Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald

Steven Avery

John Mill and Cyprian and Tertullian
- spinning untranslated Latin for a false representation (based on spinning the Porson spin more?)

And I am just giving this example, however there may well be many more. Where the claims of Grantley do not match the actual writer's text. We have seen a few on this thread, but this one is especially interesting, since Mill was saying the exact opposite of what Grantley claimed!

RGA - 215
John Mill ... He concluded that the seeming-citation in Tertullian was merely a mystical interpretation of verse 8. He disposes of Cyprian and Augustine in the same way.

BCEME p. 183
Mill concluded that the seeming citations in Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine were merely allegorical readings of v. 8.

The Latin of John Mill is easily available in Burgess, no clean-up attempt though.

Did Grantley interpret this wrongly, with spin, to match his desired position? And if so, was it because of his limitations with Latin, or because he followed some contra down the primrose path? Note that the Latin section that could support or refute the claim above was not given, and was not footnoted! Footnote 165 in RGA is about the backflip.

To help us out - Henry Thomas Armfield (1836-1898) goes into the Mill-Cyprian-Tertullian section in great depth. (Grantley gives only in English, his analysis/conclusion.)

The three witnesses : The disputed text in St. John : considerations new and old (1883)
Henry Thomas Armfield
p. 91-96

Upon the two passages in St. Cyprian, Dr. Mill observes :
(1) that the words of St. John could not have been more distinctly and explicitly quoted ;
(2) that the testimony of Fulgentius is clear that the passage in the "De Unitate " of St. Cyprian was a reference to this text ;
(3) that the argument drawn from Facundus was of no weight in the matter. In support of this position he asks how Facundus, living 300 years later than Cyprian, should know Cyprian's mind better than Fulgentius, who lived somewhat nearer to his time.

Still further, he asks, how it could be established that, in the age of St. Cyprian, any one adopted that mystical sense of the eighth verse. For, he observes, as that explanation does not occur anywhere among the Greeks, who did not read the seventh verse, so no one of the Latins, he believes, for more than 100 years after St. Cyprian mentions this interpretation. It seems, as he goes on to say, to have been first introduced by St. Augustine ("Contra Maxim.," iii. c. 22); and, according to the testimony of St. Eucherius, it was adopted by many. For not reading the seventh verse in their MSS., and at the same time learning from Tertullian, Cyprian, and others, perhaps, whose writings have perished, that the words "hi tres unum sunt" were said in Holy Scripture of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, they immediately concluded that it was this eighth verse to which those Fathers referred (the words not occurring elsewhere) ; and therefore that by the water, the spirit, and the blood, were mystically signified the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What wonder, then, if Facundus, having in his hands a copy wanting this verse, unhesitatingly affirmed (according to the opinion of others, doubtless, as well as his own) that the testimony of St. John in the eighth verse of this chapter was said by St. Cyprian to refer to the three Divine Persons. Dr. Mill then goes on to express the judgment which he had formed, after a careful consideration of the matter — viz., that the allegorical interpretation in question was so uncertain and precarious — the writers who employ it not being even agreed among themselves ; some by "the water" understanding the Father, and by "the spirit," the Holy Ghost, others, on the contrary, by " the spirit,' 'the Father,and by " the water," the Holy Ghost — and not only that, but withal so futile and trifling, so strained, and unnatural; such indeed as, except it had arisen out of circumstances such as those supposed in this case, we should scarcely have found in Augustine or any the Latins — that it does not seem in any way to be attributable to St. Cyprian. On the contrary, when one finds a writer of remarkably chaste imagination, who is very little given to indulge in lax and mystical interpretations, and who in his citations scrupulously adheres to the letter of Scripture, so expressly saying, that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, it is written "hi tres unum sunt," one cannot but come to the conclusion that he referred to the seventh verse. Dr. Mill then proceeds to give his explanation of the case. He observes that, as the African church, the offspring of the Roman, had received from the earliest days of Christianity the sacred books of the Italic version, that is, at least, the Gospels and St. Paul's Epistles, so it is most certain that the Catholic Epistles also, of which the copies were more scarce, inasmuch as they were for the most part of less authority in the Church than those which had been written to particular churches, had come into the hands of the teachers of that Church. These copies, shortly after the planting of the faith in Africa, were used by Tertullian and Cyprian ; and out of the Greek MSS. which they had in their hands they supplied the verse in St. John which (according to Dr. Mill's suspicion) was from the beginning wanting in the Latin copies. His judgment, in conclusion, as to the value of the quotations of the verse by these writers shall be given in his own words :

Ego equidem de tota hac re ita censeo : Sufficere abunde in (Grk) commatis, quod a Tertulliano et Cyprian o citetur, licet nullo modo, ne per conjecturam, assequi possemus, unde factum ut apud Joannem legerint ipsi quod nemo quisquam Grsecorum viderit ; imo licet in nullis omnino ab illo tempore in hunc usque diem exemplaribus comparuerit."

