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Holy Scripture Speaks

Holy Scripture Speaks: The Production and Reception of Erasmus' Paraphrases on the New Testament

Hilmar M. Pabel
Mark Vessey
Series: Erasmus Studies
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Holy Scripture Speaks
    Book Description:

    Holy Scripture Speaks reveals the rich complexity of the literary, theological, and cultural dimensions of Erasmus? Paraphrases on the New Testament and indicates future directions that research in this area should take.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7580-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    H.M.P. and M.V.
  4. Sequence and Dates of the Original Publication of the Paraphrases
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Order of the Paraphrases in the Collected Works of Erasmus (CWE)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-26)
    Mark Vessey

    As a series of evangelical orations, Erasmus’Paraphrases on the New Testament(first published 1517–24)are a natural embodiment of their author’s intent to make the Word of God effective in his own age: only if the gospel wereheardagain in its most persuasive form, the humanist rhetorician believed, could it move human beings to the life of Christ-like piety in which their salvation lay. At the same time, theParaphrasesare unmistakably the product of a highly evolved and rapidly developing textual and typographic culture. Virtual scripts for preaching rather than transcriptsf of sermons actually preached, they are...


    • ONE The Tongue and the Book: Erasmus’ Paraphrases on the New Testament and the Arts of Scripture
      (pp. 29-58)
      Mark Vessel

      Readers of the Vulgate in Erasmus’ day, and for centuries before that, had been used to finding a letter of Jerome to Paulinus of Nola as a general preface in their editions of the Bible. Writtenn i the mid-39os, around the time that its author’s idiosyncratic projects as translator and interpreter of the Bible assumed their full di- mensions, the letter combines advice and invective in roughly equal parts. Paulinus is to be on his guard against those who simulate the exegetical expertise so laboriously acquired by his correspondent,for ‘the art of Scripture is the only one in which all...

    • TWO Exegetical Fictions? Biblical Paraphrases of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
      (pp. 59-84)
      Bernard Roussel

      Erasmus began composing paraphrases on the Pauline epistles in 1517. At the time, he considered this to be a novel undertaking, but less onerous than the preparation of a critical edition of the New Testament.¹ Are we then witnessing the invention of a literary genre? In hisBibliotheca sancta(1566), Sixtus of Siena answers the question in the negative. Sixtus names tenparaphrastae, including Philo (20 BCE–50 CE), Hegesippus (second century) and Thaumaturgus (c.213–c.270) among the ancients, Peter Comestor (twelfth century), and, of his contemporaries, Francis Titelmans, apparently ‘forgetting’ Erasmus.² One might also recall theParaphrasis sancti Evangeli...

    • THREE Historical Imagination and the Representation of Paul in Erasmus’ Paraphrases on the Pauline Epistles
      (pp. 85-110)
      Robert D. Sider

      Erasmus’ interest in Paul can be traced back at least as far as the autumn of 1499, when he met in Oxford a relatively young John Colet, whose lectures on the letters of the Apostle were widely admired. After Erasmus’ return to Paris in 1500, an unsuccessful attempt to write his own commentary on the Pauline epistles was replaced in subsequent years by a recurrent resolve to do so. A mishap while riding his horse in Ghent in the summer of 1514 transformed resolve into vow, a vow to the Apostle himself (CWE Ep 301: 20–2); and it was...

    • FOUR Triumphs, Trophies, and Spoils: Roman History in Some Paraphrases on Paul by Erasmus
      (pp. 111-126)
      Mechtilde O’Mara

      In the massive undertaking represented by theParaphrasesas a whole and within each paraphrase, Erasmus approaches his task of paraphrasing by taking into account the tenor of a whole passage. Especially in the case of the paraphrases on the Pauline epistles, he communicates the content enriched by his reading and personal reflections in order to expand Paul’s concentrated instruction. The general order of ideas in the Pauline texts is preserved, but not at all with the neatness suggested by the format of LB, the eighteenth-century Leiden edition, which at times does violence to the sentence structure.¹ Three kinds of...

    • FIVE Sub evangelistae persona: The Speaking Voice in Erasmus’ Paraphrase on Luke
      (pp. 127-150)
      Jane E. Phillips

      Erasmus’Paraphrase on Lukebegins with a dedication to Henry VIII of England. Among the dedications of the variousParaphrasesthis one stands out because its careful composition centres on the tradition, a very ancient one, that the actual Luke was both physician and a historian.¹ After courtesies explaining the fitness of dedicating paraphrases of the Gospels to kings, Erasmus touches first on Luke’s character as a physician not only of bodies but, with the aid of the gospel’s divine medicine, of souls as well. He then gives an account of Luke’s life (drawing heavily on Jerome’s biography of the...

