Erasmus - Valladolid inquistion inquiry

Steven Avery

Religious Authority in the Spanish Renaissance (2000)
Chapter 2 Erasmus and the New Testament
The Valladolid Conference of 1527
Lu Ann Homza

Valladolid is a little-known yet incredibly important conference that essentially put Erasmus, his books, his NT and beliefs on trial.

The same sort of intellectual convolutions emerge from an even larger pool of evidence collected in 1527, in the northern Castilian city of Valladolid. In the summer of that year, the Inquisition called some thirty-three of Iberia’s most prominent theologians to Valladolid, and asked them to assess dubious, potentially heterodox excerpts from Erasmus’s writings. The same clerics met and quarreled for more than two months, but never reached a collective decision on the problematic passages. In fact, they never even pondered all the material under review, for once plague struck the area in early August, Inquisitor General Manrique sent them home, and they never reconvened. Modern scholars have turned the 1527 Valladolid conference into a symbol whose meaning duplicates the scholarship on Vergara’s prosecution: here, too, is a contest between the forces of reaction and progress, with predictable stances and participants; the meeting itself is supposed to signify only a momentary glitch in the swelling Erasmian revolution.1 Yet the Valladolid deliberations are more important than the dominant historiography allows, for the Inquisition not only asked the theologians to debate orally, but to record their opinions as well. Most of the participants did as they were told, and wrote down their views on the excerpts from Erasmus’s books; most of their reflections are extant. These surviving materials by Spain’s clerical elite are priceless sources for questions about religious authority and the Spanish Renaissance.2 p. 49-50

...The Valladolid theologians adduced earlier and later sources, appealed to history as well as Church tradition, and advocated more or less hierarchy and tolerance in their relationships with each other and with the laity. They seldom adhered to a consistent position, and rarely accepted or rejected Erasmus’s ideas in an absolute fashion. Their declarations confirm for Spain what we already know for Italy: Erasmus by way of his own writings, and Erasmus by way of his readers’ responses, could amount to two very different phenomena.3 p. 50

... On April 24, 1527, Juan de Vergara explained the reasons for the conference to Erasmus himself. In a letter, Vergara relayed the tumult that had occurred once Erasmus’s Enchiridion militis christianis had been translated into Spanish and published in Alcala, sometime in 1524: “[The monks] began to shout continuously from the pulpits, the marketplaces, the shrines, the basilicas (for shouters of this sort are distributed everywhere), Erasmus is heretical, blasphemous, impious, sacrilegious. What more? More enemies to you suddenly arose from the vernacular translation of the book than from Cadmus’s sowing of the teeth.”4 p. 50

... the monks stopped their sermonizing, immediately set off to find the errors in Erasmus’s books, and became so involved in their task that they did not even have time to hear confessions during Holy Week. p. 50-51

... The head of the Dominicans, Garcia Loaysa y Mendoza, spurned even the Latin edition of the Enchiridion because it deprecated purgatory and refused (famously) to equate monasticism with piety.5
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Steven Avery

For now I am going to skip down to the parts about the heavenly witnesses:

Whoever they were, the creators of the Valladolid repertory were not straightforward as they culled material from Erasmus’s works: they frequently isolated quotations, misidentified prose, and wielded paraphrases in an effort to make their suspect look as wicked as possible. They might label a passage as to make their suspect look as wicked as possible.

...In one instance, they sliced a single paragraph into three different accusations, which they placed under three different topics: in the process they inverted the order in which the points had originally appeared.17 Such maneuvers erased the quotations’ surrounding language and obscured their meaning. One example of such obfuscation occurred with Erasmus’s statement, “I do not see that what the Arians deny is able to be taught except by a ratiocination.” Erasmus made that remark in his first response to Stunica, in the midst of an argument about ancient Arian heretics and 1 John 5:7; he proposed that the Arians’ denial of the Trinity’s unity of essence could not be overturned through that New Testament verse alone.18 By the time Erasmus’s comment appeared in the Valladolid anthology, it had lost its specific environment: “what” now implied that everything the Arians denied was undemonstrable by direct scriptural proofs.

... Finally, the collectors of the charges listed successive points as if they formed part of a common discourse, when they often had nothing to do with each other. Such an invention occurred in the first section of the inventory, which was devoted to offenses against the Trinity. Within that category, the first two passages came from Erasmus’s 1521 apology against Stunica, and relayed his doubts over the canonicity of 1 John 5:7 and its effectiveness against Arianism. p. 53-54

