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Erasmus’ Greek NT: Exhibit

November 11, 2016

A bit late but better late than never:  The New College copy of the 1516 (lst) edition of Erasmus’ printed Greek NT is on display in the New College Library, with notes describing it and its significance.  This is our small observance of this 500th anniversary year of the first published printed Greek NT.  As well, there is a simple booklet with images of particularly “visual” pages with brief explanations.  Here’s the title-page of our copy, with the rather lengthy title printed in the shape of a chalice.  And note the signatures of a previous owner.  “Novvm Instrumentum Omne” = “Complete New Testament.”

This was a Greek-Latin edition, with a Latin (with a number of differences from the Vulgate) in the right-hand column, and Erasmus’ hastily-prepared Greek text in the left-hand column.  (For my earlier posting on Erasmus’ edition of the Greek NT, see here.)



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  1. Nick Thompson permalink

    Erasmus’s Latin is more than just a reworking of the Vulgate – even at the points where his “new” translation remains conservative and indebted to the Glossa.

    For example, here’s his 1516 [mis?]translation of 1 Cor 7:36-38 (on which I’m currently writing a paper):

    Quod si quis indecorum virgini suae putat, si praetereat nubendi tempus, et sic oportet fieri, quod vult faciat, non peccat, iungantur matrimono. Ceterum qui stat firmus in corde, non habens necessitatem, sed potestaem habet proprie voluntatis, et hoc decrevit in corde suo, ut servet suam virginem, bene facit. At qui non elocat nuptum, melius facit.

    Here’s the Vulgate for comparison:

    Si quis autem turpem se videri existimat super virgine sua, quod sit superadulta, et ita oportet fieri: quod vult faciat: non peccat, si nubat. Nam qui statuit in corde suo firmus, non habens necessitatem, potestatem autem habens suæ voluntatis, et hoc judicavit in corde suo, servare virginem suam, bene facit. Igitur et qui matrimonio jungit virginem suam, bene facit: et qui non jungit, melius facit.

  2. Larry, I think the Latin was his own translation, not the Vulgate. The Greek was intended to support his Latin.

    • That’s not the information I have, Peter. This first edition was a rushed job.

      • pgurry permalink

        I can’t speak from my own knowledge, but Jan Krans says this: “Though his [Erasmus] editions, except the fourth (1527), did not contain a Vulgate text, no contemporary reader could fail to notice that Erasmus’ enterprise is centred around the correction or ‘emendation’ of the Vulgate; it is a kind of shadowboxing with it” (Beyond What Is Written, p. 14).

      • I defer to Krans on this, and have amended my posting to avoid the earlier over-simplification on my part.

  3. Is this the one without the Johannine Comma?

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