Jan Krans on Erasmus and Vaticanus - did Erasmus see the ms. in Rome c. 1507-1508 at the Vatican Library?

Steven Avery

Erasmus and Codex Vaticanus (2020)
Jan Krans


No discussion of whether Erasmus knew of, or saw, the ms. when in Rome c. 1508.
When he lived with Bombace and Aldus!

Overall, the idea from Krans that Erasmus did not know of Vaticanus is very dubious.


"heated if infelicitous discussion on the so-called “Comma Johanneum."

Spoken like a real textcrit dupe.

The Comma Johanneum is an interpolation in 1 John 5:7, probably a third-century homilet-ical expansion on the “three witnesses” mentioned in the text. It entered the transmission of the Latin Vulgate relatively early, but remained absent from the Greek manuscripts until very late. Erasmus included the Comma in his third edition of 1522, mainly in order to thwart accusations of heresy. See Henk Jan de Jonge, “Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum,” ETL 56 (1980): 381–89.

Typical nonsense.


Earlier Vaticanus Dupes

Granville Penn (Annotations to the Book of the New Covenant: With an Expository Preface [London: Duncan, 1837]
Jan Hendrik Holwerda (see now especially Bart L.F. Kamphuis, New Testament Conjectural Emendation in the Nineteenth Century


the dissemination of information about and of the vastly changing opinions on Codex Vaticanus from Erasmus’ time until today is one of the desiderata of New Testament textual scholarship.

Yes, and it should highlight those who knew it was a junk ms. Especially c. 1850-60.


Krans adds Valladolid - good!

1 Corinthians 15:51


The agreement of Codex Vaticanus with the Vulgate is presented as a hall-mark of its quality.

Krans hides the fact that Vaticanus and the Vulgate have huge differences.


Since in general he did not trust the Vatican manuscript, he used the information only sparingly, and invariably with critical distance.



Mark 1:2

Luke 10:1
Luke 10:17

Luke 23:46

Acts 27:16






Erasmus switches to a Complutensian Polyglot defence, then returns:

On the “Bulla aurea." he discloses his source of information, namely Cuthbert Tunstall,97 and more or less withdraws the idea of a systematic and organised correction of Greek manuscripts. Nevertheless, he remains hesitant to accept Greek manuscripts that closely agree with the Vulgate:

I have not seen the Golden Bull myself. Cuthbert, bishop of Durham, a very learned man, told me about it, and I trusted him. He did not say that the correction of the manuscripts occurred in the bull, but yet maintained that the altering of the Greek manuscript had been done. I myself saw a manuscript of the gospels from Reuchlin:s library that completely agreed with our Latin edition; it was more recent, however.98



It can even be assumed that he did not realise that the readings sent to him on various occasions, as we have seen, were drawn from one and the same manuscript. In short, the temptation should be resisted to anachronistically project into his days the notoriety the manuscript would much later acquire as the “Vatican manuscript" par excellence and tout court.

Notoriety is the wrong word for those who fawn over Vaticanus.

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Steven Avery

Good job by Nick Sayers

New Testament Textual Criticism


Facebook - TRA - Nov. 8, 2020 uses Puritanboard article

Erasmus and the Vatican Codex

See also


Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy - Nov 8, 2020 - Aldus Youtube

Steven Avery
While I have not yet gotten to this talk, notice this relating to Erasmus and Aldus Manutius:
Pure Bible Forum
Erasmus Access to Vaticanus - More than Sepulveda and Bombasius?

Apparently Erasmus knew about Vaticanus in Rome, possibly personal inspection, and not just the reports from Paulus Bombasius (1476-1527) and Sepulveda (1489–1573).

Pure Bible Forum
Florentine Council, Vaticanus and Latinization - Erasmus, Brugensis and more

Pure Bible Forum
Erasmus says that the Vaticanus omission affected his heavenly witnesses decision - latinization

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy - Dec. 11, 2019 - Complutensian et al rejected Vaticanus
Steven Avery
A group of very astute writers in the 1800s, around 1850-1860, before the Burgon analysis, rejected Vaticanus as a corrupted manuscript, loaded with omissions, like a Reader's Digest abbreviation.

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy - Nov 30, 2020 - Jan Krans article

Erasmus Timeline

How Aldus Manutius Saved Civilization with G. Scott Clemons
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Steven Avery

Jan Krans "conjectures" that Erasmus did not know of the ancient ms. in the Vatican library

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy

Looking at the two threads on that forum:

Wesley Huff
And from the bits an pieces of correspondence Jan Krans put together for his paper Erasmus was unaware of Vaticanus prior to publication in 1516.

