Desiderius Erasmus : Textus Receptus


Desiderius Erasmus
His religious training was obtained from the study of St. Jerome and Lorenzo Valla. In 1491 a lucky accident freed him from monastic life. The Bishop of Cambrai was minded to visit Italy and chose Erasmus as secretary and traveling companion, attracted by the young man’s linguistic attainments; he also ordained him priest in 1492. The journey was never made, but Erasmus remained in the service of the bishop, who, in 1496, sent him to Paris to complete his studies. The scholastic method of instruction then prevalent at Paris was so repugnant to him that he spent much of his time travelling through France and the Netherlands, receiving occasionally friendly help; he was also for a while at Orléans, where he worked at his collection of proverbs, the later “Adagia”. The money for a trip to England he earned by acting as tutor to three Englishmen, from whom he also obtained valuable letters of introduction.leader of German humanism, b. at Rotterdam, Holland, 28 October, probably in 1466; d. at Basle, Switzerland, 12 July, 1536.

The sacraments
A test of the Reformation was the doctrine of the sacraments, and the crux of this question was the observance of the Eucharist. In 1530, Erasmus published a new edition of the orthodox treatise of Algerus against the heretic Berengar of Tours in the eleventh century. He added a dedication, affirming his belief in the reality of the Body of Christ after consecration in the Eucharist. The anti-sacramentarians, headed by Œcolampadius of Basel, were, as Erasmus says, quoting him as holding views similar to their own in order to try to claim him for their schismatic movement

Erasmus’ Greek manuscript basis. Erasmus’ final 1535 edition still relied upon no more than six Greek manuscripts, the oldest (but least used!) of which was from the tenth century.

The History of the Textus Receptus
Erasmus’s third edition of 1522 contained one truly unfortunate innovation: The “Three Heavenly Witnesses” in 1 John 5:7-8. These were derived from the recently-written Codex 61, and (as the famous story goes) included by Erasmus “for the sake of his oath.” Sadly, they have been found in almost every TR edition since. Erasmus, having little time to prepare his edition, could only examine manuscripts which came to hand. His haste was so great, in fact, that he did not even write new copies for the printer; rather, he took existing manuscripts, corrected them, and submitted those to the printer. (Erasmus’s corrections are still visible in the manuscript 2.)

Even those who favour the Byzantine text cannot be overly impressed with Erasmus’s choice of manuscripts; they are all rather late Not only is 1r an Andreas manuscript rather than purely Byzantine, but it is written in such a way that Erasmus could not always tell text from commentary and based his reading on the Vulgate. Also, 1r is defective for the last six verses of the Apocalypse. To fill out the text, Erasmus made his own Greek translation from the Latin. He admitted to what he had done, but the result was a Greek text containing readings not found in any Greek manuscript – but which were faithfully retained through centuries of editions of the Textus Receptus. This included even certain readings which were not even correct Greek (Scrivener offers as an example Rev. 17:4 AKAQARTHTOS).

Greek never entirely vanished from the knowledge of scholars, as Hebrew did, but the language evolved. At the time the KJV was translated, classical Greek – the Greek of Homer and the tragic playwrights – was considered the standard. Koine Greek – the Greek of the New Testament – was forgotten; the Byzantine empire had undergone a sort of Classic Revival. People referred to the Greek of the New Testament as “the Language of the Holy Spirit”

The lack of Hebrew scholarship at the time contributed to an even greater problem with the Old Testament: The translators didn’t know what it meant. Textual damage caused some of the cruxes; others arose from ignorance of classical Hebrew. The translators often had to turn to the translations in LXX or the Vulgate

Thus it will be conceded by all reputable scholars – even those who favour the Byzantine text – that the Textus Receptus, in all its various forms, has no textual authority whatsoever. Were it not for the fact that it has been in use for so long as a basis for collations, it could be mercifully forgotten. What a tragedy, then, that it was the Bible of Protestant Christendom for close to four centuries!


this belongs on the scripture forum. Erasmus was a faithful Catholic

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