This passage may serve to throw some light upon the mystery which so much perplexed Mr. Porson,, how "Mill, after fairly summing up the evidence on both sides, just as we should expect him to declare the verse spurious, is unaccountably, " he says, " transformed into a defender."

We have to wonder if Grantley only read Porson, then glanced at the Latin and added his own ‘hopeful monster’ mangled analysis.

We can check Porson here.

Letters to Travis, in Answer to His Defence of the Three Heavenly Witnesses, I John V. 7 (1790)
Richard Porson

Nothing about Mill with Tertullian and Cyprian.

Thomas Turton, who supports Porson, gives us a confirmation that Mill definitely considered the Tertullian and Cyprian evidence as very strong for authenticity of our verse.

A Vindication of the Literary Character of the Late Professor Porson: From the Animadversions of the Right Reverend Thomas Burgess ... in Various Publications on 1 John V. 7 (1827)
Thomas Turton

It certainly does seem very strange that Dr. Mill should have considered the authority of Tertullian and Cyprian as quite sufficient to establish the genuineness of the text;

So Turton alone would have prevented the horrid reverse mangling of Mill by Grantley.

Btw, imho this did not pass the smell test, and really should have been caught by the Dissertation reviewers.

And this also adds to the errors where we wonder if Grantley was a bit of a "fish out of water" when faced with unvarnished Latin :).


WIP - part of the Mill Latin in Thomas Burgess (not touched up)

Adnotationes Millii, auctæ et correctæ ex prolegomenis suis, Wetstenii, Bengelii et Sabaterii ad i. Joann. v. 7 una cum duabus epistolis Richardi Bentleii et observationibis Joannis Seldeni [and others] de eodem loco, collectæ et ed. a T. Burgess (1822)

Quod idem de S. Cypriano, apud quem verba ista Joannis bis habentur, (non obscurius aliquanto, quomodo apud Tertul. salebrosum Scriptorem, qui verba S. Scripturæ carptim attingere magis solet, quam plenius citare; sed diaspydau et expresse admodum profert) dicendum. Neque enim allegavit ista supra memorata ex versu octavo mystice explicato; (cum interpretatio ista mystica diu post Cyprianum excogitata fuerit, ut ostendimus) neque vero ex Versione aliqua Latina contra fidem Codicum, qui penes eum ac Tertullianum erant, Græcorum. Præterquam enim quod ab Ilalica vetere, quæ sola tunc Ecclesiis Africanis in usu, abfuisse jam ab initio versus iste videatur: certe adduxisse B Martyrem semel atque iterum, idque non ús ev nepodw, sed consulto plane, et argumenti, quod tractabat, gratia, verba aliqua tanquam S. Codicis, quæ in Græcis ejus nusquam comparebant, nemo certe, cui penitius paulo expensa ista, ullo pacto crediderit. Non dico hoc 'WODEGENE Èvend tanquam qui nihil non arreptum undecunque, ac velut obtorto collo tractum huc velim, quod ad auctoritatem huic textui conciliandam valeat apud credulos, narisque minus emunctæ Lectores. Imo non indiget Deus nostro mendacio, ut pro illo loquamur dolos. Qua de causa et Prologi in Epistolas Catholicas, quo tantopere in hac re nituntur Eruditi, cuique haud dum ad examen revocato et ipsi olim multum tribuimus, Vogevol pluribus supra indicare visum est. Quod vero ad hunc locum Cypriani spectat, in eo certe Pericope hæc tam clare (habita verborum quibus intexta est ratione) ac liquido proponitur, ut (cum ex versu 8vò accersitam esse gratis plane dicatur, et absque omni ratione) ne quidem aliter fieri possit quam ut cordatus quisque depromptam censeat ex Græcis quæ penes eum erant, adeoque et ex Authentico Joannis. Quod idem et de loco Tertulliani, obscuriore licet, quomodo reliqua fere istius Auctoris, dictum om• nino velim.

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Steven Avery

Defense of the Heavenly Witnesses was the norm with many solid defenders 1690-1730

You would never know this from Grantley!
You would just have the dismissive reference to Kettner.

RGA - 185
Yet Mill also found his champions. Le Clerc’s review prompted the Lutheran cleric Friedrich Ernst Kettner (1671–1722) to publish an elaborate defence of Mill’s conclusions in 1713. Kettner, who had published two books on the comma previously, including a refutation of the views of Christoph Sand, Richard Simon, Etienne de Courcelles and Le Clerc,

Kettner was not simply doing a defence of "Mill's conclusions', he givea a full-orbed defence of authenticity.

Armfield again gives a clearer picture of the debate of the times.

Armfield p. 97
While thus the authenticity of the verse was defended in this country, abroad Simon found antagonists in Ittigius, Martianay, Maius, and Kettner; but into the controversy, as carried on there, it is unnecessary for us to enter.

