Johannine Comma

The Johannine Comma [1 John 5:7]

  • is scripture.

    Votes: 29 48.3%
  • should not be considered scripture.

    Votes: 19 31.7%
  • I don't know.

    Votes: 12 20.0%

  • Total voters
    60
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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Is the Johannine Comma part of the New Testament?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
The only reason Erasmus included it in his text was because he lost a bet.

Can you explain that, please? Thanks!

As you may know, Erasmus did not include the Comma in either the first or second editions of his Greek text. Erasmus promised his Romanist detractors that he would kindly include the Comma in his third edition if even one Greek manuscript containing the Comma could be produced.... A monk (can't recall the order) forged a Greek text containing it by translating the Comma from the Latin into Greek. Erasmus was then shown this manuscript and, being a man of his word, included the Comma in his 3rd edition.

I have to say that if true, this story makes Erasmus look like a spineless idiot.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
According to question 9 of the larger catechism it is. It is listed as a scripture proof for the Trinity. Poor Thomas Watson thought it was. He listed it for a proof as well in "A Body of Divinity".
The CT plants seeds of unbelief in my opinion. According to some proponents of the CT 1Jhn 5:7 and other passages such as the last verses of Mark 16 along with John 7:59 through 8:11 are not part of the scripture. How does this build up one's faith in the Word of God?:2cents:
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
The only reason Erasmus included it in his text was because he lost a bet.

Hogwash...even the chief herald of the CT, Metzger admits this story is false. (B. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 291)

Perhaps. But then again, he would argue that most of the stories from the past are false.

Have you actually read Metzger? I doubt it. You may be surprised what his quote actually says if you did more than cut and paste from your favorite KJV only sites...
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Actually I have...as a matter of fact it was required reading at RTS where I was a student. Also it is sitting on my shelf here in my study...an easily handy reference.

I believe no personal attacks were made against you...you could as a Christian gentleman limit your attacks to the text at hand. Very uncharitable...and un-Christlike.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
The only reason Erasmus included it in his text was because he lost a bet.

Hogwash...even the chief herald of the CT, Metzger admits this story is false. (B. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 291)

Perhaps. But then again, he would argue that most of the stories from the past are false.

Have you actually read Metzger? I doubt it. You may be surprised what his quote actually says if you did more than cut and paste from your favorite KJV only sites...

Hi:

I have read Metzger's "story" and he produces no scholarly proof for his assertion. Erasmus scholars such as De Jong and Bainton have challenged Metzger's "story" and have found no evidence to back it up.

It is time for those who propose this story as real to produce some scholarly evidence for their assertions - a statement or letter from Erasmus perhaps?

By the way, Codex Montifortanius, which is the Codex that was supposedly hastily put together and used to "prove" to Erasmus the Comma, has been dated to the 13th Century - a couple of hundred years before Erasmus was even born!

Blessings,

Rob

See: C. Forster, A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the Three
Heavenly Witnesses, p. 126
A. Clark, The New Testament: A Commentary and Critical Notes, Vol. 6, p.
928-929

-RPW
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
The only reason Erasmus included it in his text was because he lost a bet.

Hogwash...even the chief herald of the CT, Metzger admits this story is false. (B. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p. 291)

Perhaps. But then again, he would argue that most of the stories from the past are false.

Have you actually read Metzger? I doubt it. You may be surprised what his quote actually says if you did more than cut and paste from your favorite KJV only sites...

:banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana:
:banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana:

lighten the mood....

The mood always gets ramped up in these discussions because of the elitist attitude among many CT advocates. There is a presupposition that all TR advocates are ignorant of textual criticism and merely 'cut and paste' their arguments from the same web sites. While this may sometimes be true, anyone who has been on PB for a period of time should know better.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Well, let's see the quote, since most of us don't have it in our libraries.

Sorry, didn't see this. Here is the Metzger quote:

What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus' promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS. 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in the light of the research of H.J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
a b c d Theodore H. Mann, "Textual problems in the KJV New Testament", in: Journal of Biblical Studies 1 (January–March 2001).

The story of Erasmus' promise has been accepted as fact by scholars, repeated by even so eminent an authority as Bruce M. Metzger (cited in his earlier works but backed away from after De Jonge's research was published in 1980). De Jonge concludes that this account is spurious in his 1980 paper on the subject. HJ de Jonge, 'Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum', Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 56 (1980): 381–389.