Then we get to the actual charges

The first accusation the theologians debated on June 27 was a familiar one: Erasmus’s treatment of the verse called the comma Johanneum, 1 John 5:7, which read: “There are three who bear witness in heaven, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” The comma was recognized as the major proof-text against the Arian heresy because it supported the Trinity’s unity of essence. Erasmus had had the nerve to omit it from both the Greek and Latin texts of his first two editions of the New Testament, dated 1516 and 1519: he had used Greek as the archetype for the Latin, and he did not find the line in any of the Greek manuscripts he consulted.24 Lee and Stunica rebuked him for the excision on the grounds that Lorenzo Valla had not contested the comma’s authenticity.25 Later, in his third apologia against Lee, Erasmus explained why he had omitted the verse, and noted that if any Greek manuscript had contained it, he would have included it. An Irish text quickly appeared with the comma added in the margin by a contemporary hand.26 Erasmus restored the line in subsequent editions of the New Testament, but the Valladolid censors still wrote that he attacked the verse relentlessly, defended corrupt manuscripts, and thereby protected and even pleaded the Arian cause.27 All twenty-nine theologians responded to these allegations about 1 John 5:7, and twenty-three explicitly professed a belief in the comma’s legitimacy, including Francisco de Castillo, a Salamancan Franciscan, who declared that “First, I believe that testimony of blessed John, ‘Tres sunt...,’ to be from the canon of sacred Scripture.” Still, a few delegates questioned exactly how inviolable the verse really was, and participants disagreed as to whether the comma’s sanctity was determined simply by papal and conciliar references to it. One contingent pointed out the papacy’s failure to define an authentic scriptural text, and argued that delegates should not proclaim the comma’s canonicity when the Church itself had not done so. Another group asserted that customary invocation of the verse was enough to prove its authenticity.28 The conflict reveals that at least some participants would concede the lack of a conclusive version of the Latin Bible; their recognition of that fact matches Vergara’s acknowledgment of the same point. But the majority did not entertain such explosive issues in their written responses; instead, they concentrated on the more obvious aspects of Erasmus’s alleged errors.

Erasmus’s treatment of the comma indicated that the Latin biblical text was amendable in light of the Greek, but most participants read the charge literally and refused to consider its ramifications. Eight delegates bluntly affirmed that Erasmus really could not find 1 John 5:7 in the Greek manuscripts he consulted, restored it when he did, and hence already had corrected his mistake. Lerma’s reaction was typical: “That he says that that triplicity of heavenly testimony was not found by him in a Greek manuscript, he amply demonstrates; and seeing that he does not omit that verse in his translation, it may be passed over.”29 Another approach was to go outside the charge in search of exculpatory material. Royal preacher Gil Lopez de Bejar, professor Antonio de Alcaraz, and the rector of the Spanish college at Bologna, Miguel Gomez, maintained that Erasmus expounded the comma brilliantly in his Paraphrase of 1 John: logically, that exposition proved that he accepted the comma as part of the canon. Gomez and Jacobo Cabrero, the Albanian bishop, even defended the omission with one of Erasmus’s own criteria for amending texts, for they pointed out that the comma was missing from the writings of the early church fathers, who surely would have used it in their polemics had it been available.30

But literality, extra evidence, and a lack of patristic testimony could not sway others who argued on the simple basis of Latin superiority, and contended that Erasmus should not have preferred Greek in the first place. Like Lee and Stunica before him, Juan de Quintana, who moved in imperial circles, stated that Erasmus’s Greek manuscripts were fallacious. Diogo de Gouvea, head of the Portuguese college at the University of Paris, insisted that the comma had to be legitimate because of the authenticity of the whole epistle of John; Erasmus should have remained silent until the right manuscript came along, and anyone who doubted the verse’s veracity was comparable to “a burned-up heretic.”31 In all, fifteen out of twenty-nine delegates saw only Erasmus’s fault in expurgating the line, and refused to allow any circumstances to mitigate the omission. His reason for restoring the comma in 1522 did not make them any happier. While numerous participants felt that Erasmus should be exonerated because he eventually returned 1 John 5:7 to the New Testament, for others the reinstatement just deepened suspicions about his orthodoxy. In the Annotations on his New Testament translations, Erasmus wrote that he finally included the comma to avoid slander: ten theologians thus decided that his decisions about the verse signified more than just a philological quandary. Cordoba summed up their position by noting that Erasmus “openly implies that he added that testimony because he finds it written, not because he thus believed it or felt it must be believed.”32 Francisco de Vitoria, the famous commentator on Aquinas and controversialist on native Americans, claimed that Erasmus’s rationale left the reader doubtful, and therefore must be removed or revised. Even Lopez de Bejar, who seemed to understand Erasmus’s interest in Greek, wished he would bow to majority opinion and declare the comma’s rightful inclusion in canonical Scripture.33

Then to Romans 9:5 and other verses and issues. Then on p. 61:

A significant number of the respondents displayed some flexibility toward Erasmus’s annotations and alterations of scriptural language, particularly when the changes could be discovered in recognized sources. But the assembly as a whole was less amenable to the straightforward remarks that Erasmus could make about saints, in particular about Jerome, the traditional translator of the Latin Vulgate. The Spaniards’ charge had an elaborate history. In the first polemic that Stunica launched against Erasmus, he attacked his omission of the comma Johanneum, noted Jerome’s inclusion of the verse in the Vulgate, and pronounced Erasmus’s Greek manuscripts fallacious. In reply, Erasmus tried to turn evidence about Jerome against his adversary: he retorted that Jerome really doubted the authenticity of 1 John 5:7, actually trusted Greek manuscripts, and ultimately altered the common reading of the Church by allowing the comma to stand.41 Both men tried to use Jerome’s status for their own ends, but in the process Erasmus also observed that that church father was reckless, imprudent, and inconsistent. The Spanish architects of the repertory deliberately entwined his description into their complaint about the comma itself. I have italicized the relevant phrases:

Erasmus in the Annotations of 1 John 5 defends corrupt manuscripts, rants and raves against the blessed Jerome, pleads and even defends the Arian cause. And for instance that passage, “There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these three are one,” he attacks with a relentless war, he spits out all judgments, he even piles up frivolous reasons to the contrary, he attacks the divine Jerome with these words: “Although that man, namely Jerome, very often is impetuous, too little prudent, often changeable and seldom constant to himself.’42

When the theologians perused the charges, they simultaneously saw that Erasmus had emended Jerome’s text and abused him personally.

