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.



shadow said...

I have been reading your blog for a few weeks and have profited greatly from it, in particular your book reviews and your nuanced views of text criticism. I do not consider myself Reformed, but I do agree with many of your critiques of the contemporary Baptist scene. I have belonged to the same downtown tall steeple Baptist Church for 50 years, one that left the SBC gradually over several years of discernment and despair. (We had previously been a very faithful supporter of the Co-operative Program ). But enough about that.

Since you have enlightened me, perhaps I can return the favor. One of my Religious Studies professors when I was in college authored a volume in the Yale Anchor series that I think you would find profitable. It is now out of print, but I feel sure you can get it by interlibrary loan or obtaining a used copy. He has a very intriguing suggestion as to why the Markan priority theory originated when and where it did that I won't spoil for you in case you do read it.

Dr Dungan was in many respects a theological liberal, but in his NT scholarship he could really question the consensus views. Even if you don't think you need to read another book on the subject, at least try this one.

BTW, Google seems to only let me post this under a preexisting account name. I don't like pseudonyms, but looks like I am stuck. ๐Ÿ˜€ Again, thanks for your blog and I will be in prayer for you and your church.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment and glad you've found the blog helpful. I can relate to "discernment and despair" with regard both to the SBC and it moderate offshoots like the CBF and Alliance. I find RB life much more comfortable.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I have heard of Dungan's work but have not read it. Your note may spur me on to remedy that. As I noted in one of my posts on the Erasmus conference at HBU, Dr. Evans' presentation brought to mind the connection between modern historical-critical approaches to text criticism and the so-called Synoptic Problem. I'm intrigued.

Again thanks for the comment and for reading. Blessings also on your church.


shadow said...

I sent this via email and then noticed it was to a no reply address. You may post it or not, your call.

Well, I can only say that Dr. Evans is on the right trail, but he hasn't gone down it far enough. If that rather cryptic remark doesn't spur you to rad the book, let me give you another hint: Kulturkampf.

The closest thing in the community where I live to a Reformed Baptist Church holds to the First London Confession. The Pastor is a graduate of Master's seminary, and the Church is a member in good standing of the SBC. You figure it out, I can't. They do seem to be healthy by all outward appearances.

We are loosely members of the CBF. I think the main purpose of our affiliation is to give the staff meetings to go to. Most of the survivors of the Baptist Wars in my church are like me, more attached to Congregationalism than ever. And regardless of what the formal structure is, in reality we are ruled by a plurality of the finance committee. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€ The amount we give to the CBF in terms of budget % is maybe half of what we gave to the Co-operative Fund.

I can sense from your blog that you are encouraged by the direction your church is headed, and my best wishes are very sincere.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment. I moderate comments so sometimes it takes a little while for me get to and post them. If you want to email me you can send to the church address:

The First London Confession is good, but it does not as clearly spell out Reformed positions as does the Second London Confession (1689) which is very close to the Westminster Confession. The Second London, for example, is clear on the abiding validity of the fourth commandment so it would be no surprise if a more dispensational pastor (like someone from Master's) would be less comfortable with it.

It's been a while since I've kept up with the CBF but since I went to SBTS in the moderate (pre-Mohler) days I have many seminary friends who are involved in CBF-related churches. It looks like CBF is having the same problems as mainline Protestants (Methodists, American Baptists, PC-USA, etc.). They focus on ethics (social justice) rather than orthodoxy in a bid to be relevant, while declining and becoming increasingly irrelevant.


shadow said...

No need to sidetrack your blog, and in the future I will use the Church email for off topic remarks. I would agree with your comments re the CBF at a denominational level. Many of our members - me included- are very wary of identifying too much with them.

Maybe to get back on topic somewhat, the proprietor of this blog has written a series that might be of interest to you:

He has another series on the doctrine of preservation of Scripture that is also interesting. He was a student of Harry Sturz.

But I would rather you read the Dungan book first☺