Erasmus and Beza - the Lewis Campbell commentary on the 16th century scholarship

Steven Avery

Contemporary Review (1876)
On the Revision of the English New Testament II p. 93-109

Lewis Campbell (1830-1908)

CARM posts have some bold emphasis.
Facebook thread on PureBible:{"tn":"R"}

4. The translators are frequently accused of being ignorant of the niceties of Greek grammar. It is true that we have attained to a degree of certainty on some minute points, which was impossible for the early scholars. But what is gained in minuteness is sometimes apt to be lost in breadth; and the scholar of the future, if he should carry his minuteness so far as to look into what may be called the “literature” of Mr. Granville Sharp’s rule, and to compare it with a page of the Commentary of Erasmus, or even of Beza, will hardly be impressed with the advance in Greek scholarship which three centuries had produced in England. When Middleton says that Erasmus did not know much Greek, this is not to be taken on his authority. It has, indeed, been customary with English scholars to exalt the learning of Bentley and Porson over that of the sixteenth century. But the first editing of Greek books was a greater work than the emending of them; and, even amongst emendations, a larger proportion of those of Stephens have stood the test of time than of those of Bentley. Winer, in speaking of the Hebraisms of the New Testament, justly says of Beza and Stephens, “The views of these two excellent Greek scholars are evidently less extreme than is commonly supposed, and are, on the whole, nearer the truth than those of many later commentators.” p. 100

There are some points about the use of the article, belonging rather to language generally than to Greek in particular, which were regarded as novelties in scholarship at the beginning of the present century (in England/, and yet were clearly known, not only to Beza, but to Erasmus, who was, further, aware of the possibility of exceptions to such rules. In this he was in advance of scholars like Middleton. (SA: and Wallace et al.) p. 101

With regard to the omission of the article, the once-vaunted rule of Granville Sharp, that two nouns united under the vinculum of a single article must he attributes of one and the same subject (a rule insisted on by Beza, and in general terms by Erasmus long before), was soon found, first by the candid investigation of Mr. Sharp himself, and afterwards by the superior scholarship of Middleton, to be subject to such serious limitations as to make the whole question somewhat precarious. The principle of Middleton’s concessions (which it has since been found necessary to carry further) amounts to this, that the rule must be assumed to hold, except where the nature of the subject makes it evident that two things or persons are spoken of, in which case the repetition of the article is not absolutely required. But this principle extends to the case of proper names, and of those words expressing titles and attributes which are approaching to the condition of proper names. The application of this remark to Eph. v. 5, and Tit. ii. 13, will be considered afterwards.p. 103-104

From the third part of the article.

f. In Tit. ii. 13, it has been thought important by some revisionists to alter the Authorized Version in conformity with “ Granville Sharp’s rule,” by reading “ of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ” for “ of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” King James’s translators have perhaps purposely left a passage ambiguous, respecting which there was a difference of opinion between Beza and Erasmus. Tyndale, following Erasmus, rendered “ of the mighty God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ;” and it is an indication of the haste with which their work was done that the Genevan translators, while following Beza’s version, “magni illius Dei ac Servatoris nostri, nempe Jesu Christi,” so far as to change “ the” to “that,” did not follow his interpretation by cancelling the second “of.”* Dean Alford has again returned to the interpretation of Erasmus, rendering “ of the great God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The chief question is whether the absence of the article before “Saviour” necessarily implies that the words “God” and “Saviour” both refer to one and the same subject, viz., Jesus Christ.


Seven Against Christ: A Study of 'Essays and Reviews' (1980)
By Ieuan Ellis

Contemporary Review p. 477

The chief passages in which the text or the translation of the New Testament has been affected by doctrinal tendencies may be viewed in the order in which the power of these influences has been most strongly felt, viz.: (1) Nicene or Athanasian conceptions; (2) Evangelical and Lutheran opinions; (3) Calvinism; (4) Rationalistic notions, though subsequent to the Authorized Version, deserve to be considered in connection with the subject of revision. p. 476

Lewis Campbell, who wrote on the revision of the English New Testament, dwelt on the doctrinal considerations which had altered the meaning of biblical texts in the period before the history of texts had become known. He admitted that the passages whose authority was thus weakened “represent the most direct Scriptural testimony, and perhaps three-fourths of the Scriptural testimony, to the Divinity of Christ and to and to the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity." p. 240 p 477 in Contemporary Review
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Steven Avery

Will it be said after this that the scholars of the sixteenth century were ignorant of the refinements of Greek grammar?

The footnote from p. 485 is very helpful on Erasmus and Beza:

Beza and Erasmus per Lewis Campbell.jpg

Will it be said after this that the scholars of the sixteenth century were ignorant of the refinements of Greek grammar?

This pic is posted for easy read for the CARM thread, where it is discussed at the:

Granville Sharp Rules thread in the Biblical Languages forum:

Pic captured as .jpg using WinSnap, Region, saved to disk and then brought inline in "full" mode (using editor, Images) .. png did not work for size.
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