1 John 5:7-8: The Story of an Interpolation

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Major Critical Texts of the New Testament

Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society

TGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear

The P52 PROJECT THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS 4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS

1 JOHN 5:7-8 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI & WH NU TGNT)  [BRD]
 7 ὅτιBecause τρεῖςthree εἰσὶνare οἱthe (ones) μαρτυροῦντες,bearing witness, 8 τὸthe πνεῦμαspirit καὶand τὸthe ὕδωρwater καὶand τὸthe αἷμα,blood, καὶand οἱthe τρεῖςthree εἰςinto τὸthe ἕνone (thing) εἰσιν.are.

1 JOHN 5:7-8 1550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)
 7 ὅτιBecause τρεῖςthree εἰσὶνare οἱthe (ones) μαρτυροῦντες,bearing witness, ενof in τωthe ουρανωheavens οthe πατηρFather οthe λογοςWord καιand τοthe αγιονHoly πνευμαSpirit καιand ουτοιthese οιthe τρειςthree ενone εισιν 8are καιand  τρειςthree εισινthere are οιwho μαρτυρουντεςbear witness ενin τηthe γηearth τοthe πνευμαSpirit καιand τοthe υδωρwater καιand τοthe αιμαblood καιand οιthe τρειςthree ειςto τοthe ενone εισινare 

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS
1 John 5:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
1 John 5:7-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
1 John 5:7-8 King James Version (KJV)
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

GENTI WH NU TGNT SBLGNT ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
א A B (Ψ) Maj syr cop arm eth it

Variant/TR οτι τρεις εισεν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω, ο πατηρ, ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα, και ουτοι οι τρεις ἕν εισιν. και τρεις οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη, το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα, και οι τρεις εις το ἕν εισιν.

Because there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

(61 629 omit και ουτοι οι τρεις ἕν εισιν) 88 221v.r. 429 636v.r. 918 2318 itl, vgmss Speculum (Priscillian Fulgentius)

NOTE: When there is a superscript א* This siglum refers to the original before it has been corrected. The superscript א1 This siglum refers to the corrector who worked on the manuscript before it left the scriptorium. The superscript א2 refers to correctors in the 6th and 7th century C.E., who altered the text to conform more with the Byzantine text. The superscript v.r. refers to a variant reading listed in a manuscript.

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

The Johannine Comma (Latin: Comma Johanneum) is an interpolated phrase in verse 5:7-8 of the First Epistle of John.[1] It became a touchpoint for Protestant and Catholic debates over the doctrine of the Trinity in the early modern period. The phrase “Johannine Comma” or simply “Comma” will be used repeatedly throughout to refer to this spurious interpolation in 1 John 5:7-8.

The passage first appeared as an addition to the Vulgate, the Ecclesiastical Latin translation of the Bible, and entered the Greek manuscript tradition in the 15th century.[2] It does not appear in the oldest Latin manuscripts and appears to have originated as a gloss around the end of the 4th century.[3] Some scribes gradually incorporated this annotation into the main text over the course of the Middle Ages.

The first Greek manuscript of the New Testament that contains the comma dates from the 15th century. The comma is absent from the Ethiopic, Aramaic, Syriac, Slavic, Armenian, Georgian, and Arabic translations of the Greek New Testament. It appears in some English translations of the Bible via its inclusion in the first printed edition of the New Testament, Novum Instrumentum omne by Erasmus, where it first appeared in the 1522 printing.[4]

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

1 John 5:7-8 Text

Erasmus first added the Greek version of the text to his Nouum instrumentum omne in 1522; the first two editions lack the phrase. Many subsequent early printed editions of the Bible include it, including the Coverdale Bible (1535) and the King James Bible revised from it (1611); the Geneva Bible (1560); and the Douay–Rheims Bible (1610). It was not always included in the first printed Latin translations of the Bible, but the editors of the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate (1592) chose to print it along with a number of other spurious passages.[5]

The text (in italics) reads:

7For there are three that beare record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that beare witnesse in earth, the Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood, and these three agree in one.

— King James Version (1611)

7Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt. 8Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra: spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis: et hi tres unum sunt.

— Sixto-Clementine Vulgate (1592: not present in manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate before the 9th century)

7οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν 8και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν.

— Nouum instrumentum omne (1522: absent in earlier editions)

There are several variant versions of the Latin and Greek texts, reflecting their later addition.[6]

After the extent of the comma’s absence from biblical manuscripts became known, translations made after the eighteenth century omitted the phrase. English translations based on a modern critical text have omitted it since the English Revised Version (1881), including the Revised Standard Version (RSV), Lexham English Bible (LEB), New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV), and Christian Standard Bible (CSB), and the Updated American Standard Version (UASV). In Catholic tradition, the official Nova Vulgata (1979) omits the comma, as does the New American Bible (1970).

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Origin of 1 John 5:7-8 Interpolation

Excerpt from Codex Sinaiticus 1 John 5.7
Excerpt from Codex Sinaiticus including 1 John 5:7–9. It lacks the Johannine Comma. The purple-coloured text says: “There are three witness bearers, the Spirit and the water and the blood”.

Several early sources which one might expect to include the Comma Johanneum, in fact, omit it. For example, although Clement of Alexandria (c. 200) places a strong emphasis on the Trinity, his quotation of 1 John 5:8 does not include the Comma.[7] Tertullian, in his Against Praxeas (c. 210), supports a Trinitarian view by quoting John 10:30. Jerome’s writings of the fourth century give no evidence that he was aware of the Comma’s existence.[8] (The Codex Fuldensis, a copy of the Vulgate made around 546, contains a copy of Jerome’s Prologue to the Canonical Gospels which seems to reference the Comma, but the Codex’s version of 1 John omits it, which has led many to believe that the Prologue‘s reference is spurious.)[9]

The earliest reference to what might be the Comma appears by the 3rd-century Church father Cyprian (died 258), who in Treatise I section 6[10] quoted John 10:30 against heretics who denied the Trinity and added: “Again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.'”[11] Daniel B. Wallace notes that although Cyprian uses 1 John to argue for the Trinity, he appeals to this as an allusion via the three witnesses—”written of”—rather than by quoting a proof-text—”written that.” In noting this, Wallace is following the current standard critical editions of the New Testament at the time (NA27 and UBS4) which consider Cyprian a witness against the Comma. They would not do this were they to think him to have quoted it. So even though some still think that Cyprian referred to the passage, the fact that other theologians such as Athanasius of Alexandria and Sabellius and Origen never quoted or referred to that passage is one reason why even many Trinitarians later on also considered the text spurious, and not to have been part of the original text. The first work to quote the Comma Johanneum as an actual part of the Epistle’s text appears to be the 4th century Latin homily Liber Apologeticus, probably written by Priscillian of Ávila (died 385) or his close follower Bishop Instantius.

This part of the homily gradually became part of some manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate roughly around the year 800. It was subsequently back-translated into the Greek, but it occurs in the text of only four of the 500-plus Greek New Testament manuscripts of First John and in the margin of five more. The earliest known occurrence appears to be a later addition to a 10th-century manuscript now in the Bodleian Library, the exact date of the addition is not known; in this manuscript, the Comma is a variant reading offered as an alternative to the main text. The other seven sources date to the sixteenth century or later, and four of the seven are hand-written in the manuscript margins. In one manuscript, back-translated into Greek from the Vulgate, the phrase “and these three are one” is not present.[12]

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

No Syriac manuscripts include the Comma, and its presence in some printed Syriac Bibles is due to back-translation from the Latin Vulgate. Coptic manuscripts and those from Ethiopian churches also do not include it. Of the surviving “Itala” or “Old Latin” translations, only two support the Textus Receptus reading, namely the Codex Monacensis (6th or 7th century) and the Speculum, an 8th- or 9th-century collection of New Testament quotations.[13]

In the 6th century, Fulgentius of Ruspe is quoted as a witness in favor of the Comma. Like Cyprian a father of the North African Church, he referred to Cyprian’s remark in his “Responsio contra Arianos” (“Reply against the Arians”), as do many other African fathers (the Arian heresy, which denied the Trinity, was particularly strong in North Africa); but the most notable and prolific writer of the African Church, Augustine of Hippo, is completely silent on the matter.

Manuscripts and 1 John 5:7-8

Sangallensis 63, Johannine Comma at the bottom
Sangallensis 63, Johannine Comma at the bottom

The comma is not in two of the oldest Vulgate manuscripts, Codex Fuldensis and the Codex Amiatinus, although it is referenced in the Prologue of Fuldensis (which also otherwise cites Old Latin readings). Overall, it is estimated that over 95% of the thousands of Vulgate manuscripts contain the verse. The Vulgate text of the Epistles of John was developed from Vetus Latina manuscripts, revised by an unknown scholar to conform better with the Greek.

The earliest extant Latin manuscripts supporting the comma are dated from the 5th to the 7th centuries. The Freisinger fragment,[14] León palimpsest,[15] and the Codex Legionensis (7th century), besides the younger Codex Speculum, New Testament quotations extant in an 8th- or 9th-century manuscript.[16]

The comma does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts. Nestle-Aland is aware of eight Greek manuscripts that contain the comma.[17] The date of the addition is late, probably dating to the time of Erasmus.[18] In one manuscript, back-translated into Greek from the Vulgate, the phrase “and these three are one” is not present.

Both Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) and the United Bible Societies (UBS4) provide three variants. The numbers here follow UBS4, which rates its preference for the first variant as {A}, meaning “virtually certain” to reflect the original text. The second variant is a longer Greek version found in only four manuscripts, the margins of three others and in some minority variant readings of lectionaries. All of the hundreds of other Greek manuscripts that contain 1 John support the first variant. The third variant is found only in Latin, in one class of Vulgate manuscripts and three patristic works. The other two Vulgate traditions omit the phrase, as do more than a dozen major Church Fathers who quote the verses. The Latin variant is considered a trinitarian gloss,[19] explaining or paralleled by the second Greek variant.

  1. DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

    The comma in Greek. All non-lectionary evidence cited: Minuscules Codex Montfortianus (Minuscule 61 Gregory-Aland, c. 1520), 629 (Codex Ottobonianus, 14th/15th century), 918 (16th century), 2318 (18th century).

  2. The comma at the margins of Greek at the margins of minuscules 88 (Codex Regis, 11th century with margins added at the 16th century), 221 (10th century with margins added at the 15th/16th century), 429 (14th century with margins added at the 16th century), 636 (16th century); some minority variant readings in lectionaries.
  3. The comma in Latintestimonium dicunt [or dantin terra, spiritus [or: spiritus etaqua et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt in Christo Iesu. 8 et tres sunt, qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater verbum et spiritus. [… giving evidence on earth, spirit, water and blood, and these three are one in Christ Jesus. 8 And the three, which give evidence in heaven, are father word and spirit.] All evidence from Fathers cited: Clementine edition of Vulgate translation; Pseudo-Augustine’s Speculum Peccatoris (V), also (these three with some variation) Cyprian, Ps-Cyprian, & Priscillian (died 385) Liber Apologeticus. And Contra-Varimadum, and Ps-Vigilius, Fulgentius of Ruspe (died 527) Responsio contra Arianos, Cassiodorus Complexiones in Ioannis Epist. ad Parthos.

The gradual appearance of the comma in the manuscript evidence is represented in the following tables:

Latin Manuscripts

Date Name Place Other information
7th century León palimpsest Leon Cathedral Spanish
7th century Frisingensia Fragmenta Spanish
9th century Codex Cavensis Spanish
9th century Codex Ulmensis Spanish
927 AD Codex Complutensis I Spanish
10th century Codex Toletanus Spanish
8th–9th century Codex Theodulphianus Paris (BnF) Franco-Spanish
8th–9th century Codex Sangallensis 907 St. Gallen Franco-Spanish
9th–10th century Codex Sangallensis 63 St. Gallen marginal gloss

Greek Manuscripts

Date Manuscript No. Name Place Other information
c. 1520 61 Codex Montfortianus Dublin Original.
Reads “Holy Spirit” instead of simply “Spirit”.
Articles are missing before the “three witnesses” (spirit, water, blood).
14th–15th century 629 Codex Ottobonianus Vatican Original.
Latin text along the Greek text,
revised to conform to the Latin.
The comma was translated and copied back into the Greek from the Latin.
16th century 918 Escorial
(Spain)
Original.
18th century 2318 Bucharest Original.
Thought to be influenced
by the Vulgata Clementina.
18th century 2473 Athens Original.
11th century 88 Codex Regis Naples Marginal gloss: 16th century
11th century 177 BSB Cod. graec. 211 Munich Marginal gloss: late 16th century
10th century 221 Oxford Marginal gloss: 15th or 16th century
14th century 429 Codex Wolfenbüttel Wolfenbüttel
(Germany)
Marginal gloss: 16th century
16th century 636 Naples Marginal gloss: 16th century
Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

Patristic writers

Daniel B. Wallace writes at length on Cyprian and 1 John 5:7

A friend recently wrote to me about the KJV reading of 1 John 5:7-8. He noted that I had not mentioned Cyprian in my essay on this text and that some KJV only folks claimed that Cyprian actually quoted the form that appears in the KJV (“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”) The question is, Did Cyprian quote a version of 1 John that had the Trinitarian formula of 1 John 5:7 in it? (Bold mine) This would, of course, be significant, for Cyprian lived in the third century; he would effectively be the earliest known writer to quote the Comma Johanneum. Before we look at Cyprian per se, a little background is needed. The Comma occurs only in about 8 MSS, mostly in the margins, and all of them quite late. Metzger, in his Textual Commentary (2nd edition), after commenting on the Greek MS testimony, says this (p. 648):

(2) The passage is quoted in none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian). Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.

(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin; and it is not found (a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate (b) as issued by Jerome … or (c) as revised by Alcuin…

The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle [italics added] is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4), attributed either to the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died about 385) or to his follower Bishop Instantius. Apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolize the Trinity (through the mention of three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood), an interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text.

Thus, a careful distinction needs to be made between the actual text used by Cyprian and his theological interpretations. As Metzger says, the Old Latin text used by Cyprian shows no evidence of this gloss. On the other side of the ledger, however, Cyprian does show evidence of putting a theological spin on 1 John 5:7. In his De catholicae ecclesiae unitate 6, he says, “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one’; and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’” What is evident is that Cyprian’s interpretation of 1 John 5:7 is that the three witnesses refer to the Trinity. Apparently, he was prompted to read such into the text here because of the heresies he was fighting (a common indulgence of the early patristic writers). Since John 10:30 triggered  the ‘oneness’ motif, and involved Father and Son, it was a natural step for Cyprian to find another text that spoke of the Spirit, using the same kind of language. It is quite significant, however, that (a) he does not quote ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit’ as part of the text; this is obviously his interpretation of ‘the Spirit, the water, and the blood.’ (b) Further, since the statement about the Trinity in the Comma is quite clear (“the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit”), and since Cyprian does not quote that part of the text, this in the least does not afford proof that he knew of such wording. One would expect him to quote the exact wording of the text, if its meaning were plain. That he does not do so indicates that a Trinitarian interpretation was superimposed on the text by Cyprian, but he did not changed the words. It is interesting that Michael Maynard, a TR advocate who has written a fairly thick volume defending the Comma (A History of the Debate over 1 John 5:7-8 [Tempe, AZ: Comma Publications, 1995] 38), not only quotes from this passage but also speaks of the significance of Cyprian’s comment, quoting Kenyon’s Textual Criticism of the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1912), 212: “Cyprian is regarded as one ‘who quotes copiously and textually’.” The quotation from Kenyon is true, but quite beside the point, for Cyprian’s quoted material from 1 John 5 is only the clause, “and these three are one”—the wording of which occurs in the Greek text, regardless of how one views the Comma.

Thus, that Cyprian interpreted 1 John 5:7-8 to refer to the Trinity is likely; but that he saw the Trinitarian formula in the text is rather unlikely. Further, one of the great historical problems of regarding the Comma as authentic is how it escaped all Greek witnesses for a millennium and a half. That it at first shows up in Latin, starting with Priscillian in c. 380 (as even the hard evidence provided by Maynard shows), explains why it is not found in the early or even the majority of Greek witnesses. All the historical data point in one of two directions: (1) This reading was a gloss added by Latin patristic writers whose interpretive zeal caused them  to insert these words into Holy Writ; or (2) this interpretation was a gloss, written in the margins of some Latin MSS, probably sometime between 250 and 350, that got incorporated into the text by a scribe who was not sure whether it was a comment on scripture or scripture itself (a phenomenon that was not uncommon with scribes).

Clement of Alexandria

The comma is absent from an extant fragment of Clement of Alexandria (c. 200), through Cassiodorus (6th century), with homily style verse references from 1 John, including verse 1 John 5:6 and 1 John 5:8 without verse 7, the heavenly witnesses.

He says, “This is He who came by water and blood”; and again, – For there are three that bear witness, the spirit, which is life, and the water, which is regeneration and faith, and the blood, which is knowledge; “and these three are one. For in the Saviour are those saving virtues, and life itself exists in His own Son.”[20]

Another reference that is studied is from Clement’s Prophetic Extracts:

Every promise is valid before two or three witnesses, before the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; before whom, as witnesses and helpers, what are called the commandments ought to be kept.[21]

This is seen by some[22] as allusion evidence that Clement was familiar with the verse.

Tertullian

Tertullian, in Against Praxeas (c. 210), supports a Trinitarian view by quoting John 10:30:

So the close series of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Paraclete makes three who cohere, the one attached to the other: And these three are one substance, not one person, (qui tres unum sunt, non unus) in the sense in which it was said, “I and the Father are one” in respect of unity of substance, not of singularity of number.[23]

While many other commentators have argued against any comma evidence here, most emphatically John Kaye’s, “far from containing an allusion to 1 Jo. v. 7, it furnishes most decisive proof that he knew nothing of the verse.”[24] Georg Strecker comments cautiously “An initial echo of the Comma Johanneum occurs as early as Tertullian Adv. Pax. 25.1 (CChr 2.1195; written ca. 215). In his commentary on John 16:14 he writes that the Father, Son, and Paraclete are one (unum), but not one person (unus). However, this passage cannot be regarded as a certain attestation of the Comma Johanneum.[25]

References from Tertullian in De Pudicitia 21:16 (On Modesty):

The Church, in the peculiar and the most excellent sense, is the Holy Ghost, in which the Three are One, and therefore the whole union of those who agree in this belief (viz. that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one), is named the Church, after its founder and sanctifier (the Holy Ghost).[26]

and De Baptismo:

Now if every word of God is to be established by three witnesses … For where there are the three, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, there is the Church which is a body of the three.[27]

have also been presented as verse allusions.[28]

Treatise on Rebaptism

The Treatise on Rebaptism, placed as a 3rd-century writing and transmitted with Cyprian’s works, has two sections that directly refer to the earthly witnesses and thus has been used against authenticity by Nathaniel Lardner, Alfred Plummer, and others. However, because of the context being water baptism and the precise wording being “et isti tres unum sunt,” the Matthew Henry Commentary uses this as evidence for Cyprian speaking of the heavenly witnesses in Unity of the Church. And Arthur Cleveland Coxe and Nathaniel Cornwall consider the evidence as suggestively positive. Westcott and Hort also are positive. After approaching the Tertullian and Cyprian references negatively, “morally certain that they would have quoted these words had they known them” Westcott writes about the Rebaptism Treatise:

the evidence of Cent. III is not exclusively negative, for the treatise on Rebaptism contemporary with Cyp. quotes the whole passage simply thus (15: cf. 19), “quia tres testimonium perhibent, spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et isti tres unum sunt”.[29]

Jerome

The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 asserts that Jerome “does not seem to know the text”,[30] but Charles Forster suggests that the “silent publication of [the text] in the Vulgate…gives the clearest proof that down to his time the genuineness of this text had never been disputed or questioned.”[31] (See also: Pseudo-Jerome below)

Marcus Celedensis

Coming down to us with the writings of Jerome we have the statement of faith attributed to Marcus Celedensis, friend and correspondent to Jerome, presented to Cyril:

To us there is one Father, and his only Son [who is] very [or true] God, and one Holy Spirit, [who is] very God, and these three are one; – one divinity, and power, and kingdom. And they are three persons, not two nor one.[32]

Phoebadius of Agen

Similarly, Jerome wrote of Phoebadius of Agen in his Lives of Illustrious Men. “Phoebadius, bishop of Agen, in Gaul, published a book Against the Arians. There are said to be other works by him, which I have not yet read. He is still living, infirm with age.”[33] William Hales looks at Phoebadius:

Phoebadius, A. D. 359, in his controversy with the Arians, Cap, xiv. writes, “The Lord says, I will ask of my Father, and He will give you another advocate.” (John xiv. 16) Thus, the Spirit is another from the Son as the Son is another from the Father; so, the third person is in the Spirit, as the second, is in the Son. All, however, are one God, because the three are one, (tres unum sunt.) … Here, 1 John v. 7, is evidently connected, as a scriptural argument, with John xiv. 16.[34]

Griesbach argued that Phoebadius was only making an allusion to Tertullian,[35] and his unusual explanation was commented on by Reithmayer.[36]

Augustine

Augustine of Hippo has been said to be completely silent on the matter, which has been taken as evidence that the comma did not exist as part of the epistle’s text in his time.[37] This argumentum ex silentio has been contested by other scholars, including Fickermann and Metzger.[38] In addition, some Augustine references have been seen as verse allusions.[39]

The City of God section, from Book V, Chapter 11:

Therefore, God supreme and true, with His Word and Holy Spirit (which three are one), one God omnipotent…[40]

has often been referenced as based upon the scripture verse of the heavenly witnesses.[41] George Strecker acknowledges the City of God reference: “Except for a brief remark in De civitate Dei (5.11; CChr 47.141), where he says of Father, Word, and Spirit that the three are one. Augustine († 430) does not cite the Comma Johanneum. But it is certain on the basis of the work Contra Maximum 2.22.3 (PL 42.794-95) that he interpreted 1 John 5:7–8 in trinitarian terms.”[42]

Similarly, Homily 10 on the first Epistle of John has been asserted as an allusion to the verse:

And what meaneth “Christ is the end”? Because Christ is God, and “the end of the commandment is charity” and “Charity is God”: because Father and Son and Holy Ghost are One.[43]

Contra Maximinum has received attention especially for these two sections, especially the allegorical interpretation.

I would not have thee mistake that place in the epistle of John the apostle where he saith, “There are three witnesses: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three are one.” Lest haply thou say that the Spirit and the water and the blood are diverse substances, and yet it is said, “the three are one”: for this cause I have admonished thee, that thou mistake not the matter. For these are mystical expressions, in which the point always to be considered is, not what the actual things are, but what they denote as signs: since they are signs of things, and what they are in their essence is one thing, what they are in their signification another. If then we understand the things signified, we do find these things to be of one substance … But if we will inquire into the things signified by these, there not unreasonably comes into our thoughts the Trinity itself, which is the One, Only, True, Supreme God, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, of whom it could most truly be said, “There are Three Witnesses, and the Three are One:” there has been an ongoing dialog about context and sense.

— Contra Maximinum (2.22.3; PL 42.794-95)

John Scott Porter writes:

Augustine, in his book against Maximin the Arian, turns every stone to find arguments from the Scriptures to prove that tho Spirit is God, and that the Three Persons are the same in substance, but does not adduce this text; nay, clearly shows that he knew nothing of it, for he repeatedly employs the 8th verse, and says, that by the Spirit, the Blood, and the Water—the persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are signified (see Contr. Maxim, cap. xxii.).[44]

Thomas Joseph Lamy offers a different view based on the context and Augustine’s purpose.[45] Similarly Thomas Burgess.[46] And Norbert Fickermann’s reference and scholarship support the idea that Augustine may have deliberately bypassed a direct quote of the heavenly witnesses.

is-the-quran-the-word-of-god UNDERSTANDING ISLAM AND TERRORISM THE GUIDE TO ANSWERING ISLAM.png

Leo the Great

In the Tome of Leo, written to Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople, read at the Council of Chalcedon on 10 October 451 AD,[47] and published in Greek, Leo the Great’s usage of 1 John 5 has him moving in discourse from verse 6 to verse 8:

This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith”; and: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood; and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness, the spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are one.” That is, the Spirit of sanctification, and the blood of redemption, and the water of baptism; which three things are one, and remain undivided …[48]

This epistle from Leo was considered by Richard Porson to be the “strongest proof” of verse inauthenticity (“the strongest proof that this verse is spurious may be drawn from the Epistle of Leo the Great to Flavianus upon the Incarnation”)[49] and went along with Porson’s assertion that the verse was slow to enter into the Latin lines. Porson asserted that the verse “remained a rude, unformed mass, and was not completely licked into shape till the end of the tenth century.”[50] In response, Thomas Burgess points out that the context of Leo’s argument would not call for the 7th verse. And that the verse was referenced in a fully formed manner centuries earlier than Porson’s claim, at the time of Fulgentius and the Council of Carthage.[51] Burgess pointed out that there were multiple confirmations that the verse was in the Latin Bibles of Leo’s day. Burgess argued, ironically, that the fact that Leo could move from verse 6 to 8 for argument context is, in the bigger picture, favorable to authenticity. “Leo’s omission of the Verse is not only counterbalanced by its actual existence in contemporary copies, but the passage of his Letter is, in some material respects, favorable to the authenticity of the Verse, by its contradiction to some assertions confidently urged against the Verse by its opponents, and essential to their theory against it.”[52] Today, with the discovery of additional Old Latin evidences in the 19th century, the discourse of Leo is rarely referenced as a piece of significant evidence against verse authenticity.

Cyprian of Carthage

Unity of the Church

The 3rd-century Church father Cyprian (c. 200–58), in writing on the Unity of the Church, Treatise I section 6 quoted John 10:30 and another scriptural spot:

The Lord says, “I and the Father are one” and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, “And these three are one.”[53]

The Catholic Encyclopedia concludes “Cyprian… seems undoubtedly to have had it in mind.”[54] Against this view, Daniel B. Wallace writes that since Cyprian does not quote the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit “this in the least does not afford proof that he knew of such wording.”[55] And the fact that Cyprian did not quote the “exact wording… indicates that a Trinitarian interpretation was superimposed on the text by Cyprian.”[56] In his position against Cyprian knowing of the Comma, Wallace is in agreement with the earlier critical edition of the New Testament (NA26 and UBS3) which considered Cyprian a witness against the Comma.[57]

The Cyprian citation, dating to more than a century before any extant Epistle of John manuscripts and before the Arian controversies that are often considered pivotal in verse addition/omission debate, remains a central focus of comma research and textual apologetics. The Scrivener view is often discussed.[58] Westcott and Hort assert: “Tert and Cyp use language which renders it morally certain that they would have quoted these words had they known them; Cyp going so far as to assume a reference to the Trinity in the conclusion of v. 8”[59]

In the 20th century, Lutheran scholar Francis Pieper wrote in Christian Dogmatics emphasizing the antiquity and significance of the reference.[60] Frequently commentators have seen Cyprian as having the verse in his Latin Bible, even if not directly supporting and commenting on verse authenticity.[61] And some writers have seen the denial of the verse in the Bible of Cyprian as worthy of special note and humor.[62]

Ad Jubaianum (Epistle 73)

The second, lesser reference from Cyprian that has been involved in the verse debate is from Ad Jubaianum 23.12. Cyprian, while discussing baptism, writes:

If he obtained the remission of sins, he was sanctified, and if he was sanctified, he was made the temple of God. But of what God? I ask. The Creator?, Impossible; he did not believe in him. Christ? But he could not be made Christ’s temple, for he denied the deity of Christ. The Holy Spirit? Since the Three are One, what pleasure could the Holy Spirit take in the enemy of the Father and the Son?[63]

Knittel emphasizes that Cyprian would be familiar with the Bible in Greek as well as Latin. “Cyprian understood Greek. He read Homer, Plato, Hermes Trismegiatus and Hippocrates… he translated into Latin the Greek epistle written to him by Firmilianus.”[64] UBS-4 has its entry for text inclusion as (Cyprian).

