Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald


Staff member
Grantley Robert McDonald has written two books that are rather unique.

McDonald, G. (2016). Bibliography. In Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (pp. 323-374). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781316408964.010

All Grantley McDonald material used per the fair use provisions of copyright law, as described here:

Pure Bible Forum
copyright and fair use - USA and International

"the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

These books are meant to be contra the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses.
Ironically, they can work as tremendous tools to help pure Bible defenders, as you learn to walk through the fuzz and buzz.
The strong point: the referencing is very helpful from the 1500s to today. What is quoted, is quoted well.

Grantley has a definite negative position on authenticity that affects what evidences he presents and his evaluation of their significance.
Analyzing his books can really, really inform us on many issues, as a jumping off spot to understand:

1) the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses
2) the general issue of a scholarship sieve that is used by those contra authenticity.

These posts might be a little free-form :) .

Some information is started off here, on how the grammatical is handled:

Facebook - PureBible group - September, 2017
Steven Avery
Acknowledging the Erasmus connection to Luther and the Reformation

Important information on Valladolid, the solecism and other info.
post on Grantley, Erasmus and Valledolid

"Grantley McDonald is funny, because he always puts on his anti-heavenly-witnesses glasses.
However, he did a decent job ferreting out some of the factual material."

Solecism in the Corruption Text
Constructio ad Sensum

Additional Facebook posts utilizing Grantley's material:

Facebook - Pure Bible
Origen usage of the Heavenly witnesses
Origen, Psalm 122 and Richard Porson

Facebook - Pure Bible - Jan, 2018
Eugenius Bulgaris gets some long-overdue scholarship recognition!


Facebook - Pure Bible
Heavenly Witnesses - Vulgate Prologue
Points to PBF
Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald

Facebook - Pure Bible - Jan 29, 2018
heavenly witnesses - Erasmus notes the grammarians being tortured by the corruption solecism

Facebook - Pure Bible Group
Jerome - Heavenly Witnesses !
small reference

"This section of Jerome’s commentary constitutes the incipit of Augustine’s Sermo de sancta trinitate , PL 39:2173 (Appendix, Sermo 232), as noted by Fischer, 2007, 119." - The Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald,p. 55
Fischer, Franz.
“Wilhelm von Auxerre, Summa de officiis ecclesiasticis.” Diss. Köln, 200

And here I plan to add any helpful material from the:

various references within the Pure Bible Forum.
Facebook Heavenly Witnesses forum
general net discussions

I'll plan on a separate short review of The Ghost of Arius book as well (perhaps the Biblical Criticism book as well).
And, time and energy permitting, I plan to go chapter-by-chapter here on the PBF.
As well as continuing the topical method, which really gives a better overview of how evidences are handled, mishandled or omitted.

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Steven Avery

how Raising the Ghost of Arius handles the Vulgate Prologue evidence

Let us look at the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome, one of the super-evidences.

Grantley refers to this evidence frequently, largely because it was front and center in the Erasmus discussions with Lee and Stunica.
He bypasses many important elements, but first, let us look at how he argues against the evidence.

For more details about the Vulgate Prologue, go to the section:

Pure Bible Forum
Vuglate Prologue - super-evidence

"Antoine Augustin Calmet (1672-1757) in 1726 in French orders the five reasons of Martianay, and supports authenticity."

Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Operum tomus primus [-quintus], studio et labore monachorum ordinis S. Benedicti e congregatione S. Mauri (1693)
Vulgate Prologue

and and opposition to the authenticity is summarized as five arguments. However, those arguments received solid responses, and you would be hard put to find anybody today seriously giving any of them as a strong evidence for non-authenticity. (And because of the first person nature of the writing, non-authenticity must mean forgery.)

It is hard to separate the internal arguments of the Vulgate Prologue from the question of the heavenly witnesses defense, where the Prologue was seen as inauthentic simply because of how it referenced the heavenly witnesses verse. In terms of textual history, though, that is a circular argument. If fact, the evidences in the early centuries, like Tertullian and Cyprian, and the grammatical solecism in the short text, are fascinating and often hotly contested.

If the Vulgate Prologue is authentic, the simple and consistent understanding, this is virtually proof of the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses verse.

If the Vulgate Prologue were some type of forgery (a very difficult theory) this would simply greatly lessen its status from a super-evidence to a harder to understand anomaly evidence.

For this reason, the opponents of the verse, like Grantley, simply prefer to assume inauthenticity.

And in the meantime, many people opposed to authenticity had emphasized the lateness of the Prologue, which they thought was production around 800 AD. based on the known mss. However, the Prologue was then discovered in Codex Fuldensis, dated 546 and written under the auspices of the learned Victor of Capua. This was published by Ernst Ranke (1814-1888) in 1868. So the whole lateness argument was discarded. Oops. Often, this was the one major argument!

So nowhere in the 450 page book of Grantley McDonald, where the Vulgate Prologue is a key evidence, does Grantley even give the arguments against authenticity!

Nonetheless, Grantley repeatedly asserts without evidence that this is a forgery. Or at least pseudonymous in some way, ps-Jerome, with an unspecified time and place of authorship. (A theory with huge difficulties, since it is a first-person document.) Even when referencing discussions where authenticity as a document from Jerome was accepted, Grantley will use an anachronistic designation like 'ps-Jerome'.

To make it worse, not only is Grantley aware of the (weak) arguments given by the Benedictine Martianay, Grantley refers to the writings of a number of men who forcefully answered these arguments. Without giving even a peep of acknowledgement of this element of their writings. Many of the following scholars are referenced by Grantley:

David Martin (French and English translation)
Louis Roger (French),
Edmund Calamy (English)
Antoine Augustin Calmet (French)
Ambrosius Dorhout (Latin)
John Jones (English)
Frederick Nolan (English)
William Craig Brownlee (English)
Antoine Genoud (French)
Daniel McCarthy (English)
Charles Vincent Dolman (English).

Dorhout, Jones, Brownlee, Genoud, McCarthy and Dolman are not mentioned in Raising the Ghost of Arius.

Also Petrus Pithaeus (1500s scholar, referenced very respectfully on this point, noted as a top scholar even by Richard Simon). Jean Mabillon and John Fell are mentioned as defenders of authenticity, which is authorship by Jerome, by Edmund Calamy. These are separated because they came before any real attempt to claim non-authenticity by giving various arguments. Similarly Thomas Smith (1638-1710) who often countered arguments by Richard Simon. John Fell forcefully countered the omission of the Vulgate Prologue from the Works of Jerome by Erasmus,

There had been some minor questioning, especially since Erasmus had dubiously omitted the Prologue from his edition of Jerome's writings. And John Fell forcefully pointed out that this was simply improper by Erasmus (did the heavenly witnesses evidence affect Erasmus here? Similarly why did he not mention Cyprian's reference in Unity of the Church?) Remember that the main argument (lateness of mss with the Prologue) poofed away with the publication of Fuldensis by Ranke in 1868.

As a little side-note, Martianay was a solid defender of heavenly witnesses verse authenticity, contra Simon, thus his arguing weakly on this Vulgate Prologue issue should be seen simply as a quirk, rather than an agenda

If Grantley had given the weak Martianay arguments, proper scholarship would have led him to mention and reference the responses. And readers would see that there really was no basis for the non-authenticity argument. So Grantley wrote superficially on the debate about Vulgate Prologue authenticity.

Grantley did include Thomas Smith, whose Latin section can be read here, however this was before the Martianay attempt to claim inauthenticity:

Altera miscellanea: responsio ad Simonii cavillationes ; Integritas loci 1 Jo. V, 7 ; Defensio contra exceptiones Simonii ; Commentarius in 2am Petri epistolam. [Apendix contra Simonem] (1690)

Here is how Grantley gave Smith:

Smith defends the attribution of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles to Jerome, though he notes that “Erasmus and Socinus work hard to dissolve the strength and the bond of this testimony, by which they realise that they are bound. They turn and twist this way and that; and lest they should seem to be struck dumb, flatter themselves that this matter is to be disentangled with untrustworthy and dishonest answers.” As Smith reports, Fausto Sozzini suggested in his commentary on the Johannine epistles that Jerome had chanced upon a copy containing the comma—perhaps even several—and assuming that this reading was correct, complained that the texts more generally in use were corrupt; Smith characterises Sozzini’s hypothesis as “pure, vile calumny” (mera & putida calumnia). However, Smith’s argument seems to acknowledge tacitly that it was he who was in a bind. To follow Selden’s sceptical attitude towards Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant jettisoning a powerful piece of evidence for the authenticity of the comma; but to maintain Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant having to deal with the suggestions of Erasmus and Sozzini that Jerome’s version did not represent the text as commonly accepted in his day, or—even worse—that Jerome had interpolated the comma into the text himself.
Once again, the fallacy of the false dichotomy. And this is not even a discussion of authenticity. This is Smith responding to the absurd arguments and implications that Jerome had fabricated the verse, or had been duped or dishonest in some way. Thus, the last sentences from Grantley .. "However, Smith's argument.." does not make sense, logically.

I now cover this in its own post, below.

"but to maintain Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant having to deal with the suggestions of Erasmus and Sozzini that Jerome’s version did not represent the text as commonly accepted in his day, or—even worse—that Jerome had interpolated the comma into the text himself."
If we accept Jerome's authorship of the Prologue (which is affirmed by positive evidences everywhere, and has, to date, not a single decent contra argument), the antiquity and authenticity of the heavenly witnesses is essentially proven. And with a split line, there is no "text as commonly accepted."

Everyone senses this truth, which is why contras have come with a barrage of conflicting denial alternatives. Grantley has to create false dichotomies to divert from the real issues. Jerome indicated that the text was split in his day and that many preferred Bible editions without the verse. And he indicated similar in the Psalm 91 homily.

