Monday, December 04, 2023

Manuscript evidence of Revelation 16:5

The current ECM website data for Revelation 16:5 provides transcription data for around 100 witnesses to Revelation 16:5.  Some of those are witnesses are "corrector" witnesses.  

A comparison of the transcription reveals both a general harmony with the ECM/NA28 as well as numerous departures from the ECM/NA28.  Most of the departures seem to be minor.  

Example 1: Phrase Insertion

About 10% of the witnesses insert "του επι" to the first phrase of the verse, "και ηκουσα του αγγελου του επι των υδατων λεγοντος" and a big percentage note a punctuation mark: "λεγοντος·".  The punctuation mark in this example is an ἄνω τελεία (ano teleia) also known as άνω στιγμή (ano stigmi) or simply "Greek semicolon."  This punctuation mark has no viability because such marks were a later development used for aiding reading, as evidenced by their absence in the oldest manuscripts. 

The addition of the "του επι" would change the phrase from "and I heard the angel of the waters saying" to "and I heard the angel upon the waters saying".  I am not familiar with anyone who argues that this is the original text.  The majority and earliest manuscripts don't have this reading. The Vulgate does not have this reading.  I have not checked patristic witnesses about this myself.  

Hoskier (link) identifies seven manuscripts for this variant as well as Arethas for a similar variant:

The TR, like the NA28, follows the shorter text.  

Example 2: Verb Change

A single manuscript (2048) apparently has ηκουσε instead of ηκουσα to form the phrase "και ηκουσε του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος."  The difference in meaning "he heard" instead of "I heard."  2048 is an 11th century manuscript of Revelation.  Hoskier identifies the variant as corresponding to a single manuscript:

The Vulgate does not have this reading.  I have not checked patristic witnesses about this myself.  It might be very hard to distinguish between uses of "he heard" as the commentator's own introduction (i.e. to refer to John rather than the commentator), although in theory there could be commentary that would make the issue clear.

The TR, like the NA28, follows the overwhelming majority of texts.

Example 3: Article Change

It seems there was an error in the copying of 2286, as a result the firsthand text seems to have written and then erased "τω" rather than "του" before αγγελου.  Similarly, the firsthand text of 01 seems to be "των" but was corrected to "του" .  

Hoskier notes the error and correction of 01 thus:

The article "των" with "αγγελου" would be irregular.  Although it is found in one of the earliest manuscripts, considering that it is corrected there and considering that the text of 2286 may simply witness a similar clerical slip, this variant does not seem to be viable.  It's not directly translatable in English or Latin.  

Once again, the TR, like the NA28, follows the overwhelming majority of texts.

Example 4: Phrase Omission and Participle Change

At least three manuscripts (2026, 2057, 2495) completely omit the phrase, "και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων". Two of those replace "λεγοντος" (a genitive participle) with "λεγων" (a nominative participle).  As to the former issue, Hoskier notes:

As to the latter issue, Hoskier notes:

These third and fourth variants of  "λεγωντος" or "λεγοντως" for "λεγοντος" did not show up in the transcription list I have.  Nevertheless, in my list, manuscript 2845 has "λεγοντα" for "λεγοντος", which Hoskier does not seem to note.  Ultimately, each of the manuscripts that depart from the overwhelming majority seems to be a 15th century manuscript.  The Vulgate uses the accusative for "saying" (which I think should serve the same purpose as the Greek genitive here) and English while it doesn't distinguish participles in the same way, seems functionally the same.  I didn't check the patristic witnesses myself, although it can be seen that the Armenian seemingly has a different take.

Yet again, the TR, like the NA28, follows the overwhelming majority of texts.

Example 5: Word Order

Several manuscripts change the order of the words of this first phrase.  For example, 2329 and 2886 place "λεγοντος" before "των υδατων", while 2847 places "των υδατων" before "του αγγελου."  Manuscript 2847 also replaces "ηκουσα" with "οικουσα".  2847 is a 16th century manuscript and 2886 is a 15th century manuscript, while 2329 is a 10th century manuscript.  

Hoskier does not seem to note the latter issue, but regarding the former issue observes:

Once again, the earliest and vast majority agree, and the TR and NA28 follow the earliest and vast majority of texts.  I don't think the word order issue would result in a translation difference, and it would seem unlikely to be clearly identifiable in the patristic evidence, which I haven't checked.

Summary (so far)

As you have hopefully seen so far, even in just this first phrase of the verse (i.e. Rev. 16:5a), there are only seven Greek words, but there are more than seven variant readings in the five examples I've provided above.  Moreover, Hoskier identifies additional variants such as the omission of the initial "and" (in the Sahiddic and some of the Boharic) and the addition of "holy" (ἁγίου) before angel, as well as the omission of "the angel."   Nevertheless, in each case the vast majority of the Greek copies agree with one another, and in each case the TR and the NA28 agree.  In fact, essentially  

Rev 16:5 (STEP bible)(NA28)

(NA28) Καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(Nestle) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

(Ant) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

(Byz) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

(Elz) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

(SBLG) καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(SRGNT) Καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(THGNT) καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(Tisch) καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(TNT) καὶ ἤκουσα τοῦ ἀγγέλου τῶν ὑδάτων λέγοντος ...

(TR) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

(WHNU) και ηκουσα του αγγελου των υδατων λεγοντος ...

Even the Complutensian Polyglot agrees:

In short, despite the presence of lots of variants, the first half of the verse is relatively uncontroversial.

Interesting Variants in the Second Half

In order to reduce the amount of space, let me summarize the variants in the second half (i.e. "... Δίκαιος εἶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὅσιος ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας"), limiting myself to the variants with Greek text support in the 100 witnesses for which I have transcripts.  Before I do that, I think it worth noting that literally all 100 witnesses have no variation regarding the word "δικαιος" (righteous).  

