James White on 1 John 5:7

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Kaalvenist, Mar 9, 2006.

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  1. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Did anybody else see James White's "The Comma Johanneum Again"? I sent a comment in on the website, mostly asking about his remark about defenders of the Comma being "outside the realm of meaningful scholarship."

    Any thoughts?
  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Here are some authorities in support of including 1 John 5:7 in the canon (not to mention WCF 1.2, 2.3; WSC 6; WLC 9).

    See this thread.

    [Edited on 3-9-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  3. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Here is what I said to Dr. White:

    Don't get me wrong, I usually enjoy reading Dr. White's material (it's not every apologist out there who's a Reformed Baptist elder); but I'm also a member of the Trinitarian Bible Society, and I don't care for his casual swipes at my dearly held "traditions of men."
  4. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Andrew, of the "pro"s on that list you provided the only one I recognized as being what you might call significant is Rushdoony --and I don't remember much of his qualifications as a textual critic. Do you know something about any of the others that would add more weight to their opinion? Waite is not going to carry a lot of weight with me given his anti-Calvinism (and no, a person doesn't have to be doctrinally correct to be significant, but he should be able to argue coherently).
  5. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I'm guessing that the list Andrew found was the result of a Google search, and is not intended to be a comprehensive list. After all, there are several significant heretics on the list (e.g. Riplinger, Ruckman).

    I would also say that Ted Letis was a well known scholar.
  6. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    The two men on that list whose opinion I would give the most weight to personally are Dr. Theodore Letis and Dr. Edward F. Hills.

    Dr. Letis died last year, but I had some correspondence with him in the 1990's. He founded the The Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies and has written extensively on textual criticism.

    Dr. Hills died a couple of decades ago, but was a noted defender of the Textus Receptus. His widow is a member of a congregation in my denomination and continues to assist in various ways my friends at the Encyclopedia Puritannica Project.
  7. sastark

    sastark Puritan Board Graduate

  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

  9. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    At the end of the day, you have to admit that there are sincere believers and ardent defenders of the authority and the integrity of Sctipture on both sides of this issue. Sadly, through misunderstanding, some in one camp or the other impugn the faith-commitment of them defending the contrary position. In fact, argument and invective seem to be the main reasons some people have for beating this drum so furiously.

    For my part, while I'm terribly reluctant to take White's dismissive attitude (for one thing, I'm nowhere in the league with scholars on either side), I think the paucity of the Greek witness is a serious obstacle that may forever create division on the matter. For now, I remain unconvinced of the comma's authenticity.

    Every thought (word) of God is precious (Ps. 139:17). Let's focus on the 99.99% of that revelation that we agree on.
  10. JOwen

    JOwen Puritan Board Junior

    I wonder what qualifies White as a true textual critic? Was it his crackerjack Th.M/Th.D degree from Columbia Evangelical Seminary? White has zero training in the rigors of text criticism at the B.A level to his post grad work, as has been well documented elsewhere. At best he's a Bethany House promotions officer with a few good one liners learned from Bahnsen.
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner


    I have assumed a zero tolerance platform as of late; If I see any inuendo, ad hominem, slander, below the belt assaults on any believers from here on out, the guilty party will be banned immediately.

    I'm over this; tread carefully.

    [Edited on 3-10-2006 by Scott Bushey]
  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member


    Treading carefully, of course, would you be able to add any information about the textual critical credentials of other people on the list?
  13. JOwen

    JOwen Puritan Board Junior

    Sure. Dr. Theodore Letis and Dr. Edward F. Hills (Letis being the understudy of Hills) were both Ivy League Ph.D's with extensive educations in textual criticism. Letid was a Ph.D from university of Glasgow and wrote a significant body of work on the Ecclesiastical Text. Dr. Hills, was also a Ph.D, but from the University of Chicago who's thesis was also on the Received Text.

    Ted Letis was a friend.
  14. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Thank you. I will keep that in mind if I have opportunity to read what they have written.
  15. brymaes

    brymaes Puritan Board Sophomore

    White\'s Response

    White responds to this here.
  16. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have the greatest respect for James White. His recent book on Justification is absolutely first class and strongly recommended. The only thing that spoils it a little is his use of the wretched N.E.T. which he constantly has to correct with the NASB. Why doesn't he use the NASB in the first place? However, I'm looking forward very much to hearing Dr White, along with Joel Beeke, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London in July.

    However, it's unfortunate that White has a bee in his bonnet about the Greek Text. What heresy is one imbibing if one holds to the Johannine Comma? That 1John 5:7 is true is beyond dispute. Why all the fuss?

    Moreover, to discard the views of men like Matthew Poole, Matthew Henry and Robert Dabney because they are not 'modern' is a wretched argument. All these men were well aware of the lack of textual evidence of the Comma; their support for it came from the internal evidences rather than from the manuscripts. Most people here will have a copy of Matthew Henry. Go and read what he says about it.

    What Dabney says is interesting:-

    I have to confess that I am moving from a M.T. position to a T.R. position. On the one hand, I am not preared to let Nestle/Aland tell me what my Bible is, and have them change it every time a new edition comes out, but on the other, I note that the M.T. supporters cannot decide among themselves what the Majority Text is. I want to be able to pick up my Bible and say, "This is the word of God" and the Bible I'm picking up is a NKJV.

    Not very scientific, but it works for me! :bigsmile:

    Grace & Peace,


    [Edited on 3-12-2006 by Martin Marprelate]
  17. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I am not putting this forth to correct Martin, but merely for the sake of completeness.

    The foregoing (found in Dabney, vol. 1, beginning p. 377) is from an article dated April 1871 (S.P.R.) "The Doctrinal Various Readings of the N.T. Greek".

    The following article in the same vol. is dated July 1881 (S.P.R.) "The Revised Version of the N.T.," some 10 years later. In it, Dabney reviews the revisors work to date on the revison (which complete revision--OT/NT the Americans subsequently rejected in favor of their own labors, resulting in the ASV of 1901).

    Here is what he writes re. the comma, p. 395:
    I add this to complete the record. Not that it stands as a clear repudiation of Dabney's earlier judgment, but that 10 years later, he was prepared to allow that "unanimous consent of competent critics" had let the comma go, whilst retaining the TR's readings in virtually every other significant place.

    Dabney was quite unsatisfied with the latest revision, thinking it loaded with changes for the sake of change, with little else to commend them. The spirit of innovation in the revisors was stronger than the spirit of cautious progress.
  18. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    To Dr. White (since you seem to frequent this site):

    "Just because someone commented on the text, or even accepted it because it was in the default text they used, is hardly relevant to determining if they made a concerted effort that led them to accept it over against rejecting it." (10 March 2006, "Another Example of Tradition")

    With the exception of the Westminster Assembly and the 1689 Baptist Assembly (who merely put 1 John 5:7 as proof texts in the Westminster Confession, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, and the Baptist Confession), all of the other individuals I cited gave attention to the fact that it is a contested text (as Martin gave mention of Matthew Henry and R.L. Dabney). Calvin gave probably the least extensive remarks in his Commentary, but he was nonetheless aware of the situation. Turretin, Gill, and Brown all made mention of this text in their works on systematic theology, arguing for its basis in the text against the gainsayers (Gill also made mention of it in his Exposition of the passage). Considering the fact that you made such extensive use of Gill in your Potter's Freedom, why not at least refer to the fact that Gill gave an extended defense of the Johannine Comma? Instead, in a single sentence on your blog, you write off him and all the rest cited as simply irrelevant.

    "(I note with a smile the lack of Burgon's name: at least this writer knows Burgon rejected the Comma)." (Ibid.)

    Yes, I know that Burgon rejected the Comma, but that is not the only reason why he did not make my list (note also that Letis did not make my list). Every scholar or scholarly group that I cited was Reformed or Calvinistic (including Calvin himself). Solid theologians that hold the good, sound, biblical theology of the Reformed faith maintain the inspiration of this passage -- not just the Semi-Pelagians you usually argue with.

    I guess what I'm saying is, historically, Reformed scholars didn't try to pick on the weakest exponents of a position in order to slam it -- in the Reformation period and following, they attacked Bellarmine, Episcopius, et al. I realize that Tom Holland was the individual in question, but at least give mention somewhere, anywhere, to the fact that John Gill (with whom you agree 95% of the time), and Robert Dabney and Matthew Henry (with whom you agree 85-90% of the time) argued for the textual basis of the Johannine Comma, and go after that, not some guy most Reformed and Presbyterians have never heard of.

    Lastly, my name is not "one of the participants," or "such folks," or "this writer," or "these folks." My name is Sean P.M. McDonald. I am a communicant member of Springs Reformed Church (RPCNA) in Colorado Springs, CO. I also protested in December 2004 when you spoke so warmly of your own unbiblical tradition, the celebration of Christ-mass. (I didn't receive a reply, probably because I didn't mention it on any web boards.) I stand firmly committed to the Westminster Standards, and don't see a need to cross Chapter 1, Section 8 out of my copy of the Confession.
  19. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

  20. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, it's a pity that Dr White has his textual criticism blinkers on and can't see that the question of the Comma is decidedly nothing to do with T.C. If it were, then the question would be long over since there are precious few Greek texts in which it occurs.

