Thursday, March 31, 2016

Word Magazine # 51: Review: James White on Text on Apologia.Part 3

I have posted Word Magazine # 51 to (listen here).  This episode continues my review of James White’s text presentation on Apologia Radio/TV (see the original video here).

Quite a bit of the discussion in this episode focuses on the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53—8:11), one of the two longest textual variations in the NT.  Among other things, in this episode:

1. I express my dislike for JW’s comment (borrowed from Dan Wallace) that the PA is his “favorite story that’s not really in the Bible.”  If he and other modern text advocates truly believe that this passage is uninspired why do they not then insist that Bibles be printed without it?

2.  I noted that JW’s critique of critics like Bart Ehrman is more than a little disingenuous given that, though they may differ on the doctrine of inspiration, when it comes to the text of Scripture they are in agreement in supporting modern reasoned eclecticism.

3.  I pointed out that JW’s response to Paul Barth’s citation of Augustine was off point.  The Augustine citation shows that the PA was known in the fourth century.  It also shows that Augustine knew it was being removed by some from the text. JW tries to downplay Augustine by pointing out that he did not know Greek well and by trying to shift the discussion to Augustine’s views on canon (in particular his views on the apocrypha).  This misses the main point that Augustine both provides a witness to the PA in a time period roughly contemporaneous with the most ancient uncial witnesses that omit it and that he provides a witness to controversy over the passage.

4.  I noted that JW’s attack on Codex Beza is misguided.  He calls it the “Living Bible” of Greek texts in an effort to diminish the fact that it provides an early witness to the PA in John.  He fails to mention that Beza has also been used to support readings in the modern critical text (cf. Westctott and Hort’s “non-Western interpolations”).

5.  I made mention of my paper John Calvin and Text Criticism (listen here), refuting JW’s contention that the TR was not the text of Calvin and the other magisterial reformers.

6.  I respond to JW’s repetition of the PA as a “floating tradition” argument, which contends it should be rejected because it never had a stable place in John’s Gospel.  I note that Chris Keith (a scholar who does not uphold the authenticity of the PA and embraces the modern critical text) has soundly refuted the “floating tradition” argument simply by pointing out that all of the mss. where the PA does not appear at John 7:53—8:11 are late.

I also pointed out that this is not the only example of a scribal insertion of a passage from one Gospel into another.  Example:  In his book Codex Sinaiticus David C. Parker notes that John 19:26 (Jesus being pierced in his side with a spear) is inserted at Matthew 27:49 in both Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus (see pp. 102-103).

See also my summary of the 2014 PA conference at SEBTS (here), my previous post on the PA as a “floating tradition” (here), and Chris Keith’s 2009 article in Novum Instrumentum, “The Initial Location of the Pericope Adulterae in the Fourfold Tradition” (here).  Will JW ever stop using this argument to reject the PA?  In the future I suggest that when JW raises the PA as a "floating tradition" argument that those interacting with him should ask, “Have you read Chris Keith’s article rejecting this argument?”

On the topic of whether or not we can preach the PA, see WM 31 and WM 32.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Word Magazine # 50: Review: James White on Text on Apologia.Part 2

Image:  Here is a portion of Revelation 15:3 from the Colinaeus Greek NT (1534) which reads "the King of Saints [ho basileus ton hagion]" (see the final four words of the last line).  This edition does not generally support the TR, yet here it does.  As THL Parker points out in his book "Calvin's NT Commentaries," though Colinaeus printed this work, we do not know for sure who edited it or what mss. he consulted in constructing his text:  "the identity of the present of the editor of the present work is unknown" (p. 99); "we cannot say what manuscripts lie behind the text" (p. 100). 

I just posted Word Magazine # 50 to (listen here).  This episode continues my review of James White's text presentation on Apologia Radio/TV (see the presentation here).

Here are at least three highlights from this episode:

First, I respond to JW's discussion of the textual variant at Revelation 15:3:

Should the text read "King of the nations" (the reading of the Majority text and the modern critical text; supported by Codex Alexandrinus), "King of the ages" (the reading of the earliest extant mss., including p47 and the original hand of Sinaiticus), or "King of Saints" (the reading of the Textus Receptus, supported by mss. 296 and 2049)?  Is it completely irrational to hold that the Textus Receptus provides the proper text at Revelation 15:3?

