The Comma Johanneum, also called the Johannine Comma or the Heavenly
Witnesses, is a comma (a short clause) found in
Latin manuscripts of
the First Epistle of John at 5:7–8. The comma first appeared in
Vulgate manuscripts of the 9th century.[dubious – discuss]
The first Greek manuscript 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. The scholarly consensus is that that passage is a Latin
corruption that entered the Greek manuscript tradition in some
subsequent copies. As the comma does not appear in the manuscript
tradition of other languages, the debate is mainly limited to the
English-speaking world due to the King James Only movement.
3 Bibles that include or omit Comma
4.1 Omission theories (verse authentic)
4.2 Addition theories (verse spurious)
4.3 Doctrinal issues
5.2 Absence in early authors
5.2.1 Greek and
5.2.2 Clement of Alexandria
5.2.4 Treatise on Rebaptism
220.127.116.11 Marcus Celedensis
18.104.22.168 Phoebadius of Agen
5.2.7 Leo the Great
5.3 Early Church Writer evidence
Cyprian of Carthage
22.214.171.124 Unity of the Church
126.96.36.199 Ad Jubaianum (Epistle 73)
Origen and Athanasius
188.8.131.52 Origen's scholium on Psalm 123:2
184.108.40.206 Athanasius and Arius at the Council of Nicea
Priscillian of Avila
220.127.116.11 Expositio Fidei
5.3.5 Council of Carthage, 484
18.104.22.168 De Trinitate and Contra Varimadum
5.3.6 Fulgentius of Ruspe
22.214.171.124 Contra Arianos
126.96.36.199 Contra Fabianum
188.8.131.52 De Trinitate ad Felicem
184.108.40.206 Adversus Pintam Episcopum Arianum
Vulgate Prologue to the Canonical Epistles
5.3.8 Summaries of
Latin evidences 400–550 AD
5.3.10 Isidore of Seville
5.3.11 Commentary on Revelation
5.4 Medieval evidence
5.4.1 Fourth Lateran Council
5.4.3 Greek commentaries
5.4.4 Armenia – Synod of Sis
5.4.5 Manuscripts and special notations
Erasmus and the Textus Receptus
6.1 Ratio Seu Methodus and Paraphrase
6.4 Textus Receptus
7 History of modern study
7.1 Verse debate, 1500 to today
7.1.1 Through the early 1800s (Charles Butler analysis)
220.127.116.11 Phase 1,
Erasmus and the Reformation
18.104.22.168 Phase 2, Simon, Newton, Mill and Bengel
22.214.171.124 Phase 3, Travis and Porson debate
126.96.36.199.1 Travis and Porson debate
188.8.131.52.2 Early 19th century scholarship
7.1.2 Modern debate
184.108.40.206 19th century
220.127.116.11 20th century
18.104.22.168 Recent scholarship to the 21st century
7.2 John Calvin
7.3 Isaac Newton
7.4 Arguments against authenticity from 1808 "improved version"
7.5 Grammatical analysis
7.6 Roman Catholic Church
7.7 Defenders of authenticity
7.7.2 Received text and preservation
8 See also
8.1 Other disputed New Testament passages
11 Further reading
12 External links
The text of the Comma, distinguished from the surrounding text by
means of italics, reads:
King James Version:
7For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word,
and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8And there are three that
bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and
these three agree in one.
7And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the
Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. 8And there are
three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the
blood: and these three are one.
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.
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.
"In the fifth century the gloss [the Comma] 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
The following is an example of a variation of the Comma (in italics)
found in the Missal of Mateus, which dates to the second quarter of
the twelfth century and is the oldest known source for the Rite, or
Usage, of Braga in Northern Portugal in the Epistle for Dominica in
Albis (1 John 5:4-10):
“Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra: Spíritus, et
aqua, et sanguis. Et tres unum sunt. Et tres sunt qui testimónium
dant in cęlo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus. Et hi tres unum
Bibles that include or omit Comma
Desiderius Erasmus published the first modern Greek critical
text, Novum Instrumentum omne. He subsequently produced four more
editions. The first two lacked the Comma, which was first included in
the 1522 edition of his Greek New Testament. It subsequently appeared
in every later edition of the Greek New Testament that came to be
called Textus Receptus. Thus the Comma is found in the most widely
used translations of the New Testament before 1881, when the English
Revised Version was published without the Comma. Several individual
translators had omitted it as far back as the early 18th century.
Versions from this period which contain it include the Geneva Bible,
King James Version
King James Version (KJV),[a] Young's and both the Rheims New
Testament and the
Ronald Knox translations which are Roman Catholic
renderings based on the Clementine Vulgate.
Newer critical editions of the Greek text omit the Comma as not part
of the original, and modern Bible translations based on them such as
New International Version
New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible
English Standard Version
English Standard Version (ESV), the New Revised Standard
Version (NRSV) either omit the Comma entirely, or place it in a
footnote. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the
Latin Nova Vulgata
(New Vulgate), published in 1979 after the Second Vatican Council,
based on the Critical Text and approved for liturgical use, omits the
Comma. The Nova Vulgata, as a translation, is not destined to be
translated further into English, but in accord with the norm the Nova
Vulgata represents, the Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition
omits the Comma.
The Comma is retained in recent translations based on the Textus
Receptus such as the New King James.[b]
Trinity of the Church Fathers
Codex Sinaiticus including 1 John 5:7–9. It lacks the
Comma Johanneum. The purple-coloured text says: "There are three
witness bearers, the Spirit and the water and the blood".
Omission theories (verse authentic)
Those who believe the Johannine Comma is authentic attribute
authorship to the apostle John. They have diverse theories as to why
the Comma dropped out of the Greek manuscript line and why most of the
evidence is in
Latin manuscripts and church writings. Often these
proposed textual histories include scribal error as the initial cause
of the early variant. In 1699
Louis Ellies Dupin discussed the
... that those two verses beginning with the same words, it was
easy for the copiers to omit one by negligence, nothing being more
usual than when the same word is in two periods that follow one
another, for the copier to pass from the word of the first period to
that which follows in the second.
The commentary of Puritan scholar
Matthew Henry added the difficulty
and unlikelihood that a deliberate addition could be inserted into the
It was far more easy for a transcriber, by turning away his eye, or by
the obscurity of the copy, it being obliterated or defaced on the top
or bottom of a page, or worn away in such materials as the ancients
had to write upon, to lose and omit the passage, than for an
interpolator to devise and insert it; he must be very bold and
impudent, that could hope to escape detection and shame, and profane
too, that durst venture to make an addition to a supposed sacred
Anthony Kohlmann asked and answered the question, "what reason can you
assign for so notable an omission in some old manuscripts?" Kohlmann
pointed to homoeoteleuton and doctrinal motivations and included an
analogy to another verse which some attempted to excise.
Also those asserting authenticity of the Comma often claim that
heretics doctored all of the extant early Greek manuscripts and
removed doctrinally offensive passages. Such claims have been made by
Donald A. Waite, Thomas Strouse, Thomas Holland, Frederick Nolan, and
Robert L. Dabney.
Addition theories (verse spurious)
Those who believe the Johannine Comma is inauthentic view the text as
either an accidental intrusion, which could be a margin commentary
note that a later scribe mistakenly considered to be the original
text, or as a deliberate insertion or forgery.
Hugo Grotius contended that the verse had been added into the
Johannine text by the Arians. About the view of Grotius, Richard
Simon wrote "...all this is only founded on conjectures: and seeing
every one does reason according to his prejudices, some will have the
Arians to be the authors of that addition, and others do attribute the
same to the Catholicks." Luther's pastor, John Bugenhagen, like
Grotius, wrote of a conjectured Arian origin.
Isaac Newton took a similar approach as Erasmus, looking to
the principal figure in placing the Comma in the Bible.[d] Newton also
thought that the Athanasius Disputation with Arius (Ps-Athanasius)
"had been deeply influential on the subsequent attitude to the
authenticity of the passage." Newton's comment that from Matthew
28:19 "they tried at first to derive the Trinity" implies that for the
conjectured interpolation, "the Trinity" was the motive.
Richard Simon believed the verse began in a Greek scholium, while
Herbert Marsh posited the origin as a
Latin scholium. Simon
conjectured that the Athanasius exposition at Nicea was the catalyst
for the Greek scholium which brought forth the text.[e]
Richard Porson was a major figure in the opposition to the
authenticity of the verse. His theory of spurious origin involved
Tertullian and Cyprian, and also the interpretation by Augustine which
led to a marginal note. And, in the Porson theory, that marginal note
was in the Bible text used by the author of the Confession of Faith at
the Council of Carthage of 484 AD.[f] Porson also considered the
Vulgate Prologue as spurious, a forgery not written by Jerome, and
this Prologue was responsible for the entrance into the Vulgate.
Latin copies had this verse in the eighth century. It is then that
we suppose it to have crawled into notice on the strength of
Johann Jakob Griesbach
Johann Jakob Griesbach wrote his Diatribe in Locum 1 Joann V. 7, 8 in
1806, as an Appendix to his Critical Edition of the New Testament. In
the Diatribe, Griesbach "expresses his conviction that the seventh
verse rests upon the authority of Vigilius Tapsensis."
The 1808 Improved Version, with
Thomas Belsham contributing, followed
Griesbach on the idea of Tapsensis authority, combined with enhancing
the forgery intimations of Gibbon. Thus came the theory that the verse
was a forgery by Virgilius Tapsensis. This emphasis on Tapsensis
(Thapsus) was echoed by Unitarians of the 19th century, including
Theophilus Lindsey, Abner Kneeland, and John Wilson.
John Oxlee, in his journal debate with Frederick Nolan, accused the
African Prelates Vigilius Tapensis and Fulgentius Ruspensis of
thrusting the verse into the
William Orme, in the Monthly Review, 1825, conjectured Augustine as
the source. "it is probable that the verse originated in the
interpretation of St. Augustine. It seems to have existed for some
time on the margins of the
Latin copies, in a kind of intermediate
state, as something better than a mere dictum of Augustine, and yet
not absolutely Scripture itself. By degrees it was received into the
text, where it appears in by far the greater number of Latin
manuscripts now in our hands."[g]
Scrivener allowed for the authenticity of the
Cyprian citation as a
reference to the verse being in Cyprian's Bible.[h] To allow for this,
Scrivener's theory of the source and timing of an interpolation cannot
be late, and his scenario did not give estimated dates or any names
responsible any more than the Arian removal theory proposed by Nolan,
Forster, and others. "the disputed words... were originally brought
Latin copies in Africa from the margin, where they had been
placed as a pious and orthodox gloss on v. 8: that from the
crept into two or three late Greek codices, and thence into the
printed Greek text, a place to which they had no rightful claim."
