George Panayiotou, (fully Greek-fluent) shares thoughts on the heavenly witnesses grammar

Steven Avery

George Panayiotou, (fully Greek-fluent) shares thoughts on the heavenly witnesses grammar

The goal of the discussion was to put aside the textual and text-critical issues and simply look at the grammar from the perspective of a solid native Greek speaker. Some pragraph formatting and emphasis added!

George Panayiotou
Monday, March 23, 2020

Dear Steven, greetings! Finally, I fully understand what you were trying to focus my attention on regarding these two verses in 1 John 5, 7- 8! Certainly, from the point of view of correct linguistic/ grammatical usage, the inappropriate use of the masculine plural gender to refer to neuter nouns instead of the normal and correct neuter gender does offend the eye of a careful reader well -acquainted with Greek grammar and syntax!

Indeed, instead of the existing wording in these two verses, namely
"Οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες το Πνευμα και το ύδωρ και το αίμα. και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν",
which palpably violates the rule of the gender agreement between nouns and adjectives/participles etc., one would naturally expect here : "Ότι τρία εστι τα μαρτυρουντα : το Πνεύμα και το ύδωρ και και το αίμα, και τα τρία εις το εν εστιν ".

I now feel absolutely certain that this was the problem you expected me to focus on and address, namely the solecism! ...

Now, how are we to account for the occurrence of such a grave syntactical error? Certainly, there are not many ways! I guess we should inevitably suppose that what we have here (in verses 7-8 is another flagrant interpolation that escaped the notice of N. T. textual critics and editors, or that, if noticed, was left untouched having been regarded as hallowed by the fact that is found in the Holy Scriptures! Another, much less likely, explanation is that the problematic words (articles, numerals and participles) in these two verses, being originally in the neuter gender, were later deliberately changed into the masculine by an interpolator for the sole purpose of accommodating more naturally the major interpolation which is now excluded from many modern editions, namely, "εν τω ουρανω ο Πατήρ, ο Λόγος και το Άγιον Πνευμα. και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισι. 8 και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη". How else can we account for this ungrammatical interpolation? [ No doubt, we encounter interpolation in Classical Greek texts but most of them conform to the rules of grammar and syntax and, for this reason, they are harder to detect!] ...

Dear Steven, please feel free to quote me wherever you like! No objection at all on my part! _ _ _.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Notice that George was thinking of the verse being an interpolation, and essentially complementing the interpolator for doing such a superb job!

and by creating a textual parallelism and a counterbalance between the Father, the Logos and the Holy Spirit on the one hand and the Spirit, the water and the blood on the other!
I do not see any grammatical difficulty in Greek when you have both heavenly and earthly witnesses. You ask whether the two parallel verses become one parallel unit. Certainly, they form a grammatical unit this is how they were intended by the interpolator to be felt and understood by the readers. Indeed the parallelism and the balance between the two verses were deliberately created to produce the effect of a single unit consisting of two parallel parts. It is more than likely that the interpolator used the masculine gender
"τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες .... και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν"
to justify grammatically at least (or to lend credibility to) the inclusion of that part of the interpolation which is left out in many editions of the Greek New Testament, namely
"εν τω ουρανω ο Πατήρ, ο Λόγος και το Άγιον Πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισι 8 και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη".
Similarly here, where George points out that the Spirit in verse 6 is with neuter grammar, while the puzzling masculine grammar in the earthly witnesses (without the heavenly) is totally different.

There remains, however, something which I do not know if it has been noticed and sufficiently commented upon by N. T. scholars. In the same text ( 1 John 5 ) in the immediately preceding verse (verse 6), the participle referring to the Spirit as "the one that bears witness" is clearly in the neuter gender "το μαρτυρούν" and not, I repeat not, in the masculine gender " ο μαρτυρων" : " Και το Πνευμα εστι το μαρτυρούν", whereas in verse 7 the participle used to modify and refer to the three neuter nouns one of which is again the Spirit, the other two being " το ύδωρ " and " το αιμα", is in the masculine gender : "οι μαρτυρουντες ". Certainly, this is a discrepancy that calls for a convincing explanation, and I do not know whether the attribution of this discrepancy to the faulty Greek of the interpolator would be satisfactory enough!
So I raised the possibility that the theory of interpolation should be reconsidered, with the grammatical component being one element that is generally misunderstood by modern scholars. Here is the excellent response from George.
Concerning the problematic verses in 1 John 5, I like the questions that you raise and the inevitability of the conclusion in your syllogism that "If a person holds the view that the N. T. text is inspired by the Holy Spirit and that as such it should not have bald solecisms as written originally by the apostles, then we have a situation where the evidence.... " , I fully concur with your views on the factors that must be taken into consideration in this research and the need to reopen the discussion on the authenticity/spuriousness of the heavenly witnesses verse. Of course, I know for sure that in the Greek - speaking world there are certain theologians and clerics who in their excessive zeal and readiness to accept the New Testament text unquestionably (irrespective of grammatical errors or interpolations) would regard such a discussion as blasphemy and sacrilege ! And I am afraid similar objections may be raised by those whom you call American and British N. T. "seminarian scholars ".... I find your direction of research very interesting and I have no doubt that it can prove rewarding too!
Earlier in our discussion George had made this very similar point.
I fully agree with you on the view that, when scholars come to deal with this specific question and other questions like this (namely related to N. T. text), they should first rid themselves of any biases, "N. T. seminarian preconceived ideas" and prejudice , discuss the problem with impartiality, and be ready and willing to accept arguments based on linguistic/grammatical evidence! _ _ _.
And George was quite familiar with the most important writer, historically, on this question, although he had not know of his writings on the heavenly witnesses.
... Eugenius Boulgaris ... was an internationally famous Greek scholar from Corfu! An extremely learned person, philosopher, author of several books, he even became archbishop in Ukraine! He knew Latin and classical Greek so well that he translated Vergil's famous epic poem the Aeneid int Classical Greek and specifically in the Homeric dactylic hexametre!

Steven Avery

Just a reminder.
My focus in discussing the grammar is with those who are truly fluent in Greek.

Steven Anderson and Dane Kristjan Jöhannsson went to Cyprus and made an interesting video on the topic of the ability of native Greek speakers to read, hear and understand the New Testament. However, they did not specifically work with the corruption text of either the earthly witnesses of 1 TImothy 3:16.

So far, I have found three truly fluent Greek speakers who discuss this verse, in a manner as George did above.

All agree about the solecism in the short text, and Ilias Theodosis even added extremely helpful analysis.

And I consider these three Greek-speaking gentleman as having 1,000x more significance and understanding than all the American seminarians, non-fluent, like James Whites, Bill Mounce, Barry Hofstetters and Daniel Wallace. Plus their readers, students and lemmings and dupes, who have trained themselves to accept the New Testament Greek through the eyes of the Critical Text corruptions, as if those were really normative Bible Greek.
Last edited: