Adam Clarke followed by Dobbin on Montfortianus

Steven Avery

We can skip Porson,

Looking at Adam Clarke from Michael George.

"A. Clarke, The New Testament: A Commentary and Critical Notes, Vol. 6 "
"Codex Montfortianus, a 13th Century Greek Manuscript; the alleged “Erasmus Promise” is dated between 1206-1272). "
"between Clarke and Forster, I am convinced God preserved this ONE Greek text to poke a finger in the scholars eyes Fresh off the press is a bunch of nonsense. Erasmus would never have included it if not for evidence."


The Codex Montfortianus [of the Greek New Testament]: a collation, throughout the Gospels and Acts, with the Greek text of Wetstein, and with certain MSS. in the University of Oxford
Orlando Thomas Dobbin (1807-1890)

British and Foreign Evangelical Review (1855)


New Plea (1867)
Chapter XI - Codex Montfortianus
Charles Forster
p. 118-140
He discusses Michaelis-Marsh and Porson, not Dobbin.
Appeals to Clarke, Ussher, review of Mill and the palaeography of Montfaucon.
Discusses Latinizing idea of Wetstein.
He dismisses Britannicus and Montfortianus being the same. p. 126


Also Grantley McDonald in

Raising the Ghost of Arius

Dobbin section starts on p. 278-284 although a lot of that is about his contra-mythicist article.
Grantley does not mention Forster in this context.

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Steven Avery

Grantley on Ehrman

As one of the previous comments noted, I showed in my book Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) that the manuscript from which Erasmus took the comma (GA miniscule 61, aka Codex Montfortianus) was owned at one stage by the English Franciscan minister provincial, Francis Frowyk, who visited Erasmus at Leuven in August 1517. In a letter to Cuthbert Tunstall, Erasmus describes Frowyk’s visit to and all the Greek books that the friar brought with him from Italy, but the letter does not mention Montfortianus. Indeed, if Erasmus had seen Montfortianus at Leuven in 1517, he probably would have included the comma in the second edition of his NT (1519).

The manuscript was subsequently acquired by the young English Hellenist and physician John Clement, protégé of Thomas More and Thomas Linacre, who stayed in Leuven perfecting his Greek with Juan Luis Vives for some months in 1520, before setting out for Italy. Erasmus mentions Clement several times in his correspondence at this time, and clearly met with him often. It was likely Clement who brought Montfortianus to Erasmus’ attention while he was preparing the third edition of the NT.


Dear Prof. Ehrman,
Thanks for your response! I appreciate it, especially your comments about determining editors’ motives.

There is more to say about Montfortianus which bears on the story of the “wager”.

The scribe of Montfortianus copied variants from the first edition of Erasmus’s NT into the margins of the Apocalypse, but it is not clear whether the body text was copied before or after 1516. We cannot say with certainty that Montfortianus was copied by an enemy to trick Erasmus, or by a friend to provide him with a manuscript that would free him from those critics who demanded the restoration of the Johannine comma. I suspect that if Montfortianus had been confected to support Edward Lee’s criticisms of Erasmus, it would contain more readings that supported Lee’s arguments.

As it is, the text of the Catholic Epistles closely reflects that of its archetype, GA 326, which has been in the library of Lincoln College, Oxford, since 1483. The watermarks of the paper of Montfortianus show that it was copied some time around 1500. We are probably not far wrong in concluding that it was copied at Oxford some time between 1500 and 1520.

Grantley May 23, 2021 at 12:09 am - Reply

Much as I would like to believe that Montfortianus was created deliberately to trump Erasmus, the codicological and historical evidence just doesn’t sustain this conclusion. Rather, I suspect that the scribe (Frowyk?) simply wanted to create a Greek text (for his own use?) that reflected familiar readings in the Vulgate, including the Johannine comma, and adapted the text of GA 326 accordingly. Montfortianus contains further evidence of the scribe’s attempts to translate Latin into Greek (including non-biblical material), so it was not beyond him to translate the comma from Latin into Greek and insert it into his text.

The story of the “rash wager” may seem inconsequential, but conservative apologists have seized on the presence of this story in the writings critical scholars, including Profs. Metzger and Ehrman, to “prove” to their internet followers that serious scholars are pushing untruths about the bible. We shouldn’t give them any evidence for such harmful claims, which damage the credibility of the field, at least amongst some readers.