Isaac Newton - Two Notable Corruptions

Steven Avery

First we will start with material from TC-Alternate posts, two are copied over, two are urls.


[TC-Alternate-list] Newton's 3 letters - heavenly witnesses, God was manifest, short miscellany
Steven Avery - Sept 21, 2011

The first two letters cover the two verses, 1 John 5:7 and 1 Timothy 3:16, they are often published as one unit. The Horsley edition is considered correct, not the earlier one that says it is to Mr. Le Clerc. The two letters are published in a number of places, HTML and google books, including the editions from the Jared Sparks essay collection. Here are three editions in addition to the one you have below.

Isaaci Newtoni Opera quae exstant omnia, Volume 5 (1785)
The recorder: tracts and disquisitions, (1803)
A collection of essays and tracts in theology, from various authors,with biographical and critical notices , Volume 2 (1823)

The third letter was in these books, SNIPPET, beginning on p.129.

The Correspondence of Isaac Newton , Volume 3 (1977)
Correspondence: 1688-1694
Newton had additional textual verse errors in the third letter:
Here you go, you can catch more Newton errors falling to the ground like an apple here:

The Third Letter

Newton's Religious Writings
Various drafts and copies of the Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture and related material.

[TC-Alternate-list] history of the Newton "notable corruptions" letters

[TC-Alternate-list] Re: history of the Newton "notable corruptions" letters

Some Richard Simon material was in English in 1689. And fully in French.
So the dates seem more than simply coincidental.

Critical History of the Versions of the New Testament (1689)
Richard Simon (sample on verse p. 105-107)

So Newton could use that and stumble through the in depth critical writing in French:

Histoire critique du texte du Nouveau Testament: (1689)
Newton references Simon on the Stephanus manuscripts (in the Horsley edition). I think it is a stretch to see those sections as written by anybody other than Newton, although possibly not in the first draft (noting your timeline below) .. or the version sent to Locke.

As with the Vulgate Prologue and the Athanasius dialog with Arius and other documents, the higher burden of evidence should be on the idea that the first-person writings were put in with deceptive intent by third-parties unknown. Such ideas need more than evidence circumstantial, for many compelling reasons (Glenn Miller discusses this idea in terms of ancient documents including the Gospels quite nicely, Roger Pearse as well for the early church writers.)

Thus, I have to go, for now, with the idea that the Richard Simon references are at least from Newton. Maybe in 1690, maybe a spot later.

Two Notable Corruptions (Horsley edition)
For Father Simon tells us, "That, after a diligent search in the library of the king of France, and in that also of Monsieur Colbert, he could not find it in any one manuscript; though he consulted seven manuscripts in the king's library, and one in Colbert's."

See p. 192, 196 and p. 204 for more references.
We could check and see if that info was in the English edition.

So what is the basis for thinking that Newton had not consulted Simon ?

This article by Ron Iliffe discusses some of their similarities and differences.

Scripture and scholarship in early modern England (2006)
Friendly Criticism: Richard Simon, John Locke, Isaac Newton and the Johannine Comma
Ron Iliffe
What you have below is interesting, and complex. Thanks for putting it together. It would be interesting to pursue this further, and I accept that, for now, you have raised good issues about exactly what was in the original letter.

On the other hand, I do not see much of great sophistication in the Newton letter, and, before publication, he may have simply been concerned by how badly Simon's contra ideas were being torn apart in the marketplace of textual ideas (not mentioned by modern writers).. and decided not to get in the middle of a very difficult fray. Along with the doctrinal baggage issues, which could definitely affect his position.

[TC-Alternate-list] Newton Letters - Simon's influence, historical follow-up
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Steven Avery

This will give some sense of the different English editions through 1841, more complete than above.

Two letters of Sir Isaac Newton to Mr. Le Clerc, late Divinity Professor of the Remonstrants in Holland : the former containing a dissertation upon the reading of the Greek text, I John, v. 7 : the latter upon that of I Timothy, iii 16 / published from authentick MSS in the Library of the Remonstrants in Holland.(1754)

The Recorder (1803) p. 184-256
William Matthews of Bath
Newton's handwriting in the possession of Dr. Ekens, Dean of Carlisle

The Unitarian Miscellany and Christian Monitor, Volume 5
p. 292-310 (heavenly witnesses)

A collection of essays and tracts in theology, from various authors,with biographical and critical notices , Volume 2 (1823)

An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture: In a Letter to a Friend (1841)
Published Entire from a MS. in the Author's Hand-writing in the Possession of the Rev. Dr. Ekens, Dean of Carlisle'
Exactly reprinted from Bishop Horsley's Edition of Sir Isaac Newton's Works, vol. v<wbr>. 1785.
LONDON: John Green, 121 Newgate Street. 1841
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Steven Avery


Early references in the history.

