The Last Six Verses of Revelation

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Erasmus’ first edition of the printed Greek and Latin New Testament dig-lot called the Novum Instrumentum (New Instrument) has been the subject of a vicious and unwarranted attack by textual critics. One of the accusations against Erasmus is that he possessed only one Greek manuscript of Revelation when he compiled the text of Revelation.

Contents

Revelation 22:16-21 KJV

Erasmus' Edition

Revelation 22.16-21 in Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 edition
Revelation 22.16-21 in Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 edition

The last six verses of Erasmus' first edition of 1516 claimed to be a mistranslation:

16 ... ὁ ἀστὴρ λαμπρός, καὶ ὀρθρινός.
17 καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν, ἐλθέ. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω, ἐλθέ. καὶ ὁ διψῶν, ἐλθέτω. καὶ ὁ θέλων, λαμβανέτω τὸ ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν,
18 συμμαρτυροῦμαι γὰρ παντὶ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους προφητείας βιβλίου τούτου. εἴτις ἐπιτιθῇ πρὸς ταῦτα ἐπιθήσει ὁ θεὸς ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ,
19 καὶ εἴτις ἀφαιρῇ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων βίβλου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης. ἀφαιρήσει ὁ θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ βίβλου ζωῆς, καὶ πόλεως ἁγίας, καὶ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ.
20 λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα. ναὶ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, ἀμήν. ναί, ἔρχου κύριε ΙΗΣΟΥ.
21 ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ΙΗΣΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν.
Stephanus
16 ... ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ λαμπρὸς καὶ ὀρθρινός
17 Καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν, Ἐλθε, καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω, Ἐλθε, καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐλθέτω· καὶ ὁ θέλων λαμβανέτω τὸ ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν
18 Συμμαρτυροῦμαι γὰρ παντὶ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου, ἐάν τις ἐπιτιθῇ πρὸς ταῦτα, ἐπιθήσει ὁ θεὸς ἐπ' αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ :19 καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφαιρῇ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων βίβλου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης ἀφαιρήσει ὁ θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας καὶ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ
20 Λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα, Ναί ἔρχομαι ταχύ. Ἀμήν, ναί, ἔρχου, κύριε Ἰησοῦ
21 Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν
Scrivener
16 ... ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ λαμπρὸς καὶ ὀρθρινός.
17 καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ νύμφη λέγουσιν, Ἐλθε. καὶ ὁ ἀκούων εἰπάτω, Ἐλθε. καὶ ὁ διψῶν ἐλθέτω· καὶ ὁ θέλων λαμβανέτω τὸ ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν.
18 Συμμαρτυροῦμαι γὰρ παντὶ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου, ἐάν τις ἐπιτιθῇ πρὸς ταὐτά, ἐπιθήσει ὁ Θεὸς ἐπ’ αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ·
19 καὶ ἐάν τις ἀφαιρῇ ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων βίβλου τῆς προφητείας ταύτης, ἀφαιρήσει ὁ Θεὸς τὸ μέρος αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως τῆς ἁγίας, καὶ τῶν γεγραμμένων ἐν βιβλίῳ τούτῳ.
20 λέγει ὁ μαρτυρῶν ταῦτα, ναί, ἔρχομαι ταχύ. ἀμήν. Ναί ἔρχου, Κύριε Ἰησοῦ.
21 Ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου ημῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. ἀμήν.
Verse 1881 1598 1550 1535 1527 1522 1519 1516 1514
22:16
22:16 ἀστὴρ ἀστὴρ ἀστὴρ
22:16 λαμπρὸς λαμπρὸς λαμπρός,
22:16 καὶ καὶ καὶ
22:16 ὀρθρινός. ὀρθρινός. ὀρθρινός.
22:17 καὶ Καὶ καὶ
22:17 τὸ τὸ τὸ
22:17 Πνεῦμα πνεῦμα πνεῦμα
22:17 καὶ καὶ καὶ

(Unfinished chart)

Erasmus' Sources

Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 annotations
Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 annotations

Erasmus also examined the Lauretianus Codex in Revelation 8:13 which was Laurentius Vallas manuscript with annotations.

Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 annotations
Desiderius Erasmus's 1516 annotations

James White claims "Erasmus used only one manuscript for Revelation", but Erasmus said in Revelation 1:6

"sic enim est in graecis exemplaribus..."

Translated as

It is in the Greek copies (plural)...

Here are Erasmus's own words, from his Annotationes, page 675 (Full title: In Novum Testamentum annotationes, ab ipso autore iam quartum recognitae, & ex Graecis codicibus quos postea nactus est auctario neutiquam poenitendo locupletatae):

Quamquam in calce huius libri nonnulla verba reperi apud nostros quae aberant in Graecis exemplaribus; [B]ea tamen ex latinis adiecimus.

In English:

However, at the end of this book, I found some words in our versions which were lacking in the Greek copies, but we added them from the Latin.

Some more of Erasmus's own words, from his Responsio ad annotationes Eduardi Lei (“Answer to Edward Lee’s Annotations”), page 278:

Dubium non erat quin essent omissa, et erant perpauca. Proinde nos, ne hiaret lacuna, ex nostris Latinis supplevimus Graeca. Quod ipsum tamen noluimus latere lectorem, fassi in annotationibus quid a nobis esset factum ut, si quid dissiderent verba nostra ab his quae posuisset autor huius operis, lector nactus exemplar restitueret. ... Et tamen hoc ipsum non eramus ausuri in Euangeliis, quod hic fecimus, ac ne in epistolis quidem apostolicis. Huius libri sermo simplicissimus est, et argumentum fere historicum, ne quid dicam, de autore olim incerto. Postremo locus hic coronis tantum est operis.

In English:

There was no doubt that the words had been omitted, and they were only a few. To avoid leaving a lacuna [gap] in my text, I supplied the Greek out of our Latin version. I did not want to conceal this from the reader, however, and admitted in the annotations what I had done. My thought was that the reader, if he had access to a manuscript, could correct anything in our words that differed from those put by the author of this work. ... And yet I would not have dared to do in the Gospels or even in the apostolic Epistles what I have done here. The language of this book is very simple, and the content has mostly a historical sense, not to mention that the authorship was once uncertain. Finally, this passage is merely the conclusion of the work.

Erasmus's own words, from his Apologia qua respondet duabis inuectiuis Eduardi Lei (“Defense which responds to Edward Lee’s two invectives”), pages 54-55:

In calce Apocalypsis in exemplari quod tum nobis (erat unicum, nam is liber apud Graecos rarus est inventu), deerat unus atque alter versus. Eos nos addidimus, secuti Latinos codices. Et erant eiusmodi ut ex his quae praecesserant possent reponi. Cυm igitur Basileam mitterem recognitum exemplar, scripsi amicis ut ex aeditione Aldina restituerunt eum locum. Nam mihi nondum emptum erat hoc opus. Id ita, ut iussi, factum est. Queso, quid hic debetur Leo? An ipse quod deerat restituit? Atqui nullum habebat exemplar nisi meum. Sed admonuit. Quasi vero non hoc testatus sim in prioribus annotationibus, quid illic egissem et quid desyderarem.

In English:

At the end of the Apocalypse, the manuscript I used (I had only one, for the book is rarely found in Greek) was lacking one or two lines. I added them, following the Latin codices. They were of the kind that could be restored out of the preceding text. Thus, when I sent the revised copy to Basel, I wrote to my friends to restore the place out of the Aldine edition; for I had not yet bought that work. They did as I instructed them. What, I ask you, do I owe to Lee in this case? Did he himself restore what was missing? But he had no text except mine. Ah, but he warned me! As if I had not stated in the annotations of the first edition what I had done and what was missing.