Armfield p. 119
A volume entitled "The true Scripture Doctrine of the Holy and Ever-blessed Trinity stated and defended, in opposition to the Arian, by Abraham Taylor," which was published in 1727 and dedicated to Waterland, gives a good summary of the state of the question, at the conclusion of a controversy which, as he observes, had "run out into a great length." As opponents of the verse he mentions Simon, Le Clerc, Dr. Clarke, and Emlyn ; on the other side, Dr. Smith, in his "Discussion against Simon ;" Dr. Grabe, in his. "Notes on Bishop Bull ;" Dr. Mill, M. Van Maestricht, M. Ketner, M. Bogier, Dr. Jenkyn, M. Martin, Dr. Calamy, Dr. Knight, Mr. May, Bishop Smallbrooke, and Mr. Wade.

Grantley pretends that Kettner is a lonely defender of the verse (and puts him in the context of John Mill, who is a very minor concern.)
Note the defenders from Burgess:

Remarks on the general tenour of the New Testament, regarding the nature and dignity of Jesus Christ, addressed to mrs. Joanna Baillie [in reply to A view of the general tenour of the New Testament regarding the nature and dignity of Jesus Christ.]. Appendix on sir Isaac Newton's suppression of his dissertation on 1 John v. 7. and 1 Tim. iii. 16 (1832)
Thomas Burgess
p. 85-86
Burgess on 1690-1727 -

"verse which was claimed and defended during Sir Isaac's lifetime"
Smith in 1690, by (Smith first defense was 1675)
Ittigius in the same year,
Kettner in 1697, by (1696)
Bishop Bull and Grabe in 1703, (The Bull Appendix in Grabe)
Mill in 1707,
Maius 1708 (Majus), (1699)
Phillipe Mesnard 1709,
Pfaffius 1709, by
Kettner again 1713,
Martin in 1717,
Calamy in 1722,
Bishop Smallbrook in 1722, and
Abraham Taylor in 1727 --


Le Clerc
Samuel Clarke



Thomas Ittigius
(1644-1710) missed by RGA and BCEME
quoted by Burgess here:

Jean Martianay (1647-1717) -
covered for his being against Vulgate Prologue authenticity (without giving the weak arguments) and his support of the heavenly witnesses is not mentioned.

Maius == Johann Heinrich Majus (1653-1719)
Wrote contra Simon, e.g. Cyprian and the heavenly witnesses is in this section

Friedrich Ernst Kettner – (1671-1722)
"But due to Kettner’s implausible hypotheses, and to the quantity of nugatory and even contradictory arguments he brought forward in defence of the comma, his sprawling work ultimately collapsed under its own excessive weight."
Porson felt he gave too many possible reasons for the verse omission, and said he did a flip on the Vulgate Prologue.

Thomas Smith (1638-1710)
in his "Discussion against Simon ;

Martin Silvester Grabe. (1627-1686)
Programma de Canonica auctoritate Dicti I. Joh. V, 7. 5 vols. Königsberg: Reusner, 1675–1677
BCEME - used in one footnote and bibliography

John Ernest Grabe (1666 – 1711)
Grabe emphasizes the Johannine style and concept consistency, and verse connections
(Also the Alexandrinus edition that leads to Zosimas, used in Sinaiticus-Simoneides)


John Mill


Petrus Van Maestrich
Very important in concepts of "textual criticism".Here is one spot where he discusses our verse


William Jenkyn (1612-1685) or (1613-1686)

David Martin

Edmund Calamy (1671-1732)

James Knight (1672-1735)
p. 137-139
p. 290-303

Bishop Richard Smallbrooke (1672-1749)

George Wade
A short inquiry into the doctrine of the Trinity.

Phillipe Mesnard 1709,

Pfaffius 1709, by

Abraham Taylor

We could add many more from my notes, however, we will check how these are covered by Grantley, and some other notes.


Note that Grantley supplies a quick list of German defenders in the 1700s

BCEME - p. 129
46 Gerhard 1619, repr. 1714, 1721, 1746, 1747; Steuber 1640; Dorsche 1653; Reinhart 1666, repr. 1703; Dauderstadt 1674; Grabe 1675–1677, repr. 1717; Meinelff 1690; Kettner 1696; Wilhelmi 1715; Wagner 1740, repr. 1752; Rappolt 1745; Semler 1750; Pfeiffer 1743; Gerhard 1763; Pfeiffer 1764;
Hofmann 1766; Jäger 1767; Pfeiffer, c. 1767–1772. By contrast, the comma was rejected as spurious by Maertens 1725, 3.

Arthur Cleveland Coxe (1811-1896)
Arthur Cleveland Coxe on Tertullian, Cyprian and the Treatise on Rebaptism

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Steven Avery

Examples of high-spin no-Latin assertions

BCEME- p. 129
In a 1619 disputation, Johann Gerhard argued that even if the comma is not genuine, it nevertheless expresses the same theological essence as other passages of undoubted canonicity, such as Mt 28:19.