Joseph Barber Lightfoot, who similarly worked on the Revision,
Origen as part of the origin. "not in the first instance a
deliberate forgery, but a comparatively innocent gloss... the spirit
and the water and the blood—a gloss which is given substantially by
S. Augustine and was indicated before by
Origen and Cyprian, and which
first thrust itself into the text in some
Brooke Foss Westcott
Brooke Foss Westcott had a theory of verse origin and development
which said of the Augustine reference in the City of
"Augustine supplies the word 'Verbum' which is required to 'complete
the gloss'". Even in 1892, in the third edition of The epistles of St
John: the Greek text, with notes and essays, when Westcott
acknowledged the newly discovered Liber Apologeticus Priscillian
reference with verbum, the Augustine Verbum/gloss assertion remained
in his book. And the assertion "there is no evidence that it was found
in the text of St John before the latter part of the 5th century" also
remained, alongside "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)".
Joseph Pohle, after asking "how did the text of the three heavenly
Witnesses find its way into the Vulgate? All explanations that have
been advanced so far are pure guesswork." concludes "the Comma
Ioanneum was perhaps found in copies of the
Latin Bible current in
Africa as early as the third century", and then considered Cassiodorus
as responsible for inserting the verse into the Vulgate.[i] Pohle,
like Scrivener, allows that the
Cyprian citation may well indicate
that the verse was in his Bible.[j]
In the early 20th century Karl Künstle helped to popularize a theory
Priscillian of Ávila (c. 350–385) was the author of the
Comma.[k] The theory held that "
Priscillian interpolated ... in the
first epistle of John so as to justify in this way his unitarian
theories. The text was then retouched in order to appear orthodox, and
in this shape found its way into several Spanish documents." This
idea of a
Priscillian origin for the Comma had a brief scholarship
flourish and then quickly lost support in textual circles. The
Priscillian citation had been recently published in 1889 by Georg
Alan England Brooke, while theorizing that "the growth of that gloss
can be traced back at least as early as Cyprian" also placed the
Theodulfian recension of the Vulgate, after 800 AD, as a prime point
whereby the verse first gained traction into the
Latin text-lines. "It
is through the Theodulfian Recension of the
Vulgate that the gloss
first gained anything like wide acceptance".
Adolf Harnack in Zur Textkritik und Christologie der Schriften des
Johannes "argues that the comma johanneum is the post-augustinian
revision of an old addition to the text".
Raymond Brown expresses a theory of verse development in which the
Cyprian (the sections that proponents
consider Comma allusions) represented the "thought process" involved,
that gave rise to the Comma. The words of the Comma "appear among
Latin writers in North Africa and Spain in the third century as a
dogmatic reflection on and expansion of the 'three that testify': 'the
Spirit' is the Father [Jn 4:24]; 'the blood' is the Son; 'the water'
is the Spirit (Jn 7:38–39)."
Walter Thiele allows for a Greek origin of the Comma, before Cyprian.
Raymond Brown summarizes: "Thiele, Beobachtungen 64–68, argues that
the I John additions may have a Greek basis, for sometimes a plausible
early chain can be constructed thus: Cyprian, Pseudo-Cyprian,
Augustine, Pseudo-Augustine, Spanish
Vulgate (especially Isidore of
Seville and Theodolfus)."
Jaroslav Pelikan expresses the common scholarly view
that the words (apparently) crept into the
Latin text of the New
Testament during the Early Middle Ages, "[possibly] as one of those
medieval glosses but were then written into the text itself by a
Erasmus omitted them from his first edition; but
when a storm of protest arose because the omission seemed to threaten
the doctrine of the Trinity, he put them back in the third and later
editions, whence they also came into the Textus Receptus, 'the
Most New Testament scholars today believe that the Comma was inserted
into the Old
Latin text based on a gloss to that text, with the
original gloss dating to the 3rd or 4th century, as expressed with
some qualifications by Bruce Metzger. The summary of Daniel
Wallace is short, beginning in the 300s AD with an unspecified homily:
"The reading seems to have arisen in a fourth century
Latin homily in
which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity.
From there, it made its way into copies of the
Latin Vulgate, the text
used by the Roman Catholic Church."[n]
Most opponents of the Comma as inauthentic view the verse as having
arisen by a sequence of events involving scribal difficulties and
error. Often this is a staged understanding, beginning with an
interpretation placed as a margin commentary. The margin note is later
erroneously brought into the text by a scribe who mistakenly thought
the margin note indicated a superior alternate reading or correction.
Those types of proposed scenarios are based on the limitations
inherent in laborious hand-copying and do not have to impugn motives.
By contrast, the accusations of deliberate textual tampering and
forgery for doctrinal purposes are based on scribes making deliberate
changes away from the original text. A number of writers have theories
of direct forgery as the motive for the insertion of the Comma into
the text. Some of these theories were developed after the 1883
Priscillian discovery[l] and fingered
Priscillian as the culprit.
Voltaire wrote that the verse was inserted at the time of Constantine.
"Lactantius... It was about this time that, among the very violent
disputes on the Trinity, this famous verse was inserted in the First
Epistle of St. John: "There are three that bear witness in earth—the
word or spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three are one."[o]
The accusation against the verse by
Edward Gibbon in 1781, while
stating "the Scriptures themselves were profaned by their rash and
sacrilegious hands" stops short of a direct accusation of forgery by
also discussing marginal notes and allegorical interpretation. In
response to Gibbon, George Travis noted the lack of forgery
accusations before the Reformation-era debate.[p]
In 1813, Unitarian
Thomas Belsham accused the verse of being an
"impious forgery... spurious and fictitious".[q] In Calm Inquiry in
1817, Belsham had the verse as a "palpable forgery" and his
student, Unitarian minister Israel Worsley, for more emphasis wrote of
"a gross and a palpable forgery".[r]
For the next decades, the forgery accusation was generally made
outside the context of textual analysis, usually by Unitarians and
freethinkers such as Robert Taylor, author of the Manifesto of the
Christian Evidence Society. Everard Bierer took this approach: "This
bold interpolation shows conclusively what Trinitarian fanaticism in
the Dark Ages would do, and leaves us to imagine what renderings it
probably gave to many other texts, and especially somewhat obscure
ones on the same subject."
In 1888, Philip Schaff, church historian who worked on the American
committee of the Revision, brought the accusation to the mainstream,
"Erasmus... omitted in his Greek Testament the forgery of the three
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's witnesses, in 1899
made his accusation specific and the forgery late: "the spurious words
were no doubt interpolated by some over-zealous monk, who felt sure of
the (Trinity) doctrine himself, and thought that the holy spirit had
blundered in not stating the matter in the Scriptures: his intention,
no doubt, was to help
God and the truth out of a difficulty by
perpetrating a fraud."
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, a textual scholar, wrote in 1910 a
section specifically about "famous orthodox corruptions", including
"The text of the three witnesses a doctrinal forgery".[s]
Preserved Smith in 1920 called the verse "a
Latin forgery of the
fourth century, possibly due to Priscillian".
Gordon Campbell, in Bible: The Story of the King James Version
1611–2011 asserts that the Comma is "a medieval forgery inserted
into Bibles to support a trinitarian doctrine that had been erected on
a disconcertingly thin biblical base.".
The popularity of the modern "orthodox corruption" view of Bart Ehrman
has increased the forgery claims, especially on the Internet. Ehrman
calls the Comma "the most obvious instance of a theologically
motivated corruption in the entire manuscript tradition of the New
Testament. Nonetheless, in my judgment, the comma's appearance in the
tradition can scarcely be dated prior to the trinitarian controversies
that arose after the period under examination." Ehrman posits his
other corruptions as around the 2nd century, so Ehrman is considering
the Comma as exceptional and placing the "appearance" of the Comma in
the 300s or 400s, close to Priscillian's verse usage and citation as
Theories of both authenticity and spuriousness often interweave
doctrinal and Christological concerns as part of their analysis of
'Origins', how the verse developed and was either dropped or added to
John Guyse gave a summary in the Practical Expositor that was a type
of model for many of the later doctrinal expositions by those
defending authenticity from a Trinitarian perspective.
the Trinitarians therefore had less occasion to interpolate this
verse, than the Antitrinitarians had to take it out of the sacred
canon, if any, on either side, can be supposed to be so very wicked as
to make such an attempt; and it is much more likely that (Guyse
describes homoeoteleuton or other omission) than that any should be so
daring as designedly to add it to the text.[t]
Often those who oppose authenticity take the position that the Comma
was included in the
Textus Receptus (TR) compiled by
Rotterdam because of its doctrinal importance in supporting
Trinitarianism. The passage is often viewed as an explicit reference
Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with notable
The issue of whether Trinitarian doctrine is supported by, and
dependent on, the heavenly witnesses is an ongoing dispute. Theophilus
Lindsay, a Unitarian who opposed the authenticity of the verse, wrote:
passage of scripture ... the only one which can be brought for any
shew or semblance of proof of a
Trinity in Unity, of three persons
being one God, is 1 John v. 7.
Some defenders of authenticity place doctrinal
Christology issues as
only auxiliary or secondary, considering the primary issue to be the
integrity of scripture. Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall wrote:
The genuineness of I. John, v. 7, then, is here maintained, not to
secure a proof-text of the doctrine of the Trinity, but to preserve
the integrity of Holy Scripture. As a proof-text it would be less
important than many others if it were wholly unquestioned. But as a
part of Holy Scripture it is to be defended with all diligence ... it
is rather the integrity of Holy Scripture than the doctrine of the
Trinity that is involved in the question of the genuineness of I.
John, v. 7 ...
Sangallensis 63, Comma at the bottom
Novum Testamentum Graece
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
Vulgate traditions omit the Comma, as do more than a dozen
Church Fathers who quote the verses. The
Latin variant is
considered a trinitarian gloss, explaining or paralleled by the
second Greek variant.
No Comma. μαρτυροῦντες, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ
ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα. [... witnessing, the spirit and the
water and the blood.] Select evidence: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex
Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, and other codices; Uncial 048, 049,
056, 0142; the text of Minuscules 33, 81, 88, 104, and other
minuscules; the Byzantine majority text; the majority of Lectionaries,
in particular the menologion of Lectionary 598; the
Henry Julian White
Henry Julian White edition and the Stuttgart), Syriac,
Sahidic and Bohairic), and other translations; Clement of
Alexandria (died 215),
Origen (died 254), and other quotations in the
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
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.
The Comma in Latin. testimonium dicunt [or dant] in terra, spiritus
[or: spiritus et] aqua 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
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,
in Ioannis Epist. ad Parthos.
The gradual appearance of the comma in the manuscript evidence is
represented in the following tables:
Codex Complutensis I
Codex Sangallensis 907
Codex Sangallensis 63
Reads "Holy Spirit" instead of simply "Spirit".
Articles are missing before the "three witnesses" (spirit, water,
Latin text along the Greek text,
revised to conform to the Latin.
The Comma was translated and copied back into the Greek from the
Thought to be influenced
by the Vulgata Clementina.