Scrivener

Scrivener said in A plain introduction to the criticism of the New Testament concerning Erasmus that he may have used other Greek manuscripts for Revelation:

As Apoc. 1 was mutilated in the last six verses, Erasmus turned these into Greek from the Latin; and some portions of his self-made version, which are found (however some editors may speak vaguely) in no one known Greek manuscript whatever, still cleave to our received text ^. Besides this scanty roll, however, he not rarely refers in his Annotations to other manuscripts he had seen in the course of his travels (e. g. on Heb. i. 3 ; Apoc. i. 4 ; viii. 13), yet too indistinctly for his allusions to be of much use to critics. Some such readings, as alleged by him, have not been found elsewhere (e. g. Acts xxiv. 23 ; Rom. xii. 20), and may have been cited loosely from distant recollection (comp. Col. iii. 3 ; Heb. iv. 13 ; 3 Pet. iii. 1 ; Apoc. ii. 18). A plain introduction to the criticism of the New Testament for the use of Biblical students by Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose, 1813-1891; Miller, Edward, 1825-1901

Gail Riplinger

Gail Riplinger commented on this verse in her book In Awe of Thy Word, page 981:

William Combs pretends that the last six verses of Revelation” contain “errors in the KJV. He blindly claims, They have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever (William Combs, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal, Erasmus and the Textus Receptus, Spring 1996, p. 47). The KJVs book of life is in Greek Manuscripts 051, 296, 2049, 2067 mg, as well as in the ancient Coptic and Arabic Bibles.
Herman Hoskier, the pre-eminent collator of the manuscripts of Revelation, said Erasmus did not take this reading from the Latin, but from Greek Manuscript 2049 or 141. It is also in Andreas manuscripts.
Combs assertions dissolve when one looks in any critical apparatus. (Please check: von Soden, Tischendorfs 8th edition, Nestle-Aland 26th edition, Alford, United Bible Societies, Metzgers Textual Commentary, Hoskier: Revelation, Charles: Revelation.
See Hoskiers Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse. If the reader cannot access the cited critical editions, J. Moormans book, When the KJV Departs from the [false] Majority Text of Hodges-Farstad, contains this and much additional information. It is available from A.V. Publications.
Contrary to Combs footnoted list of KJV errors: • The word ”and” is in Rev. 22:16 in MSS 296 and 2066 and 17 of Hoskiers Greek cursives. •
The second ”and” is also in Rev. 22:17 in Greek MSS 209, 218, 254, 296, 1894, 2049, 2050, 2066, 2075, 2321, as well as in the ancient Syriac, Coptic, Arminian, and Arabic Bibles.
In Rev. 22:18 ”for” is in Greek MS 2066 and 8 of Hoskiers cursives, as well as the ancient Coptic and Ethiopic Bibles.
“And from the things which are written in this book” is in Rev. 22:19 in Greek MS 296, 2049 and the ancient Arabic Bible.
Finally, ”you” is in Rev. 22:21 in Greek manuscript 296, 2050, 2066, and 15 of Hoskiers cursives, as well as in the ancient Ethiopic Bible.

NET Bible Notes

NET bible notes on the subject:

tc The Textus Receptus, on which the KJV rests, reads “the book” of life (ἀπὸ βίβλου, apo biblou) instead of “the tree” of life. When the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus translated the NT he had access to no Greek mss for the last six verses of Revelation. So he translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek at this point. As a result he created seventeen textual variants which were not in any Greek mss. The most notorious of these is this reading. It is thus decidedly inauthentic, while “the tree” of life, found in the best and virtually all Greek mss, is clearly authentic. The confusion was most likely due to an intra-Latin switch: The form of the word for “tree” in Latin in this passage is ligno; the word for “book” is libro. The two-letter difference accounts for an accidental alteration in some Latin mss; that “book of life” as well as “tree of life” is a common expression in the Apocalypse probably accounts for why this was not noticed by Erasmus or the KJV translators. (This textual problem is not discussed in NA27.)

Jan Krans

Dutch scholar Jan Krans (VU University, Amsterdam) has written a 19pp. refutation of the KJVO claims made by Thomas Holland in his book, Crowned with Glory, regarding the "tree of life"/"book of life" reading of Rev. 22:19.

Abstract:

"With Thomas Holland's lengthy discussion of a reading in Rev 22:19 as an example, this article shows how Holland’s way of doing New Testament textual criticism falls short on all academic standards. With respect to the main issue, Erasmus’ retranslation of the final verses of Revelation, Holland fails to properly find, address and evaluate both primary and secondary sources."

http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/

http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/v16/Krans2011.pdf

Krans characterizes Holland's work as a "sloppy (lack of) scholarship" (p.6) and openly calls Holland's academic qualifications into question (p.1, n.1) and chooses to "refrain from using the title 'Dr.' which he [Holland] himself consistently uses."

