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444 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 made for themselves and their co-workers by opting for such inclusiveness is not the least reason for appreciating its results. The text is arranged alphabetically by author, with a corporate author (usually the name of a Jesuit College) substituted for the many collections which were collectively assembled. A separate classification of the many different types of Jesuit emblem books is also provided, and will be a great help to non-specialists in field. Each entry provides a short-title and a facsimile reproduction of the title-pages, together with information about the text's layout, known library pressmarks, and location in other standard bibliographies. While no claims are made to provide the exhaustive information of traditional bibliography, the editors have collated two or more copies of each entry, and the fingerprints and reproduced title-pages provided make this work more than adequate to identify almost any emblem book which its readers may encounter. Inevitably, not all of the facsimiles are as clear as one would wish. Restrictions of space preclude full-page reproductions in works of this kind; however, they are still more valuable as aids to identification than most written descriptions can be. All in all, the editors cue to be congratulated on the launch of what promises to be an important new reference series. (JOHN HUNTER) Hilmar M. Pabel. Conversing with God: Prayer in Erasmus' Pastoral Writings University of Toronto Press. x, 264. $6o.oo In praying to God, the faithful Christian engages m what Erasmus of Rotterdam termed a colloquy, a 'conversation with God' ('colloquium cum Deo'). The same term was used by Ignatius Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises, and in his Pathway unto Prayer Thomas Becon defined prayer as 'a familiar communication with God.' Unlike Loyola and Becon, Erasmus did not attempt to assign precise characteristics to the term, but he apparently shared their view, or intuition, that praying to God could be likened usefully to having easy and comfortable conversation with a friend. Yet prayer, as Erasmus knew, entailed considerably more than normal conversational skills, and its purpose far transcended what could be reasonably expected of ordinary human conversation. Prayer, he wrote, at one point in his far from serene Iife, had proved to be an unfailing source of personal peace and comfort. 'There is nothing/ he stated, 'in which my mind more gladly finds rest than in this mysterious conversation ['in hoc arcana colloquia'].' As a humanist theologian, however, Erasmus was not so much interested in dissecting his own needs as he was in teaching others about this mystery, and speciiically, in instructing the faithful on 'how to accommodate themselves to or converse appropriately with God.' Prayer, like piety in generat was not self-sufficient. To be efficacious, to fortify believers against the onslaughts of Satan, to strengthen their resistance to tempta- HUMANITIES 445 tions, and to render this earthly exile both endurable and intelligible, prayer had to be understood. People, Erasmus believed, had to be taught what to pray for, what rhetorical style to use, to whom and where to offer prayers, what attitude to assume while praying, and what weight to assign to prayer within the entire compass of their devotional lives. It was never in Erasmus's mind, however, to write a manual on praying well. The business of talking to God was far too momentous. Drawing upon a close study of the Precatio Dominica (1523), Modus orandi Deum (1524), and the Precaliones aliquot novae, collected and published by Froben in 1535, and upon the evidence of such diverse writings as the Paraphrases, De libero arbitnĀ·o, Exomologesis sive modus corifitendi, Christiani matrimonii institutio, and the exquisite Virginis Matris apud Lauretum cultae liturgia, to cite only a few, Pabel demonstrates that from 1499, the date of his earliest prayers, to his death in 1536, Erasmus thought of prayer in terms which were deeply theological and brought to their composition and understanding the insights and convictions of his remarkable pastoral, philologicat exegetical, and humanist learning. For Erasmus prayer was not a trapping, as it were, of Christian piety. Prayer was spiritually transforming, but, regardless of the particular object of the petition, it required of...


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