By Race Jews, by Religion Christians
“Once a Jew, always a Jew,” this was Erasmus’ attitude toward the notorious convert Johann Pfefferkorn and other converts from Judaism, as is revealed here. Erasmus treated such converts as Christians by religion but Jews by race. Erasmus’ vision of Christianity as capable of absorbing everyone without differences of race, ethnicity or origin, was no more than empty rhetoric, or alternatively, Erasmus’ own incapability to keep to his own values. Erasmus knew personally, and highly appreciated, the convert (Christian of long standing) and scholar Matthew Adrian and yet he defined him as “by race a Jew but in religion a Christian.” Thus, according to Erasmus, Jewish origin did not vanish, even when a Jew was no longer a Jew.