Revision of 1881 - Alan Cadwallader- heavenly witnesses - Locke - Newton - Stillingfleet

Steven Avery

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notes on the Revision of 1881 - Alan Cadwallader

Revision of 1881 - Alan Cadwallader- heavenly witnesses - Locke - Newton - Stillingfleet
The Politics of the Revised Version: A Tale of Two New Testament Revision Companies
Alan Cadwallader

Within eighty years of the release of the AV, two heavyweights of English intellectual life had noticed manuscripts that were devoid of the Comma Johanneum, the unambiguous Trinitarian reference of 1 Jn 5.7: ‘For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.117 John Locke had already come under fire for his avoidance of express Trinitarian belief in his Reasonableness of Christianity published in 1695.118 Locke had privileged the Gospels and Acts in his treatment, regarding the epistles as addressing specific problems of specific communities at specific times and had to be interpreted accordingly, not mined for axiomatic aphorisms of doctrinal propositions.119 The charge of ‘Socinianism’, akin to the slur of ‘Epicurean’ thrown at opponents by early Christians, quickly came Locke’s way. It was a forerunner of charges to come against the New Testament Company of revisers. Locke’s friend, Isaac Newton, lent support through a ‘letter’ that he originally intended for publication. Newton wrote of manuscripts he had seen that did not have the Comma and was struck by the absence of its mention in early church fathers. Wisely, Newton withheld publication, knowing the penalties the Church could exact on his career.120 Indeed, in Scotland in 1697, one Thomas Aikenhead was hanged on the charge of denying the Trinity. But the manuscripts would not go away. Their textual witness was inserted into critical annotations of Greek editions through the following century in spite of the fear-mongering of controversialists such as Daniel Whitby, who saw the authority of Scripture under threat from ‘that slander of the Greek text’ associated with the text critical edition of John Mill.121 By the end of the century, debates over the authenticity of 1 Jn 5.7 were beginning to occur in public, championed with accusations of bigotry and fraud by none other than Edward Gibbon.122 The 1830 compendium of Augustin Scholz devoted two finely printed pages to the evidence - and excluded the poorly attested Comma from his Greek text.123 After the Revision of the New Testament was completed, the vicar of St Martins-in-the-Eields and New Testament reviser, William Humphry, faced the issue squarely: ‘The removal of them from the Sacred text is required by the conscience of the Church, and in no degree weakens the strength of the testimony and argument on which the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is established.’124 The Unitarian on the New Testament Company, G. Vance Smith, simply pronounced 'Requiescat in pace! and may no ill-judging defender of discarded texts attempt to disturb its repose’.125 He at least was glad to see unwarranted support for the Trinity depart.

117. The words appear to have crept into Erasmus’ third edition of the Greek New Testament via a Greek manuscript that reflected the influence of the Vulgate. Bruce Metzger suggested the Greek manuscript was ‘made to order!’ (Text of the New Testament, 101); compare his more detailed treatment in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies, 1971), 716-18.

118. J. Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures (London: Rivington, 1695).

119. Locke, Reasonableness, 151-57.

120. See K. I. Parker, ‘Newton, Locke and the Trinity: Sir Isaac’s Comments on Locke’s: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans’, SJT 62 (2009): 41-43.

121. D. Whitby, Examen variantium lectionum J. Millii (London: 1710), iii. Whitby held that the reading of the received Greek text could be defended in its entirety.

122. E. Gibbon, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, 6 vols (London: 1776-89), vol. 6, 125 (retained in the new edition of 1797, vol. 6, 292). Archdeacon George Travis, Letters to Edward Gibbon Esq. in defence of the seventh verse of the first Epistle of St John (London: 1794 [1782]) - by the time of the third edition, Travis's list of protagonists had grown considerably; but see R. Ponson, Letters to Archdeacon Travis, in answer to his Defence of the Three Heavenly Witnesses; 1 John v.7 (London: Egerton, 1790). The debates were constantly recalled in the first half of the nineteenth century.

123. J. M. A. Scholz, Novum Testamentum Graece (Leipzig: Fleischer, 1830), part 2, 152-53.

124. W. G. Humphry, A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New Testament (London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin, 1882), 457.

125. G. V. Smith, Texts and Margins of the Revised New Testament Affecting Theological Doctrine Briefly Reviewed (London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1881), 44.

Politics p. 40-41
Stillingfleet wrote contra Locke in 1696 in Latin, translated to English.

A discourse in vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity with an answer to the late Socinian objections against it from Scripture, antiquity and reason, and a preface concerning the different explications of the Trinity, and the tendency of the present S Latin

The Religious Opinions of John Locke (1889)
Elwood Worcester

(i) Critics. Ed. Stillingfleet (1535-99), Bp. of Worcester, published in 1696, “A Discourse in Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity/' of which one chap. of 27 pp., entitled “Objections against the Trinity in point of Reason." was directed chiefly against Locke.
There is a jump to the debates of Travis and Porson, totally missing the debates of David Martin and Thomas Emlyn, which were published in English in 1719 and 1722. And there were a couple of dozen major writers, on both sides, from Thomas Smith in 1675 up through the 1700s, before Travis-Porson.

Locke received the Newton treatise in 1690, covered in detail in Grantley McDonald's Biblical Criticism.

Here is a little earlier support for the Locke reference, showing some ms. interest a decade before the Newton treatise.

22 See Marshall 1994,138. Locke's interest in textual criticism as a tool to uncover the original meaning of a biblical passage is evident in his journal entry for December 30,1678. Locke, in the company of another biblicist, John Clove! (1638-1722), was shown an ancient manuscript of the New Testament where the phrase in 1 John 5:7-8, "there are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one”—a famous proof-text for the Trinity—did not appear in the manuscript they were examining (Lough 1953,252-53). The fact that this discovery merits mentioning in his journal indicates that he may have been thinking about the scriptural basis for the Trinity long before Stillingfleet raised the issue in his attack on the Essay.

The Biblical Politics of John Locke
Kim Ian Parker
Here is the 1695 and 1824 editions of Reasonableness, which is also in Works.

The reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures
John Locke (1695) (1824)