Grantley tries to make it sound that Johann Gerhard had some major doubts on authenticity. There is no reference given and Matthew 28:19 is used at least five times in a search of the 1747 edition (searches better.) Why is no reference given? How does Gerhard really word the connection of the verses? Does he really say "even if the comma is not genuine" ?

Note: the 1619 is 48 pages up to section 30
The 1747 is 132 pages up to Thesis XXX.
They end the same, are they the same throughout?

Once we see the John Mill example above (whether Cyprian was quoting the verse or allegorizing) we really have to be ultra-careful if it is only Latin, and the actual Latin is missing.

De tribus testibus in coelo (1747)
By Johann Gerhard
p. 30 90 92 94 104

Disputatio Theologica Ex dicto Apostolico 1. Joh. 5. v. 7. Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in coelo, Pater, Verbum & Spiritus sanctus, & hi tres unum sunt: A Johanne Gerhardo ... Publicè instituta: Mysterium hyperagias triados ex eo asserens (1619)


Now that we know what to look for, I will leave this post open!
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Steven Avery

Integrity Attacks

Grantley likes to sneak these in against defenders.
This post will give a one-stop spot.

KJVToday and other recent defenders

"creative stretching of the truth" - the Dutch version.

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Steven Avery

Anxiety Attacks! - psychobabble alert

One of the more juvenile elements of Grantley's approach.
The Bible believer's defending the heavenly witnesses as authentic are always "anxious" :).

More checking to be done with tensions and fears!
Also more with BCEME!

RGA - p. 11
In the process we shall see that the disputed authenticity of the Johannine comma has over time acted as the focal point for many of the anxieties caused by the pressures of religious difference, whether in early modern Europe or postmodern America.

RGA - 220
Swift suggested that doubts over the status of the comma and the doctrine of the Trinity amongst Dissenters had produced a debilitating effect on public morality: ... Such disputes were thus a source of anxiety for their potentially corrosive effect on public mores, especially amongst those who already identified themselves as separate from the institutional restraints of the Established Church. Swift’s satirical tone also reveals that anxiety within the Church of England was directed against both Dissenters and Catholics, whom he conflates into one common fear:
“...has been the constant Practice of the Jesuits to send over Emissaries, with Instructions to personate themselves Members of the several prevailing Sects among us. […] [But even] the Popish Missionaries have not been wanting to mix with the Free-Thinkers.”174

173 Swift, 1731, 124-126; this passage was identified as part of the debate over the Johannine comma by Klauck, 1991, 310.
174 Swift, 1731, 124-125.

RGA - p. 224
We are easily seduced by Swift’s sonorous cadences and easy rhetoric, but we should not fail to recognise that his arguments betray a deep anxiety that the Established Church in England and Ireland was under simultaneous attack from two aggressive foes bent on destroying that church and public morality along with it.
(one of a few awkward preposition endings.)

RGA - p. 259
Porson reveals that the issues involved in this dispute are as deeply connected with anxieties over religious difference as with philological niceties:

RGA - p. 263
The Gibbon-Travis-Porson-Marsh dispute became a cause célèbre, and rumbled through the scholarly literature and gentlemen’s magazines for half a century. In this dispute the anxieties that had motivated Lee, Standish and Stunica again came to the fore: namely, the fear that biblical criticism would bring down the church and its doctrines, and would open the way for Socinianism or even atheism.1
1 Rabil, 2006.

RGA - p. 269
In the editorial of this inaugural issue of The Watchman, an alternative set of issues emerges, a suite of millenarian anxieties ... This millenarian anxiety fills Scrutator’s account as well.

RGA - p. 284
The advances in biblical philology in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries gave rise to a great deal of anxiety about the authority of the so-called textus receptus, especially when textual questions seemed to impinge on matters of doctrine. ...

Conservatives such as Frederick Nolan (1815) were anxious that the work of critics like Griesbach threatened passages such as Jn 7:53-8:11 (the woman caught in adultery), Acts 20:28 (the command to the bishops), 1 Tim 3:16 (the short Christological creed) and the Johannine comma. Nolan feared that the excision of these passages would undermine several key doctrines of Christianity. He therefore set about to prove that the textus receptus is inspired.

Whenever Grantley talks of "advances", hold onto your scholastic hat!
And note the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, combined with a misrepresentation of Nolan's motives.

RGA - p. 285
one reviewer of Nolan’s book crowed

The next one is especially interesting, because Grantley adds "prejudice" simply for speaking the truth about German higher criticism.

