Peter C. Erb is a graduate of the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, Ont (Licentiate in Medieval Studies, 1970) and the University of Toronto (PhD on the appropriation of late medieval spirituality in early German and Dutch Protestantism, 1976). A Roman Catholic, with a particular interest in the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Peter was born to Amish-Mennonite parents in Tavistock, Ont., has served as a community development worker and teacher in Cleveland’s Hough area, 1965-1966, and as a Mennonite pastor and lay preacher, and continues to work closely on Mennonite-Catholic dialogue as well as other ecumenical matters.

He and his wife, Betty, live in Waterloo, Ont., where Peter was a faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ont., in the Department of English, 1971-1984, and thereafter in the Department of Religion and Culture, 1984-2008. He has recently retired as Visiting Professor of Catholic Studies through St. Dunstan’s University at the University of Prince Edward Island (2004-2009), and continues as Associate Director of Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, Pennsburg, Pa., a position he has held for the past 36 years. He also continues to teach and direct students though Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto.

The author and editor of some 15 books and numerous articles on patristic and medieval spirituality, the Radical Reformation, German Pietism, German-American religion and culture, Catholic thought in the Romantic era, for the past two decades Peter has devoted most of his scholarly time to the study of nineteenth-century Anglican/Roman Catholic relations. His major study of the past twenty years, a four-volume critical edition of the correspondence between the British Prime Minister, William E. Gladstone, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Henry E. Manning, is now at the copy-editing stage with Oxford University Press. He is presently working on the influence of the Oxford Movement in North America and the British colonies for inclusion in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Oxford Movement and preparing his lectures, “Facing a Secular Age: Notes for the modern sceptic,” for publication.

His free time is primarily devoted to reading contemporary Catholic and Anglo-catholic theology, murder mysteries and cheap comic thrillers. He and Betty are the parents of two daughters, Catharine (who teaches Classics at Upper Canada College) and Suzanne (a neuroscientist at the University or Toronto, married to Douglas Funk, a neuroscientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto) and two granddaughters, Leanna Marie and Jillian Sarah. Peter lectures and writes regularly on various aspects of Christianity and on religious themes in twentieth-century German and English fiction. He holds an Outstanding Teacher award and has been honoured for his service to the perpetuation of Pennsylvania-German culture by the Pennsylvania-German Society of Pennsylvania. His retirement from Laurier was celebrated with a Festschrift, edited by Harold Remus and Michel Desjardins, Tradition and Formation: Claiming an Inheritance: Essays in Honour of Peter C. Erb (Kitchener, Ont., Pandora Press, 2008).

Recent Publications

Rhetorics of belief: persuasive style in the Gladstone-Reville-Huxley debates

Nineteenth-Century Prose, 2012

Murder, manners, mystery

SCM Pr, 2007

Gottfried Arnold (1666-1714)

Pietist theologians, 2005

What is spirituality?

Touchstone, 2005

The outcast dove

Anglican Theological Review, 2005

Research Classification

  • no classification

Research Interests

  • Hans Urs von Balthasar
  • Mennonite-Catholic dialogue
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