The twenty-five respondents as a body censured Erasmus’s affront to Jerome’s dignity, although some also tried to exonerate him by interpreting the charge literally and refusing to consider its implications. Accordingly, a few wondered if his depiction of Jerome were true, although they went on to deplore it. Miguel Carrasco, theology professor at Alcala and client of Juan de Vergara, left it to others to decide whether Erasmus’s characterization of Jerome fit, but recognized that Erasmus himself had behaved in an uncivil, impudent, and brash fashion. Guevara could believe that Jerome was rather fickle, but asserted that Erasmus still spoke impertinently. Lopez de Bejar daringly claimed that Erasmus’s remark was apt even if its terms were inappropriate.43 Seven others worried less about the justice of Erasmus’s statements and concentrated instead on his insolence, which they found infuriating. The most vehement reaction came from Gouvea, who envisioned Erasmus as ruining the status of preachers and sermons through his comments on holy people and texts. He fumed, “What authority will preachers of the Word of God have in the pulpit, if they cite Jerome’s testimony in sermons? What steadfastness in these things that Jerome translated, if the statements of his translation are produced against heretics?”44 Even those who tried to excuse Erasmus’s remarks on grounds of pertinence, accuracy, and context clearly regretted them: Coronel conceded that he personally never would have written such words about Jerome, for they plainly displayed irreverence.45

The Valladolid repertory suggested that Erasmus had weakened the New Testament’s authority by altering and criticizing its text and its translator. It also charged that he denigrated the Bible and Catholic doctrine when he proposed that certain dogmas were deduced from Scripture rather than expressed in its narratives. In several publications Erasmus observed that “only the Father was called true God in the Gospel,” and that remark provoked some of the hottest debate at the conference.46 Much of the argument revolved around what Erasmus meant by the expression: the Spaniards tried to determine whether he was thinking of “true God” as the literal denomination verns Deus, or whether he wanted the clause to encompass deductions as well; they disagreed over whether Erasmus expected “Gospel” to include just the first four books of the New Testament, or all of it.


Now to p. 69

The delegates’ reactions to Erasmus’s hermeneutics were complex. Ten out of twenty-nine linked his omission of the comma Johanneum to its absence in Greek manuscripts, and hence seemed to recognize Greek sources as the proper originals for the Latin New Testament. Nevertheless, if those delegates accepted the comma’s deletion on the basis of seven Greek codices, they also condoned its restoration on the strength of a single manuscript and expressed relief at its reinstatement. Only Gomez and Cabrero enunciated the reasons behind Erasmus’s expurgation; Cabrero alone maintained that Erasmus would still be justified in removing the verse because the evidence for it rested on a unique source. Just two more repeated Erasmus’s own comment that he had been acting as a translator, not a dogmatist, and had worked as the manuscripts dictated.71 The delegates exhibited no greater willingness or ability to pursue the matter further.

Such familiarity with Erasmus’s opera allowed the delegates to point out, as they frequently did, that they were being asked to judge material taken out of context. But nearly all declined to express their agreement with Erasmus’s methods in any but the most limited terms. No one proposed to weigh the relative merits of the sources involved. No one revealed any theoretical understanding of the relationship between Greek and Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, or suggested that the comma Johanneum only appeared either in the margins of Greek manuscripts, or in late redactions of the same. In fact, even Erasmus’s reputed supporters finally preferred to maintain the Vulgate rather than modify it according to its original languages: their loyalties paralleled those of the New Testament editors on the Complutensian Polyglot Bible, who have been called “extremely conservative philologists.”72 When the Valladolid Erasmians had to choose, they finally sided with tradition over evaluation. p. 70

In his biblical commentaries, Jerome relied upon different texts than the ones he supposedly translated; he questioned the authenticity of the comma Johanneum in one gloss, but included it in his alleged version of the New Testament. If early modern Europeans really considered such contradictions, they eventually might wonder whether their customary Latin Bible really came fromjerome in the first place; although Erasmus had asked the question numerous times, the point never was raised at Valladolid.73 ... p. 71

The footnotes are good, but can't go in right now. Lu Ann Homza is a little weak on a couple of factual points, but generally it is a superb article.

The two biggest factual corrections look to be the Brittanica ms. having the verse in the margin, and misplaying the Jerome and Vulgate info.

Also I would really like to know if Cyprian and other evidences were mentioned.


Some informative footnotes, I hope to add some more to the body before the heavenly witnesses part. #25 is funny, in a sense. More are planned to be entered, like the Latin of 27, 28, 42. I've included one or two that are general doctrinal.

17. The example comes from the Modus orandi Deum: the monks extracted three statements from a single section and put them under accusatory categories on the Trinity, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Compare Desiderius Erasmus, Modus orandi Deum, ed. J. N. Bakhuizen van den Brink, Opera omnia, vol. 5, part 1 (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1977), 144-46, with accusation 3 under “Against the sacrosanct Trinity”; accusation 1 under “Against the divinity of Christ”; and accusation 2 under “Against the divinity of the Holy Spirit,” in Beltran, Cartulario, 18,21.