And who cares about the totally ridiculous hypothesis of Jerome as the fabricator and interpolater? This was an absurdity in the 1500s and 1600s, and is even more so today. Today we have a wealth of ECW and Old Latin manuscript evidence that double and triple seals the issue. To those with a bit of sense, Cyprian alone totally refutes any theory of a later interpolater, like Jerome.

This prologue was generally ascribed to Jerome until the seventeenth century, when John Selden, Christoph Sand and Richard Simon
argued that it is a pseudonymous forgery.
This misrepresents their positions, so we will look here at all three men shortly.

John Selden -
in 1653 he was unsure, writing doubtfully on the subject (Turton), with no words about a "pseudonymous forgery"
Selden, 1653, 2:136;
Selden, John. De Synedriis & Præfecturis Iuridicis veterum Ebræorum liber secundus. London: Flesher, 1653.
"licet inquam haec ita se omnia habuerint, nihilominus manifesto liquet ex Hieronmymo (si modo is autor sit genuinus prologi nomen ejus prae se suo in aevo, faltem a fe codices tam Graecos quam Latinos pro corruptis habitos, quibus deesset comma hoc.serentis in Epistolas Canonicas) ... "

Christoph Sand

Richard Simon


In another spot I discuss Grantley's absurd anachronism (to later deficient scholarship) of calling the Prologue "notorious", even though all the writers, Lee, Stunica, Erasmus and Pio, fully accepted Jerome's authorship.



One of the most important elements of these studies was Erasmus de facto accusing Jerome of creating/forging the heavenly witnesses verse. Somehow, Grantley keeps this out of his dissertation and book, except in the Annotationes translation in the Appendix.

The details here are moved to a later post on this thread.


Grantley should review all his scholarship on the Vulgate Prologue, carefully taking into consideration the critiques above, with a special emphasis on the false dichotomies and the faux assumptions of forgery.


We will see the same type of concern in how Grantley approaches major evidences.
Including Cyprian, the grammar solecism and the Council of Carthage.

Above, I simply pulled out the Vulgate Prologue for the first fairly full analysis.

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Steven Avery

Eugenius Bulgaris - in Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe book

How Grantley McDonald approaches the grammatical issues is also very interesting.

Eugenius Bulgaris, the single most important scholar, is missing completely in The Ghost of Arius, as shown in the post below. Despite being extremely important in the heavenly witnesses debate history.

That was partly due to space issues, as Grantley shared with me in discussion. Yet that does not explain how Eugenius' name was missing in the short list of those who used the grammatical argument!

There was some information put into the 2016 book.

Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (2016)
Grantley McDonald

In 1780, Eugenius Bulgaris (1716-1806), former archbishop of Cherson, who had studied in Italy and had visited Germany and France, received an enquiry from Christian Friedrich Matthaei, a German who had recently been appointed professor of classics at Moscow. Matthaei asked Bulgaris about the quotation of the comma in the text of Bryennius, which Bulgaris had edited some years before. Bulgaris replied on 10 December 1780, confirming the presence of the comma in the manuscript of Bryennius. Bulgaris also showed considerable knowledge of the critical discussions of the passage in the west, from Erasmus to Mill. He was of the opinion that the Johannine comma was known to Tertullian and Cyprian; the presence of the comma in the African text of the Latin Vulgate was indicated by the fact that it was cited by the bishops who appeared before Hunneric. 159 As further evidence for the genuineness of the comma, Bulgaris noted the lack of grammatical coordination between the masculine τρεις μαρτυρουντες and the three neuter nouns το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα. He remarked that although it is possible in Greek to agree masculine or feminine nouns with neuter adjectives or pronouns, the reverse was unusual; one would more normally expect τρία εἰσι τὰ μαρτυροῦντα ... καὶ τὰ τρία (neuter grammar). Bulgaris seems then to be the first to have argued for the genuineness of the comma through the argument from grammar, but he advanced these arguments in the light of the critical controversies in the Latin world.160 Matthaei was not won over by Bulgaris’ arguments. He might have been convinced that the passage had dropped out of the Greek text through eye-skip if he had found at least the words ‘in earth’ εν τη γη in one manuscript, but to date he had not found this reading in any manuscript.161 p. 114-115
159 Tertullian, Adversus Praxean xxv.i, CCSL 2:1195 (cf. CSEL 47:267; PL 2:188); Cyprian of Carthage, De catholicae ecclesiae imitate 6, CCSL 3:254 (cf. CSEL 3.1:215; PL 4:503-504), Cyprian, Epist. 73.12, CCSL 30:542—543 (cf. CSEL 3.2:786—787); Victor Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae, CSEL 7:60 (cf. PL 58:227-228).
160 An extract from the letter is reprinted in Matthaei 1782, lvi—lxii. On Bulgaris, see Tennent 1830, 2:292-295.
161 Matthaei 1782, 140.
Grantley JPG.jpg
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Steven Avery

the grammatical issues in The Ghost of Arius (solecism and Middleton on the article)

Amazingly, in the longer, more extensive, first book, a nine-page section did not even mention Eugenius. Even though he is the single most important figure in the grammatical discussion. Let's look at the grammar passages.

Many of those who support the authenticity of the comma argue that its omission creates an unacceptable solecism in the grammar of the passage. Edward F. Hills, the most learned of modern defenders of the comma, concluded:

“it is not impossible that the Johannine comma was one of those few true readings of the Latin Vulgate not occurring in the Traditional Greek Text but incorporated into the Textus Receptus under the guiding providence of God. In these rare instances God called upon the usage of the Latin-speaking Church to correct the usage of the Greek speaking Church.”1 - p. 13
hmm... why not give Edward Freer Hills on the grammar? (And other issues like the homoeoteleuton possibility and the Sabellian controversies.) The solecism description is never given in the 450 page book! SA: 6/2022 - correction, given one time from Nolan.

Edward Freer Hills
In the third place, the omission of the Johannine comma involves a grammatical difficulty. The words spirit, water, and blood are neuter in gender, but in 1 John 5:8 they are treated as masculine. If the Johannine comma is rejected, it is hard to explain this irregularity. It is usually said that in 1 John 5:8 the spirit, the water, and the blood are personalized and that this is the reason for the adoption of the masculine gender. But it is hard to see how such personalization would involve the change from the neuter to the masculine. For in verse 6 the word Spirit plainly refers to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. Surely in this verse the word Spirit is "personalized," and yet the neuter gender is used. Therefore since personalization did not bring about a change of gender in verse 6, it cannot fairly be pleaded as the reason for such a change in verse 8. If, however, the Johannine comma is retained, a reason for placing the neuter nouns spirit, water, and blood in the masculine gender becomes readily apparent. It was due to the influence of the nouns Father and Word, which are masculine. Thus the hypothesis that the Johannine comma is an interpolation is full of difficulties.
In The Ghost of Arius

2. Determining the place of the comma in 1 John 5 from grammar and context p. 14-22
Most of the section is about interpretation. Just two or three snippets on grammar.

One argument frequently made to support the authenticity of the comma is the so-called “argument from grammar’ often associated with Frederick Nolan (1815), Louis Gaussen (1840) and Robert Dabney (1890), and still promoted by “King James Only” advocates such as Peter S. Ruckman (1973), Jack A. Moorman (1988) and Michael Maynard (1995). Nolan believed that the comma was an integral part of the Greek text, but had been removed by Eusebius out of a secret inclination to Arianism. To support this hypothesis he argued that while the masculine participle ... (“those bearing witness”) in verse 7 requires at least one masculine referent, the neuter nouns... (spirit), ... (water) and ... (blood) in verse 8 cannot serve as referents without creating a grammatical problem. This apparent solecism, he argued, disappears if the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are made the referent of the participle, thus proving that a reference to the Trinity must have been an original and integral part of the text.2
p. 14
Oops, not Son, but Word, is in the text. And Nolan rarely mentions the Trinity doctrine and not at all in the context of the grammatical discussions, which are omitted by Grantley. Here are some spots where Nolan discusses the grammar. You can quickly see why Grantley does not want to give the substance of the argument!

An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek vulgate, or received text of the New Testament (1815)


Supplement to an inquiry into the integrity of the Greek vulgate (1830)

Grantley is continually looking at every issue through his Trinitarian vs. Arian glasses, and this makes it hard for him to simply look at an issue like the solecism with a full objective scholarship examination.


On p. 21 he briefly mentions the "sense" (or constructio ad sensum) idea of Erasmus without mentioning that he referred to tortured grammar.

In a forensic interpretation of this passage, we see that the twin testimonies of blood and water, and the divine testimony of the Spirit, are personified as witnesses appearing before the tribunal of our belief. It is thus not at all strange that they should be qualified by a masculine plural participle, even if the words themselves are grammatically neuter. It is a simple case of constructio ad sensum.17 As Erasmus remarks in his Annotationes: “The Apostle pays more regard to the sense than to the words, and for three witnesses, as if they were three people, he substitutes three things: Spirit, water and blood. You use the same construction if you say: ‘The building is a witness to the kind of builder you are.’”18

18 Erasmus, 1535b, 771; there is a complete transcription and translation of Erasmus’annotations on the Johannine comma below in Appendix II

It is quite strange to use Erasmus as a testimony to the supposed simplicity of the constructio ad sensum theory without mentioning that Erasmus referred to tortured grammar! Plus, the constructio ad sensum idea has great difficulties, and is largely abandoned. And there is not a Greek analogy known to match the builder idea of Erasmus.

And omitting the amazing Greek scholar Eugenius Bulgaris, who forcefully argued that this was a grating solecism that would not come from the apostle John! And omitting the fact that omission defenders have offered a wide array of conflicting "reasons" for the grammar mismatch (including, ironically, the Trinity.)

Beyond that, Grantley shows the superficial nature of his grammatical analysis when he makes the blunder of confusing the Latin and Gerek aspects, which we cover in depth below.

Moreover, spiritus is masculine, so the three earthly witnesses as a group are construed as grammatically masculine.

21 Nolan’s “argument from grammar” contains further deficiencies. For example, he writes that “the reading of the Greek Vulgate [... ] is not to be tolerated; the reading of the Latin Vulgate [...] is grammatically correct.”This point is a red herring. The Latin versions translate the participle μαρτυροῦντες with a relative clause (qui testimonium dant/ testimonium dicunt/ testificantur) because it would not have occurred to a native Latin speaker to translate the substantival participle in the Greek text as tres sunt testantes. Moreover, spiritus is masculine, so the three earthly witnesses as a group are construed as grammatically masculine. Nolan’s claim that the Latin is more correct than the Greek is thus irrelevant.

Notice the blunder Spiritus as masculine resolves any possible Latin issues, since it explains the Latin masculine grammar. However, Nolan is pointing out the discordance in the Greek, pneuma, which is neuter. The irrelevancy and confusion is all in Grantley's explanation..

Ironically, Grantley has explained the point of Nolan, he has not refuted it, nor shown it to be irrelevant.

Finally, it is clear that Nolan, 1815, 259, employs doctrine rather than philology as the yardstick for determining the correct reading of disputed passages, defending the textus receptus’ Trinitarian reading (Grk-Qeos) at 1 Tim 3:16, where the better manuscripts read .. or ..., a reading which could potentially lead to an Adoptionist position.

Since 99% of the Greek mss support Qeos, this diversion is more a self-criticism from Grantley than a sensible critique of Frederick Nolan. Plus, there is nothing innately "Trinitarian" in the Received Text reading.

Likewise, Dabney argues that the “seducers” against whom the author of the Epistle inveighs were those (such as Ebionites, Cerinthians and Nicolatians) who “vitiated the doctrine of the Trinity”. However, there was no fully articulated doctrine of the Trinity to be vitiated when the Johannine Epistles were written. But once Dabney had imagined this doctrine under threat, he naturally concluded that John wrote the comma to defend it. Apart from the dubious grammatical authority of their arguments, the position of Nolan and Dabney takes Eusebius’ model of orthodoxy and heresy at face value, but the inadequacy and bias of this view was indicated by Bauer. - p. 22

A weak or anachronistic doctrinal appeal by Dabney is mostly irrelevant. Nolan is no defender of Eusebius, so that comment is simply wrong. And the appeal to Walter Bauer is a bit surprising, and no reference is actually given.
Again.. the solecism description is never given in the 450 page book!

The "red herring" accusation (the part in green) is itself a red herring false accusation. It is an important part of the presentation to show that the Latin has no grammatical problem, whatever are the specific reasons.

It is curious that nothing was said about Nolan's discussions with John Oxlee on these points, or the figure attraction he used to support his position. Plus, Grantley's appealing to the ultra-minority Greek reading of 1 Timothy 3:16 shows his own bias. Especially as Nolan was quite forthright in explaining the solecism in the corruption that is in the Critical Text of 1 Timothy 3:16! (With the contras one solecism supports another.) Which you can read here:

An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek vulgate, or received text of the New Testament (1915)
Frederick Nolan
Nolan Tim.jpg

There is little of substance above in the grammatical extracts from Grantley. There is a bit of criticism of Dabney, a minor player, and some awkward diversions to 1 Timothy 3:16.


p. 139
... Naogeorgus points out that Luther, a “sincere exponent of the holy Scriptures,” left the comma out of his translation. He ends his reflections on the comma by wondering why John should have applied masculine participles to things that are grammatically neuter. But for Naogeorgus, unlike for nineteenth century critics like Nolan and Dabney, this apparent grammatical dissonance hints at the textual difficulty of the passage rather than demonstrating its authenticity.164
p. 288 - Dublin Review 1861
After reviving the argument from grammar, the reviewer makes a more pertinent point: that the minute atomisation of the biblical text exercised by critics put considerable strain on the Protestant principle of sola scriptura. ...
p. 306
Moorman also relies heavily on the dubious argument from grammar.
p. 377 - Erasmus Annotationes
It will torture the grammarians that the Spirit, water and blood are described by the phrases “there are three” and “these are one,” especially since the words “Spirit,” “water” and “blood” are grammatically neuter in Greek. Indeed, the Apostle pays more regard to the sense than to the words, and for three witnesses, as if they were three people, he substitutes three things: Spirit, water and blood. You use the same construction if you say: “The building is a witness to the kind of builder you are.”
p. 431
This study seeks to show how the Johannine comma (ljn 5:7-8) and its attendant myths developed and came to be used in religious controversies from the time of Erasmus to the present day. First we give an account of the fifth chapter of 1 Jn, in order to show that the comma is required neither by grammar nor by context, as many defenders of the comma since Nolan (1815) have asserted.
Grantley is continually skewing his paper by what he includes and omits. Omitting Eugenius as the modern starting point of the grammatical defenders leaves out the world-class Greek scholar. As another example, Grantley mentions the Sabellians many times, often clumped with the Arians, as people who might be accused by the orthodox of rejecting the text. Here is one spot that is different.

Smith rejects the anonymous opinion (reported by Sandius) that the passage was inserted by Sabellians. Even more strenuously does Smith deny the suggestion—which Sandius was merely reporting from Bugenhagen’s Commentary on Jonah—that the comma was actually introduced by Arians.
Fair enough, and Grotius was important as well. However, what about the inverse, from the learned men, defenders or contras, who had different positions about all this? Hills and others indicated the orthodox Trintiarians might have dropped the verse in the Sabellian controversies. Leaving out such salient doctrinal commentary goes against the idea, in the title of the paper, that Grantley really desires to examine the doctrinal implications.

This is not examined well in the paper for one reason: It goes against the thesis of Grantley McDonald that the verse was a Trinitarian insertion.


Middleton, Thomas Fanshawe. The doctrine of the Greek article applied to the criticism and illustration of the New Testament. Ed. Hugh J. Rose. London: Rivington, 1841.

This is in the bibliography, but the separate grammatical argument from Middleton is not even mentioned once in the paper.


Ben David - unitarian defender
Armfield (sabellian?)
(Hall Harris)
Bugenhagen & Luther
witness of God
Cyprian - and difficulty of Trinitarian insertion
Cornwall - many other fine articles

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Steven Avery

the need to be fair

In respect for the excellence of so much of Grantley's scholarship referencing, I have softened much of my criticism above. Especially places where I criticized his scholarship overall. e.g. There are spots where I had criticized "shoddy scholarship", and used other similar phrases. This is a diversion, and upon reviewing my writing, this is unnecessary and not really fair to Grantley. In fact, I often soften writing on a second and third pass, to help focus on issues.

Clearly, I have kept critiques active throughout this forum. As a simple example, I notice some places where there is a fallacy of a false dichotomy. This is shown and explained. And this type of partisan writing is virtually the norm in heavenly witnesses scholarship today.

Overall, I believe that Grantley's work a tremendous help in understanding the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses. You learn about this topic studying what he included, what he omitted, what he emphasized and where his logic and analysis is faulty or incomplete.

Overall, I have a deep appreciation for what Grantley McDonald has brought to the table for the heavenly witnesses discussion. His is the only substantive writing I have seen since the Michael Maynard book blew open the textual criticism charade and placed the issues forefront and ready for discussion.

(On the pro-authenticity side, I think KJVToday can get a little nod as well. Beyond that, there have been helpful specifics, such as when James Snapp explained the Carthage evidence to BVDB, using primary sources. The contra side has been mostly stagnant and weak, still trying to rely on Richard Porson and Raymond Brown. Brown's writing was helpful, but quite slanted.)
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Steven Avery

the pre-Reformation church writers

While Grantley did the best job to date in documenting the large number of Latin writers over the pre-Reformation centuries, there are dozens that should be added to his list with footnotes.

And there are some very important entries that were either omitted or could use a far more accurate and complete descriptions. (Also there are Greek entries that need better handling.)

Pure Bible Forum
medieval Latin scholars accept and discuss the heavenly witnesses verse

This page is emphasizing the references that should be added. The question of which ones should better have a more full exposition will be covered one-by-one.
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Steven Avery

defender omissions

On some levels the Grantley McDonald bibliography is the most complete bibliography to date, a superb resource.

Except when it comes to the historical articles defending authenticity, where there are major, and surprising, omissions.


Surprising Omissions in Ghost of Arius and Biblical Criticism Bibliography and Text

Guglielmo Sirlets - 1514-1585

Alfonso Salmeron (1515-1585

Jodocus Coccius

Johann Albert Fabricius (1668-1736)
Antoine Augustin Calmet (1672-1757) (French, analyzes Martianay on Prologue)

John Gill - (1697-1771) (an easy target because he still accepted the Stephanus error)

Ambrosius Dorhout (1699-1776) (Council of Carthage, Vulgate Prologue and more)
https://books.google.com/books?id=3Nv14SfJutUC&pg=PA272 p. 272-294

William Craig Brownlee (1784-1860)
William Hales - (1747-1831) a flipper - Hales and Brownlee to an extent mirror Frederick Nolan

John Jones (1766?–1827) (Ben David) - given in bibliography piecemeal, the full book is online

Antoine Eugène Genoud - (1792-1849)

Arthur-Marie le Hir (1811-1868)

Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall (1812-1879) (very sharp thinker, one of two articles is in Biblical Criticism bibliography)

Henry Thomas Armfield (1836-1898)
The three witnesses, the disputed text in st. John [ep. i, ch.5, v.7]. (1883)

Daniel M'Carthy (1822-1881)
Thomas Joseph Lamy (1827-1907) (analyzes Vulgate Prologue evidences)
Charles Vincent Dolman (1842-1918)
Wilhelm Kolling,- (1836-1903)

Franz August Otto Pieper (1852-1931) (superb Cyprian analysis)

Ben Knopp

There are dozens of other omissions that are significant, yet quite understandable, given the limitation so time and emphasis.


Covered in Biblical Criticism, not in Ghost of Arius

Jean Hessels (1522-1566) - (includes Cyprian, first one in 1500s, this is not mentioned)
Eugenius Bulgaris - (1718-1806) (historically one of the most important writers due to grammatical, given short ref)

Limited: group of Greek and Russian Orthodox defenders, who accepted the Reformation Bible correction

The issues around 1800s discoveries, such as Old Latin mss, and the Fuldensis Prologue discovery


Some are marginal in terms of scholarship note, but have made historical contributions in the last decades.
Three come to mind.

Jesse Boyd
Tim Dunkin (the revised paper of 2010, which had many corrections)
Jeffrey Riddle

James Snapp sections early on Council of Carthage
Confessional Bibliography - Chris Thomas - a bit problematic


Some salient comments on the heavenly witnesses verse defenders that were included, and how they were handled, is also in order.

Jean Martianay (1647-1717)

Franz Anton Knittel

Thomas Fanshawe Middleton (equivocal, he added the grammatical argument that is based on the article)

Prudent Maran

Charles Forster ("myth", "bleated"... some of the worst writing by Grantley, on one of the sharpest and most important defenders)

Edward Freer Hills (totally omits the very important argument from Hills and others that the orthodox may have preferred the short text in the Sabellian controversies.)

KJVToday - (unfair treatment, hopefully will be corrected in revision)

John Wesley
On John Wesley, his very important Sermon 55, On the Trinity, Cork, May 8, 1775 is omitted from the Ghost of Arius. In which Wesley defends the verse and also says that Trinitarian terminology like "Persons" is not necessary.

This omission is rectified in Biblical Criticism. It is an interesting section, and I plan a full review, just to learn, iron sharpeneth!

FYI: this is part of the 1775 Sermon 55, one early edition is online:

A sermon on 1st. John, v. 7. (1755)
John Wesley

"I do not mean that it is of importance to believe this or that explication of these words.... I dare not insist upon any one’s using the word Trinity, or Person .... I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained, just as they lie in the text: "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: And these three are one."
Also his mariner's compass poem, which is in the Explanatory notes and is a variant of the one from Bengel, is also omitted. This is still not covered in Biblical Criticism. With Grantley emphasizing music and plants, poetry would seem to be a natural.

Perhaps when incredibly important historical evidences do not fit the narrative emphasized in the paper, we see Grantley use the option of omission. Grantley says no, it is just a matter of space, and the repetition of the same arguments from the defenders. Our readers who pursue the information on this website may think otherwise.

Other elements to be checked:

Francis Turretin , mini-reference in Biblical Criticism p. 158 (he has been incorrrectly attacked by Michael Marlowe)
Touters commentary on Tertullian and others on Cyprian (Tim Dunkin) church historians accept references


Plus we highlight an area that will be great expanded:

Total omissions in evidences ,

Claudius Apollinaris
Hundredfold Martyrs, which has been in the apparatus as Ps-Cyprian
Marcus Celedensis
Diodorus --> Suidas

Middleton grammatical argument

This is beyond the hand-waving methodology on many of the more well-known evidences.


Important new evidence that should make any update or revision.

paper by Jeroen Beekhuizen contains an incredible "new" evidence:

Eusebius contra Marcellum
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Steven Avery

Tertullian supposedly causes many references

Here we have a truly amazing section from Grantley, Ghost of Arius, p. 24-25

Tertullian’s interpretation of this passage was followed by ps.-Eusebius Vercellensis: “And consequently in the one godhead they are one, but in the names of the persons they are three; therefore the three are one, or the one are three.”25 Many of those who use the phrase in this Trinitarian signification cite it in the form tres unum sunt, a direct translation of the Greek: Tertullian (Adversus Praxean XXV. l), Cyprian of Carthage (De ecclesice catholicce unitate 6), ps.-Eusebius Vercellensis (De Trinitate I, II, VII), Phoebadius Aginnensis († after 392) (Contra Arianos 27), Victricius of Rouen (t c. 407) (De laude sanctorum 4), Potamius of Lisbon († after 357) (Epistula ad Athanasium-, Epistula de substantia Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti), Augustine (Contra Maximinum II) and Johannes Maxentius (Responsio contra Acephalos 5). There is also a little evidence that the verse was interpreted in this way by the Greek Fathers, such as in the spurious Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea, in which the Trinitarian formulation used in the liturgy of baptism is associated with the phrase “and these three are one.”26 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): “The servants to their lords, the Father and the Son, are the spirit and the body; and the maidservant to the mistress, the Holy Spirit, is the soul. Our Lord God is these three things, for the ‘three are one.’”27 Some later Latin writers employ the phrase with a deliberate lack of grammatical agreement of number or gender, a kind of catachresis or synesis apparently intended to reflect the paradox of the doctrine. Thus we find Marius Victorinus, Augustine and Isidore of Seville citing the phrase in the form tria unum.28 We also find Augustine and Quodvultdeus citing this phrase in the more explicitly theologised form haec tria unus deus [est].29 It should be emphasised that none of these authors cite the comma, merely a Trinitarian interpretation of 1 Jn 5:8.


Cyprian’s wording does not provide any evidence that the comma was part of the biblical text with which he was familiar. Rather, it seems that he merely understood the phrase tres unum sunt (1 Jn 5:8) to refer obscurely to the Trinity, as Tertullian had done before him.

Grantley immediately, in the next sentence, refutes this absurd "not provide any evidence" claim from Grantley! (This would be a good place also to discuss the learned Franz Pieper.)

Going further than this minimalist interpretation, Walter Thiele (1959) suggested that this passage gives evidence that the comma was already present in the text known to Cyprian.

Whew! So much to unpack above. I do not remember ever seeing such a massive hand-wave of evidences!

"none of these (13) authors cite the comma, merely a Trinitarian interpretation of 1 Jn 5:8." - Grantley McDonald

Tertullian (Adversus Praxean XXV. l),
Cyprian of Carthage (De ecclesice catholicce unitate 6),
ps.-Eusebius Vercellensis (De Trinitate I, II, VII),
Phoebadius Aginnensis (t after 392) (Contra Arianos 27),
Victricius of Rouen (t c. 407) (De laude sanctorum 4),
Potamius of Lisbon (f after 357) (Epistula ad Athanasium-, Epistula de substantia Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti),
Augustine (Contra Maximinum II) and
Johannes Maxentius (Responsio contra Acephalos 5).

Latin - tria unum or haec tria unus deus [est]
Marius Victorinus - "God is one, his Son is one and his Holy Spirit is one. and all three are one"
Isidore of Seville citing the phrase in the form tria unum 28
Quodvultdeus - (has been in UBS apparatus)

Greek -
Disputation of Athanasius against Arius at the Council of Nicaea
Origen Ps 122:2 (LXX)






For contrast, see what a learned opponent of heavenly witnesses authenticity, Johann Michaelis, wrote about evidences in this period.


With respect to the testimony of Phœbadius, Mantis Victorinus Afer, Vigilius Thapsensis', and other still later Latin writers, which are produced by Bengel, as evidence for 1 John v. 7. their evidence is of no value whatsoever. For, even if no objection could be made to it, and it were absolutely certain that all these late Latin writers quoted 1 John v. 7., the only inference to be drawn would be this, that from the time of the fourth century, the passage stood in several copies of the Latin version.

While I would disagree strongly with Michaelis on the import of the wide variety of Latin evidences, at least he did not try to tie them all back to a supposed mystical interpretation of Tertullian, rather than their Bible text. Ironically, Michaelis tried similar evidence limitation even with the Council of Carthage of 484 AD. and the hundreds of participants at that council, orthodox and "arian". (We plan a short discussion as to whether it is really accurate to call Hunneric and the Vandals as Arian.)
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Steven Avery

"Just when the issue seemed to have blown itself out in Protestant circles"

In terms of the thematic error of the Grantley McDonald book, this is really in the wheelhouse. Grantley is looking at the text through the dark coloured glasses of the modern textual critic, while the dynamic Bible believer movement in defense of the authenticity of the verse is attempted to be marginalized, and often simply ignored.


Biblical Criticism - p. 283
"Just when the issue seemed to have blown itself out in Protestant circles"


To make this assertion, Grantley had to miss or ignore or bypass a number of superb writings, (the Protestants would note the better Catholic writers, as with Charles Forster and Abbe le Hir) given above. Some of the very strongest, astute writings, along with important discoveries like the Vulgate Prologue in Fuldensis and Old Latin manuscripts, came to the fore in the second half of the 1800s. Biblical Criticism basically ignores this half-century, except for the far less consequential French Catholic writing, and side-issues like the Drummond appraisal of Erasmus. In addition, it became clearer that the Old Latin manuscripts represented a text no later than the 2nd century.

The theory of a Trinitarian interpolation really has no leg to stand on, due to the impossibility of a sensible vector of transmission that could explain Cyprian, Old Latin manuscripts, the Vulgate Prologue, numerous other early witnesses, and especially the Council of Carthage involving hundreds of participants. In fact, we saw above, Grantley simply hand-waved 14 evidences as being the result of a supposed (no actual documentation supporting) Tertullian mystical interpretation! Perhaps Grantley will attempt to present a sensible and supportable theory of interpolation in his future writing. The theories of a 2nd century Latin allegory and/or margin note are totally different than the popular but virtually impossible theory of a Trinitiarian interpolation in the Arian controversies. And both have great difficulties.

Charles Forster is mentioned earlier in the book, however the context is his defense of the Received Text to Wordsworth, a fascinating issue which we have covered here:

Pure Bible Forum
Received Text and Majority Text
Cornwall, Forster and McGrath on the Received Text

the arguments given in the superb "New Plea" are not even referenced in Biblical Criticism.

And this is a mix of Protestant and Catholics that had to be ignored for the statement by Grantley:

Arthur-Marie le Hir (1811-1868)
Charles Forster (1787-1871)
Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall (1812-1879) (very sharp thinker)
Henry Thomas Armfield (1836-1898)

Daniel M'Carthy (1822-1881)
Thomas Joseph Lamy (1827-1907) (analyzes Vulgate Prologue evidences)
Charles Vincent Dolman (1842-1918)
Wilhelm Kolling,- (1836-1903)

Plus articles like "Traces of the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses" in the 1869 Irish Ecclesiastical Record.

As well as not mentioning the very important discoveries like Fuldensis and the Vulgate Prologue.

It is possible that Grantley did not read most of these writings, other than Charles Forster, Kölling and one of the two Cornwall articles. However, they are some of the very best on the heavenly witnesses, so that would be a huge scholarship gap. If he did read them, you would expect at least a bibliographical note! The same can be said about the very astute Pieper writing in the 1900s.

With Cornwall, one of his two superb articles is in the Biblical Criticism bibliography, from 1877. His 1874 article in the same publication does not make the bibliography. And neither makes the text. Note that including, e.g. Forster, Armfield, Dolman and Cornwall, would negate the attempt to say the debate contributions were over. The quality of these writings was superb.


Modern Critical Text Presuppositionalism

Now, one could say that the textual critics simply ignored the issue. To an extent, this was true, as the Hortian Fog descended over the textual pseudo-science in the late 1800s. However, this really begs the question of the extremely strong defences of heavenly witnesses authenticity that were published in the late 1800s. Also Hills and Pieper in the earlier 1900s and the resurgence starting in 1980 with Ben Knopp and Michael Maynard.

The scholarship of the heavenly witnesses does not end because of the dullard nature of the modern Critical Text theory apologists!

Remember, though, that if one understands and accepts the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses, modern Critical Text theory, with its Vaticanus-primacy approach and virtual ignoring of Latin, early church writer and internal consistency evidences, would simply
be falsified. Gone-theory.

Thus, the moderns have a vested interest in pretending that the field is clear contra the heavenly witnesses.
Pretense, over substance.
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Steven Avery

James White used as the resource on the Burgon-Griesbach pithy turnabout comment

Biblical Criticism p. 297

It is worth noting that Burgon never objected publicly to the excision of the comma by the revision committee.75 Indeed, he quoted with approval Griesbach's warning that those who defend the comma undermine the entire project of textual criticism.76

75 Wallace 2013, 714.
76 Burgon 1883, 483; White 2009,103-104.

The Wallace reference is fine, I take the text below directly from the paper, online at:

Wallace, Daniel B. ‘The Majority Text Theory: History, Methods, and Critique.’ In The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research. Ed. Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill, 2013: 711-744.

Surprisingly, as much energy as he expended on a defense of the Byzantine text, Burgon failed to distance himself from the TR Although his writings included brief sections such as “Traditional Text not identical with the Received Text,”16 and rare statements disavowing the TR,17 there is no discussion of Acts 8:37, the Comma Johanneum, or the last six verses of the Apocalypse—well-known and theologically significant passages where the MT parts company with the TR.

The Burgon-Griesbach reference should take a little careful examination:

Revision Revised (1883)
John William Burgon

White, James R. The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2009.

... Burgon recognized the Comma as a later addition without a valid claim to being original. Since he made this comment by means of citing another scholar (Greisbach) and that in Latin, many pass right by his statement. Yet to this day many KJV Only advocates, like D. A. Waite, sell Burgon’s work while steadfastly opposing his conclusions on this text! Here is what he wrote:

“Si,”—(as Griesbach remarks concerning 1 John 5:7)—“si tam pauci ... testes . .. sufficerent ad demonstradam lectionis cujusdam gnesioteta fgk.) licet obstent tam multa tamque gravia et testimonia et argumenta; nullum prorsus superesset in re critica veri falsique criterium, et textus Novi Testament! universus plane incertus esset atque dubius.”38

The English translation would be, “If so few manuscripts are sufficient to establish such illegitimate readings, one can oppose so many and weighty things (both of evidence and of arguments), that obviously nothing will be left in the serious matter of a true and false standard, and the text of the New Testament in general will be entirely uncertain and doubtful.”
Griesbach was saying what I will say below: If the reading of 1 John 5:7 can be considered original, then the entire textual
history of the New Testament is, in essence, up for grabs. Burgon was citing this in another context, that being his defense of the reading of “God” at 1 Timothy 3:16, but he would hardly have cited the text from Griesbach if he did not agree with its original application. Again, he recognized the Comma as having no claim to being original.

While the White interpretation is surely possible, Burgon was a master of the classical ad hominnem, as in his arguments against the absurd Syrian recension theoreis of Hort. He allows the position of the other, and shows the contradiction or absurdity. Personally, I have long seen this section in the same way. Especially since there is another section that could be read as supporting this verse as scripture.

Essentially, to Griesbach and others who attacked "God was manifest in the flesh..."

.. what happened to your consistency?

There is another irony in that White himself praised Burgon's defense of 1 Timothy 3:16, in both editions of his book, and thus gave his preference for "God was manifest in the flesh". And then turned around and denied that position.

The other writer who seems to have delved into this question is James May:
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Steven Avery

the Syrian recensions of Hort

We will discuss here the Bibilical Criticism approval of those theories.

(The additional Syriac recension is not mentioned, but that is a common miss.)

Westcott and Hort distinguished the families of texts proposed by Bengel into further divisions, and proposed two new ideas: first, that the Syrian text (the basis of the Byzantine text) had been subject to two separate recensions; and that there existed a pre-recensional text close to that written by the original authors.72

Such advances in the study of the Greek text

72 Gregory 1900–1909, 2:917–921.,

Gregory, Caspar René. Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes. 3 vols. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1900–1909.

Gregory's material is available in English:

Canon and Text of the New Testament
By Caspar René Gregory

Notice that on this major issue of the recensions, there is no reference to the spot where is the primary source material:

The New Testament in the original Greek, the text revised by B.F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort, Volume 2

Nor does Grantley mention John William Burgon's amazing section tearing to shreds the theories of Hort.
Nor does Grantley mention that this "advance" is universally rejected today.

Pure Bible Forum
the phantom Lucian recension - Hort's bogus reasoning for the Byzantine Text creation muddles on
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Steven Avery

'modern scholarship' disaster - Gospel and Epistles of John with different authors

Modern scholarship is buffeted by silly unbelieving stuff like redaction theories and trying to disconnect the Gospel of John form the Epistles. Grantley here recommends Judith Liue, and "tends to the conclusion" is surely an overstatement, with evangelical scholars largely accepting the simplicity of singular authorship.

Grantley McDonald

Erasmus and the Johannine Comma
4 Modem scholarship tends to the conclusion that the Johannine Epistles were not written by the same person as the fourth Gospel, but in Erasmus’s day, all these documents were attributed to the evangelist. See Lieu 2008, 8.
Lieu, Judith. 2008.1, II, & III John: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.

Ghost of Arius p. 16
to find such witnesses? The author of the Epistle draws the testimony to be examined from traditions transmitted in the Johannine community.7
7 Lieu, 2008, 8: “[... ] 1 John nowhere appeals to or assumes knowledge of the [Fourth] Gospel [...]; rather each writing is, largely independently, reworking common or shared traditions.”

Not in Biblical Criticism

Judith Lieu

Although in parts of the church 1 John was not given canonical authority as quickly as was the Gospel (see below), this does not seem to have been because of uncertainties about its authorship by the apostle, and only since the twentieth century has the common authorship of the Gospel of John and 1 John been seriously questioned. Since there are no explicit claims to authorship, issues of style and of language, as well as of theology, have played a major role here; for example, terms important in the Gospel, such as “glory” (cloxa), are absent from the letter, while the latter lacks the understanding of the spirit and the richness of Christology and realized eschatology characteristic of the former.7 A growing weight of scholarship has moved toward favoring the separate authorship of the two writings but there is no consensus, and a number of general assumptions about early Christian writings are also at play in any conclusion. The debate has been made more complicated by theories that the Gospel itself may be the result of layers of editing so that identifying the (or a single) author becomes impossible. Thus some would argue that I John may be the work of or be linked to a particular redactor or stage in the production of the Gospel. For example, many of the parallels between the First Epistle and the Gospel are found in the Farewell Discourses (John 14-17), especially in the second half (John 15-16, 17), which is sometimes seen as redactionally independent.8 This is a topic that is often extensively discussed and illustrated in introductions to commentaries on the Letters. I will not explore it further here: I argue in the commentary and below that I John nowhere appeals to or assumes knowledge of the Gospel, and indeed that the latter seems unlikely; rather each writing is, largely independently, reworking common or shared traditions. The task is to interpret I John in its own terms, respecting the chosen anonymity of its author; inevitably in so doing it will be necessary to refer to the Gospel’s treatment of some of the same themes, not as if that were the source of the letter’s own interpretation, but because it represents another exploration of the same underlying tradition.

This decision—to respect the self-presentation of the author of each letter— is in part a consequence of seeing the task of a commentary as to explore and unfold a text as far as possible first of all within its own terms. In this case it is strengthened by the inconclusive nature of the evidence and of the arguments regarding each aspect of the authorship debate. It will be obvious that a specific identification of the author(s) is even more decisively excluded. The traditional association with John the son of Zebedee, usually seen as represented by the Beloved Disciple (John 13:23; 19:26; etc.), belongs to a study of the Gospel. Nothing in the letters would independently point to such an association, and there is much that points away from it. Suggestions that some other John was responsible are attempts to preserve the traditional association while acknowledging the many objections to it, and are equally without any support in the text.10

This determination to respect the chosen anonymity of the letters is not purely negative. Such anonymity is, it has already been suggested, a deliberate technique in the Johannine literature; as such it is not a blanket anonymity but a coded one, in the sense that it is an integral element in these writings’ repeated appeal to the ability to offer and to authenticate testimony. Authority lies not in individual status or calling but in the shared giving and receiving of witness. Contrary to those interpretations that assumed that such witness always means eyewitness—and that from this sought to preserve an apostolic (“Johannine”) connection—the source of witness and its authentication are explored in a number of different ways within the Johanninc literature (see 3 John 12; 1 John 4:14, 16; 5:9-11; and commentary). Although to the outside observer or reader these appeals may sometimes seem self-fulfilling, for the insider testimony is and can only be self-authenticating, while it is by accepting testimony that one becomes and is reinforced as an insider.

7. Classic articles are
C. H. Dodd, “The First Epistle of John and the Fourth Gospel,” BJRL 21 (1937): 129-56;
countered by
W. F. Howard, “The Common Authorship of the Johannine Gospel and Epistles,” JTS 48 (1947): 12-25.
On 1 John’s understanding of the spirit see commentary on 3:24.
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Steven Avery

Theodore Letis - similar views to Grantley on Reformation-era, and later, use of Erasmus by non-Trinitarians

How did Letis not make the paper or book?
His was the closest to the same thesis!

Theodore Letis could be utilized, e.g. this matches a theme that is in the Westminster article, that the Erasmus Annotations led to Servetus and other "anti-trinitarian" doctrinal movements. Letis adds in Grotius as a spur for the Socinians.

From Sacred Text to Religious Text: An Intellectual History of the Impact of Erasmian Lower Criticism on Dogma as a Contribution to the English Enlightenment and the Victorian Crisis of Faith (1995)
Theodore Letis

Hence, the quest for the historical text was for the Socinian not just an academic exercise. It was the means for attaining, ultimately, their religious freedom by forcing orthodox Christians to be true to the results of their own principles, both critical as well as theological. In this chapter I establish that the Antitrinitarian quest for the historical text gains its initial momentum from the Annotationes of both Erasmus, and his later and enthusiastic protege, Hugo Grotius, and culminates in the loss of consensus regarding the locus of an ecclesiastically determined sacred text. In the place of this consensus emerges the joint endeavour of both Antitrinitarians and Catholics in the eighteenth and nineteenth century quest for the historical text. The remaining chapters will be taken up with the historical development of this theme. p. 35

Lee's accusation that Erasmus was trying to foment Arianism seems to have been groundless. However, Erasmus’ annotations to the New Testament text proved a decisive impulse in the development of Michael Servetus’ critique of traditional Trinitarian theology.28

The Johannine Comma from Erasmus to Westminster p. 70-71
Grantley McDonald

Grantley cites Grotius similarly in a few BCEME quotes

BCEME p. 72
Accordingly, Nye cited Erasmus (alongside other critics such as Grotius and Courcelles) in his attempts to demolish the traditional interpretation of verses cited as evidence of the Trinity: Jn 1:15, Jn 3:13, Acts 2:28, Rom 9:5, 1 Jn 5:7–8 and Rev 1:17.6
6 Nye 1687, 59, 88, 90, 113, 118, 152, cit. Snobelen 2006, 127.

After a Facebook discussion, more material added here:

Erasmus as anti-trinitarian per Theodore Letis (missing in Grantley)
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Steven Avery

omitting the basic evidence - Codex Fuldensis

With Codex Fuldensis we have an old trick of Metzger. In terms of Vulgate mss. Fuldensis is considered the most important.

(Although in a sense the early Old Latin mss are more important, like the Freising fragments, since they are considered to reflect a 2nd century text-line, a point that Grantley also manages to bypass.)

comma ....its sporadic appearance in Latin bibles. It is missing from the earliest dated Latin bible, Codex Fuldensis, written between 541 and 546 and corrected upon its completion by Victor, bishop of Capua .
Ghost of Arius p. 45

The comma is also absent from the earliest Latin bibles, such as Codex Fuldensis (copied by Victor, bishop of Capua, in the 540s)
Biblical Criticism p. 5
These references always astound me, for the scholarship fudging involved.

After all, the verse is discussed in depth in the Vulgate Prologue that is in the very same manuscript.

So how can you try to use its absence in the text as simply an example of the verse being unknown.

As to the Fulgentius discordance, we discuss that above, and the very questionable way it is approached by Grantley McDonald.

This prologue would be compelling evidence that Jerome considered the comma to be genuine if the text of John’s Epistle in Codex Fuldensis also contained the comma—but it does not.78 We are thus forced either to accept that the preface gives a true picture of the situation, and that the biblical text transmitted in Fuldensis is unreliable—a conclusion which might in turn raise fresh questions about the authenticity of the preface; alternatively, we must reject the prologue as spurious and accept that the comma was not an original part of the Vulgate.79

This fallacious approach, a very transparent false dichotomy, appears in the discussion of Selden, where a convoluted construct tries to mask the issues with a false conjectural complexity. This type of fallacious writing is the result of polemic over astute analysis.


absent from the earliest Latin bibles, such as Codex Fuldensis

An absurd claim, considering the Leon Palimpsest, the Freisinger Fragment and the Speculum. Is Grantley pulling a fast one by writing of "Latin Bibles" rather than manuscripts?
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Steven Avery

Once Protestant divines began to defend the comma on doctrinal rather than textual grounds in reaction to the rise of Antitrinitarianism, it also began to reappear in Protestant bibles.

Ghost of Arius, p. 166

This is a strange assertion, since "Protestants" continually referred to textual defence of the heavenly witnesses. They simply gave a lot stronger emphasis on the early church writers, and have been discovering new evidences continually (e.g. the 1990 publication of Eusebius in English.)

Grantley often minimizes this element of their writing, instead focusing mostly on how they saw the Erasmus history.
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Steven Avery

Erasmus - "first Christians had no doctrine of the Trinity" ?

This needs some checking, especially on Erasmus:

In a work on the Trinity { De falsa et vera unius Dei Patris, Filii et.Spiritus Sancti cognitione), co-written with David and published anonymously in 1567 or 1568, Biandrata declared that the first Christians had no doctrine of the Trinity, a conclusion reached earlier by Joachim of Fiore, Erasmus, Servet and Bernardino Ochino, a prominent Italian Franciscan who subsequently converted to Calvinism and then to Antitrinitarianism.

To Noël Béda

Erasmus maintained that in all his writings, he had always confessed the Trinity to be three persons and one essence; to suggest otherwise was impudent misrepresentation..IJJ Although Erasmus knew that a condemnation from the Paris faculty was potentially very damaging, and naturally wanted to use all possible resources in his own defence, to make the comma work to defend his own orthodoxy was disingenuous at best.

While Grantley calls the Erasmus usage of the heavenly witnesses here as "disingenuous at best", that is wrong, or, at best, unfair.

The Erasmus position was equivocal, and this is a very fair type of turnabout or classical ad hominem argumentation to use to Noël Béda. (Similar to Burgon's quote on 1 Timothy 3:16 referencing Griesbach in the opposite direction.)


This is in the ballpark (the neighorhood play at second base).

It is true that Erasmus had pointed out more than once that the Fathers had stretched the meaning of a Biblical text to give it a trinitarian meaning.

Erasmus and the Problem of the Johannine Comma (1997)
Joseph Levine
p. 589
Levine has more on this topic:

What Erasmus himself believed about the Trinity is still a little obscure. He was certainly soft on the Arians, whom he preferred to think of (with Jerome) as schismatic rather than heretical. He saw them in their historical setting, and made some effort to treat them dispassionately, even sympathetically.71 Yet he had no wish to see Arianism revived; as always, he abhorred division, and his own emphasis on the moral and practical purposes of Scripture and religion left him indifferent to metaphysical disputes. “Had I had any authority at those [ancient] synods where the peace of the world was at issue, I would have argued that it were better to profess ignorance of what the words homoousion or homoiousion portend with regard to the divine Persons, rather than either to maintain or attack them at the cost of such great tumult.”72 It was the “elaborate subtlety” of the Arians that had driven the orthodox to develop those deplorable terms and distinctions, which St. Hilary had observed long ago (in a work that Erasmus now took care to publish) were quite beyond our intelligence and understanding. Was one to be denied Heaven for being unable to disentangle what distinguishes the Father from the Son or the Holy Spirit from both? It was enough to believe that the three are of one nature, especially since no amount of argument could ever persuade the skeptic.73

71 What follows is largely from James D. Tracy, "Erasmus and the Arians: Remarks on the Consensus Ecclesiae” The Catholic Historical Review, 67 (1981), 1-10.

72 Quoted in Tracy. 5. See also John B. Payne. Erasmus: His Theology of the Sacraments (Richmond, 1970), 8-12,56-59. Both Tracy and Payne agree to describe Erasmus’s view of the Trinity as mildly subordinationist rather than Arian.

73 See the preface to Hilary, whose works were edited by Erasmus in 1523; Erasmus to Jean de Carondelet. 5 Jan. 1523, no. 1334, CWE, 250-51. This passage with several others was censured by the Sorbonne in 1516, and defended by Erasmus in LB IX 920-21, 925-28 (esp. 925E-F). See John C. Olin, “Erasmus and the Edition of St. Hilary," Erasmus in English, 9 (1978), 8-11. Erasmus preferred to think that the Arians should have been persuaded by argument rather than attacked as Satan or Anti-Christ, and he makes clear that he thinks this same charity should also be applied to modem schismatics and heretics.
My conclusion: so far the assertion of Grantley has to be seen as an overstatement, or conjectural extrapolation. (The Ochino case is also puzzling. And Joachim needs a reference.)


Erasmus of Rotterdam: Advocate of a New Christianity (2013)
by Christine Christ von-Wedel


How the Trinity Is Known


This chapter relies heavily on Erasmus’s paraphrase of John’s Prologue, which offers new insights into not only Erasmus’s view of the Trinity, but also his reluctance to define God’s being and his doubts about the capacity of human knowledge.1 In his paraphrase of the prologue of John’s Gospel, Erasmus professed a clear commitment to the doctrine of the Trinity. In his view the Trinity consisted of “three Persons distinct in particularity each of whom was truly God and yet there was only one God because of the one divine nature equally shared among the three.”2 The subject of the prologue is the second person in the Trinity, the Son who never departs from his father:

He was of a nature undivided from the Father in such a way that he was with the Father in the particularity of his own person; and he was

not attached to the Father as accident is attached to substance, but he was God from God, God in God, God with God, because of the nature of the divinity common to both. The two, equal in all things, were distinguished by nothing except the particularity of begetter and begotten, of utterer and utterance delivered.3

Erasmus pointed out that only John the Evangelist called Jesus God and that the Jews adored God for centuries without knowing either the Son or the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as long as he roamed the earth, for a long time would not allow his disciples to consider him anything more than just a man. Even after Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit did not reveal all to the disciples but only what was necessary for salvation and for the spread of the evangelical doctrine. It was the appearance of the Christological heresies that forced John to develop the doctrine of both natures of Christ.4

For Erasmus, this was factual - the result of studying the sources and it affirmed his conviction that God was not only the master of history, but also part of it and revealed within it according to situation. But for all of those who did not share or understand this historical approach, these remarks must have been very confusing. Was Erasmus suggesting that the apostles did not confess the true faith in the Trinitarian God? Or that God was not Trinitarian and the Son was not equal to him? Even worse in the eyes of his detractors, Erasmus had identified the best biblical proof texts for the doctrine of Trinity as later insertions or mistaken translations. In his Novum instrumentum he even explained that the apostles almost never called Christ God or Son of God. Only later - distressed by the criticism levelled at him - did Erasmus declare that from many parts of the Gospel one can conclude that Christ was not only man but also God’s Son. ’ Orthodox monks and Catholic theologians like Edward Lee and

Noel Beda, as well as Protestant ones like Luther, were highly alarmed by his alleged antitrinitarian statements, and either doubted his orthodoxy or accused him of heresy.6 And in fact, the Antitrinitarians did use Erasmian interpretations for their own purposes,7 though they were very probably aware of what separated their beliefs from those of Erasmus. Throughout an omnibus volume of the Paraphrases, currently preserved in Cluj-Napoca (Klausenburg), Erasmus’s formulations referring to the Trinity were crossed out and replaced with Unitarian terms by the Antitrinitarian Matthaei Torozkai in 1584.8 Erasmus’s suggestions must have appeared not onlv pointless but also dangerouslv ambiguous to all of those for whom faith remained the same since the beginning of time. But his remarks on the Trinity were not the only confusing comments that he made about God in his Paraphrase of John.

1 Regarding the cornucopia of proofs available for Erasmus’s doubts about the capacity of human knowledge, I refer the reader to my 1981 study entitled Das Nicbtwissen bei Erasmus von Rotterdam: Zum philosophischen und theologischen Erkennen in der geistigen Entwicklung eines christlichen Humanisten (Basel 1981).

2 Paraphrasis in Ev Joannis LB VII 498B / CWE 46 14. This and the following quotations should vitiate the preconception that Erasmus had an inclination towards Subordinationism. Cf John B Payne Erasmus: His Theology of the Sacraments (Richmond 1970) 30 and Richard Homer Graham “Erasmus and Stunica: A Chapter in the History of New Testament Scholarship” ERSY 10 (1990) 28-30, where it is at least admitted that Erasmus’s interpretations in the Paraphrases are orthodox, and on page 43, where Erasmus is put on the same level with the Reformers. Cf also the informative essay by James D. Tracy, “Erasmus and the Arians: Remarks on the Consensus Ecclesiae” Catholic Historical Review 67 (1981) 1-10.

3 Paraphrasis in Ev. Joannis LB VII 500A / CWE 46 17; cf also 498D-E and 499C.

4 Ibid 498 B-C.

5 Cf the extensive Apologia ad Jac. Stunicam LB IX 309D-311C, particularly B, and Pvrgatio ASD IX-1 456:382-434. Cf also note on Acts 2:22, LB VI 444D and Argumentum in epistolam ad Romanos LB VI 551-2.

6 Cf above and, for example, Responsio ad notationes Ed. Lei LB IX 123; Prologvs in supputationes Beddae 446B and Adversus monachos quosdam Hispanos 1029 E-F.

7 Cf Robert Coogan Erasmus, Lee and the Correction of the Vulgate: The Shaking of the Foundations (Geneva 1992) 70-81 and Peter G. Bietenholz Encounters with a Radical Erasmus: Erasmus’ Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe (Toronto 2009).

8 Biblioteca Filialei Cluj a Academiei Republicii Romane, Anexa III. Signatur: U 62555.1 am grateful to Mihaly Balazs for his help in reading this volume.

In terms of the Erasmus view of the Trinity, It looks like she sees the Paraphrase as confusing and orthodox at the same time.
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Steven Avery

how could Richard Simon blunder so badly on Cyprian?

An amazing assertion:

But how is it, Simon asks, that this verse is also absent from the text cited by Cyprian, who lived before Arius ..

Ghost of Arius, p. 187
Biblical Criticism p. 150

Simon 1689a, 215; Simon 1689b, 2:11;

Histoire critique du texte du Nouveau Testament. Rotterdam: Leers, 1689a.
Critical History of the Text of the New Testament. London: Taylor, 1689b.

Hunwick is b

In fact, Simon struggled with the Cyprian reference, giving a transparently false exposition:

In point of fact after close examination of the aforesaid passage of St Cyprian, all I have found was that the worthy bishop had simply reproduced the words “and these three are one" about which there has never been any doubt, and for which he proved that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit were one, saying: “The words refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these three are one.”
You can see the larger section of Simon dancing here:

Richard Simon Critical History of the Text of the New Testament: Wherein is Established the Truth of the Acts on which the Christian Religion is Based (2013)
Andrew Hunwick

I am aware that various scholars claim that this passage is quoted in the works of St Cyprian who lived long before St Jerome. Bishop Fell of Oxford used what is in St Cyprian as support for the Prologue by St Jerome, and to prove also that Jerome cannot be accused of forgery because all he did was to restore the original Latin edition in its pristine purity.20 The Oratorian Amelote21 declares that the passage is present in St Cyprian’s book on the unity of the church, even though he freely admits that it is not in St Athanasius, St Cyril, St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Chrystostom, Didymus or, among the Latin Fathers, in Augustine, St Leo, Bede, and various others.

However, if the text was there in St Cyprian’s copy of the New Testament, docs anyone believe that St Augustine would not have used it as evidence against the Arians in his own day?" In point of fact after close examination of the aforesaid passage of St Cyprian, all I have found was that the worthy bishop had simply reproduced the words “and these three are one” about which there has never been any doubt, and for which he proved that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit were one, saying: “ The words refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” What is in all our Greek and Latin manuscripts regarding the testimony of spirit, water and blood, which are said to constitute a unity, is applied by Cyprian to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This in no way resembles a direct quotation, as if the words had been taken from the scriptural text.

The same can be seen in the 1689 edition, which is actually stronger on the preponderance of scholarship:

A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament: Wherein is Firmly Establish'd the Truth of Those Acts on which the Foundation of Christian Religion is Laid (1689)
Richard Simon

I know that a great many Men of Learning have aliedged that St.Cyprian, (who lived a longtime before St. Jerom,) had quoted that passage in his Books.

And the French book looks to be p. 214, not 215

Histoire critique du texte du Nouveau Testament: où l'on établit la verité des actes sur lesquels la religion chrêtienne est fondée (1689)
Richard Simon

Il n'ya rien de plus absurde que cette pensée, qui ne peut être fondée que sur le Prologue attribué à St. Jerôme. Comment peut-on accuser les Ariens d'avoir alteré en cet endroit-là les Exemplaires Grecs du Nouveau Testament, puis que Saint Cyprien qui vivoit avant que le nom d'Arius fût connu dans le monde, n'a point aussi lû ce verset dans son Exemplaire ? Il faudroit aussi que cette alteration eût passé dans toutes les autres Eglises : car ni les Syriens de quelque Secte qu'ils soient, ni les autres Orientaux ne le lisent point aussi dans leurs Editions du Nouveau Testament.

There is nothing more absurd than this thought, which can only be based on the prologue attributed to St. Jerome. How can one accuse the Arians of having altered in this place the Greek Exemplars of the New Testament, then that Saint Cyprian who lived before the name of Arius was known in the world, did not also read this verse in his copy?
So the absurdity is from Simon!

So Simon basically contradicts himself, and goes against the sensible scholarship, elsewhere acknowledged by Simon, that reads the Cyprian reference as the heavenly witnesses. The reader of Grantley never knows any of this, since Grantley likes the more absurd and illogical part of the Simon writing, trying to argue from the non-existent silence of Cyprian.

But how is it, Simon asks, that this verse is also absent from the text cited by Cyprian, who lived before Arius ..
In summary,Richard Simon is playing both ends against the middle.