De Jong suspects that Erasmus included the Comma in his third edition (based on MM61, prepared by the Franciscan) in order to avoid being accused of heresy himself. He also speculates that he didn't want to hurt the reception for this Greek New Testament.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
a b c d Theodore H. Mann, "Textual problems in the KJV New Testament", in: Journal of Biblical Studies 1 (January–March 2001).

The story of Erasmus' promise has been accepted as fact by scholars, repeated by even so eminent an authority as Bruce M. Metzger (cited in his earlier works but backed away from after De Jonge's research was published in 1980). De Jonge concludes that this account is spurious in his 1980 paper on the subject. HJ de Jonge, 'Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum', Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 56 (1980): 381–389.

De Jong suspects that Erasmus included the Comma in his third edition (based on MM61, prepared by the Franciscan) in order to avoid being accused of heresy himself. He also speculates that he didn't want to hurt the reception for this Greek New Testament.

The actual quote from De Jong reads thus:

For the sake of his ideal Erasmus chose to avoid any occasion for slander rather than persisting in philological accuracy and thus condemning himself to impotence. That was the reason why Erasmus included the Comma Johanneum even though he remained convinced that it did not belong to the original text of l John
Which indicates that the majority of the scholars - both Protestant and Catholic - at the time of Erasmus understood the Comma to be genuine. Erasmus bowed to pressure - but it was not because he lost a bet or because of the weight of some hastily produced mss.

Grace and Peace,

-Rob
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Interestingly, the Anchor Bible Dictionary cites de Jonge but repeats the Erasmus story anyway!

In view of the paucity of external evidence and the transcriptional probability that the Comma arose due to theological reasons, this reading would have been relegated to a historical footnote had it not been for certain events in the 16th century. Observing that the Comma occurred only in the Lat version and not in any Gk manuscript known to him, Erasmus omitted it from his editions of the Gk testament in 1516 and 1519. Stunica, editor of the Complutensian Polyglott (printed 1514; published 1522), assailed Erasmus for omitting the Comma and included it in his own text, translated from the Lat. In response to a wider outcry, Erasmus maintained that he had searched many Gk manuscripts, failing to find even one which contained the Comma. Ms. 61, containing the Comma and apparently produced at the time for that very purpose, was brought to Erasmus’ attention and, fearing a negative response to his edition, he included the Comma in his 3d edition of 1522, but not without suspicion that 61 had been revised according to the Lat. The reading was accepted into Stephanus’ 3d edition of 1550 and the Elzevir text of 1633, later known as the Textus Receptus. It then achieved wider currency in the Clementine Vg in 1592, which became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, and in the Rheims edition. Not originally in Luther’s Bible, later editors added it to his text beginning in 1582. Although earlier bracketed by Tyndale as questionable, the reading was adopted in the KJV. Thus the Comma gained widespread acceptance in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Freedman, D. N. (1996, c1992). The Anchor Bible Dictionary (3:883). New York: Doubleday.

"For a full account of the so-called “Comma Johanneum” (the “Johannine Comma”; κόμμα means “section,” or “clause”) see Westcott, 202–209; Metzger, Textual Commentary, 715–17; Marshall, 236 n. 19; Schnackenburg, 44–46, and the literature there cited."
Smalley, S. S. (2002). Vol. 51: Word Biblical Commentary : 1,2,3 John. Word Biblical Commentary (273). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

Metzger's comments from his latest Textual Commentary are as follows:

5.7–8 μαρτυροῦντες, 8 τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα {A}
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.
Metzger, B. M., & United Bible Societies. (1994). A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) (647). London; New York: United Bible Societies.

BTW, Ken, I think that the problem has less to do with elitism than with socialization. Most of us seminary grads, whether in liberal mainline schools or places as conservative as Master's or Dallas, were taught that there is NO significant opposition to the CT. I only discovered Maurice Robinson in recent years, being familiar with Pickering on the TR side and Carson's answer to him.

Pardon some of us for parroting what we learned in school. As a teacher, you know how influential you guys are in the lives of impressionable young folks. :lol:

I struggle with the issue today as one of a small handful of things I have been reconsidering. At this point, however, my mind still sides with the majority on the CT side despite my emotional hope that the TR people might be right.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Did the early church fathers ever use the Johannine Comma in their defense of the doctrine of the Trinity?
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
A brief answer to Metzger and others

Hi:

The Commentary produced by the Anchor Bible has a whole appendix devoted to the Comma deletist position in their volume on 1 John. They have amassed every argument they could find in order to prove the non-existence of the Comma. It is also quite hostile in its tone.