24. The verse occurs in almost all the Latin manuscripts ot the period, but in only four Greek ones. Bentley, Humanists and Holy Writ, 44, and Erika Rummel, Erasmus’s Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 132-33.

25. Since Erasmus had published Valla’s Adnotationes on the New Testament in 1505, his removal of the comma from his own work in 1516 and 1519 seemed to contravene one of his favorite authorities, for Valla himself had not performed the same excision; Bentley, Humanists and Holy Writ, 95. Lee and Stunica claimed that Erasmus’s Greek manuscripts were corrupt, and from the standpoint of modern scholarship they were correct: Erasmus employed Greek manuscripts from the Byzantine Church, which embodied a separate, late, and inferior process of transmission. As a result, the Old Latin version that Stunica championed was more reliable than the Greek that Erasmus used as a model and translated in 1519, but since Stunica did not know that, he deserves no credit for it. See de Jonge’s introduction to Erasmus’s Apologia against Stunica, 19-20.

26. H. J. dejonge, “Erasmus and the comma Johanneum,” Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 56 (1980): 381-89.

49. He had written “Perhaps one could suppose that [denoting Jesus as God] was seldom done by the respectful apostles, lest the ordinary ears of certain persons of that age not endure the name of God to be assigned to man; and thus it happens that those persons sooner recoil from evangelical doctrine than begin to learn the mysteries of the Gospel. In these circumstances, Christ first ordered his disciples to preach repentance, and to be silent about Christ” (“Fortasse suspicari poterat aliquis hoc parcius fuisse factum ab apostolis verentibus, ne id temporis quorundam aures profanae non ferrent homini tribui Dei vocabulum, fieretque ut prius resilirent ab evangelica doctrina quam coepissent evangelii mysteria discere. Sic primum Christus suis mandavit, ut penitentiam praedicarent, de Christo tacerent”). Apologia, ed. de Jonge, 124.

76. Erasmus had told Stunica that he was not forced to apply 1 John 5:20 to Jesus; Apologia, ed. de Jonge, 128. But Quintana asserted, “that opinion of 1 John 5 is actually recounted about the gist of this authority [John 17:3], since it is his exposition, and the gospel and the letter were brought forth by the same apostle and evangelist” (“ilia auctoritas primae Joannis 5 jam allegata est de corpore huius auctoritatis, cum sit eius expositio, et evangelium et epistola edita sunt ab eodem apostolo et evangelista”); Beltran de Heredia, ibid., 96. For Cordoba’s exegetical gymnastics, ibid., 56.

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Steven Avery

Erika Rummel on Valladolid

Erasmus and Valladolid

The Valladolid Conference of 1527

Confusion, suspicion, and irritation soon led to a period of outright confrontation between Erasmus and the Spanish monastic orders. In the early months of 1527 Pope Clement VII instructed the Inquisitor General, Alonso Manrique, to undertake a formal investigation of Erasmus’ writings. Representatives from the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Benedictines were required by Manrique to report “on whether there was something wrong or dangerous in Erasmus' works.”45 Alongside scholars from the universities of Salamanca, Alcala, and Valladolid they were subsequently summoned to a conference in Valladolid, which was to determine the orthodoxy of Erasmus’ views. Erasmus was informed shortly afterwards by his Spanish followers of the propositions presented to Manrique. On 13 March the Valencian Pere Joan Oliver (Pedro Juan Olivar in Spanish) wrote to him enclosing the articles of the churchmen who were to assemble at Valladolid.16 Preparations for the conference were already underway in late April 1527, as reported by Juan Vergara.

With great solemnity the assembly of theologians finally opened on 27 June. Detailed minutes of the meetings were kept by the secretary' Juan Garcia. Until 13 August, when the plague forced Manrique to adjourn the meetings, it convened three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The number of theologians present at the conference oscillated between twenty-seven and thirty. Opinion about Erasmus’ orthodoxy among them was divided almost equally, and delegates tended to vote according to their religious or academic affiliation.48 On the whole Dominicans and Franciscans pronounced against Erasmus, while the other orders displayed benevolence towards him. Among the theologians of Alcala, the Aragonese Pedro Sanchez Ciruelo was the only one to declare his opposition to Erasmus. In so doing he aligned himself with the Salamancan group of representatives. With important exceptions such as Antonio de Alcaraz, professor of Philosophy, and of Alonso Enriquez, warden of the University and nephew of the admiral of Castile, delegates from Valladolid were passionately anti-Erasmian. in a long letter to Erasmus.47

Only four of the twenty-two propositions subject to the inquisitorial investigation were dealt with at Valladolid. The conference progressed in such slow manner because the delegates—men trained in the scholastic tradition insisted on reviewing time and again the same texts from different angles. In addition, rather than setting the passages under dispute in a wider context and relating them to other Erasmian writings, the theologians deliberately preferred to focus on isolated phrases and words. The failure to move the discussions forward and to reach a verdict was in the end a consequence of the method and the background of die delegates involved, irrespective of their pro- or anti-Erasmian leaning." Opinions within the conference ranged from those dictated by outright condemnation of Erasmus’ thought or by concern about the terminology he employed, to those which reflected praise for his scholarship and writings. All in all, at least fourteen votes openly favourable to Erasmus were recorded by .Alfonso de Valdes.50

