Hyginus - forged Decretal ascribed to Isiadore Mercator - heavenly witnesses motive?

Steven Avery

Afawk, the Hyginus Decretals were forged and thus they represent a text of a later time, e.g. 9th century rather than 2nd in the case of Hyginus.

Pope Hyginus


the search for the sources of the Pseudo-Isidore's excerpts (begun by David Blondel, 1628; continued by Hermann Knust, 1832, and Paul Hinschius, 1863; an additional source disclosed by the publication of the Irish collection of canons in 1874)
David Blondel (1591-1655)

Paul Hinschius (1835-1898)

Decretales --- et Capitula Angilramni (1863) - there are 5-10 spots relating to the verse
Paul Hinschius
What is curious is a new claim from Grantley McDonald (emphasis added):

Yet it also seems that the apparent utility of the comma in fighting heresy and its increasingly frequent occurrence in Latin bibles led some to forge documents to bolster its claim to authenticity. ...the prologue to the Catholic Epistles... ascribed to Jerome ... Another document forged to prove the authenticity of the comma is a decretal ascribed to Pope Hyginus (c. 138-140), which appears in the collection put together at Metz in the mid-ninth century by a group of scholars known as “Isidorus Mercator.”

RGA p. 54-55
The difficulty here is huge. The Latin line heavily supports the heavenly witnesses verse, and there is no known claim that the verse was not authentic.

The idea that the motive, or a major motive, for these Decretals was to bolster the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses is forced and strained. The context seems to be the giving of collaborative support for that difficult forgery claim against the Vulgate Prologue. (Which we discuss on another thread.) By connecting the Vulgate Prologue with the Decretals, it can be pretended that they have similar scholarship of forgery and non-authenticity, without, in fact, going into the history of the Vulgate Prologue claim.

Also difficult is ascribing a ninth-century motive of "apparent utility of the comma in fighting heresy", since the major Arian controveries were centuries past.

This motive claim is not in Biblical Criticism, so perhaps the problematic nature of the claim was recognized. Perhaps, inclusion in an errata sheet for RGA would be appropriate.


From Biblical Criticism footnote p. 83.
50 Pseudo-Hyginus, De fide et reliquis causis, included in Isidort Mercatoris collectio decretalium, PL 130:109; Theile 1956-i969, 365.

More resources in RGA.


We plan to build here on the issues involving the Decretals, and the heavenly witnesses debate.