  1. Manuscript 61 had ο and then δι before δικαιος but ultimately was corrected to avoid such insertions.
  2. Manuscript 2344 adds Lord in nomina sacra form ("κ̅ε̅·") after righteous.
  3. Manuscripts 104, 141, 2042, 2495, 2847, and 2919 omit εἶ.
  4. Manuscripts 131 and 2042 add "ην" before "ὁ ὢν"
  5. Manuscript 2495 adds "ων" before "ὁ ὢν"
  6. Manuscript 2847 omits the "ὁ" before "ὢν" 
  7. Manuscript 2847 omits the "καὶ " after "ὁ ὢν"
  8. About 27 witnesses (including the earliest witness) use the word "ὃς" rather than "ὁ" before "ἦν"
  9. About 23 witnesses (including the earliest witness) include the καὶ before ὅσιος .
  10. About 49 witnesses (about half and including the earliest manuscript) omit the ὁ before ὅσιος
  11. Manuscript 2432 has a reading of ωσιος rather than ὅσιος although it is corrected.
  12. Manuscript 2847 has "και ω ων ωσιος" instead of "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος"
  13. Manuscript 2919 has "ο ο αμγοσιος" instead of "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος"
  14. Manuscript 2495 omits "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος"
  15. Manuscript 2026 inserts "εν τοις εργοις σου" (in your works) after "καὶ ὅσιος"
  16. Manuscript 469 inserts "και ο αγιος" after "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος"
  17. Manuscript 2196 omits "ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας" 
  18. Manuscript 2845 has "παντα" for "ταῦτα"
  19. Manuscript 792 has "δικαια" for "ταῦτα"

As you can see, all but three of these variants are cases where there is an overwhelming majority reading.  Moreover, as you can see, even with just these copies, there are 13 words and 19 variants.

Looking at the NA28 (which agrees with the Complutensian here), the Stephanus 1550 TR, and Beza's TR, we see the following differences:
  • NA28/Complutensian ... δίκαιος εἶ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν, ὁ ὅσιος, ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας,
  • TR1550  ... Δίκαιος Κύριε, εἶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὅσιος ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας
  • Beza 1582/98: ...  Δίκαιος, Κύριε, εἶ Ὁ ὢν, καὶ Ὁ ἦν, καὶ ὁ ἐσόμενος, ὅτι ταῦτα ἔκρινας.
In short, all three correspond to the overwhelming majority of manuscripts for variants 1, 3-7 and 15-19, i.e. the minority position is rejected in all those cases.  Similarly, none of the three follow the minority variants 11-14.  That leaves us to consider variants 2 and 8-10.

The insertion of "Lord" (variant 2)

This insertion has weak evidence in the manuscripts and versions.  Specifically, Hoskier notes:

In other words, Hoskier identifies the word as being present in two Greek manuscripts, the Aethiopic, and part of the Boharic.  

The oldest and the vast majority of manuscripts support the non-inclusion of the word.  The reason for the presence of the word in the TR editions (both Stephanus and Beza) is the inclusion without comment by Erasmus from his very first edition.

The presence of the extraneous "Lord" in a small number of manuscripts is most easily explained by parallel corruption from verse 7, which has the word, or from an insertion intended to clarify that the angel was talking to the Lord, not to John.  The alternative explanation that scribes tended to insert the word "Lord" into the text, while correctly premised, does not seem to be the best explanation here, as the usual trigger for such an insertion would be the presence of the name, Jesus, or the title, Christ.  The insertion does not alter the meaning of the text, because the angel is speaking to the Lord.

The word "ὃς" rather than "ὁ" before "ἦν" (variant 8)

None of the three editions we are looking at follow this well attested but minority reading.  The probable reason for rejecting this reading is that although it makes the Greek smoother, it does so at the expense of an intentionally irregular use of Greek here, to signal that the Greek participle is being used as a name/title of God.  The reading here is so similar to the readings found at 1:4, 1:8, 4:8, and 11:17 that it is hard to imagine that a different wording was intentionally used by John here.   

The omission of "καὶ" after "ἦν" (variant 9)

The NA28 and the Complutensian Polyglot, following the majority of witnesses against the minority and the earliest witness, omit the "καὶ" here.  It's a difficult variant to consider in isolation.  Possibly the Complutensian editors just followed the manuscripts they had.  For the NA28 editors, the choice had to be informed by the related variant of  ὁ before ὅσιος, which we will consider next.  In short, "καὶ" makes sense if the word "holy" is supposed to be coordinate with "righteous" (Δίκαιος).  Thus, the insertion of this word can be used as an attempt to correct a perceived omission. 

The omission of the "ὁ" before "ὅσιος" (variant 10)

If the word "holy" were coordinate with "righteous," one would not normally expect the article ὁ to be present, because it would not be needed.  Correspondingly, the article is omitted in quite a lot of the exemplars, seemingly as a false correction to the text.  Interestingly, though, I cannot tell at a glance whether the ὁ is more often omitted when the καὶ is present or absent.

While we may be inclined to agree with Beza that the combination of "καὶ ὁ" that he found in the Stephanus TR is problematic, the better solution is to understand that the "καὶ" was erroneously added.  With that understanding, the point of the "ὁ" is to serve a similar purpose as it did with the previous names, "ὁ ὢν" and "ὁ ἦν," namely to signal that the word "holy" is being used in the Vocative as a name/title of God.

The substitution of "καὶ ὁ ἐσόμενος" for "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος"

The reader will notice that this variant does not have a number.  That's because this variant does not correspond to any of the texts in the list I have.  It likewise does not correspond to any text found by Hoskier.  Some people claim that Beza had a manuscript with such a reading.  If so, it would be a singular reading.

If such a manuscript existed, it seems likely that it was similarly an attempt to deal with the difficult construction "καὶ ὁ ὅσιος" found in the exemplar.  The scribe presumably saw that "ὁ ὅσιος" was irregular and thought that the "καὶ" would be more naturally followed by a third tense participle of the verb "to be" (εἰμί), namely the future middle participle, nominative masculine singular (ἐσόμενος).  

There is no versional evidence that directly supports this substitution, and the patristic evidence brought forward to substantiate this substitution is shaky at best (see the analysis here).


For Revelation 16:5, despite the numerous variants witnessed by the manuscripts, it turns out that there are very few variants that require us to do more than realize that they represent a tiny minority.  While variants 8-10 (from the above list) are interesting and require some thought, they are resolvable.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Versional Evidence at Revelation 16:5

Sahidic (source)

Boharic (source)

Syriac (source)

ܘܫܡܥܬ ܠܡܠܐܟܐ ܕܡܝܐ ܕܐܡܪ ܙܕܝܩ ܐܢܬ ܗܘ ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܘܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܗܘܐ ܘܚܤܝܐ ܕܗܠܝܢ ܕܢܬ ܀ ("Peshitta")

(Eth) And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous art Thou, who art, And who wast, and just; Because thou hast judged these.

(Murd) And I heard the angel of the waters say: Righteous art thou, who art and who wast, and art holy; because thou hast done this judgment.

Georgian 1879 (source)

რომელი  ამბობდა: მართალ ხარ, უფალო, რომელი ეგე ხარ, და რომელი იყავ, და რომელი ხარ წმიდა, ... 

Armenian (1895)

Critical Armenian text in English (source): 

Pecularities of Codex 3 (source)

Variations from the normal text of alpha of the manuscripts mu, kappa, and lambda (source)

Variants of Codex 6 with Codex 1 (source)


Appendix I: Additional Coptic

Rev 16:5 (source)

(CopSahidicMSS) ⲁⲓⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲛⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲕ ⲟⲩⲇⲓⲕⲁⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲧϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲧⲉ ⲛⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲕⲣⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲁⲓ

(CopSahHorner) ⲁⲓⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲛⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲕⲟⲩⲇⲓⲕⲁⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲧϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲧⲉⲛⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲕⲣⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲁⲓ

(CopSahidica) ⲁⲓⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲛⲙⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲛⲧⲕ ⲟⲩⲇⲓⲕⲁⲓⲟⲥ ⲡⲉⲧϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲧⲉ ⲛⲉϥϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϫⲉ ⲁⲕⲕⲣⲓⲛⲉ ⲛⲛⲁⲓ

Appendix II: Additional Georgian

5და გავიგონე, წყლების ანგელოზი რომ ამბობდა: „მართალი ხარ შენ, რომელიც ხარ და იყავი, წმიდაო, რომ ასე განსაჯე. 
 5და გავიგონე, წყლების ანგელოზი რომ ამბობდა: „მართალი ხარ შენ, რომელიც ხარ და იყავი, წმიდაო, რომ ასე განსაჯე.
5გავიგონე, წყლების ანგელოზი რომ ამბობდა: „მართალი ხარ შენ, რომელიც ხარ და იყავი, წმიდაო, რადგანაც ასე განიკითხე.

Lorenzo Valla

Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) was a genius.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes him as "one of the most important humanists of his time."  He is noted as being the one who demonstrated that Pseudo-Dionysius was not the companion of Paul (see this lecture or this article; N.B. I do not endorse the lecturer's views on the relationship of Christianity and the New Testament) and that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery (as mentioned here; see this acknowledgment by the Vatican). He also provided a critique of Aristotelean logic. 

One of Valla's contributions was not well-appreciated during his lifetime, but proved to be immensely important.  He compared the Vulgate Latin text of his day with the Greek New Testament.  A manuscript edition of this work was found and published by Desiderius Erasmus.

Lorenzo Valla was the first significant biblical scholar of the Renaissance. He set himself the task of comparing the Vulgate to the Greek text of the New Testament during his amazingly fruitful period, 1435–48, at the south Italian court of King Alfonso the Magnanimous. He seems to have completed a first draft by 1443 and continued to work on this version up to 1453, five years after coming to Rome from Naples. He called this first recension Collatio Novi Testamenti and dedicated it to Pope Nicholas V.[FN35] From 1453 to his death in 1457 Valla revised this first version, leaving at his death a clearly more sophisticated, though shorter, text that carried the title In Latinam Novi Testamenti Interpretationem Annotationes in the 1505 editio princeps put through the press by its discoverer, Erasmus of Rotterdam. [FN36] The Annotationes, which were the only recension available in print until 1970, have in common only about 60% of the lemmata found in the Collatio,[FN37] and even in the case of these common lemmata the Annotationes offer a considerable revision of the Collatio. Valla’s work enjoyed a minimal circulation[FN38] until Erasmus discovered a copy of the Annotationes in the abbey of Parc outside of Leuven in the summer of 1504. From that point on, it has been the object of divergent interpretations and serves almost as a Rorschach test of one’s attitude towards Valla. Erasmus drew inspiration from it and spent much of his preface defending the notion that a grammaticus (ostensibly Valla, but as the future would reveal, really Erasmus himself) could legitimately treat sacrae litterae.[FN39] Erasmus's scriptural method would go far beyond Vallas's narrow grammatical approach, and he would at times express annoyance at Valla's tendency to quibble over minutiae.[FN40]

[FN35] For the history of the text see Alessandro Perosa’s preface to his edition of Valla’s Collatio Novi Testamenti (Florence, 1970). 

[FN36] The single extant manuscript of the second recension has a different title: Correctio. Novi Testamenti; see the description of MS 4031-4033 of the Bibliothèque Royale Albert I, Brussels, in J. Van den Gheyn et al., Catalogue des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique (Brussels, 1901-48) p. 91, no. 211. For a compendium of the Annotationes prepared by an unknown fifteenth-century scholar, see Riccardo Fubini, "Una scolastica testimoniaza manoscritta delle 'Annotationes in Novum Testamentum,'" in his L’Umanesimo italiano, pp. 169-83.

[FN37] See Perosa in Valla, Collatio, p. XXVII.

[FN38] In addition to the codex unicus of the Annotationes, only two manuscripts of the Collatio survive; see Perosa in Valla, Collatio, pp. IX-XVII.

[FN39] Ep. 182, Allen 1, pp. 406-12.

[FN40] See Jerry H. Bentley, "Biblical Philolohy and Christian Humanism: Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus as Scholars of the Gospels," The Sixteenth Century Journal 8 (1977), 8-28, at pp. 14 and 22. See also Erika Rummel, Erasmus' Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian (Toronto, 1986), p. 88: "In many cases Valla's findings formed no more than a point of departure for Erasmus ... It must also be acknowledged that the sum total of Valla's notes is small by comparison with Erasmus' detailed commentary."

(Biblical Humanism and Scholasticism in the Age of Erasmus 2008, pp. 21-22)

Interestingly, the work referenced in FN35 above omits the Apocalypse as well as Philemon.  Bentley explains that Valla's work circulated as a first draft and then a subsequent second draft, the latter of which Erasmus ultimately printed (source). 

What are Valla's comments in Revelation? 

(In Latinam Novi Testamenti interpretationem ... adnotationes By Laurentius Valla · 1505)(Laurentii Vallensis viri tam gr[a]ec[a]e q[am] latin[a]e linguae peritissimi in Latinam Noui testamenti interpretationem ex collatione Gr[a]ecorum exemplarium Adnotationes apprime vtiles By Laurentius Valla · 1505)

At Revelation 1:

Gratia vobis ab eo qui est & qui erat & qui venturus est, et a septem spiritibus qui in conspectu throni eius sunt. Nescio an aliquid mysterii sit in hoc quod graece dicitur, ab iis qui est, & ab iis qui erat & ab iis qui venturus est sive ut ad verbum transferam ab ens, & ab iis quis erat, & ab iis qui venturus: quanquam graece propter articulos concinnius dicitur, ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος. An voluit Ioannes in deo significare immutabilem proprietatem quod non facit cum nominat septem spiritus: ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων. Illud autem quod qui venturus est transfertur: praesentis est potius participium quam futuri. Sed cur interpres non transtulit nunc nomen graecum throni per sedis ut caeteris in locis facit? 