    The question, insofar as there is one, concerns the internal evidences as I posted before. Did the Holy Spirit inspire John to use some rather dodgy grammar at that point, or was the Comma excised at some stage from most Greek texts by over-zealous Arians?

    I wish Dr White well in his discussions with the Moslems, but I seriously doubt if anyone is likely to be converted one way or the other by arguing about the text. In my, admittedly limited, discussions with Moslems, the matter has never come up. The question to broach with Moslems in my opinion is the need of a Saviour.

    Dr White is of course right that Henry, Dabney et al did not have access to all the Greek manuscripts that are available today. However, they had sufficient to know that the Comma was not in most of them. Their support for it was based on other reasons than the texts.

    Finally, I am neither KJV-only (quite the reverse, I assure you) nor TR-only. I am actually leading a Bible study at present using the NIV because that is what the others feel comfortable with, and the Gospel is more important than my preference for a Bible version. Dr White can have his Critical Text and God bless it to him. However, I feel very confident using the NKJV and cannot see where it is likely to lead me into theological error.

    Grace & Peace,


    [Edited on 3-13-2006 by Martin Marprelate]
  21. Philip A

    Philip A Puritan Board Sophomore

    Which is a point that he frequently makes himself; if you were to read his book, you would find that he makes the point that no theological issue hangs on any disputed text, and that no disputed text contains any doctrine that will lead anyone into error.
  22. 4ndr3w

    4ndr3w Puritan Board Freshman

    Dr. White continues to prove himself diligent, consistent and scholarly regardless of his credentials. To go against such a man is like spitting in the wind. He has made a clear defense of his position.
  23. MeanieCalvinist

    MeanieCalvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    :ditto: I agree with you here concerning Dr. White's article and responses on this topic.

    In Christ,

  24. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dr. White,

    1. No one on the Board has yet used the "The Reformation used the TR, God blessed the Reformation, ergo we should only use the TR" argument. I personally believe that such an argument is a back-door method of attributing infallible authority to the church, and belongs more in Rome (or Edmonton) than in Geneva.

    Admittedly, my first recourse was to the Reformers, but that was because of your attack on the scholarship of any who defend the Johannine Comma. I also point to historic Protestant teaching, and approvingly cite WCF 25.6, when discussing the subject of apocalyptic interpretation; but although I believe that the Reformers' arguments were valid concerning the Antichrist, that does not mean that this is a point where I simply "toe the line" or "follow them lock-step." Similarly, I find their arguments for the inclusion of the Comma convincing. I'm not claiming that the Reformation (or Second Reformation) is "the standard" to which we must attain and adhere; I simply agree with their reasoning and argumentation (as I agree with them on most things, not because they said it, but because I likewise find it in the Word).

    I might, after conducting more research and study of the subject, one day reverse myself on this point; but at the moment, I find myself occupied with more pressing concerns.

    2. Why do you continue examining the works of Independent Fundamental Baptists on this subject, when John Gill (who you quoted for entire pages in your Potter's Freedom) gave an extended defense of the inclusion of the Johannine Comma, both in his Exposition of the Old and New Testaments and Body of Doctrinal Divinity? I was not asking you to "follow lock-step" with Gill (I personally deplore his Hyper-Calvinism and anti-Sabbatarianism), just recognize him as a noted exponent of the inclusion of the text, and respond to him.

    3. Is it just defense of the Johannine Comma which earns your stern rebuke, or do you include Byzantine priority and (general) defense of the TR in said rebuke?

    4. On what basis did the (non-KJV) Continental Reformers argue for the inclusion of the Johannine Comma (since it was not adherence to the KJV that was driving their argumentation, as could possibly be said for post-Westminster British Calvinists)?

    5. Explain the quotes of the Johannine Comma by the early fathers (notably Cyprian).

    6. Why did Jerome argue for the Johannine Comma, and put it in the Vulgate?

    7. It seems that your driving concern is, "Which position (Critical Text, Majority Text, or Received Text) is most convincing apologetically?" Why? I mean, I understand that you have your Th.M., Th.D., and D.Min. all in Apologetics; but is it possible that, in your examination of this subject, your overriding concern of apologetic value is affecting you as much as the supposed extra-scriptural traditions of your opponents?

    8. This is not an issue where you can claim superior exegesis as the ground for your conclusion; it is a question of what John originally wrote. Now, should I listen to the Reformers and Reformed who argued for the inclusion of the Johannine Comma (which you claim is an unscriptural tradition), or should I listen to you and the other modern scholars who argue against the inclusion of the passage? Either way, I am putting my trust in the supposed "experts" who are the ones actually deciding this controversy -- both involve my trusting in something or someone beside Scripture; so that if I follow you, I am following an unscriptural tradition, just as surely as if I follow the Reformers.