Marginal gloss: 16th century
BSB Cod. graec. 211
Marginal gloss: late 16th century
Marginal gloss: 15th or 16th century
Marginal gloss: 16th century
Marginal gloss: 16th century
The Comma is not in the two oldest pure
Vulgate manuscripts, Fuldensis
and Amiatinus, although it is referenced in the Prologue of Fuldensis.
Overall, it is estimated that over 95% of the thousands of Vulgate
MSS. contain the verse. The
Vulgate was developed from Vetus Latina
manuscripts, updated by
Jerome utilizing the Greek fountainhead.
The earliest extant
Latin manuscripts (m q l) supporting the Comma are
dated from the 5th to 7th century. The Freisinger fragment[v] and the
Codex Legionensis (7th century), besides the younger Codex Speculum,
New Testament quotations extant in an 8th- or 9th-century
The Comma does not appear in the older Greek manuscripts. Nestle-Aland
is aware of eight Greek manuscripts that contain the comma. The
date of the addition is late, probably dating to the time of
Erasmus. In one manuscript, back-translated into Greek from the
Vulgate, the phrase "and these three are one" is not present.
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 the verse, although these churches similarly have accepted
the Comma into their modern print editions. UBS-4 indicates arm-mss in
support of the verse, and also arm-mss against, indicating that some
but not all Armenian manuscripts include the Comma.
Absence in early authors
The following early church writers are those whose utter silence on
the Comma has been given special note by opponents of authenticity:
Clement of Alexandria; Tertullian; the unknown author of the Treatise
on Rebaptism; Jerome; Augustine; Leo; also Origen,
There are many Greek and
Latin writers, also Syriac, who can be
referenced as not showing awareness of the Comma. Adam Clarke, in his
1823 work Observations on the Three Heavenly Witnesses, compiled a
Latin list of those he considered to be silent on the verse.
The writers require individual examination, and the significance of
the verse evidence from silence by church writers varies. In
Principles of Textual Criticism, 1848, pp. 503–507 John Scott
Porter wrote similarly, with information about the specific writings
of the omitters. [w]
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."[x]
Another reference that is studied is from Clement's Prophetic
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.
This is seen by some as allusion evidence that Clement was
familiar with the verse.
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
Tertullian's use of tres unum sunt has been seen by many commentators
as supporting authenticity, a textual connection to 1 John 5:7. "It
appears to me very clear that
Tertullian is quoting I. John v. 7. in
the passage now under consideration." 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". Proponents of authenticity emphasize the corroborative
nature of examining the evidences of the time as one unit, including
Cyprian quotes and the Old
Latin mss. "... the testimony of these
early fathers must stand and fall together; as St.
follows his master Tertullian." Daniel McCarthy, also referencing
the views of Wetstein and Nicholas Wiseman, offers an exegesis that
the three heavenly witnesses are implied by context. 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,
Paraclete are one (unum), but not one person (unus). However, this
passage cannot be regarded as a certain attestation of the Comma
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).
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.
have also been presented as verse allusions.
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
Cyprian speaking of the heavenly witnesses in Unity of the Church.
Arthur Cleveland Coxe
Arthur Cleveland Coxe and Nathaniel Cornwall consider the evidence
as suggestively positive. Westcott and Hort also are positive. After
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".
Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 asserts that
Jerome "does not seem
to know the text".
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 Cyrillus:
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.[y]
Phoebadius of Agen
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."
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.
Griesbach argued that Phoebadius was only making an allusion to
Tertullian, and his unusual explanation was commented on by
Augustine of Hippo
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. This argumentum ex
silentio has been contested by other scholars, including Fickermann
and Metzger.[aa] In addition, some Augustine references have been seen
as verse allusions.[ab]
The City of
God section, from Book V, Chapter 11:
God supreme and true, with His Word and
Holy Spirit (which
three are one), one
has often been referenced as based upon the scripture verse of the
heavenly witnesses. 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."
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.[ac]
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
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, arc signified (see Contr. Maxim, cap. xxii.).
Thomas Joseph Lamy offers a different view based on the context and
Augustine's purpose. Similarly Thomas Burgess. And Norbert
Fickermann's reference and scholarship supports the idea that
Augustine may have deliberately bypassed a direct quote of the
Leo the Great
In the Tome of Leo, written to Archbishop Flavian of Constantinople,
read at the
Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon on 10 October 451 AD, 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 ...
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") and went along with Porson's
assertion that the verse was slow to enter into the
Porson asserted that the verse "remained a rude, unformed mass, and
was not completely licked into shape till the end of the tenth
century". 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. 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, favourable 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." Today, with the discovery of additional
Latin evidences in the 19th century, the discourse of Leo is
rarely referenced as a significant evidence against verse
Early Church Writer evidence
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
"And these three are one."
Catholic Encyclopedia concludes "Cyprian... seems undoubtedly to
have had it in mind". Against this view,
Daniel B. Wallace
Daniel B. Wallace writes
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".[ad] And the fact that
Cyprian did not quote the "exact
wording... indicates that a Trinitarian interpretation was
superimposed on the text by Cyprian". 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.[ae]
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.[h] 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"[af]
In the 20th century, Lutheran scholar Francis Pieper wrote in
Christian Dogmatics emphasizing the antiquity and significance of the
reference.[ag] Frequently commentators have seen
Cyprian as having the
verse in his
Latin Bible, even if not directly supporting and
commenting on verse authenticity.[ah] And some writers have seen the
denial of the verse in the Bible of
Cyprian as worthy of special note
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
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?[aj]
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". UBS-4 has its
entry for text inclusion as (Cyprian).
The Hundredfold Reward for Martyrs and Ascetics: De centesima,
sexagesimal tricesima 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
Origen and Athanasius
Those who see
Cyprian as negative evidence assert that other church
writers, such as
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria and Origen,[al] 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
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. 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". Fabricius wrote about
Origen wording "ad locum 1 Joh v. 7 alludi ab origene non-est
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.
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. [am] 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 Nicea 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
First Epistle of John is from the
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.
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
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][an]
Theodor Zahn calls this "the earliest quotation of the passage which
is certain and which can be definitely dated (circa 380)", a view
expressed by Westcott, Brooke, Metzger and others.[ao]
And Georg Strecker adds context: "The oldest undoubted instance is in
Priscillian Liber apologeticus I.4 (
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 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...". 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
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, points out that the reading "in Christo
Iesu" is textually valuable, referencing 1 John 5:7.
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 notes the similarities of
the Expositio with the
Priscillian form, and the
Priscillian form with
the Leon Palimpsest. Theodor Zahn 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
himself bound to defend the Comma by citing from the "Unity of the
Council of Carthage, 484
"The Comma ... was invoked at Carthage in 484 when the Catholic
(anti-Arian) 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)." The Confession of faith
representing the hundreds of orthodox Bishops 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
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
Holy Spirit as a creator: "It is the divine Spirit" ...[ar]
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
Trinity consisting of three books Contra Varimadum ... North
African origin ca. 450 seems probable. The Comma is cited in 1.5 (CC
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.
Divinity be different in each? How are they one, if there
reside not in them the united eternal plenitude of the Godhead?
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.[as]
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."
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.
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".
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
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
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
Today these references are generally accepted as probative to the
verse being in the Bible of Fulgentius.[au]
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
has been assigned away from Fulgentius to a "Catholic controvertist of
the same age".
Vulgate Prologue to the Canonical Epistles
Vulgate manuscripts, including the Codex Fuldensis, the earliest
Vulgate manuscript, contain the Prologue to the Canonical
Epistles. The Prologue reads as a first-person account from Jerome
written to Eustochium, to whom
Jerome dedicated his commentary on the
prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The internal evidence of the authorship
is contested, with claims since the 17th century, after the heavenly
witnesses verse debate began, that a forger pretended to be Jerome.
This translation is by Thomas Caldwell of Marquette University, as
explained on the blog of Kent Brandenburg. Also available online is
Codex Fuldensis Latin.
Prologue to the Canonical Epistles
The order of the seven Epistles which are called canonical is not the
same among the Greeks who follow the correct faith and the one found
Latin codices, where Peter, being the first among the apostles,
also has his two epistles first. But just as we have corrected the
evangelists into their proper order, so with God's help have we done
with these. The first is one of James, then two of Peter, three of
John and one of Jude.
Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by
Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor
[allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text
where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter
of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful
translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the
three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention
of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is
strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
In the other epistles to what extent our edition varies from others I
leave to the prudence of the reader. But you, virgin of Christ,
Eustocium, when you ask me urgently about the truth of scripture you
expose my old age to being gnawed at by the teeth of envious ones who
accuse me of being a falsifier and corruptor of the scriptures. But in
such work I neither fear the envy of my critics nor deny the truth of
scripture to those who seek it.
This Prologue, its historical accuracy and textual significance, has
been a major point in the Comma debate since its start at the times of
Erasmus.[av] And its authenticity and authorship became an issue in
the late 17th century, when a new theory came forth that the Prologue
was spurious. This theory claimed that the Prologue was not created
until hundreds of years after Jerome, by an unknown writer pretending
Jerome "the preface has been commonly rejected by critics, and
looked upon as an impudent forgery of the ninth century."[aw]
Westcott is among those who have contended that the actual purpose of
the theorized forgery was specifically to bring the verse into the
Vulgate text line; it "seems to have been written with this
express purpose". And Raymond Brown implies verse acceptance as
the motive for the
Vulgate Prologue: "Jerome's authority was such that
this statement, spuriously attributed to him, helped to win acceptance
for the Comma.". Metzger makes no reference of the Prologue, even
while referencing the absence of the verse in the Johannine epistle of
Fuldensis in order to assert that Jerome's original edition did not
have the verse. "The passage ... is not found ...in the
Jerome (codex Fuldensis [copied a.d. 541-46] and codex
Amiatinus [copied before a.d. 716])".
Major figures in the early dialogue from about 1650–1725 were John
Selden, Christopher Sandius, John Fell, Richard Simon, Isaac Newton,
Jean Martianay and Augustin Calmet. The discovery in the
Bible scholarship community in the latter 19th century that the
Prologue was in the well-respected Codex Fuldensis (while the
Codex lacked the Comma in the text, an unusual discordance)
contradicted many earlier forgery chronology scenarios.[ax]
Latin evidences 400–550 AD
Raymond Brown and Georg Strecker are two modern scholars available in
English who reference the series of evidences above, at least briefly,
and who point out that the verse references were not referenced by
Greek church writers in Christological and Trinitarian controversies.