The outbreak of plague notwithstanding, we are well informed about the contents of the articles that were never discussed from Erasmus’ own apology. Had the meetings not been discontinued, the delegates would have voted on Erasmus’ pronouncements on points such its papal authority, the sacraments, the authority of the Church Fathers, ceremonies, veneration of saints, and indulgences, among others. The only four items that were actually discussed were Erasmus’ statements on the Trinity, the divine nature of Christ, the divine nature of the Holy Ghost, and the power of the inquisition. For each individual proposition the theologians gathered suspect passages mainly drawn from Erasmus’ Annotations, but also from the Paraphrases, the Enchiridion and the Colloquia. In some cases they even submitted entire works. As an example, the colloquy Inquisitio de fide was presented by Erasmus’ critics as proof of his unorthodox views concerning the punishment of heretics. Invoking Saint Paul’s old adage “Bad conversation corrupts morals” (Corrumpunt bonos mores colloquia prava), they adduced the irreverent contents of the Inquisitio de fide to condemn the Colloquies as a whole.51

A brief examination of the proceedings regarding the first two propositions will give us an insight into the arguments and methods employed by the delegates. The first article, entitled Contra sacrosanctam Trinitatem, invited delegates to comment on Erasmus’ assertions concerning the Trinity. On this particular point, the theologians accused Erasmus of relying on corrupt manuscripts and of attempting to undermine the authority of Jerome. They also saw in him a supporter of Arianism. Such serious charges stemmed from Erasmus’ omission of the so called ‘Johannine comma” in the first of the epistles of St John (1 John 5:7), a verse which runs: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Floly Ghost: and these three are one.” Although the passage occurred in Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible, it was not extant in most Greek manuscripts. Invoking the testimony of codex Vaticanus B, in which the verse was also missing, Erasmus—as the Court chaplain Fray Gil López pointed out—had rightly excluded it from his first edition of the New Testament.Conversely, in their defence of what they thought to be Jerome’s version scholars in the anti-Erasmian camp resorted to the authority of the canon and therefore deemed as corrupt all those manuscripts on which Erasmus’ exclusion of the Johannine testimony was based. As an example, in his report the Portuguese Diogo de Gouvca, a graduate of Paris, boldly drew on the testimonies employed by the editors of the Complutensian Polyglot, who had gone so far as to add the Latin passage in translation to the Greek text.52 At Valladolid the controversy concerning the “Johannine comma” went, however, well beyond the confines of textual criticism. Enraged by Erasmus’ attitude towards Jerome, Gouvca also felt entitled to comment cynically on Erasmus’ morals during his time in Paris.

The second proposition (Contra divinitatem, dignitatem etgloriam) referred to those passages in which Erasmus—so the friars claimed—had cast doubt on the divinity of Christ. The delegates were not overtly troubled by Erasmus’ daring innovations in terminology, even if these included key terms such as hypocrisis (Rom. 8:3) or sermo (a change from verbum at John 1:1). Their main concern lay, instead, with Christ’s appellatio, an issue which united defenders and critics of Erasmus alike. Both sides criticized what they perceived as deliberate ambiguity on Erasmus’ part, when he spoke of Christ “being called” God. This was clearly an assertion bordering on Arianism. Once again, in accusing Erasmus of heresy, the delegates were resorting to their usual tactics of paraphrasing rather than quoting, and of corrupting the meaning of some of Erasmus’ statements.33

Aware of the political tensions that an anti-Erasmian verdict could ignite, only two weeks after articles three and four had been discussed, Alonso Manrique resolved to acljourn the meetings at Valladolid without a formal conclusion. This was rapidly interpreted by the pro-Erasmian side as a cessation of hostilities and as victory for their arguments. The battle however continued and the two camps involved used the short truce ensuing the dispute to strengthen their cases. While the religious orders began to disseminate the findings of the conference informally, ardent admirers of Erasmus such as Diego Osorio demanded a public apology from the Inquisitorial Council.

More in before and after, but this is the Conference section.
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Steven Avery

Valladolid scholarship

Beltran de Heredia, Vicente. 1970-1973. Cartulario de la universidadde Salamanca.
6 vols. Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca.

Scholars on Valladolid who can be contacted

Asso, Cecilia -
Bloemendal, Jan - (b. 1961) (wrote with Henk Nellen)
Coroleu, Alejandro -
Homza, Lu Ann -
Krans, Jan -
McDonald, Grantley
Nellen, Henk - (b. 1949)
Rummel, Erika
Tsalampoun, Ekaterini G. (blog post, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
Tracy, James D. -
Whitford, David - Baylor University -
Add additional writings from Grantley, check for new material
"The Johannine Comma from Erasmus to Westminster"

The Bible Translator
Erasmus and the Johannine Comma (I John 5.7-8)
Summary of Lu Ann Homza sources, building on searches, and Grantley bibliography.