Hefin Jones
On Krans's reading of the evidence, Erasmus was unaware of Vaticanus until after the publication of the first edition in 1516. Erasmus never visited Rome after that time, his last visit being in 1508-09 or thereabouts.

On my read I saw nothing in the Jan Krans article that supports this claim.

Nick Sayers
Hefin Jones It seems strange that Eramsus would live over a year with Bombace and 8 months with Aldus, but not visit the library of Rome, nor see Vaticanus.

And I agree


Jan Krans-Plaisier
And the idea that Erasmus got acquainted with Codex Vaticanus in 1509 during his stay in Rome is pure speculation. There are simply no traces in the sources, and it also projects upon Codex Vaticanus a renown that it did not have at that time. The only thing we can say is that the friendship with Bombace was established, and that he had seen libraries in Rome (see Ep. 253). That was enough for Erasmus’ later request. The rest is in my article. In short: for such bold claims one needs evidence, in the absence of which nobody should heed them.


Krans is back-pedaling, I think he realized he made a bad error in his paper in not discussing the fact that Erasmus had been in Rome with solid scholars, and even lived with Bombace! However, it is unlikely he would admit the error, since his paper is built on his negative speculation. Note that he slipped in the later post above an acknowledgement that Erasmus had seen libraries in Rome!

His paper was the one that had speculation, a very weak "conjecture .. probably... " with an unlikely scenario.

Jan Krans
"We can only conjecture on the precise form Erasmus’ request to Bombace may have had. He probably did not know about the existence of such a specific, important, ancient manuscript in the Vatican library, and therefore simply asked his friend to look for any he could find."

In fact, in trying to support his speculation, Krans gives an indication that Erasmus was aware of the special ms.


Erasmus, 1520
What if the same reading [i.e. the text without the Comma] were found in a manuscript in the papal library? Will Lee thunder against a manuscript of the pope?13

13 Resp. ad annot. Ed. Lei (CWE 72, p. 407; ASD IX-4, p. 325 ll. 237–38


And it surely sounds like Erasmus has an inside sense of Vaticanus. He is hinting about a Vaticanus library, Pope ms. even before he wrote to Bombasius. The stronger argument has Erasmus aware of this pseudo-special ms. and Jan Krans doing the dancing speculation.
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Steven Avery

Facebook - Byzantine Text Theory

Est enim Greecum exemplar antiquissimum in Bibliotheca Vaticana, in quo diligentissime et accuratissime litteris majusculis conscriptum utrumque Testamentum continetur longe diversum a vulgatis exemplaribus. Mihi enim cum ab Stunica fuissem ndmonitus, rem perspicere, et libros conferre curse fuit. Hoc autem exemplar omnium esse emendatissimum, cum ejus antiquitas declarat, et librarii diligentia, turn quod multum convenit cum vetere nostra translatione, quae dubitari non debet, quin ex emendatissimo quoque exemplari conversa, et tradita nobis sit a majoribus. Cum igitur ad illius exemplaris fidem et quasi normam ceteri libri sint emendandi ac dirigendi, quid opus facto sit, ipse considerabis: sic enim habeto, raro vulgatam Graecorum editionem a veteri translatione nostra discrepare, discrepat autem, ut nosti saepissime, ut a Vaticano illo exemplari non dissentiat. Ac ne teneam, trecentis sexaginta quinque locis scripturae diversitatem adnotavimus.”

Steven Avery

Vaticanus umlauts and Sepulveda

The Voice of the Manuscripts on the Silence of Women: The External Evidence for 1 Cor 14.34–5 (2009)
Curt Niccum

Evidence suggests Sepulveda introduced these ‘umlauts’. In 1533 he wrote Erasmus:

‘Estenim Graecum exemplar antiquissimum in bibliotheca Vatieana, in quo diligentissime et accuratissime literis maiusculis conscriptum vtrumque Testimentum continetur, longe diuersum a vulgatis exemplaribus … Sic enim habeto, raro vulgatam Graecorum editionem a veteri translatione nostra discrepare, (discrepat autem, vt nostri, saepissime) vt a Vaticano illo exemplari non dissentiat. Ac ne te teneam, trecentis sexaginta quinque locis scripturae diuersitatem adnotauimus’,
Opus Epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami (ed. H. M. Allen and H. W. Garrod; Oxford: Clarendon, 1941) 10. 307–8.Google Scholar

Sepulveda's statement that he found 365 agreements with the Vg does not limit the number of notations he might have made.

