- This article discusses Erasmus, the theologian. For the Greek Orthodox Bishop, see Erasmus of Arcadia.
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), born as Gerrit Gerritszoon in Rotterdam, was an Augustinian monk, humanist, philosopher and the leading thinker of the Northern Renaissance that took place in the Netherlands. He wanted more spirituality in the Catholic Church and urged a greater emphasis on the teachings of Jesus. He published a Greek edition of the New Testament, and was the first scholar to become famous through use of the printing press, developed in the Northern Renaissance. Though he wrote satires about the Church that led others to criticize it, Erasmus condemned Martin Luther and strenuously opposed the Reformation. Nonetheless, it is commonly said that he "laid the egg that Luther hatched".
British writer Leslie McFall contends that Erasmus (1466-1536), in his construction of a Greek New Testament, duplicitously altered the text of Matthew 19:9 to allow the fornication exception, by asserting the text should read:
- Now I say to you that whoever shall dismiss his wife—not even over fornication—and shall marry another, he commits adultery. And the one who marries one divorced commits adultery.
Erasmus had only eight Greek manuscripts, and these were of relatively late date (Schaff 1916, 166-167). Hundreds of Greek manuscripts, including some of the oldest in existence, do read me epi porneia—“not on the basis of fornication” (19:9; cf. Robertson 1925, 219). These texts predate Erasmus by centuries. Thus any divorce, except on the ground of fornication initiated by an innocent victim, is invalid. This textual evidence is reliably reflected in our modern versions.