“Erasmus as Hero, or Heretic? Spanish Humanism and the Valladolid Assembly of 1527.” RQ50 (1997): 78-118. Renaissance Quarterly 50
Lu Ann Homza

Religious Authority in the Spanish Renaissance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000. (Valladolid is p. 49-76) (snippet mode)

Extract on blog post of:
Ekaterini G. Tsalampoun - July, 2010
Εrasmus, the Comma Johanneum & the "Arian heresy"
Ο Έρασμος, το Κόμμα Ιωάννου & η "Αρειανική αίρεση"
Scriptural Authority and Biblical Criticism in the Dutch Golden Age: God's Word Questioned
Henk Nellen - Dirk Van Miert, Piet Steenbakkers, Jetze Touber
Jans Krans and more

"The Johannine Comma from Erasmus to Westminster"
Grantley McDonald


Erasmus’s Biblical Project in: Church History and Religious Culture Volume 96 Issue 4
Henk Nellen and Jan Bloemendal

Yielding to the Prejudices of His Times
Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum
Whitford, David M.

the divinity of the Son and so their presence their would be expected. - typo p. 28 (check/add italics, footnotes)

p. 29
Thus, on the title page, Erasmus placed two of the most significant defenders of Trinitarian orthodoxy among his library of sources. More specifically, they were two of the most vigorous foes of Arianism. The first new reference to Athanasius and Gregory appear in John 1. Erasmus always believed that John 1 and not ljohn 5 was the strongest biblical defense of the divinity of the Son and so their presence their would be expected. Ironically, however, the reference to Athanasius does not refer to the divinity of Son but to the divinity of the Holy Spirit18 Gregory of Nazianzus was used to defend the distinction of the Son and Holy Spirit from the Father, thus refuting the heresy of Modalism.19 In all, Erasmus added just six references to Athanasius and only two to Gregory.20 Athanasius and Gregory, thus, are not truly significant sources for either the text or the annotations. Their presence on the title page was not meant to indicate the degree to which they were used in later in the work. Their presence on the cover page was rhetorical. They signal the work's orthodoxy.


p. 29
In 1516, the verso side of the title page was a brief prefatory letter from Johann Froben. In 1519, this letter (in revised form) was moved to the very end of the book. In its place was a letter of endorsement from Pope Leo X. Erasmus worked especially hard to secure the endorsement and was truly appreciative when he [p. 32] received it.22 The endorsement is very brief, but is deeply apropos to the controversy in which Erasmus found himself. Leo writes, “We derived great pleasure from the studies on the New Testament which you published some time ago, not so much because they were dedicated to us as for the new and exceptional learning by which they were distinguished and which earned them a chorus of praise from the world of scholars. The news that you had lately revised them, and enriched and clarified them by the addition of numerous annotations, gave us no little satisfaction; for we inferred from the first edition, which used to seem a most finished performance, what this new on would be, and how much it would benefit all who have at heart the progress of theology and our orthodox faith."23 Woodcuts by Ambrosius Hoibein frame the letter. The bottom woodcut to Leo's letter is especially important and provides a visual cue that would have been immediately recognizable to all sixteenth century humanists—The Calumny of Apelles.


p. 34
In 1519 and 1520, Erasmus gave no signals that he planned to mediate his position on the Comma. In fact, the opposite is quite the case. He penned a harsh and contrary to the title a rather biting response to Edward Lee in 1520. He denied any wrongdoing, asserted that Lee slandered him by calling into question his integrity and by implication orthodoxy, and stood firm on the work
that he had done.26 At nearly the same time as he was involved in penning the response to Lee, Zúñiga's treatise against Erasmus arrived in Basel. Zúñiga, like Lee, criticized Erasmus’s text and also focused in on the exclusion of the Johannine Comma. As all of this was happening, Lee did not remain idle and seems to have put a younger Cambridge colleague to work manufacturing a new Greek codice that included the Comma. ...
... and refused to recant his theological positions. As he left the hall on 18 April, Luther had every expectation that those steps would be his last free steps. He even uttered, as he left the room, “it is over for me." Aleander, who was present for Luther’s appearance before the emperor and wrote to Rome that, “Erasmus is the source of all this [meaning Luther’s] heresy, by which he subverts all of Flanders and the Rhine."34 Luther, who was surprisingly allowed to leave the diet, then disappeared. Many feared he had been captured by imperial forces or was dead. As the diet ended, Charles V issued a sweeping condemnation of Luther and pledged himself to the eradication of Luther's heresy.35 To those opposed to Erasmus who might have been hesitant to condemn him because of his connection to the emperor, Charles’ Edict of Worms would have made clear that opposition to Luther was probably more important to the emperor than loyalty to a former teacher.

In May, Erasmus confessed in a letter to a colleague in Basel that he was being drawn more tightly into the Luther Affair, "... they think everyone belongs to Luther’s party who supports the gospel philosophy or the humanities. 1 am their target: in all their sermons, at the dinner-table and in conversation they rain scandals on me like a shower of stones, until Stephen [the first Christian martyr, whose stoning is recorded in Acts] must look to his laurels. He was overcome one and for all and found release from his sufferings; but 1 am pelted without ceasing by so many swarms of ruffians ..."36 A month later, he wrote an open letter to the theology faculty at Louvain in which he attempted to distance himself from Luther.37 At this point, his denials of support for Luther had the definite ring of truth to them. He had recently read Luther’s famous 1520 treatises and while he supported Luther's thoughts in the more irenic Freedom [p. 38] of a Christian, he was appalled at what he saw in The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,38 Despite his rather public denunciation of Luther’s writings, Erasmus was still unable to shake off the belief that he had forged the way for Luther’s heresy.