Wettstein mentions the Newton work, per Letis p. 227
. Looking for the Letis reference, likely The ecclesiastical text: text criticism, biblical authority, and the popular mind (1997) not immediately available in my Asheville library. Letis has relevant information at it is not Wettstein mentioning Newton. I'll plan on checking more on the Letis material.

Prolegomena ad Novi Testamenti Graeci editionem accuratissimam: e vetustissimis codd. MSS. denuo procurandam; in quibus agitur de codd. MSS. N. Testamenti, scriptoribus Graecis qui N. Testamento usi sunt, versionibus veteribus, editionibus prioribus, & claris interpretibus; & proponuntur animadversiones & cautiones ad examen variarum lectionum N. T. necessariae (1730)

Letters in Answer to some Queries sent to the Author, concerning the genuine reading of the Greek Text, I TIM. iii. 16, now first published on occasion of Sir Isaac Newton's two letters to Mr. Le Clerc,<wbr>

Monthly Review (1759)
p. 114-115
Review of: Letters in Answer to some Queries sent to the Author, concerning the genuine reading of the Greek Text, I TIM. iii. 16, now first published on occasion of Sir Isaac Newton's two letters to Mr. Le Clerc,<wbr> (1758)
by John Mawer

This actually goes back to 1737-1738 lectures on 1 Timothy 3:16 and John Berriman responded in 1738. This shows some use of the Newton material in the 1730s. Details from Berriman will be put on the 1 Timothy 3:16 history sections.


Historical Summaries

Was Sir Isaac Newton a Unitarian (1830)
p. 281-287

Antitrinitarian biography (1850)
Robert Wallace

p. 434-445

Was Sir Isaac Newton a Unitarian (1858)

This has been an ongoing discussion. The two articles take opposite views.


File this above (get more info from library or purchase)

The religious opinions of Milton, Locke, and Newton
... Whiston having obtained his from Newton, before the two men became estranged. John Berriman (1691-1768), the third person said by Wetstein to have had a manuscript of the dissertations, was an Oxford graduate (1729) and the author of A
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Steven Avery

Hi Gowan.

Right now, only very quickly. Newton published a book c. 1690 that attacked the heavenly witnesses and "God was manifest in the flesh" as the text of 1 Timothy 3:16. This is often lauded in modern circles, since they also fight against those two incredible scriptures.

You can learn a lot by actually looking at the arguments used by Newton and compare them with where we are today.

I'm traveling in a few hours, maybe in a day I can do more, it would be easier if you told me what are your interests. This was written up more as a research holding help.

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To summarize, 1 John 5:7 in the KJV, called the Johannine Comma was added in Erasmus' 3rd edition of the Greek text (effectively the TR of the day for the English French and German reformation bibles), without explication, he having said explicitly before that he would not add it to his 2nd edition - "it was omitted in his first and second editions".
I guess someone got to him, as it is used to support the Trinity. The KJV picked it up.

Tyndale based his bible on the 2nd edition, perhaps because he was dead before the 3rd came out.

Issac Newton wrote a lengthy essay on it, which he called a pious fraud, but didn't dare publish the essay in England, because the fraud was then being used by the episcopals to
support the Trinity. Pious fraud was the best they could do, but they backed it up by up to life in prison for those who denied it. Newton saw what happened to his former protoge Whiston, who was more courageous and more overtly honest than he was.

Whiston did not include the Johannine Comma in his Whiston Primitive NT 1745 Bible

And it's not in the PeshittA.


It was the catholic Stunica that kindly provided Erasmus with a text with the Johannine Comma (and an offer he couldn't refuse?). His letters back to Pope Leo X in 1520 at the Vatican, forbidden for publication by the Pope and his successor, have now been published.
They prove Sir Issac Newton was right all along.

There's a good YouTube video that pulls the fraud all together.

They've been running these scams for over 500 years, perhaps 1500! No one should be surprised at the Vatican's role in the Codex Simonides.
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