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University of Groningen Library

Heritage Exhibitions Digital exhibitions

Erasmus & Luther in Frisia

By Myrthe Westra and Iris Loois

The so-called Luther Bible is a jewel in the crown of the University of Groningen Library. It is a copy of Erasmus's Latin translation of the New Testament published in 1527. This book once belonged to Martin Luther himself. In the margins, Luther wrote down his personal reactions to Erasmus's translation and justifications. Unsurprisingly, he did so full of passion and conviction. Half a millennium after its publication, the book remains valuable for the knowledge and ideas it contains. It is also a testament to the unchanging nature of humanity. At times, when he's addressing Erasmus directly ("you're a scoundrel"), it's as if Luther is replying to a post by Erasmus on Twitter or Facebook.

This book made quite a journey. At some stage, it was in the possession of the scholar Regnerus Praedinius (1510-1559), head of the Latin School in Groningen. He, too, wrote his views in the margins. He engaged with Luther's comments elaborately, mostly siding with Erasmus.

All in all, the book travelled many miles before ending up in the University of Groningen Library on August 10, 1724. This map documents its journey—locating many places of interest, such as Wittenberg Castle Church, Lütetsburg Castle, and Nienoord Mansion—and tells you how the indicated locations are relevant to our Luther Bible.

If you want to trace the book's footsteps and learn about its history as related to present-day places, navigate your way on the map!
(The square in the upper right corner of the map allows for full screen viewing)

This exhibition by way of a story map (Dutch only) was produced for Atelier Living Heritage in the context of the University Library's project Frisia. By means of Frisia, we are linking locations, mainly in the North of the Netherlands and Germany, to items from the University Library's Humanity Lab and its heritage partners. Thus emerges the story of Groningen and its surrounding regions as an area of intellectual and cultural significance well before the foundation of the University in 1614—which was an important chapter in this story, yet by no means the first chapter.

Part of the exhibition is an interview conducted by its authors—Iris Loois (ReMa student Classical, Medieval and Early Modern Studies) and Myrthe Westra (MA student History and Heritage Consultancy)—with prof. Arnoud Visser (Utrecht University) on the relevance of Erasmus and Luther for present-day society.

The resulting podcast is available on Spotify:

Last modified:02 June 2021 3.24 p.m.
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