Erasmus and the Reformation

Steven Avery


Erasmus and the Reformation
Sept 18, 2017

Acknowledging the Erasmus connection to Luther and the Reformation

This connection was easily understood by the Catholic hierarchy. And it helps to research Valladolid 1527. Lu Ann Homza is a good writer on this topic.


Religious Authority in the Spanish Renaissance (2000)
Lu Ann Homza

Scattered testimony shows that a theoretical link between Erasmus and Luther circulated in Spain much earlier and more consistently than historians have admitted. It was Diego Lopez de Zuniga, the polemicist commonly known as Stunica, who originally connected the two individuals in his first diatribe against Erasmus, published in 1520; he repeated the correlation in a letter to Vergara two years later.7 In 1522, an imperial courtier told Erasmus that his letters had worked a miracle in Charles V's retinue, for now no one believed he was or ever had been a Lutheran: apparently someone had presumed Erasmus’s sympathies for Luther at an earlier moment. Finally, when the representatives of the religious orders were allowed to respond to Manrique in 1527, they blasted the Inquisition for ignoring the Lutheran danger that Erasmus embodied. Stunica and his co-controversialist, Sancho Carranza de Miranda, were secular religious; Vergara, who had every reason to downplay antagonism to Erasmus in his letters, actually divulged widespread misgivings about him within the same epistles, and his comments were echoed by other witnesses. It seems that the Valladolid conference of 1527 occurred in a climate of deeper, more widespread disapproval toward Erasmus than we often realize. p. 51-52

The new "Erasmus was just an RCC" silliness is the shallow nonsense of James White and dozens of recent writers who simply are motivated by their antipathy against the TR and the AV. We should be realistic about Erasmus, but we can simply laugh at the current anti-Erasmus pretensions.

"Erasmus laid the egg that Luther hatched"
Steven Avery
Since I just ran into it tonight, here is Erasmus (in Latin) writing in defense of his position on the Trinity after the attacks at Valladolid:

Apologia aduersus articulos aliquot per monachos quosdam in Hispanijs, exhibitos (1528)

Page 17 and 27 are on the heavenly witnesses. Later, I will try to give more English language translation and context. However, I want to simply show you how fascinating is this inquiry.

This might be a 1540 edition of Erasmus that includes the above:

Omnia Opera: Qvaecvnqve Ipse Avtor Pro Svis Agnovit, Novem Tomis Distincta, .... Complectens Ipsius Apologias Adversus Eos Qui Illum Locis Aliquot, In suis libris, ... sunt calumniati, Volume 9
As for English material, a gentleman named Grantley McDonald in two books, Raising The Ghost of Arius is one, Biblical criticism in early modern Europe : Erasmus, the Johannine comma, and Trinitarian debate is the second, has given some of the Erasmus translation.Grantley McDonald is funny, because he always puts on his anti-heavenly-witnesses glasses. However, he did a decent job ferreting out some of the factual material.

Here McDonald is describing Erasmus from the 1528 material above:


Grantley McDonald: Raising the Ghost of Arius

In his Defence against certain Spanish monks (1528), Erasmus objected that the commissioners at Valladolid had deliberately used prejudicial language by asserting that he had argued against the Trinity. Such an accusation, he pointed out, could not fail to raise horror and indignation, especially amongst the unlettered majority who do not read beyond the headlines, and lack the judgment to understand what lies behind them. Erasmus then proceeds to give his opponents a lesson in legal procedure:

“The task of a legitimate inquisitor is first to recite verbatim the words which he considers to have some suspicion of impiety, and then briefly to state what is found to be offensive in them.”137

An accuser who immediately states his own opinion places himself under the obligation to prove what he has asserted. Furthermore, it is not the duty of a man accused to plead his own case simply because someone has made an accusation against him.
Erasmus deals with the first accusation swiftly and cleanly:

“As far as the first item in this calumny is concerned, I nowhere defend corrupted codices knowingly, but transmit to Latin ears in good faith what I find in the Greek manuscripts. As far as I am concerned, I leave the reading in the Vulgate untouched. In my annotation I indicate which reading I consider genuine, submitting my judgment to the church, which I have always done.”138

