As you probably are aware by now, the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the 16th century will be celebrated next year, with many events and publications already marking the event.
A lesser-known but still highly significant anniversary this year is the 500th anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek NT, which edition of the Bible may in some respects be said to have fueled the fire of the Reformation. Yes, Erasmus’ views on free will also fueled the fire in Luther’s soul to defend salvation by sovereign grace (cf. his Bondage of the Will); but there is no question God in His great and good providence used the Greek NT Erasmus pieced together to kindle the renewed interest in His Word, which in turn led to the spread of that Word throughout Europe – and indeed the world – in manifold new translations – the language of the people.
Below is the beginning of and a link to a recent article that appeared on the Reformation21 website detailing some history of Erasmus’ Greek NT – and dispelling some myths about it. I believe you will find it informative and interesting.
And if you want to want another source, look up the Dunham Bible Museum website at Houston Baptist University. They recently did a feature on Erasmus’ Greek NT also, which you may find here in their newsletter.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. It was a landmark publication for biblical studies, though we may tend to forget its role in the Reformation. 2016 will not receive as much attention as 2017, which may as well be dubbed Luther-palooza for all the books, seminars, and conferences that will cover the 95 Theses. But to those who have struggled with their aorist declensions, this is the root of your frustration. Tyrant, thy name is Erasmus.The mythology of Erasmus’ New Testament is another story–one repeated by well-intentioned Greek professors hoping to inspire students. In my life, it was during an exegesis course that I first heard of Erasmus’ slapdash efforts to bring the Greek text to print. For all the grandeur I expected in the story, I was unprepared for how Erasmus stepped into a quagmire of textual criticism that even his mind could not fathom.Still the story made sense in seminary. If Greek was good enough for Luther, then it is good enough for us–and we later heard stories of Luther translating in the Wartburg with Erasmus’ text resting under his elbow. The story is only compounded by the fact that Erasmus’ third edition New Testament was used to produce the translations of William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible and the KJV.But the tale is embellished to the point of being an overfed caricature of Reformation hagiography.