James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses - Proverbs 18:17

Steven Avery

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James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses - Proverbs 18:17

when James Snapp made lucid arguments on the heavenly witnesses evidemces

James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses

James in brown

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum - James Snapp

Lets go over this article by James Snapp.


"Comma Johanneum in Greek manuscripts is staggeringly poor."

Virtually all these mss are late, and the Greek Byzantine text had normalized on omission. So, how many are before 500 AD? 700 AD? 900 AD? (you can even include the SInaiticus 1800s ms). That information is critical in such a discussion of the significance of omission.


"The Latin support for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum is plentiful, and its earliest components are only slightly later than the earliest manuscript-evidence for non-inclusion."

This "slightly later" is absurd, as it is circular to the Snapp later lack of logic. Cyprian is clearly far earlier than any omission ms. evidence. There are numerous supporting early allusions, e.g. Hundredfold Martyrs has been in the modern version apparatus as Ps-Cyprian. Cyprian (two refs), Tertullian and Hundredfold Martyrs give you four (and more) components earlier than any ms, two of which have even been in the tinged modern apparatus.


In listing the major fully accepted references (even by hardened contras) evidences, the 10 Books on the Trinity, that have multiple references, is omitted.

Numerous lesser references are omitted. Even a trip to Wikipedia would have filled in many of these gaps.


The Councils of Carthage section is fair, James omits a few salient points. One perplexity I will mention here:

"about four hundred bishops of Africa and Mauritania, together with others from Corsica and Sardinia, met in Carthage"
Thomas Joseph Lamy, American Ecclesiastical Review, 1 John v 7, 1897 p.464

How did James reduce this to "over 100"?


"more probably by Vigilius Tapsensis in North Africa "

As I remember, this is old scholarship, quite dubious, yet commonly repeated.


"the CJ is mentioned in the Preface to the Canonical Epistles"

James is extremely deceptive here, since he does not even mention that this is a first-person writing of Jerome. And consistent with Jerome's history, style and knowledge.

James has tried to take the position that it is a forgery, but has never been willing to try to expound and defend that position, which really is a frivolous objection of no merit. Especially since the original accusation was built upon the idea that the Prologue only showed up in later mss.

Probably understood, this is one of the super-evidences, like Cyprian, like Carthage, like the grammar and internal evidences, which, with the large Old Latin and Latin ms body of evidence, any one of which is probative to authenticity.


(to be continued
The Diversion of the Negative Analogy - Missing the Real Analogy

Now I want to stop for a moment on the "negative analogy", the analogy that misses the point, and thus does more harm than good. This is a skill that James has honed.

"Against the point that none of the early Greek manuscripts of First John contain the CJ, the counterpoint may be submitted that Hort, in 1881, argued for six readings in the General Epistles which are likewise supported by no ancient Greek manuscripts – and in 2013, the Nestle-Aland compilers adopted a reading into the text of Second Peter 3:10 that is found in no Greek manuscripts. Clearly, at least among some highly influential textual critics, the lack of early Greek manuscript support does not rule out the plausibility of a textual variant."

We don't really care about some Critical Text absurdities and oddball variants. The simplest and strongest analogy verse to the heavenly witnesses is Acts 8:37, a verse that James has defended as authentic scripture. It has many similar elements.

1) full verse
2) doctrinally salient
3) easy methods to omission
4) likelihood of inclusion over omission a basic textual truth
5) blatant obvious lacuna if verse is omitted
6) weak Greek support
7) strong ECW and Latin support

The major differences it that the heavenly witnesses has a powerful grammatical argument.

Looking at Critical Text silliness is barely even majoring in the minors, it is just a distraction from the real issues, looking instead to non-issues and pseudo-issues.
James Snapp misrepresentation of heavenly witnesses defense
"So those who defend the CJ may have an answer to Dan Wallace’s charge that they are denying history. They are proposing that early scribal errors resulted in the corruption of all of the early Greek manuscripts"

Here we have Snapp engaging in error begets error, following his own errant emphasis. He pretends that pure Bible defenders of the heavenly witnesses rely on homoeoteleuton as their full argument.

The theory of omission includes two major complementary components:

1) doctrinal preference
2) homoeoteleuton

The "history" can easily involve both components. Homoeoteleuton leads to a missing verse, while doctrinal preferences lead to accepting the mangled, shortened verse in a scribal decision, faced with alternative manuscripts. The ONLY virtually impossible scenario is (2) -- homoeoteleuton only. Far more likely is either (2) followed by (1) or simply (1). The advantage of (2) followed by (1) is that it keeps a level of scribal integrity, but (1) alone is surely possible. The major dropping of the Greek line could have occurred during the "Sabellian" controversies, where "and these three are one" might be seen as too supportive of their position.

