Basel 1516: Erasmus’ Edition of the New Testament

The authors of this very useful new book are Kaspar von Greyerz/Silvana Seidel Menchi/Martin Wallraff

It contains the following:


The Novum Instrumentum 1516 and its Philological Background

  • Mark Vessey: Basel 1514: Erasmus’ Critical Turn
  • Erika Rummel: Biblical Humanism
  • August den Hollander: Late Medieval Vernacular Bible Production in the Low Countries
  • Ignacio García Pinilla:Reconsidering the Relationship between the Complutensian Polyglot Bible and Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum

The Text of the New Testament and its Additions

  • Patrick Andrist: Structure and History of the Biblical Manuscripts Used by Erasmus for His 1516 Edition
  • Andrew J. Brown: The Manuscript Sources and Textual Character of Erasmusʼ 1516 Greek New Testament
  • Martin Wallraff: Paratexte der Bibel: Was Erasmus edierte außer dem Neuen Testament
  • Miekske van Poll-van de Lisdonk: Die Annotationes in Novum Testamentum im Rahmen von Erasmus’ Werken zur Bibel
  • Jan Krans: Deconstructing the Vulgate: Erasmus’ Philological Work in the Capita and the Soloecismi
  • Silvana Seidel Menchi: How to Domesticate the New Testament: Erasmus’ Dilemmas (1516–1535)

Communication and Reception

  • Valentina Sebastiani: The Impact of Erasmus’ New Testament on the European Market (1516–1527): Considerations Regarding the Production and Distribution of a Publishing Success
  • Marie Barral-Baron: Erasmus and the New Testament: Innovation and Subversion?
  • Greta Kroeker: Theological and Humanistic Legacies of Erasmus in the Age of Reform
  • Sundar Henny: Unmittelbarkeit und Überlieferung: Erasmus und Beza zum Status des neutestamentlichen Textes
  • Christine Christ-von Wedel: Die Nachwirkung des Neuen Testamentes von Erasmus in den reformatorischen Kirchen

ISD (Mohr’s North American distributor) has provided a review copy.

The editors have as their aim the twofold purpose of commemorating the publication of Erasmus’s New Testament and documenting current Erasmus and humanist biblical scholarship. The present volume collects essays which were presented at a conference addressing those dual issues.

In their preface the editors describe their project and the contents of the volume. They also discuss the quite interesting fact that Erasmus’ chief interest was his Latin edition of the New Testament, not the Greek along with the main motif of Erasmus which appears to have been addressing the tension between theology and philology,

… a tension that tormented the humanist in the last 20 years of his life, that split his legacy into two opposing currents, and that still today noticeably characterizes studies devoted to him (p. xviii).

A cursory glance at the table of contents above indicates just how seriously the editors take these tensions. From Vessey’s illuminating discussion of Erasmus’ turn to critical scholarship to Rummel’s work on his biblical humanism and all the way to Wedel’s amazingly interesting description of the reception of Erasmus’s New Testament in the Reformed Church, the tensions are explicated.

Wedel’s essay in particular grabbed the present reviewer’s attention given the subject matter and held my attention with probing observations like

‘For Huldrych Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin the Latin translation of Erasmus was their foundational text.’ (p. 292, my rendition).

This is noteworthy, given the general perception that the Swiss Reformers were more interested in the Greek than the Latin. And yet the Latin text of Erasmus was their ‘go to’ source for discussion and debate (doubtless because more clerics understood Latin than Greek).

On the whole, the volume is immensely instructive. Along with the textual contents there are also numerous illustrative plates, an index of authors and editors, and an index of proper names. The work moves scholarship forward. Brilliantly. Consequently, it is very much worth your time.