“How and to what extent did the methods and ideals of Renaissance humanism contribute to the Protestant Reformation?”
The renaissance and it’s humanistic principles took form in different ways across Europe. In the Italian states, for example, humanism permeated art, resulting is some of mans greatest works which reflect the artists appreciation of the individual and focus away from god. In northern Europe however, humanists didn’t turn away from god, they instead worked to reform the church and allow for humanistic principles to transfuse religion. The translations of the bible, Erasmus’s writings and protestants rejection of the catholic church’s domination civil society are examples of how humanism infused religion and resulted in the formation of several denominations of Christianity, many of which are still practiced.
One attribute of humanism is it’s appreciation of ancient languages and texts. Erasmus subscribed to this philosophy and translated the bible from Latin to Greek thus allowing a broader audience to read the bible and gave people the ability to interpret scripture themselves as opposed to relying on the pope and clergy for biblical interpretations. This empowered the individual (yet another humanistic theme) and weakened the church because many of the church’s practices, such as the 7 sacraments , did not come directly from the bible; people recognized this and a growing resentment of the church formed. Martin Luther expanded on this when he translated the bible into the common German vernacular which opened all literate Christians with the ability to speak German to interpret the bible freely. This opened a Pandora’s box of sorts as more people began to draw their own conclusions about scripture and it’s meanings. The advent of the printing press also contributed to this because bibles became cheaper and more broadly available. The idea that biblical knowledge should be readily available to the population is blatantly humanistic....
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