comments on five James Snapp posts at The Text of the Gospels

Steven Avery

1. The Text of the Gospels: Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum

Steven Avery
Some comments about the above placed here:

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Steven Avery
James Snapp
"I propose that the arrangement of the witnesses in First John 5:8 was adjusted "

This is against the evidence in the same era.

Origen - Commentary on John
Clement Alexandria - Adumbrationes through Cassiodorus
Treatise on Rebaptism (3rd century)
Pope Eusebius (c. 309)

All of these have our spirit-water-blood order.

And I would suggest that your attempt to use transposition as part of your argument be retired :) .

April 3, 2020 at 10:23 PM
James Snapp Jr said...
Steven Avery,

<< This is against the evidence in the same era. >>

How you imagine that I meant that the adjustment occurrec everywhere, I have no idea. It occurred in the particular Old Latin transmission-stream, where we see the CJ emerge later. As Plainly Shown via the examples I listed.

<< All of these have our spirit-water-blood order. >>

And they're not in the same OL transmission-stream that later produced the CJ. Is it really that hard to see the connection? The transposition and the CJ go together, and the transmission-stream where the are together is a North Africa Latin transmission-stream.

Which is why it's not in the Greek transmission-lines that weren't affected later by Latin retro-translation. The CJ originated as a Latin reading, not as a Greek reading.

Steven Avery
Hi James,

By far the closest match in locale and time is the:

Treatise on Rebaptism - spirit, water, blood
which is even thought to have been directed towards the teachings of Cyprian. So it is far away the most important, and it contradicts your proposal.


James Snapp
"transmission-stream where the are together is a North Africa Latin transmission-stream."

Jerome is clearly not a North African transmission line, and 150 years later.
Plus you try, with great difficulty, to make the Prologue even later, geography and author unknown, and then landing with Victor of Capua in Italy. Still waiting for your reasons, have asked many times.)

Eucherius was Lyon, not North African.
Cassiodorus was Rome, not North Africa.

Plus you are cherry-picking, also going hundreds of years later, and leaving out other writers.

Here is a fuller list (I am even giving you a bit you can add on the transpose side.)


Augustine - Contra Maximinum - spirit, water, blood

Hesychius - spirit, water, blood

Leo to Flavium - spirit, water, blood

Ambrose - two methods, at least
On the Holy Spirit - spirit, water, blood
On the Mysteries - water, blood spirit - also Luke commentary

Ambrosius - water, blood, spirit

Codex Fuldensis - spirit, water, blood

Cyprian De Duplici Martyrio ad Fortunatum - spirit, water, blood
(possibly written by Erasmus)

Pope Eusebius - spirit, blood,water

Facundus - spirit, water, blood

There are others that I am not checking now, like the twelve books on the Trinity, however the above should make it clear that your theory was cherry-picking.

Then you go into later writers, with totally different order and text, and some do not even have spirit. Why do you think the water becomes the Father in your analogy leap? Please try to give your reasoning.

Here is the rest of your short grab-bag, after the Prologue and Eucherius, with three different orders.

● Cassiodorus: “water, blood, and spirit.”
● Etherius of Osma - 700’s (“the water and the blood and the flesh”),
● Contra Varimadum (“the water, the blood, and the flesh”).
● Priscillian (“water, flesh, and blood”).

Anyway, you can conjecture anything, that is your right. However the African transmission line theory, of having a different order that might somehow help the leaping analogy theory of verse creation does not fit the 'facts on the ground'. Once we stop the cherry-picking. :)

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY, USA

April 5, 2020 at 1:51 PM
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Steven Avery

