The Humanists

Elizabeth Sapp


Humanists were scholars and literary figures. The name humanists referred to scholars interested in humanities such as literature, history, and moral philosophy. They were not interested in anti religious movements but instead they were deeply devoted to christianity. Infact, many worked to prepare the accurate texts and translations of the New Testament. Humanists preferred the elegant and more polished Greek and Roman classic writers and their writing styles instead of the convoluted and translated writings. They also liked the early church father's writing. They preferred it because they thought it was far more engaging and persuasive then when other philosophers and theologians translated it.

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam


-1516 published the first edition of the Greek New Testament and a revised Latin translation

Florentine Francesco Petrarca


-Traveled through Europe searching for manuscripts of classical works.

Petrarca and other humanists founded hundreds of Latin writings that medieval scholars had overlooked in monastic libraries of Italy, Switzerland, and southern France. During the 15th century Italian humanists became familiar with Byzantine scholars and expanded the amount of Classical Greek and Latin works available to scholars.

Humanists Moral Thought

Many Greek and latin values promoted humanists to reconsider medieval ethical teachings. Medieval moral philosophers had taught that the most honorable thing one could do is become a monk or nun and leave their normal lives to devote themselves to prayer and living for their faith. The humanists preferred gaining inspiration from writers such as Cicero. Ciero demonstrated that it was possible to live a morally and virtuously lives while being able to live normal lives. Some Renaissance humanists argued that it was perfectly acceptable for Christians to be married, and have business and public affairs. Humanists moral thought showed that you can still obtain Christian values and teachings while living in the urban and commercial society that Renaissance Europe was.