Metzger's points above have been answered quite comprehensively in books, and here at other threads. Here is a brief summary:

1) The lack of Greek manuscripts: So what? The Critical text includes as authoritative some readings that have even less of a Greek textual witness than the Comma. Matthew 11:19, for example, is changed in the CT on the basis of only Three Greek mss. Metzger does not mention Codex Wizenburgensis (Sp? - I am doing this from memory). Which, according to R.L. Dabney, "Lachman says is of the 8th Century." Why the omission? Finally, if the Critical Text is going to use passages that hold to minority readings, then their argument that this particular minority reading is invalid because it is a minority reading is counter-intuitive.

2) That it is not quoted by the early Greek Fathers is not an argument against the Comma. Everyone knows that the early Greek church was almost overrun by Arianism. We should expect that scribes hostile to the Trinity will dispute the passage, and seek to edit it out. Also, the controversy was concerning the Persons of the Trinity. The Arians/Modalists held that there was only one Person, and three "modes" in which this one Person expressed himself: Father, Son, and Spirit. The Orthodox held to One Divine Essence and Three distinct Persons in the Godhead. The Comma in reading "These three are one" could be interpreted from a modalistic viewpoint.

So, one can easily imagine the Early Church Fathers not using this particular passage in their arguments for Orthodoxy for the following two reasons: 1. They did not want to get into a long-winded debate about the inclusion of a disputed passage when there is clear testimony elsewhere. 2. If they did cite it, then they would have to explain why it refers to Three Persons and not three modes. Therefore, citing the passage would produce more controversy than it would solve.

Also, the Comma was cited at the Council of Carthage (circa 400 AD) and was used to support the doctrine of the Trinity - over 400 pastors (bishops) attended this Council from all over the Roman Empire. That Comma-deletists do not cite this information is indicative of a bias on their part.

3) This is just plain wrong: John Gill's Commentary on 1 John 5:7,8 points out that all (or the majority) of the ancient versions held the Comma. I am at Seminary now, and I do not have my copy of Gill's Commentary handy. The Comma was in the Waldensian Bible which Calvin refers to as among the "best copies" when he includes the Comma in his Commentary on the passage. The Waldensians used a varient of the Old Latin Bible of which Augustine said was the most exact copy of his time. The famous statement that Jerome makes concerning the Comma, "Irresponsible translators left out this testimony," is upheld as a genuine statement by Calvin as well.

Concerning his "internal probabliities" the first has been answered above (briefly). The second is disputed, and, consequently, does not carry much weight. Dabney, for example, points out that deleting the Comma produces an inconsistency in the text that cannot be resolved. Calvin also points out that the passage "flows better" with the Comma included.

Quite frankly, I do not believe that any argumentation on either side will convince one of the authenticity of the Comma. I believe that arguments can and should be used. However, the final arbiter of the Scriptures is not "scholarship" or "personal opinions," but the Spirit of God who works by and with the Word of God in our hearts. Consequently, I believe that the Comma was rendered delibertly vague as a means of testing your faith: Are you going to believe "scholars," or, are you going to believe the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit?

Grace and Peace,

Rob
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended:

3. The Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7)

In the Textus Receptus 1 John 5:7-8 reads as follows:

7 For there are three that bear witness IN HEAVEN, THE FATHER, THE WORD, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT: AND THESE THREE ARE ONE. 8 AND THERE ARE THREE THAT BEAR WITNESS IN EARTH, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

The words printed in capital letters constitute the so-called Johannine comma, the best known of the Latin Vulgate readings of the Textus Receptus, a reading which, on believing principles, must be regarded as possibly genuine. This comma has been the occasion of much controversy and is still an object of interest to textual critics. One of the more recent discussions of it is found in Windisch's Katholischen Briefe (revised by Preisker, 1951); (26) a more accessible treatment of it in English is that provided by A. D. Brooke (1912) in the International Critical Commentary. (27) Metzger (1964) also deals with this passage in his handbook, but briefly. (28)

