The 1524-1526 debate between Erasmus and Martin Luther on free will (plus related issues) conducted in print has been regarded as "one of the most famous exchanges in Western intellectual history". It began with Erasmus's publication of "The Freedom of the Will" in 1524 to which Martin Luther responded a year later with his celebrated book "On the Bondage of the Will", which Erasmus then replied in 1526 with his two-volume rebuttal Hyperaspistes that was very seldom mentioned and is said to be long and complex.

Martin Luther's 1525 book "On the Bondage of the Will" has had many English translations such as:

Summaries of "On the Bondage of the Will" also abound, such as:

Several related C.SE answers:

  • Mike Lee's answer to "What level of will-power do humans have according to Luther"
  • GratefulDisciple's answer clarifying the difference between Stoic determinism vs. Christian free will, various ways of balancing free will and divine foreknowledge, contrast between Luther's view and later Lutheran tradition, contrast between Luther's view and Erasmus's view
  • GratefulDisciple's answer on the mystery of free will vs. determinism viewed by the Catholic tradition following Aquinas as contrasted with Calvinist's double predestination and Pelagianism.

There are also many background articles of the debate on free will covering both the 1524 and 1525 books such as:

But as the lists above shows, most C.SE answers and essays on this debate ends with Martin Luther's 1525 book and never mention Erasmus's 1526 reply Hyperaspistes (usually translated 'protector' or 'shield bearer'). It is also very hard to find a freely available English translation text online. The most recent edition was by University of Toronto Press, part of the Collected Works of Erasmus series in Volume 76 (1999) and Volume 77 (2000) containing a new English translation by Clarence H. Miller titled "A Warrior Shielding a Discussion of Free Will Against the Enslaved Will by Martin Luther".

I did find a collection of excerpts from Clarence Miller's translation by Dave Armstrong here prefaced by an excellent collection of 71 extracts of correspondence between 1517 to 1534 (mostly before 1527) showing in vivid details how Erasmus was reluctantly drawn into initiating his public writing against Luther in 1524. It reads like the equivalence of 21st century online forum posts! But unfortunately Dave Armstrong included very little quotes on free will, only snippets from pages 186 to 190 (thank God for Ctrl-F).

Question: Where can I find a good summary and/or a free English translation of Erasmus's 1526 rebuttal (Hyperaspistes) on free will to Martin Luther's 1525 "On the Bondage of the Will"?

Since the combined 2 books of Hyperaspistes are about 626 page long and since they address other issues as well (perspicuity of Scripture, answer to Luther's personal insults, Luther's extreme dogmatism, Luther's anti-traditional elements, etc.), an acceptable answer should limit itself to substantive rebuttal on matters of free will, ideally in the form of a peer-reviewed journal article or a book that carries the debate on free will from 1524 to 1526.

A lesser but still acceptable answer should point to an older unabridged English translation of Hyperaspistes, since the 1999 translation is still under copyright.


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