RGA - p. 299-300
An examination of The Fundamentals reveals that its basic impulse is antirationalistic and ultimately anti-intellectual: ... the Anglican canon Dyson Hague. There was a lot of good sense in what Hague had to say, but much of his argumentation is based on nothing firmer than prejudice: “some of the most powerful exponents of the modern Higher Critical theories have been Germans,” Hague asserted, “and it is notorious to what length the German fancy can go in the direction of the subjective and of the conjectural. For hypothesis-weaving and speculation, the German theological professor is unsurpassed.”10 According to Hague, German Higher Critics are given not merely to fancy, but also to apostasy: “the leaders of the Higher Critical movement in Germany and Holland have been men who have no faith in the God of the Bible, and no faith in either the necessity or the possibility of a personal supernatural revelation.”11 Hague revived the anxiety that had motivated Erasmus’ opponents. Biblical criticism, he asserted, “threatens the Christian system of doctrine and the whole fabric of systematic theology.”12
Hague might have been surprised to discover that his own defiant resistance towards professional biblical scholarship was the heritage of a German professor who lived some four centuries previously. But despite the initially positive reception accorded The Fundamentals, first-generation fundamentalism had effectively run out of steam by the 1950s.

11 Hague, 1910, 91.
12 Hague, 1910, 110.
13 Hague, 1910, 115.

Who is the German professor? ?

RGA - p. 310
More importantly, discussions of the comma over the last two centuries have almost invariably been drawn into wider discussions of toleration and social order. In the nineteenth century, the debate was driven by fear of the perceived threat of Unitarians, Roman Catholics or rationalist biblical criticism. Today this anxiety is joined by secular social issues. The resurgent biblical literalism of the last half-century, which has injected the question of the comma with new life, is driven by an aggressively conservative view of Scripture which rejects biblical criticism as a conspiracy against the truth. This retrograde movement likewise undermines empirical science while advocating Creation Science and Intelligent Design, and promotes a conservative social order in which pressing issues of social justice are publicly denounced as abominations, and are actively opposed through the mobilisation of the religious right. The question of the comma is thus not merely a dusty chapter in the annals of biblical scholarship, but a microcosm of the religious tensions in which we find ourselves right now.

Commentary planned shortly on all these thoughts.

RGA - p. 312
The myth of Erasmus’ promise to restore the Johannine comma arose not merely through a misunderstanding of his reply to Lee, as Henk Jan de Jonge rightly suggested, but also because it provided a convenient focus for religious tensions and anxieties of all kinds.


BCEME - p. 9
By the middle of the twentieth century, scholarly debate had led to a consensus: the comma was an interpolation, with no right to be included
in the Greek text. The issue was solemnly declared dead and buried. But the comma is an unquiet corpse, and has been clamouring for exhumation for some time now. The revival of the Christian right, especially in Evangelical circles, has reanimated the debate over the comma as part of a wider defence of the textus receptus. Attention to this issue on the Internet shows that the Johannine comma has again become a hot-button issue, since it seems to pose questions concerning the accuracy and reliability of Scripture, and raises suspicions of ecclesiastical conspiracy, anxieties stoked by recent popular fiction. As a result of an informational cascade amongst non-scholarly believers, the divide between academic consensus ---------

BCEME - p. 12
And we shall see that the disputed authenticity of the Johannine comma has frequently acted as a lightning rod for anxieties caused by the pressures of religious and social difference.

BCEME - p. 126
And correct religious belief could only flow from correct beliefs about the Scriptures. This anxiety about correct belief is symptomatic of the normative power of documents such as the Thirty-Nine Articles.

BCEME - p. 130
Behind Löscher’s critique lurks the anxiety that the Pietist translator Johann Heinrich Reitz had let the genie out of the academic bottle by alerting a vernacular readership to the disputes over textual criticism.47

BCEME - p. 224
Craven was not the only person anxious about Bentley’s plan to edit the New Testament.

Concerned would be better, however this one is closer to being a reasonable usage.

BCEME - p. 260
The competing opinions on the status of the comma continued to cause anxiety amongst the faithful, who were increasingly unsure what
they should believe. In his Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (1755), John Wesley deferred to Bengel’s conclusions on the comma. He
also implicitly contradicted Calvin by giving a comprehensive interpretation of the comma that included an ontological unity: ‘[Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit] are one in Essence, in Knowledge, in Will, and in their Testimony.’591

BCEME - p. 273
Porson’s response to Travis revealed that the dispute had as much to do with religious anxieties as with philological niceties.

This next one is funny, because Grantley combats an anxiety claim!
So Grantley does understand how such wording is often emotionally charged psycho-babble.

BCEME - p. 281-282
In 1831 Burgess even accused David Brewster, Newton’s learned biographer, of injuring Newton’s memory by restating the contents of the Historical Account without noting that the scientist had ‘deliberately and anxiously suppressed’ this writing. .. Brewster ... also repudiated Burgess’ claim that Newton had deliberately and anxiously suppressed the Historical Account.