Erasmus responds next to the charge that he had argued against the Trinity. His denial of the authenticity of the comma could not be construed as an argument against the Trinity, for one simple reason. The fact that the comma was never cited by the Greek Fathers, even in their struggles against the Arians, is overwhelming evidence that the comma was not to be found in the text of the Epistle with which they were familiar. The issue he had called into question was not whether the Father, Son and Spirit are of the same essence, but merely which reading—that in the Latin Vulgate or that in the Greek— faithfully reflected the Apostle’s words. In his Paraphrases Erasmus had followed what was found in the Latin manuscripts; in the Annotationes he warned the reader which reading he found more convincing, basing his opinion on serious argumentation. Those who wish to know the details of his decision (he continues) may read his refutations of the criticisms of Lee, Stunica, the letter he wrote in defence of his reading at Jn 7:39 (published as an appendix to his 1527 edition of Chrysostom’s Martyrdom of Babyla), and his Annotationes, especially the most recent edition (1527).

However, Erasmus could not help touching upon at least some of his favourite arguments. If this passage was missing from the Latin and Greek
codices, he asks, from where did Jerome restore it? (The implicit answer to this rhetorical question is that Jerome invented the passage.) And if the comma was excised, who was responsible for this deed? The Arians? How could they corrupt all the codices of the orthodox? And besides, if the Arians had excised the comma from the bibles of their enemies, why would they not also erase other verses like Jn 10:30 (“the Father and I are one”) while they were at it? What is more, if the Arians could argue forcefully that Jn 10:30 referred to a unity of will, they could say the same thing about the comma. And if the codices of the orthodox included this reading, why did Athanasius, Didymus, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Cyril, Ambrose, Hilary and Augustine all fail to cite it against the Arians? “I do not know,” Erasmus sighed in resignation,

“what these people are getting at when they contend that this passage is necessary to prove that the three persons share the same nature.”139
If this were the only passage from which this principle could be shown, then what were all those Fathers doing who managed to make this point against the comma without the help of the comma?

“Heaven forbid that we should force such an important dogma of the Catholic church into such straits that it would simply crumble if anyone could show that this passage did not faithfully reflect the Apostle’s words.”140

If anyone should argue that Erasmus ought to have tried to avoid a scandal, he points out that he had no addressed his criticisms to the masses, but to scholars in their studies; he had no intention of making this issue public in the future unless forced to defend himself from slander.
p. 125-127 - the four footnotes simply give the Latin and the citation


So this can be a caution against simply saying that because Erasmus used the heavenly witnesses in the Paraphrase, or other places, that he was therefore convinced of authenticity.

On the other hand, there are some glaring weaknesses in the Erasmus argumentation, and in the McDonald spin ������.
However, my goal here is simply to help you have an acquaintance with the material.

Please take special note about the Jerome situation, it is truly amazing, since Erasmus essentially accused Jerome of adding the heavenly witnesses, (truly absurd) even though he normally praised Jerome!

One of the games of McDonald is omission. He never tells you about the evidences that could have or should have been adduced. A simple example is Cyprian.

You have to dig around to find the various hand-waves of McDonald to Cyprian, the Vulgate Prologue, the Council of Carthage, and the grammatical evidence that the short Greek is corrupted. Review coming? perhaps ������


And I will put in the url where Billy Ferrell was discussing some of the Erasmus uses, just the other day, which made me decide to look at this material in a bit more depth than I had previously.

to criticism by NOEL BEDA:
Yes, Erasmus believed in 1 John 5:7


Steven Avery

Erasmus and the Reformation era - "poor Erasmus"
The artificial nouveau attacking of an amazing scholar
May 14, 2016

Erasmus, the early Reformation era, the rcc, the Complutensian Polyglot and the Council of Trent
Dec 26, 2014


Mildly related, Cyprian, etc.

The Traditional Text

NT Textual Criticism

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