Monday, July 11, 2016

The Goal and Value of Biblical Scholarship

The best known contribution to biblical scholarship of Erasmus (c.1466-1536 CE) is his edition of the Greek New Testament, first published in 1516. This, with his Latin translation, marked a significant move away from the dominance of the Vulgate to a new emphasis on the original languages of Christian scripture. It represented the flowering of a renewed interest in ancient languages and literature, which originated in Renaissance Italy and made its influence felt across Europe in the opening decades of the sixteenth century. Erasmus subsequent revisions of his New Testament and of the Annotations, which he published alongside it and continued to edit throughout his life, show his concern for careful philological and grammatical work as the basis for translation and interpretation. Erasmus was not, however, driven simply by the demands of scholarship, but by the conviction that a return to the wellspring of scripture would bring new life to the Church's ritual and worship, and provide the means for personal growth in holiness. He believed that knowledge of scripture should not be restricted to the clergy, but made available to all, if necessary by means of vernacular translations.  Allan K. Jenkins,
 Erasmus Commentary on Psalm 2

All scholarship, even my own feeble attempts, when driven by biblical faith, should lead to worship.  This was the goal of Erasmus, who did much to bring back the centrality of the Greek New Testament to the church and scholarship.  I recently had a conversation with a well meaning, but misguided, individual who was criticizing scholarship and my pursuit of further education.   Yet it has been good, biblical, scholarship that has brought the church back to orthodoxy from the beginning, whether that be Paul writing Galatians, the early church fathers writing against heretical views of the person of Christ, to the reformers like Luther and Calvin, to modern day scholars writing against open theism.  May God grant his church more Christ exalting scholars!


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