(a) How the Johannine Comma Entered the Textus Receptus

As has been observed above, the Textus Receptus has both its human aspect and its divine aspect, like the Protestant Reformation itself or any other work of God's providence. And when we consider the manner in which the Johannine comma entered the Textus Receptus, we see this human element at work. Erasmus omitted the Johannine comma from the first edition (1516) of his printed Greek New Testament on the ground that it occurred only in the Latin version and not in any Greek manuscript. To quiet the outcry that arose, he agreed to restore it if but one Greek manuscript could be found which contained it. When one such manuscript was discovered soon afterwards, bound by his promise, he included the disputed reading in his third edition (1522), and thus it gained a permanent place in the Textus Receptus. The manuscript which forced Erasmus to reverse his stand seems to have been 61, a 15th or 16th-century manuscript now kept at Trinity College, Dublin. Many critics believe that this manuscript was written at Oxford about 1520 for the special purpose of refuting Erasmus, and this is what Erasmus himself suggested in his notes.

The Johannine comma is also found in Codex Ravianus, in the margin of 88, and in 629. The evidence of these three manuscripts, however, is not regarded as very weighty, since the first two are thought to have taken this disputed reading from early printed Greek texts and the latter (like 61) from the Vulgate.

But whatever may have been the immediate cause, still, in the last analysis, it was not trickery which was responsible for the inclusion of the Johannine comma in the Textus Receptus but the usage of the Latin-speaking Church. It was this usage which made men feel that this.reading ought to be included in the Greek text and eager to keep it there after its inclusion had been accomplished. Back of this usage, we may well believe, was the guiding providence of God, and therefore the Johannine comma ought to be retained as at least possibly genuine.

(b) The Early Existence of the Johannine Comma

Evidence for the early existence of the Johannine comma is found in the Latin versions and in the writings of the Latin Church Fathers. For example, it seems to have been quoted at Carthage by Cyprian (c. 250) who writes as follows: "And again concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: and the Three are One." (29) It is true that Facundus, a 6th-century African bishop, interpreted Cyprian as referring to the following verse, (30) but, as Scrivener (1833) remarks, it is "surely safer and more candid" to admit that Cyprian read the Johannine comma in his New Testament manuscript "than to resort to the explanation of Facundus." (31)

The first undisputed citations of the Johannine comma occur in the writing of two 4th-century Spanish bishops, Priscillian, (32) who in 385 was beheaded by the Emperor Maximus on the charge of sorcery and heresy, and Idacius Clarus, (33) Priscillian's principal adversary and accuser. In the 5th century the Johannine comma was quoted by several orthodox African writers to defend the doctrine of the Trinity against the gainsaying of the Vandals, who ruled North Africa from 489 to 534 and were fanatically attached to the Arian heresy. (34) And about the same time it was cited by Cassiodorus (480-570), in Italy. (35) The comma is also found in r an Old Latin manuscript of the 5th or 6th century, and in the Speculum, a treatise which contains an Old Latin text. It was not included in Jerome's original edition of the Latin Vulgate but around the year 800 it was taken into the text of the Vulgate from the Old Latin manuscripts. It was found in the great mass of the later Vulgate manuscripts and in the Clementine edition of the Vulgate, the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

(c) Is the Johannine Comma an Interpolation?

Thus on the basis of the external evidence it is at least possible that the Johannine comma is a reading that somehow dropped out of the Greek New Testament text but was preserved in the Latin text through the usage of the Latin-speaking Church, and this possibility grows more and more toward probability as we consider the internal evidence.

In the first place, how did the Johannine comma originate if it be not genuine, and how did it come to be interpolated into the Latin New Testament text? To this question modern scholars have a ready answer. It arose, they say, as a trinitarian interpretation of I John 5:8, which originally read as follows: For there are three that bear witness the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. Augustine was one of those who interpreted 1 John 5:8 as referring to the Trinity. "If we wish to inquire about these things, what they signify, not absurdly does the Trinity suggest Itself, who is the one, only, true, and highest God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, concerning whom it could most truly be said, Three are Witnesses, and the Three are One. By the word spirit we consider God the Father to be signified, concerning the worship of whom the Lord spoke, when He said, God is a spirit. By the word blood the Son is signified, because the Word was made flesh. And by the word water we understand the Holy Spirit. For when Jesus spoke concerning the water which He was about to give the thirsty, the evangelist says, This He spake concerning the Spirit whom those that believed in Him would receive. " (36)

Thus, according to the critical theory, there grew up in the Latin speaking regions of ancient Christendom a trinitarian interpretation of the spirit, the water, and the blood mentioned in 1 John 5:8, the spirit signifying the Father, the blood the Son, and the water the Holy Spirit And out of this trinitarian interpretation of 1 John 5:8 developed the Johannine comma, which contrasts the witness of the Holy Trinity in heaven with the witness of the spirit, the water, and the blood on earth.