Grace to you from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne. I do not know whether there is any mystery in this that is said in Greek, from those who are, and from those who were and from those who are to come or as to translate word for word from being, and from those who were, and from those who are to come; although in Greek it is more aptly said due to the articles, ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος. Did John want to signify in God an immutable property, which he does not do when he names the seven spirits: ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων? However, that which is translated as 'who is to come' is rather a present participle than a future one. But why did the translator not translate now the Greek name of the throne through 'seat' as he does in other places?

At Revelation 4:


Dicentia sanctus sanctus sanctus. Quid causae est cur cum graeci codices omnes havent novies sanctus: latini habeant omnino ter & mysterium illud ter trium qui est numerus ordinum angelorum perdant? Et propter voluntatem tuam erant & creati sunt: graece non legitur erant sed sunt: εἰσἰ, de deo enim dicitur quod erat, non de rebus creatis.


Saying holy, holy, holy. What is the reason why, when all the Greek manuscripts have 'holy' nine times, the Latin ones have it altogether three times and lose that mystery of three times three, which is the number of orders of angels? And for your will they were and were created: in Greek, it is not read as 'were' but as 'are': εἰσἰ, for it is said of God that He was, not of created things.

While the focus is on the same verse, it is not on this particular issue.

At Revelation 11:


Gratias agimus tibi domine deus omnipotens qui es & qui eras & qui accepisti virtutem. Graece est, Qui es, qui eras, & qui venturus es: quia recepisti virtutem καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ὅτι εἴληφας.


We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were and who have taken power. In Greek, it is, 'Who are, who were, and who are to come: because you have taken power' (καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ὅτι εἴληφας).

Notice that focus is on Revelation 11:17.

At Revelation 16:

Iustus es domine qui es & qui eras Sanctus: quia haec iudicasti. graece est: ut superius admonui: erat non eras: quasi dicatur tu domine, is qui est & qui erat qui sanctus, neque enim graece sanctus refertur ad erat ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν ὁ ἅγιος.

You are just, O Lord, who are and who were, Holy: because you have judged these things. In Greek, it is, as I have warned above: 'was' not 'were'; as if it is said, 'you, Lord, he who is and who was, the holy one,' for in Greek 'holy' is not referred to 'was' (ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν ὁ ἅγιος).

Notice that the focus is on Revelation 16:5.

Similar comments can be found in the other editions of Valla's comments.

From his Annotations (In novum testamentum annotationes By Laurentius Valla, Lorenzo Valla · 1526)

At Revelation 1 (pp. 338-9)

Gratia vobis ab eo qui est, & qui erat, & qui venturus est, et [a?] septem spiritibus qui in conspectu throni eius sunt) Nescio an aliquid mysterii sit in hoc quod graece dicitur, ab iis qui est, & ab iis qui erat, & ab iis qui venturus est: sive ut ad verbum transferam, ab ens, & ab iis quis est, & ab iis qui erat, & ab iis qui venturus: quanquam graece propter articulos concinnius dicitur, ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος. An voluit Ioannes in deo significare immutabilem proprietatem? quod non facit cum nominat septem spiritus, ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων. Illud autem quod, qui venturus est, transfertur, praesentis est potius participium quam futuri. Sed cur interpres non transtulit nunc nomen graecum throni per sedis, ut caeteris in locis facit? 

At Revelation 4 (p. 341)
Dicentia, sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.) Quid causae est cur cum graeci codices omnes havent novies sanctus, latini habeant omnino ter, & mysterium illud ter trium, qui est numerus ordinum angelorum, perdant? Et propter voluntatem tuam erant & creati sunt) graece non legitur erant, sed sunt, εἰσἰ, de deo enim dicitur, quod erat, non de rebus creatis.

At Revelation 11 (p. 343)
Gratias agimus tibi domine deus omnipotens, qui es, & qui eras, & qui accepisti virtutem) graece est: Qui es, qui eras, & qui venturus es, quia recepisti virtutem, καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ὅτι εἴληφας.

At Revelation 16 (p. 345)

Iustus es domine qui es, & qui eras Sanctus, quia haec iudicasti) graece est, ut superius admonui, erat non eras, quasi dicatur: tu domine, is qui est, & qui erat, qui Sanctus: neq; enim graece Sanctus refertur ad erat, ὁ ὢν, καὶ ὁ ἦν ὁ ἅγιος.

Bentley notes that Erasmsus considered himself a follower of Valla and Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples (1455-1536).  D'Étaples provided commentaries on the Gospels, Paul's epistles, and the Catholic epistles.

The French Bible associated with Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples has limited notes at Revelation 16:5

Ultimately, therefore, when we look at the most likely source for Erasmus on this point, we see Valla.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Turretin's "Sources" for 1 John 5:7

Matthew Everhard has video (link to video) in which he suggests that the historic Francis Turretin was not being honest in his defense of Johannine Comma (the longer reading at 1 John 5:7-8).  

I note that Everhard is working from a different translation of Turretin than that found in P&R's publication, namely the Dennison translation. I don't know where he got that translation, but it is fairly accurate. Starting around 4:20 into the video, Matthew Everhard states (all transcriptions are lightly edited computer-generated transcripts):

4:20-5:03 (approximately)

It just so happens that this is either a wild overstatement or he is fudging the truth or he is stretching the truth or perhaps he just doesn't know what he's talking about here because look he says "all the Greek witnesses have it." Okay, so that's a universal positive. He's making a universal positive argument here by saying that they all have it. "The words always were of unquestioned truth" okay so that's a pretty dynamic statement there, "and are read in all the Greek manuscripts from the times of the Apostles themselves." Okay, now this would be probably the sentence that we have the most trouble with because as it turns out this is just factually not true. 

I agree that it is not factually true.

6:19 to 6:59 (approximately)

Now, unfortunately this is a statement that is repeated very very often today especially by those who defend either the King James version which contains John's comma or by those who defend the textus receptus and a lot of people will point back to Turretin's statement here saying it's always been there and because Turretin is seen as a very reliable and trustworthy defender of reformed Orthodoxy this statement from him as taken as as good as gold as it comes to John's comma.