If James was really familiar with the writings of men like Edward Freer Hills and Henry Thomas Armfield, he would be more aware of this element. There are many reasons why in the Ante-Nicene period (referred to by Hills and Armfield), or even in the Reformation era, scribes would prefer the shortened, mangled verse.

In the latter period, better known, a couple of names to research would be Bugenhagen and Luther, and Grotius. Even Erasmus may have well been influenced to hold back the verse in the editions 1 & 2 by what is called his semi-Arian doctrine.

The last thing in the world AV and heavenly witnesses defenders need is James Snapp doing a faux formulation of our arguments.

My view, we really do not need frenemies of the pure Bible posturing, and thus pretending to speak for us.
The Phantasmogorical idea of Cyprian Allegorizing

The next argument from James is a total fail. You can not make a reasonable analogy from 400 AD or 600 AD to mystical or allegorical interpretations and try to force them back on Cyprian and try to force them back on Cyprian in 250 AD in the Ante-Nicene era before the Arian controversies.

1) Cyprian is a careful quoter of scripture. And in the Unity of the Church quote he specifically says he is quoting scripture.

2) By 400 to 600 AD you had a whole history of back and forth with the heavenly and earthly witnesses. As an example the paper by Fickermann proposes that Augustine was well aware of the heavenly witnesses and simply preferred to bypass the verse (likely knowing that it involved split line theory). The doctrinal and textual echos of the heavenly witnesses would be the root cause the very selfsame later allegorizing.

The idea of James that you can backward analogize from Scotti Anonymi to Cyprian is a joke. Many astute writers like Armfield and Pieper have dealt with this phony argumentation. Marty Shue dealt with this years ago in the online discussions. Yes, it could be its own mini-paper.

"when these nouns are rearranged as “the water and the blood and the spirit,” a symbolic interpretation becomes much more natural."

Not for Cyprian, there is no way to mangle his precise writing and do a wild mind-reading, except as a worthless ultra-conjectural nothing.

Omission as Trickery

The last point about this Cyprian article is tricky omission, how James deceives in trying to pretend to be giving an overview of all the issues.

The massive Latin mss preponderance is bypassed.

The virtually complete Old Latin ms support is unmentioned.

Many ECW evidences in Greek and Latin are unmentioned.

The knowledge that omission is easy, inclusion is difficult.

The believer's understanding of the providential imperative. God would not "fool" a major part of his church with a faux fundamental scripture.

1 John 5:4-9
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ;
not by water only, but by water and blood.
And it is the Spirit that beareth witness,
because the Spirit is truth.
For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one.
And there are three that bear witness in earth,
the spirit, and the water, and the blood:
and these three agree in one.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater:
for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

"Internal" evidences, including the solecism, are unmentioned. This includes the incredible Johannine style and wording, and elements like the flat repetition when verse 7 is omitted, the "witness of God" in verse 9 pointing right back to the heavenly witnesses and more.

You almost have to be an ignoramus, or at least dull to the life of the scripture (or a modern textual critic), to try to argue against this verse with the wealth of support now available. The heavenly witnesses is the heart and mariner's compass (Bengel and Wesley) of the chapter, the Epistle and the writings of John.
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Steven Avery

Tertullian as a SOLID heavenly witnesses reference/allusion

Finished with the James Snapp paper.

This thread is a continuation from:

King James Bible Debate
John Mill reference.

Where there is ongoing discussion.
The next part goes well with the recent John Lupia page.

Tertullian as a SOLID heavenly witnesses reference/allusion

Corroborating Cyprian and other evidences.

From above:
"here are numerous supporting early allusions, e.g. Hundredfold Martyrs has been in the modern version apparatus as Ps-Cyprian. Cyprian (two refs), Tertullian and Hundredfold Martyrs give you four (and more) components earlier than any ms, two of which have even been in the tinged modern apparatus."


One thing that is important is that the Tertullian Adversus Praxean (thee are others too, but this one is key) reference is actually solid, when you look at the full context:


“So the close series of the Father in the Son and the Son in the Paraclete makes three who cohere, the one attached to the other. And these three are one substance, not one person (qui tres unum sunt, non unus) in the sense in which it was said ‘I and the Father are one' [John 10:30], in respect of unity of substance, not of singularity of number.” - i. Advertus Praxean 25 (121 [L]169 [ET]

Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives
Francis Schüssler Fiorenza modifies the Robert Evan translation


So in the context of talking of the Father, the Son (with == to the Word) and the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) Tertullian actually discusses two main understandings that have still been discussed frequently from Erasmus and Calvin to today -- are the three in one in substance, or number .. another idea that comes up is agreement.

Why would he have that discussion?

Simply because of the "three are one" in 1 John 5:7. Confirmed in the Bible of the day in the same era by Cyprian, Hundredfold Witnesses and other evidences.

And I might add other translations and commentary, but this just hit me today when looking at the grammar issues and page discussing Thomas Burgess .. so here it is!
Robert Kacak

Right! Tertullian's reference to "three are one" is in the context of writing about the Trinity. This CJ reference is paired with Jn 10:30.

And Cyprian does the same exact thing, and pairs the CJ phrase with John 10:30, but this time adds "it is written".

Other important things scholars fail to consider and mention are Cyprian was Tertullian's disciple, who took over as master of his Greek school. They categorize both of them as Latin Fathers, but never reveal their greek writings. Surely if they were mentioning any scripture in the Latin, it would have to match the greek.
Steven Avery

Exactly. Cyprian especially was likely quite adept at Greek, there was no Chinese language wall among the scholars of the day. As for Tertullian's Greek, I would have to check a bit my notes. However, there is no doubt that these men are witnesses to the Latin and Greek texts of their time.

And you are right to point out that both men pair John 10:30 with the heavenly witnesses. Such corroborative testimony increases the value multi-fold.

Tertullian's Greek is covered in the John Lupia post.

Steven Avery
A 2015 post about Cyprian's knowledge of Greek
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Steven Avery

Steve Rafalsky shares - getting to the spiritual heart of the matter

Facebook - The Received Text

Steve Rafalsky
Thank you for your response, James. I have looked over your site at the places you linked to, and you have done a lot of work opposing the authenticity of the TR at 1 John 5:7 (as many others also have in the last few centuries). But in so doing you have placed yourself and your suppositions—both historical and textual—above a great company of men whose godly learning and wisdom, access to manuscripts provided in the Lord’s providence, and expertise in the languages involved—and in the estimation of those of us who trust our God’s providence in this matter—are to be trusted over you and those of your company of independent text critics . . . from our vantage, loose cannons.

As it is now, we are pleased to be among those who confess to the LORD’s faithfulness in providing for us an intact Bible according to His promises to us to preserve His word in its minute purity, according to the Scriptures I posted above. We declare our faith as expressed in these Reformed Confessions, all of which contain 1 John 5:7 in their Scripture proof texts:

Westminster Confession of Faith 1646 2.3
Westminster Shorter Catechism Answer 6 (The original text of 1647, with the Assembly’s proof texts)
The London Baptist Confession of 1689 2:3
The Belgic Confession of 1561, Article 9 quotes the passage: “There are three who bear witness in heaven– the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit– and these three are one.”
The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, Lord’s Day 8, Q&A 25, footnote 5

It is a matter of trust, and you do not have ours. We trust those who confess the Reformed Faith.
Steve understands that the struggle of James Snapp is one more of unsure faith and wavering belief than of scholastic analysis.

I would say the CJ didn’t “squeak through” but was ushered into the TR by the LORD’s providence.

I note that the piece you linked to above on your blog, “Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum”, had a comment from the author of the site, Pure Bible, giving a link to interaction with you on Cyprian. Reading Steven Avery’s remarks brought to mind

Proverbs 18:17:
“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just;
but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.”

Steven also referred to Martin Shue’s response to Daniel Wallace, whom you recommended.

I think I do well to steer clear of you, James. You really are not trustworthy in your scholarship, although you think to foist upon the world yet another New Testament—James E Snapp Jr contra mundum—setting aside the godly wisdom and skill of men the LORD brought together to give His people a sure Bible . . . which Reformation you diss with a wave of your hand as a raft of mere “tradition”.

I do perceive why you MUST attack the TR, the translations made from it, and the Reformation Confessions, as they stand in the way of what you purpose. If the TR is sound then your work—the macro view, the supposition that drives it—is false, and your NT unneeded. So for the very life of you you must seek to tear down what by its very existence opposes you. The world is not big enough to hold both you and the Reformation

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