I offered five observations suggesting that adopting the TR reading here may not be as irrational as JW suggests.  These include:

1.  Though the TR reading is without strong Greek mss. support, it is not without any Greek support (cf. the NA28 which has two conjectural readings with no Greek mss. support:  Acts 16:12 and 2 Peter 3:10).  It is inconsistent of JW to criticize the TR for weak Greek mss. support when he embraces a modern critical text which has at least two place where its preferred reading has no Greek mss. support.

2.  We do not have all the evidence on the mss. used by Erasmus or by other early Reformed men (like Stephanus and Beza).  It most likely had other witnesses now lost..

3.  We have, in truth, very few early Greek mss, with only c. 1% of what we have being from the early centuries.

4.  No one disputes that this was a contested verse.  Clearly, it was.  Even if you reject the TR you have to decide which reading to adopt:  nations or ages.  Which does one choose? By what standard or authority does one make this choice?  

5.  There is also an argument for the TR reading on internal grounds, based on the prevalence of the genitive plural of "saints" in Revelation.  Compare:

The prayers of the saints (5:8; 8:4);

The faith of the saints (13:10);

The patience of the saints (14:12);

The blood of the saints (16:6; 17:6; 18:24);

Righteousness of saints (19:8);

Camp of the saints (20:9).

Second, I challenge to JW's statement that the papyri are purely Alexandrian. This is simply factually wrong.

Third, I challenge to JW's suggestion that having "truth" and "certainty" are necessarily mutually exclusive.

Isn't this the type of argument used by theological liberals to challenge the traditional defense of orthodox doctrines like the deity of Christ or the historicity of the resurrection?

In the next episode, DV, we will move on to the discussion of the Pericope Adulterae.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WM # 49: Review: James White on Text on Apologia

Yesterday, I recorded and posted to Word Magazine # 49 (listen here).  The topic: Review:  James White on Text on Apologia.

This episode begins a review of the recent James White video on Apologia Radio/TV (see the youtube video here).

White presented this defense of the modern text after running into some "Ecclesiastical Text" (I prefer Confessional Text) defenders on social media.

As I note at the start of my review, in some ways there is not a lot new in White's presentation that I have not responded to in previous episodes of WM (see episodes 13, 25, 26, 27, 29, 40, 41).

I also make reference in this episode to my paper on Erasmus Anecdotes (listen here).


Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Questionable Greenlee Anecdote on the CJ in Erasmus

Image:  NT scholar J. Harold Greenlee (1918-2015). Read a tribute to Greenlee here.

There appears to be no end of confusing the story of Erasmus and his Greek NT.

I recently ran across another curious example of this in J. Harold Greenlee’s well respected Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (Eerdmans, 1964).  In addition to promoting the “rush to print” and “rash wager” anecdotes (see this talk), Greenlee makes a statement that I have not seen elsewhere regarding Erasmus’ insertion of the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7b-8a) in his third edition (1522).  After noting that Erasmus added it to the 1522 edition in dutiful fulfillment of his rash “promise,” Greenlee adds:  “He again omitted it in later editions; but it was the third edition which primarily influenced textual tradition, and the 'heavenly witnesses' thus found their place in the Greek text” (p. 71).  So, Greenlee asserts that Erasmus added the CJ to his third edition but then removed it again from his fourth (1527) and fifth editions (1536).

Though I do not have access to check this against printed copies of the fourth and fifth editions of Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum, my hunch is that Greenlee is mistaken in this “fact.”  I cannot find anyone else who says this, including Metzger, whose comments imply that once the CJ was added in the third edition it appeared “in future editions” (see Metzger and Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament, fourth edition, p. 146).  If Erasmus added it and then removed it again, surely Metzger would have pointed this out.  Historian Preserved Smith, speaking disparagingly of the CJ’s inclusion in the third edition, likewise states:   “Thus the forged verse was put back into the Greek to be kept there until the nineteenth century” (Erasmus, p. 166).  Thinking that perhaps others had already picked up on what appears to be Greenlee’s error, I checked the 1995 revised edition of his work and the statement stands uncorrected (p. 64).  Of course, it is also possible that Greenlee is right and everyone else overlooked this point.  That seems unlikely, however.

