Erasmus and the TEXTUS RECEPTUS

I am in the middle of finishing the second part of the film about the 6 texts in the Bible that condemn Homosexuality. What is clear is that the evangelical enthusiasm for and often aggressive repetition of these verses on the internet is a bit misplaced. The verses are not at all as clear as they appear to be. More on this later when I have finished the film. Meanwhile, here is a page from the diary of some drawings of Erasmus. This is based on two different statues but the shape of the eyes and mouth is quite consistent and familiar from the Durer drawing and the Holbein paintings.

I wonder a bit about the importance of the “Textus Receptus” which is the Greek text lying behind the King James Version. The problem is that much of it is simply a translation from the Latin Vulgate back into what Erasmus supposed the Greek ought to be. Otherwise it is based on Byzantine texts and the Septuagint.

There is an interesting story early on when Erasmus is improving the latin “translation” of Paul’s letters. He write in 1512, “It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin.” Then he adds, “I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense.” I get the impression that the “emending” is a form of embellishing rather than translating as Erasmus does not mention any Greek originals and I think by this date had barely taught himself Greek (an interest in Greek began when he visited england in 1499 and was introduced to John Colet who was influenced by Patristics; he only seemed to start teaching himself, however after 1506). Of course, he talks in a later letter, “But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep”…

But what an interesting man.


moleskin erasmus small