But strangely Krans rejects evidence from early Latin fathers by saying:

"Are these Greek or Latin fathers and commentators? And if they are Latin, do they depend on the Vulgate for their text? And if this is conceivable, why count them as 'evidence' for the reading 'book of life'?" - Textualcriticism list, July 24, 2006.

But this is clearly stacking the evidence, as it is easily proven that early Latin writers were conversant also in Greek, and vice versa, and would have gladly used either Greek or Latin bibles. Also, any Latin quotes before 500 would most represent the Old Latin manuscripts rather than the Vulgate.

Krans states concerning Erasmus:

For Revelation, he based his Greek text on a single manuscript, minuscule 1r (now numbered 2814 according to the new Gregory-Aland number).2 This manuscript, however, lacks the final verses of the book, and in order to have a complete text, Erasmus retranslated these verses into Greek from the Latin. Elements of his retranslation survive in every edition of the so-called Textus Receptus, the standard text of the printed Greek New Testament until the nineteenth century.

Erasmus states more than once, as demonstrated infra, that he had several “copies” (“exemplars”) of even the scarcest text, the Apocalypse. For the latter, in at least one instance, he identifies his source: viz. the unpublished Aldine edition in Venice, which was based on manuscripts differing, in parts, from those drawn on by Erasmus for his first edition. In that instance a reading was obtained, on Erasmus’ instructions, by his co-editors in Basle, either in person, or by correspondence, from the Aldus printers. The exemplars mentioned by Erasmus were most probably, therefore, either his own copies of the “oldest and most correct” manuscripts, or those of his illustrious co-editors, supplementing the four original documents referred to supra. An example of the former is Erasmus’ “revised copy” (recognitum exemplar) of the text of the Apocalypse obtained from the Reuchlin codex which he sent to Basle to his co-editors, along with the instructions to procure from the Aldine edition the one reading he was missing. [1]

Erasmus said in his own words:

At the end of the Apocalypse, the manuscript I used (I had only one, for the book is rarely found in Greek) was lacking one or two lines. I added them, following the Latin codices. They were of the kind that could be restored out of the preceding text. Thus, when I sent the revised copy to Basel, I wrote to my friends to restore the place out of the Aldine edition; for I had not yet bought that work. They did as I instructed them. What, I ask you, do I owe to Lee in this case? Did he himself restore what was missing? But he had no text except mine. Ah, but he warned me! As if I had not stated in the annotations of the first edition what I had done and what was missing.
Krans' biased Latin translation

On pages 55-56 Krans offers a translation of Erasmus that is different from scholar Erika Rummel.

The Latin in Krans' book:

"Dubium non erat quin essent omissa, et erant perpauca. Proinde nos, ne hiaret lacuna, ex nostris Latinis supplevimus Graeca. Quod ipsum tamen noluimus latere lectorem, fassi in annotationibus quid a nobis esset factum ut, si quid dissiderent verba nostra ab his quae posuisset autor huius operis, lector nactus exemplar restitueret. ... Et tamen hoc ipsum non eramus ausuri in Euangeliis, quod hie fecimus, ac ne in epistolis quidem apostolicis. Huius libri sermo simplicissimus est, et argumentum fere historicum, ne quid dicam, de autore olim incerto. Postremo locus hie coronis tantum est operis" (Resp. ad annot. Ed. Lei, ASD IX-4, p. 278 11. 35-39.39-43; cf. p. 120 11. 303-304 and Apolog. resp. inuect. Ed. Lei, ASD IX-4, pp. 54-55 11. 894-914).

Jan Krans:

There was no doubt that some things were missing, and it was not much. Therefore we completed the Greek from our Latin texts, so that there might be no gap. We did not want to hide this from the reader, however, and acknowledged in the Annotationes what we had done, in order that, if our words differed in some respect from those that the author of this work had provided, the reader who obtained a manuscript could restore them. ... And even this that we did here we would not have dared to do in the case of the Gospels nor indeed in the apostolic Epistles. The style of this book is very simple and its contents are mostly narrative, let alone the fact that its author has long since been unknown. Finally this place is only the ending of the book.

