Sunday, July 3, 2016

Just An Observation About Erasmus' Novum Instrumentum Omne (1516)

I am finishing up the dissertation for the Complutense University in Madrid. One focus of the research was whether or not manuscripts from the Vatican Library in Rome resemble the text of the Complutensian Greek New Testament. I focused exclusively on the Gospel of Matthew. I'll have more to report on this later, but one thing I can report is there is a lot of divergence between the Complutensian Greek text of Matthew and the Vatican manuscripts, not to mention a lot of variance between the manuscripts at the Vatican as a whole. There are a number of readings in the Complutensian Greek New Testament that I did not find in the manuscripts at the Vatican.

A couple of nights ago I started thinking about the amount of divergence between the Novum Instrumentum omne (1516) and the manuscripts used by Erasmus, especially since we know what manuscripts he used. I compared two chapters, just to see what I would find. You can account for Matthew 8 and 22 with just minuscules 1 and 2 (not considering the one commentary ms. he had), assuming in one place in chapter 8 he accidentally left off the definite article and in chapter 22 he left off εἰς because it followed the verb βλέπεις. When I put all of the mss. from the Vatican together, I cannot account for all of the text found in the Complutensian Greek Gospel of Matthew. But I can account for Erasmus’ Greek text just using the mss. found in Basel. Of course this point doesn't prove manuscripts were not sent and used, but we have to start reevaluating this concept of whether manuscripts were indeed sent from Rome and used by Cisneros' team. In my humble opinion, based on both historical data and the textual data that I identified through my comparison of the Vatican mss., I'm not so sure that they did. And if I was a gambling man, which I'm not, I would wager they didn't receive manuscripts from the Vatican Library and, therefore, did not use any manuscripts from the Vatican Library.

By the way, take a look at the picture below. Which of the two manuscripts did Erasmus probably "trust" more than the other? Can you tell?

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