    • SIX Jesus and His Family in Erasmus’ Paraphrases on Luke and John
      (pp. 151-174)
      Irena Backus

      Our aim in this study is to examine Erasmus’ portrayal of the human Jesus and his family. In order not to exceed the scope of an essay, we shall focus on a selection of passages from theParaphrasesthat either tell us something about the human environment in which Jesus was born or depict him in a situation where he has to relate to a member of his family. All the passages will be considered in the context of biblical commentaries that Erasmus would have known and could have used as a model, especially the commentaries of Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose,...

    • SEVEN Exegesis and Marriage in Erasmus’ Paraphrases on the New Testament
      (pp. 175-210)
      Hilmar M. Pabel

      In an article published in 1966, Roland Bainton observed: The Paraphrases of Erasmus have never received their due.’¹ Similarly, Jacques Chomarat and Friedhelm Krüger, who in the 1980s produced the most substantial treatments of theParaphrases on the New Testamentto date, have also lamented the scholarly neglect from which theParaphraseshave suffered.² In the same year that Bainton published his article, John Aldridge unwittingly proved Bainton’s observation. He set up a dubious dichotomy between Erasmus’Annotations on the New Testamentas a work of exegesis and theParaphrasesas ‘primarily a work of explaining the meaning of the...


    • EIGHT The Textual Travail of the Tomus secundus of the Paraphrases
      (pp. 213-264)
      John J. Bateman

      Erasmus’Paraphrase on the New Testamenthas come to us in two parts, theTomus primuscontaining the paraphrases on the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and theTomus secunduscontaining the paraphrases on all the Apostolic Epistles. It is typical of the paradoxical history of the work that theTomus secundusshould have come into existence two years before theTomus primus. The present study concerns only the history of the text of the paraphrases collected in theTomus secundus. That of theTomus primus, while similar in some respects, is for the most part different...

    • NINE Why Noël Béda Did Not Like Erasmus’ Paraphrases
      (pp. 265-278)
      Erika Rummel

      In part, this essay addresses a complaint recently voiced by James Farge: that scholars concerned with Erasmus’ controversies, or more generally with controversies between humanists and scholastics, tend to focus on the humanists’ arguments.¹ I would like to compensate for this imbalance by focusing on the scholastic side, that is, Noël Béda’s critique of Erasmus’Paraphrases, considering three aspects: first, Béda’s remarks about himself and his party, the scholastic theologians; second, his remarks about Erasmus and his party, the biblical humanists; and third, Béda’s method of argumentation as compared with Erasmus.’

      First, however, some background information on the polemic between...

    • TEN The Paraphrases of Erasmus in French
      (pp. 279-290)
      Guy Bedouelle

      The first known translation of Erasmus’Paraphrasesappears to be the one published by Claude La Ville in Lyon in 1543. The book bears the titleParaphrases ou briesve exposition sur toutes les Epistres canoniques par Didier Erasme de Rotterdam, translaté de Latin en Françoys.¹ As far as we know, this representse the first publication of this bookseller-printer, who was active in Lyon but also in Valence where, ‘in the big street leading to the place des clercs next to the sign of the dolphin,’ he published the works of Rabelais in sextodecimo:Gargantua, the Second Livre de Pantagruel,the...

    • ELEVEN John Bale’s Image of Both Churches and the English Paraphrase on Revelation
      (pp. 291-312)

      By July 1547, just six months after the death of Henry VIII, the English reformers had already drawn up a set of injunctions that were designed to make official the Protestant agenda that had been cut short by Henry. Among other requirements, these injunctions stipulate that each parish church

      provide with in three months … one book of the whole Bible, of the largest volume, in English. And within one twelve-months … the Paraphrasis of Erasmus also in English upon the Gospels, and the same set up in some convenient place, within the said church that they have cure of,...

    • TWELVE Forming a Protestant Consciousness? Erasmus’ Paraphrases in English Parishes, 1547–1666
      (pp. 313-360)
      John Craig

      When John Stavely, a grocer of Southampton, died in 1559, the unnamed appraisers who drew up a detailed inventory of his goods discovered that he possessed in his great shop, along with pounds of pepper, caraway seed, and treacle, three books – bibles and a ‘parafras,’ a reference to the English translation of Erasmus’Paraphrases on the New Testament. Whether these volumes were for Slavery’s use or intended for sale is not known. The ‘parafras’ was duly valued at 8 shillings.¹ Fourteen years later, in the same town, Richard Goddard the elder, a merchant of substantial wealth, breathed his last....

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 361-378)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 379-382)
  12. Index of Scriptural Passages
    (pp. 383-390)
  13. General Index
    (pp. 391-398)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 399-400)