Adding to the Bible

Gary Amirault

Tentmaker Bible Matters #13: Adding to the Bible

There are many Bible teachers who make much to do about the verse in the book of Revelation that warns about plagues coming upon anyone’s head who adds or takes away from the book. Many Bible teachers, theologians, church leaders and Biblical scholars have used this verse as if John was referring to the entire Bible. However, he specifically mentions “this book,” one book, singular. At the time of John’s writings, the writings which would commonly, but falsely, come under the heading of “the New Testament” were not yet canonized. The warning found in Revelation 21:8-19 referred specifically to the book of Revelation, not the entire Bible. This type of warning was common among writings of this nature during that time period. All writings of that time were hand written. Those who copied someone else's work to pass on to future generations often took great liberties with the text sometimes adding or removing text. Therefore the writers of the original often put curse like the one in Revelation at the beginning or end of their work..

It is quite ironic that the very verse which warns about tampering with the Bible or parts thereof is a verse that has been, in fact, tampered with, and quite significantly. As we can see below, the King James Version of the Bible states that God will take away one’s part out of the “book of life” while the New International Version takes away one’s share in the “tree of life.”

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (KJV, Rev. 22:18-19)

And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (NIV, Rev. 22:19)

Where the KJV has “book of life,” the NIV has “tree of life.” Which version is true? Which version has “added or taken away from the words of the book of this prophesy?” Have the plaques mentioned in Revelation come upon the one who introduced this error and upon those who perpetuate it? Have they lost their part in the “book of life,” or the “tree of life?” Obviously, one of these versions is wrong. Will the curse in this book be placed upon all those who perpetuate this error through using a Bible that has added or taken away words?

There are many differences in the text between the KJV produced in 1611 and translations produced in the last century because the more modern English Bible translations use a different Greek text from which to translate. In addition, we have learned much more about the original languages of the Bible and the biblical period cultures. In Revelation 22:18, 19 the “Authorized Version” which many Fundamentalists and Evangelicals dub an “Inerrant Bible” is the one that contains this most embarrassing error. How embarrassing to be found guilty of adding and taking away from the “God’s word” in the very passage in which a curse is made against those who would add or take away from the words of the book! Here is the story how the “tree of life” in the original Greek text became the “book of life” in the “Authorized” King James Version. The reader will be amazed to discover that Erasmus freely borrowed from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate to fill in verses that he didn’t have in the Greek. Furthermore, Erasmus actually believed that the Latin Vulgate was superior to the Byzantine texts he was using which would become the foundation of the Greek text upon which the King James Bible rested. In his own words, he stated that the Greek text he was using (the Greek used for the KJV, the Byzantine text family) was CORRUPTED by scribes! This information should be enough to convince any KJV only believer that the KJV is far from inerrant, but I’m afraid that many Christians in the KJV only movement are not moved by reason, nor facts, nor true faith. The KJV only movement is built upon errors from which they refuse to move lest their faith in their “Authorized Version” (which they consider the true Word of God) be destroyed. They are locked in a house of belief built upon sand. The power that holds Christians in the KJV only cult is fear! Here is a brief history of the Textus Receptus (Latin for “Received Text) which is the Greek Text behind the King James Version of the Bible:

In 1452 The Ottoman Turks conquered the city of Constantinople driving many Greek scholars with their ancient Greek manuscripts to Western Europe. This event brought about a renewed interest in the ancient languages of the Bible, that is, Hebrew and Greek. These languages had become essentially foreign to the Roman Catholic world whose theological scholars and priests were steeped in Latin. Greek became so popular during this time of renewal, many academic types gave themselves Greek names. One of these men, was a Roman Catholic humanist named Gerrit (or Gert) Gerritszoon, Dutch for Gerard Gerardson. He (mistakenly) believed that the root Geert derived from begeren (to desire) and translated this into both Latin (Desiderius) and Greek (Erasmus). Both words mean “to long, to desire.” Since he came from Rotterham, his full new name was Desiderius Erasmus Rotterham. His father was a priest so it is almost certain he was illegitimate.

