Posted by: Billy Marsh | July 29, 2007

There Are No Substitutes For Jesus Found In The Written Word (II): Erasmus on the Presence of Jesus in the Scriptures


I am sure there are plenty of sources that have already articulated what I am communicating through this article, my previous one on Clowney’s book Preaching Christ in all of Scripture, and perhaps more to come in the future. However, though an unlikely source, Erasmus’ comments on seeing Christ in the Scriptures, especially in the NT, fit into the category of sayings that just cannot be reduplicated or paraphrased in a manner that is expected to convey the same force, poignancy, and affection as the voice and pen of the original author.

This quote is an exerpt pulled from Erasmus’ The Paraclesis, his preface to his Greek and Latin edition of the New Testament. Though, Erasmus is known for his Christian humanism, which does come out heavily in this writing, his thoughts on the reality of the presence of Christ found in the Scriptures are as true, clear, concise, and powerful as any that I have ever heard or read on this subject. This passage has stayed with me continually everytime I approach the Word to commune with God and as John Piper would say, “to see and savor Jesus Christ” ever since I first read the whole article back in my first semester at SWBTS in Dr. Malcolm Yarnell’s class, The Reformation. Now as I read more intensively on this subject, I see that God has sovereignly brought this unique concept full circle in my knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, first as a curiosity and neat insight, and now a passion and particular theological interest.

“Paraclesis” is a Greek word which means “summons or exhortation.” At the end of his preface, immeditately before you turn the page and enter in the Holy Writ, Erasmus “eloquently” (for those of you familar with the scholastic community of his time) exhorts the Christian reader to come to the Scriptures where he can only expect to find the teachings of Christ “in all their fullness and life.”

Erasmus concludes his preface proclaiming:

If anyone displays the tunic of Christ, to what corner of the earth shall we not hasten so that we may kiss it? Yet were you to bring forth His entire wardrobe, it would not manifest Christ more clearly and truly than the Gospel writings. We embellish a wooden or stone statue with gems and gold for the love of Christ. Why not, rather, value than these, if such there be, these writings which bring Christ to us so much more effectively than any paltry image? The latter represents only the form of the body-if indeed it represents anything of Him-but these writings bring you the living image of His holy mind and the speaking, healing, dying, rising Christ himself, and thus they render Him so fully present that you would see less if you gazed upon Him with your very eyes.

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