Monday, August 03, 2020

Book Review Posted: Grantley McDonald, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma, and Trinitarian Debate

I have posted my book review of Grantley McDonald, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

It was published in Puritan Reformed Journal, Vol. 12, No. 2 (July 2020): 238-241.

You can read the pdf of the review here on



Bill Hardecker said...

Hello, Dr. Riddle. Fantastic and fair review, thank you. It leaves me wondering if the Erasmian myths are just that, then why did Erasmus include the JC in his third edition? What was the reason he did not include it in the first two editons? What, pray tell, is the "true" story?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks Bill. I completely disagree with McDonald's assessment of the authenticity of the CJ but his points on why it a perpetual point of controversy are spot on. Whether one holds to the "pre-modern episteme" or "modern episteme" is crucial.

Regarding Erasmus and the CJ, I'm not sure we'll ever know the whole story on why he excluded it from the first two editions and included it in the third. McDonald's research, building on de Jonge, shows it was not due to a "rash wager" or the "production" of 61. I think it more likely that he simply became convinced that the text was part of the authentic text of the Christian tradition.

Hopefully, this work will help stem of the perpetuation of "myths" about Erasmus that are passed down from scholar to scholar, or popularizer to popularizer (e.g., James White), without any historical evidence.

Steen Avery said...

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks for the review, generally agree, and like your tone.

I've placed notes about three tweaks or corrections to your review:

Grantley McDonald - Raising the Ghost of Arius
Jeff Riddle review

There is a Scrivener error, that was based on a Grantley blunder about his 1881-1895 edition. Also a John Milton tweak. And also my note on the Erasmus promise, which really goes to Richard Porson, the Richard Simon and David Martin notes do not imply a promise.

And my overall mini-mini-review is on the:
Textus Receptus Academy


As for the question of the Erasmus 3rd edition, and why the inclusion, nicely raised by Bill Hardecker above, I actually tried to answer that on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog in two posts, when the question was raised by Maurice Robinson:

More on Erasmus and Codex Montfortianus
August 7, 2019

And I mirrored the discussion here for more study.

why did Erasmus include the heavenly witnesses in the 3rd edition?

Also anyone can join on:

Textus Receptus Academy (also on my group PureBible)


Hope that helps, it really is a worthwhile topic and study.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY