Potamius of Lisbon

Steven Avery


Raymond Brown - Epistles of John, Anchor Bible, 1982
"....Priscillian, who is the first clear witness to the Comma."

Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman (Text of the NT - 4th ed, 2005, p. 147=148)
The oldest known citation of the Comma is in a fourth-century Latin treatise entitled Liber apologeticus (Chapter 4), attributed either to Priscillian or to his follower, Bishop Instantius of Spain.

Ian Howard Marshall, Epistles of John, 1978
"They are attested by a number of Latin writers, the earliest certain reference being in the Liber Apologeticus of the Spanish writer Priscillian (ob. c. 385) or his follower Instantius."

Grantley Robert McDonald - Raising the Ghost of Arius
"It is in another such a profession of faith—the Liber apologeticus (c. 380) of Priscillian, a Spanish bishop executed in 385 on charges of sorcery and heresy—that we first find the comma cited unambiguously."

Three of these four do not mention Potamius, Grantley only en passant.

So there is no reason that Priscillian becomes the terminus post quem for the heavenly witnesses being in the Latin Bibles! Scholarship often needs updating.

The six references in De Trinitate come to play, five often theorized around the time of Potamius. Also the Expositio Fidei Chatolice.

Steven Avery

Sick Bill Brown
"You apparently are incapable of sticking with the subject, which began as "which is the first certain citation."

The claim from Ehrman, which is being corrected:

"Priscillian is our earliest witness"

Which is simply false.
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Steven Avery

Henry Chadwick (1920-2008)
In the 1960s, along with scholars like E. R. Dodds, Peter Brown, and John Matthews, Chadwick helped make Oxford a centre in the developing study of Late Antiquity. He clarified the classical philosophical roots of Christian thinkers from Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria to Augustine of Hippo,[9] ... he was editor of Oxford Early Christian Texts (from 1970), and was able to work on two major monographs, Priscillian of Avila: the occult and the charismatic in the early Church (published 1976) and Boethius: the consolations of music, logic, theology and philosophy (published 1981)


Priscillian of Avila: The Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church (1976)
Henry Chadwick

[Chadwick] In the passage of the first tractate ...monotheism is underpinned not only by texts from the Old Testament but also by the "Comma Johanneum" ...the three heavenly witnesses in the first epistle of John (5:7-8). ...However, the case for thinking Priscillian himself the author of the interpolation carries no conviction. It is surely older... (Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila, 1997, p. 90)

Longer text

In the passage of the first tractate where the Binionites are attacked , monotheism is underpinned not only by texts from the Old Testament but also by the Comma Johanneum, the interpolation of the three heavenly witnesses in the first epistle of John (5:7-8). Priscillian is the first writer to provide certain attestation of the interpolated text which, in the form cited by him, ended 'and these three are one in Christ Jesus ' . However , the case for thinking Priscillian himself the author of the interpolation carries no conviction.1 It is surely older (Cyprian , De Unitate 6, comes close to it ), a modification of the text made in the West at a time when the Monarchian controversy was raging in the third century

Footnote 1 needed


Chapman on Priscillian and Cyprian Unity of the Church

PIC and we can expand (use Chadwick and Chapman in reponse to Ehrman!)


Si quis uero hanc fidem non habet, catholicus dici non potest; qui catholicam non tenet fidem, ALIENUS EST, PROFANUS EST, aduersus ueritatem rebellis est.

Cyprian, De Cath. Eccl. Unit. 6

Nec perueniet ad Christi praemia qui relinquit ecclesiam Christi; ALIENUS EST, PROFANUS EST, hostis est'


Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation
Bavinck et al


If it was quoted or assumed by Tertullian, it must have been extant as early as 190; and if Cyprian cited it, it must have been known about 220. If the African version contained the text, as attested by a manuscript from the fifth century and one from the seventh century, one can go back even farther, for the African version dates from around 160 and came to Italv around 250.