I agree that this does get trotted out by folks who totally disagree with Turretin's view on textual transmission.

10:15 to 11:43 (approximately)

And so for Francis Turretin to claim that John's comma is in all the Greek manuscripts, that is just wildly wildly inaccurate. It cannot possibly even remotely be considered accurate. It is essentially a false statement and this is the problem with making universal positives: it's in all of them or it's in none of them. It's so easy to disprove a universal positive or a universal negative because all you need is one example to the contrary to disprove the entire statement. So Francis Turretin tries to do too much here by fudging or stretching the data well well beyond the levels of truthfulness. Now one could possibly say that Turretin knew about a bunch of manuscripts that we don't have today and this is the argument that advocates of the Textus Receptus or advocates of the King James Version will commonly make. They'll say, "Well he was referring to the manuscripts that he knew of." Well where are they? Well apparently they've all gone out of existence because because of all of the myriads and myriads of plethora of manuscripts there's only this very very scant few that actually have John's comma and the oldest one with a comma in its text is from the 14th Century. Man alive, that is not great biblical support or manuscript evidence to support John's comma.

First, I would caution this "plethora" argument, unless you take the time to figure out how many Greek manuscripts of 1 John there are, because that is the first response by the more learned TR advocates.

Second, there is a more straightforward explanation for Turretin's claim.

11:54 to 12:48 (approximately)

Remember what Francis Turretin said here. He says -- "not the saying in first John 5:7, although some formerly called it into question and heretics do so today," so Turretin goes pretty far into the deep end of the pool here by saying that "formerly some called into question" that may be a reference to Calvin as we're going to see here and "heretics do so today" which again is a statement that a lot of people from the TR defense position or the King James version defense position they want to call people heretics because Francis Turretin said so well if that's true then I I guess Calvin is either one of those formerly who's just wrong here according to Turretin or he's one of those heretics as modern advocates might say.

I won't address his Calvin arguments, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because I think there is a better explanation, and Calvin's errors are different from Turretin's.

Once we understand Turretin's claim better, the heretics and "formerly some" will fall into place.

17:50 to 18:45 (approximately)

So, I think Turretin is trying to do too much. I get his point, he really does want to redress the Roman Catholic Arguments for the supremacy of the Latin Vulgate and he does so by making a great argument in general that we should rely on the Greek and the Hebrew not the Latin but this statement that we looked at today clearly he presses the boundaries of anything that could remotely even be considered true and again the argument of some modern advocates of the Textus Receptus and of the King James version that perhaps he had a just all these manuscripts they all had it and those just happened to be the one that poof disappeared from history somehow and that all that we're left with is all those plethora and myriads of manuscripts that don't have it except for one or two that were really late like yikes level late in terms of history here -- that's just not a great way to make that argument, okay? so easily testable.

This is starting to catch the correct line.  Turretin is engaging Roman Catholic claims.  By contrast, Everhard's material is probably aimed at something like this material from FBC Roy (link to video).  So, Turretin is using Roman Catholic scholarly material against themselves.

Dennison's translation of Francis Turretin's Institutes, Volume 1, p. 115, states:


X. There is no truth in the assertion that the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek edition of the New Testament are said to be mutilated; nor can the arguments used by our opponents prove it. Not the history of the adulteress (Jn. 8:1-11), for although it is lacking in the Syriac version, it is found in all the Greek manuscripts. Not 1 Jn. 5:7, for although some formerly called it into question and heretics now do, yet all the Greek copies have it, as Sixtus Senensis acknowledges: "they have been the words of never-doubted truth, and contained in all the Greek copies from the very times of the apostles" (Bibliotheca sancta [1575], 2:298). Not Mk. 16 which may have been wanting in several copies in the time of Jerome (as he asserts); but now it occurs in all, even in the Syriac version, and is clearly necessary to complete the history of the resurrection of Christ.

The original text (first edition) of Second Topic, Question XI, section X says:  


X. Falso Editio Hebraea Vet. & Graeca N. T. dicitur mutila: Nec quae ab Adversariis afferruntur testimonia hoc evincere possunt; Non historia adulterae Io.8. licet enim desit in Syriaca Versione, reperitur in omnibus Graecis Codicibus. Non dictum 1. Io.5:7. quamvis enim quidam in dubium olim vocarint, & vocent hodie haeretici, habent tamen omnia Exemplaria Graeca, ut Sixtus Senensis agnoscit; verba indubitatae semper veritatis fuerunt, & in omnibus Graecis exemplaribus ab ipsis Apostolorum temporibus lecta. Non Marc 16. caput, quod potuit in variis exemplaribus defiderari tempore Hieronymi, ut ipse fatetur, sed nunc in omnibus habetur etiam in Syriaca versione, & est plane necessarium ad perexendam historiam resurrectionis Christi.


X. It is falsely stated that the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament and the Greek New Testament are mutilated: The testimonies brought forth by the Adversaries cannot prove this; not the story of the adulteress in John 8, for although it is missing in the Syriac Version, it is found in all Greek Codices. Not the saying in 1 John 5:7. Although some have doubted it in the past, and heretics do so today, all Greek manuscripts, as Sixtus of Sienna acknowledges, contain it; these words have always been of undoubted truth and have been read in all Greek manuscripts since the times of the Apostles themselves. Not Mark 16, which might have been missing in various manuscripts in the time of Jerome, as he himself admits, but now is found in all, even in the Syriac version, and is absolutely necessary to completely narrate the story of Christ’s resurrection.

In short, I think Dennison's translation is perfectly fine and accurately conveys Turretin here.

Notice, however, that Turretin makes a claim about "all the Greek copies" of 1 John, based on the testimony of Sixtus of Siena (aka Sixtus Senensis).

Moreover, look at what Sixtus Senensis said (Liber Septimus, p. 597B - this is not the same printing/edition referenced by Dennison, although it is the same Bibliotheca Sancta):

Ipsam vero primam Ioannis Epistolam, Anabaptistae contendunt, adscititiis additionibus falsatam, sumpto hinc argumento, quod in quinto eius capita addita sit sentnentia illa: Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in caelo, Pater, Verbum, & Spiritus Sanctus: & tres unum sunt, quam sententiam eo in loco dicunt insertam a fautoribus Trinitatis, reclamantibus omnibus vetustis Graeciae exemplaribus, in quibus ea verba olim non fuisse, etiam Hieronymus in praefatione Canonicarum Epistolarum testatus est. Erasmus vero, qui in prima editione sua Novi Testamenti eam non habet, idcirco illam se praeteriisse affirmavit, quia in Graecis codicibus ea verba non legerentur.