A fairly good summary of the development of Erasmus’s Greek text and how it became known as the “Textus Receptus” is given by Wikipedia. Following that is a brief history of Erasmus. Since he was in the heart of the Reformation period and a key player in bringing the Scriptures into common languages, I think it would be good information a Christian should be familiar with:

Publication of the Greek New Testament (From Wikipedia)

The first New Testament printed in Greek was part of the Complutensian Polyglot. This portion was printed in 1514, but publication was delayed until 1522 by waiting for the Old Testament portion, and the sanction of Pope Leo X. Erasmus had been working for years on two projects: a collation of Greek texts and a fresh Latin New Testament. In 1512, he began his work on this Latin New Testament. He collected all the Vulgate manuscripts he could find to create a critical edition. Then he polished the Latin. He declared, "It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin." (Throughout the Dark Ages, the Roman Catholic Church did not allow the Bible to be printed or read in any language other than Latin. It was not until the Protestant Reformation beginning with Wycliffe this began to change. GA) In the earlier phases of the project, he never mentioned a Greek text: "My mind is so excited at the thought of emending Jerome’s text, with notes, that I seem to myself inspired by some god. I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense." While his intentions for publishing a fresh Latin translation are clear, it is less clear why he included the Greek text. Though some speculate that he intended to produce a critical Greek text or that he wanted to beat the Complutensian Polyglot into print, there is no evidence to support this. He wrote, "There remains the New Testament translated by me, with the Greek facing, and notes on it by me." He further demonstrated the reason for the inclusion of the Greek text when defending his work: "But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep." So he included the Greek text to permit qualified readers to verify the quality of his Latin version. But by first calling the final product "Novum Instrumentum omne" ("All of the New Teaching") and later "Novum Testamentum omne" ("All of the New Testament") he also indicated clearly that he considered a consistently parallelized version of both the Greek and the Latin texts as the essential dual core of the church's New Testament tradition. In a way it is legitimate to say that Erasmus "synchronized" or "unified" the Greek and the Latin traditions of the New Testament by producing an updated (he would say: "purified") version of either simultaneously. Both being part of canonical tradition, he clearly found it necessary to ensure that both were actually presenting the same content. In modern terminology, he made the two traditions "compatible". This is clearly evidenced by the fact that his Greek text is not just the basis for his Latin translation, but also the other way round: there are numerous instances where he edits the Greek text to reflect his Latin version. For instance, since the last six verses of Revelation were missing from his Greek manuscript, Erasmus translated the Vulgate's text back into Greek. Erasmus also translated the Latin text into Greek wherever he found that the Greek text and the accompanying commentaries were mixed up, or where he simply preferred the Vulgate’s reading to the Greek text.

Acknowledgement page engraved and published by Johannes Froben, 1516Erasmus's hurried effort (Erasmus said it was "rushed into print rather than edited") was published by his friend Johann Froben of Basel in 1516 and thence became the first published Greek New Testament, the Novum Instrumentum omne, diligenter ab Erasmo Rot. Recognitum et Emendatum. Erasmus used several Greek manuscript sources because he did not have access to a single complete manuscript. Most of the manuscripts were, however, late Greek manuscripts of the Byzantine textual family and Erasmus used the oldest manuscript the least because "he was afraid of its supposedly erratic text." He also ignored much older and better manuscripts that were at his disposal.

In the 2nd (1519) edition the more familiar term Testamentum was used instead of Instrumentum. This edition was used by Martin Luther in making his German translation of Bible for his own religious movement. Together, the first and second editions sold 3,300 copies. Only 600 copies of the Complutensian Polyglot were even printed. The 1st- and 2nd-edition texts did not include the passage (1 John 5:7–8) that has become known as the Comma Johanneum. Erasmus had been unable to find those verses in any Greek manuscript, but one was supplied to him during production of the 3rd edition. That manuscript is now thought to be a 1520 creation from the Latin Vulgate, which likely got the verses from a fifth-century marginal gloss in a Latin copy of I John. The Roman Catholic Church decreed that the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute (June 2, 1927), and it is rarely included in modern scholarly translations.

The 3rd edition of 1522 was probably used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (Worms, 1526) and was the basis for the 1550 Robert Stephanus edition used by the translators of the Geneva Bible and King James Version of the English Bible. Erasmus published a definitive 4th edition in 1527 containing parallel columns of Greek, Latin Vulgate and Erasmus's Latin texts. He used the now available Polyglot Bible to improve this version. In this edition Erasmus also supplied the Greek text of the last six verses of Revelation (which he had translated from Latin back into Greek in his first edition) from Cardinal Ximenez's Biblia Complutensis. In 1535 Erasmus published the 5th (and final) edition which dropped the Latin Vulgate column but was otherwise similar to the 4th edition. Subsequent versions of Erasmus's Greek New Testament became known as the Textus Receptus.

Erasmus dedicated his work to Pope Leo X as a patron of learning and regarded this work as his chief service to the cause of Christianity. Immediately afterward, he began the publication of his Paraphrases of the New Testament, a popular presentation of the contents of the several books. These, like all of his writings, were published in Latin but were quickly translated into other languages, with his encouragement.

(Here is a brief history from wikipedia how the term “textus receptus” became applied to this family of Greek texts begun by Erasmus.):

History of the Textus Receptus

The Dutch humanist Erasmus had been working for years on two projects: a collation of Greek texts and a fresh Latin New Testament. In 1512, he began his work on a fresh Latin New Testament. He collected all the Vulgate manuscripts he could find to create a critical edition. Then he polished the Latin. He declared, "It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin."[1] In the earlier phases of the project, he never mentioned a Greek text: "My mind is so excited at the thought of emending Jerome’s text, with notes, that I seem to myself inspired by some god. I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense."[2]

While his intentions for publishing a fresh Latin translation are clear, it is less clear why he included the Greek text. Though some speculate that he intended on producing a critical Greek text or that he wanted to beat the Complutensian Polyglot into print, there is no evidence to support this. Rather his motivations seems to be simpler: he included the Greek text to prove the superiority of his Latin version. He wrote, "There remains the New Testament translated by me, with the Greek facing, and notes on it by me."[3] He further demonstrated the reason for the inclusion of the Greek text when defending his work: "But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep."[4] Erasmus's new work was published by Froben of Basel in 1516 and thence became the first published Greek New Testament, the Novum Instrumentum omne, diligenter ab Erasmo Rot. Recognitum et Emendatum. He used manuscripts: 1, 1rK, 2e, 2ap, 4ap, 7, 817.[5] The second edition used the more familiar term Testamentum instead of Instrumentum, and eventually became a major source for Luther's German translation. In second edition (1519) Erasmus used also Minuscule 3.

Typographical errors (attributed to the rush to complete the work) abounded in the published text. Erasmus also lacked a complete copy of the book of Revelation and was forced to translate the last six verses back into Greek from the Latin Vulgate in order to finish his edition. Erasmus adjusted the text in many places to correspond with readings found in the Vulgate, or as quoted in the Church Fathers; and consequently, although the Textus Receptus is classified by scholars as a late Byzantine text, it differs in nearly two thousand readings from standard form of that text-type; as represented by the "Majority Text" of Hodges and Farstad (Wallace 1989). The edition was a sell-out commercial success; and was reprinted in 1519, with most—though not all—the typographical errors corrected.

Erasmus had been studying Greek New Testament manuscripts for many years, in the Netherlands, France, England and Switzerland, noting their many variants; but he only had six Greek manuscripts immediately accessible to him in Basel. They all dated from the 12th Century or later, and only one came from outside the mainstream Byzantine tradition. Consequently, most modern scholars consider his text to be of dubious quality.

With the third edition of Erasmus' Greek text (1522) the Comma Johanneum was included, because a single 16th-century Greek manuscript (Codex Montfortianus) had subsequently been found to contain it, though Erasmus had expressed doubt as to the authenticity of the passage in his Annotations. Popular demand for Greek New Testaments led to a flurry of further authorized and unauthorized editions in the early sixteenth century; almost all of which were based on Erasmus's work and incorporated his particular readings, although typically also making a number of minor changes of their own.

The overwhelming success of Erasmus' Greek New Testament completely overshadowed the Latin text upon which he had focused. Many other publishers produced their own versions of the Greek New Testament over the next several centuries. Rather than doing their own critical work, most just relied on the well-known Erasmian text.

Robert Estienne, known as Stefanus (1503-1559), a printer from Paris, edited four times the Greek New Testament, 1546, 1549, 1550, and 1551, the last in Geneva. The first two are among the neatest Greek texts known, and are called O mirificam; the third edition is a splendid masterpiece of typographical skill. It has critical apparatus in which quoted manuscripts referred to the text. Manuscripts were marked by symbols (from α to ις). He used Polyglotta Complutensis (symbolized by α) and 15 Greek manuscripts. In this number manuscripts: Codex Bezae, Codex Regius, minuscules 4, 5, 6, 2817, 8, 9. The first step towards to modern Textual Criticism was made. The third edition is known as the Editio Regia; the edition of 1551 contains the Latin translation of Erasmus and the Vulgate, is not nearly as fine as the other three, and is exceedingly rare. It was in this edition that the division of the New Testament into verses was for the first time introduced.

The third edition of Estienne was used by Theodore Beza (1519-1605), who edited it nine times between 1565 and 1604. In the critical apparatus of the second edition he used the Codex Claromontanus and the Syriac New Testament published by Emmanuel Tremellius in 1569. Codex Bezae was twice referenced (as Codex Bezae and β' of Estienne).

The origin of the term "Textus Receptus" comes from the publisher's preface to the 1633 edition produced by Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir, two brothers and printers at Leiden: textum ergo habes, nunc ab omnibus receptum, in quo nihil immulatum aut corruptum damus, translated "so you hold the text, now received by all, in which nothing corrupt." The two words, textum and receptum, were modified from the accusative to the nominative case to render textus receptus. Over time, this term has been retroactively applied to Erasmus' editions, as his work served as the basis of the others.

ERASMUS, DESIDERIUS (C. 1466–1536)

Dutch scholar; first editor of the Greek New Testament

(From Who's Who In Christian History - Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. - J. D. DOUGLAS)

Born a priest’s son out of wedlock, Erasmus knew nothing of normal family life and was in that sense a deprived child. His schooling was largely at Deventer (Netherlands) under the auspices of the Brethren of the Common Life. Those followers of what was called the “Modern Devotion” movement sought a deepening of spiritual life. Under the Brethren, who produced some of the fifteenth century’s best teachers, Erasmus acquired an enthusiasm for Bible study. In 1486, evidently under pressure from his guardians, he became an Augustinian canon at Steyn (Netherlands). In spite of his reluctance to enter the monastery, his six or seven years of study there produced in him a love for classical literature and thought.

About 1493 Erasmus was ordained and became Latin secretary to the bishop of Cambrai (France). The bishop’s continuing interest allowed Erasmus in 1495 to pursue theological studies at Paris. Erasmus took a lasting dislike to the dogmatic theologians there, with their partisanship, intolerance, and hostility to new ways of thinking.

In 1496, after a brief visit to Steyn, Erasmus returned to Paris, reinforced in his resolve to leave the monastic life. He continued his theological studies but majored in the new biblical courses rather than in Scholastic theology. Meanwhile, he helped to support himself (and advanced his career) by tutoring the sons of leading European families. During that time he wrote his Colloquies, a series of imaginary dialogues. They originated as exercises for his students but were edited and supplemented over the years. Erasmus used a gallery of characters to critique the religious life of his day, in particular satirizing the forms of Scholasticism and monkish superstition he regarded as damaging to true piety and devotion. At times, however, the spirituality in his Colloquies is indistinguishable from Stoic morality.

In 1499 Erasmus paid his first visit to England. Prominent churchmen he met there included Bishop Warham of London (soon to be archbishop of Canterbury), John Fisher, William Latimer, John Colet, and Thomas More. The last two exercised a profound influence upon Erasmus.

In England Erasmus also found a battle in progress. Obscurantists were attempting to prevent the growth of Christian knowledge. Under the influence of the Italian Renaissance many Europeans had been rediscovering the classical learning of the Greeks and Romans. Erasmus wanted such learning to develop a truly Christian character instead of causing a return to pagan values. He found support for that wish in England, especially from people like John Colet, who encouraged Erasmus in the study of the New Testament.

In 1500 Erasmus left England, though his friends wanted him to stay. He went to Paris and then to Louvain (Belgium), where he declined a professorship. About that time he began to expose the ignorance and corruption of the age. In 1503 he published the Handbook of the Christian Knight, which purported to recall a nobleman to Christian faith and practice. “It has long been my cherished wish,” he wrote in it, “to cleanse the Lord’s temple of barbarous ignorance and to adorn it with treasures from afar, such as may kindle in generous hearts a warm love for the Scriptures.” He advocated a middle course between extremes “so that we neither act too securely because we rely on divine grace, nor cast away our mind without arms because we are dispirited by the difficulties of war.”

In 1505 and 1506 Erasmus revisited England, then went to Italy and received his doctorate at Turin (1506). He was in Italy three years without finding there the stimulus for which he had hoped. He did see much that was corrupt about the papacy. In 1508 the publication of Adages, in which he gathered more than three thousand proverbs from classical authors, confirmed his reputation as the foremost scholar in northern Europe.

In a wave of optimism that accompanied the accession of Henry VIII to the English throne, Erasmus went back to England in 1509 for five years. He stayed for a time with Thomas More, and that year wrote the Encomium Moriae, later translated into English as The Praise of Folly. The book was a biting satire on monastic and ecclesiastical corruption, on the many supposed miracles wrought by images, on the scandal of indulgences, on useless rites, and on the papal hierarchy. That work significantly helped to prepare the way for the Reformation.

Erasmus criticized Scholasticism for its inordinate preoccupation with details and its ignorance of true religion. He pointed to the early church and to the church fathers as his ideal of reform rather than to the complex argumentations of later Scholastics. He wrote, “He is truly a theologian who teaches not with syllogisms and contorted arguments, but with compassion in his eyes and his whole countenance, who teaches indeed by the examples of his own life that riches are to be despised, that the Christian man must not put his faith in the defenses of this world, but depend entirely upon heaven.” The test of theology, Erasmus claimed, was whether it was reflected in Christian living.

From 1514 to 1529 Erasmus was often in Basel (Switzerland), where he went to collaborate with the publishing house of Froben. In 1514 he declined the call of the prior of Steyn to return to monastic life, defending his vocation of scholarship. In 1517 Leo X (pope, 1513–1521) granted two dispensations to permit Erasmus to live outside a monastery and to let him discard his order’s dress.

For a return to first-century Christianity to occur, Erasmus thought, people must know what kind of Christianity that was. So in 1516 appeared the great work of his life: an edition of the Greek New Testament text. Beside it he placed his own elegant Latin version with critical notes, some as insightful as anything that came later from the Reformers. His Latin revealed mistakes in the Vulgate text (the Catholic church’s official Latin Bible), though it was not itself free of errors. Nevertheless his pioneering work constituted a landmark from which successive generations of scholars took their bearings.

The book’s prefatory essay itself was a masterly achievement, as Erasmus set down his aims and hopes. “I could wish,” he declared in lines that became famous, “that every woman might read the Gospel and the Epistles of St. Paul. Would that these were translated into each and every language so that they might be read and understood not only by Scots and Irishmen, but also by Turks and Saracens . . . Would that the farmer might sing snatches of Scripture at his plough and that the weaver might hum phrases of Scripture to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveler might lighten with stories from Scripture the weariness of his journey.”

Ironically, the work was dedicated to Pope Leo X (who gladly accepted the honor), and also was hailed with delight by Martin Luther. That was only one year before Luther defied the pope by posting his Ninety-five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg.

In 1516 Erasmus became a royal counselor in the Brussels (Belgium) court of the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Between that year and 1518 Erasmus also published a nine-volume edition of the works of Jerome, Erasmus’s favorite church father. Less ambitious editions of other fathers including Irenaeus, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Origen followed in the succeeding eighteen years.

From 1517 to 1521, the most critical period for the Reformation in Germany, Erasmus was at Louvain, a famous center of learning in the Low Countries. There he was a key figure among the humanists, maintaining an enormous correspondence. Although both sides of the Reformation solicited his help, Erasmus never met Martin Luther.

