Eucherius of Lyon (380-449 AD) - ms. issues, mystical-allegorical interpretation?

Steven Avery

Eucherius of Lyon - (c. 380 – c. 449)

Eucherius was back-and-forth in the historical debate, partly because of manuscript considerations

Corpus Corporum is pro heavenly witnesses:
Eucherius Lugdunensis, Formulae spiritalis intelligentiae,
CAPUT XI. De numeris. PL 50, col 0770A (0769D), Formulae spiritalis intelligentiae, p1, 11&id=Eucherius_Lugdunensis_cps2, Formulae spiritalis intelligentiae, p1, 11, 6&level=99&level9798=&satz=6&hilite_id=Eucherius_Lugdunensis_cps2, Formulae spiritalis intelligentiae, p1, 11, 6&string=in!coelo!Pater&binary=&corpus=&target=&lang=0&home=&von=suchergebnis&hide_apparatus=1&inframe=1&jumpto=6#6

II. Ad duo testamenta divinae legis referuntur, in Reg. : Et fecit in Dabir duo Cherubin decem cubitorum magnitudine (III Reg. VI, 23) . Duo praecepta charitatis, amoris videlicet Dei et proximi. (0770A) Duo in agro, duo in molendino, duo in lecto (Luc. XVII, 34) leguntur in sancto Evangelio.

III. Ad Trinitatem; in Ioannis Epistola: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua et sanguis (I Ioan. V, 7) . Et in Gen.: Tres propagines (Gen. XL, 10) .

IV. Ad quatuor Evangelia, in Ezechiele: Et ex medio eorum, similitudo quatuor animalium (Ezech. I, 5) . Sicut et quatuor flumina paradisi (Gen. II, 10) . Nomen tetragrammaton quatuor litteris Hebraicis scribitur. (0770B) Quatuor cornibus sancta crux insignitur, ut Habacuc: Cornua in manibus eius (Hab. III, 4) .
The Migne edition cites 1 Jn 5:7-8 at this point, leading many commentators in the past to assume that the comma formed part of the biblical text known to Eucherius. (SA: who?) But the critical edition of Eucherius' works (ed. Wotke, 1884) gives merely the words tria sunt quae testimonium perhibent: aqua sanguis spiritus, a more plausible reading that reflects the neuter plural tria found in two extant bibles of the ninth and tenth centuries (Madrid, Complutense ms 31 and Leön, Archivio catedralicio ms 6).36 Further evidence is found in the first book of Eucherius’ Instructiones, which contains a section called On rather difficult questions in the New Testament. One of the questions Eucherius raises here is the meaning of the water, blood and spirit mentioned in the letter of John. “Here many people,” he says, “through a mystical interpretation understand the Trinity itself; since it is perfect, it bears testimony to Christ.” It is not certain who these “many people” might be, for the set of correspondences given by

Eucherius (water = Father, blood = Christ, spirit = Holy Spirit)

differs from that given by
Augustine and subsequently by Facundus, bishop of Hermiane (spirit = Father, blood = Son, water = Holy Spirit)

36 Eucherius, Liber formularum spiritalis intelligentice IX (De numeris), ed. Wotke, CSEL 31:59: “Sane his nominibus absolutis numeros quoque breuiter digeramus, quos mystica exemplorum ratio inter sacros celebriores efficit. I. hie numerus ad unitatem Deitatis refertur [...]. II. ad duo testamenta [...]. III. ad trinitatem; in Ioannis epistola: tria sunt qua testimonium perhibent: aqua sanguis spiritus.” The text in PL 50:770 reads: “III. Ad Trinitatem; in Joannis Epistola: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua et sanguis.” This reading does not appear in Wotke’s apparatus. Further on Eucherius, see Bludau, 1927.

37 Eucherius, Instructiones I (De qucestiombus difficilioribus Novi Testamenti), CSEL 31:137-138: “Item Iohannes in epistula sua ponit: tria sunt quce testimonium perhibent, aqua, sanguis, et spiritus; quid in hoc indicator? [... ] Plures tamen hie ipsam interpretatione mystica intelligunt Trinitatem, eo quod perfecta ipsa perhibeat testimonium Christo: aqua patrem indicans, quia ipse de se dicit: me derelinqueruntfontem aquce uiuce, sanguine Christum demonstrans, utique per passionis cruorem, spiritu uero sanctum spiritum manifestans. Haec autem tria de Christo testimonium ita perhibent ipso in euangelio loquente: ego sum qui testimonium perhibeo de me, et testimonium perhibuit de me qui misit me pater, et item: cum autem uenerit paraclitus quern ego mittam uobis, spiritum ueritatis, qui a patre procedit ille testimonium perhibet de me. perhibet ergo testimonium pater, cum dicit: hie est filius meus dilectus, filius, cum dicit: ego et pater unum sumus, spiritus sanctus, cum de eo dicitur: et uidit spiritum dei descendentem sicut columbam uenientem super se.
Grantley makes a great point - the conjectured allegorical interpretations are all over the map!