Thus, although there is no clear attestation of the
Comma Johanneum in
the time before Priscillian, after him the addition is cited more
frequently, most often in order to adduce a proof for the Trinity
contrary to Priscillian's own ideas. As examples one may cite the
twelve books De Trinitate and three books Contra Varimadum. Their
authors and time of composition are unknown, but a date in the fifth
century is probable. In addition one should mention the Historia
persecutionis by Victor, the bishop of Vita in North Africa (ca. 485),
as well as the Responsio contra Arianos by Fulgentius (10; CChr
91.93); and finally a prologue to the Catholic Letters from the period
Cassiodorus wrote Bible commentaries, and was familiar with Old Latin
Vulgate manuscripts,[i] 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.[ay]
Thomas Joseph Lamy describes the
Cassiodorus section [az] 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
Westcott in Notes on Selected Readings, 1882 p. 105 says that
Cassiodorus paraphrased the verse. However, in The Epistles of St.
John, 1886, p. 204 Westcott writes "...the language of
Cassiodorus (c. 550) seems to me to show that he did not find the
gloss in his text of St John, though he accepted it as a true
interpretation of the apostle's words.", following Porson and Turton
(as indicated in the 1883 edition).[ba]
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.
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
Cassiodorus has also been indicated as
Vulgate text, rather than simply the Vetus Latina.[bb]
Commentary on Revelation
Ambrose Ansbert refers to the scripture verse in his Revelation
Although the expression of faithful witness found therein, refers
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.
"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".
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
4th Lateran Council 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.
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. The
manuscript issue for the final phrase in verse eight and the
Thomas Aquinas were an influence upon the text and note
of the Complutensian Polyglot.
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
Peter Lombard and Joachim of Fiore, include Gerbert of
Aurillac (Pope Sylvester), Peter Abelard, Bernard of Clairvaux, Duns
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
Nicholas of Lyra and the commentary of the
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
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 mss.
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. The Franciscan Correctorium
gives a note about there being manuscripts with the verses
transposed. The Regensburg ms. referenced by Fickermann discusses
the positions of
Jerome and Augustine. The
Glossa Ordinaria discusses
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.
Erasmus and the Textus Receptus
Desiderius Erasmus in 1523.
The central figure in the 16th-century history of the Comma Johanneum
is the humanist Erasmus, and his efforts leading to the
publication of the Greek New Testament. The Comma was omitted in the
first edition in 1516, the Novum Instrumentum omne : diligenter
ab Erasmo Roterodamo recognitum & emendatum and the second edition
of 1519. The verse is placed in the third edition, published in 1522,
and those of 1527 and 1535.
Ratio Seu Methodus and Paraphrase
Erasmus included the Comma, with commentary, in his paraphrase
edition, first published in 1520.[bc] And in "Ratio seu Methodus
compendio perveniendi ad veram 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 verae 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."
This photograph shows Greek text of 1 John 5:3–10[bd] 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
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.[be] The first
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
Erasmus change was accepted into the Received Text editions,
the chief source for the King James Version, thereby fixing the Comma
firmly in the English-language scriptures for centuries.
Although the story of Erasmus' promise has been accepted as fact by
scholars, repeated by even so eminent an authority as Bruce M.
Metzger, Metzger later, on p. 291 (n. 2) of the (new) 3rd edition
of The Text of the New Testament, writes: "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." In A History of the
Debate over 1 John 5:7,8 , Michael Maynard records that H.J. de
Jonge, the Dean of the Faculty of
Theology at Rijksuniversiteit
(Leiden, Netherlands), a specialist in Erasmian studies, refuted the
myth of a promise in 1980, stating that Metzger's view on Erasmus'
promise "has no foundation in Erasmus' work. Consequently it is highly
improbable that he included the difficult passage because he
considered himself bound by any such promise." In a letter of 13 June
1995, to Maynard, de Jonge wrote:
Dear Mr. Maynard,
I have checked again Erasmus' words quoted by Erika Rummel and her
comments on them in her book Erasmus' Annotations. This is what
Erasmus writes in his Liber tertius quo respondet... Ed. Lei: Erasmus
first records that Lee had reproached him with neglect of the MSS. of
1 John because Er. (according to Lee) had consulted only one MS.
Erasmus replies that he had certainly not used only one ms., but many
copies, first in England, then in Brabant, and finally at Basle. He
cannot accept, therefore, Lee's reproach of negligence and impiety.
Is it negligence and impiety, if I did not consult manuscripts which
were simply not within my reach? I have at least assembled whatever I
could assemble. Let Lee produce a Greek MS. which contains what my
edition does not contain and let him show that that manuscript was
within my reach. Only then can he reproach me with negligence in
From this passage you can see that
Erasmus does not challenge Lee to
produce a manuscript etc. What
Erasmus argues is that Lee may only
Erasmus with negligence of MSS if he demonstrates that
Erasmus could have consulted any MS. in which the Comma johanneum
Erasmus does not at all ask for a MS. containing the Comma
johanneum. He denies Lee the right to call him negligent and impious
if the latter does not prove that
Erasmus neglected a manuscript to
which he had access.
In short, Rummel's interpretation is simply wrong. The passage she
quotes has nothing to do with a challenge. Also, she cuts the
quotation short, so that the real sense of the passage becomes
unrecognizable. She is absolutely not justified in speaking of a
challenge in this case or in the case of any other passage on the
Textus Receptus commonly refers to one of Erasmus's later
editions or one of the works derived from them. The Schaff-Herzog
Protestant reference published in 1914, offers a quote
on the TR from
Ezra Abbot (1819–84), who worked with Philip Schaff
on the American Revision committee translating from the Westcott-Hort
The textus receptus, slavishly followed, with slight diversities, in
hundreds of editions, and substantially represented in all the
Protestant translations prior to the nineteenth
century, thus resolves itself essentially into that of the last
edition of Erasmus, framed from a few modern and inferior manuscripts
and the Complutensian Polyglot, in the infancy of Biblical criticism.
In more than twenty places its reading is supported by the authority
of no known Greek manuscript.
From a position of defending the Textus Receptus, Edward Freer Hills
would consider this quote from
Ezra Abbot as the "Naturalistic,
Critical View of the Textus Receptus" and summarized his overall
We believe that the formation of the
Textus Receptus was guided by the
special providence of God. There were three ways in which the editors
Textus Receptus Erasmus, Stephanus, Beza, and the Elzevirs,
were providentially guided. In the first place, they were guided by
the manuscripts which
God in His providence had made available to
them. In the second place, they were guided by the providential
circumstances in which they found themselves. Then in the third place,
and most of all, they were guided by the common faith.
History of modern study
Verse debate, 1500 to today
Comma in Codex Ottobonianus (629 Gregory-Aland)
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 Comma Johanneum.
... the authenticity of this passage has been controverted, from
the beginning of the 16th century, down to the present day ... no
passage in the Bible has ever occasioned a dispute so violent and so
general in the Church. Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, Socinians, in
short all Religious Sects whatever, who appeal to the New Testament as
authority, have taken part in the contest.
The history of the Comma in the centuries following the development of
Textus Receptus in the 16th century has been one of initial
general acceptance as scripture, to a period of spirited debate, and
then to the general modern scholarship rejection, with continued
studies and limited exceptions.
Through the early 1800s (Charles Butler analysis)
In 1807 Charles Butler described the dispute to that point as
consisting of three distinct phases.
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." In the 17th century
John Selden in
Latin and Francis
Henry Hammond were English writers with studies on the
Johann Gerhard and
Abraham Calovius from the German Lutherans,
writing in Latin.
Phase 2, 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, Friedrich Kettner,[bf] James Benigne Bossuet, Johann
Majus, Thomas Ittigius, Abraham Taylor 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
Samuel Clarke and
William Whiston and defense of
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.[bg]
Phase 3, Travis and Porson debate
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.[bh]
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." The Griesbach GNT provided an
alternative to the Received Text editions to assist as scholarship
textual legitimacy for opponents of the verse.
Early 19th century scholarship
Butler also mentions Michaelis and Herbert Marsh, along with Adam
Clarke, leading up to the time of his publication. Griesbach included
his Diatribe with his Greek New Testament which omitted the
verse. Frederick Nolan, John Oxlee, William Hales, Thomas Burgess,[bi]
Thomas Turton, William Brownlee and John Jones were among the major
contributors in the third stage in the early 19th century. Also Franz
Anton Knittel was translated into English by William Evanson and
William Aldis Wright
William Aldis Wright wrote a forty-page Appendix that was added to his
translation of Biblical Hermeneutics by Georg Friedrich Seiler. The
principal language of the debate switched from the earlier Latin
preponderance, to more English, and some German.
The next period, from approximately 1835 to 1990, was comparatively
quiet, yet still vibrant.
Some highlights from this era are the Nicholas Wiseman Old
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, 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.[bj] Daniel McCarthy noted the change in position
among the textual scholars,[bk] 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. 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".
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 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.[bl] 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
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.
Recent scholarship to the 21st century
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
King James Version
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
Codex Vaticanus umlauts by Philip Barton Payne and Paul Canart,
senior paleographer at the Vatican Library.[bm] The
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
"There are three that bear record in heaven"
... And the meaning would be, that God, in order to confirm most
abundantly our faith in Christ, testifies in three ways that we ought
to acquiesce in him. For as our faith acknowledges three persons in
the one divine essence, so it is called in so really ways to Christ
that it may rest on him. When he says, "These three are one", he
refers not to essence, but on the contrary to consent; as though he
had said that the Father and his eternal Word and Spirit harmoniously
testify the same thing respecting Christ. Hence some copies have
εἰς ἓν, "for one". But though you read ἓν εἰσιν, as in
other copies, yet there is no doubt but that the Father, the Word and
the Spirit are said to be one, in the same sense in which afterwards
the blood and the water and the Spirit are said to agree in one.
Isaac Newton (1643–1727), best known today for his many
contributions to mathematics and physics, also wrote extensively on
Biblical matters. In a 1690 treatise entitled An Historical Account of
Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture, he summed up the history of the
comma and his own belief that it was introduced, intentionally or by
accident, into a
Latin text during the 4th or 5th century, a time when
he believed the Church to be rife with corruption:
In all the vehement universal and lasting controversy about the
Trinity in Jerome's time and both before and long enough after it,
this text of the 'three in heaven' was never once thought of. It is
now in everybody's mouth and accounted the main text for the business
and would assuredly have been so too with them, had it been in their
Arguments against authenticity from 1808 "improved version"
In the 1808 New Testament in an improved version, upon the basis of
Archbishop Newcome's new translation, which did not contain the Comma
Johanneum, the editors explained their reasons for rejecting the
Textus Receptus for the verse as follows: "1. This text concerning the
heavenly witnesses is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was
written earlier than the fifteenth century. 2. Nor in any Latin
manuscript earlier than the ninth century.[bp] 3. It is not found in
any of the ancient versions. 4. It is not cited by any of the Greek
ecclesiastical writers, though to prove the doctrine of the Trinity
they have cited the words both before and after this text 5. It is not
cited by any of the early
Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon
which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to its
authority. 6. It is first cited by Virgilius Tapsensis, a
of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century, and by him it is
suspected to have been forged.[bq] 7. It has been omitted as spurious
in many editions of the New Testament since the Reformation:—in the
two first of Erasmus, in those of Aldus, Colinaus, Zwinglius, and
lately of Griesbach. 8. It was omitted by Luther in his German
version.[br] In the old English Bibles of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and
Elizabeth, it was printed in small types, or included in brackets: but
between the years 1566 and 1580 it began to be printed as it now
stands; by whose authority, is not known."