Indeed, the Anabaptists contend that the first Epistle of John has been corrupted with spurious additions, drawing this argument from the fact that in its fifth chapter, the sentence has been added: 'There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.' They claim this sentence was inserted in that place by supporters of the Trinity, contrary to all the ancient Greek manuscripts, in which these words were not originally found, as even Jerome has testified in the preface to the Canonical Epistles. Moreover, Erasmus, who in his first edition of the New Testament does not include it, stated that he omitted it because those words were not read in the Greek codices.
Ad vero, quod impii Anabaptistae, ac Servetani de verbis illis, quae in quinto capite primae Ioannis adiecta contendunt, respondemus, ea verba apud Catholicos indubitate semper veritatis fuisse, & in omnibus Graecis exmplaribus ab ipsis Apostolorum temporibus lecta: nec opus est quicquam de ipsorum perpetua integritate, synceritateque dubitare, cum Iginus Papa primus, inducat ea adversus Haereticos, tanquam invictum pro summa Trinitate testimonium. Sic enim in epistola ad omnes Christi fideles scribit: Et iterum ipse Ionnes Evangelista ad Parthos scribens ait: Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in caelo, Pater, Verbum, & Spiritum Sanctus, & hi tres unum sunt. Quin & sancta mater Ecclesia testimonium istud quotannis per octavam Paschae in sacris mysteriis, ut ex vera & germana eiusdem Evanelistae Epistola decantat. Nec Hieronymus usquan dixit, illud in codicibus Graecis Ecclesiae Catholicae defuisse, immo in Prologo Canonicarum ad Eustochium, conqueritur, haec verba ab infidelibus, & Haereticis translatoribus in Latinum versa non fuisse, cum passim in Graecis voluminibus legerentur, haec verba ab infidelibus, & Haereticis translatoribus in Latinum versa non fuisse, cum passim in Graecis voluminibus legerentur, haec enim sunt Hieronymi eo in Prologo verba: Quae scilicet Epistolae, si ut ab eis, hoc est, Graecis authoribus, digesta sunt, ita quoque ab interpretibus fideliter verterentur in Latinum eloquium, nec ambiguitatem legentibus facerent, nec sermonum sese varietas impugnaret, illo praecipuem loco, ubide unitate Trinitatis, in prima Ioannis epistola positum legimus, in quo etiam ab infidelibus translatoribus multum erratum esse a fidei veritate comperimus, trium tantummodo vocabula, hoc est Aquae, Sanguinu, & Spiritus, in ipsa sua editione ponentibus, & Patris, Verbique, ac Spiritus Sancti, testimonium omittentibus, in quo maxime & fides Catholica roberator, & Patris, & Filii, & Spritus Sancti in una Divinitatis substantia comprobatur. Hec Hieronymus. Quod autem ex prima Erasmi traductione adijciunt, nihil nos movet viti huius Authoritatas, cuius non paucas sententias nuper catholica Ecclesia damnavit, cum ea verba in Graecis exemplaribus ut ostendimus, semper fuerint, & nunc quoque in nostris Graecis codicbus palam in hunc modum legantur, τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, πατήρ, λόγος, καὶ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον καὶ οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν Et ipsem et Erasmus in Annotationibus suis fateatur, haec eadem verba, haberi in pervetustis Graecis exemplaribus Britanniae, Hispaniae ac Rhodi.

To the truth, regarding the words that the impious Anabaptists and followers of Servetus contend have been added to the fifth chapter of the first Epistle of John, we respond that these words have always been undoubted truth among Catholics, and read in all Greek copies since the times of the Apostles themselves. There is no need to doubt their perpetual integrity and sincerity, since Pope Eugene I used them against heretics, as an invincible testimony for the supreme Trinity. Thus, he writes in his letter to all the faithful of Christ: 'And again, John the Evangelist himself writing to the Parthians says: There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' Moreover, the holy mother Church chants this testimony every year during the octave of Easter in the sacred mysteries, as from the true and genuine Epistle of the same Evangelist. Nor did Jerome ever say that it was missing in the Greek codices of the Catholic Church; on the contrary, in the Prologue to the Canonical [Epistles] to Eustochium, he complains that these words were not translated into Latin by unfaithful and heretical translators, although they were widely read in the Greek volumes. These are the words of Jerome in that Prologue: 'Which Epistles, if as they are composed by their Greek authors, were also faithfully translated by interpreters into the Latin language, they would not cause ambiguity to the readers, nor would the variety of words conflict with each other, especially in that principal place, where we read of the unity of the Trinity, in the first Epistle of John, in which we also find that much error has been made by unfaithful translators far from the truth of faith, only placing three words, that is, Water, Blood, and Spirit, in their own edition, and omitting the testimony of the Father, and of the Word, and of the Holy Ghost, in which the Catholic faith is particularly strengthened, and the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are proved to be in one substance of the Divinity.' Thus Jerome. As for what they add from the first translation of Erasmus, it does not move us because of this Author's authority, whose not a few sentences the Catholic Church has recently condemned, since as we have shown, those words have always been in the Greek copies, and are now also plainly read in our Greek codices in this manner: τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, πατήρ, λόγος, καὶ Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον καὶ οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν. And even Erasmus himself admits in his Annotations that these same words are found in very ancient Greek copies of Britain, Spain, and Rhodes.

So, we can see the basis for Turretin's claim.  I'm not sure how helpful most of the printed texts of the Greek New Testament would have been.  Even if Turretin had consulted Stephanus' 1550, the notes are not clear about the manuscript evidence for the reading.

Stephanus 1550 (link to source)

If you were reading this textual apparatus, would you think what Turretin did, namely that all the Greek manuscripts have the text?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Richard Brett and Ethiopic

There are claims on the internet that Richard Brett (one of the KJV translators) had some knowledge of Ethiopic.  

Oxford University provided the following biography (link to source) in Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714.

Brett, Richard gent., born in London. Hart Hall, matric. 8 Feb., 1582-3, aged 15; fellow of Lincoln Coll., B.A. 12 Oct., 1586, M.A. 9 July, 1589, licenced to preach 16 July, 1596, B.D. 6 June, 1597, D.D. 13 June, 1605 (son of Robert, of White Stanton, Somerset), rector of Quainton, Bucks, 1595, one of the translators of the Bible 1604, one of the first fellows of Chelsea College 1616, died 15 April, 1637. See Ath., ii. 611; & D.N.B.