BCEME - p. 294
Advances in biblical philology in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries caused considerable anxiety, especially when textual questions seemed to impinge on doctrine. Such anxieties prompted conservatives to put their case in ever more strident terms, and increasingly to insist on notions such as inerrancy, which had played little role in earlier attitudes to Scripture.63 Frederick Nolan (1815) feared that the work of critics like Griesbach had undermined doctrine by threatening the textual integrity of passages such as Jn 7:53–8:11 (the woman caught in adultery), Acts 20:28 (the command to the bishops), 1 Tim 3:16 and the Johannine comma. Nolan therefore set about to prove the inspiration, and thus the accuracy, of the textus receptus. His view of inspiration was far from simplistic. He considered that an insistence on the ‘literal identity between the present copies of the inspired text, and the original edition’ was ‘a vulgar errour’ and ‘repugnant to reason’. On the other hand, he maintained that belief in the doctrinal integrity of the bible is ‘necessary to the conviction of our faith’.64 In his judgement, the efforts of biblical critics had not brought us any closer to God’s word. Instead, they were ‘so far from having established the integrity of any particular text, that they have unsettled the foundation on which the entire canon is rested’.65

63 Mandelbrote 2001, 35–37.
64 Nolan 1815, vii.
65 Nolan 1815, viii.


RGE - p. 307
Künstle’s book caused some unease. The Benedictine Laurent Janssens suggested that Künstle’s protestations betrayed a certain anxiety about the conclusions to which his investigations had led him.


RGE - p. 313
The myth of Erasmus’ promise to restore the Johannine comma arose not merely through a misunderstanding of his reply to Lee, as Henk Jan
de Jonge rightly suggested, but also because it provided a convenient focus for religious tensions and anxieties of all kinds.


BCEME p. 314
This is nothing new. Discussions of the comma have invariably been drawn into wider discussions of toleration and social order. In the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the debate was driven by fear of the perceived threat of Socinians, Unitarians, Roman Catholics or modernists. Today this anxiety has been replaced by the fear that Christianity is under attack from science and liberal humanism. Some who believe that empirical science is incompatible with a literal understanding of Scripture have sought to replace it with ‘biblical’ views of nature such as Creation Science or Intelligent Design. Some who believe that abandoning old certainties about the bible is the first step on the road to Babylon take up arms against the hydra of secular humanism. One internet blogger has claimed that the omission of the Johannine comma from modern critical editions has been driven by ‘deceitful’ textual scholars, ‘lying homosexuals, homosexual sympathizers, abortion supporters, feminazis, socialists, and Christ denying apostates’.3 The question of the comma is thus not merely a dusty chapter in the annals of biblical scholarship, but a microcosm of the cultural and religious conflicts in which we find ourselves right now.

3 http://av1611.com/kjbp/ridiculous-kjv-bible-corrections/1-John-5-7-Scams.html (accessed 1 January 2016).



Similar word-parsing deprecation attempts

"lame" used with Thomas Smith

RGA - p. 199
"embarrassingly naïve arguments" with Boucat


Will add more as I bump into the sleights.

New thread
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Steven Avery

Good Guy Philologists versus the Old-School 'Theologians'


This is the full-time theme of Grantley's work. Essentially, anybody who attacks the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses is a philologist, a good guy, while anyone who defends the verse is a theologian, incapable of seeing the wonderful philology truths.

BCEME - p. 147
"I suggest that many of the conflicts between academic biblical critics and conservative apologists arise out of a basic epistemological incompatibility."
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Steven Avery

the occasional interesting turn of phrase or study point


neatly balanced pair of verses
this is ironically a strong internal evidence acknowledgement

The most explicit expression of the doctrine of the consubstantial Trinity in the New Testament is apparently found in a neatly balanced pair of verses in the fifth chapter of the first letter of John: “7For there are three that witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. 8And there are three that witness on earth, the Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood, and these three are unto one”


What is Arianism? - (formatting added)

BCEME - p. 7
Erasmus’ ambivalent decision to include the comma within the text while questioning its textual legitimacy in the Annotationes prompted vigorous
debate, becoming one of the hinges on which wide-ranging social debates in early modern Europe turned. Many of these debates were
associated with the revival, real or imagined, of the ideas of Arius. In his important monograph on Arius (1987), Rowan Williams highlighted the difficulty of defining Arianism in late antiquity, and noted that the picture of Arius and of his followers bequeathed to the later church was derived from the polemical constructions of Athanasius. Arianism is no less difficult to define in the early modern period.

The term could be used in a strict sense to distinguish Arius’ ideas from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity on one side and from alternatives such as Sabellianism or Socinianism on the other.

It was also used in a looser sense to indicate a sceptical stance towards the orthodox formulation of the Trinity and a critical attitude towards its Scriptural basis.

It could also be used in a looser sense still, as a catch-all term, for any heterodox conception of God.

