2016 is an important year in Christian studies, marking the 500th anniversary of the first publication of the Greek New Testament by Erasmus. A leading Renaissance scholar, Erasmus encouraged Christians to go back to the original source of Christian teaching, the Greek New Testament. Throughout the middle ages, the Scriptures were primarily found in Latin, the language of the educated elite. However, in the preface to his 1516 Greek text, Erasmus encouraged vernacular translations of the Scriptures, saying all people should be able to read the Scriptures in their own language: “Would that they were translated into all languages so that not only Scotch and Irish, but Turks and Saracens might be able to read and know them.” Erasmus’ Greek text went through five editions and spurred the translation of Scripture across Europe. Martin Luther in Germany and William Tyndale in England used Erasmus’ text in preparing their translations. Erasmus’ work was truly foundational for the Reformation, traditionally seen as beginning in 1517. In commemoration of this important anniversary, HBU’s Department of Theology, in conjunction with the Dunham Bible Museum, hosted the conference Ad Fontes, Ad Futura: Erasmus’ Bible and the Impact of Scripture, February 25-27. The Latin title means “To the sources, to the future,” and the conference considered the textual and historical issues surrounding Erasmus’ publication, as well as a look forward at issues in Bible translation and cultural influence. Four leading scholars addressed the conference. Dr. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, opened the conference on Thursday. He is a leading scholar in church history and the Reformation, is general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture and author of numerous books, including Reading Scripture with the Reformers and Theology of the Reformers. Dr. Craig Evans, the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at HBU, addressed the conference on the subject, “Erasmus and the Beginnings of Textual Fundamentalism.” Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and senior professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, spoke on “Erasmus and the Publication of the First Greek New Testament.” Dr. Herman Selderhuis, professor of Church History at the Theological University Apeldorn and director of Refo500 spoke on “The Impact of Erasmus’ Biblical Work on the Reformation.”
The conference also included special sessions with additional presentations by scholars on Erasmus’ Bible and the impact of Scripture. In addition to the conference, throughout 2016, the Dunham Bible Museum has a special exhibit featuring Erasmus’ text and its influence: Renaissance of the Bible: Erasmus’ Greek Text, a Foundation for Reformation. The conference and exhibit are a part of Refo500, an international group of partners telling the story of the Reformation as we approach its 500th anniversary. Ad Fontes, Ad Futura was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Dunham Bible Museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10 am- 4pm. Appointments can be made for group tours by contacting Dr. Diana Severance at 281-649-3287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.