Masterclass honouring the 40th Erasmus Birthday Lecture

Grantley McDonald: Negotiating orthodoxy: Erasmus and the theological implications of biblical philology

6 December 2019 from 12:00 to 14:15 hrs
KNAW, Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
020 551 0859
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While examining Greek manuscripts for his forthcoming diglot edition of the New Testament, Erasmus noticed something very odd in the first letter of John: the ‘Johannine comma’, a short clause on which western theologians had relied for centuries as the most explicit statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, was not present in his Greek manuscripts.

He remarked on this absence in his annotations, but after his edition appeared, he was accused of undermining orthodox belief in the Trinity. When presented with a Greek manuscript containing the Johannine comma, he included it in a subsequent edition in order to avoid further controversy, a decision which only caused further dispute. Until recently, the source of the Greek manuscript in which Erasmus saw the comma has been unclear. Here we will explore the available evidence and present some conclusions.

Grantley McDonald

Grantley McDonald is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and leader of the FWF research project The court chapel of Maximilian I: between art and politics at the University of Vienna. He holds doctoral degrees in musicology (Melbourne, 2002) and history (Leiden, 2011). Grantley’s research has been distinguished with prizes from the Australian Academy of the Humanities (Canberra) and the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation (Amsterdam). He is author of Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Marsilio Ficino in Germany, from Renaissance to Enlightenment: a Reception History (Geneva: Librairie Droz, in press), and co-editor (with Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl and Elisabeth Giselbrecht) of Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands (London: Routledge, 2018). He has been one of the editors of the Verzeichnis deutscher Musikdrucke (University of Salzburg) since its inception in 2012. He is also active as a performing musician.

Preliminary bibliography

‘Erasmus and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5.7-8)’, Grantley McDonald, The Bible Translator 2016, Vol. 67(1) 42–55.