    9. I do not see arguing for the TR (or the Johannine Comma) as parallel to the Papists arguing for the Vulgate. If I was arguing for the infallible authority of the AV, you could then make that argument. Instead, I am arguing for a particular Greek textual tradition of the New Testament (not a Latin translation). Yes, I use only the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible; yes, I am a member of the Trinitarian Bible Society. But my commitment is to the TR. I recognize the fact that the AV is not a perfect translation, and has some language that could be updated. If a version were to be produced that was superior to the AV, I would heartily embrace it.

    10. I consider this an intra-mural debate among Reformed brethren. Unless you feel that it is warranted, please do not bother responding to this post on your own blog; I believe that the subject under debate in your newest post against John Loftus is vastly more important than the question of whether or not 1 John 5:7 should read as I read it.

    Actually, I might suggest that you create a profile and begin posting on the Puritanboard; I for one believe that a noted Reformed apologist would be a welcome addition to the Board. (Even if that meant destabilizing the precarious balance currently maintained between Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, and Reformed Baptists. ;))
  25. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    The Appeal to Popularity/Common Practice fallacy runs rampant in this discussion! Surely more would be accomplished in such a discussion without worrying so much about who believed what, but WHY we should believe what we do.

    [Edited on 3-13-2006 by WrittenFromUtopia]
  26. TimeRedeemer

    TimeRedeemer Puritan Board Freshman

    James White is a great and able champion for biblical doctrine; but on the subject of the manuscripts and the King James Version he has feet of clay...

    A side question: How are Ruckman and Riplinger heretics? OK, I know next to nothing about Ruckman, but I have read some of Riplinger. She's obviously not a Calvinist, and she's obviously a street level writer (I don't mean pedestrain) and all that (i.e., she's not in the ivory tower), but...heretic? If you approach any non-biblical source with the necessity of separating wheat from chaff there is at least some interesting wheat in Riplinger's books...
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Riplinger-in one radio interview it was justification by works (it was a while back when I heard it so I can't get any more specific than that, although I am open to correction)....made Rome look like hard line protestants.

    Ruckman believes the greek mss are corrected by the AV1611
  28. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Although I am committed to the critical texts and have done some work in textual criticism, I noticed a few holes in the method. While I believe the evidence against the TR is significant, it is not damning and does not yet clsoe the discussion. I have seen TR's defend their text on the level of evidence, adn that's good I suppsoe. However, I think a stronger case couold be made against the critical text by doing a presuppositional critique on the methods of many textual critics.

    Of course, I am a presuppostinalist and hold to the critical text, so I am open to see how this argumetn would play out.
  29. TimeRedeemer

    TimeRedeemer Puritan Board Freshman

    She's not a Calvinist, but she's hardly a Roman Catholic. Your reference is not only a thin memory of hearing something on the radio, but it's written rather confusedly as well...(I mean, you left a word out or something).

    You say she believes the Greek mss. are corrected by the 1611, but really what she believes is in the role of the Holy Spirit in giving us the Word of God, and she sees the great Reformation translations as that Word of God. I do to. When I hear a James White talking down to me like I'm some confused child, telling me he and other scholars know better and that all the deletions and changes in the 'better, newly discovered' manuscripts are actually God's Word all this Christian can do is grin and try to set them straight (which doesn't get very far) and then just leave them be...

    The sophistry of the White side of these issues betrays them. Their worldly motives do as well. I'm sorry, but I believe the Holy Spirit has given us God's Word, and I don't see Him working through Westcott and Hort and their followers... I also don't think that once God's elect challenged and defeated the darkness and bondage of the Roman beast that it took the Holy Spirit 300 plus years to give the actual true Word of God to Christians...
  30. TimeRedeemer

    TimeRedeemer Puritan Board Freshman

    For White's sophistry look at Douglas D. Stauffer's One Book Stands Alone. White usually rebuts any criticism, but he seems to have remained silent regarding Stauffer's book (a search of his website anyway a couple of months ago came up with nothing).

    As to worldly motives: when you are on a translation committee for a modern version you are a bit compromised when giving opinions on the general subject of the manuscripts and the Authorized Version... He also falls into the worldly trap of fearing the Faith will sound foolish to the ears of the world. I.e. instead of defending the role of the Holy Spirit in having brought the Word of God to Christians he states "there's no way you can defend that against muslims and other non-Christians"... Just give them the truth. Give them the Word of God. You can plant a seed, only God can make it grow. You can't argue a person into belief, especially if you are using worldly philosophy or worldly scholarship in fear of sounding foolish. God's wisdom is foolishness to the world. Give people the Word of God.
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