Ps-Cyprian

The Hundredfold Reward for Martyrs and Ascetics: De centesima, sexagesimal tricesima[65] speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as “three witnesses” and was passed down with the Cyprian corpus. This was only first published in 1914 and thus does not show up in the historical debate. UBS-4 includes this in the apparatus as (Ps-Cyprian).[66]

Origen and Athanasius

Those who see Cyprian as negative evidence assert that other church writers, such as Athanasius of Alexandria and Origen,[67] never quoted or referred to the passage, which they would have done if the verse was in the Bibles of that era. The contrasting position is that there are in fact such references, and that “evidences from silence” arguments, looking at the extant early church writer material, should not be given much weight as reflecting absence in the manuscripts—with the exception of verse-by-verse homilies, which were uncommon in the Ante-Nicene era.

Origen’s Scholium on Psalm 123:2

In the scholium on Psalm 123 attributed to Origen is the commentary:

spirit and body are servants to masters, Father and Son, and the soul is handmaid to a mistress, the Holy Ghost; and the Lord our God is the three (persons), for the three are one.

This has been considered by many commentators, including the translation source Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall, as an allusion to verse 7.[68] Ellsworth especially noted the Richard Porson comment in response to the evidence of the Psalm commentary: “The critical chemistry which could extract the doctrine of the Trinity from this place must have been exquisitely refining.”[69] Fabricius wrote about the Origen wording “ad locum 1 Joh v. 7 alludi ab origene non est dubitandum.”[70]

Athanasius and Arius at the Council of Nicea

Traditionally, Athanasius was considered to lend support to the authenticity of the verse, one reason being the Disputation with Arius at the Council of Nicea which circulated with the works of Athanasius, where is found:

Likewise is not the remission of sins procured by that quickening and sanctifying ablution, without which no man shall see the kingdom of heaven, an ablution given to the faithful in the thrice-blessed name. And besides all these, John says, And the three are one.[71]

Today, many scholars consider this a later work Pseudo-Athanasius, perhaps by Maximus the Confessor. Charles Forster in New Plea argues for the writing as stylistically Athanasius.[72] While the author and date are debated, this is a Greek reference directly related to the doctrinal Trinitarian-Arian controversies, and one that purports to be an account of Nicaea when those doctrinal battles were raging. The reference was given in UBS-3 as supporting verse inclusion yet was removed from UBS-4 for reasons unknown.

The Synopsis of Scripture, often ascribed to Athanasius, has also been referenced as indicating awareness of the Comma.

Priscillian of Avila

The earliest quotation which some scholars consider a direct reference to the heavenly witnesses from the First Epistle of John is from the Spaniard Priscillian c. 380. As the Latin is presented by a secondary source, it reads:

tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in terra aqua caro et sanguis et haec tria in unum sunt, et tria sunt quae testimonium dicent in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus et haiec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu.[73]

The secondary source for the Latin includes only 1 comma of punctuation (apparently unspecified as in the original or inserted by the modern editor). And this Latin has no indication as to where the quotation of 1 John ends in Priscillian nor where Priscillian starts making comments on it (if he does).

As given rendered in English, the statement reads:

As John says and there are three which give testimony on earth the water the flesh the blood and these three are in one and there are three which give testimony in heaven the Father the Word and the Spirit and these three are one in Christ Jesus [capitals speculative; punctuation deleted from English translation as probably little or no punctuation in original][74]

Theodor Zahn calls this “the earliest quotation of the passage which is certain and which can be definitely dated (circa 380),”[75] a view expressed by Westcott, Brooke, Metzger and others.[76]

And Georg Strecker adds context: “The oldest undoubted instance is in Priscillian Liber apologeticus I.4 (CSEL 18.6). Priscillian was probably a Sabellianist or Modalist, whose principal interest would have in the closing statement about the heavenly witnesses (“and these three, the Father, the Word, the Holy Spirit, are one”). Here he found his theological opinions confirmed: that the three persons of the Trinity are only modes or manners of the appearance of the one God. This observation caused some interpreters to suppose that Priscillian himself created the Comma Johanneum. However, there are signs of the Comma Johanneum, although no certain attestations, even before Priscillian…”[77] In the early 1900s the Karl Künstle theory of Priscillian origination and interpolation was popular: “The verse is an interpolation, first quoted and perhaps introduced by Priscillian (a.d. 380) as a pious fraud to convince doubters of the doctrine of the Trinity.”[78]

Expositio Fidei

Another complementary early reference is an exposition of faith published in 1883 by Carl Paul Caspari from the Ambrosian manuscript, which also contains the Muratorian (canon) fragment.

pater est Ingenitus, filius uero sine Initio genitus a patre est, spiritus autem sanctus processit a patre et accipit de filio, Sicut euangelista testatur quia scriptum est, “Tres sunt qui dicunt testimonium in caelo pater uerbum et spiritus:” et haec tria unum sunt in Christo lesu. Non tamen dixit “Unus est in Christo lesu.”

Edgar Simmons Buchanan,[79] points out that the reading “in Christo Iesu” is textually valuable, referencing 1 John 5:7.

Young Christians AN ENCOURAGING THOUGHT_01

The authorship is uncertain; however, it is often placed around the same period as Priscillian. Karl Künstle saw the writing as anti-Priscillianist, which would have competing doctrinal positions utilizing the verse. Alan England Brooke[80] notes the similarities of the Expositio with the Priscillian form and the Priscillian form with the Leon Palimpsest. Theodor Zahn[81] refers to the Expositio as “possibly contemporaneous” to Priscilian, “apparently taken from the proselyte Isaac (alias Ambrosiaster).”

John Chapman looked closely at these materials and the section in Liber Apologeticus around the Priscillian faith statement “Pater Deus, Filius, Deus, et Spiritus sanctus Deus ; haec unum sunt in Christo Iesu”. Chapman saw an indication that Priscillian found himself bound to defend the comma by citing from the “Unity of the Church” Cyprian section.[82]

Council of Carthage, 484

“The Comma … was invoked at Carthage in 484 when the Catholic bishops of North Africa confessed their faith before Huneric the Vandal (Victor de Vita, Historia persecutionis Africanae Prov 2.82 [3.11]; CSEL, 7, 60).”[83] The Confession of faith representing the hundreds of orthodox Bishops[84] included the following section, emphasizing the heavenly witnesses to teach luce clarius (clearer than the light):

And so, no occasion for uncertainty is left. It is clear that the Holy Spirit is also God and the author of his own will, he who is most clearly shown to be at work in all things and to bestow the gifts of the divine dispensation according to the judgment of his own will, because where it is proclaimed that he distributes graces where he wills, servile condition cannot exist, for servitude is to be understood in what is created, but power and freedom in the Trinity. And so that we may teach the Holy Spirit to be of one divinity with the Father and the Son still more clearly than the light, here is proof from the testimony of John the evangelist. For he says: “There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” Surely, he does not say “three separated by a difference in quality” or “divided by grades which differentiate, so that there is a great distance between them”? No, he says that the “three are one”. But so that the single divinity which the Holy Spirit has with the Father and the Son might be demonstrated still more in the creation of all things, you have in the book of Job the Holy Spirit as a creator: “It is the divine Spirit” …[85]

De Trinitate and Contra Varimadum

There are additional heavenly witnesses references that are considered to be from the same period as the Council of Carthage, including references that have been attributed to Vigilius Tapsensis who attended the Council. Raymond Brown gives one summary:

…in the century following Priscillian, the chief appearance of the Comma is in tractates defending the Trinity. In PL 62 227–334 there is a work De Trinitate consisting of twelve books… In Books 1 and 10 (PL 62, 243D, 246B, 297B) the Comma is cited three times. Another work on the Trinity consisting of three books Contra Varimadum … North African origin ca. 450 seems probable. The Comma is cited in 1.5 (CC 90, 20–21).[86]

One of the references in De Trinitate, from Book V.

But the Holy Ghost abides in the Father, and in the Son [Filio] and in himself; as the Evangelist St. John so absolutely testifies in his Epistle: And the three are one. But how, ye heretics, are the three ONE, if their substance he divided or cut asunder? Or how are they one, if they be placed one before another? Or how are the three one. if the Divinity be different in each? How are they one, if there reside not in them the united eternal plenitude of the Godhead?[87] These references are in the UBS apparatus as Ps-Vigilius.

The Contra Varimadum reference:

John the Evangelist, in his Epistle to the Parthians (i.e. his 1st Epistle), says there are three who afford testimony on earth, the Water, the Blood, and the Flesh, and these three are in us; and there are three who afford testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one.[88]

This is in the UBS apparatus as Varimadum.

Ebrard, in referencing this quote, comments, “We see that he had before him the passage in his New Testament in its corrupt form (aqua, sanguis et caro, et tres in nobis sunt); but also, that the gloss was already in the text, and not merely in a single copy, but that it was so widely diffused and acknowledged in the West as to be appealed to by him bona fide in his contest with his Arian opponents.”[89]

The Epistle to the Hebrews Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

Fulgentius of Ruspe

In the 6th century, Fulgentius of Ruspe, like Cyprian a father of the North African Church, skilled in Greek as well as his native Latin, used the verse in the doctrinal battles of the day.

Contra Arianos

From Responsio contra Arianos “Reply against the Arians” Migne (Ad 10; CC 91A, 797).

In the Father, therefore, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we acknowledge unity of substance, but dare not confound the persons. For St. John the apostle, testifieth saying, “There are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one.”

Then Fulgentius discusses the earlier reference by Cyprian, and the interweaving of the two Johannine verses, John 10:30 and 1 John 5:7.

Which also the blessed martyr Cyprian, in his epistle de unitate Ecclesiae (Unity of the Church), confesseth, saying, Who so breaketh the peace of Christ, and concord, acteth against Christ: whoso gathereth elsewhere beside the Church, scattereth. And that he might shew, that the Church of the one God is one, he inserted these testimonies, immediately from the scriptures; The Lord said, “I and the Father are one.” And again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is written, “and these three are one.”[90]

Contra Fabianum

Another heavenly witnesses reference from Fulgentius is in Contra Fabianum Fragmenta Migne (Frag. 21.4: CC 01A,797)

The blessed Apostle, St. John evidently says, And the three are one; which was said of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as I have before shewn, when you demanded of me for a reason[91]

De Trinitate ad Felicem

Also from Fulgentius in De Trinitate ad Felicem:

See, in short you have it that the Father is one, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit another, in Person, each is other, but in nature they are not other. In this regard He says: “The Father and I, we are one.” He teaches us that one refers to Their nature, and we are to Their persons. In like manner it is said: “There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are one.”[92]

Today these references are generally accepted as probative to the verse being in the Bible of Fulgentius.[93]

Adversus Pintam Episcopum Arianum

A reference in De Fide Catholica adversus Pintam episcopum Arianum that is a Testimonia de Trinitate:

in epistola Johannis, tres sunt in coelo, qui testimonium reddunt,
Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus: et hi tres unum sunt[94]
has been assigned away from Fulgentius to a “Catholic controvertist of the same age.”[95]

Pseudo-Jerome, Prologue to the Catholic Epistles

The Codex Fuldensis includes a prologue to the Catholic Epistles referring to the comma (beginning with the words ‘Non ita ordo est apud Graecos’). It presents itself as a letter of Jerome to Eustochium, but is the work of an unknown imitator, likely from the late 5th century.[96] Its inauthenticity is stressed by the omission of the passage from the manuscript’s own text of 1 John, but it demonstrates that some theologians of the fifth century felt it should be included.[97]

Cassiodorus

Cassiodorus wrote Bible commentaries, and was familiar with Old Latin and Vulgate manuscripts,[98] seeking out sacred manuscripts. Cassiodorus was also skilled in Greek. In Complexiones in Epistolis Apostolorum, first published in 1721 by Scipio Maffei, in the commentary section on 1 John, from the Cassiodorus corpus, is written:

On earth three mysteries bear witness, the water, the blood, and the spirit, which were fulfilled, we read, in the passion of the Lord. In heaven, are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God.[99]

Thomas Joseph Lamy describes the Cassiodorus section[100] and references that Tischendorf saw this as Cassiodorus having the text in his Bible. However, earlier “Porson endeavoured to show that Cassiodorus had, in his copy, no more than the 8th verse, to which he added the gloss of Eucherius, with whose writings he was acquainted.”[101]

Isidore of Seville

In the early 7th century, the Testimonia Divinae Scripturae et Patrum is often attributed to Isidore of Seville:

De Distinctions personarum, Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. In Epistola Joannis. Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra Spiritus, aqua, et sanguis; et tres unum sunt in Christo Jesu; et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus, et tres unum sunt.[102]

Arthur-Marie Le Hir asserts that evidences like Isidore and the Ambrose Ansbert Commentary on Revelation show early circulation of the Vulgate with the verse and thus also should be considered in the issues of Jerome’s original Vulgate text and the authenticity of the Vulgate Prologue.[103] Cassiodorus has also been indicated as reflecting the Vulgate text, rather than simply the Vetus Latina.[104]

4th ed. MISREPRESENTING JESUS The Complete Guide to Bible Translation-2

Commentary on Revelation

Ambrose Ansbert refers to the scripture verse in his Revelation commentary:

Although the expression of faithful witness found therein, refers directly to Jesus Christ alone, – yet it equally characterises the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; according to these words of St. John. There are three which bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.[105]

“Ambrose Ansbert, in the middle of the eighth century, wrote a comment upon the Apocalypse, in which this verse is applied, in explaining the 5th verse of the first chapter of the Revelation.”[106]

Medieval use

Fourth Lateran Council

In the Middle Ages a Trinitarian doctrinal debate arose around the position of Joachim of Florence (1135–1202) which was different from the more traditional view of Peter Lombard (c. 1100–1160). When the Fourth Council of the Lateran was held in 1215 at Rome, with hundreds of Bishops attending, the understanding of the heavenly witnesses was a primary point in siding with Lombard, against the writing of Joachim.

