Friedrich Ernst Kettner – many reasons theorized for omission, Vulgate Prologue flip

Steven Avery

Friedrich Ernst Kettner (1671-1722)

Sabellian reason (mentioned by Porson)

Reasons are in:

Historia Dicti Johannei De Sanctissima Trinitate, 1. Joh. Cap. V. vers. 7: Per Multa Secula Omissi, Seculo V. Restituti, Et Exeunte Seculo XVI. In Versionem Vernaculam Recepti, Una Cum Apologia B. Lutheri (1713)
Friedrich Ernst Kettner

Porson references

Monthly Review gives Kettner Latin

Horne comments (1821) (1828)

5. Further, those critics who advocate the genuineness of this text, observe that omissions in antient manuscripts, versions, and authors, are neither absolute contradictions, nor direct impeachments of facts. They only supply food for conjecture, and conjectural criticism ought to be sparingly and cautiously applied before it can be admitted as sufficient authority for altering the received text. Besides, the omission in the present case may be satisfactorily accounted for, from various circumstances.



Grantley has him negative on Jerome's authorship of the Vulgate Prologue, Porson said he flipped pro to con.
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Steven Avery

Kettner is very important and only has one RGA reference, and is written about as if he started in 1713.


239 pages
Kettner, Friedrich Ernst.
Historia dicti Johannei de sanctissima Trinitate 1. Joh. Cap. V. vers. 7. per multa secula omissi, seculo V. restituti, et exeunte seculo XVI. in versionem vernaculam recepti, una cum Apologia B. Lutheri. Frankfurt and Leipzig: Calvisius, 1713.


BCEME adds

174 pages

Kettner, Friedrich Ernst.
Insignis ac Celeberrimi De SS. Trinitate Loci, qui 1. Joh. V. 7. extat, divina autoritas sensus et usus Dissertatione Theologica demonstratus.
Leipzig: Heinrich Richter for the heirs of Friedrich Lanckisius, 1696.


49 pages
Vindiciae novae dicti vexatissimi: De tribus in coelo testibus I. Joh. V, v. 7. Oppositae Christophori Sandii interpretationibus paradoxis, Richardi Simonii
historiae criticae Novi Testamenti, Stephani Curcellaei, Johannis Clerici et quibusdam monachorum Benedictorum objectionibus recentissimis.
Delitzsch: Vogelgesang, [c. 1702].

OR 1712 (date not printed)
- Note Gerhard in opening pages - Laude B. Gerhardi

46 pages

Vindiciae novae dicti vexatissimi de tribus in coelo testibus, 1 Joh. V, 7 -


Notice bibliographique sur Richard Simon, Volumes 652-660; Volume 665 (1882)
By Auguste Bernus
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Steven Avery

Richard Simon Answered by

Thomas Smith -English RGA
John Mill - RGA
Kettner - RGA
Martianay - is position given RGA?
Calamy - ENGLISH - RGA
Martin - ENGLISH - RGA
Pfaff - one tiny ref about Brittanicus RGA

Ittigius - not in RGA

Maius - Majus - not in RGA

Bishop Bull and
Taylor 1727

Gerhard - only mentioned in this quote from Jonathan Edwards
and if you have a mind to know more of this matter, without going any further, you may peruse what Mr. Poole in his Synopsis hath quoted out of Gerhard, Dr. Hammond and other Writers in vindication of this Text

and others .. who does Grantley omit?




Blackall Blackhall
Jonathan Edwards

Thomas Firmin
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Steven Avery

RGA p. 218-219
Yet Mills also found his defenders. Le Clerc’s review of Mills’ work prompted the orthodox Lutheran cleric Friedrich Ernst Kettner (1671-1722) to publish an elaborate treatise in 1713, in which he argued that the comma had dropped out of the text soon after the composition of the letter, but had been providently restored in the fifth century. Kettner brought forth a number of arguments to prove that the comma comprised an original part of the text.

