceful illustrations and, instead of Latin, used an idiomatic German which could be read by merchant or soldier. In this example, produced by an anonymous follower in 1523, Luther is shown conversing with a Dominican monk whose claws and hooves belie his true identity as Satan.

Jean Calvin
Institutio Christianae religionis
Strassburg: Wendelin Rihel, 1539

Although the exact date of Calvin's conversion to Protestantism is uncertain (sometime between 1529 and 1532), he was forced to leave Paris in 1534 and subsequently settled in Basel, Switzerland, then a Protestant center. While in Basel he undertook an exhaustive study of theology, drawing mainly on the Bible, the works of the early Church Fathers, and the writings of contemporaries such as Martin Luther and Martin Bucer. As a result of this effort, and given further impetus by an outbreak of persecutions in Catholic France, he issued, in 1536, his epoch-making Institutio Christianae religionis. Conceived originally as a basic manual of doctrine, the Institutio took the form of a systematic and comprehensive treatise on dogmatic theology. It became immensely popular throughout Europe and was without doubt the most influential manual issued during the Reformation. The second edition of 1539 was enlarged almost threefold and better arranged, showing deeper study of Augustine and Chrysostom and reflecting the influence of Calvin's friend Bucer.

Joannes Oecolampadius
Vom Sacrament der Dancksagung
Zurich: Christopher Froschover, 1526

One of the central issues of the Reformation concerned the nature of sacraments as instruments of salvation and expressions of grace. Questions arose as to whether the Eucharist involved the metaphorical or literal presence of Christ's body. While Martin Luther favored the latter view, other reformers such as Oecolampadius (1482-1531) followed Zwingli in preferring the metaphorical interpretation. In Vom Sacrament der Dancksagung Oecolampadius utilizes an exegesis of Christ's words "This is my love" to support the metaphorical understanding. A trusted leader, Oecolampadius was instrumental in the adoption of Reformation principles in Basel and in Berne.

Urbanus Rhegius
Wie man die falschen Propheten
erkennen ja greifen mag
Brunswick: Anders Goldbeck, 1539

The career of Urbanus Rhegius paralleled those of other contemporary reformers. Born in 1489 at Constance, Rhegius' education was strongly humanistic. He followed his master, Johann Eck (1486 ­ 1543), Luther's famous antagonist, from Freiburg im Breisgau to Ingolstadt where, under Eck's influence, he wrote the strictly orthodox treatise De dignitate sacerdotum. By 1521, however, he had become a Lutheran and was forced to resign his post as cathedral preacher in Augsburg. As a reformer, his initial efforts were directed against the Roman tradition; his later activities against what Rhegius considered the dangerous radicalism of the Anabaptists. His special concerns were pastoral and educational, of which this sermon on the recognition of false prophets is, in its anti-Catholicism, strongly indicative. Caricatures depicting a priest and monk as wolves feasting on the faithful sheep emphasize the necessity for discriminating between the true "lutter Evangelium" and the "falschen Propheten."

Friedrich Nausea
Evangelicae veritatis homiliarum centuriae tres
Cologne: Peter Quentell, 1532

Friedrich Nausea (1480-1552) was one of the chief Roman Catholic preachers and apologists of the Reformation period. He received his doctorate in law from Padua in 1523 and, the following year, went to Germany as secretary to Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio. During that same year he was given the impossible task of returning Philipp Melanchthon (1497 ­ 1560) to the Roman Catholic Church. Nausea gradually rose through the Church hierarchy and succeeded to the episcopal see of Vienna in 1541. He attended the Council of Trent in 1551 as Emperor Ferdinand's orator, participating in debates on the Eucharist, penance, and extreme unction. Nausea composed many sermons, a collection of which is to be found in this rare first edition of Evangelicae veritatis homiliarum, published at Cologne in 1532. It is the only copy reported to be in the United States.