For, he says, Christ’s faithful are not one in the sense of a single reality which is common to all. They are one only in this sense, that they form one church through the unity of the catholic faith, and finally one kingdom through a union of indissoluble charity. Thus we read in the canonical letter of John: For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father and the Word and the holy Spirit, and these three are one; and he immediately adds, And the three that bear witness on earth are the spirit, water and blood, and the three are one, according to some manuscripts.[107]

The Council thus printed the verse in both Latin and Greek, and this may have contributed to later scholarship references in Greek to the verse. The reference to “some manuscripts” showed an acknowledgment of textual issues, yet this likely related to “and the three are one” in verse eight, not the heavenly witnesses in verse seven.[108] The manuscript issue for the final phrase in verse eight and the commentary by Thomas Aquinas was an influence upon the text and note of the Complutensian Polyglot.

Latin commentaries

In this period, the greater portion of Bible commentary was written in Latin. The references in this era are extensive and wide-ranging. Some of the better-known writers who utilized the comma as scripture, in addition to Peter Lombard and Joachim of Fiore, include Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester), Peter Abelard, Bernard of Clairvaux, Duns Scotus, Roger of Wendover (historian, including the Lateran Council), Thomas Aquinas (many verse uses, including one which has Origen relating to “the three that give witness in heaven”), William of Ockham (of razor fame), Nicholas of Lyra and the commentary of the Glossa Ordinaria.

Greek Commentaries

Emanual Calecas in the 14th and Joseph Bryennius (c. 1350–1430) in the 15th century reference the comma in their Greek writings.

The Orthodox accepted the comma as Johannine scripture notwithstanding its absence in the Greek manuscripts line. The Orthodox Confession of Faith, published in Greek in 1643 by the multilingual scholar Peter Mogila specifically references the comma. “Accordingly, the Evangelist teacheth (1 John v. 7.) There are three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these three are one …”[109]

Armenia – Synod of Sis

The Epistle of Gregory, the Bishop of Sis, to Haitho c. 1270 utilized 1 John 5:7 in the context of the use of water in the mass. The Synod of Sis of 1307 expressly cited the verse and deepened the relationship with Rome.

Commentators generally see the Armenian text from the 13th century on as having been modified by the interaction with the Latin church and Bible, including the addition of the comma in some manuscripts.

Manuscripts and Special Notations

There are a number of special manuscript notations and entries relating to 1 John 5:7. Vulgate scholar Samuel Berger reports on MS 13174 in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris that shows the scribe listing four distinct textual variations of the heavenly witnesses. Three are understood by the scribe to have textual lineages of Athanasius, Augustine, and Fulgentius.[110] The Franciscan Correctorium gives a note about there being manuscripts with the verses transposed.[111] The Regensburg ms. referenced by Fickermann discusses the positions of Jerome and Augustine. The Glossa Ordinaria discusses the Vulgate Prologue in the Preface, in addition to its commentary section on the verse. John J. Contrini in Haimo of Auxerre, Abbot of Sasceium (Cessy-les-Bois), and a New Sermon on I John v. 4–10 discusses a 9th-century manuscript and the Leiden sermon.

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

Inclusion by Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523.
Desiderius Erasmus in 1523.

The central figure in the 16th-century history of the Johannine Comma is the humanist Erasmus,[112] and his efforts leading to the publication of the Greek New Testament. The comma was omitted in the first edition in 1516, the Nouum instrumentum omne: diligenter ab Erasmo Roterodamo recognitum et emendatum and the second edition of 1519. The verse is placed in the third edition, published in 1522, and those of 1527 and 1535.

Erasmus included the comma, with commentary, in his paraphrase edition, first published in 1520.[113] And in Ratio seu methodus compendio perueniendi ad ueram theologiam, first published in 1518, Erasmus included the comma in the interpretation of John 12 and 13. Erasmian scholar John Jack Bateman, discussing the Paraphrase and the Ratio uerae theologiae, says of these uses of the comma that “Erasmus attributes some authority to it despite any doubts he had about its transmission in the Greek text.”[114]

Greek text of 1 John 5.3–10 which is missing the Comma Johanneum. This text was published in 1524.
This photograph shows Greek text of 1 John 5:3–10 which is missing the Comma Johanneum. This text was published in 1524.

The New Testament of Erasmus provoked critical responses that focused on a number of verses, including his text and translation decisions on Romans 9:5, John 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:17, Titus 2:13 and Philippians 2:6. The absence of the comma from the first two editions received a sharp response from churchmen and scholars and was discussed and defended by Erasmus in the correspondence with Edward Lee and Diego López de Zúñiga (Stunica), and Erasmus is also known to have referenced the verse in correspondence with Antoine Brugnard in 1518.[115] The first two Erasmus editions only had a small note about the verse. The major Erasmus writing regarding comma issues was in the Annotationes to the third edition of 1522, expanded in the fourth edition of 1527 and then given a small addition in the fifth edition of 1535.

Erasmus is said to have replied to his critics that the comma did not occur in any of the Greek manuscripts he could find, but that he would add it to future editions if it appeared in a single Greek manuscript. Such a manuscript was subsequently produced, some say concocted, by a Franciscan, and Erasmus, true to his word, added the comma to his 1522 edition, but with a lengthy footnote setting out his suspicion that the manuscript had been prepared expressly to confute him. This change was accepted into editions based on the Textus Receptus, the chief source for the King James Version, thereby fixing the comma firmly in the English-language scriptures for centuries.[116] There is no explicit evidence, however, that such a promise was ever made.[117]

Modern Reception

In 1807 Charles Butler[118] described the dispute to that point as consisting of three distinct phases.

Comma in Codex Ottobonianus (629 Gregory-Aland)
Comma in Codex Ottobonianus (629 Gregory-Aland)

Erasmus and the Reformation

The 1st phase began with the disputes and correspondence involving Erasmus with Edward Lee followed by Jacobus Stunica. And about the 16th-century controversies, Thomas Burgess summarized “In the sixteenth century its chief opponents were Socinus, Blandrata, and the Fratres Poloni; its defenders, Ley, Beza, Bellarmine, and Sixtus Senensis.”[119] In the 17th century John Selden in Latin and Francis Cheynell and Henry Hammond were English writers with studies on the verse, Johann Gerhard and Abraham Calovius from the German Lutherans, writing in Latin.

Hē Kainē Diathēkē 1859
Hē Kainē Diathēkē 1859, with Griesbach’s text of the New Testament. The English note is from the 1859 editor, with reasons for omitting the Johannine Comma.

Simon, Newton, Mill, and Bengel

The 2nd dispute stage begins with Sandius, the Arian around 1670. Francis Turretin published De Tribus Testibus Coelestibus in 1674 and the verse was a central focus of the writings of Symon Patrick. In 1689 the attack on authenticity by Richard Simon was published in English, in his Critical History of the Text of the New Testament. Many responded directly to the views of Simon, including Thomas Smith,[120] Friedrich Kettner,[121] James Benigne Bossuet,[122] Johann Majus, Thomas Ittigius, Abraham Taylor[123] and the published sermons of Edmund Calamy. There was the famous verse defenses by John Mill and later by Johann Bengel. Also in this era was the David Martin and Thomas Emlyn debate. There were attacks on authenticity by Richard Bentley and Samuel Clarke and William Whiston and defense of authenticity by John Guyse in the Practical Expositor. There were writings by numerous additional scholars, including publication in London of Isaac Newton’s Two Letters in 1754, which he had written to John Locke in 1690. The mariner’s compass poem of Bengel was given in a slightly modified form by John Wesley.[124]

Travis and Porson Debate

The third stage of the controversy begins with the quote from Edward Gibbon in 1776:

Even the Scriptures themselves were profaned by their rash and sacrilegious hands. The memorable text, which asserts the unity of the three who bear witness in heaven, is condemned by the universal silence of the orthodox fathers, ancient versions, and authentic manuscripts. It was first alleged by the Catholic bishops whom Hunneric summoned to the conference of Carthage. An allegorical interpretation, in the form, perhaps, of a marginal note, invaded the text of the Latin Bibles, which were renewed and corrected in a dark period of ten centuries.[125]

It is followed by the response of George Travis that led to the Porson–Travis debate. In the 1794 3rd edition of Letters to Edward Gibbon, Travis included a 42-part appendix with source references. Another event coincided with the inauguration of this stage of the debate: “a great stirring in sacred science was certainly going on. Griesbach’s first edition of the New Testament (1775–7) marks the commencement of a new era.”[126] The Griesbach GNT provided an alternative to the Received Text editions to assist as scholarship textual legitimacy for opponents of the verse.

19th Century

Some highlights from this era are the Nicholas Wiseman Old Latin and Speculum scholarship, the defense of the verse by the Germans Sander, Besser and Mayer, the Charles Forster New Plea book which revisited Richard Porson’s arguments, and the earlier work by his friend Arthur-Marie Le Hir,[127] Discoveries included the Priscillian reference and Exposito Fidei. Also Old Latin manuscripts including La Cava, and the moving up of the date of the Vulgate Prologue due to its being found in Codex Fuldensis. Ezra Abbot wrote on 1 John V.7 and Luther’s German Bible and Scrivener’s analysis came forth in Six Lectures and Plain Introduction. In the 1881 Revision came the full removal of the verse.[128] Daniel McCarthy noted the change in position among the textual scholars,[129] and in French, there was the sharp Roman Catholic debate in the 1880s involving Pierre Rambouillet, Auguste-François Maunoury, Jean Michel Alfred Vacant, Elie Philippe and Paulin Martin.[130] In Germany Wilhelm Kölling defended authenticity, and in Ireland Charles Vincent Dolman wrote about the Revision and the comma in the Dublin Review, noting that “the heavenly witnesses have departed.”[131]

20th Century

The 20th century saw the scholarship of Alan England Brooke and Joseph Pohle, the RCC controversy following the 1897 Papal declaration as to whether the verse could be challenged by Catholic scholars, the Karl Künstle Priscillian-origin theory, the detailed scholarship of Augustus Bludau in many papers, the Eduard Riggenbach book, and the Franz Pieper and Edward F. Hills defenses. There were specialty papers by Anton Baumstark (Syriac reference), Norbert Fickermann (Augustine), Claude Jenkins (Bede), Mateo del Alamo, Teófilo Ayuso Marazuela, Franz Posset (Luther) and Rykle Borger (Peshitta). Verse dismissals, such as that given by Bruce Metzger, became popular.[132] There was the fine technical scholarship of Raymond Brown. And the continuing publication and studies of the Erasmus correspondence, writings, and Annotations, some with English translation. From Germany came Walter Thiele’s Old Latin studies and sympathy for the comma being in the Bible of Cyprian, and the research by Henk de Jonge on Erasmus and the Received Text and the comma.

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

Recent Scholarship

The last 20 years have seen a popular revival of interest in the historic verse controversies and the textual debate. Factors include the growth of interest in the Received Text and the Authorized Version (including the King James Version Only movement) and the questioning of Critical Text theories, the 1995 book by Michael Maynard documenting the historical debate on 1 John 5:7, and the internet ability to spur research and discussion with participatory interaction. In this period, King James Bible defenders and opponents wrote a number of papers on the Johannine Comma, usually published in evangelical literature and on the internet. In textual criticism scholarship circles, the book by Klaus Wachtel Der byzantinische Text der katholischen Briefe: Eine Untersuchung zur Entstehung der Koine des Neuen Testaments, 1995 contains a section with detailed studies on the Comma. Similarly, Der einzig wahre Bibeltext?, published in 2006 by K. Martin Heide. Special interest has been given to the studies of the Codex Vaticanus umlauts by Philip Barton Payne and Paul Canart, senior paleographer at the Vatican Library.[133] The Erasmus studies have continued, including research on the Valladolid inquiry by Peter G. Bietenholz and Lu Ann Homza. Jan Krans has written on conjectural emendation and other textual topics, looking closely at the Received Text work of Erasmus and Beza. And some elements of the recent scholarship commentary have been especially dismissive and negative.[134]

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1546 defined the Biblical canon as “the entire books with all their parts, as these have been wont to be read in the Catholic Church and are contained in the old Latin Vulgate”. The Comma appeared in both the Sixtine (1590) and the Clementine (1592) editions of the Vulgate.[135] Although the revised Vulgate contained the Comma, the earliest known copies did not, leaving the status of the Comma Johanneum unclear.[7] On 13 January 1897, during a period of reaction in the Church, the Holy Office decreed that Catholic theologians could not “with safety” deny or call into doubt the Comma’s authenticity. Pope Leo XIII approved this decision two days later, though his approval was not in forma specifica[136]—that is, Leo XIII did not invest his full papal authority in the matter, leaving the decree with the ordinary authority possessed by the Holy Office. Three decades later, on 2 June 1927, Pope Pius XI decreed that the Comma Johanneum was open to investigation.[137]

Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

King James Only Movement

In more recent years, the Comma has become relevant to the King James Only Movement, a largely Protestant development most prevalent within the fundamentalist and Independent Baptist branch of the Baptist churches. Many proponents view the Comma as an important Trinitarian text.[138] The defense of the verse by Edward Freer Hills in 1956 as part of his defense of the Textus Receptus The King James Version Defended The Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7) was unusual due to Hills’ textual criticism scholarship credentials.

INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation INVESTIGATING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

Grammatical Analysis

In 1 John 5:7–8 in the Received Text, the following words appear (the words in bold print are the words of the Johannine Comma).

(Received Text) 1 John 5:7 … οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ν τορανὁ πατρ λόγος κατγιον πνεμα  8 ομαρτυροντες ν τγ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα … 5:7 … THE-ONES bearing-witness in the heaven (THE Father, THE Word and THE Holy Spirit) … 8 … THE-ONES bearing-witness on the earth (THE Spirit and THE water and THE blood) …

1 JOHN 5:7-8 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI & WH NU TGNT)  [BRD]
 7 ὅτιBecause τρεῖςthree εἰσὶνare οἱthe (ones) μαρτυροῦντες,bearing witness, 8 τὸthe πνεῦμαspirit καὶand τὸthe ὕδωρwater καὶand τὸthe αἷμα,blood, καὶand οἱthe τρεῖςthree εἰςinto τὸthe ἕνone (thing) εἰσιν.are.

1 JOHN 5:7-8 1550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)
 7 ὅτιBecause τρεῖςthree εἰσὶνare οἱthe (ones) μαρτυροῦντες,bearing witness, ενof in τωthe ουρανωheavens οthe πατηρFather οthe λογοςWord καιand τοthe αγιονHoly πνευμαSpirit καιand ουτοιthese οιthe τρειςthree ενone εισιν 8are καιand  τρειςthree εισινthere are οιwho μαρτυρουντεςbear witness ενin τηthe γηearth τοthe πνευμαSpirit καιand τοthe υδωρwater καιand τοthe αιμαblood καιand οιthe τρειςthree ειςto τοthe ενone εισινare 

In 1 John 5:7–8 in the Critical Text and Majority Text, the following words appear.

(Critical Text and Majority Text) 1 John 5:7 … οἱ μαρτυροῦντες 8 τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα … 5:7 … THE-ONES bearing-witness 8 (THE Spirit and THE water and THE blood) …

According to Johann Bengel,[139] Eugenius Bulgaris,[140] John Oxlee[141] and Daniel Wallace,[142] each article-participle phrase (οἱ μαρτυροῦντες [THE-ONES bearing-witness]) in 1 John 5:7–8 functions as a substantive and agrees with the natural gender (masculine) of the idea being expressed (persons), to which three subsequent appositional (added for clarification) articular (preceded by an article) nouns (ὁ πατὴρ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα [THE Father, THE Word and THE Holy Spirit] / τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα [THE Spirit and THE water and THE blood]) are added.

According to Frederick Nolan,[143] Robert Dabney[144] and Edward Hills,[145] each article-participle phrase (οἱ μαρτυροῦντες [THE bearing-witness]) in 1 John 5:7–8 functions as an adjective that modifies the three subsequent articular nouns (ὁ πατὴρ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα [THE Father, THE Word and THE Holy Spirit] / τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα [THE Spirit and THE water and THE blood]) and therefore must agree with the grammatical gender (masculine / neuter) of the first subsequent articular noun (ὁ πατὴρ [THE Father] / τὸ πνεῦμα [THE Spirit]).

Titus 2:13 is an example of how an article-adjective (or article-participle) phrase looks when it functions as an adjective that modifies multiple subsequent nouns.

(Received Text) Titus 2:13 … τὴν μακαρίαν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν … 2:13 … THE blessed hope and appearance …

Matthew 23:23 is an example of how an article-adjective (or article-participle) phrase looks when it functions as a substantive to which multiple subsequent appositional articular nouns are added.

(Received Text) Matthew 23:23 … τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸν ἔλεον καὶ τὴν πίστιν … 23:23 … THE-THINGS weightier of-the Law (THE judgment and THE mercy and THE faith) …

According to Bengel, Bulgaris, Oxlee and Wallace, 1 John 5:7–8 is like Matthew 23:23, not like Titus 2:13.

According to Nolan, Dabney and Hills, 1 John 5:7–8 is like Titus 2:13, not like Matthew 23:23. [Much from above is from Wikipedia and Edward D. Andrews]

Edward D. Andrews, Bruce Metzger, and Philip Comfort

The original wording in 1 John 5:7-8 is “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν), which is found in very good early documentary witnesses א A B, as well as (Ψ) Maj, numerous early versions syr cop arm eth it, and GENTI WH NU TGNT SBLGNT. We have a variant (TR), “Because there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (οτι τρεις εισεν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω, ο πατηρ, ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα, και ουτοι οι τρεις ἕν εισιν. και τρεις οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη, το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα, και οι τρεις εις το ἕν εισιν) in some late manuscripts (61 629 omit και ουτοι οι τρεις ἕν εισιν) 88 221v.r.429 636v.r. 918 2318 and the TR.

If this passage had been in the original, there is no good reason why it would have been removed either accidentally or intentionally. None of the Greek church fathers quote this passage, which they certainly would have during the Trinitarian controversy. (Sabellian and Arian). This interpolation is not in any of the ancient versions, such as Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic, and the Old Latin in its early form, or Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Intrinsically, the interpolation “makes an awkward break in the sense” as Metzger points out.

Some three hundred years after the apostle John completed the last books of the New Testament (c. 98 C.E.), a writer (c. 400 C.E.) seeking to strengthen the Trinitarian doctrine added the addition (interpolation) to 1 John 5:7: “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” This statement was not in the original text. “From the sixth century onwards,” says the leading New Testament textual scholar of the twentieth century Bruce Metzger, those words were “found more and more frequently in manuscripts of the Old Latin and of the [Latin] Vulgate.”

The utter enormous amount of manuscripts that we possess today actually helps textual scholars to detect errors. The spurious words of 1 John 5:7 crept into what would become the most influential English Bible in history, the King James Version! However, as textual scholars began to discover other manuscripts, it was revealed that this interpolation was not found in any Greek manuscript prior to the fouth-century. Bruce Metzger wrote: “The passage [at 1 John 5:7] is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin.” Based on this, revised editions of the King James Version (ERV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, ESV, HCSB.CSB, and the UASV) and other Bibles (NIV, TNIV, NEB, REB, NJB, NAB, NLT, TEV, NET, and many others) have removed the erroneous phrase.

1 John 5.7 Codex Vaiticanus
1 John 5:7 Codex Vaticanus (c. 300-325 C.E.)
1 John 5.7 Codex Sinaiticus
1 John 5.7 Codex Sinaiticus (c. 330-360 C.E.)
1 John 5.7 Codex Alexandrinus
1 John 5.7 Codex Alexandrinus (c. 400-440 C.E.)
KING JAMES BIBLE II KING JAMES BIBLE II KING JAMES BIBLE II KING JAMES BIBLE II

On this Philip W. Comfort writes,

John never wrote the following words: “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth.” This famous passage, called “the heavenly witness” or Comma Johanneum, came from a gloss on 5:8 which explained that the three elements (water, blood, and Spirit) symbolize the Trinity (the Father, the Word [Son], and the Spirit).

This gloss had a Latin origin (as did the one in 5:20—see note). The first time this passage appears in the longer form (with the heavenly witness) is in the treatise Liber Apologeticus, written by the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died ca. 385) or his follower, Bishop Instantius. Metzger said, “apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolize the Trinity (through the mention of the three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood), an interpretation which may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text” (TCGNT). The gloss showed up in the writings of Latin fathers in North Africa and Italy (as part of the text of the Epistle) from the fifth century onward, and it found its way into more and more copies of the Latin Vulgate. (The original translation of Jerome did not include it.) “The heavenly witnesses” passage has not been found in the text of any Greek manuscript prior to the fourteenth century, and it was never cited by any Greek father. Many of the Greek manuscripts listed above (in support of the variant reading) do not even include the extra verbiage in the text but rather record these words as a “variant reading” (v.r.) in the margin.

Erasmus did not include “the heavenly witnesses” passage in the first two editions of his Greek New Testament. He was criticized for this by defenders of the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus, in reply, said that he would include it if he could see it in any one Greek manuscript. In turn, a manuscript (most likely the Monfort Manuscript, 61, of the sixteenth century) was especially fabricated to contain the passage and thereby fool Erasmus. Erasmus kept his promise; he included it in the third edition. From there it became incorporated into TR and was translated in the KJV. Both KJV and NKJV have popularized this expanded passage. The NKJV translators included it in the text, knowing full well that it has no place there. This is evident in their footnote: “Only four or five very late manuscripts contain these words in Greek.” Its inclusion in the text demonstrates their commitment to maintain the KJV heritage.

Without the intrusive words the text reads: “For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are in agreement” (NIV). It has nothing to do with the Triune God, but with the three critical phases in Jesus’ life where he was manifested as God incarnate, the Son of God in human form. This was made evident at his baptism (= the water), his death (= the blood), and his resurrection (= the Spirit). At his baptism, the man Jesus was declared God’s beloved Son (see Matt 3:16–17). At his crucifixion, a man spilling blood was recognized by others as “God’s Son” (see Mark 15:39). In resurrection, he was designated as the Son of God in power (see Rom 1:3–4). This threefold testimony is unified in one aspect: Each event demonstrated that the man Jesus was the divine Son of God. – Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 785.

On this Bruce M. Metzger writes,

After μαρτυροῦντες the Textus Receptus adds the following: ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἔν εἰσι. (8) καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ. That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain in the light of the following considerations.

(A) External Evidence. (1) The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except eight, and these contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate. Four of the eight manuscripts contain the passage as a variant reading written in the margin as a later addition to the manuscript. The eight manuscripts are as follows:

61: codex Montfortianus, dating from the early sixteenth century.
88v.r.: a variant reading in a sixteenth century hand, added to the fourteenth-century codex Regius of Naples.
221v.r.: a variant reading added to a tenth-century manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
429v.r.: a variant reading added to a sixteenth-century manuscript at Wolfenbüttel.
636v.r.: a variant reading added to a sixteenth-century manuscript at Naples.
918: a sixteenth-century manuscript at the Escorial, Spain.
2318: an eighteenth-century manuscript, influenced by the Clementine Vulgate, at Bucharest, Rumania.

(2) The passage is quoted by none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian). Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.

(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin; and it is not found (a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate (b) as issued by Jerome (codex Fuldensis [copied a.d. 541–46] and codex Amiatinus [copied before a.d. 716]) or (c) as revised by Alcuin (first hand of codex Vallicellianus [ninth century]).

The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4), attributed either to the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died about 385) or to his follower Bishop Instantius. Apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolize the Trinity (through the mention of three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood), an interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text. In the fifth century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle, and from the sixth century onwards it is found more and more frequently in manuscripts of the Old Latin and of the Vulgate. In these various witnesses the wording of the passage differs in several particulars. (For examples of other intrusions into the Latin text of 1 John, see 2.17; 4.3; 5.6, and 20.)

(B) Internal Probabilities. (1) As regards transcriptional probability, if the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission, either accidentally or intentionally, by copyists of hundreds of Greek manuscripts, and by translators of ancient versions.

(2) As regards intrinsic probability, the passage makes an awkward break in the sense.

For the story of how the spurious words came to be included in the Textus Receptus, see any critical commentary on 1 John, or Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp. 101 f.; cf. also Ezra Abbot, “I. John v. 7 and Luther’s German Bible,” in The Authorship of the Fourth Gospel and Other Critical Essays (Boston, 1888), pp. 458–463. – Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 647–649.

REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES APOLOGETICS CONVERSATION EVANGELISM

Variant Reading(s): differing versions of a word or phrase found in two or more manuscripts within a variation unit (see below). Variant readings are also called alternate readings.

Variation Unit: any portion of text that exhibits variations in its reading between two or more different manuscripts. It is important to distinguish variation units from variant readings. Variation units are the places in the text where manuscripts disagree, and each variation unit has at least two variant readings. Setting the limits and range of a variation unit is sometimes difficult or even controversial because some variant readings affect others nearby. Such variations may be considered individually, or as elements of a single reading. One should also note that the terms “manuscript” and “witness” may appear to be used interchangeably in this context. Strictly speaking “witness” (see below) will only refer to the content of a given manuscript or fragment, which it predates to a greater or lesser extent. However, the only way to reference the “witness” is by referring to the manuscript or fragment that contains it. In this book, we have sometimes used the terminology “witness of x or y manuscript” to distinguish the content in this way.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

TERMS AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OBJECTIVELY VIEW THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY FOR THE READING ACCEPTED AS THE ORIGINAL

The modal verbs are might have been (30%), may have been (40%), could have been (55%), would have been (80%), must have been (95%), which are used to show that we believe the originality of a reading is certain, probable or possible.