This is a very helpful summary of the Erasmus-Luther connections, and non-connections.

[p. 39]
4 Conclusion


.. Erasmus, too, often used psuedopigraphy when he sought to condemn something without bringing too much attention to himself. For example, he never claimed responsibility for Julius Excluded. Anonymity, however, was not possible regarding the Greek New Testament At first, Erasmus reassured his colleagues that all would be well. That once they saw what a calm [p.40] and considered job he had done, none would find fault with his work. When that turned out to not be the case, he attempted to mitigate against their accusations by asserting his bible’s orthodoxy. All that changed, however, in 1521. In 1521, the location, nay the very life of Luther, remained greatly in question. The emperor, in his Edict of Worms, made quite clear that he would have no truck with heresy in any of its forms. The explosive clash between Erasmus and Luther that so colors their relationship in history, lay four years into the future. 1521, in other words, was not a year in which it was particularly helpful to be identified with Martin Luther and perhaps even less so to be identified with Luther and heterodoxy concerning the Trinity. The text was inserted in 1522 together with a long justification claiming that he did it while not really surrendering his honor. In the end, however, Gibbon has it nearly right. The costs of fighting over a text he believed accurately described the nature of God, even while he knew it was a late Latin insertion into the Bible, were simply too high. To have people insinuate that one was a closet Arian or one somehow aided Arianism was markedly different in 1521 than it was in 1519 and 1520. Thus, he yielded to the pressures of his times. He inserted the text not out of nobility, in honoring a pledge, nor to just preserve the marketability of the work, but for a perhaps much more mundane reason, yet no less important reason,—to save his own skin

As Thomas Smith points out, Erasmus was keeping the Cyprian reference under wraps, and he likely noticed that at the same time, c. 1520,
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Steven Avery

Cyprian and special references in Heredia book

Special Refs - Cyprian
Masculine or neuter

searching Cypriani and Cyprianus - (with pages available)

21 - interesting Holy Spirit divinity - not verse
65 - looks minor
78 - Romans 5, 1 John 5, an omission in Cyprian book, needs study
102 - interesting but not verse

Also p. 36 - with Jerome
Quod illud testimonium: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in caelo etc., sit de veritate textus illius canonicae Joannis et de ejus integritate, ita ut asserens illud non ita esse, sit haereticus, multo minus dubitans, non approbo, cum nihil de hoc Ecclesia determinaverit, ncc est justum ut ubi ipsa non determinavit nos determinare velimus Nec sufficit illud allegatum fuisse a summo pontifice vel a consilio (sic) aliud tunc agentibus, quia non omnia quae allegantur ab eis, approbantur statim quantum ad locum ut non liceat sentire contrarium de loco, quamvis in se sint vera et ab omnibus credenda si allegentur ut vera et credenda Et ita super hoc contendere est praebere materiam indignationis Erasmo et cum eo innumeris aliis doctissimis christianis Erasmus nec in hoc errat quantum ad intellectum, nec est pertinax quantum ad affectum

Erasmus non defensat corruptos codices, sed eos emendat, nec tenebatur reputare graecos codices quos habuit fuisse corruptos. Primum constat evidentissime ex correctione Novi testamenti et operum Hieronymi, Cypriani, etc Secundum patet, quia illi codices sibi fuerant oblati ex diversis religiosorum bibliothecis et ex bibliotheca summi pontificis, ubi .corruptos codices evangeliorum et apostolicarum lectionum haberi non est praesumendum.

Erasmus in illis verbis ad Stunicam dictis contra Hieronymum inciviliter se habuit, sed non est lapsus dignus ut ponatur sub titulo illo Contra sacrosanctam Dei Trinitatem; nec est amplius in hoc irritandus Erasmus, ne expendens locum fortassis probet ampliora iis quae dixit

and more

Erasmus says first comes correcting the NT, Jerome and Cyprian.

Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament: from philologist to theologian (1986)
Even though Erasmus revised the note on Matthew 11 in 1522 (adding Cyprian to the list of patristic authorities on the meaning of chreston), he left the tirade against the strict observance of human institutions unchanged, having acknowledged that he had digressed p. 151
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Steven Avery

Erasmus on MADR

The New Testament Scholarship of Erasmus: An Introduction with Erasmus' Prefaces and Ancillary Writings (2019)
edited by Robert Dick Sider (b. 1932)