1. The Text of the Gospels: Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum

Still on #1 - The Facebook post

Steven Avery shared a link.
Admin · September 25, 2016
James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses
ADDED - EASIER READ - 12/21/2018
Pure Bible Forum
Heavenly Witnesses
James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses - Proverbs 18:17…
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum - James Snapp…/cyprian-and-comma-joha….
Lets go over this article by James Snapp.
"Comma Johanneum in Greek manuscripts is staggeringly poor."
Virtually all these mss are late, and the Greek Byzantine text had normalized on omission. So, how many are before 500 AD? 700 AD? 800 AD? (you can even include the SInaiticus 1800s ms). That information is critical in such a discussion of the significance of omission.
"The Latin support for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum is plentiful, and its earliest components are only slightly later than the earliest manuscript-evidence for non-inclusion."
This "slightly later" is absurd, as it is circular to the Snapp later lack of logic.
Cyprian is clearly far earlier than any omission ms. evidence. There are numerous supporting early allusions, e.g. Hundredfold Martyrs has been in the modern version apparatus as Ps-Cyprian. Cyprian (two refs), Tertullian and Hundredfold Martyrs give you four (and more) components earlier than any ms, two of which have even been in the tinged modern apparatus.
And the Old Latin lines are considered a 2nd century line.
In listing the major fully accepted references (even by hardened contras) evidences, the 10 Books on the Trinity, that have multiple references, is omitted.
Numerous lesser references are omitted. Even a trip to Wikipedia would have filled in many of these gaps.
The Councils of Carthage section is fair, James omits a few salient points. One perplexity I will mention here:
"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
How did James reduce this to "over 100"?
"more probably by Vigilius Tapsensis in North Africa "
As I remember, this is old scholarship, assigning the writing to Tapsensis, quite dubious, yet commonly repeated.
"the CJ is mentioned in the Preface to the Canonical Epistles"
James is extremely deceptive here, since he does not even mention that this is a first-person writing of Jerome. And consistent with Jerome's history, style and knowledge. And that Jerome clearly had access to ancient Greek manuscripts. And Jerome explicitly notes that the verse was being dropped by “unfaithful translators.
James has tried to take the position that it is a forgery, but has never been willing to try to expound and defend that position, which really is a frivolous objection of no merit. Especially since the original accusation was built upon the idea that the Prologue only showed up in later mss, an idea that fell apart with the discovery c. 1850 of the Prologue in the earliest extant Vulgate, Codex Fuldensis.
Probably understood, this is one of the super-evidences, like Cyprian, like the Council of Carthage, like the grammar and ‘internal’ evidences, which, with the large Old Latin and Latin ms body of evidence, any one of which is probative to authenticity.
(to be continued)
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Steven Avery

2, The Comma Johanneum
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

1st Post
Hi James,


The first point to make is that Daniel Wallace gives no reason for his late dating of ms. 629, and the 1300s dating is, I believe, well accepted. (So I see no reason to even mention his late dating, it is likely just an error.)

And since the Lateran Council of 1215 AD gave the heavenly witnesses in Latin and Greek, there should be no surprise whatsoever about the 1300s ms. 629. It would be natural aspect of the restoration of the heavenly witnesses verse to the Greek understandings.

During the medieval error, the more robust Latin writings had way over 100 different writers using the verse, and often discussing the doctrinal elements.

Beyond that, both Joseph Bryennius (c. 1350-1430) and Manual Calecas (c. 1410) utilized the heavenly witnesses verse in their Greek writings, before Erasmus.

And there was a similar dynamic in the Armenian restoration of the heavenly witnesses verse.

And I am not sure why writers like Elijah Hixson (2020 blog paper) deliberately omit so much of the Greek background. An over-emphasis on extant Greek mss. is a good way to give a false impression of the evidence and history.

As one example, the recent discovery of Eusebius ad Marcellum is very helpful in showing the doctrinal resistance to the heavenly witnesses.

There are also diverse Greek notes that look at the unusual grammar (solecism) aspect, with the Nazianzen dialog through to the medieval era, including possibly Euthymius Zibabenus and definitely the Matthaei scholium.

And then with Erasmus himself also having the note "torquebit grammaticos", referring to the Greek grammar problem in the earthly witnesses text.

There is more than I could add, especially about Greek ECW references and the dual-language aspect, however I hope to switch shortly to your transposition and interpolation theories.

