Now in its 35th year, the Erasmus Lecture brings world-renowned speakers to New York—including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Gilbert Meilaender, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—to address an audience of over five hundred people each year. The lecture also appears in the pages of First Things and on FirstThings.com.
The Erasmus Lecture was First Things’ original educational program. In fact, the Lecture predates the founding of First Things, as Father Richard John Neuhaus organized the inaugural lecture, which was given by historian Paul Johnson, in 1985. Attended by hundreds in New York City, the annual Erasmus Lecture is now live-cast and recorded for thousands more; it is also published in First Things magazine. The Erasmus Lecture serves as a strong signal of First Things’ role in leading the public conversation on issues of critical importance for the future of religious voices in the public square. After hosting a limited in-person audience to hear Rabbi Meir Soloveichik in 2020, the Erasmus Lecture returned to full attendance last October with Wilfred M. McClay discussing “The Claims of Memory.” The 2022 Erasmus Lecture was given by Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia on October 24.
In addition to the Lecture itself, First Things hosts a Poetry Reading the evening prior, a post-Lecture dinner to recognize our Editor’s Circle members, and a next-day colloquium for leading scholars to discuss the content of the Lecture. To register for the 7th Annual Poetry Reading on Sunday, October 23, please visit www.firstthings.com/poetryreading. If you are a member of the First Things Editor's Circle, please contact Carter Skeel, Director of Development, at email@example.com or 212-627-1985 about attending the Erasmus Editor's Circle Dinner.
Each of these events represents a distinctive aspect of our work: our appreciation of beauty and the arts, our leading role in shaping the public conversation, our cultivation of an intellectually curious community, and our support for leading intellectuals doing vital work on behalf of our core mission. Past poets include Dana Gioia, Paul Mariani, and James Matthew Wilson. Past Erasmus lecturers include Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon, Leon Kass, Russell Moore, Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and N.T. Wright.
For the full list of Erasmus honorees, including links to their lectures, please see below.
- 2021—Wilfred McClay, “The Claims of Memory”
- 2020—Meir Soloveitchik, “Lincoln’s Almost Chosen People”
- 2019—N. T. Wright, “Loving to Know”
- 2018—Remi Brague, “God as a Gentleman”
- 2017—Robert Barron, “Evangelizing the Nones”
- 2016—Russell D. Moore, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?”
- 2015—Ross Douthat, “A Crisis of Conservative Catholicism”
- 2014—Charles Chaput, “Strangers in a Strange Land”
- 2013—Jonathan Sacks, “On Creative Minorities”
- 2012—Jean Bethke Elshtain, “On Loyalty”
- 2011—Gilbert Meilaender, “A Complete Life”
- 2010—J. H. H. Weiler, “The Trial of Jesus”
- 2008—Robert Wilken, “Christianity Face to Face with Islam”
- 2007—Robert George, “Law and Moral Purpose”
- 2006—Philip Jenkins, “Believing in the Global South”
- 2005—Timothy George, “Evangelicals and Others”
- 2004—Timothy Cardinal Dolan, “The Bishops in Council”
- 2003—Dana Gioia, “The Catholic Writer Today”
- 2002—Stephen Barr, “Retelling the Story of Science”
- 2001—David Novak, “Jews, Christians, and Civil Society”
- 2000—George Weigel, “Papacy and Power”
- 1999—Charles Colson, “Modernist Impasse, Christian Opportunity”
- 1998—Oliver O'Donovan, “Government as Judgement”
- 1997—Clarence Thomas
- 1996—Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”
- 1995—Midge Decter, “A Jew in Anti-Christian America”
- 1994—Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Christianity and the West”
- 1992—Mary Ann Glendon, “Tradition and Creativity in Culture and Life”
- 1991—Leon Kass, “Man and Woman: An Old Story”
- 1990—Robertson Davies, “Literature and Moral Purposes”
- 1988—Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis”
- 1987—Peter Berger
- 1986—John T. Noonan Jr.
- 1985—Paul Johnson, “An Almost Chosen People”
First Things is pleased to host its 7th Annual Poetry Reading with David Middleton.
Now in its 34th year, the Erasmus Lecture brings world-renowned speakers to New York—including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Gilbert Meilaender, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—to address an audience of over five hundred people each year. The lecture also appears in the pages of First Things and on FirstThings.com.
Now in its 33rd year, the 2020 Erasmus Lecture will be presented by Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik. This year's lecture will be live-streamed.
Now in its 32nd year, the Erasmus Lecture brings world-renowned speakers to New York—including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Gilbert Meilaender, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—to address an audience of over five hundred people each year. The lecture also appears in the pages of First Things and on FirstThings.com.
The 31st annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Rémi Brague.
The 30th annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Bishop Robert Barron.
The 29th annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Russell D. Moore.
The 28th annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Ross Douthat.
The 27th annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Charles J. Chaput.
The 26th annual Erasmus Lecture, presented by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.