But just at this point the critical theory encounters a serious difficulty. If the comma originated in a trinitarian interpretation of 1 John 5:8, why does it not contain the usual trinitarian formula, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Why does it exhibit the singular combination, never met with elsewhere, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit? According to some critics, this unusual phraseology was due to the efforts of the interpolator who first inserted the Johannine comma into the New Testament text. In a mistaken attempt to imitate the style of the Apostle John, he changed the term Son to the term Word. But this is to attribute to the interpolator a craftiness which thwarted his own purpose in making this interpolation, which was surely to uphold the doctrine of the Trinity, including the eternal generation of the Son. With this as his main concern it is very unlikely that he would abandon the time-honored formula, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and devise an altogether new one, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit.

In the second place, the omission of the Johannine comma seems to leave the passage incomplete. For it is a common scriptural usage to present solemn truths or warnings in groups of three or four, for example, the repeated Three things, yea four of Proverbs 30, and the constantly recurring refrain, for three transgressions and for four, of the prophet Amos. In Genesis 40 the butler saw three branches and the baker saw three baskets. And in Matt. 12:40 Jesus says, As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. It is in accord with biblical usage, therefore, to expect that in 1 John 5:7-8 the formula, there are three that bear witness, will be repeated at least twice. When the Johannine comma is included, the formula is repeated twice. When the comma is omitted, the formula is repeated only once, which seems strange.

In the third place, the omission of the Johannine comma involves a grammatical difficulty. The words spirit, water, and blood are neuter in gender, but in 1 John 5:8 they are treated as masculine. If the Johannine comma is rejected, it is hard to explain this irregularity. It is usually said that in 1 John 5:8 the spirit, the water, and the blood are personalized and that this is the reason for the adoption of the masculine gender. But it is hard to see how such personalization would involve the change from the neuter to the masculine. For in verse 6 the word Spirit plainly refers to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. Surely in this verse the word Spirit is "personalized," and yet the neuter gender is used. Therefore since personalization did not bring about a change of gender in verse 6, it cannot fairly be pleaded as the reason for such a change in verse 8. If, however, the Johannine comma is retained, a reason for placing the neuter nouns spirit, water, and blood in the masculine gender becomes readily apparent. It was due to the influence of the nouns Father and Word, which are masculine. Thus the hypothesis that the Johannine comma is an interpolation is full of difficulties.

(d) Reasons for the Possible Omission of the Johannine Comma

For the absence of the Johannine comma from all New Testament documents save those of the Latin-speaking West the following explanations are possible.

In the first place, it must be remembered that the comma could easily have been omitted accidentally through a common type of error which is called homoioteleuton (similar ending). A scribe copying 1 John 5:7-8 under distracting conditions might have begun to write down these words of verse 7, there are three that bear witness, but have been forced to look up before his pen had completed this task. When he resumed his work, his eye fell by mistake on the identical expression in verse 8. This error would cause him to omit all of the Johannine comma except the words in earth, and these might easily have been dropped later in the copying of this faulty copy. Such an accidental omission might even have occurred several times, and in this way there might have grown up a considerable number of Greek manuscripts which did not contain this reading.

In the second place, it must be remembered that during the 2nd and 3rd centuries (between 220 and 270, according to Harnack); (37) the heresy which orthodox Christians were called upon to combat was not Arianism (since this error had not yet arisen) but Sabellianism (so named after Sabellius, one of its principal promoters), according to which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were one in the sense that they were identical. Those that advocated this heretical view were called Patripassians (Father-sufferers), because they believed that God the Father, being identical with Christ, suffered and died upon the cross, and Monarchians, because they claimed to uphold the Monarchy (sole-government) of God.

