Yielding to the Prejudices of His Times

Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum

in Church History and Religious Culture
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In 1516, Desiderius Erasmus published the first Greek New Testament. Almost immediately, it became embroiled in controversy and Erasmus was accused of heresy because of critical decisions he made about the text. The most controversial was his decision to not include 1John 5,7, the so-called Comma Johanneum, which was used as a defense of the Trinity. This essay examines the ways in which Erasmus attempted to protect himself and his New Testament from heresy charges as he revised it for its second edition. Then, it offers a further contextualization for why those attempts failed. Erasmus reinserted 1John 5,7 in his third edition.

Yielding to the Prejudices of His Times

Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum

in Church History and Religious Culture

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References

2

Nicholas D. Kristof‘Islam, Virgins and Grapes,’ New York TimesApril 22 2009.

9

Geneva Bible 1560.

16

See H.J. de Jonge‘Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum,’ Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 56 no. 4 (1980) 386. “Quae est ista tanta supinitas … si non consulum codices quorum mihi non potuit esse copia?” Later when defending his placement of the text in the 1522 third edition he wrote “Ex hoc igitur codice Britannico reposuimus quod in nostris dicebatur deesse: ne cui sit ansa calumniandi [Thus from this British codex we have replaced that which we lacked so that we might not be slandered.”] Desiderius Erasmus Novum Testamentum 3rd ed. (Basel 1522) fol. Ff4r.

19

Desiderius Erasmus and Anne ReeveAnnotations: The Gospels p. 222.

33

Ep. 1153CWE Correspondence 8: p. 68f.

36

Ep. 1203Correspondence 8: p. 211f.

37

Ep. 1217Correspondence 8: p. 253ff.

39

Ep. 1218Correspondence 8: p. 258.

40

Ep. 1218Correspondence 8: p. 259.

41

Ep. 1225Correspondence 8: pp. 271–281 passim.

Figures

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    Figure 1

    “Title page,” Novum Instrumentum. Desiderius Erasmus. Basel: Froben, 1516. Wikicommons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ErasmusText_TitlePage.jpg#file

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    Figure 2

    “Title page,” Novum Testamentum. Desiderius Erasmus. Basel: Froben, 1519. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Princeton, NJ. Used by Permission.

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    Figure 3

    “Letter to Pope Leo X,” Novum Testamentum. Desiderius Erasmus. Basel: Froben, 1519. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Princeton, NJ. Used by Permission.

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    Figure 4

    “Throne of Grace,” Novum Testamentum. Desiderius Erasmus. Basel: Froben, 1519. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Princeton, NJ. Used by Permission.

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    Figure 5

    “Nicene Creed,” Novum Testamentum. Desiderius Erasmus. Basel: Froben, 1519. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library, Princeton, NJ. Used by Permission.

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