2nd Post

Hi James,

On your interpolation theories, you conjecture that the early Trinitarian allegory, supposedly of Cyprian, was intrinsically related to the varying orders of spirit, water and blood. Presumably having the 'spirit' in the 3rd spot would help in relating water to the Father, and blood to the Son, or something along that line. Yet, there is no evidence that Cyprian used that order. And in fact, by far the closest match would the Treatise on Re-Baptism, which has the order spirit-water-blood, contra your concept of the Cyprian text. This was at virtually the same time and locale/culture as Cyprian and was transmitted with his works. hmmmm...

(Readers should note that there are two distinct transpositions that you reference, the order within the earthly witnesses, and the order of the heavenly and earthly witness triads.)

Yet Cyprian is noted by Cyprian scholars to be always carefully quoting his scripture (Kenyon said he quotes "copiously and textually"). And he was not engaged in fanciful allegory and paraphrasing.

And Cyprian wrote that it was WRITTEN of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that these three are one. That must be the heavenly witnesses verse. The order of the earthly witnesses (about which you conjecture, contra the Re-Baptism evidence) would not really matter.

Thus, those without a critical textual axe to grind have acknowledged Cyprian's usage of the section from his Bible having the heavenly witnesses.

Three examples are Scrivener (ironically, a fierce opponent of the verse authenticity, Walter Thiele, and a truly wonderful section written by the Luther scholar Franz August Otto Pieper (1852-1931). Plus, I have never seen a Cyprian scholar come up with this allegorical mish-a-mash. Plus, the section itself was about the Unity of the Church, the context was not at all ontological / Christological. As they say, context is king, and it would truly be an allegory out of left field, even if Cyprian did that sort of thing.

Let us also point out that the Tertullian section is augmented by his other usage in Jubaianus (Epistle 72) and has pre-corroberation from the similar "three are one" Tertullian reference in his writing contra Praxeas. And note that both Tertullian and Cyprian had skills in both Greek and Latin, and would likely have Bibles in both languages.

There are also additional references in that Ante-Nicene period, such as the Origen Psalm scholium (Greek) and Hundredfold Martyrs (Ps-Cyprian) and Eusebius ad Marcellum (Greek). The mss. available to Jerome, Greek and Latin, would also go back to that period, or earlier, and his note in the Prologue to the Canonical Epistles is a powerful evidence as well, and is a fine match to the Eusebius avoidance of "three are one".

All of this works strongly against your theory.

And that is even before we get into additional elements like the Latin supposed interpolation miraculously fixing the Greek solecism! When back-translated. What an amazing help to the words of God!(In the omission theory, please allow that to be a sarcasm alert on our end of defending authenticity!)

And we have 'Clunk the Interpolater' (my identification) amazingly using wording and style and parallelism that was 'more Johannine than John[. e.g. In referencing the Word, and the heaven and earth parallelism, as examples. Plus, Clunk fixed other problems in the supposed original Johannine writing, such as the lack of a connection of the "witness of God" in verse 9, and the wooden redundancy of verse 6 and 7, when only the earthly witnesses.

3rd Post

Plus, in your historical conjecture, let's look at the steps involved.
(Something you, and others with similar theories, neglect to do.


1) Cyprian has to do a unlikely, basically impossible, allegory.

2) Another unknown individual has to create the beautiful, majestic heavenly witnesses verse by working with the Cyprian allegory. And he even changes Son to Word, perhaps to emulate John?

3) Oh, in that creation, he has to add the earthly element to the previous spirit-water-blood aspect.

4) Which he balances in pralellism with his beautiful heavenly witnesses, which he also invents.

5) Then he pushes all this into the margin as a Bible note.

6) Then the margin note jumps into the text by another scribal confusion.

7) Then the scribes around town, and over the dale, accept this Latin verse!


All of this was totally missed by the early church writers!

Overall, we have to compare authenticity and various accident-forgery scenarios. If we do it sincerely and honestly, in Ockham style, we can say that the answer is clear -- AUTHENTIC!