It is possible, therefore, that the Sabellian heresy brought the Johannine comma into disfavor with orthodox Christians. The statement, these three are one, no doubt seemed to them to teach the Sabellian view that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were identical. And if during the course of the controversy manuscripts were discovered which had lost this reading in the accidental manner described above, it is easy to see how the orthodox party would consider these mutilated manuscripts to represent the true text and regard the Johannine comma as a heretical addition. In the Greek-speaking East especially the comma would be unanimously rejected, for here the struggle against Sabellianism was particularly severe.

Thus it was not impossible that during the 3rd century amid the stress and strain of the Sabellian controversy, the Johannine comma lost its place in the Greek text, but was preserved in the Latin texts of Africa and Spain, where the influence of Sabellianism was probably not so great. In other words, it is not impossible that the Johannine comma was one of those few true readings of the Latin Vulgate not occurring in the Traditional Greek Text but incorporated into the Textus Receptus under the guiding providence of God. In these rare instances God called upon the usage of the Latin-speaking Church to correct the usage of the Greek speaking Church. (38)
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
For example, it seems to have been quoted at Carthage by Cyprian (c. 250) who writes as follows: "And again concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: and the Three are One." (29) It is true that Facundus, a 6th-century African bishop, interpreted Cyprian as referring to the following verse, (30) but, as Scrivener (1833) remarks, it is "surely safer and more candid" to admit that Cyprian read the Johannine comma in his New Testament manuscript "than to resort to the explanation of Facundus." (31)

Can anyone supply the quoting of the Johannine Comma from Cyprian, Facundus, etc?
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
Did the early church fathers ever use the Johannine Comma in their defense of the doctrine of the Trinity?

No. And that is why I think that the veracity of the story about Erasmus doesn't make a difference either way. Just looking at the mss evidence makes it difficult to believe that it is part of John's original. The fact that it was not quoted even once during the Trinitarian debates of the Nicene era happens to be one of the biggest historical obstacles for its advocates yet to overcome.

There are linguistic parallels found in several passages by a couple of the early writers (Tertullian is one, if you compare his Latin with that of the Vulgate's), but no specific citations of the passage. Francis Turretin mentions some mss that Jerome had in his possession, which supposedly contained the comma, but he provides no further proof.

I was quite interested in this several years back, and did a great deal of research regarding it, and hoping to be convinced regarding the place of the comma in the canon, but the more I looked into it (and I looked much, much farther than just the writings of CT advocates) the more I became convinced that it is not original.

All that, and my faith in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity hasn't wavered in the least! (by which I mean to say that the constant claim that a CT position will undermine one's faith is really just an unfounded scare tactic by those who have otherwise failed to convince their brothers that the TR/MajTxt position is correct, in my opinion.)
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I was quite interested in this several years back, and did a great deal of research regarding it, and hoping to be convinced regarding the place of the comma in the canon, but the more I looked into it (and I looked much, much farther than just the writings of CT advocates) the more I became convinced that it is not original.

You may not believe it is 'original' but, if you are going to subscribe to the WCF, then you must accept it as 'canon'.
 
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JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
Well, let's see the quote, since most of us don't have it in our libraries.

Sorry, didn't see this. Here is the Metzger quote:

What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus' promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS. 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in the light of the research of H.J. de Jonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion.

Just one suggestion. You may want to give the Edition you are using. I have a 4th Edition which has the de Jonge material as footnote 22 on pg 146.

Are you using the 3rd Edition?

And yes the Comma is genuine.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
For example, it seems to have been quoted at Carthage by Cyprian (c. 250) who writes as follows: "And again concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: and the Three are One." (29) It is true that Facundus, a 6th-century African bishop, interpreted Cyprian as referring to the following verse, (30) but, as Scrivener (1833) remarks, it is "surely safer and more candid" to admit that Cyprian read the Johannine comma in his New Testament manuscript "than to resort to the explanation of Facundus." (31)

Can anyone supply the quoting of the Johannine Comma from Cyprian, Facundus, etc?

Cyprian, De Catholic eccleiae unitate, c.6:

"dicit Dominus Ego et pater unum sumus et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto scritum est Et tres unum sunt."

Facundus, Pro defensione trium capit. i.3:

"Quod tamen Ioannis apostoli yestimonium b. Cyprianus, Carthaginiensis antistes et martyr in epistola siue libro quem unitate sanctae ecclesiae scripsit, de patre et filio et spiritu sancto dictum intelligit."
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
The actual quote from De Jong reads thus:

For the sake of his ideal Erasmus chose to avoid any occasion for slander rather than persisting in philological accuracy and thus condemning himself to impotence. That was the reason why Erasmus included the Comma Johanneum even though he remained convinced that it did not belong to the original text of l John
Which indicates that the majority of the scholars - both Protestant and Catholic - at the time of Erasmus understood the Comma to be genuine. Erasmus bowed to pressure - but it was not because he lost a bet or because of the weight of some hastily produced mss.

Grace and Peace,

-Rob


It must be understood that what you read in the quote by De Jong is his interpretation of the event. I really doubt that any of the primary documents surveyed by him went into any detail regarding the psychology behind the actions of Erasmus. I am also fairly certain that Erasmus never wrote as much about it himself, and therefore we return to the acknowledgment that De Jong's interpretation is a personal hypothesis of the motives behind an historical event, and not necessarily a true reflection of them.

That also means that we cannot read De Jong's reconstruction, and then posit what must have been the thought of the broader Catholic/Protestant community on the issue. I could read source documents and secondary histories, and come up with two or three other reconstructions of a similar event, any or all of them which may or may not be an accurate reflection of events, motives, and broader opinion.
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
3) This is just plain wrong: John Gill's Commentary on 1 John 5:7,8 points out that all (or the majority) of the ancient versions held the Comma.

From Gill's Exposition which is online:

1 John 5:7

Ver. 7. For there are three that bear record in heaven,.... That is, that Jesus is the Son of God. The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius {z}, in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius {a} about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian {b}, in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian {c} about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. The heavenly witnesses of Christ's sonship are,

the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. The "Father" is the first Person, so called, not in, reference to the creatures, angels, or men, he is the Creator, and so the Father of; for this is common to the other two Persons; but in reference to his Son Jesus Christ, of whose sonship he bore witness at his baptism and transfiguration upon the mount. The "Word" is the second Person, who said and it was done; who spoke all things out of nothing in the first creation; who was in the beginning with God the Father, and was God, and by whom all things were created; he declared himself to be the Son of God, and proved himself to be so by his works and miracles; see
Mr 14:61, &c. and his witness of himself was good and valid; see Joh 8:13; and because it is his sonship that is, here testified of, therefore the phrase, "the Word", and not "the Son", is here used. "The Holy Ghost" is the third Person, who proceeds from the Father, and is also called the Spirit of the Son, who testified of, Christ's sonship also at his baptism, by descending on him as a dove, which was the signal given to John the Baptist, by which he knew him, and bare record of him, that he was the Son of God. Now the number of these witnesses was three, there being so many persons in the Godhead; and such a number being sufficient, according to law, for the establishing of any point: to which may be added, that they were witnesses in heaven, not to the heavenly inhabitants, but to men on earth; they were so called, because they were in heaven, and from thence gave out their testimony; and which shows the firmness and excellency of it, it being not from earth, but from heaven, and not human, but divine; to which may be applied the words of Job, in Job 16:19; it follows,

and these three are one; which is to be understood, not only of their unity and agreement in their testimony, they testifying of the same thing, the sonship of Christ; but of their unity in essence or nature, they being the one God. So that, this passage holds forth and asserts the unity of God, a trinity of persons in the Godhead, the proper deity of each person, and their distinct personality, the unity of essence in that they are one; a trinity of persons in that they are three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and are neither more nor fewer; the deity of each person, for otherwise their testimony would not be the testimony of God, as in 1Jo 5:9; and their distinct personality; for were they not three distinct persons, they could not be three testifiers, or three that bare record. This being a proper place, I shall insert the faith of the ancient Jews concerning the doctrine of the Trinity; and the rather, as it agrees with the apostle's doctrine in words and language, as well as in matter. They call the three Persons in the Godhead three degrees: they say {d},

"Jehovah, Elohenu (our God), Jehovah, De 6:4; these are the three degrees with respect to this sublime mystery, in the beginning Elohim, or God, created, Ge 1:1, &c.''

And these three, they say, though they are distinct, yet are one, as appears by what follows {e}:

"come see the mystery of the word; there are three degrees, and every degree is by itself, yet they are all one, and are bound together in one, and one is not separated from the other.''