There is also a biographical sketch in The Translators Revived: A Biographical Memoir of the Authors of the English Version of the Holy Bible, by Alexander Wilson M'Clure (1853)(link to source).

This reverend clergyman was of a respectable family, and was born at London, in 1567. He entered at Hart Hall, Oxford, where he took his first degree. He was then elected Fellow of Lincoln College, where, by unwearied industry he became very eminent in the languages, divinity, and other branches of science. Having taken his degrees in arts, he became, in 1595, Rector of Quainton in Buckinghamshire, in which benefice he spent his days. He was made Doctor in Divinity in 1605. He was renowned in his time for vast attainments as well as revered for his piety. "He was skilled and versed to a criticism" in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic tongues. He published a number of erudite works, all in Latin. It is recorded of him, that "he was a most vigilant pastor, a diligent preacher of God's word, a liberal benefactor to the poor, a faithful friend, and a good neighbor." This studious and exemplary minister having attained this exalted reputation died in 1637, at the age of seventy, and lies buried in the chancel of Quainton Church, where he had dispensed the word and ordinances for three and forty years.

Although M'Clure does not seem to cite his source, it appears to come from Henry John Todd''s 1821 "Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Right Rev. Brian Walton, D.D., Lord Bishop of Chester...with Notices of His Coadjutors in that Illustrious Work...and of the Authorized English Version of the which is Added Dr. Walton's Own Vindication of the London Polyglot," which states (p. 117)

Dr. Miles Smith and Dr. Richard Brett, follow; the former so conversant and expert in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic that he made them as familiar to him, almost, as his native tongue; and had Hebrew also at his fingers' ends: the latter, skilled and versed to a criticism in the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic tongues. 

That work also describes (p. 127):

Of similar rank was John Gregory, called the miracle of his age for critical and curious learning; having attained to a learned elegance in English, Latin, and Greek, and to an exact skill in Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic.

Thankfully, Todd does cite his source, which is "Athenae Oxonienses. An Exact History of All the Writers and Bishops, who Have Had Their Education in the ... University of Oxford from the Year 1500 to the End of the Year 1690. (etc.)" by Anthonya Wood (1691), vol. 1 (col. 517).  

Note that in this biography, it was not until after he entered University in 1582 and got a degree in Arts that he become a fellow of Lincoln college where, "by the benefit of a good Tutor," he became "eminent in the tongues."  Thus, it seems unlikely that he was in any way involved in assisting Beza for Beza's 1582 edition.

Moreover, the entirety of Richard Brett's published work as it pertains to Ethiopic seems to be the following six words from his 1597 theses (available here):

Although he seems to be using the space (:) and sentence end (::) characters correctly, the orthography of his letters leaves something to be desired.  They definitely look like they are based on Ge'ez characters.

In fact, the first letter of the first word looks like ቸሁባ, which requires an Amharic letter not part of Ge'ez.   


Richard Brett's translation included a section on the Rhinoceros (see the discussion here), further confirming that "rhinoceros" was not what the KJV translators intended when they wrote "unicorn".

Brett's learning was presumably assisted by Chaldeae seu aethiopicae linguae institutiones: Nunquam antea a Latinis visae, opus utile, ac eruditem ; Item omnium Aethiopiae regum, qui ... usque ad nostra tempora imperarunt, libellus; ex aethiopica translatus lingua by Marianus Vittorio (1552), although it is actually a bit hard to be sure how he studied.  Another source for Brett's learning could be "Institutiones linguae Syriacae, Assyriacae atque Thalmudicae, vnà cum AEthiopicae atque Arabicae collatione. Addita est ad calcem, Noui Testamenti multorum locorum historica enarratio"
by Angelo Canini (1521-1557), which identified Aethiopic as a "dialect" of Hebrew (link to copy)(see the preface).  ("Nam quomodo Graecae linguae dialecti multae ac variae sunt, interse tamen cognatae: sic linguarum peregrinarum fons atque origo est Hebraica, cuius dialecti sunt, Syriaca, Arabica, atque Aethiopica, omnium citra controversiam vetustissimae." which is translated as "For as there are many and varied dialects of the Greek language, yet they are related to each other: so the source and origin of foreign languages is Hebrew, whose dialects are Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopian, all of them without controversy the most ancient.")

The latter book does have little factoids about Aethiopic, such as that in Ethiopic the vowels aren't separate from the consonants.

The work is also bound with another work, which fascinatingly happens to discuss the name of God:
Interestingly, while this work does not use the exact lettering, "Yahweh," it uses " Ioua" as one of the spellings.

When it comes to the Aethiopic names of God, the author uses Hebrew letters rather than Ge'ez:
Notice Canini's explicit reliance on others to explain the Ethiopic language: 

"Eghzaibher" componitur ex "Eghzia" domino, "Ab" patre, "her" bono: quod est dominus pater bonus: ut illi Aethiopes, qui Romae habitant, interpretantur.

"Eghzaibher" is composed of "Eghzia" meaning lord or master, "Ab" meaning father, and "her" meaning good: which is 'good lord father,' as those Ethiopians who live in Rome interpret it.

This provides further confirmation that, at this time, the Ethiopians living in Rome were the place to go if you wanted someone who could read and understand Ethiopic.

The book is summarized thus:

The entry on John Gregory (Vol. 2, cols. 51-52) is similarly positive:

Thus, John Gregory, the "miracle of his age for critical and curious learning," was born 
November 10, 1607, and thus cannot be viewed as particularly helpful to either Beza or the KJV, despite being quite prodigious in his intellect.

Incidentally, Elias Hutter knew of the existence of the Ethiopian language, as such, and even of some origin myths of the language and people of Ethiopia, as evidenced here:

Another source, Bibliotheca apostolica vaticana a Sixto V. Pont. Max. in splendidiorem, commodioremq. locum translata, et a fratre Angelo Roccha a Camerino ... commentario variarum artium ... illustrata, by Angelo Rocca (1591), describes the conventional knowledge of the subject at that time:

However, there were also exceptions.  Sebastian Münster's "Grammatica Chaldaica" (1527) mis-labels Ge'ez as being Indian, but provides an impressive basic description of the alphabet:

(source, p. 14)
This is followed by a short selection from the Psalter:
(source, p. 16)
Finally, some words are provided by way of example:
(source, p. 17)

It may not be a lot, but it shows a basic familiarity with the language, even before the 1548/9 Ethiopic Bible was printed.  Incidentally, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Sebastian Munster was a Hebraist and former Franciscan who became Lutheran around 1529.  His tombstone described him as "the Ezra and the Strabo of the Germans." 