Whatever the outcome on this question, the point is that ample confusion surrounded Erasmus’ printing of the Greek NT in the text critical scholarship of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  As I’ve pointed out before, there seems to have been a distinct effort to disparage Erasmus’ work by modern critics who were keen on toppling the Textus Receptus in favor of the rise of the modern critical text, beginning early in the nineteenth century.  Though by the twentieth century the modern critical text had largely prevailed among scholars, even among evangelical men like B. B. Warfield and A. T. Robertson, disparagement of Erasmus continued well into the twentieth century and beyond, as the focus turned to the popular promotion of modern translations based on the modern text.  Greenlee’s work is evidence of this.

The upshot:  When it comes to Erasmus anecdotes, “let him that readeth understand.”


Podcast Recommendation: "In Our Time" from BBC Radio 4

Image: Melvyn Bragg

Though the radio program has apparently been on the air since 1998, I only recently discovered the podcasts of the "In Our Time" program from BBC Radio 4 (look here).  In each episode host Melvyn Bragg sits down with three respected academics for a lively 43 minute conversation on an important topic, literary work, or thinker in various fields in the world of ideas from science to literature to culture to philosophy to religion. I've become addicted to listening to the podcast while working on other things.  Over the last few weeks I've listened to episodes on Erasmus, Josephus, the Salem Witch Trials, the Prester John myth, the novel Jane Eyre, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, David Hume, Simone de Beauvoir, George Berkeley, Rudyard Kipling, etc.  Great stuff.  Search the archives to find hundreds more.


Friday, March 25, 2016

We will not have a Good Friday service this evening

At the risk of tumbling down the slope into the slough of self-righteousness and rigid judgmentalism.  No.  We did not hold an Ash Wednesday service to mark the beginning of Lent. We are not giving up anything for Lent.  We did not observe Palm Sunday last Lord’s Day.  We did not have a Maundy Thursday service last night and will not have a Good Friday service this evening.

At some point, in broad evangelical churches, I think I have taken part in all of the above (except maybe for smearing ashes on the forehead—but I know a few moderate “liturgical” ancient-future churches who have done and do this too).

What spoiled all this for me?  The regulative principle of worship.  The discovery of the abiding validity of the fourth commandment.  The realization that embracing Reformed theology is not merely a matter of holding to TULIP.  Coming to understand my own sinful tendency to go beyond what is written.  To jazz things up to make it more interesting.  Add some smells and bells.  Some tangible experience, beyond the simplicity of one day in seven for rest and uncluttered worship.

There is something better.  Simpler.  No extra ingredients needed.


The Vision (3.25.16): Christ's More Excellent Ministry

Image:  Scene from FRIM, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia

Note:  Devotion based on last Sunday morning’s sermon on Hebrews 8:1-6.

Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Where is Christ now and what is he doing?

He is even now seated in session, ruling and reigning.  He is exalted in heaven, seated at the right hand of God the Father.  From that exalted placed he will come again to judge the living and the dead.  We await the blessed hope of his return.

What can we gather of his activity from the Scriptural witness?  We read of Christ now doing three things:

1.  He is preparing a place for the saints:

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

2.  He is interceding for the needs of the saints.

Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

He is especially watching over and honoring those who lay down their lives for him, even as Stephen did (cf. Acts 7:55-56, the only passage in the NT wherein the exalted Christ is depicted as standing).

3.  He is the great minister, the great liturgist [leitourgos], the great worship leader of heaven.

Recall the Messiah’s words:

Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

The worship he leads in heaven is new covenant worship.  It is not worship based on the sacrifice of animals but upon the once for all sacrifice of the cross.  It is this that elicits the praise of heaven and earth.


Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The pastoral message to the Hebrews and to us: Do not trade the pure and true and authentic worship given us by Christ for the old, slavish worship of the past.  Follow the direction of Christ’s more excellent and exalted ministry.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Erasmus Anecdotes

Image:  Erasmus section at the Dunham Bible Museum, Houston, Texas

I have posted a recording of the paper titled "Erasmus Anecdotes" which I presented at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in New Brunswick, NJ on March 11, 2016 (listen here). The paper explores two dubious scholarly anecdotes which frequently circulate regarding Erasmus' Novum Instrumentum (1516), which I refer to as the "rush to print" anecdote and the "rash wager" anecdote.  Here is a snippet from the paper:

It is the contention of this paper that during the nineteenth century, as part of the effort to topple the Textus Receptus and support the rise of the modern critical text, a number of unflattering scholarly anecdotes regarding Erasmus’ Greek text began to circulate in secondary literature on the text and translation of the New Testament.  Several of these anecdotes have taken on legendary if not mythic proportions, having been passed from scholar to scholar and from student to student, often without any firm evidence or proof from primary sources to support their veracity.  Furthermore, these anecdotes continue to be retold from teaching lecterns and to be reprinted in contemporary works on text and translation.


Scenes from New Brunswick, NJ

Image:  Train overpass near Rutgers.

I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature meeting in New Brunswick, NJ on March 10-11, 2016 where I presented a paper titled "Erasmus Anecdotes."  Here are a few scenes from New Brunswick:

Image;  Administration building at Rutgers.

Image:  Rutger's bookstore

Image:  Bildner Center for Study of Jewish Life

Image:  Mile markers to NB's sister cities, which include the historic Reformed center of Hungary, Debrecen.

Image:  Annex to Christ Episcopal Church, NB.

Image:  Garden at Christ Church

Image:  The original tower of Christ Church (c. A.D. 1745)

Image:  Plaque commemorating the organization of the 
Christ Church Parish in 1742 and the Diocese of NJ in 1785.

Image:  The contemporary church has an almost obligatory notification of its inclusivity.

Image:  Next door to Christ Church, the historic First Reformed Church of NB....

Image: being converted into special needs housing.

Image:  Welcome sign to First Reformed Church in the midst of construction materials and port-o-john.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Vision (3.18.16): Christ: Greater Than the Law

Image:  Conversation after midweek prayer meeting at CRBC (3.16.16).

Note:  Devotion taken from last Sunday morning’s sermon on Hebrews 7:18-28.

“For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:19).

“For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Hebrews 7:28).

In Hebrews, we have seen stress upon Christ greater than prophets (Heb 1:1-2), greater than angels (Heb 1:4), greater than Moses (Heb 3:3-6), Christ greater than the priests, greater than Levi, greater than Aaron, greater than their priesthood, because theirs had been an imperfect priesthood (Heb 4:15), greater even than Father Abraham.

Today we want to add one more item to the list of that which Christ is greater than:  Christ is greater than the law.

That statement could, I admit, be taken in a perverse manner.  It might suggest an anti-nomian spirit, a law-less spirit.

As, however, the Reformation Heritage Bible puts it:  “Under the gospel, the ceremonial law has been abrogated and the civil law has expired.  But the moral law—written on human hearts at creation, ratified as the covenant of works, and confirmed by Christ—continues to bind all human beings to obey it.”

When we say Christ is greater than the law we are not saying that the moral law of God is done away with.  We are saying that the Lawgiver is greater than the law.  And we are saying that the law never made anyone perfect (Heb 7:19), not because the law was bad, but because we, as sinners, could not keep it.  We could not be justified by the works of the law.  But we were justified by faith in Christ, the perfect law-keeper and the perfect law-giver. 

Indeed, we can affirm today with the writer of Holy Scripture:  Christ is greater than the law!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Vision (3.11.16): Christ Greater Than Levi

Image:  One of the "Caiphas" ossuaries, discovered in a  cave in Jerusalem in 1990, which some claim to be related to the ancient priestly family mentioned in the NT.  Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

Note:  Here are some notes drawn from the closing application to last Sunday morning’s sermon on Hebrews 7:5-17:

Hebrews 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

The greatness of Christ or the superiority of Christ is a constant theme seen throughout Hebrews.

