Dan Batovici, «Eriugena’s Greek Variant Readings of the Fourth Gospel.», Vol. 26 (2013) 69-86
In a 1912 note of less than two pages, E. Nestle presented a number of instances where Eriugena mentions several readings of the Greek text of the Gospel of John which did not survive in our manuscripts and which where not mentioned by Souter or Tischendorf. He stressed that such an example ‘shews that even so late an author deserves the attention of an editor of the Greek New Testament’ (596), before asking where these would fit in the manuscript tradition of John. This article will follow Nestle’s suggestion and re-examine the variant readings offered by Eriugena – all explicit quotations – in light of the post-1912 developments in textual scholarship on both the Greek text of John and on Eriugena’s works devoted to the Fourth Gospel.
Eriugena’s Greek Variant Readings of the Fourth Gospel 71
understanding of the transmission of the NT text.6 In what follows, these
parameters will be applied to the rather small data sample provided by
Eriugena’s Greek variant readings of John.7
Eriugena’s biblical exegesis and the Johannine Greek quotations8
Although Eriugena is best known as a prominent 9th century Neo-
Platonist philosopher,9 his last two works are exegetical in nature, and
focused on the Fourth Gospel: the homilia svper ‘in principio erat verbvm’,
and the commentarivs in evangelivm iohannis.10
These are conveniently presented in Fee and Mullen, “Use of Greek Fathers,” 361-362.
To that end, the publication since Nestle’s article of critical editions of Eriugena’s
works on the Fourth Gospel – an incomplete commentary and a homily on the prologue – in
Sources Chrétiennes and Corpus Christianorum series is rather felicitous, since one notable
problem in assessing the Patristic evidence for NT textual reasoning is the lack of modern
and dependable editions; see Fee and Mullen, “Use of Greek Fathers,” 354-355; Donaldson,
“Limitations,” 87. We walk therefore on firmer ground in this regard. Moreover, the
identification of Eriugena’s autograph in a number of corrections and additions in the only
surviving manuscript of his commentary on John is further relevant for this analysis. So far
as the quantity of evidence is concerned, unfortunately the commentary has not survived in
its entirety; the manuscript stops early in the exegesis of the fourth Johannine chapter, and
the whole second chapter is mission. Therefore, the readings discussed here are only from
the first and the third chapters of the gospel of John.
The little we know of his life concerns the last decades of his activity, spent at
the itinerant court of Charles the Bold, king of West Francia, the youngest grandson of
Charlemagne. Most data is gathered in the unsurpassed work of D.M. Cappuyns, Jean Scot
Erigène, sa vie, son oeuvre, sa pensée (Bruxelles: Culture et Civilisation, 1969). See also J.
O’Meara, Eriugena (Oxford: OUP, 1988). Possibly a teacher of liberal arts, Eriugena knew
Greek, exceptionally in his time in the West: we still have his translations from Pseudo-
Dionysius, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor; he might have also translated
from Epiphanius of Salamis. Apart from these translations, Eriugena wrote a commentary
on Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii in relation to his own magisterial
office at Charles’ palace school. He also engaged in a polemic on predestination which cost
him a condemnation in two church councils of his time, which did not seem to affect his
position at the court.
His philosophical opus magnum is Periphyseon, composed in five parts: E. Jeauneau,
ed., Iohannes Scotus Eriugena, Periphyseon: Liber primus (CCCM 161; Turnhout: Brepols,
1996); Liber secundus (CCCM 161; 1997); Liber tertius (CCCM 163; 1999); Liber quartus
(CCCM 164; 2000); Liber quintus (CCCM 165; 2003).
Édouard Jeauneau has produced critical editions for both exegetical works, with
French translation, introduction and commentary: Jean Scot, Homélie sur le Prologue de
Jean (SC 151; Paris: Cerf, 1969), and Jean Scot, Commentaire sur l’Evangile de Jean (SC
180; Paris: Cerf, 1972). Both editions have been updated and published together by Jeauneau
in one volume in the Corpus Christianorum Continuation Mediaevalis series: Iohannes
Scotus Eriugena, Homilia et commentaries in euangelium Iohannis. Editiones nouas
curavit Edouard A. Jeauneau adiuuante Andrew J. Hicks (CCCM 166; Turnhout: Brepols,
2008). There is also a fairly recent, good Italian edition of the homily, with introduction,