4th Post
My apologies for a number of typos, it needed another draft, the biggest error is a place where I say "Tertullian" rather than "Cyprian".
"Let us also point out that the Tertullian section" - should be Cyprian section.
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Steven Avery

3. The Text of the Gospels: The Comma Johanneum and Greek Grammar - with Barry Hoffstetter

Steven Avery said...
Thanks for this paper, James. Let's start with one major element, and look it over, iron sharpeneth!

Matthew 23:23 and 1 John 2:16 are given as supposed analogies to the gender discordance in the short earthly witnesses text.

Matthew 23:23 (AV)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin,
and have omitted ** the weightier matters of the law,
judgment, mercy, and faith: **
these ought ye to have done,
and not to leave the other undone.

1 John 2:16 (AV)
*** For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh,
and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, ***
is not of the Father,
but is of the world.

The problem is that these two verses are fully proper with neuter grammar. And afawk not one scholar has ever claimed a discordance. And they do not need exceptional grammar attempts, claiming a substantive participle acting as a noun. This is special pleading on the part of Barry, to try to give a handle on his attempt to shore up the lonely earthly witnesses.

And all this has ZERO to do with the problem in the earthly witnesses text.

Remember, Eugenius very clearly said:

"masculine and feminine nouns may be construed with nouns, adjectives and pronouns in the neuter" - Barry Hofstetter translation

And that is exactly the case in the two verses above!

hmmm.. oops .. Analogy Irrelevant


It should be noted that this totally eliminates the errant, tawdry attack on the world-class scholar, Eugenius Bulgaris, beginning with:

"Why didn’t Eugenius, whose Greek was supposed to be so good, come up with this? ..."

Clearly Eugenius was not going to include verses that he had already shown to be irrelevant.


btw, James you showed that this was a faux analogy back in 2013. The verses had been taken from the 1990s Gary Hudson article (likely the Barry Hostetter source, directly or indirectly) and you astutely pointed out that the analogy was flawed, as we see in the Waterrock (James Snapp) post.

The Confession of the African Bishops in Carthage


Your feedback welcome!
These are amazing and helpful studies.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY, USA

March 31, 2020 at 5:47 AM

Steven Avery

4. The Text of the Gospels: The Comma Johanneum and Christian Doctrine

Thanks, James,
And I appreciate that you accept that different texts support different doctrines (as well as the wide difference of approach to infallibity and inerrancy.)

Ross, while both your points are good questions, my understanding is that they are addressed reasonably well. Grantley references them in:
Raising the Ghost of Arius.
p. 247-250 and
p. 283:
"Dobbin also disposed of many of the other claims made about Montfortianus. He refuted the opinions of Adam Clarke and Thomas Burgess, who had claimed a great antiquity for the codex on the basis of its script"

We can go over it in more depth on the Facebook PureBible group, if you like, however you might do well following the bouncing balls there, including Orlando Thomas Dobbin (1807-1890).
The Codex Montfortianus

James Snapp
"Was the Christian concept of the Trinity developed as a result of the presence of the Comma Johanneum in the text?"

There seemed to have been a good deal of resistance to the three are one, doctrinally. We should not make an anachronism error of taking 2020 doctrinal viewpoints and putting them over the early centuries.

Here are three resources to check.

Eusebius ad Marcellum (too Sabellian)
Vulgate Prologue by Jerome (unfaithful transcibers would omit)
Homily 69 by Jerome (the sensitivity of - "how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are both three and one.")

Also look at the report from the historian Socrates of Constantine writing to Alexander and Arius, and review Frederick Nolan on Eusebius.

On the other hand, Charles Forster does make a compelling case that the heavenly witnesses provided the framework for much of the wording of the doctrinal discussions in the early centuries.

James Snapp
"Adamant refusal to acknowledge that the Comma Johanneum was not part of the original text was, to an extent, caused by something other than the manuscript-evidence and the patristic evidence."

And I would take out the "not". :) Since the thousand or so Latin mss. and the ECW evidences are exceedingly strong, along with the competing alternative historical reconstruction theories. Also the stylistic, grammatical, harmony, internal etc. And the Received Text was in hand, all over the world.

De Rebaptismate was about baptism. So it would be easy to omit the heavenly witnesess, and even easier if verse 8 is before verse 7 in their text, a theory you like to consider. Similar with Leo and the "blood of redemption". Also there are numerous direct references and allusions to the heavenly witnesses throughout both periods.

James Snapp
"the only Christians who used the Comma Johanneum were those who used the Old Latin text that circulated in North Africa and Spain. "

This simply ignores many Greek evidences, such as the Disputation of Athanasius and Arius (or an Arian) at Nicea. Jerome when he wrote the Prologue (you disagree, but have never given reasons) clearly indicates that there was Greek ms. support. And you also bypass the fact that many were fluent and skilled, or at least capable, in Latin and Greek. Including Tertullian and Cyprian and Jerome and Fulgentius, who supports the Cyprian reference.

Yes, in many cases you can make circular arguments ("but my theory of Cyprian is different, also the Prologue") but at least you should recognize the circularity!

Blessings and grace in the name of the Lord Jesus!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY

April 6, 2020 at 2:10 AM

Steven Avery

5. The Text of the Gospels: Hand-to-Hand Combat: Alexandrinus vs. Montfortianus

Steven Avery said...
James, why would you call either NA27 or NA28 an original text? And be using them as a baseline for the corruption comparison? You know full well that these are ultra-corrupt Greek editions, from studies on many sections, verses and variants. Did you have a dose of Hortian Fantasy Tea the day you did this study?

Now I added material on the Erasmus promise.

This can be seen here:

Erasmus Promise Summary
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Steven Avery

The Text of the Gospels: First John 5:7 and Greek Manuscripts - on the Elijah Hixson paper

(may extract later)

This one was harder for James Snapp to delete, because there was conversation with two other posters! :)

Here are my two posts.
James Snapp
"The earliest is GA 629, a Latin-Greek manuscript dated to 1362."

For context, any discussion of Ottobonianus should also discuss the earlier Lateran Council, where Latin and Greek forms of the heavenly witnesses were published.

The pre-Erasmian restoration of the heavenly witnesses text to the Greek line included:

Lateran Council (1215)
Manuel Calecas (d. 1410)
Joseph Bryennius (c. 1350-1430)

There was a similar phenomenon in Armenian history, starting before the Synod of Sis (c. 1330).

All of this is important because of all the incorrect claims that Erasmus was working with a Greek vacuum on the heavenly witnesses verse.

Beyond that there are numerous Greek evidences from the earlier centuries. In fact, the one of which Erasmus was clearly aware, the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome, referring to Greek and Latin mss., caused Erasmus very great difficulties, he was totally flumoxxed. Erasmus, normally a big fan of Jerome, even accused him of forging the verse!

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY
January 27, 2020 at 7:48 AM

Hi Matthew,

You seem to have totally misunderstood my post, which is to give context to the pre-Erasmian period and the specific manuscripts studied by Elijah Hixson. Codex Ottobonianus should be discussed in the context of the Lateran Council.

And I would like to work to undo the damage of 100 writers who pretend that Erasmus brought the heavenly witnesses into the Greek in a vacuum. Yawn.

And I am limiting discussion to that immediate period, bypassing a large number of Greek evidences, and dual-language evidences, in the earlier years.

In that period from around the Lateran Council to Erasmus there were dozens of commentaries using the heavenly witnesses in the Latin. So any good scholar of that era would be well informed about the verse, and doctrinal and textual viewpoints.

And I know of no objections from any specific Greek source saying "hey, that is not really scripture". One Greek scholium did try to explain the solecism in the Greek text through a Trinitarian exegesis.

Now, I hope to get back to some other elements from Elijah Hixson and James Snapp.



You can see that James deleted at least one post of mine, where I showed problems with the Elijah Hixson material.

This may not be available, however, I can work on a response here.
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