The letter [WP] stands for Weak Possibility (30%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading might have been original in that it is enough evidence to accept that the variant might have been possible, but it is improbable. We can say the reading might have been original, as there is some evidence that is derived from manuscripts that carry very little weight, early versions, or patristic quotations.

The letter [P] stands for Plausible (40%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading may have been original in that it is enough to accept a variant to be original and we have enough evidence for our belief. The reading may have been original but it is not probably so.

The letter [PE] stands for Preponderance of Evidence (55%), which indicates that this is a higher-level proof that the reading could have been original in that it is enough to accept as such unless another reading emerges as more probable.

The letter [CE] stands for Convincing Evidence (80%), which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise.

The letter [BRD] stands for Beyond Reasonable Doubt (95%), which indicates that this is the highest level of proof: the reading must have been original in that there is no reason to doubt itIt must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as one hundred percent absolute certainty.

NOTE: This system is borrowed from the criminal just legal terms of the United States of America, the level of certainty involved in the use of modal verbs, and Bruce Metzger in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), who borrowed his system from Johann Albrecht Bengel in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Tübingen, 1734). In addition, the percentages are in no way attempting to be explicit but rather they are nothing more than a tool to give the non-textual scholar a sense of the degree of certainty. However, this does not mean the percentages are not reflective of certainty.

The Challenge Of Translating Truth The Challenge Of Translating Truth The Challenge Of Translating Truth The Challenge Of Translating Truth

SOURCES

  • B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882)
  • Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994),
  • Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
  • Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
  • Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Matt. 6:8.
  • Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
  • The NET Bible. Garland, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2006
  • Philip Wesley Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).
  • Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008).
  • Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019)
  • Wallace B., Daniel (n.d.). Retrieved from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: http://csntm.org/
  • Wilker, Wieland (n.d.). Retrieved from An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels: http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/index.html

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[1] Metzger, Bruce M. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament: a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (fourth revised edition) (2 ed.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft. pp. 647–649.

[2] Thiele, Walter (1959). “Beobachtungen zum Comma Iohanneum (I Joh 5 7 f.)”. Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der Älteren Kirche (in German). 50 (1).

[3] Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). The Latin New Testament: a guide to its early history, texts, and manuscripts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 178–179.

[4] McDonald, Grantley (2017). “The Johannine Comma from Erasmus to Westminster”. In Dirk van Miert, Henk J. M. Nellen, Piet Steenbakkers, Jetze Touber (eds.) (eds.). Scriptural authority and biblical criticism in the Dutch Golden Age: God’s word questioned. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 61–72.

[5] Gerace, Antonio (2016). “Francis Lucas ‘of Bruges’ and Textual Criticism of the Vulgate Before and After the Sixto-Clementine (1592)”. Journal of Early Modern Christianity. 3 (2).

[6] Metzger, Bruce M. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament: a companion volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (fourth revised edition) (2 ed.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft. pp. 647–649.

  1. [7] “Fragments of Clemens Alexandrius”, translated by Rev. William Wilson, section 3.

[8] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Epistles of St John”

[9] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed., Stuttgart, 1993.

[10] Clontz, T.E. and J., “The Comprehensive New Testament”, Cornerstone Publications (2008), p. 709

[11] Et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est—Et hi tres unum sunt. Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiæ (On the Unity of the Church) IV. “Epistles of Saint John”, Catholic Encyclopedia.

Daniel B. Wallace, “The Comma Johanneum and Cyprian Archived 9 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine”.

[12] Theodore H. Mann, “Textual problems in the KJV New Testament”, in: Journal of Biblical Studies 1 (January–March 2001).

[13] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Epistles of St John”

[14] ‘r’ in the UBS-4 also ‘it-q’ and Beuron 64 are apparatus names today. These fragments were formerly known as Fragmenta Monacensia, as in the Handbook to the textual criticism of the New Testament, by Frederic George Kenyon, 1901, p. 178.

[15] Aland, B.; Aland, K.; J. Karavidopoulos, C. M. Martini, B. Metzger, A. Wikgren (1993). The Greek New Testament. Stuttgart: United Bible Societies. p. 819. [UBS4]

[16] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Epistles of St John”

[17] NA26: mss 61, 629, 918, 2318, besides in mss. 88, 221, 429, 636 as later additions.

[18] Catholic Encyclopedia: “in only four rather recent cursives — one of the fifteenth and three of the sixteenth century. No Greek epistolary manuscript contains the passage.”

[19] John Painter, Daniel J. Harrington. 1, 2, and 3 John

[20] “Fragments of Clemens Alexandrius”, translated by Rev. William Wilson, section 3.

Charles Forster in A new plea for the authenticity of the text of the three heavenly witnesses p 54-55 (1867) notes that the quote of verse 6 is partial, bypassing phrases in verse 6 as well as verse 7. And that Clement’s “words et iterum clearly mark the interpolation of other topics and intervening text, between the two quotations”. Et iterum is “and again” in the English translation.

[21] Eclogae propheticae 13.1Ben David, Monthly Review, 1826 p. 277)

[22] Bengel, John Gill, Ben David and Thomas Burgess

[23] Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives,, Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, John P. Galvin, 2011, p. 159, the Latin is “Ita connexus Patris in Filio, et Filii in Paracleto, tres efficit cohaerentes alterum ex altero: qui tres unum sunt, non unus quomodo dictum est, Ego et Pater unum sumus”

[24] John Kaye, The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, Illustrated from the Writings of Tertullian 1826. p. 550.

[25] eorg Strecker, The Johannine Letters (Hermeneia); Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. ‘Excursus: The Textual Tradition of the “Comma Johanneum.”’

[26] August Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and the Church During the Three First Centuries, Volume 2, 1841, p. 184. Latin, Item de pudic. 21. Et ecclesia proprie et principaliter ipse est spiritus, in quo est trinitas unius divinitatis Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus. Tischendorf apparatus

[27] Documents in Early Christian Thought, editors Maurice Wiles and Mark Santer, 1977, p.178, Latin Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum Selecta 1839.

[28] Burgess, Tracts on the Divinity of Christ, 1820, pp.333–334. Irish Ecclesiastical Review, Traces of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses, 1869 p. 274

[29] Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek Note on Selected Readings, 1 John v 7,8, 1882, p104.

[30] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Epistles of St John”

[31] Forster, Charles (1867). A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witness; Or, Porson’s Letters to Travis Eclectically Examined and the External and Internal Evidences for 1 John V, 7 Eclectically Re-surveyed. Deighton, Bell. pp. 111–112.. Quote: “…the witness of Tertullian and Cyprian is followed and sustained in the Latin Church by that of St. Jerome; whose adoption of the text of the three Heavenly Witnesses in the Vulgate carries in it more weight than the most formal quotation. This point has been unaccountably overlooked in the controversy; insomuch that one of the latest writers on it, Dr. Adam Clarke, sets down Jerome among those to whom the text was unknown! On the contrary, by his silent publication of it in the Vulgate, this most learned of the Fathers not only puts his sign-manual to its authenticity, but gives the clearest proof that down to his time the genuineness of this text had never been disputed or questioned.”

[32] Horne, critical study 1933, p. 451

Travis references Jerome as writing approvingly of the confession. George Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon, 1785 p. 108. The Latin is “Nobis unus Pater, et unus Filius ejus, verus Deus, et unus Spiritus Sanctus, verus Deus; et hi tres unum sunt; una divimtas, et potentia, et regnum. Sunt autem tres Personae, non-duae, non-una” Marc Celed. Exposit. Fid. ad Cyril apud Hieronymi Opera, tom. ix. p. 73g. Frederick Nolan, An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek Vulgate, 1815, p. 291.

[33] Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson, footnote: “Bishop 353, died about 392”.

[34] William Hales, Inspector, Antijacobin Review, Sabellian Controversy, Letter XII 1816, p. 590. “Denique Dominus: Petam, inquit, a Patre meo et alium advocatum dabit vobis … Sic alius a Filio Spiritus, sicut a Patre Filius. Sic tertia in Spiritu, ut in Filio secunda persona: unus tamen Deus omnia, tres unum sunt. Phoebadius, Liber Contra Arianos

[35] Griesbach, Diatribe, p. 700

[36] Introduction historique et critique aux libres de Nouveau Testament 1861, p.564.

In dismissing Phoebadius in this fashion, Griesbach was following Porson, whose explanation began, “Phoebadius plainly imitates Tertullian…and therefore, is not a distinct evidence”, Letters to Archdeacon Travis, 1790, p. 247.

[37] Catholic Encyclopedia: “The silence of the great and voluminous Augustine and the variation in form of the text in the African Church are admitted facts that militate against the canonicity of the three witnesses.”

[38] “The silence of Augustine, contrary to prevailing opinion, cannot be cited as evidence against the genuineness of the Comma. He may indeed have known it” Annotated bibliography of the textual criticism of the New Testament p. 113 Bruce Manning Metzger, 1955. Metzger was citing S. Augustinus gegen das Comma Johanneum? by Norbert Fickermann, 1934, who considers evidence from a 12th-century Regensburg manuscript that Augustine specifically avoided referencing the verse directly. The manuscript note contrasts the inclusion position of Jerome in the Vulgate Prologue with the preference for removal by Augustine. This confirms that there was awareness of the Greek and Latin ms. distinction and that some scribes preferred omission. Raymond Brown writes: “Fickermann points to a hitherto unpublished eleventh-century text which says that Jerome considered the Comma to be a genuine part of 1 John—clearly a memory of the Pseudo-Jerome Prologue mentioned above. But the text goes on to make this claim: ‘St. Augustine, on the basis of apostolic thought and on the authority of the Greek text, ordered it to be left out.'” Epistles of John, 1982, p. 785.

[39] Augustine scholar Edmund Hill says about a reference in The Trinity – Book IX that “this allusion of Augustine’s suggests that it had already found its way into his text”.

[40] The City of God, Volume 1, trans. by Marcus Dods 1888 p. 197, Latin: Deus itaque summus et verum cum Verbo suo et Spiritu sancto, quae tria unum sunt, Deus unus omnipotens

[41] e.g. Franz Anton Knittel, Thomas Burgess, Arthur-Marie Le Hir, Francis Patrick Kenrick, Charles Forster and Pierre Rambouillet

[42] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters (Hermeneia); Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. ‘Excursus: The Textual Tradition of the “Comma Johanneum”’.

[43] Homilies, 1849, p. 1224. Latin: et quid est: finis christus? quia christus deus, et finis praecepti caritas, et deus caritas quia et pater et filius et spiritus sanctus unum sunt.

George Travis summarized of Augustinian passages: The striking reiteration, in these passages, of the same expressions, Unum sunt—Hi tres unum sunt—Unum sunt, and Hi tres qui unum sunt seems to bespeak their derivation from the verse…Letters to Edward Gibbon, 1794, p. 46

[44] Principles of Textual Criticism, p. 506, 1820.

[45] Thomas Joseph Lamy The Decision of the Holy Office on the “Comma Joanneum” pp.449–483 American ecclesiastical review, 1897.

[46] Thomas Burgess, A vindication of I John, V. 7, p.46, 1821.

[47] The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, Vol 3, The Second Session, pp. 22–23, 2005, Richard Price, editor

[48] Edward Rochie Hardy Christology of the Later Fathers 1954, p. 368

[49] Richard Porson, Letters to Archdeacon Travis 1790 p.378

[50] Letters to Archdeacon Travis 1790 p. 401

[51] Thomas Burgess, An introduction to the controversy on the disputed verse of st. John, 1835, p. xxvi

[52] Thomas Burgess, An introduction to the controversy on the disputed verse of st. John, 1835, p. xxxi

[53] Robert Ernest Wallis, translator, The writings of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, Volume 1 1868, p. 382

[54] Et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est—Et hi tres unum sunt. Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiæ (On the Unity of the Church) IV. “Epistles of Saint John”, Catholic Encyclopedia.

[55] While mentioning the usage of Son instead of Word as a possible argument against Cyprian awareness of the Comma, Raymond Brown points out that Son “is an occasional variant in the text of the Comma” and gives the example of Fulgentius referencing “Son” in Contra Fabrianum and “Word” in Reponsio Contra ArianosEpistles of John p. 784, 1982.

[56] Daniel B. Wallace, “The Comma Johanneum and Cyprian Archived 9 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine”.

[57] This can be seen in The Greek New Testament (1966) UBS p. 824 by Kurt Aland. In 1983 the UBS Preface p.x announced plans for a “thorough revision of the textual apparatus, with special emphasis upon evidence from the ancient versions, the Diatessaron, and the Church Fathers.” The latest edition of UBS4 updated many early church writer references and now has Cyprian for Comma inclusion. This citation is in parenthesis, which is given the meaning that while a citation of a Father supports a reading, still it “deviates from it in minor details” UBS4, p. 36.