Again, it is said {f},

"this is the unity of Jehovah the first, Elohenu, Jehovah, lo, all of them are one, and therefore: called one; lo, the three names are as if they were one, and therefore are called one, and they are one; but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit it is made known, and they by the sight of the eye may be known, dxa Nyla atltd, "that these three are one": and this is the mystery of the voice which is heard; the voice is one, and there are three things, fire, and Spirit, and water, and all of them are one in the mystery of the voice, and they are but one: so here, Jehovah, Elohenu, Jehovah, they are one, the three, Nynwwg, forms, modes, or things, which are one.''

Once more {g},

"there are two, and one is joined unto them, and they are three; and when the three are one, he says to them, these are the two names which Israel heard, Jehovah, Jehovah, and Elohenu is joined unto them, and it is the seal of the ring of truth; and when they are joined as one, they are one in one unity.''

And this they illustrate by the three names of the soul of man {h};

"the three powers are all of them one, the soul, spirit, and breath, they are joined as one, and they are one; and all is according to the mode of the sublime mystery,''

meaning the Trinity.

"Says R. Isaac {i} worthy are the righteous in this world, and in the world to come, for lo, the whole of them is holy, their body is holy, their soul is holy, their Spirit is holy, their breath is holy, holy are these three degrees "according to the form above".--Come see these three degrees cleave together as one, the soul, Spirit, and breath.''

The three first Sephirot, or numbers, in the Cabalistic tree, intend the three divine Persons; the first is called the chief crown, and first glory, which essence no creature can comprehend {k}, and designs the Father, Joh 1:18; the second is called wisdom, and the intelligence illuminating, the crown of the creation, the brightness of equal unity, who is exalted above every head; and he is called, by the Cabalists, the second glory {l}; see 1Co 1:24 Heb 1:3. This is the Son of God: the third is called understanding sanctifying, and is the foundation of ancient wisdom, which is called the worker of faith; and he is the parent of faith, and from his power faith flows {m}; and this is the Holy Spirit; see 1Pe 1:2. Now they say {n} that these three first numbers are intellectual, and are not twdm, "properties", or "attributes", as the other seven are. R. Simeon ben Jochai says {o},

"of the three superior numbers it is said, Ps 62:11, "God hath spoken once, twice have I heard this"; one and two, lo the superior numbers of whom it is said, one, one, one, three ones, and this is the mystery of Ps 62:11.''

Says R. Judah Levi {p},

"behold the mystery of the numberer, the number, and the numbered; in the bosom of God it is one thing, in the bosom of man three; because he weighs with his understanding, and speaks with his mouth, and writes with his hand.''

It was usual with the ancient Jews to introduce Jehovah speaking, or doing anything, in this form, I and my house of judgment; and it is a rule with them, that wherever it is said, "and Jehovah", he and his house or judgment are intended {q}; and Jarchi frequently makes use of this phrase to explain texts where a plurality in the Godhead is intended, as Ge 1:26; and it is to be observed, that a house of judgment, or a sanhedrim, among the Jews, never consisted of less than three. They also had used to write the word "Jehovah" with three "Jods", in the form of a triangle,

y
y y

as representing the three divine Persons: one of their more modern {r} writers has this observation on the blessing of the priest in Nu 6:24:

"these three verses begin with a "Jod", in reference to the three "Jods" which we write in the room of the name, (i.e. Jehovah,) for they have respect to the three superior things.''

{z} Respons. contr. Arian. obj. 10. & de Trinitate, c. 4. {a} Contr. Arium, p. 109. {b} De Unitate Eccles. p. 255. & in Ep. 73. ad Jubajan, p. 184. {c} Contr. Praxeam, c. 25. {d} Zohar in Gen. fol. 1. 3. {e} Ib. in Lev. fol. 27. 2. {f} Ib. in Exod. fol. 18. 3, 4. {g} lb. in Numb. fol. 67. 3. {h} lb. in Exod. fol. 73. 4. {i} lb. in Lev. fol. 29. 2. {k} Sepher Jetzira, Semit. 1. {l} Sepher Jetzira, Semit. 2. {m} Ib. Semit. 3. {n} R. Menachem apud Rittangel. in Jetzira, p. 193. {o} Tikkune Zohar apud ib. p. 64. {p} Apud ib. p. 38. {q} Zohar in Gen. fol. 48. 4. Jarchi in Gen. xix. 24. Vid. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 6. 1. & Gloss. in ib. & Sanhedrin, fol. 3. 2. {r} R. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 113. 2.
 
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