In one book, he is, with great difficulty, trying to take the defensive position against the Cyprian reference. Essentially, that it does not mean what it clearly says. It is all allegory. Don't listen to all those other schoalrs. blah-blah. Fair enough, this is today a common hand-wave attempt.

On the other hand, he is claiming that Cyprian had this incredible silence, and is trying to use that as argument against the possibility of Arius excision of the verse. (Which would be a weak evidence from silence .. if there were in fact a silence!)

Grantley reports the Simon argument in the French book as if it were sensible. It is not.

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Steven Avery

glossing over Richard Simon's views, claiming him as unwavering orthodox Trinitarian

While it was difficult to know 'whether he really be a papist, Socinian, or merely a Theist, or something of all three'
John Evelyn

... between 1680 and 1682 he (Hampden) had become intimate with Simon, and also that his understanding of Simon's intentions was not that of Catholic apologetic, but a far more radical impiety.
John Hampden understanding of Simon

These quotes above are from Justin A. I. Champion:

Pere Richard Simon and English Biblical Criticism, 1680-1700 (1999)
Justin Chapman

From Grantley:

For Simon, as for Erasmus, any attempt to prove or disprove the doctrine of the Trinity on the basis of the comma alone was bound to fail. Simon’s examination of the verse was perhaps inconclusive, but his defence of orthodox Trinitarian belief was unwavering.94

94 Simon’s position was shared by Jonathan Edwards, the Master of Jesus College Oxford; see Edwards, 1698, 1:60-61:

“For that Text we shall not easily part with, notwithstanding the Cavils of the Socinians, and the over officious endeavours of some others, whether Papists or Protestants, who would weaken the Authority of that Testimony, and thereby rob us of the advantage of it. For tho some Greek MSS. want it, yet there are others more approved and of greater Antiquity in which you may meet with it. Besides it is to be found in the writings of the Ancients, Tertull. Cypr. Athanasius, and Jerome who quote these very words: and if you have a mind to know more of this matter, without going any further, you may peruse what Mr. Poole in his Synopsis hath quoted out of Gerhard, Dr. Hammond and other Writers in vindication of this Text. From which, I think, it will appear, that the Authority of this place remains clear and in full force, notwithstanding the attempts that have bin made to overthrow it. Tho if we gave up this Text, yet we should not [give up] the holy Doctrine contained [61] in it, which is so plainly delivered in other places of Scripture, and shines there with so bright a lustre, that a man had need wink hard, who would avoid the conviction; or else must have so great a confidence in his Eyes, that he may hope in time to stare the Sun it self out of countenance.”
Cf. Poole,1669-1676,4.2:1622-6;

in the welter of authorities adduced by Poole it is difficult to determine his own opinion. Nevertheless, on the authority of ps.-Jerome’s introduction to the Catholic Epistles, Poole accepts that the earliest Greek manuscripts contained the comma. Moreover, he attributes to Erasmus far more confidence in the authority of Montfortianus than was actually the case, and ignores Erasmus’ explicit justification for including the comma:

“Codex Britannicus, cujus ob vetustatem tanta erat apud Erasmum authoritas ut ex eo hunc versum in praeced. edit, omissum in seq. restitueret.” 95 ASD IX.4:323; dejonge, 1980,385.

Ghost of Arius p. 187-188

The shift to Jonathan Edwards and Matthew Poole is noted, but where is the evidence of Richard Simon as defending Orthodox Trintiarian doctrine? Unwavering!

In BCEME, p. 148 Grantley takes a different stance:

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Steven Avery

bypassing John Jones (Ben David) - does not fit the doctrinal narrative


John Jones (Unitarian)

The initial chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke he rejected as interpolations, but he held the Comma Johanneum to be authentic, and to have been excised at an early date because it taught Unitarian doctrine.

John Jones bio by Jerom Murch
p. 518-524

Heavenly Witnesses Defense

Bibliography entry in Biblical Criticism

‘Ben David’ [John Jones]. ‘Letters to the Editor.’ The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature 20 (1825), 533-534; 21 (1826): 15-20, 91-94, 146-152, 214-221, 274-280, 318-322, 468-473.
Monthly Repository - WIP
1822 p. 274-280 (not included by Grantley)

1825 p. 533-534

1826 p. 15-20
1826 p. 91-94
1826 p. 146-152
1826 p. 214-221
1826 p. 274-280
1826 p. 318-322
1826 p. 468-473 (omitted in Christian Remembrancer)
1826 p. 752-758 (William Evans vs. Ben David, omitted by Grantley above)

And I plan to add more online access to his material, including:

Three Letters addressed to the Editor of the Quarterly Review, in which is demonstrated the genuineness of the three Heavenly Witnesses, 1 John, V 7 (1826)

Three Letters Addressed to the Editor of the Quarterly Review: In which is Demonstrated the Genuiness of the Three Heavenly Witnesses, 1 John, V.7
by Ben David
Letter 1
Letter 2
LETTER #3 of THREE LETTERS for Genuineness of the 3 Heavenly Witnesses

John Jones would definitely not fit the narrative of Grantley McDonald, as a quirky quasi-Unitarian or ebionite. Yet his defense of the verse was learned, and well-written, with lots of insight on the references given in the early church writers.

In the Grantley books, John Jones only shows up in a bibliographic entry in Bibilcal Criticism with articles in the Monthly Repository of Theology (the bibliography does not include his book.)


John Jones did interesting defense of the verse on the following:

Theophilus of Antioch
Clement of Alexandria
Theodorus - Theodore of Mopsuestia
Arian Council of 431
and much more

Ben David book included in review in:

1828 Quarterly Review

William Evans, (1758-1837) who tangled with Ben David is likely this bibliographic reference:
BISHOP William Evans. B 17 May 1758 at Basingstoke. Ottery St Mary & Homerton. Min 1788-1790 at Lewes and elsewhere. An Arian? D 20 Feb 1837 ae 78 at Sidbury. RKW List. Surman B 1423-1424.

Alexander Gordon (1841-1931) wrote an 1852 article on John Jones

Jerom Murch (1807-1895)
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Steven Avery

skimming over the theories that the heavenly witnesses was interpolated or favored by Arians and Sabellians

Three sister threads:

Jeroen Beekhuizen - The Comma Johanneum revisited
Eusebius and the Sabellian controversies

Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald
skimming over the theories that the heavenly witnesses was interpolated or favored by Arians and Sabellians

scholars theorizing that the Sabellian controversies contributed to the Greek ms line drop
Clearly such theories are difficult for Grantley's emphasis on the Arian ghost aspect,.

Let us first take Arians

In Ghost of Arius, John Bugenhagen is mentioned in this regard only en passant.

Ghost of Arius

... Bugenhagen had condemned as an impious interpolation. P. 184

Even more strenuously does Smith deny the suggestion—which Sandius was merely reporting
(Biblical Criticism says Sand adopted this position) from Bugenhagen’s Commentary on Jonah—that the comma was actually introduced by Arians. - p. 196 (this should be considered along with Grantley's idea that Bugenhagen thought there were 1st century Arians)

the human nature; or even orthodox readers who mistakenly believed (as Luther and Bugenhagen in a later age) that the passage had been inserted by heretics. p. 218 (also a Luther quote is needed here)

Posset, Franz. “John Bugenhagen and the Comma Johanneum.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 49 (1985): 245-252.
However, the section in Biblical Criticism is a lot more thorough, and includes:

While Jerome believed that these words could refute heretics, Bugenhagen argued they in fact strengthened the blasphemy of the Arians, against whom John struggled so hard in his gospel and in this epistle. ... Indeed, Bugenhagen suggested that the comma was invented by Arians, for if the Father, Word and Holy Spirit were one in the same way as the spirit, water and blood are one, then the Arians would have won. To attribute such a blasphemy to John is to blaspheme the Son of God to whom John testified.35

35 Bugenhagen 1550, d71-8v.

Biblical Criticism p. 68

Jonas propheta expositus (1550)
John Bugenhagen
Interestingly, there seems to be many references to Cyprian and to the Council of Carthage, a careful check would tell how much evidence for the verse was bypassed.


Grotius also had the theory of the Arian interpolation.

Grotius (1830)
Henry Thomas Armfield (1883)

This is only in Latin, in a footnote, on p. 136 of the Ghost of Arius, and the Grantley description ignores the Arian interpolation aspect, but it is in BCEME

In his commentaries on the New Testament, the Dutch jurist and theologian Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) rejected the comma on the basis of its absence from those Greek texts in which he placed the greatest confidence, such as the Codex Alexandrinus. Declaring himself unwilling to repeat what the learned had already said about this passage, he nevertheless added interesting asides about the reading of the comma in the Syriac and Arabic versions, suggesting that the participle “the witnessing ones” (μαρτυροῦντες) is a Hebraism, and commenting on the potential semantic difference between “these three are one” and “these three are unto one”.158

"neque vero Arianis ablatas voces quasdem sed potius additas, unde colligerent Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum non esse unum nisi consensu, quomodo spiritus, aqua et sanguis in unum testimonium consentiunt.
[/QUOTE](Plus we want to look at the Grotius interpretation, in the context of the grammatical problem.)


There are actually potentially many more references to the Sabellians seeing the verse favorably. This can lead to either theories of Sabellian imterpolation or the orthodox favoring the omission text in a split line.

Smith likewise rejected the suggestion, reported by Sand, that the passage was inserted by Sabellians.
Biblical Criticism p. 157

Smith rejects the anonymous opinion (reported by Sandius) that the passage was inserted by Sabellians.
Ghost of Arius p. 196

In another spot Sandius is following Bugenhagen and inserted by Arians. Check the Sand text, it may include both.

Also very consequential in this regard in the incredible Eusebius reference.

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