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Re-Erasmus's Latin Translation

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  • BillCombs@aol.com
    ... Brown has proven that the only positive evidence that was used to support a Latin translation before 1514 is invalid. Since there is no other evidence to
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 2, 1997
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      Helge Evensen wrote:

      >I do not believe that Brown has demonstrated that
      >Erasmus did *not* prepare or work on a Latin translation prior to 1514.
      >Just because it cannot be *proved* that he made a complete NT translation
      >prior to that time, it does not follow that Erasmus did not at all work
      >in preparation for a future edition.

      Brown has proven that the only positive evidence that was used to support a
      Latin translation before 1514 is invalid. Since there is no other evidence to
      support such a claim, why give it any credence?

      >In 1984 (the year of Brownxs paper) de Jonge made these statements
      >(quoted in one of the previous posts):

      > "It is established, and generally accepted, that Erasmus had been
      >working on the text of the New Testament since 1504, and had been
      >studying Greek manuscripts for this purpose".

      >And:

      > "By 1506 at the latest Erasmus had completed his new translation
      >of Paulxs epistles, and not later than 1509 he had made a new version of
      >the Gospels.......".

      >Since de Jonge is a specialist on Erasmian studies, I have reason to take
      >his findings and conclusions seriously.

      As you say, de Jonge made his statements in 1984, before he could have seen
      Brown's paper. I doubt he would hold the same view today. Ericka Rummel also
      held to a pre-1514 Latin translation before Brown's paper (see her Erasmus as
      a Translator of the Classics, p. 89. Writing after Brown's paper in her 1986
      book, Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament, she says: "The theory that
      Erasmus had begun work on a translation before 1506 was, however, at odds
      with his own testimony, for he consistently claimed that the idea of adding a
      translation to his New Testament edition occurred to him only when the
      project was already well advanced. In polemics against Edward Lee, Johannes
      Sutor, and Frans Titelmans, Erasmus declared that the plan was conceived by
      friends when the publication was already in progress. He claimed that it had
      not been his own intention to add a new translation--scholarly friends had
      urged him to do so--and insisted that nothing had been further from his mind
      at first" (p. 20). de Jonge has shown that the Latin translation in the 1516
      edition was only a slight revision of the Vulgate (The Character of Erasmus'
      Translation of the New Testament as Reflected in His Translation of Hebrews
      9" Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1984.

      >I would like to read your article "Erasmus and the Textus Receptus".
      >How can I obtain a copy of it?

      This is a problem since the first issue of our journal is out of print. I
      could send you a copy as an attached file to an e-mail, I believe. It is MS
      Word for Mac version 5.1. Would that be of any use? Of course, I could run
      off a hard copy.

      Bill Combs
      Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
    • Mr. Helge Evensen
      ... Actually, I have not given it any real credence. I have primarily referred to it as a possibility, a suggestion and a likelihood. And, as I said, it does
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 4, 1997
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        BillCombs@... wrote:
        >
        > Helge Evensen wrote:
        >
        > >I do not believe that Brown has demonstrated that
        > >Erasmus did *not* prepare or work on a Latin translation prior to 1514.
        > >Just because it cannot be *proved* that he made a complete NT translation
        > >prior to that time, it does not follow that Erasmus did not at all work
        > >in preparation for a future edition.
        >
        > Brown has proven that the only positive evidence that was used to support a
        > Latin translation before 1514 is invalid. Since there is no other evidence to
        > support such a claim, why give it any credence?

        Actually, I have not given it any real credence. I have primarily
        referred to it as a possibility, a suggestion and a likelihood. And, as
        I said, it does not have to be a complete translation. I have not
        referred to any "positive evidence" in favour of such a theory, but I
        have referred to the conclusions of de jonge as likely. At least,
        I have not based my statements on "nothing".
        And if the evidence is decisive that he never did translation work before
        1514, I am of course willing to submit to it. However, as for now, it
        does not seem to me to be proved. I guess one of the primary points
        has to do with what credence we grant Erasmus own statements about the
        matter.

        >
        > >In 1984 (the year of Brownxs paper) de Jonge made these statements
        > >(quoted in one of the previous posts):
        >
        > > "It is established, and generally accepted, that Erasmus had been
        > >working on the text of the New Testament since 1504, and had been
        > >studying Greek manuscripts for this purpose".
        >
        > >And:
        >
        > > "By 1506 at the latest Erasmus had completed his new translation
        > >of Paulxs epistles, and not later than 1509 he had made a new version of
        > >the Gospels.......".
        >
        > >Since de Jonge is a specialist on Erasmian studies, I have reason to take
        > >his findings and conclusions seriously.
        >
        > As you say, de Jonge made his statements in 1984, before he could have seen
        > Brown's paper. I doubt he would hold the same view today.

        I have not read anything of de Jonge after the publication of his 1984
        article(s) to that effect. So it is difficult to know whether he would
        agree with Brown.

        > Ericka Rummel also
        > held to a pre-1514 Latin translation before Brown's paper (see her Erasmus as
        > a Translator of the Classics, p. 89. Writing after Brown's paper in her 1986
        > book, Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament, she says: "The theory that
        > Erasmus had begun work on a translation before 1506 was, however, at odds
        > with his own testimony, for he consistently claimed that the idea of adding a
        > translation to his New Testament edition occurred to him only when the
        > project was already well advanced. In polemics against Edward Lee, Johannes
        > Sutor, and Frans Titelmans, Erasmus declared that the plan was conceived by
        > friends when the publication was already in progress. He claimed that it had
        > not been his own intention to add a new translation--scholarly friends had
        > urged him to do so--and insisted that nothing had been further from his mind
        > at first" (p. 20).

