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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 honoree will be Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia. To reserve your ticket for this year's Erasmus Lecture, register here.

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 cskeel@firstthings.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.

2022 Erasmus Lecture

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.

2021 Erasmus Lecture by Wilfred M. McClay

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.

2019 Erasmus Lecture

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.