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 ἐν
τῷ οὐρανῷ ὁ πατὴρ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ
ἅγιον πνεῦμα ... 8 ... οἱ μαρτυροῦντες
ἐν τῇ γῇ 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) ...
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
According to Johann Bengel, Eugenius Bulgaris, John
Oxlee and Daniel Wallace, each article-participle phrase
(οἱ μαρτυροῦντες) 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 / τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ
τὸ αἷμα) are added.
According to Frederick Nolan, Robert Dabney and Edward
Hills, each article-participle phrase (οἱ
μαρτυροῦντες) 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 / τὸ
πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα) and
therefore must agree with the grammatical gender (masculine / neuter)
of the first subsequent articular noun (ὁ πατὴρ / τὸ
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.
Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Church at the
Council of Trent
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
Latin Vulgate". "On the Catholic side, the Comma appeared in
both the Sixtine (1590) and the Clementine (1592) editions of the
Vulgate, the latter of which became the official Bible of the Roman
Catholic Church." Although the revised
Vulgate contained the
Comma, the earliest known copies did not, leaving the status of the
Comma Johanneum unclear. 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
Pope Leo XIII
Pope Leo XIII approved this decision two days
later, though his approval was not in forma specifica—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
Pope Pius XI decreed that
Comma Johanneum was open to dispute.[bs]
Defenders of authenticity
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
Baptist churches. Many proponents view the Comma as an important
Trinitarian text. 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.
Received text and preservation
In addition, defenders of the verse as Johannine scripture include
many who highly regard the writers coming out of the Puritan movement
and the Reformation era, such as Francis Turretin,
Matthew Henry and
John Gill. These men had defended the verse as scripture in their
Latin, Greek Received Text, English and vernacular Bibles. William
Alleyn Evanson, writing the Preface to Knittel's New Criticisms pp.
xxx–xxxiii expresses the stance that preservation should not be
sacrificed on even one verse.
Thomas Turton (as Clemens Anglicanus)
wrote Remarks upon Mr. Evanson's preface and William Orme summarizes
his counter-arguments to Evanson Memoir of the controversy,
David Martin (French divine) – the French Bible translator who also
defended the authenticity of the Comma Johanneum.
Other disputed New Testament passages
The Longer Ending of Mark
Christ's agony at Gethsemane
Doxology to the Lord's Prayer
Cambridge Paragraph Bible
Cambridge Paragraph Bible of the authorized English version,
published in 1873, and edited by noted textual scholar F.H.A.
Scrivener, one of the translators of the English Revised Version, set
the Comma in italics to reflect its disputed authenticity. Few later
Authorized Version editions retained this formatting. The AV-1611 page
and almost all AV editions use a normal font.
^ For fuller details of this group see King James Versions and
John Hey gives a similar genuine or spurious, expunged or admitted
^ "Jerome, for the same end, inserted the
Trinity in express words
into his version" p. 185 "And the first upon record that inserted it,
is Jerome... he altered the public reading" An Historical Account of
Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture The Recorder, 1803, Vol 2, pp.
192–94 full text pp. 184–253, written by Newton c. 1690. Newton
adds "till at length, when the ignorant ages came on, it began by
degrees to creep into the
Latin copies out of Jerome's version." p.
197 which he places very late. "Afterwards the Latines noted his
variations in the margins of their books; and thence it began at
length to creep into the text in transcribing, and that chiefly in the
twelfth and following centuries, when disputing was revived by the
schoolmen." p. 192 "it was inserted into the vulgar
Latin out of
Jerome's version" p. 207. Nonetheless, Newton does go earlier than
Jerome at the same time for origins, saying of the Tertullian
reference in "Against Praxeas" VI. "So then this interpretation seems
to have been invented by the Montanists for giving countenance to
their Trinity. For
Tertullian was a Montanist when he wrote this; and
it is most likely that so corrupt and forced an interpretation had its
rise among a sect of men accustomed to make bold with the Scriptures.
Cyprian being used to it in his master's writings". Newton called the
Cyprian an "interpretation so corrupt and
stained". Apparently he saw a vector from their interpretation to a
Jerome addition to scripture.
^ Simon's conjecture: "The same thing hapned to those who caused to
print St. Athanasius's Works, with a Table of the passages of Holy
Scripture, which are quoted therein (apparently a reference to the
Synopsis of Scripture). They have set down at large there, the seventh
verse of the first chapter of the first epistle of St. John, as if
that holy man had quoted that place after that manner... (Simon
references the Disputation against Arius at Nicea)... I make no
question but that this explication of St. Athanasius was the occasion
that some Greek scoliates placed in the margin of their copies the
formentioned note, which afterwards was put in the text. And that is
more probable than what
Erasmus thought concerning this matter, who
was of opinion, that the Greek copies, which make mention of the
witness of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were more correct than the
Latin copies. A critical history of the text of the New Testament,
1689, p. 10. The Newton dissertation was written shortly after the
Simon Critical History was published in English.
^ "As to the introduction of the spurious words into the text, Porson
supposes that Tertullian, in imitation of the phrase, I and my Father
are one, had said of the three Persons of the Trinity, which Three are
One; that Cyprian, adopting this application of the words from
Tertullian, said boldly, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, it is
written, And these Three are One; that in the course of two centuries,
when this interpretation had been expressly maintained by Augustin and
others, a marginal note of this sort, Sicut tres sunt qui testimonium
dant in Caelo, Pater, &c., crept into the text of a few copies;
that such a copy was used by the author of the Confession which
Victor, the historian of the Council convened by Hunneric, has
preserved ; and that such another was used by the historian of
the books de Trinitate." The life of Richard Porson, M. A.: professor
of Greek in the University of Cambridge from 1792 to 1808 by John
Selby Watson Charles Forster responded that the mystical
interpretation of the earthly witnesses arose through Augustine, and
Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria shows us the interpretation of verse 8 at
the time of Cyprian. New Plea, Charles Forster, footnote pp. 52–55.
^ That this was written by Orme can be seen by his reference in Memoir
of the Controversy, 1830, where he refers to "the present writer...".
Also the "learned Critic" and "learned reviewer", who had
"triumphantly met" the arguments.
^ a b 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
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
Cyprian Jubaianum references. Scrivener also quoted
Tischendorf about the weightiness of the
gravissimus est Cyprianus de eccles. unitate 5.
^ a b 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
^ Although Pohle calls the Council of Carthage the "main argument" for
Cyprian he notes "It is, as Tischendorf has
rightly observed, by far the weightiest proof for the Comma Ioanneum.
But it does not prove decisively that St.
Cyprian used a New Testament
text which contained the "Comma"; and if it did, it would by no means
follow that the verse was written by St. John." William Laurence
Sullivan argues contra the position of Elie Philippe in La Science
Catholique, 1889, p. 238 that the
Cyprian citation is "perhaps even
peremptory" (conclusive, decisive). Sullivan asserts that if Cyprian's
New Testament contained the Comma, the "probable inference would
simply be that the interpolation is older than we thought." And that
anyway, "this passage of the great African doctor does not suffice to
prove that I John v-7 existed in his day." New York Review, The Three
Heavenly Witnesses p. 182, 1907.
^ Earlier than the Künstle paper, Abbott Ambrose Amelli "unearthed
ancient documents by means of which he believes he has succeeded in
tracing the interpolation to a Priscillianist and therefore heretical
source ; but before he is permitted to publish his results he has
to await the pleasure of the Roman Inquisition." Austin West, Abbe
Loisy and the Roman Biblical Commission, Contemporary Review, p. 504,
1902 Vol 81. Similarly Charles Briggs wrote that Abbe Martin and Dom
Amelli had "more or less guessed and propounded,— that the 'Comma'
was composed in Spain, in 390 a.d., by the Heresiarch Priscillian, to
propagate his Pan-Christian Heresy; and that this gloss, slightly
retouched, then found its way, in part rapidly, into the
Testament." Charles Augustus Briggs and Friedrich von Hügel, The
Papal Commission and the Pentateuch, p. 60, 1906. An example of the
warm reception this theory of direct interpolation by Priscillian
initially received is Caspar René Gregory, who wrote it "appears to
have been put into the New Testament by Priscillian" Biblical World,
The Greek Text in 1611, p. 260, 1911.
William Laurence Sullivan
William Laurence Sullivan opined
that while "the Comma fits into the Trinitarian heresy of
Priscillian", he was "notoriously clever at expressing subtle heresy
in apparently Catholic phraseology" and "is about to gain another
title to an unfortunate immortality as the inventor of the text of the
three heavenly Witnesses." New York Review, The Three Heavenly
Witnesses p. 182, 1907. One problem with
theories was that they make
Priscillian guilty of a transparent
Latin specialist John Chapman reacted sharply to the
Priscillian interpolation idea "I do not at all agree with him
Priscillian actually interpolated the passage himself.
He could hardly in that case have been so foolish as to quote it in
his apology knowing that it would be declared apocryphal. He must have
found it in his Bible..." Notes on the early history of the Vulgate
Gospels, p. 163 1908.
^ a b Before the 1883 publication of Liber Apologetics
only known through the writings of his opponents. In 1905 Karl
Künstle published Das Comma Ioanneum:auf seine herkunft untersucht a
book that proposed that "the insertion of the comma into the text of
the Epistle is due to
Priscillian himself", as summarized by Alan
England Brooke. Brooke references four difficulties with the Künstle
theory cited in the 1909 paper by Ernest Babut., The International
critical commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Alan England Brooke, 1912,
p. 160. The
Priscillian origin theory does show up in net articles
^ Since all scholars agree that the verse was in the Bible of
Priscillian in the 4th century, references to 'medieval' for origin
are anachronistic. e.g. In the Anchor Bible, Epistle of John(1982) p.
782, Raymond Brown writes that "The Vandal movements in the fifth
century brought North Africa and Spain into close relationship, and
the evidence listed above shows clearly that the Comma was known in
those two regions between 380 and 550". This date contradicts the idea
of a medieval gloss origin.
^ In another paper, Daniel Wallace gives this explanation: "The
passage made its way into our Bibles through political pressure,
appearing for the first time in 1522, even though scholars then knew
as they do now that it was not authentic. The early church did not
know of this text..."
^ Voltaire, A Philosophical Dictionary: from the French, Volume 6'',
1824 edition, p. 290.
Voltaire mixed up the two verses, as noted by
John Hey in his Lectures in Divinity, Vol 2, 1st ed in 1797, Appendix,
"Concerning the Genuineness of 1 John v 7" p 281.