Two of the long notes of 1519 make an exceptionally sustained and powerful appeal for reform. In the annotation on Matthew 11:30 (iugum meum suave) a single sentence in 1516 had explained the Greek χρηστός as 'easy' 'agreeable' - 'my yoke is easy.' In 1519 Erasmus turned to a lengthy expose of contemporary Christianity: the unencumbered teaching of Christ has become cumbersome, perplexing, and gloomy. Theologians define 'articles,' clergy impose regulations - for fasting, for holy days, for vows, for confession - all destructive. As Augustine said of his generation, the Christian is more oppressed with regulations than the Jew. Preachers heed the powerful; bishops, once expected to comfort and console, have become tyrants. Erasmus calls for a General Council, but adds that there is no hope unless Christ himself reverses the situation and arouses the hearts of princes and prelates to follow true piety. In what is by far the longest annotation in the 1519 edition (it extends over ten pages) Erasmus argues the case for permitting divorce and remarriage in certain situations, an annotation he himself says amounts to a little book. Erasmus had stated his position briefly in 1516 in an annotation on Matthew 19:8 (ad duricieni cordis). His position was unquestionably controversial 371 and Erasmus clearly determined to articulate it with much greater force in 1519. Consequently, for the second edition he revised the annotations on Matthew 19:1-9, adding a substantial note on Matthew 19:3 (quaecumque ex causa) that anticipates the ten-page annotation on 1 Corinthians 7:39 (liberata est a lege, cui autem vult, nubat). In this latter annotation Erasmus undertakes to remove the objections habitually raised to granting divorce, and to show by an elaborate exposition of biblical texts the grounds for granting in some circumstances both divorce and remarriage.572

57i Cf Ep 1006:186-216, 280-321 (11 August 1519), where Erasmus responded to a critic of his 1516 annotation on Matt 19:8. The critic was Jacob of Hoogstraten, inquisitor for the archbishoprics of Cologne, Mainz, and Trier, who articulated his criticism in his book Destructio cabalae, published in April 1519. Many years later the annotation on 1 Cor 7:39 was attacked in a book by Johann Dietenberger, to which Erasmus replied in Responsio ad disputationem de divortio, for which see CWE 83 152-77.

Controversies (1997)
edited by Guy Bedouelle (1940-2012)


edited by Guy Bedouelle



p. xxxiii

(Introduction - to be added)

The opponent, Johann Dietenberger (c 1475-1537), a German Dominican and friend of Johannes Cochlaeus, was just beginning to teach at Mainz in that same year. 133


A supplement in the form of a sixteenth chapter is a special (specialis), brief treatise on divorce which attacks Erasmus' interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:39. This addition is dedicated to Valentin von Tetleben, coadjutor of Albert of Brandenburg, the archbishop of Mainz, for whom Tetleben acted as vicar in spiritualibus in 1532. Tetleben was to become bishop of Hildesheim in 1537, a date which corresponds with that of Dietenberger's death.

Just as Erasmus, adhering to the convention of the time, follows the order of the objections raised by his opponent, so shall we here examine Erasmus' response to Dietenberger point by point.

Addressing himself to a doctor in canon and civil law like Tetleben, Erasmus informs him that he has read the treatise on divorce written by a certain Phimostomus. It seemed to him that this text was not without merit, although the style of it may have been a bit hard on the 'Scripturalists.' After all, other theologians hardly even mention Scripture or, worse still, they apply philosophical criteria to it.

(Two more pages online, I plan to bring them over)

133 Hermann Wedewer Johannes Dietenberger (1475-1537), Sein Leben und Wirkett (Freiburg im Breisgau 1888; repr Nieuwkoop 1967); Nikolaus Paulus Die
deutschen Dominikaner im Kampfegegen Luther (1518-1563) (Freiburg im Breisgau 1903]186-9
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Steven Avery

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy
Peter van Kleeck vs. James White

James White likes to mention that Erasmus was a good Catholic.

Stuff that James White omits 🙂.

The Erasmus books were put on the Index of Forbidden Books at Trent. His In Praise of Folly was a scathing satire, and there was another one about a Pope coming up to the heavenly gates, Julius Excluded from Heaven, which was likely Erasmus.

In 1927 Erasmus was brought up on inquisition style charges at Valladolid.

Taking from Grantley Robert McDonald's book, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern England, (an example of where Grantley really was on his game) the charges included:


"In the summer of 1527, the Spanish Inquisition, acting on instructions from Clement VII, called a conference of theologians at Valladolid to examine the orthodoxy of Erasmus’ theological writings. A preliminary list of charges accused Erasmus

of attacking the Trinity;
the divinity, dignity and glory of Christ;
the divinity of the Holy Spirit;
the Inquisition;
the seven sacraments;
the authority of the Scriptures;
the power of the church, councils and orthodox fathers;
the honour of Mary;
the authority of pope and council alike;
the ceremonies of the church;
the custom of fasting and refraining from certain foods;
scholastic theology;
veneration of the saints, relics and images;
the right of the church in temporal affairs;
free will;
and the torments of hell.94

94 Madrid, Archivo Historico Nacional, Sección de la Inquisición Legajo 4426, nº 27, ed. in Beltrán de Heredia 1970–1973, 6:16–120, from which all citations here are made. A facsimile of the accusations, but not the responses, is in Avilés 1980, 17–50. I made particular use of the commentary in Avilés 1980, 72–83; Gilly 1985, 283–284; Rummel 1989, 2:81–105; and Homza 1997, esp. 86–93, 111.


The books are in the Bibliography,


Under the rubric that Erasmus had argued ‘against the sacrosanct Trinity of God’ was the more specific accusation that ‘Erasmus, in his Annotationes on 1 Jn 5, continually defends corrupt manuscripts, rages against St Jerome, and argues the case of the Arians, setting up defences for them.’ Erasmus had allegedly attacked the comma ‘with inexorable warfare’, had rejected all evidence in favour of its authenticity, and had dared to call Jerome ‘violent on many occasions, shameless, often changeable, and self-contradictory’.