Old Book Made New:

The Surprising Wisdom of Erasmus for Today

An Intercollegiate Symposium

Desiderius Erasmus was the intellectual rockstar of 16th-century Europe. Keynote speaker Dr. Greta Kroeker, along with students, professors and librarians, explore the influence of Erasmus on the Anabaptist movement, his ongoing relevance, and the value of preserving physical volumes. In the spirit of Erasmus’ use of new technology (printing), this in-person and virtual symposium connects participants with each other and Erasmus’ rare books at Mennonite institutions across Canada and the United States. Sponsored by the Marpeck Deans’ Fund.


  • Bethel College, Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center
  • Conrad Grebel University College, CGR 2021
  • Eastern Mennonite University, Library 303
  • Goshen College, Newcomer 19

Friday, Nov. 4:

6:30 p.m. CST/7:30 EST

Introduction to the symposium – Dale Schrag, Bethel College

Keynote address, “Erasmus for Our Age” – Dr. Greta Kroeker, University of Waterloo

Audience Q&A and discussion

Saturday, Nov. 5:

8:30 a.m. CST/9:30 EST

Rare book show-and tell at each location

9 CST/10 EST

Student presentations on specific library Erasmus holdings

  • Emma Beachy, Bethel College
  • Olivia Krall, Goshen College
  • Emily Strzelecki, Goshen College
  • Rachel Zehr, Conrad Grebel University College
  • Ariel Morales Bonilla, EMU

Q&A and discussion led by Dale Schrag

11:15 CST/12:15 EST

Lunch break

12:15 CST/1:15 EST

Roundtable 1: The Contemporary Relevance of Erasmus

A conversation with Dr. Kroeker and faculty

  • Nancy Heisy, professor emeritus of Bible and religion, EMU
  • Chris Huebner, associate professor of theology and philosophy, Canadian Mennonite University
  • Mark Jantzen, professor of history, Bethel College
  • Gerald J. Mast, professor of communication, Bluffton University
  • David Neufeld, assistant professor of history, Conrad Grebel/University of Waterloo
  • Breanna J. Nickel, assistant professor of Bible and religion, Goshen College

Mini-stretch break

1:15 CST /2:15 EST

Roundtable 2: The Future of Rare Books and Libraries in a Digital Age

A conversation with Dr. Kroeker and librarians

  • Karl Stutzman, AMBS
  • John Thiesen, Bethel College
  • Simone Horst, EMU
  • Marci Frederick, EMU
  • Joe Springer, Goshen College
  • Carrie Phillips, Bluffton University


Brief closing comments, and Erasmians dismissed

You can now view a virtual exhibit of some of the Erasmian holdings.

image of speaker

Greta Kroeker, Ph.D., is a 1994 graduate of Bethel College. A devoted student of the late Keith Sprunger, she took her Bethel history degree first to the University of Missouri-Kansas City for her M.A., and  then to the University of California-Berkeley, where she studied with noted Reformation historian Thomas Brady. Her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled “Erasmus in the Footsteps of Paul,” was subsequently published by the University of Toronto Press in 2011 under the same title.

Since 2007, Kroeker has been a faculty member at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, where she is currently an associate professor in the Department of History and also serves a cross appointment in Gender and Social Justice. She received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015 and the Outstanding Performance Award in 2016.