[58] Scrivener, while opposing verse authenticity, wrote in Plain Introduction in 1861 “it is surely safer and more candid to admit that Cyprian read v. 7 in his copies, than to resort to the explanation of Facundus, that the holy Bishop was merely putting on v. 8 a spiritual meaning”. And then Scrivener placed mystical interpretation as the root of comma formation “although we must acknowledge that it was in this way v. 7 obtained a place, first in the margin, then in the text of the Latin copies … mystical interpretation”. In the 1883 edition Scrivener wrote “It is hard to believe that 1 John v. 7, 8 was not cited by Cyprian”. Thus, Scrivener would be taking the position of a mystical interpretation by scribes unknown, working through the margin and later adding to the text, all before Cyprian. “they were originally brought into Latin copies in Africa from the margin, where they had been placed as a pious and orthodox gloss on ver. 8” p.654. Under this possible scenario the comma “was known and received in some places, as early as the second or third century” (p. 652 1883-ed) which, in the Scrivener textual economy, would be analogous to Acts 8:37. Acts 8:37 has undisputed early citations by Irenaeus and Cyprian and yet is considered by Scrivener and most modern theorists as inauthentic. Despite allowing an early textual formation for the Unity of the Church citation, Scrivener quoted approvingly negative views of the Tertullian and Cyprian Jubaianum references. Scrivener also quoted Tischendorf about the weightiness of the Cyprian referencing gravissimus est Cyprianus de eccles. unitate 5.

[59] Westcott and Hort The New Testament in the Original Greek, p. 104, 1881.

Bruce Metzger, who is used as the main source by many writers in recent decades, ignores the references entirely: “the passage … is not found (a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine)”, A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 717, 1971, and later editions. James White references Metzger and writes about the possibility that “Cyprian … could just as well be interpreting the three witnesses of 1 John 5:6 as a Trinitarian reference” A Bit More on the Comma 3/16/2006(White means 5:8). White is conceptually similar to the earlier Raymond Brown section: “There is a good chance that Cyprian’s second citation, like the first (Ad Jubianum), is Johannine and comes from the OL text of I John 5:8, which says, “And these three are one,” in reference to the Spirit, the water, and the blood. His application of it to the divine trinitarian figures need not represent a knowledge of the comma, but rather a continuance of the reflections of Tertullian combined with a general patristic tendency to invoke any scriptural group of three as symbolic of or applicable to the Trinity. In other words, Cyprian may exemplify the thought process that gave rise to the Comma.” In a footnote Brown acknowledges “It has been argued seriously by Thiele and others that Cyprian knew the Comma”. Epistles of John p. 784, 1982.

[60] Two Francis Pieper extracts: “In our opinion the decision as to the authenticity or the spuriousness of these words depends on the understanding of certain words of Cyprian (p. 340)… Cyprian is quoting John 10:30. And he immediately adds: ‘Et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est: “Et tres unum sunt”’ (“and again it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost: ‘And the Three are One’”) Now, those who assert that Cyprian is here not quoting the words 1 John 5:7, are obliged to show that the words of Cyprian: ‘Et tres unum sunt’ applied to the three Persons of the Trinity, are found elsewhere in the Scriptures than 1 John 5. Griesbach counters that Cyprian is here not quoting from Scripture, but giving his own allegorical interpretation of the three witnesses on earth. “The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.” That will hardly do. Cyprian states distinctly that he is quoting Bible passages, not only in the words: ‘I and the Father are one,’ but also in the words: ‘And again it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.’ These are, in our opinion, the objective facts.” p.341 (1950 English edition). Similarly, Elie Philippe wrote “Le témoignage de saint Cyprien est précieux, peut-être même péremptoire dans la question.” (The testimony of St. Cyprian is precious, perhaps even peremptory to the question.) La Science Catholique, 1889, p. 238.

[61] Henry Donald Maurice Spence, in Plumptre’s Bible Educator wrote “.. there is little doubt that Cyprian, before the middle of the third century, knew of the passage and quoted it as the genuine words of St. John.” James Bennett, in The Theology of the Early Christian Church: Exhibited in Quotations from the Writers of the First Three Centuries, with Reflections 41, p.136, 1841, wrote “the disputed text in John’s First Epistle, v. 7, is quoted … Jerome seems to have been falsely charged with introducing the disputed words, without authority, into the Vulgate; for Cyprian had read them in a Latin version, long before.” Bennett also sees the “probability is strengthened” that the Tertullian reference is from his Bible. And Bennett rejects the Griesbach “allegorised the eighth verse” attempt “for they (Tertullian and Cyprian) here argue, as from express testimonies of Scripture, without any hint of that allegorical interpretation which, it must be confessed, the later writers abundantly employ”. And the most emphatic position is taken by the modern Cyprian scholar, Ezio Gallicet of the University of Turin, in this book on Cyprian’s Unity of the Church, La Chiesa: Sui cristiani caduti nella persecuzione ; L’unità della Chiesa cattolica p. 206, 1997. Gallicet, after referencing the usual claims of an interpolation from Caspar René Gregory and Rudolf Bultmann, wrote: “Dal modo in cui Cipriano cita, non sembra che si possano avanzare dubbi: egli conosceva il « comma giovanneo ». (Colloquially … “there is no doubt about it, the Comma Johanneum was in Cyprian’s Bible”.)

[62] Arthur Cleveland Coxe, annotating Cyprian in the early church writings edition, wrote of the positions denying Cyprian referring the Bible verse in Unity of the Church, as the “usual explainings away” Ante-Nicene Fathers p.418, 1886. And Nathaniel Ellis Cornwall referred to the logic behind attempts to deny Cyprian’s usage of the verse (Cornwall looks closely at Porson, Lange and Tischendorf) as “astonishing feats of sophistical fencing”. The Genuineness of I John v. 7 p. 638, 1874.

[63] Stanley Lawrence Greenslade, Early Latin Theology: Selections from Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome 1956, p. 164. The Latin is “si peccatorum remissam consecutus est, et sanctificatus est, et templum Dei factus est: quaero, cujus Dei? Si creatoris, non potuit, qui in eum non credidit: si Christi, non hujus potest sieri templum, qui negat Deum Christum: si Spiritus Sancti, cum tres unum sunt, quomodo Spiritus Sanctus placatus esse ei potest, qui aut Patris aut Filii inimicus est?”

[64] Franz Anton Knittel New Criticisms on the Celebrated Text 1785 p. 34

[65] Philip Sellew, Critica Et Philologica, 2001, p. 94

[66] The use of parentheses is described as “these witnesses attest the readings in question, but that they also exhibit certain negligible variations which do not need to be described in detail”. Kurt Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 1995, p. 243.

[67] Origen, discussing water baptism in his commentary on the Gospel of John, references only verse 8 the earthly witnesses: “And it agrees with this that the disciple John speaks in his epistle of the spirit, and the water, and the blood, as being one.”

[68] The Church Review p. 625-641, 1874., The Genuineness of I John v. 7, Scholium on pp.634–635

[69] Richard Porson, Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, p.234, 1790.

[70] Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, p.544 first published in 1703.

[71] English translation by Richard Porson, also given in Charles Forster’s New Plea. Greek text, Disputation Contra Arium

[72] In modern times, scholars on early church writings outside the textual battles are more likely to see the work as from Athanasius, or an actual account of an Athanasius-Arius debate. Examples are John Williams Proudfit Remarks on the history, structure, and theories of the Apostles’ Creed 1852, p.58 and George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, 1882, p. 272

[73] Kaiserl.[lichen] Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien; Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (1866) Vol XVIII, p. 6. https://archive.org/stream/corpusscriptoru01wissgoog#page/n55/mode/1up

[74] Liber Apologetics given in Maynard p. 39 “The quote as given by A. E. (Alan England) Brooke from (Georg) Schepps, Vienna Corpus, xviii. The Latin is ‘Sicut Ioannes ait: Tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in terra: aqua caro et sanguis; et haec tria in unum sunt et tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in caelo: pater, verbum et spiritus; et haec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu.

[75] Introduction to the New Testament, Vol. 3, 1909.

[76] Westcott comments “The gloss which had thus become an established interpretation of St John’s words is first quoted as part of the Epistle in a tract of Priscillian (c 385)” The Epistles of St. John p. 203, 1892. Alan England Brooke “The earliest certain instance of the gloss being quoted as part of the actual text of the Epistle is in the Liber Apologeticus (? a.d. 380) of Priscillian” The Epistles of St. John, p.158, 1912. And Bruce Metzger “The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle is in a fourth century Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus”. Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, p.717, 1971. Similar to these are William Sullivan, John Pohle, John Seldon Whale, F. F. Bruce, Ian Howard Marshall and others.

[77] Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters (Hermeneia); Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. ‘Excursus: The Textual Tradition of the “Comma Johanneum”’.

[78] Preserved Smith Erasmus, A Study Of His Life, Ideals And Place In History, p.165, 1st ed. 1923. However, Priscillian is generally considered as non-Trinitarian. The Künstle idea was more nuanced. William Edie summarizes “To Priscillian, therefore, in all probability, must be attributed the origin of the gloss in this its original and heretical form. Afterwards it was brought into harmony with the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity by the omission of the words in Christo Jesu and the Substitution of tres for tria.” The Review of Theology and Philosophy The Comma Joanneum p.169, 1906. The accusation of a Trinitarian heresy by Priscillian was not in the charges that led to the execution of Priscillian and six followers; we see this in the later 5th-century writings.

[79] The Codex MuratorianusJournal of Theological Studies, 1907 pp.537–545

[80] Alan England Brooke, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Johannine epistles, 1912, pp.158–159

[81] Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, Vol 3, 1909, p. 372

[82] “It seems plain that the passage of St, Cyprian was lying open before the Priscillianist author of the Creed (Priscillian himself?) because he was accustomed to appeal to it in the same way. In Priscillian’s day St. Cyprian had a unique position as the one great Western Doctor.” John Chapman, Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels, 1908, p.264

[83] Raymond Brown, The Epistles of John, the Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, 1982 p. 782.

[84] about four hundred bishops of Africa and Mauritania, together with others from Corsica and Sardinia, met in Carthage” Thomas Joseph Lamy, American Ecclesiastical Review, 1 John v 7, 1897 p.464

[85] John Moorhead, Victor of Vita: history of the Vandal persecution 1992, p. 56, Latin at Histoire de la Persécution des Vandales par Victor, évêque de Vita, dans la Byzacène

Frederick Nolan summarizes the history and gives his view of the significance: “Between three and four hundred prelates attended the Council, which met at Carthage; and Eugenius, as bishop of that see, drew up the Confession of the orthodox, in which the contested verse is expressly quoted. That a whole church should thus concur in quoting a verse which was not contained in the received text, is wholly inconceivable: and admitting that 1 Joh v. 7 was then generally received, its universal prevalence in that text is only to be accounted for by supposing it to have existed in it from the beginning.” Inquiry, 1815, p. 296. Bruce Metzger, in the commentary that accompanies the UBS GNT, bypassed the context of the Council and the Confession of Faith, “In the fifth century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle” A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971, p.717 and 2nd ed. 1993, and 2002 p.648

[86] Raymond Brown, Anchor Bible, Epistles of John pp. 782–783.

[87] Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon, 1794, pp. 41–42. Latin at De Trinitate Book V, p. 274 In total, Travis notes five times in the books that John is referenced in the context of the wording of 1 John 5:7, twice in Book One, and once each in Books 5, 7, and 10.

[88] John Scott Porter, Principles of Textual Criticism, 1848, p.509 Latin: Et Joannes evangelista ait; In principio erat verbum, et verbum erat apud Deurn et Deus erat verbum. Item ad Parthos ; Tres sunt, inquit, qui testimonium perhibent in terra, aqua sanguis el caro, et tres in nobis sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in caelo. Pater, Verbum, et spiritus, et hi tres unum sunt. McCarthy, Daniel The Epistles and Gospels of the Sundays, 1866, p. 518. The full book is at Patrologiae cursus completus: Series latina Vol 62:359, 1800. Nathaniel Ellis Cornwall explains how Idacius Clarus, of the 4th century and an opponent of Priscillian, is internally accredited as the original author Genuineness Proved by Neglected Witnesses 1877, p. 515. The work was originally published in 1528 by Sichard as Idacius Clarus Hispanus, Otto Bardenhewer, Patrology, the Lives and Works of the Fathers, p. 429, 1908.

[89] Biblical commentary on the Epistles of St John, 1850, p.326, “In Continuation of the Work of Olshausen … translated (from the German) by W. B. Pope”.

[90]William Hales, Antijacobin Review, Sabellian Controversy, Letter XII, 1816 p. 595

[91] Thomas Burgess, Letter to the Reverend Thomas Beynon 1829, p.649. The Latin is “Beatus vero Joannes Apostolus evidenter ait, Et tres unum sunt, quod de Patre, et Filio et Spiritu Sancto, dictum, sicut superius, cum rationem flagitares, ostendimus.”

[92] Fulgentius continues “Let Sabellius hear we are, let him hear three, and let him believe that there are three Persons. Let him not blaspheme in his sacrilegious heart by saying that the Father is the same in Himself as the Son is the same in Himself and as the Holy Spirit is the same in Himself, as if in some way He could beget Himself, or in some way proceed from Himself. Even in created natures it is never able to be found that something is able to beget itself. Let also Arius hear one; and let him not say that the Son is of a different nature, if one cannot be said of that, the nature of which is different.” William A. JurgensThe Faith of the Early Fathers, 1970 Volume 3. pp. 291–292.

[93]  In the historic debate, Thomas Emlyn, George Benson, Richard Porson, Samuel Lee and John Oxlee denied these references as demonstrating the verse as in the Bible of Fulgentius, by a set of differing rationales. Henry Thomas Armfield reviews debate theories and history and offered his conclusion “Surely it is quite clear from the writings of Fulgentius, both that he had himself seen the verse in the copies of the New Testament; and that those with whom he argues had not the objection to offer that the verse was not then extant in St. John’s Epistle.” Armfield, The Three Witnesses, the Disputed Text, 1883, p.171. Armfield also reviews the Facundus and Fulgentius comparison in depth. Facundus and Fulgentius were often compared in their Cyprian references, with Facundus quoted in support of Cyprian being involved in a mystical interpretation.