Here is a small sampliing of the historical back and forth.

Isaac Newton

Thomas Emlyn

Thomas Burgess

Griesbach says that Eucherius is thought to be the first, that clearly and expressly quoted the seventh verse. Bengelius asserts, that Eucherius quotes the verse most clearly and expressly, apertissime. And so, indeed, he does in Brassicanus’s edition of Eucherius’s Formulae; for be quotes both verses. But Mr. Porson and Griesbach observe, that in the two principes editiones the eighth verse alone is quoted. This is certainly true of one of the editions, that of Sichardus at Basil in 1530,* and I conclude is true of both. But the Paris edition I have not yet met with. It did not, however, follow, that the addition of the seventh verse in Brassicanus’s text was an interpolation by the editor, as Griesbach thought, when the first edition of his Greek Testament was published. He has since learnt from M. Alter, that there are now in the library at Vienna two manuscripts of Eucherius containing the seventh verse as well as the eighth, from which manuscripts Brassicanus published his edition. (continues)
Looks like a superb explanation of the dual locations having different text.

Charles Forster

August Bludau. “Das Comma Johanneum 1. Joh. 5, 7 bei Eucherius und Cassiodor.” Theologie und Glaube 19 (1927): 149-155,418.

We plan another page on the issue of mystical and allegorical interpretation. In fact, it was the original symmetry and parelellism of heavenly and earthly witnesses in the autographic Greek text that strongly contributed to mystical interpretations arising when the heavenly witnesses dropped from the text line.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

So why is there an apparent discordance?

"Corpus Corporum is pro heavenly witnesses" - is this correct?

The text in PL 50:770 reads: “III. Ad Trinitatem; in Joannis Epistola: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua et sanguis.” This reading does not appear in Wotke’s apparatus. Further on Eucherius, see Bludau, 1927.
So is Grantley saying that the CURRENT Critical Text is wrong? PL Corpus Corporum - and should be replaced with Karl (Carolus) Wotke (1861-1929)? In this 1894 edition, which is referenced by Raymond Brown.

Here is the latest from Grantley, add to the above.

Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy

Grantley Robert McDonald
From the Latin tradition I can supply one nice example of where Migne gives a very misleading impression of the text. In Eucherius, Liber formularum spiritalis intelligentiae 9, Migne (PL 50:770) reads:

"III. Ad Trinitatem; in Joannis Epistola: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, spiritus, aqua et sanguis." Wotke's critical edition of this text (CSEL 31:59), based on five manuscripts from the sixth to the ninth centuries, gives the reading: "III. ad trinitatem; in Ioannis epistola: tria sunt quae testimonium perhibent: aqua sanguis spiritus."

I checked another four manuscripts apart from the ones used by Wotke, which agree with what he gives. Significantly, these readings agree closely with those in two extant tenth-century bibles: Madrid, Complutense ms 31 (Vetus Latina 109, Vulgate X) and León, Archivo catedralicio ms 6 (Vetus Latina 193/ΔL). This is a textbook example of where Migne gives a very misleading impression of what a church father wrote.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

For analysis

The issue is not really about Wotke's edition, just look at the Latin that is used in the mss that Grantley is citing.
"III. ad trinitatem; in Ioannis epistola: tria sunt quae testimonium perhibent: aqua sanguis spiritus.
Now, is this a "quote" of the verse?
water, blood, spirit
is that a quote?
does the verse say that
If anything it is an example of verse 8 corruption and change of the order to match some theological position, baptism, cross, resurrection
It was never intended to be a quote in the first place, so really the point is that we would not expect to see "in earth" here because this is not the "verse" in any form that is known in the bible.
Thus, I made this point in my paper about Eucherius discussion of the verse..
I have no doubt that Migne is quoting a manuscript that no longer exists.
That is not unusual, so to infer that Migne has changed the text is without evidence. Just the usual assumption.
The other part, per my paper, is that this order and what it represents does not agree with other verse 8 interpretations, i.e., Facundus.
Eucherius (spirit == Holy Spirit; water == Father; blood == Christ)
SOME OTHERS Facundus (spirit == Father; water == Holy Spirit; blood == Son)
And finally, Eucherius' understanding of the verse "others" is given by another father who quotes verse 8 correctly and it includes "in earth"
I have this in my paper.
so, I would conclude that Eucherius could indeed have verse 7 and 8 in his manuscript, but he is not interested in quoting the verse.
Eucherius is more interested in talking about the interpretation of the three "water, blood, spirit"
Moreover, Eucherius talks of "others" who understand the verse as the Trinity. But this understanding is not the same as Facundus.
Finally, another father does take up the "others" interpretation that Eucherius gives, and when this father quotes the verse 8, he also has it with "in earth"
Facundus has it with "in earth"
In the end, what does Eucherius discussion of verse 8 amount to? Nothing to do with the issue.
Rather, this is on our side, demonstrating that verse 8 has been corrupted and that whatever interpretation is taken, there is no reason to conclude that "in earth" is not in the verse, and finally that it has no relevance to whether verse 7 exists in any text at all.