Erika Rummel:

There was no doubt that the words had been omitted, and they were only a few. To avoid leaving a lacuna in my text, I supplied the Greek out of our Latin version. I did not want to conceal this from the reader, however, and admitted in the annotations what I had done. My thought was that the reader, if he had access to a manuscript, could correct anything in our words that differed from those put by the author of this work. … And yet I would not have dared to do in the Gospels or even in the apostolic Epistles what I have done here. The language of this book is very simple, and the content has mostly a historical sense, not to mention that the authorship was once uncertain. Finally, this passage is merely the conclusion of the work.
Krans' failure to connect the dots

In Chapter 2, on Page 32, of Jan Krans' book Beyond What is Written, he shows more error that is parroted by James White. In the context of homoeoteleuton...

"...Another clear description of the process can be found in Erasmus' reaction to one of Lee's criticisms:
I felt that the scribe had made an error for the following reason: because the words 'in this book' occur twice, he turned his eyes to the second instance, omitting the words in between. There is no stone on which the copyists stumble more often.16..."

Krans then has the footnote:

"...16 "Sensimus autem scribam per eam occasionem errasse, quod cum bis ponatur in libro isto ille ad posterius oculos deflexerit relictis que sunt in medio. Siquidem ad nullum lapidem frequentius impingunt librarii" (Resp. ad annot. Ed. Lei, ASD IX-4, p. 278 11. 32-34). This description is nice and clearly based on acquaintance with scribal practice, but Erasmus is mistaken about the text-critical case he is describing. In min. 2814, the manuscript he used for Revelation in his first edition, the final verses of the book are not missing because of homoeoteleuton, but simply because a leaf of the manuscript is missing (actually — as is often stated — it is not the final leaf of the manuscript that is missing, but the leaf with, besides part of the commentary, the final verses of the text, to wit Rev 22:16-21, from the words ὁ ἀστὴρ at the end of verse 16 onwards). It has to be granted, however, that min. 2814 or its Vorlage certainly suffered from homoeoteleuton at many places. One might conclude that homoeoteleuton phenomena were familiar to Erasmus to such an extent that he could even use them as a subterfuge when he no longer remembered the exact state of affairs. For a harsher view, see Delitzsch, Handschriftliche Funde 1, pp. 14-15.

Notice that Erasmus clearly said it was homoeoteleuton, but Krans is following the errors of Delitzsch and not recognizing the two separate issues, one related to the Greek manuscripts containing homoeoteleuton in Revelation 22:19, and the other being the last 6 verses of the Reuchlin’s codex (2814) which he traveled to examine. By mixing these events and claiming Erasmus had only one manuscript for Revelation, this opens up all types of speculation and erroneous conclusions.

In krans' book Erasmus and the Text of Revelation 22:19 he writes in a footnote:

Resp. ad annot. Ed. Lei, ASD IX-4, p. 278 ll. 35-39 and 39-43; cf. p. 120 ll. 303-304: “... quod in fine Apocalypsis paucula verba adiecerim Graeco codici ex nostris Latinis” (“... that at the end of Revelation I added some words to the Greek book on the basis of our Latin ones”). Translation Erika Rummel, CWE 72, p. 344. Instead of “the authorship was once uncertain”, I would prefer, with another nuance of “olim”, “the authorship has long since been uncertain”.

He admits he changed the entire meaning from Rummel by redefining Olim. The Lewis, Charlton, T. An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. American Book Company, 1890 says:

ōlim adv.,
at that time, some time ago, once upon a time, once, formerly, of old: ut fuit olim Sisyphus, H.: sic olim loquebantur: ut erant olim: Alium esse censes nunc me, atque olim, T.—Once and again, now and then, at times, customarily, frequently, ever: saxum tunditur olim Fluctibus, etc., V.: ut pueris olim dant crustula Doctores, H.: ut olim vagantur apes, O.: Vestra meos olim si fistula dicat amores, if ever, V.—This long time, this good while: Audio quid veteres olim moneatis amici, Iu.—Of the future, one day, some time, hereafter: utinam coram tecum olim, potius quam per epistulas!: non si male nunc et olim Sic erit, H.: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit, V.
olim at that time, some time ago, once upon a time, once, formerly, of old (Lewis & Short Elem. Lewis)

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