^ "throughout the vast series of one thousand and four hundred years,
which intervened between the days of Praxeas, and the age of Erasmus,
not a single author whether Patripassian, Cerinthian, Ebionite, Arian,
Macedonian, or Sabellian, whether of the Greek or Latin, whether of
the Eastern, or Western church— whether in Asia, Africa or Europe,
hath ever taxed the various quotations of this verse, which have been
set forth in the preceding pages, with interpolation or forgery. Such
silence speaks, most emphatically speaks, in favor of the verse, now
in dispute." George Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon, 1785, pp.
319–20 The value of this opposing "evidence from silence" became a
part of the verse debate,
Richard Porson responding in his letters
Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, 1790, p 372
^ Thomas Belsham: "every man of learning and inquiry knows, that the
famous text 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," is
an impious forgery: and to them it appears to be little less than
blasphemy, to retain this forgery in a book which is represented to be
inspired... Unitarians, therefore, are... discarding what they
discover and conscientiously believe to be spurious and fictitious,
that they conceive that they are by this conduct expressing the
greatest possible veneration for them, and the unspeakable value which
they set upon the pure, unadulterated Word of God." An address to the
inquirers after Christian truth, 1813, pp. 4–5.
Edward Nares replied
to the Belsham claim "it is very rudely called 'an impious forgery,'
which it has certainly never been proved to be." Remarks on the
Version of the NT edited by the Unitarians, 1814, p. 248. Earlier, in
1804, the editor of the works of Ebionite Joseph Priestley, John
Towill Rutt, called the verse a "pious fraud", Works, Vol 14, 1804, p.
34 although the wording of Priestley himself had been measured and not
of that accusatory nature. The 1808 'Improved Version' had the
equivocal "Virgilius Tapsensis... by him it is suspected to have been
forged.", an accusation discarded when the
Priscillian citation was
^ In the latter 1800s, notable was Robert Blackley Drummond,
biographer of Erasmus. Drummond referred to a "notable forgery" in
Erasmus, his Life and Character, p. 318, 1873. And his The text
concerning the Three Heavenly Witnesses: An interpolation was
published by the British and Foreign Unitarian Association in 1862.
Drummond also wrote in the Theological Review, including comments on
the New Plea by Charles Forster. The editor of the Theological Review
was Charles Beard, son of John Relly Beard. John in the 1870
Theological Review listed ten Unitarian New Testaments, all without
the verse, and used the phrase "manifest forgery".
^ F C. Conybeare, History of New Testament Criticism, 1910, pp.
91–98. (title in Table of Contents). The section on the heavenly
witnesses was followed by his accusation that "in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" in Matthew 28:19 had
similarly been "revised and interpolated by orthodox copyists" and
that "we can trace their perversions of the text... expose the fraud."
Conybeare also took textual positions that were related to his unusual
position on the virgin birth.
^ Guyse, with acknowledgement to John Mill and the Matthew Henry
Commentary of John Reynolds, also expresses some of the internal and
stylistic arguments from the perspective of authenticity defense: "If
we drop this verse, and join the 8th to the 6th, it looks too like a
tautology, and the beauty and propriety of the connection is lost, as
may appear to any that attentively read the 6th and 8th verses
together, leaving out the 7th; and they do not give us near so noble
an introduction of the witnesses, as our present reading doth; no make
the visible opposition to some witnesses elsewhere, as is manifestly
suggested in the words, And there are three that bear witness in
earth, ver 8. But all stands in a natural and elegant order, if we
take in the 7th verse, which is very agreeable, and almost peculiar to
the style and sentiments of our apostle, who, of all others, delights
in these titles, the Father and the Word, and who is the only sacred
writer that records our Lord's words, in which he speaks of the
Spirit's testifying of him, and glorifying him by receiving of his
things and shewing them to his disciples and says, I and my father are
one. (John x. 30. xv. 26 and xvi.14)."
^ Exceptions to this common understanding include Johannes Bugenhagen
(1485–1558), Pastor and student of Martin Luther, who called the
verse an "Arian blasphemy", see Franz Posset. Hugo Grotius
(1583–1645) in his NT Annotations considered the verse an Arian
addition Neque vero Arianis ablatas voces quasdam, sed potius additas.
And John Jones (Ben David) was a non-Trinitarian who defended the
verse in the Monthly Review (1826). Others have considered the
historical inclusion/omission debate to be far more nuanced as well.
Edward Freer Hills (1912–1981) in the
King James Version
King James Version Defended
Ch. 8, 1956 hypothesized that the verse may have been allowed to drop
from the Greek line by Trinitarians who saw the verse as favorable to
Sabellianism. See also Frederick Nolan (1784–1864) in Ch 6 of An
Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek
Vulgate 1815. Nolan offers an
explanation with similarities to the later Hills conjecture,
including: "the orthodox were so far from having any inducement to
appeal to this text, that they had every reason to avoid an allusion
to it, as it apparently favored the tenets of their opponents ...
Sabellianism ... absolutely derives support from the text of the
heavenly witnesses".Inquiry, p.536-538 And "the preference shewn by
the orthodox to the text of the earthly witnesses, over that of the
heavenly, needs no palliation from the circumstance of the one text
being unquestioned, and the other of doubtful authority, in the age
when those points were debated." Inquiry p.551 Nolan thus claimed that
"the negative argument adduced against 1 John v. 7. derives its entire
strength from an inattention to the true state of that controversy,
and the period for which it prevailed." Inquiry p.543 Thomas Turton,
opposing verse authenticity, used this Nolan argument against the
position of supporter Thomas Burgess, A Vindication of the Literary
Character 1827, p. 257. And Henry Thomas Armstrong (1836–1898) in
Chapter 4 of The three witnesses, the disputed text in st. John p.
29-37 (1883) offers an analysis of why orthodox Trinitarians could see
the verse as unhelpful in doctrinal discussions, concluding that "to
have arrayed the verse in the lines of their defence would have been
simply a blunder in advocacy" (p. 37). The early usage by the
Priscillian is also discordant to the common
understanding, and led to the Karl Künstle theory that the verse was
a non-Trinitarian Unionite interpolation.
^ '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.
^ An example from Porter, referencing the 1707 analysis of John Mill:
"Mill is equally explicit with regard to many of the Fathers of the
Latin Church; for example, he admits that the following knew
nothing of the three Heavenly Witnesses; the Author of the Treatise on
the Baptism of Heretics, usually printed with the works of Cyprian;
Novatian, in his book upon the Trinity; Hilary, who in his Twelve
Books upon the Trinity, and other treatises against the Arians,
accumulates together a great many quotations out of the sacred books,
often less suitable to his purpose, but keeps a deep silence upon this
text; Lucifer of Cagliari, in his book against Intercourse with
Heretics; Phoeobadius in his book against the Arians; Ambrose, in his
manifold writings against Arianism, in which he quotes the 6th and 8th
verses at full length, but omits the 7th altogether; Jerome, who in
his acknowledged works, never makes any mention of this clause. It is
indeed insinuated that this passage was to be found in all the Greek
MSS. though absent from all the
Latin ones, in a Prologue to the
Catholic Epistles, which pretends to have been written by Jerome; but
Mill, Bengel, and others confess this prologue to be a forgery.
Faustinus takes no notice of the text in his work upon the Trinity
against the Arians; Augustine, in his book against Maximin the Arian,
turns every stone to find arguments from the Scriptures to prove that
the Spirit is God, ... Eucherius of Lyons, in his Questions on the New
Testament, repeats the same mystical explanation; Facundus of
Hermiana, gives a similar gloss, and says the passage was so
understood by Cyprian; Leo the Great, Junilius, Cerealis, and Bede,
pass the 7th verse unmentioned.
^ . 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.
^ Travis references
Jerome as writing approvingly of the confession.
George Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon, 1785 p. 108. The
"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.
^ 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.
^ "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
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.'"
^ 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".
^ 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
^ While mentioning the usage of Son instead of Word as a possible
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 Arianos, Epistles of John p. 784, 1982.
^ 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.
^ 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 (
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.
^ 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)...
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.
^ .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
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".)
^ 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.
^ Stanley Lawrence Greenslade, Early
Latin Theology: Selections from
Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and
Jerome 1956, p. 164. The
"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?"
^ 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.
^ 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."
^ 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
^ Liber Apologetics given in Maynard p. 39 "The quote as given by A.
E. (Alan England) Brooke from (Georg) Schepps, Vienna Corpus, xviii.
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.'"
^ 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.
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.
^ "It seems plain that the passage of St,
Cyprian was lying open
before the Priscillianist author of the Creed (
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
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ 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. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers,
1970 Volume 3. pp. 291–292.
^ 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.
^ At the time of the correspondence of
Erasmus with Lee and Stunica,
Vulgate Prologue was the single principle early church writing
evidence discussed. Evidences like Cyprian's Unity of the Church and
the Council of Carthage were either unavailable or omitted in the
Erasmus accepted this Prologue as from Jerome, and accused
Jerome of falsifying the scripture.
^ When the theory was originally promulgated the earliest extant
Vulgate with the Prologue was dated to no earlier than the 800s.
Raymond Brown indicates modern attributions for the conjectured
Prologue authorship as "Vincent of Lerini (d. 450) and to Peregrinus
(Künstle, Ayuso Marazuela), the fifth-century Spanish editor of the
Vg." The Epistles of John pp.782–783, 1982.
^ Fuldensis could be accurately dated as very close to 546 AD, much
closer to the lifetime of
Jerome 347–420. Fuldensis was a manuscript
copied under the ecclesiastical leadership of Victor of Capua. In Nov.
Thomas Joseph Lamy in the American Ecclesiastical Review, The
Decision of the Holy Office on the
Comma Johanneum , reviewed on pp.
Vulgate Prologue. Lamy emphasized how Codex Fuldensis
strengthened the case for Jerome's authorship of the Prologue. Even
before the Fuldensis discovery, Antoine Eugène Genoud in the Sainte
Bible commentary described the reasons given for claiming a forgery as
frivoles (i.e. frivolous). Sainte Bible en latin et en français,
Volume 5, 1839, pp.681–682.
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.
^ Lamy says that in going through 1 John 5
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."
^ Shortly after the Maffei publication, in 1722, George Wade wrote of
the significance of the
Cassiodorus scholarship and reference: "And
what have the Arians to say to this? Is this a forged Piece of
Cassiodorus? No. Did he read it only in some corrupted copies of his
own Age. The Character of the man will let us suspect this. How
pressing is he with those of his Monastery to make use of the very
best M.S. and such as had been carefully collated with, and corrected
by the Greek Text.; nay not only so, but that, in all doubtful places,
they should be govern'd by the Authority of two or three ancient
copies...... let us never hear more of this verse, being intruded into
the version of St. Jerom. Tis evident from innumerable places of these
Commentaries, that St. Jerom's was not the Translation he made Use of,
but one a great deal older; and yet it no less evidently appears, that
this Passage was found in it. A short inquiry into the doctrine of the
Trinity, as it is laid down in Holy Scripture, p. 86, 1722. George
Wade also looked closely at the question as to whether this was
Cassiodorus using the Greek writing of Clement of Alexandria,
from 200 AD, as indicated by the "learned Dupin".
