July 12, 1536: Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch scholar and the first editor of the Greek New Testament, dies in Basel. One of the leading scholars who influenced the Protestant Reformation, he also wrote the influential In Praise of Folly. "Most holy was his living," said one observer, "most holy his dying" (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).
February 16, 1497: German scholar and reformer Philipp Melanchthon is born in Bretten, Baden. He and Luther were at times allies (he defended Luther against Johann van Eck and Emperor Charles V) and at other times enemies (Luther thrashed him for his views on the Sacrament, but apologized on his deathbed). Melanchthon's argument for justification by faith alone, known as theAugsburg Confession, is now the basic statement of Lutheran doctrine (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).