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Steven Avery


RGa p. 312
Nore more on Erasmus promise with Porson
Move later
However, the last half-century or so has seen a resurgence of fundamentalism and conservatism worldwide, accompanied by a renewed
defence of the textus receptus.14 This movement first made itself visible in Jasper J. Ray’s God wrote only one Bible (1955), still widely quoted by many conservatives. Although Ray admitted that the Authorised Version has some inaccuracies that might be corrected, he also claimed that salvation is only to be found through reading translations based on the textus receptus.15 The renewal of enthusiasm for the textus receptus led to the foundation of the Dean Burgon Society in 1978 (which espouses a far more optimistic attitude towards the accuracy of the textus receptus than its eponymous patron) and the Majority Text Society in 1989.16

14 See Thuesen, 1999, for an analysis of this movement.
15 Ray, 1955, 122, cit. Kutilek, 2001, 45, 54. As Beacham and Bauder, 2001, 18, point out, not all fundamentalists insist on the supremacy of the Authorised Version. It is not my intention to identify all conservative biblical scholars who engage in the objective textual study of the bible
with those who reject biblical criticism on doctrinal grounds. For example, two recent editions of the Majority Text by conservative scholars (Hodges and Farstad, 1982/1985; Robinson and Pierpont, 2005) follow the evidence of the manuscripts instead of doctrine in their omission of the comma. I can only concur with Douglas Kutilek’s review of Maynard, 1995: http://www.kjvonly.org/doug/kutilek_debate_over_ john.htm, and with the conclusions of Daniel Wallace.
16 See Wallace, 1996.
17 Daniels, 2003, 43-45.
Nonsense. Both Hills and Wilkerson had much more impact.

Steven Avery

Erasmus’ suspicion that Montfortianus had been “adapted” to conform to the Latin Vulgate was thus not simply the result of a scatter-shot suspicion of any manuscript that deviated from the Byzantine text, but had some basis in truth. Of course, ever since Lorenzo Valla had unmasked the Donation of Constantine, the ability to detect textual anomalies was a matter of pride for humanists. Erasmus himself cast doubt upon the identity of the author who called himself Dionysius the Areopagite, and diligently separated the wheat of Seneca’s real correspondence from the tares of mediaeval pseudepigrapha.

Grantley does not seem to be aware that Erasmus was following Valla on the question of Dionysius the Areopagite.

BCEME as well
Erasmus’ suspicions about Montfortianus may have led him to conclude that it was of little further value as a witness to the Greek text. Ever since Lorenzo Valla had unmasked the Donation of Constantine, humanist philologists prided themselves on their ability to detect textual anomalies. Erasmus himself questioned the identity of the author who called himself Dionysius the Areopagite, and diligently separated the wheat of Seneca’s real correspondence from the tares of mediaeval pseudepigrapha.
Two Treatises on the Hierarchies of Dionysius (1869)
By John Colet

The chief reasons, then, from external evidence, urged against the writings being genuine, are summed up by Erasmus in the note on Acts xvii. 34, in his Annotationes. He there points out, after Laurentius Valla, that they are mentioned by none of the ancient Fathers, Greek or Latin.1 Neither Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, nor Jerome in his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical writers, specifies any such works; though the latter, who " left nothing untouched,” includes two persons named Dionysius in his list. Whatever inferences may bo drawn from these facts, the facts
themselves seem unanswerable.
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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 161
Nevertheless, the comma was definitively rejected by the Antitrinitarian apologist Christoph Sandius (1644-1680) in a twenty-page appendix to his
Paradoxical interpretations of the four Gospels (Interpretationes Paradoxæ quatuor evangeliorum; 1669). “These words are missing from an infinite number of Greek codices, and indeed from the very oldest, amongst which the first place is taken by the so-called Codex of St Thecla.”26

Nope, the English word infinite does not translate the infiniti of the Latin. You need some way of saying a large number.

Steven Avery

Newton "gloated maliciously"

BCEME - p. 196
Newton gloated maliciously that Clarke’s defence of Newton’s claim to have invented calculus ‘had broke Leibnitz’s Heart’.302
302 Whiston 1730, 132.

Historical memoirs of the life of Dr. Samuel Clarke : being a supplement to Dr. Sykes's and Bishop Hoadley's accounts ; including certain memoirs of several of Dr. Clarke's friends

Why morph what looks to be a pleasant thankful remark into malicious gloating?
Double puzzling since Newton is a hero to Grantley.
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Steven Avery

Lateran Council

RGA - not in BCEME

"in quibusdam codicibus invenitur"
“in certain codices”
"in some manuscripts"
"in some codices"

Incorrectly applied to the Lateran Council as the heavenly witnesses verse, when it is the "tres unum sunt' section of verse 8, the earthly witnesses. Grantley, no reference given, is following:

The Divine Trinity (1911)
Joseph Pohle

the url above on this forum explains why that is incorrect. Also the

1910 Catholic Encyclopedia

This came up in the Peter Gurry twitters.
Shared also with KJVToday.
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Steven Avery

Michael Screech theory of Complutensian cancel-sheets

BCEME p. 23-25 (also RGA p. 87-89)

Screech theory of cancel-sheet or reprint of heavenly witnesses page


Largely buried as a hyper-conjectural idea by the Pinilla 2015 paper, pointed out by A J MacDonald Jr on the Peter Gurry twitter attempt, loaded with errors.

