What about Erasmus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So we are back again on this today talking about this topic. So far, it has been a massive train wreck with empty assertions and one-sided argumentation. Let’s see if Johnson does any better. The source can be found here.
One person who changed the world, during the reformation, was Erasmus. Erasmus was a “… giant intellect and scholar …” [S2P225]. And, Erasmus’ name: “… was a household word all over the known world …” [S10P4].
History records that:
“Probably the most important figure in the renaissance of learning and religion was Erasmus. He traveled around Europe’s great learning centers, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Rome and others. He left his mark in history as the editor of the first published Greek New Testament printed in 1516” [S9P4].
Endowed by God: “… with a mind that could do ten hours work in one, Erasmus, during his mature years … was the intellectual giant of Europe. He was ever collecting, comparing, writing, and publishing. Europe was rocked from end to end by his books which exposed the ignorance of the monks, the superstitions of the priesthood, the bigotry, and the childish and coarse religion of the day” [S2P225].
“… Erasmus looked for manuscripts … during his travels and … he borrowed them from everyone he could” [S8P193]. “There were hundreds of manuscripts which Erasmus examined, and he did; but he used only a few” [S2P226].
With this, I don’t really disagree. Erasmus certainly was a very intellectual figure and a great mind. History does remember him and it should for good reason.
So why did Erasmus use only a few manuscripts, when he had personal access to hundreds of them? This question is answered consistently from author to author. For instance:
David Otis Fuller says: “The vast majority of manuscripts are practically all the Received Text” [S2P226].
And Barry Burton says: “The vast majority of Greek manuscripts agree together. They have been passed down thru the centuries by true Bible-believing Christians. In 1516 Erasmus compiled, edited, and printed the Greek ‘Textus Receptus’. This is the text that the Protestants of the Reformation KNEW to be the Word of God (inerrant and infallible)” [S5P59-60].
Even ENEMIES of the Traditional Majority Text concede that: “The manuscripts Erasmus used, differ, for the most part, only in small and insignificant details from the bulk of the cursive manuscripts …” [S2P227].
Erasmus examined every manuscript he could find and he found agreement among them. From the massive collection of manuscripts, Erasmus selected a sample to use. We find out that:
Erasmus’ Greek New Testament was produced from: “… nine manuscripts chosen from a very large mass” [S10P4].\
Across the board apparently means that you go and find people who are KJV-onlyists and cite them only. That sure makes a convincing case. Note that the case could be entirely right, but if you want to convince people, you need to do more than cite people who already agree with your conclusion.
So these manuscripts were in agreement; but what about their quality?
David Otis Fuller says (of Erasmus’ text):
“Moreover the text he chose had an outstanding history in the Greek, the Syrian, and the Waldensian Churches, and … it constituted an irresistible argument for and proof of God’s providence” [S2P227].
Again, one source and that being a KJV-onlyist. This is not saying that the claim is wrong. It is saying that Johnson has not made a good case for it.
So, not only did these manuscripts agree with each other, but they had an excellent history.
Now, did Erasmus’ great knowledge and detailed Godly effort result in a trouble free life? Hardly! We discover that:
“It is customary even today with those who are bitter against the pure teachings of the Received Text, to sneer at Erasmus. No perversion of the facts is too great to belittle his work” [S2P225].
It would be nice to see such a case. I am not denying that they exist, but all Johnson gives is an assertion.
Thus, the greatest mind of that day had enemies. For example, in 1521, Erasmus said:
“I did my best with the New Testament but it provoked endless quarrels. Edward Lee pretended to have found 300 errors. They appointed a commission, which professed to have found bushels of them. Every dinner-table rang with the blunders of Erasmus. I required particulars, and could not have them” [S2P226].
Could be so, but then who in church history has not had enemies?
“… I required particulars and could not have them …” I think that says it all.
We see Erasmus taking a stand for God’s Word. We see him trying to understand the comments of his detractors, in an effort to do the best possible work; yet there were never any ‘facts’ to discuss.
I am puzzled by this idea of never any facts to discuss. It looks like Erasmus was tired of having to discuss the claims. I just am left wondering what Johnson is even talking about.
The quote above gives insight into the true ‘problem’. The people who sneered at the greatest mind of their day weren’t actually against Erasmus; they were against God’s Holy Word. They were against the Traditional Majority Text.
Obviously. That had to be it. It couldn’t be they had their concerns about the text being handed down. They just didn’t want a particular text handed down. Got it.
And, although some tried to belittle his work, history is very clear about Erasmus’ personal worth and character:
“… while he lived, Europe was at his feet. Several times the King of England offered him any position in the kingdom, at his own price; the Emperor of Germany did the same. The Pope offered to make him a cardinal. This he steadfastly refused, as he would not compromise his conscience. In fact, had he been so minded, he perhaps could have made himself Pope. France and Spain sought him to be a dweller in their realm; while Holland prepared to claim him as her most distinguished citizen” [S2P225-226].
And so, Erasmus went on with his work …
Again, this could all be true, but Johnson still has the problem that he only cites people who agree with him.
“Book after book came from his hand. Faster and faster came the demands for his publications. But his crowning work was the New Testament in Greek. At last after one thousand years the New Testament was printed (1516 A.D.) in the original tongue … the world … read the pure story of the gospels. The effect was marvelous. At once, all recognized the great value of his work which for over four hundred years (1516 to 1930) was to hold the dominant place in the era of Bibles. Translation after translation has been taken from it, such as the German, and the English, and others [S2P226].
Thus: “The God who brought the New Testament text safely through the ancient and medieval manuscript period did not fumble when it came time to transfer this text to the modern printed page” [S8P196].
Finally, the ‘Dark Ages’ passed:
Nothing like creating your own terms and then shaping the data to fit that. It wasn’t the rise of the printing press and the idea of questioning Rome. Nope. It was that we finally had the precursor to the KJV!
“When the 1,000 years had gone by, strains of new gladness were heard. Gradually these grew in crescendo until the whole choir of voices broke forth as Erasmus presented his first Greek New Testament at the feet of Europe. Then followed a full century of the greatest scholars of language and literature the world ever saw” [S2P225].
Yet most of us know that while there were good things, as always, it was not just good things. There were numerous problems that followed, but Johnson won’t cover that. He’s only interested in one side of the story.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)