Raymond Brown is all over the map on the origination question

2. The Comma In Writers before Priscillian (A.D. 200-375)
Let us now look in the other direction to see if there was pre-Priscillian knowledge of the Comma. On the one hand, del Alamo (“Comma” 88—89) gives evidence to show that Priscillian was quite free with biblical texts and might well have shaped the Comma himself by combining the original I John passage with the reflections of the North African church writers (e.g., Cyprian) on the Trinity. On the other hand, as we saw in A2 above and also in the INTRODUCTION (VI B), there were early Latin additions to I John for which there is little or no support in Greek MSS.; and one may wonder if the origins of the Comma are to be divorced from such earlier Latin textual expansions. (24) Moreover, Riggenbach (Comma 382—86) argues on the basis of variants (25) that Priscillian’s was only one form of the Comma which, therefore, must have antedated him. (However, Lemmonyer, “Comma” 71-72, points out that variants would have arisen when the Comma was still a meditation on I John 5:7-8 and before it became part of the Latin biblical text.) One way to control these theoretical observations is to check through the church writers before Priscillian for knowledge of the Comma; and because of subsequent history, particular attention must be paid to North Africa. In Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean (25.1; CC 2, 1195), written ca. 215, he comments on John 16:14 in terms of the connection among the Father, the Son, and the Paraclete: “These three are one thing [unam] not one person [unus] as it is said, ‘My Father and I are one’ [John 10:30]” This is scarcely a reference to the Comma, but it should be kept in mind as we turn to Cyprian (d. 258), another North African.26 In De ecclesiae catholicae unitate 6 (CC 3, 254) Cyprian states, “The Lord says, ‘The Father and I are one [John 10:30],’and again of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit it is written, ‘And three are one.”27 There is a good chance that Cyprian’s second citation, like the first, is Johannine and comes from the OL text of I John 5:8, which says, “And these three are one,” in reference to the Spirit, the water, and the blood. His application of It to the divine trinitarian figures need not represent a knowledge of the Comma,28 but rather a continuance of the reflections of Tertullian combined with a general patristic tendency to invoke any scriptural group of three as symbolic of or applicable to the Trinity. In other words, Cyprian may exemplify the thought process that gave rise to the Comma. That Cyprian did not know the Comma Is suggested by its absence In the early Pseudo-Cyprian work Dc rebaptismate which twice (15 and 19; CSEL 38, 88, 92) cites the standard text of I John 5:7_. 8.29Similarly other church writers, even in North Africa, who knew Cyprian’s work show no knowledge of the Comma. In particular, the mid-sixth-century African, Facundus of Hermiane, in his Pro Defensione Trium Capitulorum ad Iustinianum (1.3.9—14; CC 90A, 12—14), cites I John 5:7—8 without the Comma (which he does not seem to know) as proof for the Trinity—the trinitarian references are derived from the significance of the Spirit, the water, and the blood. Facundus then goes on to quote Cyprian in the same vein, thus understanding Cyprian to have given a trinitarian interpretation of the standard I John text.

25 These may be seen from comparing the Comma In Priscillian’s Liber apologeticus, in Contra Varimadum, and in the Palimpsest of León.

26 It has been argued seriously by Thiele and others that Cyprian knew the Comma, a knowledge which would make second- or third-Century
North Africa the most probable area of origin. I would rather speak of area of formation.

27 See also Cyprian’s Epistula 73.12 (CSEL 32, 787) where the same “three are one” statement is applied to God. Christ, and the Spirit without a reference to Scripture.

28 Somewhat favorable to Cyprian’s knowledge of the Comma is that he knew other Latin additions to the Greek text of I John, e.g., the addition to 2:17 (NOTE on 2: 17e). Unfavorable to knowledge of the Comma is his use of “Son” instead of "Word,” although that is an occasional variant in the text of the Comma, e.g., Fulgentius, Contra Fabianum (Frag. 21.4; CC 91.4, 797), applies the “three are one” to the Divine Persons, and speaks of the “Son.” while in his Responsio contra Arianos (cited above) he speaks of the “Word.”

29 The Pseudo-Cyprianic Sermo de Centesima, published by L Reitzenstein, ZNW 15 (1914) 60—90, is attributed by H. Koch, ZNW 31(1932) 248, to fourth-century Africa and (possibly) to a follower of Priscillian, drawing upon Cyprian’s works. It speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as “three witnesses” without any reference to I John (PL Supp 1, 65; Reitzenstein, 87).


Ancient Magic and Ritual Power
edited by Paul Mirecki, Meyer


The Making of a Heretic
Virginia Burrus

Priscillian's introductory remarks include a condemnation of the "Binionites," those who divide Christ from God.[57] All the tractates place great stress on the unity of Christ and God, and Priscillian may well have created the Binionites—who appear only in his writings—as a fitting counterpart to his own highly unitive theology.[58]

58. Chadwick suggests that the "Binionite" heresy was coined by Priscillian in response to accusations that he was a "Unionite," pointing out that the term "Unionita" is applied to Sabellius by a work falsely attributed to Jerome ( Indiculus de haeresibus ), which may be based on the Apology of Ithacius ( Priscillian of Avila , p. 87). However, there is in fact no evidence that Priscillian's unitive theology was an issue in the controversies of his lifetime. In 400, trinitarian issues were implicitly raised in the demand of the Council of Toledo that the Galicians Symphosius and Comasius condemn Priscillian's statement that the Son is innascibilis ( Exemplar , ll. 27-37, 52-58). It was not until the second decade of the fifth century that Orosius explicitly charged Priscillian with trinitarian errors: "Trinitatem autem solo verbo loquebatur, nam unionem absque ulla existentia aut proprietate adserens sublato 'et' patrem filium spiritum sanctum hunc esse unum Christum docebat" ( Commonitorium de errore Priscillianistarum et Origenistarum 2). Several mid-fifth-century documents that also stem from Galicia associate Priscillianism with the failure to distinguish adequately between the persons of the Trinity and consequently with the claims that either God suffered or the man Jesus did not suffer. But Abilio Barbero de Aguilera argues that the anti-Priscillianist Regula fidei falsely attributed to the Council of Toledo (400) is in fact a mid-fifth-century revision of a fourth-century document reflecting the trinitarian concerns of an earlier, pre-Priscillianist era; the redacted Regula fidei in turn shaped the anti-Priscillianist Commonitorium and Libellus that Turibius of Astorga addressed to Leo of Rome (preserved only in Leo, Ep. 15) and the anti-Priscillianist chapters of the Council of Braga (561) ("El priscilianismo: ¿Herejía o movimiento social?" 25-41)


Continue checking Grantley-Westmisnter and RGA, Tarmo Toon, KJVToday and Tim Dunkin, skim Burrus and more.
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