[94] Migne

[95] Alban Butler, The lives of the fathers, martyrs, and other principal saints, Volume 1(1846) and is referenced by Karl Künstle as Pseudo-Fulgentius.

[96] Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). The Latin New Testament: a guide to its early history, texts, and manuscripts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 178–179.

[97] McDonald, Grantley Robert (15 February 2011). “Raising the ghost of Arius: Erasmus, the Johannine comma and religious difference in early modern Europe”. Leiden University: 54–55.

[98] Joseph Pohle in The Divine Trinity: A Dogmatic Treatise accuses Cassiodorus of inserting the Comma into the Vulgate from early manuscripts. “The defense can also claim the authority of Cassiodorus, who, about the middle of the sixth century, with many ancient manuscripts at his elbow, revised the entire Vulgate of St. Jerome, especially the Apostolic Epistles, and deliberately inserted I John V, 7, which St. Jerome had left out.” Divine Trinity, 1911 p. 38-39

[99] The Latin is “Cui rei testificantur in terra tria mysteria: aqua, sanguis et spiritus, quae in passione Domini leguntur impleta: in coelo autem Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus; et hi tres unus est Deus” – Patrilogiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina by Migne, vol. 70, col. 1373. HTML version at Cassiodorus Complexiones in Epistulas apostolorum English text based on Porson and Maynard p.46.

[100] Lamy says that in going through 1 John 5 Cassiodorus “mystically interprets water, blood and spirit as three symbols concerning the Passion of Christ. To those three earthly symbols in terra, he opposes the three heavenly witnesses in coelo the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God. Evidently we have here verse 7. Cassiodorus does not cite it textually, but he gives the sense of it. He puts it in opposition to verse 8, for he contrasts in coelo with in terra. The last words: Et hi tres unus est Deus can be referred only to verse 7, since Cassiodorus refers tria unum sunt of verse 8, to the Passion of Our Saviour… Maffei’s conclusion is therefore justified when he says : Verse 7 was read not only in Africa, but in the most ancient and the most accurate Codices of the Roman Church, since Cassiodorus recommended to the monks to seek, above all else, the correct copies and to compare them with the Greek.”

[101] William Wright, Biblical hermeneutics, 1835, p.640.

[102] Daniel M’Carthy The Epistles and Gospels of the Sundays 1866, p. 521. (Patrolog. Lat. ed. Migne), Tom. lxxxiii. p. 1203).

[103] Arthur-Marie Le Hir, Les Trois Témoins Célestes Études bibliques, 1869 pp.1–72

[104] Some see Testimonia Divinae Scripturae as earlier than Isidore. “Most learned critics believe to be more ancient than St. Isidore”. John MacEvilly An Exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul, 1875, p.424, M’Carthy: “The question of authorship is not, however, important in our controversy, provided the antiquity of the document be admitted”

[105] Robert Jack, “Remarks on the Authenticity of 1 John v. 7” c. 1834. “… sicut scriptum est: Tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt de caelo, Pater et Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et hi tres unum sunt, in primo huius opens libro aperte docuimus.” Ambrose Ansbert, Ambrosij Ansberti … Apocalypsim libri decem

[106] David Harrower, A Defense of the Trinitarian System, 1822 pp.43–44

[107] Fourth Lateran Council – 1215 A.D.

[108] As explained by Thomas Joseph Lamy, American Ecclesiastical Review, The Decision of the Holy Office, 1897, pp. 478–479.

[109] The orthodox confession of the catholic and apostolic Eastern-Church, p.16, 1762. Greek and Latin in Schaff The Creeds of Christendom p. 275, 1877

[110] Samuel Berger, Histoire de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge, 1893 pp. 103–105

[111] Johann Leonhard Hug Introduction to the New Testament, p. 475, 1827.

[112] McDonald, Grantley Robert (15 February 2011). “Raising the ghost of Arius: Erasmus, the Johannine comma and religious difference in early modern Europe”. Leiden University. hdl:1887/16486. McDonald, Grantley (31 March 2016). “Erasmus and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5.7-8)”. The Bible Translator. 67 (1): 42–55. doi:10.1177/2051677016628244.

[113] “For the Spirit too is truth just as the Father and the Son are. The truth of all three is one, just as the nature of all three is one, just as the nature of all three is one. For there are three in heaven who furnish testimony to Christ: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. The Father, who not once but twice sent forth his voice from the sky and publicly testified that this was his uniquely beloved Son in whom he found no offence; the Word, who, by performing so many miracles and by dying and rising again, showed that he was the true Christ, both God and human alike, the reconciler of God and humankind; the holy Spirit, who descended on his head at baptism and after the resurrection glided down upon the disciples. The agreement of these three is absolute. The Father is the author, the Son the messenger, the Spirit the inspirer. There are likewise three things on earth which attest Christ: the human spirit which he laid down on the cross, the water, and the blood which flowed from his side in death. And these three witnesses are in agreement. They testify that he was a man. The first three declare him to be God.” (p. 174) Collected Works of Erasmus – Paraphrase on the First Epistle of John Translator John J Bateman

[114] John Jack Bateman (1931–2011), editor. Opera omnia : recognita ed adnotatione critica instructa notisque illustrata, 1997, p. 252.

[115] Stunica, one of the Complutensian editors, published in 1520 Annotationes Iacobi Lopidis Stunicae contra Erasmum Roterodamum in defensionem tralationis Noui Testamenti, which included half of a page on the heavenly witnesses. Later Erasmus correspondence on the verse included a letter to William Farel in 1524 in which Erasmus noted the lack of Greek manuscript support and the verse not being used in the Arian controversies. In 1531 Erasmus corresponded with Alberto Pio, a critic of Erasmus.

[116] Metzger, Bruce M.; Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The text of the New Testament: its transmission, corruption, and restoration (4 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 146–147.

[117] de Jonge, Henk Jan (1980). “Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum”. Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses56: 381–389.

[118] Charles Butler Horae Biblicae, 1807 p. 257

[119] Thomas Burgess A Letter to Mr. Thomas Beynon 1829, p. xii.

[120] Thomas Smith, Integritas loci 1 Jo. V, 7, 1690.

[121] Kettner referred to the heavenly witnesses as “the most precious of Biblical pearls, the fairest flower of the New Testament, the compendium by way of analogy of faith in the Trinity.” Conybeare, History of New Testament Criticism, 1910, p. 71. In 1697 Kettner wrote Insignis ac celeberrimi de SS. trinitate loci, qui I. Joh. V, 7. extat, divina autoritas sensus et usus dissertatione theol. demonstratus and in 1713 Vindiciae novae dicti vexatissimi de tribus in coelo testibus, 1 Joh. V, 7 and Historia dicti Johannei de Sanctissima Trinitate, I Joh. cap. V vers. 7

[122] Bossuet, Instructions sur la version du N. T. [de R. Simon] impr. à Trevoux, 1703, pp. 185–90. Bossuet also wrote in favor of the verse in correspondence with Newton’s mathematical rival Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Butler and Orme include Bossuet material.

[123] Abraham Taylor, The True Scripture doctrine of the holy and ever-blessed Trinity, stated and defended, in opposition to the Arian scheme, pp. 31–58, 1727. On p. 32 Taylor lists 17 recent writings on the verse, against authenticity were by Simon, Jean le Clerc, Samuel Clarke and Emlyn.

[124] And, indeed, what the sun is in the world,
what the heart is in a man,
what the needle is in the mariner’s compass,
this verse is in the epistle.”.

(John Wesley, with appreciation to Bengelius, Explanatory Notes, 1754)

[125] The footnotes included “In 1689, the papist Simon strove to be free; in 1707, the protestant Mill wished to be a slave; in 1751, the Arminian Wetstein used the liberty of his times, and of his sect.” The history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire

[126] John William Burgon, Lives of Twelve Good Men, Volume 1 Martin Joseph Routh, the Learned Divine, p. 37, 1788.

[127] Arthur-Marie Le Hir. Les Trois Témoins Célestes Études bibliques, 1869, pp. 1–89.

[128] Denounced by evangelist Thomas DeWitt Talmage in a speech covered in the New York Times “Taking up the Bible he turned to the fifth chapter of John, but passed it with the remark, ‘I will not read that, for it has been abolished or made doubtful by the new revision.’The Revision Denounced; Strong Language from the Rev. Mr. TalmageNew York Times, June 6, 1881]. See also Peter Johannes ThuesenIn Discordance with the Scriptures: American Protestant Battles Over Translating the Bible 2002, p. 54.

[129] Daniel McCarthy: … the first to expunge v. 7. altogether (J. D. Michaelis gives that honor to an ‘Anonymous Englishman’ who published the N. T, Greek and English, London, 1729, with a text revised on the principles of ‘common sense’), but his rash example was followed unhappily by the three ablest critics of our own day, Scholz, a Catholic Prof, in Bonn, Lachmann, and Tischendorf; and approved by Wegscheid, Michaelis, Davidson, Horne, Alford, Tregelles, &c; so that it may be truly said the current of Protestant opinion in England and Germany is now as strong against, as it was for the genuineness of the controverted words even within this century. The change is unaccountable when we bear in mind that the evidence for the verse, both negative and positive, has been increasing every day, whilst the arguments against its authenticity were brought out as fully by Erasmus as by any modern critic. The Epistles and Gospels of the Sundays, 1866, p. 512. The Anonymous Englishman is Daniel Mace.

[130] Adam Hamilton, Dublin Review, 1890, The Abbé Martin and 1 John v. 7, 1890 (pp. 182–91), puts the debate into English, Hamilton supporting authenticity, Martin the principal opponent.

[131] The Revision of the New Testament Dublin Review, 1981, pp. 140–43.

[132] Often-repeated is “that these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain …” from Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971, p. 716.

[133] Summarized with pictures on the web site KJV Today Umlaut in Codex Vaticanus, although the conclusion “an early scribe of Vaticanus at least knew of a significant textual variant here” is only one theory. Discussions have continued on the Evangelical Textual Criticism web site, the Yahoogroups textualcriticism forum and helpful is the web page of Wieland Willker, Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03 The Umlauts Archived 26 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.

[134] David Charles Parker, while lauding the 1881 Westcott and Hort “purified text”, writes of “the ridiculous business of the Johannine Comma” Textual Criticism and Theology, 2009, p. 324. Parker writes of “the presence in a few manuscripts, most of them Latin”. The actual number is many thousands of manuscripts. Daniel Wallace comments that the verse “infected the history of the English Bible in a huge way”, referring to a “rabid path”. The Comma Johanneum in an Overlooked Manuscript, July 2, 2010 James White, even while engaging in discussions on the Puritanboard forums, wrote “I draw the line with the Comma. Anyone who defends the insertion of the Comma is, to me, outside the realm of meaningful scholarship, unless, I guess, they likewise support the radical reworking of the entire text of the New Testament along consistent lines … plainly uninspired insertion.” The Comma Johanneum Again 4 March 2006, also 16 March 2006. In an earlier day, Eberhard Nestlewrote that “The fact that it is still defended even from the Protestant side is interesting only from a pathological point of view.” Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the Greek New Testament, 1901, p. 327, translation by William Edie 1899 German of the German pathologisches.

[135] Raymond Brown, Anchor Bible, Epistle of John Appendix IV: The Johannine Comma pp. 776–87 (1982)

[136] Catholic Encyclopedia, “Epistles of St John”

[137] “The declaration adds that there was no intention of stopping investigation of the passage by Catholic scholars who act in a moderate and temperate way and tend to think the verse not genuine; provided, however, that such scholars promise to accept the judgment of the Church which is by Christ’s appointment the sole guardian and custodian of Holy Scripture (Enchiridion Bibttcum. Documenta Ecdesiastica Sacrum Scripturam Spectantia, Romae, apud Librarian! Vaticanam 1927, pp. 46–47)”. Explanation given in Under Orders The Autobiography of William Laurence Sullivan, p. 186, 1945. Sullivan had written an article in 1906 opposing authenticity in the New York Review.

“EWTN.com – 1 John 5: 7; the status of the Johannine Comma”http://www.ewtn.com. Retrieved 15 July 2019.

[138] James H. Sightler The King James Bible is Inspired (2011) “The modern versions… omit or cast doubt on I John 5:7. the most important Trinitarian verse in the Bible and the one verse most often attacked in history”

[139] Johann Bengel (1687–1752), Page 145 in volume 5 of the 1873 English translation of the 1759 second edition of his 1742 book, The Gnomon of the New Testament.

[140] Eugenius Bulgaris (1716–1806), a letter that Eugenius wrote in 1780

[141] John Oxlee (1779–1854), pages 136138260 in the 1822 (volume 4) edition of the Christian Remembrancer journal

[142] Daniel Wallace (1952–), footnote 44 (you may have to reload page 332 in order to view it) on page 332 in his 1996 book, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.

[143]  Frederick Nolan (1784–1864), pages 257260 565 in his 1815 book, An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate

[144] Robert Dabney (1820–98), page 221 in his 1871 article, The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek, which originally appears on pages 191–234 in the 1871 (volume 22) edition of the Southern Presbyterian Review journal, and which also appears on pages 350–390 of Dabney’s 1890 book, Discussions Theological and Evangelical (pages 377–378 in the 1890 book corresponding to page 221 in the 1871 article)

[145] Edward Hills (1912–81), page 169 in his 1956 book, The King James Version Defended

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