“Reconsidering the relationship between the Complutensian Polyglot Bible and Erasmus’ Novum Testamentum”,
Ignacio J. García Pinilla

Also discussed here

And I had two twitter responses to A J MacDonald, Jr. (One can be added to PBF, it points out the strengths of the Pinilla argument.)
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Steven Avery

Grantley is the most frustrating when he offers his own circular contra argumentation in the middle of discourse of the scholars.

BCEME- p. 165 (not in RGA)
Smith had also criticised Sand’s conclusion that the context of 1 Jn 5 runs better without the imposition of the comma, as ‘not only vain and frivolous, but very bold and immodest’, tantamount to an accusation that the Holy Spirit should have spoken better Greek.167
167 Smith 1675, 74–75

So Grantley assumes the Holy Spirit inspired John (not really his belief, but he pretends in order to accuse Smith) with only the short text. And he places his belief over Smith to make a really dumb accusation. Thus who accept the full text, like Smith, consider it full and pure, and notice that the short text is corrupt, uneven, redundant, inconsistent and even a solecism. Not the text of the Holy Spirit.


Similarly when Grantley tries to disparage Bible believers with false and vicious attacks:

BCEME - p. 175
Newton took Le Clerc’s advice, and read Simons work carefully.208 As Justin Champion has pointed out, Locke and Newton were amongst the few
English readers who engaged constructively with Simon, however inimical his project appeared to Protestant sensibilities. Many others, such as Edward Stillingfleet, John Williams and Ofspring Blackhall (sic-Blackall), merely threw up their hands in horror at his challenge to religious certainties.

Yet when you go to his (secondary) source you find nothing like this.

"Acceptable to Inquisitive men" (1999)
J. A. I Champion

John Williams
"John Williams delivered two series of Boyle Lectures in 1695 and 1696 defending the theme of Scriptural inspiration against Leclerc,
Spinoza, and Simon."

For Stillingfleet we have an appendix from the book of Gerard Reedy, no reason to think he had his hands up in horror!

Gerard Reedy, S.J.
The Bible and Reason
Appendix I. Stillingfleet Responds to Simon and Spinoza: Ms. 0.81, St. John's College, Cambridge
University of Pennsylvania Press 1985

Pere Richard Simon and English Biblical Criticism
J. A. I. Champion

The reception of Simon’s work in England in the 1680s and the radicalisation implicit in the translations illustrate how it was possible for contemporaries to appropriate his work transforming Catholic apologia into incipient impiety. Tracing the history of the various English editions and translations of Simon's criticism in the 1680s indicates the groundwork that providcd the context for the debates about the status of Scripture in England in the 1690s. 'The story told here is complex: there is more to be unearthed. Simon’s work was adapted to counter-orthodox uses in England: such was the perceived threat of this discourse that, by the mid-1690s, defences of Scriptural inspiration in, for example, the Boyle lectures of John Williams and Ofspring Blackall, became vitally important to the orthodox.73 The story of the reception of Simon also allows historians to ponder the relationship between scholarly writings and the more populist attack upon orthodox belief. It is clear that Anglophone culture was capable of using and appropriating the achievements of continental criticism. The careful juxtaposition between contrary orthodox and heterodox readings of Simon's Biblical criticism also provides important evidence for locating the political implications and context for the debates and dynamics of the “republic of letters” in the late seventeenth century.




The Inspiration of the New Testament Asserted and Explain'd, in Answer to Some Modern Writers
Claude Lamothe


A Vindication of the Divine Authority and Inspiration of the O. and N. T.: In Answer to Five Lettres [of Jean Le Clerc]
William Lowth (1660-1732)

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Steven Avery

E. Burton in BCEME p. 281

Edward Burton (1794-1836)
But even in those disposed to believe in the genuineness of the comma, the appearance of a manuscript reading so different from any yet known caused as much discomfort as elation: ‘though I would willingly defend the text’, wrote one correspondent to Thomas Burgess in 1830, ‘I do not know what is to be defended.’8

8 E. Burton to Thomas Burgess, Oxford, 10 June 1830; Oxford, Bodleian Library ms Engl. Lett. c. 133, I93r-v.

Burton has major sections on the heavenly witnesses:


Orme's writing appeared before 1830, in the
1829 Congregational Magazine
Orme 9--16 73--81 129-137 184-190 241-247 295-301-- 355-364 414-422 469-476- (about 75 pages)
(should be included in the history)

The rest is all FYI;

Orme’s account remained popular, and was reprinted at New York (1866) and Boston (1867, 1869, 1872, 1875, 1883), edited by the prominent Unitarian biblical scholar Ezra Abbot, who extended Orme’s account up to his own time.

Here is the new Abbot 1865 Preface

1866 is 213 pages, so the later editions should be the same
Orme 1830 is 260

Grantley lists 1875 and 1883 - they do not show up online - except
Worldcat lists
1875 - Yale Albany NYPL et al - 213 pages
1883 - 213 pages

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Steven Avery

BCEME - p. 83 (RGA not checked)



Cano is saying that the sections are omitted in the Hebrew. The Greek refers to the NT. It is Grantley who is mistaken.