^ 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"
^ "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
Erasmus – Paraphrase on the
First Epistle of John
First Epistle of John Translator John
^ The text shown in this photograph is part of 1 John chapter 5, from
mid-verse 3 to mid-verse 10.
^ 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.
^ 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
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)
^ 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
^ In 1822 Thomas Burgess published Adnotationes Millii which compiled
in one spot writings on the verse sections by John Mill, Wetstein,
Bengel, John Selden, Matthaei, John Fell and others.
^ 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. Talmage, New York Times,
June 6, 1881]. See also Peter Johannes Thuesen, In Discordance with
the Scriptures: American
Protestant Battles Over Translating the Bible
2002, p. 54.
^ 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.
^ Oft-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.
^ 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
^ 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
Eberhard Nestle wrote 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.
^ Newton accused
Jerome as being the likely source of the heavenly
witnesses, asserting that
Jerome "inserted the
Trinity in express
words into his version ... the first upon record that inserted it, is
Jerome: if the preface to the canonical epistles, which goes under his
name, be his. ... he altered the public reading". Nonetheless, Newton
did acknowledge many other references in the time of the doctrinal
battles, including "Eugenius bishop of Carthage, in the seventh year
of Hunneric king of the Vandals, anno Christi 484, in the summary of
his faith exhibited to the king ... Fulgentius, another African
bishop, disputing against the same Vandals, cited it again, and backed
it with the fore-mentioned place of
Cyprian ... It occurs also
frequently in Vigilius Tapsensis, another African bishop, contemporary
to Fulgentius ... the feigned disputation of Athanasius with Arius at
Nice." The pre-
Priscillian reference was unknown at the time.
And Newton's handling of
Cyprian is complex, as he accepted the
Cyprian text linguistically, but rejected it textually only on the
perceived lack of additional supporting evidences: "These places of
Cyprian being, in my opinion, genuine, seem so apposite to prove the
testimony of the Three in heaven, that I should never have suspected a
mistake in it, could I but have reconciled it with the ignorance I
meet with of this reading in the next age." As to the Newton
historical summary quote above, George Travis addressed this in
Edward Gibbon (1785) p. 264.
^ The Freisinger Fragments, dated from the 5th to 7th centuries, were
published in 1876 by Zeigler and were not known at the time of this
list of negative evidences in 1808. Similarly, the 7th-century dating
Codex Legionensis was not assigned until the 20th century.[citation
Priscillian citation was discovered and published in the latter
1800s, fully refuting this unusual conjecture of Virgilius Tapsensis
forgery. And leading to new, albeit short-lived, theories of
Priscillian as the verse author, as described in the article.
^ In a commentary on the Epistle in later years, Luther relates to the
heavenly witnesses as scripture: "This is the testimony in heaven,
which is afforded by three witnesses—is in heaven, and remaineth in
heaven. This order is to be carefully noted; namely, that the witness
who is last among the witnesses in heaven, is first among the
witnesses on earth, and very properly... (John) appeals to a twofold
testimony :the one is in heaven, the other on earth... this
divine testimony is twofold. It is given partly in heaven, partly on
earth: that given in heaven has three witnesses, the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost: the other, given on earth, has also three witnesses;
namely, the spirit, the water, and the blood." Knittel pp. 93–95
^ "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
^ a b Metzger, Bruce. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament
UBS (1971) p. 716f
^ "The New Testament in an Improved Version" (Boston reprinting of the
London ed.). Boston: Thomas B Wait. 1809.
^ a b White, James R. (1995). The King James Only Controversy (2009
ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group.
^ Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament,
2nd ed., (Stuttgart: Deusche Bibelgesellschaft/German Bible Society,
^ Missal De Mateus, (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkain, 1975),
^ NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV translations.
^ Nova Vulgata, Epistula I Ioannis.
^ Du Pin, Luis Ellis, A compleat history of the canon and writers of
the books of the Old and New Testament, p. 79 .
^ Reynolds, John (1803), "1 John",
Matthew Henry Commentary, 5,
Exposition of All the Books, pp. 644–45 . The Commentary
emphasized internal arguments for authenticity; completed after Henry
died, as explained on Puritanboard.
^ Hey, John (1796), Lectures in Divinity, pp. 289–90.
^ Kohlmann, Anthony (1821), Unitarianism philosophically and
theologically examined, p. 173, There are several ways of
accounting for that omission and among others, it may be said, 1st,
that this omission happened by the neglect of some ignorant copyists,
who, after having written the first words of the 7th verse 'there are
three, that give testimony', by a mistake of the eyes, skipped over
the remaining part of the text, and passed on to the immediately
following text, where the same words recur; for such mistakes often
take place in transcribing, especially when the two verses and the two
periods begin and end with the same words. Another reason of this
omission is given by the author of the prologue to the seven Catholic
Vulgate Prologue section translation)... By these words
he not obscurely alludes to the Marcionites or Arians, who designedly
erased this verse from all the copies they could get into their hands;
for they well understood that by that one testimony their cause was
undone. With a like perfidy, St. Ambrose, (lib. iii de spiritu sancto
cap. 10.) reproaches the Arians, who had expunged these words from the
God is a Spirit, 'Which passage, says the holy
doctor addressing the Arians, you so well know to be understood of the
Holy Ghost, that you have erased it from the copies of your
scriptures, and would to God! you had only expunged it from yours and
not also from those of the church.
^ Marshall, Ian Howard (1978), The Epistles of John, p. 78, The
addition appears to rest on allegorical exegesis of the three
witnesses in the text; it was probably written in the margin of a
Latin MS and then found its way into the text; later still the order
of the two sets of witnesses was inverted and the text was translated
back into Greek and was included in a few Greek MSS. .
^ Armfield, Henry (1883), The Three Witnesses, the Disputed Text in
St. John, p. 36, it was the opinion of Grotius that, so far from
being apposite to the argument of the Greek Fathers, the text was
introduced by the Arians, so that from the analogy of the adjoining
verse they might argue that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were one only
in consent and not in essence. .
^ Richard Simon, A critical history of the text of the New Testament,
1689 p. 123.
^ Rob Iliffe, Friendly Criticism: Richard Simon, John Locke, Isaac
Newton and the Johannine Comma 2006, p. 143 in Scripture and
^ William Craig Brownlee, On the Authenticity of 1 John v.7 Christian
Advocate 1825, p. 167
^ Richard Porson, Letters to Travis, 1829, p. 61.
^ Thomas Turton, A Vindication of the Literary Character of Richard
Porson, 1824, p.124. Griesbach: "Igitur comma controversum septimum
praecipue, ne dicam unice, nititur testimonio, fide et auctoritate
Vigilii Tapsensis, et librorum huic attributurum auctori, ante quem
nemo clare id excitavit."
^ John Oxlee, On the Heavenly Witnesses, Christian Remembrancer 1822,
^ John Selby Watson The life of
Richard Porson 1861, p. 73
^ Scrivener, Plain Introduction, pp. 461–62, 1861.
^ Joseph Barber Lightfoot, On a Fresh Revision of the English New
Testament, p. 25, 1871.
^ Léon Labauche,
God and man; lectures on dogmatic theology, 1916 p.
^ Alan England Brooke, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Johannine Epistles, p. 198, 1912
^ Alan England Brooke, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Johannine Epistles, p. 163, 1912
^ The Harvard theological review, Volume 15, 1922, p. 159
^ Raymond Brown, The Gospel and Epistles of John: A Concise Commentary
p. 120, 1988.
^ Raymond Brown, Epistles of John, p. 130, 1982.
^ Jaroslav Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It? A Short History of the
Scriptures, Penguin Books Ltd, 2005, p. 15
Bruce Metzger writes: "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." A Textual Commentary of
the Greek New Testament (2002/1971), p. 648.
^ The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7–8
^ Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Christian Research Journal, 2006, vol 29, #3.
^ A calm inquiry into the Scripture doctrine concerning the person of
Christ, p. 333, 1817.
^ Israel Worsley, An enquiry into the origin of Christmas-Day, 1820,
p.66. The British Review reviewed the controversy and spoke of such
phrases as "tokens of intellectual weakness... culpable imbecility of
mind". The Unitarian Controversy, 1821, p. 165.
^ Robert Taylor: "admitted on all hands to be forgeries ... Acts xx.
28.—1 Timothy iii. 10.—1 John v. 7.—These are admitted to be of
the utmost importance, bearing on the most essential doctrines, yet
are wilful and wicked interpolations.." The diegesis: being a
discovery of the origin, evidences, and early history of Christianity,
p.421, 1829. See also Syntagma of the Evidences, p.44, 1828
^ Everard Bierrer, The Evolution of Religions, p. 290, 1906.
^ Philip Schaff. History of the Christian Church. A.D. 1–311., 1888,
Charles Taze Russell
Charles Taze Russell The Fact and Philophy of the Atonement, 1899,
^ Preserved Smith, The age of the reformation, 1920, p. 564
^ Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns, John Milton: Life, Work, and
Thought, 2008, p. 378.
^ God: A Literary and Pictorial History, 2003.
^ Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 1996, p. 45.
^ Vindiciiœ Priestleianœ, p. 227, 1788.
^ Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall, American Church Review, Vol 29 pp.
509–528 The genuineness of I. John, v. 7 proved by neglected
witnesses, 1877, from pp.511, 523.
^ John Painter, Daniel J. Harrington. 1, 2, and 3 John
^ a b c d
Catholic Encyclopedia Vol 8 of 15, Epistles of St John,
Walter Drum, 1910 pp. 435–438, Chief Editor Charles George
Herbermann. Online HTML for this section of the Catholic Encyclopedia
at newadvent.org. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor.
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
^ NA26: mss 61, 629, 918, 2318, besides in mss. 88, 221, 429, 636 as
^ 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."
^ a b c Mann, Theodore H. (January–March 2001). "Translation
Problems in the KJV New Testament". Journal of Biblical Studies. 1
(1). ISSN 1534-3057. Archived from the original on 1 November
2010. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
^ "Fragments of Clemens Alexandrius", translated by Rev. William
Wilson, section 3.
^ Eclogae propheticae 13.1Ben David, Monthly Review, 1826 p. 277)
^ Bengel, John Gill, Ben David and Thomas Burgess
^ 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"
^ Arthur Cleveland Coxe,
Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
1903, p.631 English on p. 621, left column, bottom.
^ John Kaye, The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third
Centuries, Illustrated from the Writings of
Tertullian 1826. p. 550.
^ Nolan, Inquiry, p. 297 Although Nolan does study the Praxeas
citation in some depth independently.
