Erasmus was a Dutch theologian and Catholic priest, who lived between 1466 and 1536. He was a humanist, so believed that professionals should have a broad education in humanities and philosophy, rather than be trained using strict methods and jargon. Humanists believed that such educated and enlightened people would be better able to engage with others and persuade them to behave virtuously. Erasmus criticised the Church and believed in the need to reform it from within. His writings and his new Greek and Latin editions of the New Testament helped influence the Reformation. However, he never rejected Catholic doctrine, and remained firm in his belief in free will, something that Protestants disagreed on. His approach alienated and angered both Protestants and Catholics.
Tyndale was a 16th scholar who, influenced by Erasmus’ Greek edition of the New Testament, was the first to translate large parts of the Bible into English for public readership. He became a leading figure in the Protestant reforms, and his publicly available Bible was seen as a threat to the power and authority of the Church. In 1535 he was captured by church authorities and imprisoned. After being found guilty of heresy, he was burned at the stake.
The Witch of Endor was the medium who called up the ghost of the prophet Samuel for King Saul in the Old Testament. Samuel was a leader of Israel and a prophet, who anointed the first two kings of the land: Saul and David. Before his death, Samuel warned the Israelites that if they began to worship idols or other gods, God would punish them by letting foreign invaders destroy them. After Samuel’s death, Saul drove all witches and magicians from Israel. But when the Philistines massed against him, and God would give him no answer as to how best to act, he desperately sought the aid of a witch. When Samuel’s spirit was raised, he berated King Saul for disobeying God, and prophesied that his army would be defeated and he would soon be dead. The next day Saul’s army was defeated, his three sons were killed, and he threw himself on his own sword.