Novum Instrumentum omne: Wikis


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Novum Instrumentum omne, is the first published New Testament in Greek (1516), prepared by Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), and printed by Johann Froben (1460-1527) of Basel. Although the first printed Greek New Testament was the Complutensian Polyglot (1514), it was the second published (1522). The Erasmian edition was the basis for the majority of modern translation of New Testament in the 16-19th centuries.


First edition

In 1512 he had been in negotiation with Badius Ascensius of Paris to publish Vulgate of Jerome and a new edition of Adagia. It was not happen, and Erasmus did not continue contacts with Badius.[1] In that time Erasmus did not think about Greek New Testament. It is not sure when Erasmus decided to prepare his edition of the Greek New Testament, but on a visit to Basel in August 1514 he contacted Johann Froben. Many scholars believe that Froben had heard about the forthcoming Spanish Polyglot Bible, and tried to overtake the project of Alcala (f.e. S. P. Tregelles).[2] Some scholars doubt in this motivation of Froben (f.e. Bruce Metzger), because there is no evidence to support it.[3] Probably he included the Greek text to prove the superiority of his Latin version. The next meeting took the place in April 1515 at the University of Cambridge. In result in July of 1515 Erasmus came to Basel and started his work. Johannes Oecolampadius served as his editorial assistant and Hebrew consultant.[4] Erasmus did not take any Greek manuscripts to Basel, hoping to find some there. He borrowed some manuscripts from the Dominican Library at the Basle. He used seven manuscripts, they were identified:[5]

The first page of the Erasmian New Testament
Manuscript Content Date
Minuscule 1eap the entire NT except Revelation 12th century
Minuscule1rK Book of Revelation 12th century
Minuscule 2e Gospels 12th century
Minuscule 2ap Acts and Epistles 12th century
Minuscule 4ap Pauline epistles 15th century
Minuscule 7p Pauline epistles 12th century
Minuscule 817 Gospels 15th century

Manuscripts 1eap and 1rK Erasmus borrowed from Johannes Reuchlin. Rest of the manuscripts he borrowed from Dominicans. It is signifficant he did not use the Codex Basilensis, which was held at the University of Basel, and was available for him. Erasmus had three manuscripts of the Gospels and Acts, four manuscripts of the Pauline epistles, but only one manuscript with the Book of Revelation. In every book of the New Testament he compared three or four manuscripts, except the last book, Book of Revelation. Unfortunately, this manuscript was not complete, it lacked the final leaf, which contained the last six verses of the book. Instead of delaying the publication, on account of the search another manuscript, he decided to translate the missing verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. He used corrupted manuscript of Vulgate with textual variant libro vitae (book of life) instead ligno vitae (tree of life) in Rev 22:14.[6] Even in other parts of the Book of Revelation and other books of the New Testament Erasmus occasionally introduced into self-created Greek text material taken from the Vulgate. F. H. A. Scrivener remarked, that in Rev 17:4 he created new Greek word: ακαθαρτητος (instead τα ακαθαρτα). No such word in Greek language like ακαθαρτητος.[7] In Rev 17:8 he used καιπερ εστιν (and yet is) instead of και παρεσται (and shall come). In Acts 9:6 the question that Paul asks at the time of his conversion on the Damascus road, Τρέμων τε καὶ θαμβὣν εἲπεν κύριε τί μέ θέλεις ποιῆσαι ("And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will you have me to do?") was incorporated from the Vulgate.[8][n 1]

The last page of the Erasmian New Testament (Rev 22:8-21)

The printing began on 2 October 1515, and in very short time was finished (1 March 1516). It was made in great hurry, with typographical errors, and was unusual titled:

Novum Instrumentum omne, diligenter ab Erasmo Rot. Recognitum et Emendatum, non solum ad Graecam veritatem verum etiam ad multorum utiusq; linguae codicum eorumq; veterum simul et emendatorum fidem, postremo ad probatissimorum autorum citationem, emendationem et interpretationem, praecipue, Origenis, Chrysostomi, Cyrilli, Vulgarij, Hieronymi, Cypriani, Ambrosij, hilaryj, Augustini, una cum annotatines, quae lectorem doceant, quid qua ratione mutatum sit.

This title, especially words: Novum Instrumentum ... Recognitum et Emendatum, means New Testament... Revised and Improved. This title must refer to the Latin text of Vulgate, not to any Greek text, because at that time there was not a printed edition of the Greek New Testament in circulation. In his dedication to Pope Leo X, Erasmus says:

I perceived that that teaching which is our salvation was to be had in a much purer and more lively form if sought at the fountain-head and drown from the actual sources than from pools and runnels. And so I have revised the whole New Testament (as they call it) against the standard of the Greek original... I have added annotations of my own, in order in the first place to show the reader what changes I have made, and why; second, to disentangle and explain anything that may be complicated, ambiguous, or obscure.[9]

It was bilingual edition, the Greek text was in left column, Latin in right column, and it is clear, the Greek text was not the first target of this edition, it was the Latin text of Vulgate.

Second edition

The reception of the first edition was mixed, but within 3 years a second was made. The second edition used the more familiar term Testamentum instead of Instrumentum. In second edition (1519) Erasmus used also Minuscule 3 (entire NT except Revelation; 12th century). The text was changed in about 400 places, most—though not all—the typographical errors corrected. Some new error readings were added to the text. In this edition the text of Jerome's Vulgate Erasmus replaced by his own more elegant translation. The Latin translation had a good reception. After this edition, Erasmus was involved in many polemics and controversies. Particularly objectionable were the annotations (universities of Cambridge and Oxford).

López de Zúñiga, known as Stunica, one of the editiors of Ximenes Complutensian Polyglot, reproached to Erasmus, that his text lacked part of the 1 John 5:7-8 (Comma Johanneum). Erasmus replied that he had not found it in any Greek manuscript. Stunica answered that Latin manuscripts are more reliable than Greek. In 1520 Edward Lee accused Erasmus of encouraging Arianism.[10] Erasmus promised that he would insert the Comma Johanneum in future editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found with that passage.

Another attack was made in 1521 by Paulus Bombasius, the prefect of the Vatican Library, because in Greek text Erasmus departed from the common readings of the Vulgate. He informed Erasmus that in the Vatican Library is held an extremely ancient copy of the Scriptures (i.e. Codex Vaticanus). He sent two extracts from this manuscript containing 1 John 4:1-3 and 1 John 5:7-11 (it did not include Comma).

Second edition became a basis for Luther's German translation.

Third edition

With the third edition of Erasmus's Greek text (1522) the Comma Johanneum was included, because a single 16th-century Greek manuscript had subsequently been found to contain it (Codex Montfortianus), though Erasmus had expressed doubt as to the authenticity of the passage in his Annotations. In this edition Erasmus, after using Codex Montfortianus, misprinted εμαις for εν αις in Apocalypse 2:13.[11] The third edition differed in 118 places from the second.

Oecolampadius and Gerbelius, Erasmus's subeditors, insisted to him to introduce more readings from the minuscule 1 in the third edition, but according to Erasmus the text of this codex was altered from the Latin manuscripts, and had a secondary value.[12]

This edition was used by Robert Estienne in his editions of the Greek New Testament from 1546 and 1549.

Fourth and final edition

Shortly after the publication of his third edition, Erasmus had seen the Complutensian Polyglot, and used its text for improvement of his own text. In the Book of Revelation he altered his fourth edition (1527) in about 90 passages. Except in the Revelation, the fourth edition differed only in about 20 places from his third. Fourth edition was printed in three parallel columns, they contain the Greek, Erasmus own Latin version, and the Vulgate.

In November 1533, before the appearance of the fifth edition, Sepúlveda sent to Erasmus a description of the ancient Vatican manuscript, informing him that it differed from the text which he had edited in favour of the Vulgate in 365 places.[13] We do not know nothing about these 365 readings except one. Erasmus in his Adnotationes do Acts 27:16 wrote that according to the Codex from the Library Pontifici name of the island is καυδα (Cauda), not κλαυδα (Clauda) as in his Novum Testamentum.[14][n 2] In another letter sent to Erasmus in 1534 Sepúlveda informed him, that Greek manuscripts were altered from the Vulgate.[15]

The fifth edition of Erasmus, published in 1535, the year before his death, discarded the Vulgate. According to Mill the fifth edition differed only in four places from the fourth. Editions fourth and fifth were not so important, as third edition in the history of the Text of New Testament.[16]

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.

See also


  1. ^ Hills concluded that Erasmus was divinely guided when he introduced Latin Vulgate readings into his Greek text. See Edward F. Hills, King James Version Defended!, pp. 199-200.
  2. ^ Andrew Birch was the first, who identified this note with 365 readings of Sepulveda.


  1. ^ P. S. Allen, "The age of Erasmus", Russell & Russell, New York 1963, p. 144.
  2. ^ "It appears that Froben, the printer of Basle, wished to anticipate the edition of the Greek Testament which was (as he heard) in preparation in Spain." See: S. P. Tregelles, The Printed Text of the Greek New Testament, London 1854, p. 19. The same point of view represents: Rummel, Erasmus Annotations on the New Testament, p. 23.
  3. ^ See: Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 142.
  4. ^ J. Brashler, "From Erasmus to Calvin: Exploring the Roots of Reformed Hermeneutics", Interpretation 63(2) April 2009, p. 163
  5. ^ W. W. Combs, Erasmus and the textus receptus, DBSJ 1 (Spring 1996), 45.
  6. ^ Textual scholarch Hoskier argued that Erasmus did not use Vulgate. Instead, he suggested that Erasmus used other Greek manuscripts such as 2049. See: H. C. Hoskier, Concernign the Text of the Apocalypse, vol. 2 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929), p. 644.
  7. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, A plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, Cambridge 1894, Vol. 2, p. 184.
  8. ^ Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 145.
  9. ^ "Epistle 384" in Collected Works of Erasmus. Vol. 3: Letters 222 to 223, 1516 (tr. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson; annotated by James K. McConica; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976).
  10. ^ Edward Lee, Epistolae Aliquot Eruditorum Virorum (Basel, 1520)
  11. ^ F. H. A. Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (George Bell & Sons: London, 1894), vol. 1, p. 200.
  12. ^ S. P. Tregelles, An Introduction to the Critical study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, London 1856, p. 208.
  13. ^ S. P. Tregelles, An Introduction to the Critical study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, London 1856, p. 108.
  14. ^ Erasmus Desiderius, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament: Acts – Romans – I and II Corinthians, ed. A. Reeve and M. A. Sceech, (Brill: Leiden 1990), p. 931.
  15. ^ Erasmi Opera, III, col. 1762.
  16. ^ W. W. Combs, Erasmus and the textus receptus, DBSJ 1 (Spring 1996): 35-53.

Further reading

External links

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