Metzger's Correction about Erasmus and the CJ
- As I mentioned to SunnRise in post #7999, the differences in the descriptions of what Erasmus did regarding the CJ, in the third and fourth editions of The Text of the New Testament, are effectively a retraction. Here again are the most relevant excerpts:
3rd edition, p. 101: "In an unguarded moment, Erasmus promised . . ."
4th edition, p. 146: "In an unguarded moment, Erasmus may have promised . . ."
3rd edition, p. 101: "Erasmus stood by his promise and inserted the passage in his third edition (1522) . . ."
4th edition, p. 146: "Erasmus inserted the passage in his third edition (1522) . . ."
The third edition's unqualified affirmation about a promise from Erasmus to include the CJ is, in the fourth edition, merely a possibility.
In the third edition on page 291, Metzger acknowledged, "What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus' promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS. 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in the light of the research of H. J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion; see his `Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum', Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, lvi (1980), pp. 381-9."
The article to which Metzger referred (in 1992, that is, over 20 years ago) can be downloaded at
On page 385 of H. J. de Jonge's article, he affirms that Erasmus, in 1520, in a reply to the criticisms of Edward Lee (not Stunica, who also critiqued Erasmus' work), wrote, "If a single manuscript had come into my hands in which stood what we read (sc in the Latin Vulgate) then I would certainly have used it to fill in what was missing in the other manuscripts I had."
That's an observation about the past, not a promise about the future, but when it was brought to Erasmus' attention, before the end of June of 1521, that a single Greek manuscript (61) had been found which contained the CJ, anyone could foresee what the inevitable result of continuing to exclude the CJ in future editions would be: Erasmus' critics would say something to the effect of, "Why aren't you doing now what you said you would have done a few years ago?" That, it seems to me, is why he included the CJ: not because of any specific promise to do so, but to avoid the accusation that his previous statement was disingenuous.
About Dr. Ehrman's statements on the subject:
Metzger must have known about de Jonge's article more than ten years ago; it is mentioned specifically in the footnote on p. 291 in the 1992 edition.
Metzger was correct that the story is not completely made up. But that does not make it okay to build a fictitious apple around a historical core. Erasmus made no specific promise to include the CJ if a Greek manuscript could be found which contained it. He never said, "If you can find me a Greek manuscript with that verse in it, I'll put it in my next edition." But in the course of defending his earlier non-inclusion of the CJ, he wrote that if he had possessed a single Greek manuscript that contained the CJ, he would have included it. That statement, once a Greek manuscript was presented that contained the CJ, could be considered tantamount to a promise to include the CJ in the event that he produced another edition, which he did.
The edition in which Erasmus proceeded to include the CJ was the third edition (1522), not the second edition (1519), contrary to what Dr. Ehrman stated in his recent Manifold Greatness lecture.
Also: despite Metzger's admission (in the footnote on p. 291 of the third edition) that a correction should be made to what was said about Erasmus' suspicion that 61 was "written expressly to force him to" include the CJ, in the fourth edition of Text of the New Testament (on pages 146-147) the claim is still made that Erasmus, in his Annotations, "intimated his suspicion that the manuscript had been prepared expressly in order to confute him." The correction to this part of the story remains incomplete.
H. J. de Jonge pointed out (on p. 397 of his article) that Erasmus considered MS 61 a recent production, and that he thought its text had been influenced by the Latin, but where is the evidence that Erasmus ever suggested that it had been created in order to confute him? As far as I can tell, there is no such evidence, but Latin-readers are welcome to consult Erasmus' Annotations (again, a 1527 edition can be downloaded at
books.google.com/books?id=0ApEAAAAcAAJ ) to double-check de Jonge's conclusion.
Yours in Christ,
James Snapp, Jr.
Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
- From: "theswain@..." <theswain@...>Regarding the PA, Bart's right: it isn't found in our ancient manuscripts. That an ancient author mentions finding it in some does not falsify Bart's statement. Can we verify Jerome's statement? Nope, though there seems contemporary evidence to support in the form of similar statements by contemporaries. But they all agree that a) this reading doesn't universally appear b) that the PA is debated and c) the earliest evidence of it in John is late fourth century, so technically ancient, but hardly early attestation. So Bart once again isn't wrong in his characterization. One could argue incomplete; but KJV editions usually don't qualify the inclusion of the PA or explain the textual history. Since that is so and the KJV does include the PA, I hardly think that Bart's objection on the grounds of a FACT is a basis to criticize him.
Larry,Since James didn't touch on this point in his rebuttal, I will. First, I'll say that the virtues of the KJV are more or less in the eyes of the beholder, so it's hardly fair to criticize someone for pointing out a few that someone else may not consider a virtue. On the other hand, mistakes are objective. James was not accusing Bart of being wrong in claiming that the KJV has some mistranslated and archaic words in it--it is evident to a typical clear-thinking person that it does--just as it is evident to a clear-thinking person that Bart made mistakes about the KJV's mistakes (and that James himself even made one).Now, back to the PA. It is in D 05, and that is one of our ancient manuscripts--Bart himself said so elsewhere, as earlier noted. It's even Bart's favorite ancient manuscript for Mark 1:41, where he accepts its singular reading as original and that of the 'earliest and best' manuscripts as corruptions.Daniel Buck