Volume 62, Issue 1, June 2022
Question of the Authorship of the Commentary on the prophet Isaiah (CPG 2911): from Erasmus to Garnier and His Followers
The article considers arguments presented by Erasmus of Rotterdam, Julien Garnier and their modern followers against the authenticity of the Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, which has been preserved in mansucsripts as a work of Basil the Great. A survey of the correspondence of Erasmus and of the circumstances of his attempted translation of the book shows that his critical judgement on the authorship was motivated by the need to justify his abandoning of the project of translation rather than by the evidence of the text itself. The first systematic examination of Garnier’s critical dossier demonstrates that his statements about the incompatibility of many linguistic features of the Commentary with undisputed writings of Basil are not supported by the text of his own edition of the book. Moreover, his rigid criteria for stylistic analysis are based on misleading notions about textual aspects of the creation and transmission of Patristic works. Isolated observations of the modern followers of the Maurist need to be assessed on the basis of a new and critical edition of the text; however, without the support of his numerous unfounded arguments, they are not sufficient by themselves to refute the attribution of the book in the manuscript tradition.