Beza immortalized him in his "Icons" (1580):

And described him thus:

In terms of sources that Beza had access to, here is one that would have given him at least a little information about the Ethiopic language.

Conrad Gessner (1516-1565) in Mithridates (pp. 6-8) noted Munster's work, provided a phonetic transcription of the Lord's prayer, citing the New Testament printed in Rome (i.e. the 1549 Ethiopic), and the Symbol and Confession of Simeon the Just in phonetic spelling, which seems to come from the work of Theodore Bibliandri (1548) (link to source)(see also, p. 6 for a discussion of the language).  Gessner was also directly connected to Beza, and actually appeared as the entry directly after Munster in Icons:

Regarding knowledge of Aethiopic during the 14th through 17th centuries, I found an interesting article by Dejazmatch (ደጃዝማች, Commander or general of the Gate) Zewde Gebre-Sellassie (1926-2008) who was not only a deputy prime minister in Ethiopia, but also earned a PhD from Oxford.  In the 1996 article, Dr. Gebre-Sellassie explains (source - notice the source seems to be an OCR result, and consequently contains numerous typographic errors):

In the middle of the 14th century (1351) some Ethiopians began coming to Rome through the Holy Land and in 1441 during the Council of Florence Abba Niqodimos, the Abbot of the Ethiopian monastery of Jerusalem, is said to have sent a delegation of Ethiopian monks. The number of Ethiopian pilgrims in Rome gradually increased during the papacy of Sisto IV (1471-1484). At that time the Church of Santo Stefano in Vaticano (St Stephen within the wall of the Vatican) and the adjoining hospice were granted by the Pope to the Ethiopian pilgrims. This property remains to this day in their possession, known as San Stefano dei Mon or degli Abissini (St. Stephen of the Abyssinians).

The Ottoman Turks occupied Syria and Palestine in 1516, Egypt in 1517; and Ethiopia was in a turmoil by the Islamic Jihad during the First half of the Sixteenth Century. During this period the Ethiopian monks in Jerusalem were in a desperate situation and many of them joined the different Catholic orders, such as the Franciscans and the Benedictines some of them migrated to Southern Europe, to Austria, Spain and mostly to Italy.

Some of these monks were eminent scholars well versed in Ethiopian languages, history and culture as well as theology and philosophy. Among those who settled at San Stefano in the Vatican, the most outstanding scholars who deserve special mention, are the following: Abba Tomas of Waldiba; Abba Tesfa Tsion Mallizo, who was commonly known in Rome as Pietro Indiano - Peter the Indian; Abba Gorgorios of Mekane Sellassie and, later on during the 19th Century, Debtera Kifle Giorgis.

Abba Tomas of Waldiba, who called himself son of Samuel, after the patron saint and founder of his monastery, was the pioneer in the scholastic endeavor of teaching the Geez alphabet and grammar in Europe. Among his students was the German scholar Johannes Potken, who for the first time printed the Psalms of David in Geez on June 30th, 1513.

Abba Tesfa-Tsion Mallizo, known in Rome as Pietro Indiano (Peter the Indian), is referred to as erudite and full of humility and love. He had published the New Testament in Geez in 1548-1549. He also translated the Anaphora of the Apostles and the Baptismal prayers of the Ethiopian Church into Latin, with the help of two Italian scholars, Paolo Giovo and Pietro Gualtieri who was a polyglot and secretary to the Pope. Subsequently, with the help of Mario Vittorio di Rieti (who later became a bishop of his native region Rieti) he published a grammar of the Geez language and a list of Ethiopian sovereigns. Abba Tesfa Tsion came from Jerusalem to Rome in 1538 and stayed there for twelve years. He died in Tivoli at the age of forty-two in 1550.

Among the well known Europeans who were instructed by the Ethiopian monks were Atanasio Kircher and Jacobus Wemmers, the author of the first Geez or Ethiopic-Latin dictionary during the first half of the 17th century. The Danish scholar Theodor Peter, who edited a number of Ethiopian studies and the Dominican Maria Wansleb, are also credited for considerable achievements.

However, no one has profited and utilized his learning as much as Hiob Ludolf, the German scholar who was instructed by Abba Gorgorios or Gregory of Mekane Sellassie, assisted for translation from Amharic to German by D'Andrade Antonio, son of a Portugese father and an Ethiopian mother. Ludolf's Grammatica Aethiopica (1661), Historia Aethiopica (1681), which was translated into English, French and Dutch; Commentary on the History (1691), Grammatica Linguae Amharicae (1698), and Lexicon Aethiopico - Latinum (1661) became the standard authoritative texts for teaching Ethiopian studies in European universities and centers of learning until Dillmann's monumental works in the nineteenth century published between 1847 and 1894, notably his Lexicon (1865) and Grammar (in 1857 in German, English translation in 1907), as well as the Ethiopian version of the books of Enoch (1851), Jubilees (1859), Ascencion of Isaiah (1877), and the Histories of Arride Tsion and Zera Yacob (1884).

One thing I found particularly notable was that Dr. Gebre-Sellassie believes that Potken not only printed the text but also studied the language under Abba Tomas of Waldiba, suggesting that Potken had some understanding of the language.

Also interesting, while Potken's 1513 Psalter focuses on the Ethiopic itself, it appears that Potken also published a four-language Psalter in 1518, making it easier to compare the Ethiopic with other languages in the Psalms (available here).

The "well known Europeans who were instructed by the Ethiopian monks" include Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) and Jacobus Wemmers (1598-1645).  Wemmers is credited by Dr. Gebre-Sellassie with creating the first Latin-Ge'ez dictionary.  Meanwhile, Hiob Ludolf is credited with providing definitive works on Ethiopic including an Ethiopic Grammar (1661 - link to 1698 edition, which has the tetragrammaton on the cover page) and Latin-Ethiopic Dictionary (1661).

All this to say that Ethiopic, while not widely familiar to 16th century European scholarship, was certainly more well-known at the time than Chinese to which I compared it in a video.  That said, it would be mistake to think that Ethiopic was a familiar or well-studied language by European scholarship prior to Ludolf's 1660s publications.