        Scholarly experience has shown that scholarly opinion shifts in
        accordance with the latest research. And so it must be. But because of
        that fact, we should not be quick to accept a view based on just
        one or two studies. There may not pass very many years until someone
        comes up with another study which disprove or weakens the latest
        research.

        Of course de Jonge had considered the statements by Erasmus to the effect
        that he had not planned any translation before 1514. But he found reasons
        to doubt the correctness of these statements. On the last page of his
        paper "Nov. Test. A Nobis Versum:......", he states in a footnote:
        "To prevent new misunderstandings I point out that
        in his last years Erasmus was to deny that he had ever contemplated
        making a new Latin translation of the New Testament before 1514.......
        P.S.Allen already observed in his introduction to Ep.384
        that this was a distortion of the facts. Deeply dismayed and disturbed
        by the development of the Reformation, Erasmus tried to avoid the
        impression that he had ever wished to supersede the Vulgate with his new
        translation" (p.413).

        Erika Rummel, as mentioned, was convinced that Brown was right in his
        conclusions regarding Erasmus translation, and asserted accordingly that
        the veracity of Erasmus statements is "no longer in doubt" (p.21). But
        still I question the veracity of Erasmus statements as well as the
        veracity of the conclusions made by Brown. Note that I am just
        *questioning* it, not *rejecting* it! These statements are not my
        *conclusions*!

        Even if Erasmus did not consider the *publication*
        of a Latin translation at all, he may nevertheless have been in
        preparation for such a task for a long time ahead of the actual
        publication.

        The indication that Erasmus did study MSS years before 1514 is not
        affected even if I accept that he may *not* have engaged in translation
        work at all prior to 1514. And, of course, my acceptance of the TR is not
        dependent on such a thing. So why should I have any interest in asserting
        this at any cost?

        In the above mentioned book by Erika Rummel, there are several
        interesting statements to the effect that Erasmus was well prepared
        for the task of edit/publish an edition of the NT. Under the heading
        "Research and Preparation for the Edition of the New Testament", she
        writes: "After his return to the continent in 1500 Erasmus immersed
        himself in Greek studies with a view to applying his newly acquired
        skills to biblical texts" (p.18).
        She further writes: "In letters to friends Erasmus also described his
        translations of secular authors as preliminary studies preparing him for
        a more serious enterprise: the restoration and elucidation of Scripture"
        (p.19).
        Later on Rummel explains that Erasmus described his "youthful pursuits"
        as "a preparatory phase in which he had honed his skills until he felt
        ready to begin work on the New Testament" (p.20).

        Also, consider the following quotations from Rummel:

        "It is.....not immediately clear what Erasmus had in hand when he
        approached the Froben press with a publication project.......Erasmus had
        no doubt collated Greek and Latin manuscripts;...." (p.22).
        "Erasmus was familiar with the Greek text and had the requisite skill and
        experience to hasten such a project to completion" (p.23).
        "Perhaps Erasmus had planned to make only minor changes to the Vulgate
        text but came to the conclusion that such half-hearted measures were
        unsatisfactory. Perhaps it was at this point that his friends encouraged
        him to publish a substantially revised translation" (p.24).

        Finally, Rummel describes the Annotations thus:
        "They allow a glimpse behind the scenes. We see Erasmus in his workshop
        adding, deleting, and revising as he comes across new information and
        encounters new opposition. The Greek and Latin texts are mute witnesses
        to Erasmus research;....." (p.26).

        > de Jonge has shown that the Latin translation in the 1516
        > edition was only a slight revision of the Vulgate (The Character of Erasmus'
        > Translation of the New Testament as Reflected in His Translation of Hebrews
        > 9" Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1984.

        I have a copy of this paper, but I could not find the exact reference
        you mention about the 1516 edition. Could you give the page number?

        In this paper, de Jonge states that the Latin translation in the 1516
        edition was (according to the title page) "revised and improved"
        (recognitum et emendatum). de Jonge takes this expression as a reference
        to the *Latin*, not the Greek. In a footnote he states: "As there were no
        Greek editions of the N.T. that could be "revised and improved" in 1516,
        the title of Erasmus editions of the N.T. announced only his Latin
        translation, not his edition of the Greek" (p.81).

        I believe the following citations from de Jonge applies here:

        "....numerous reactions of Erasmus contemporaries also make it clear
        that it was their view, as well as that of Erasmus, that the _Novum
        Instrumentum_ was in the first instance a new version of the New
        Testament in Latin. Both the praise and the criticism of contemporaries
        was concerned mainly with the Latin version, and with Erasmus comments,
        while the Greek text received little attention. It was the translation
        which gave many a new insight into the New Testament,....."

        If it was considered as a *new version* and if it caused many to get
        new insight into the NT, its departure from the Vulgate must have been
        regarded as important.

        "What made so many opponents furious was that Erasmus had taken it upon
        himself, on his own authority, to change the Latin biblical text,...."
        (Novum Test. A Nobis Versum:......", p.404-5).

        This shows that the deviations from the Vulgate text was extensive enough
        to arouse considerable opposition. Many of the deviations have been
        discussed and analyzed by de Jonge and others.

        >
        > >I would like to read your article "Erasmus and the Textus Receptus".
        > >How can I obtain a copy of it?
        >
        > This is a problem since the first issue of our journal is out of print. I
        > could send you a copy as an attached file to an e-mail, I believe. It is MS
        > Word for Mac version 5.1. Would that be of any use? Of course, I could run
        > off a hard copy.

        I am not sure whether or not I can use a Mac format doc. on my computer,
        or convert it. I use Windows 3.1. You may try to send it as you suggest,
        attached to an e-mail.


        Thanks


        --
        - Mr. Helge Evensen
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