Grantley McDonald - invisible allegorizing everywhere

Steven Avery

RGA - p. 25
We also find Origen applying 1 Jn 5:8 to the Trinity, significantly in the context of an allegorical reading of Ps 122:2 (LXX):

p. 26
Once the Trinitarian interpretation of the phrase tres unum sunt in 1 Jn 5:8 had established itself, the three witnesses of the Spirit, the water and the blood were ripe for allegorical interpretation as types of the three persons of the Trinity. The beginnings of this process of allegoresis may be seen in Cyprian’s plea for the unity in the Church:

p. 431
In Cyprian we see a
further development: the allegorical interpretation of the Spirit, water and blood
of 1 Jn 5:8 as types of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the persons of the
Christian Trinity, a doctrine still in the process of formulation and negotiation.
This allegorical stage is represented by several other figures, including Augustine,
Eucherius of Lyon and Facundus.

It is then posited that the invention of the comma involved the
combination of three elements: first, the regular text of 1 Jn 5:8; second, a
rendering of 1 Jn 5:8 in which the water, spirit and blood are replaced by their
allegorical equivalents; and third, the phrase “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 28-30

Augustine is explanatory allegory, quite a contrast.

Each of these
things, he reasons, has a different essence; they are therefore not merely one
thing. Augustine suggests that these things could be interpreted allegorically as
references to the three persons of the Trinity: “About them it might very truly be
said: ‘these are three witnesses, and the three are one.’” Augustine works out
these associations more closely, suggesting that “spirit” of 1 Jn 5:8 signifies the
Father, since “God is spirit” (Jn 4:24); “blood” signifies the Son, the Word who
became flesh; and “water” signifies the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to give
to those who are thirsty (Jn 7:39). The testimony of the Father and the Son is
manifest in Jesus’ statement (Jn 8:18), “I testify on my own behalf, and the
Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” Although the Spirit is not expressly
mentioned here, the Spirit is never understood to be separate from the Father
and the Son, so all three persons of the Trinity may justly be said to bear witness
to Jesus. Indeed, Jesus says elsewhere: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will
send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he
will testify on my behalf” (Jn 15:26). These three then, Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, are rightly described as three witnesses, though of course they remain of
one substance. Augustine continues the allegory by noting that the body of
Christ, from which the spirit, water and blood (that is, the Father, the Son and
the Holy Spirit) issue, is none other than the church which preaches the Trinity
and its unitive nature. This church was commissioned through words that issued
from Jesus’ body, commanding it to baptize all nations, “in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). Augustine’s exegesis of
1 Jn 5:8 thus shows his fascination with the possibilities of Trinitarian allegoresis
of that verse, but also shows that the comma was not present in the biblical text
with which he was familiar. If it were, his attempt to draw allegorical meanings
out of verse 8 would have been pointless. It is also worth noting that Augustine
expressly states that other interpretations of this passage are possible, and should
even be encouraged as long as they do not compromise the doctrine of the
Trinity by confounding or separating the three divine persons, denying their
existence or suggesting that they have three distinct substances.32

Eucherius and Facundus complete this type of explanatory allegory.

Steven Avery

RGA - p. 40

Here Grantley really struggles.

A snapshot of his process in motion is provided by the Complexiones of
Cassiodorus (c. 490-c. 583), who combines a variant of the symbolum “hi tres unus
est Deus”—also found in Augustine’s Against Maximinus II.22.3—with the
allegorical notion that the witness of the three persons of the Trinity directly
parallels the witness of the earthly witnesses. While Cassiodorus does not provide
the comma in its classic form, he provides something more interesting: a chance
to see the constituent parts of the comma in the process of convergence.52

Steven Avery

RGA - p. 193
Few of Simon’s readers were sufficiently experienced in the
hermeneutical methods of the Fathers to realise how pervasive was their
allegorical habit.