Let me get the father I was talking about.

Haymo, bishop of Halberstadt (d. 853 AD)

[Homily 80] “For there are three who give witness on earth: water and blood and the spirit” (I John 5.8). Some people understand that it is the holy Trinity here, in a mystical way, who bears witness to Christ. In the water, they understand the Father to be signified, who says of himself, ‘they have abandoned me, the fountain of life’ (Jer 2.13); in the blood, Christ himself, who poured out his blood for the salvation of the world; in the spirit, the Holy Spirit himself. So this holy Trinity bears witness to Christ, as he himself says through the Gospel, “I am one who bears witness to myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness to me.” “And when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from my Father, the Spirit of truth, he will bear witness concerning me” (John 8.18; 15.26). “And these three are one,” namely the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit: one in nature, one in divine substance, coequal in all things, and coeternal through all things, in no way dissimilar. In this substance of the Trinity, there is nothing created because nothing has a beginning; nor is anything recognized there as superior, because nothing is found to be prior or later. In the fact that it is a Trinity, it is one, it is eternal, it is true.
Haymo Halberstatensis, Homilia 80 in Octava Paschae; Migne Latina, PL 118.0488.

You see how he has "in earth" and the same verse 8 corruption. Then he even "quotes" from verse 7.
So, what does this mean?
No one thought that verse 7 was missing from any mss because of what Eucherius wrote about verse 8.
No one thought that "in earth" was somehow an addition to the text of that "in earth" was not part of the text because Eucherius does not have it.
Really, once again, only the fantasies and theories of the critics draw these false and contrived conclusions from the fathers texts about verse 8.

Latin: «Quoniam tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, aqua, et sanguis, et spiritus. » Quidam hic sanctam Trinitatem mystice significatam intelligunt, quae Christo testimonium perhibuit. In aqua Patrem significari intelligunt, quia ipse de se dicit: « Me dereliquerunt fontem aequae vivae (Ier. II).» In sanguine, ipsum Christum, qui pro salute mundi suum sanguinem fudit. In spiritu, eumdem Spiritum sanctum. Haec sancta Trinitas Christo testimonium ita perhibet, ipso per Evangelium loquente: « Ego sum qui testimonium perhibeo de meipso, et testimonium perhibet de me, qui misit me Pater. (0488C) Et cum venerit paracletus, quem ego mittam vobis a Patre meo, Spiritum veritatis, ille testimonium perhibebit de me (Ioan. VIII, XV).» « Et hi tres unum sunt, » id est Pater et Filius et Spiritus sanctus. Unum in natura, unum in divina substantia, coaequales in omnibus, et coaeternales per omnia, in nullo dissimiles. In ista Trinitatis substantia nihil est creatum, quia nihil est inchoatum: nec aliquid ibi superius cognoscitur, quia nihil anterius aut posterius invenitur. In eo quod Trinitas est, unum est, aeternum est, verum est. Haec est una fides, quia haec est vera fides, et ideo haec est catholica fides, unius substantiae sanctam credere Trinitatem, et in Dei Filio carnis animae nostrae naturalem cognoscere veritatem.

My last point would be this: We don't know if Haymo, bishop of Halberstadt (d. 853 AD) was alluding to verse 7 when he said "hi tres unum sunt" or not. But it doesn't matter because if verse 8 has "in earth" then we know that verse 7 was in his manuscript.

And we know that "in earth" was in many manuscripts as the fathers and councils of the time reflect this. (see my paper)

Another point would be, from the beginning of when verse 7 first appeared in a "full" form, verse 8 was there too (Priscillian; Idacius Clarus. Contra Marivadum (Varimadum) Arianum (circa 350-385 AD); De Trinitate of Eusebius of Vercelli, etc.). And it was verse 8 that was corrupted, not verse 7. The amount of times that both verses are given is too many to count, but it indicates that verse 7 was not simply alone nor could be simply an interpolation that developed over time. There are many instances of this (verse 7 and 8 appearing together).

The interpolation argument is nonsense and is not supported by the data.
But when verse 8 has "in earth" we know that verse 7 is present, is fully supported by the data.
I would go one step further and insist that the last clause of verse 8 in the Greek indicates that verse 7 is present.

And the last clause of verse 8 when it has a preposition "in" is present in the Latin last clause. This indicates that verse 7 is present.