We have seen stress upon Christ greater than prophets (Heb 1:1-2), greater than angels (Heb 1:4), greater than Moses (Heb 3:3-6).  Here we have the repetition of a theme that has already appeared (Heb 5:1-10):  Christ greater than the priests, greater than Levi, greater than Aaron, greater than their priesthood, because theirs had been an imperfect priesthood (Heb 4:15).

We might also add that it is affirmed here that Christ is greater also than Father Abraham.

The pastoral call here to wayward Hebrew believers who were tempted to abandon Christ and return to the synagogue:  Do not go back to your old religion!  Do not go back to your slavish ways!  Do not go back to the temple!  Do not go back to the sacrifices!  A superior way is here.

How do we apply this to ourselves?  We might be tempted to go back to our old carnal ways, our BC (before Christ) ways, our old spiritual patterns.  To trade faith in Christ for our old religion would be like trading a bar of gold for a pile of ashes.  Do not make a fool’s bargain.  Christ is greater than your Levi!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Vision (3.4.16): Christ and Melchizedek

Image:  A copy of the Geneva Bible, open to the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1, on display at the Biblical Heritage Gallery, Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio.

Note:  Here are some notes from the close of last Sunday’s sermon on Hebrews 7:1-4, reflecting on how Melchizedek is a type of Christ:

“Now consider how great this man was….” (Hebrews 7:4).

How is Melchizedek a type of Christ?

1.  Melchizedek was a priest and king.  Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King.

2.  Melchizedek’s name meant “My king is righteous.” Jesus is the true King of righteousness.

The word righteousness can also be rendered as justification.  Jesus is the King of justification.  Jeremiah prophesied of him:  “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Jer 23:5).

How did he exercise his kingship?  As a servant.  His coronation was in humiliation on the cross.  His crown was one of twisted thorn, his scepter a reed, his raiment a purple rag.  But by his death he justified many.

Consider Paul’s reflection in Romans 3:21-25 in which in he declares that in Christ “the righteousness of God without law is manifested.”

Indeed, he is the King of justification.

3.  Melchizedek was the King of Salem, the king of peace.  Jesus is the true King of Salem, the Prince of Peace.

He is this in two ways:

First, in the ultimate sense he gives us peace with God:

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Second, he also gives us peace within ourselves and with others:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The old adage is:  No Jesus, no peace; Know Jesus, know peace.

As one cheesy church sign which I recently saw on the roadside put it: “If your life is in pieces, look to Jesus for peace.”

4.  Melchizedek met with Abraham.  Jesus meets with us.  He does so often unexpectedly, surprisingly, seeming to appear out of nowhere.

5.  Melchizedek was without known origins (Heb 7:3).  One might say that this is not paralleled in Jesus.  Yes, he had no human father, but he had a mother.  We have his genealogy (Matthew 1; Luke 3).  But, his point is to offer an elevated Christology.  With regard to his essence, Jesus is God.  He is the eternal second person of the God (cf. Heb 13:8).  From everlasting to everlasting he is God.

6.  Melchizedek was made like unto a Son of God.  Jesus is the Son of God.

7.  Melchizedek represented a continuing priesthood, unlike that of Levi and Aaron.  Jesus is the eternal priest who “ever liveth to make intercession” for the saints (cf. Heb 7:22-25).

8.  Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek.  We give our lives to Christ as living sacrifices (cf. Rom 12:1-2).

Now consider how great this man is!  Jesus our King of righteousness.  Jesus our King of peace.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Word Magazine # 48: Conversation with Chris Thomas

Image:  JTR and Chris Thomas at HBU.

One of the benefits of attending the Erasmus Conference last week in Houston was getting the chance to meet Chris Thomas face to face.  Chris, from Greenville, Texas, hosts the Confessional Bibliology website and organizes the Confessional Bibliology Facebook group.  We sat down at the HBU conference between sessions and had a brief conversation debriefing the Erasmus conference and the emerging Confessional Text movement.  I have posted our discussion as WM # 48 (listen here).


HBU Erasmus Conference Notes: Lecture 4: Herman Selderhuis on Erasmus' Influence on the Reformation (2.27.16)

Image:  Dr. Selderhuis ponders a question during the Q & A session after his lecture.