Sepulveda must have shared this list of readings with Erasmus for in 1535 Erasmus remarks on the reading καδα at Acts 27.16 found in a ‘Vatican’ MS (attested only in Vaticanus and Sinaiticuscorr), Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament: Acts – Romans – I and II Corinthians. Facsimile of the Final Latin Text with All Earlier Variants (ed. A. Reeve and M. A. Screech; SHCT 42; Leiden: Brill, 1990) 331. Since Codex Vaticanus has one of these marginal notations at that verse, it seems likely that the ‘umlauts’ originated with Sepulveda.


Erasmus, for example, makes no mention of it in any of the editions of his Annotations. In 1535 he does remark concerning 14.33: ‘Apud Chrysostomum æditionis Veronensis, additur: sed in enarrando non attingit: unde adiectitium esse uidetur. In æditione Aldina, non additur. Ne que uero Paulus docebat in omnibus ecclesiis, sed in omnibus ecclesiis sanctorum ordine & absque tumulta res agebatur’, Annotations, 509.

This could explain the location of the ‘ umlaut’ at 14.33 (expected at 14.34) and provide additional support for identifying Sepulveda as the one who introduced the markings.

Steven Avery

An-Ting Yi, his student, also misses the question of what he saw in Rome.

From Erasmus to Maius (2023)
An Ting-Yi

New Testament Textual Criticism

Textus Receptus Academy


And what about Simon using Maldonat and the Pericope Adulterae?
This is covered, but I don't see any difficulty in Mill adjusting his apparatus after 1689 to use the Simon book.

In addition to the annotations of Grotius and Simon, both of whom most probably obtained the readings from Lucas Brugensis, several other places where the references to Vaticanus appear in Mill’s edition came from elsewhere. In his lengthy notes on the pericope adulterae, Mill listed all the witnesses known to him that omit the passage, among them ‘the manuscript in the Vatican Library’.103 Since neither Erasmus nor Lucas Brugensis mentioned such an omission, it raises the question of the origin of this piece of information. p. 68

105- Maldonatus, Commentarii 2, col. 7S6. On Maldonatus (Juan de Maldonado; 1534-15S3), see
Perez Goyena, ‘Maldonado’. Maldonatus moved to Rome in 15S0 to work on the project of the Sep-
tuagint edition and stayed there until his death (cf. Cardinali, Pedro Chacdn, p. 54). It is possible
that during this period he examined not only the Greek Old Testament in the manuscript but also
its New Testament part.

Maldonado, Juan (1533-1583)

A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament: (1689)
Richard Simon
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Steven Avery

However, Erasmus and many followers of him had regarded the same manu-
script as a typical ‘Latinised’ witness, and therefore as of no use in the establish-
ment of the text. In fact, for more than two centuries, its value had been de-
cidedly dismissed by the majority of New Testament scholars.
. Although the general agree-
ment with the Complutensian Polyglot was still emphasised, the other two argu-
ments—the proof of the treaty and the evidence of the manuscripts being Latin-
ised—were both being weakened, if not completely diminished. From an
historical perspective, however, Erasmus’s Latinisation theory as declared in his
final edition, not his letter to Sepúlveda, would become his final verdict on that
ancient manuscript kept in the Vatican Library.

‘foedus cum Graecis’,

Erasmus Grotius
Mill Simon Wettstein Amelotte Michaelis
Semler Birch
Frederick Nolan

recension theory of Griesbach

Steven Avery

Details from the Puritanboard quote:

Erasmus was in the service of Pope Julius II for some time either during or after the time he lived with Aldus Manutius in Italy, I don't remember the exact details at the moment. But from his annotations, which are confirmed by De Jonge, Erasmus had contact with the Vaticanus during the those years. The following is some of my notes in a lecture I did a year or so ago on the subject. Unfortunately, I didn't make very good notes as to my sources, so I would have to go back and find where this quote from De Jonge is - I can do that if it is of interest to you.

Since the Latin Vulgate came into existence in 382 AD, he characterized Greek manuscripts of this era that maintained these readings as being corrupted by Arians and Origenists.

As he said: “We too came across a manuscript of this nature, 39
39 Minuscule Gregory 1 on which see below

and it is said that such a manuscript is still preserved in the papal library written in majuscule characters.”
Dr. DeJong says of this note in Erasmus annotations: “The manuscript to which Erasmus refers at the end of this passage is the Codex Vaticanus…designated B, Erasmus regarded the text of this codex as…inferior.”

In his textual work from 1519 to 1535 Paul Bombasius and Sepulveda would provide Erasmus some 650 readings from the Vaticanus.



39 Minuscule Gregory 1 on which see below
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Steven Avery


Open Access


PDF and Epub
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