In 1521 Erasmus settled at Basel, a city he found most satisfying for his work. There, aided by his friend John Froben, he published many books and continued his “back-to-the-fathers” movement. Although friends in high places in a number of countries offered him various posts, Erasmus declined them all in order to maintain his literary freedom. Any limits on Erasmus were to a large extent self-imposed by his temperament. A scholar who could assail long-entrenched evils in the church, Erasmus nonetheless toned down his attack just when papal defenses were beginning to crumble. Despite appeals from both sides, he was reluctant to become embroiled in the controversy between Luther and the papacy. His neutrality worked to the benefit of the Reformation.

At last, however, in 1524 Erasmus yielded to pressure and attacked Luther in Diatribe on Free Will, to which Luther replied with Bondage of the Will (1526). Erasmus came back with Hyperaspistes Diatribes. Thus for the last twelve years of his life he was associated with the conservative faction, remaining firmly if sometimes uneasily in the old church.

In 1529, after the Reformation under John Oecolampadius had come to Basel comparatively peacefully, Erasmus was among the humanists who left the city. He went to Freiburg, a German city with a young university. Six years later he returned to Basel, although ill, to supervise the printing of his edition of the works of Origen. Erasmus died in Basel the next year. No priest was present. “Most holy was his living,” said one who was with him, “most holy his dying.”

Erasmus was a man of moderation in an age of extremes; his reputation was therefore attacked by both sides of the Reformation controversy. He refused to be caught up in the turbulence of the times. So, despite the deft aim of his literary missiles, the shy, sensitive bachelor found his scholarly detachment misunderstood, sometimes by friend and foe alike. His words were taken out of context and made to serve undesired ends. His views were used to criticize the papacy, and in Henry VIII’s England to liberalize divorce.

In that age, “bridge-building” was not an acceptable occupation. Many did not share Erasmus’s enthusiasm for pagan literature nor even for the writings of the fathers. The range of his learning was enough to make him suspect; he knew classical antiquity (reading both Latin and Greek), the Bible, early church writings, and the philosophical and theological scholasticism of the Middle Ages.

None saw more keenly than Erasmus the need for reformation, but for him that need was bound up with the need for education. His edition of the Greek New Testament was evidence of his concern for scholarship. For Erasmus, the cause of reform required using the tools of scholarship to learn crucial lessons from the Christian past. Those lessons included humanity and piety.

Europe, having fallen out of the habit of scholarly studies, tended to allow the papacy to tell it what to do and think on religious matters. It seems paradoxical that Erasmus described himself as ceasing to be a skeptic where the church had defined things. The same Erasmus had compared Julius II (pope, 1503–1513) unfavorably with Julius Caesar, though considering the analogy incomplete because it lacked another Brutus. Such language, however, was the common currency of his day. Erasmus basically wished to preserve the church’s unity, and so urged the abolition of practices, such as giving indulgences, that nurtured superstition and gave offense (and ammunition) to the Reformers.

In Martin Luther, Erasmus saw some of the dogmatism that had repelled him in his early days, only now serving a different cause. Even if scandals had become inevitable, Erasmus was not the one to precipitate crises. Indulgences were indefensible, yet he never unconditionally condemned them. He detested compulsion in religion. Erasmus would have agreed with Archbishop Robert Leighton that persecution was like “scaling heaven with ladders fetched out of hell.” Erasmus believed that faith persuades rather than compels. Yet even he agreed that “an extremely contumacious heretic might be burned.”

Erasmus was a pacifist, but not an unqualified one. He doubted that the concept of the “just war” could be precisely defined. Like many pacifists, however, he was willing to wage “verbal warfare.” Regarding himself as a cosmopolitan who belonged to no one country, Erasmus could embrace pacifism unimpeded by narrow nationalistic interest.

Critics have often said that Erasmus was little more than a “humanist with Christian overtones.” They sometimes accuse him of neglecting the work of Christ as example and teacher. Yet Erasmus believed in salvation by grace. His work on the New Testament allowed the Word of God to speak for itself and so come alive for both simple people and scholars. A multitude of faults is more than offset by that kind of testimony.

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