Firstly, this passage contains a truth and a wisdom worthy of God himself. Its theology is consonant with the Gospel of John, the other letters of John and the Apocalypse. These words seem to belong to the sense of the passage, and are consonant with the theology of the Epistle. The triad of earthly witnesses refers back to the Trinity of heavenly witnesses. The passage was cited by both Tertullian and Cyprian. It is presumptuous to submit the testimony of the divine persons to human judgment. This passage was clearly a part of the orginal text of the Epistle, since the theology of the Trinity was the most burning issue in Christian theology from the first until the fourth century. Moroever, the divine origin of the text is demonstrated by the fact that it reappeared in the fifth century.

When pondering who was responsible for deleting the passage, Kettner weighed a number of possible suspects: the Ebionites; the Valentinians and Gnostics; the Marcionites and Manichaeans; the Alogoi; the followers of Artemon; those overly influenced by Origen; the Samosatians; Jerome’s “unfaithful translators;” ignorant scribes; the Arians or others who would distinguish Jesus from the Christ, the divine from the human nature; or even orthodox readers who mistakenly believed (as Luther and Bugenhagen in a later age) that the passage had been inserted by heretics.

For Kettner, the devil’s own participation in the process could not be discounted, perhaps working through the influence of Platonists on Christian thought, or through simple mechanical errors like homeoteleuton.

When pondering why it was that the great theologians of his tradition like Luther, Melanchthon, Cruciger, Jonas, Förster, Aurogallus and Bugenhagen could have been convinced to reject the comma, Kettner first dismisses a number of possible explanations. It is not that they were driven by excessive love for the teachings of Wyclif, as Emser suggested; nor by hatred of the Trinity and the word homoousios, as Sandius suggested; nor by ignorance of textual criticism; nor by a love of the Socianians, for they only appeared after Luther’s death; nor at last by malice and a desire to corrupt Scripture. Rather, they were impelled by an excessive veneration for the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries; hampered by the scarcity of uncial manuscripts in Germany, the cost of manuscript bibles and the lack of large public libraries; discouraged by the comparative clarity of other Scriptural mentions of the Trinity, such as Mt 28:19 and 2 Cor 13:13; disinclined by their diffidence towards the Latin Vulgate and Jerome; distracted by more pressing issues; disabled the fact that the Complutensian bible had not been published until after Luther had translated his September Testament; snared in the devil’s plans to destroy the bible in the new faith; irritated by the importunity of Emser; and a hundred other reasons. Yet perhaps the most important factor was Luther’s respect for Erasmus in matters of biblical philology, in spite of their theological differences, notably Luther’s objections to Erasmus’ scepticism towards the doctrines of the faith. Erasmus, as Kettner pointed out, wrote somewhat more confortably about this matter because the Socinians had not yet made themselves known. And even though Erasmus restored the comma to his 1522 text, Kettner continues, some accused him of doing so just through his love of tranquility, and out of reverence for the Roman church and its attachment to the Vulgate. “Erasmus himself gave some handle to such thoughts when he opined that the British codex had been corrected against our manuscripts by Greek exiles, and asserted that this passage had no power to compel anyone unless they were compelled by the authority of the church.”172 It is difficult to decide whether it it the implausible hypothesis or the sheer quantity of competing and often ridiculous arguments brought forward in its defence, but Kettner’s sprawling work ultimately collapses under its own excessive weight.

172 Kettner, 1713, 178: “Securius scripsit ante ortos Socinianos; Et licet Erasmus Dictum hoc restituerit, Editione anno 1922. objectum tamen ipsi est ab aliis, eum prætextu saltem pacis, amore quietis, reverentiâ & splendore Ecclesiæ Romanæ, in favorem Vulgatæ dictum addidisse, ut calumnias & persecutiones, ignavorum & Indoctorum Monachorum evitaret, & Versionem suam Pontificiis gratam redderet. Ipse Erasmus his cogitationibus ansam dedit, cum Britannicum Codicum à Græcis exulis ad nostros Codices correctum fuisse judicaverit & locum non constringere asseruerit, nisi quando aliquis Autoritate Ecclesiæ compelleretur.”
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