Lecture 4:  Herman Selderhuis, The Impact of Erasmus’ Biblical Work on the Reformation

Note:  Selderhuis is professor of Church History at the Theological University Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, author of John Calvin:  A Pilgrim’s Life, and president of the International Calvin Congress (among other distinctions).

I have also posted the audio of this lecture to (look here).

Image:  Anonymous Dutch engraving t'Licht is op den kandelaer gestelt (c. 1640-1684).

HS started with a picture (above) of Reformers sitting at a table around a candle with RCs attempting to blow it out.  Who is missing?  Erasmus.  Where should he be, with the papists or reformers?  In the end he was rejected by both Protestants and RCs.  HS says he should be on the Reformers’ side.

1.  Philosophia Christi

HS questions whether Erasmus was really more interested in the Latin than the Greek with his Novum Instrumentum.  He wanted to make the Bible accessible to all.  He wanted to pursue a Biblical based spirituality.

He gives an interesting quote from Erasmus in which he pointed to the Muslim devotion to the Koran and said Christians should correspondingly be committed to the Bible.

He gives a quote where Erasmus says he wishes the Bible to be in vernacular:  “I vehemently dissent from those who would not have private persons read the Holy Scriptures nor have them translated into the vulgar tongues…  I should like all women to read the Gospel and the Epistles of Paul.  Would that they were translated into all languages…..”

2.  Hermeneutics

Erasmus’ Annotations were included with the Greek and Latin text.  He propagated ad fontes but not without his own fontes!

Erasmus said God intentionally put obscure things in the Bible but he would explain these.

His rule for how to read Scripture was the loci method.

He also published his Paraphrases.

He used the “accommodation” method.  He believed each word conveyed a message.  God’s people have forgotten God, because they have neglected the NT.  This why the text and grammar are so important.  He urged his contemporaries not to seek Christ in relics but in text.  This is the grammatical-rhetorical method.  Translations are helpful but we must read the originals.

Erasmus:  “Latin scholarship, however elaborate, is maimed and reduced by half without Greek…..”

3.  Samples of Reformers

Luther makes use of Erasmus as soon as his work appears.

Erasmus’ Annotations were influential.  Example:  In Ephesians he notes that the text says marriage is a mysterion not a sacramentum.  He asks, Does this mean marriage is not a sacrament?  Erasmus asks but does not answer.  HS suggests his low view of his birth made him unwilling to give answers.

Zwingli had many works of Erasmus in his library.  He knew the whole NT in Greek.  He said Erasmus deserved praise.

Philip Melanchthon, whom Erasmus called Ille graeculuos, that little Greek guy, also read Erasmus.

Martin Bucer owned many books of Erasmus.  His influence is seen in Bucer’s exegetical works.  Compare his views on marriage and divorce.  Bucer listed 15 grounds for divorce.

Menno Simons.  He used Erasmus’ work as a tool.

John Calvin was perhaps the most faithful follower of Erasmus.  He often disagrees with him, but even these show his interest in his work.  Erasmus’ influence is seen in Calvin’s use of the concept of “accommodation.”

4.  Claritas Scripturae

Erasmus believed God put obscurity in text on purpose.  Some things could not be understood.  This is why there must be church authority of there will be exegetical chaos (as among Protestants).  At the same time, Erasmus often questioned church interpretations and spoke of the value of individual interpretation.

5.  Conclusion

HS noted the following in conclusion on Erasmus’s Biblical work and its influence on the Reformation:

Intensive but independent.
Philology not exegesis.
Methodology not theology.
Power of the text..
Ad fontes.
Theological curriculum.
Knowledge of Hebrew (I think he was pointing out that Erasmus did not learn Hebrew and that, though known today for tolerance, he was, in fact, often anti-Semitic).

JTR Analysis:

This was a very solid and thoughtful presentation.  IMHO, it was the best plenary talk of the conference.  HS pointed out how the significance of Erasmus for the Reformation is not merely his production of the first printed Greek text, but his method, including his focus on the importance of the original language, text criticism, the focus on verbal communication (each word important), etc.