^ Daniel McCarthy, Epistles and Gospels of the Sunday, 1866, p.514.
^ a b c d Georg Strecker, The Johannine Letters (Hermeneia);
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. ‘Excursus: The Textual Tradition
of the "Comma Johanneum"’.
^ 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
^ Documents in Early Christian Thought, editors Maurice Wiles and Mark
Santer, 1977, p.178,
Latin Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum
Latinorum Selecta 1839.
^ 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
^ Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek Note on
Selected Readings, 1 John v 7,8, 1882, p104.
^ Horne, critical study 1933, p. 451
^ Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, translated by Ernest Cushing
Richardson, footnote: "Bishop 353, died about 392".
^ 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
^ Griesbach, Diatribe, p. 700
^ Introduction historique et critique aux libres de Nouveau Testament
^ 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
^ Epistles of John, 1982, p. 785.
^ 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
^ e.g. Franz Anton Knittel, Thomas Burgess, Arthur-Marie Le Hir,
Francis Patrick Kenrick, Charles Forster and Pierre Rambouillet
^ 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.
^ Principles of Textual Criticism, p. 506, 1820.
Thomas Joseph Lamy The Decision of the Holy Office on the "Comma
Joanneum" pp.449–483 American ecclesiastical review, 1897.
^ Thomas Burgess, A vindication of I John, V. 7, p.46, 1821.
^ The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, Vol 3, The Second Session, pp.
22–23, 2005, Richard Price, editor
^ Edward Rochie Hardy
Christology of the Later Fathers 1954, p. 368
^ Richard Porson, Letters to Archdeacon Travis 1790 p.378
^ Letters to Archdeacon Travis 1790 p. 401
^ Thomas Burgess, An introduction to the controversy on the disputed
verse of st. John, 1835, p. xxvi
^ Thomas Burgess, An introduction to the controversy on the disputed
verse of st. John, 1835, p. xxxi
^ Robert Ernest Wallis, translator, The writings of Cyprian, Bishop of
Carthage, Volume 1 1868, p. 382
^ 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".
^ Westcott and Hort The New Testament in the Original Greek, p. 104,
Franz Anton Knittel
Franz Anton Knittel New Criticisms on the Celebrated Text 1785 p. 34
^ Philip Sellew, Critica Et Philologica, 2001, p. 94
^ The Church Review p. 625-641, 1874., The Genuineness of I John v. 7,
Scholium on pp.634–635
^ Richard Porson, Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, p.234, 1790.
^ Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, p.544 first published in 1703.
^ English translation by Richard Porson, also given in Charles
Forster's New Plea. Greek text, Disputation Contra Arium
^ Kaiserl.[lichen] Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien; Corpus
scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (1866) Vol XVIII, p. 6.
^ Introduction to the New Testament, Vol. 3, 1909.
^ The Codex Muratorianus, Journal of Theological Studies, 1907
^ Alan England Brooke, A critical and exegetical commentary on the
Johannine epistles, 1912, pp.158–159
^ Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament, Vol 3, 1909, p. 372
^ Raymond Brown, The Epistles of John, the Anchor Yale Bible
Commentary, 1982 p. 782.
^ 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
^ 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
^ Raymond Brown, Anchor Bible, Epistles of John pp. 782–783.
^ 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.
^ 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".
^ "William Hales, Antijacobin Review, Sabellian Controversy, Letter
XII, 1816 p. 595
^ Thomas Burgess, Letter to the Reverend Thomas Beynon 1829, p.649.
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."
^ Alban Butler, The lives of the fathers, martyrs, and other principal
saints, Volume 1(1846) and is referenced by Karl Künstle as
^ Charles Vincent Dolman,
Dublin Review Recent Evidences in Support of
1 John v.7., p. 428, 1887.
^ Brooke Foss Westcott, The Epistles of St. John, p. 205, 1905.
^ a b Raymond Brown, Anchor Bible, Epistle of John Appendix IV: The
Johannine Comma pp. 776–87 (1982)
^ A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, p. 717, 1971.
^ Codex Fuldensis. Novum Testamentum Latine, interprete Hieronymo, ex
MS edited by Ernst Constantin Ranke, 1868.
^ William Wright, Biblical hermeneutics, 1835, p.640.
^ Daniel M'Carthy The Epistles and Gospels of the Sundays 1866, p.
521. (Patrolog. Lat. ed. Migne), Tom. lxxxiii. p. 1203).
^ Arthur-Marie Le Hir, Les Trois Témoins Célestes Études bibliques,
^ 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
^ David Harrower, A Defence of the Trinitarian System, 1822 pp.43–44
^ Fourth Lateran Council – 1215 A.D.
^ As explained by Thomas Joseph Lamy, American Ecclesiastical Review,
The Decision of the Holy Office, 1897, pp. 478–479.
^ 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
^ Samuel Berger, Histoire de la
Vulgate pendant les premiers siècles
du moyen âge, 1893 pp. 103–105
Johann Leonhard Hug
Johann Leonhard Hug Introduction to the New Testament, p. 475, 1827.
^ Grantley McDonald, "Raising the Ghost of Arius: Erasmus, the
Johannine comma and Religious Difference in Early Modern Europe", PhD
Dissertation, Universiteit Leiden, 2011. Grantley McDonald, "Erasmus
and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5.7-8)," The Bible Translator 67
^ John Jack Bateman (1931–2011), editor. Opera omnia :
recognita ed adnotatione critica instructa notisque illustrata, 1997,
Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum", Ephemerides Theologicae
Lovanienses, lvi: 381–9, 1980 .
^ Underlines in original replaced with italics. Henk de Jonge, letter
received by and cited from Michael Maynard with permission to be
quoted from de Jonge, A History of the Debate over 1 John 5:7,8, 1995,
p. 383 (insert added to 382-page-book distribution, after printing,
not in all copies, also published by David Cloud online). The earlier
1980 Henk de Jonge paper is online:
Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum,
^ "History of the Printed Text", in: New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of
Religious Knowledge, Vol. II: Basilica – Chambers, p. 106 ff.
^ Edward Freer Hills, The
Textus Receptus and the King James Bible
Archived 28 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Chapter Eight, 1956
Franz Anton Knittel
Franz Anton Knittel New criticisms 1829, p. 1
^ Charles Butler Horae Biblicae, 1807 p. 257
^ Thomas Burgess A Letter to Mr. Thomas Beynon 1829, p. xii.
^ Thomas Smith, Integritas loci 1 Jo. V, 7, 1690.
^ 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.
^ 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.
^ John William Burgon, Lives of Twelve Good Men, Volume 1 Martin
Joseph Routh, the Learned Divine, p. 37, 1788.
^ Griesbach, Diatribe
^ Arthur-Marie Le Hir. Les Trois Témoins Célestes Études bibliques,
1869, pp. 1–89.
^ 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.
^ The Revision of the New Testament
Dublin Review, 1981, pp. 140–43.
^ John Calvin, Commentaries on the catholic epistles, tr. and ed. by
John Owen, 1855, p. 258.
^ Newton Project, Newton's Views on the Corruptions of Scripture and
^ Two Notable Corruptions p. 17.
^ New Testament in an improved version, upon the basis of Archbishop
Newcome's new translation, 1808, London, p. 563.
^ 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.
^ Eugenius Bulgaris (1716–1806), a letter that Eugenius wrote in
John Oxlee (1779–1854), pages 136, 138, 260 in the 1822 (volume 4)
edition of the Christian Remembrancer journal
^ 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.
^ Frederick Nolan (1784–1864), pages 257, 260 565 in his 1815 book,
An Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate
^ 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)
^ Edward Hills (1912–81), page 169 in his 1956 book, The King James
^ 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"
Isaac Newton An historical account of two notable corruptions of
scripture: in a letter to a friend (1841) Originally written by Newton
c. 1690, first published in English 1754.
Thomas Emlyn A full inquiry into the original authority of that text,
I John v. 7. There are three that bear record in
Includes Martin and Emlyn
David Martin The genuineness of the text of the first Epistle of saint
John. chap. v. [verse]. 7., tr. from the French (1722)
Franz Anton Knittel
Franz Anton Knittel New criticisms on the celebrated text, 1 John v.
7, a synodical lecture, translated from the German by William Alleyn
Evanson (1785 German, 1829 English, some original material from
Richard Porson Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, in answer to his
defence of the three heavenly witnesses, I John v 7 – (1790)
Adnotationes Millii(1822) Compilation of material in
Latin from Mill,
Wetstein, Bengel, Bentley, Selden, Christian Frederick Matthaei,
Christian Friedrich Schmidt and others. Thomas Burgess, editor
William Orme (Criticus) Memoir of the controversy respecting the three
heavenly witnesses, I John v. 7: including critical notices of the
principal writers on both sides of the discussion (1830, 1867, 1869,
Ezra Abbot editor)
Thomas Burgess An introduction to the controversy on the disputed
verse of st. John 1835
Charles Forster, A New Plea for the Authenticity of the Text of the
Three Heavenly Witnesses; or, Porson's letters to Travis eclectically
examined and the external and internal evidences for 1 John V, 7
eclectically re-surveyed (1867)
Thomas Horne and Samuel Tregelles (revision and editing beginning
1856) An introduction to the critical study and knowledge of the Holy
Scriptures 1877, pp. 355–88 on the Reading of 1 John v. 7,
Bibliography begins p. 384
Henry Thomas Armstrong The three witnesses : The disputed text in
St. John : considerations new and old (1883)
Michael Maynard A History of the Debate over 1 John 5:7–8: a Tracing
of the Longevity of the Comma Johanneum, with Evaluations of Arguments
Against its Authenticity (1995)
Joseph Levine, The Autonomy of History: Truth and Method from Erasmus
to Gibbon, (1999) Ch. 2. Philology and History:
Erasmus and the
Johannine Comma, Ch. 9, Travis versus Gibbon, Ch. 10 Porson vs. Travis
Grantley McDonald, "
Erasmus and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5.7-8),"
The Bible Translator 67 (2016): 42-55
Grantley McDonald, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus,
the Johannine Comma, and Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2016)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Comma Johanneum.
Comma Johanneum in Manuscript Comparator – allows two or more New
Testament manuscript editions' readings of the passage to be compared
in side-by-side and unified views (similar to diff output)
LaParola apparatus for 1 John 5:7 compiled by Richard Wilson
The Johannine Comma, Greek Manuscript Evidence, compiled by David
Bible.org: The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7–8 by Daniel B. Wallace.
Comma Johanneum and
Cyprian by Daniel B. Wallace.
Response to Daniel Wallace Regarding 1 John 5:7 by Martin A. Shue, on
Latin Manuscript Evidence Concerning 1 John 5:7–8 (1998) A Debate
between Dr. Gregory S. Neal and Dr. Thomas Holland
Grantley McDonald, Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus,
the Johannine Comma, and Trinitarian Debate (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2016)
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