A first edition of Erasmus’s Latin translation of the New Testament.
What did the translation consist of?
The Dutch Catholic scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) produced a Latin translation of the New Testament by going back to and closely studying Greek manuscripts. In contrast to other scholars, Erasmus had gone back to the original texts in Greek and provided his own translation of them into Latin rather than relying on the existing Latin Vulgate or its interpretations. His intention was to provide the Greek text alongside his translation of it into Latin. The work was printed in Basel, and the printer, Johann Froben, was aware of the work going on in Alcalá de Henares on the ‘Complutensian Polyglot Bible’, and thus two Greek editions of the New Testament were published very close to each other. Like the ‘Complutensian Polyglot Bible’, Erasmus’s translation was very much intended for scholars and is divided into two parts. The first part has two parallel columns with the Greek and Latin texts next to each other while the second part contains a commentary and alternative suggestions for translations of certain words or phrases.
What impact did the work have?
The first edition of Erasmus’s work was published in Basel in 1516 and was soon followed by further editions. And it was Erasmus’s Novum instrumentum which was used by both Martin Luther in Germany and William Tyndale in England in their work on German and English translations of the New Testament respectively.