RGA - BCEME - new questions that arise after March, 2021

Steven Avery

George Travis church advancement

BCEME - 271
As a reward for his defence of the faith, Travis was made first prebendary (1783) and then archdeacon of Chester (1786).631
631 For a typically positive judgement of Travis’ defence of the comma, see Hawkins 1787, 188.

RMA - 258
Despite the sad inadequacy of his scholarship, Travis was praised by many, and awarded the positions of Prebendary (1783) and ultimately Archdeacon (1786) of Chester for his pains.313
313 On Travis’ career, see the article “Travis, George,” in DNB. For a typically positive judgement of Travis’ defence of the comma, see Hawkins, 1787, 188.


The book was published in 1784, although he was in Gentleman's Magazine in 1782. If you claim that his rather normal church positions was a reward, blah blah ... you need evidence.

Once again, this has the sense of something that Grantley just made up.

The William Hawkin’s book is a good ref but has nothing to do with church positions.


Is there any actual documentation of a connection of his scholarship with his church positions?


ADDED May 14, 2021
Grantley offered a couple of quotes. They do not match his simple assertion claim, but they can be entered as evidence. Clearly, the references should have been in the book.

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Grantley McDonald - It may interest Mr Spencer that in fact there is. In his Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Right Rev. Richard Hurd (London: Bentley, 1860), Francis Kilvert reprints many letters between Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, and several of his correspondents. Some of these refer to Travis.
On 18 August 1784, Hurd wrote to his friend Thomas Balguy: “I know not whether you have seen Mr. Travis’s book [i.e. the letters in defence of the comma, against Gibbon], or Dr. Horsley’s Letters. I think them both excellent, and hope the authors of them will be distinguished.”

In other words, Bishop Hurd expected that the publication of Travis’ book would attract a promotion. However, it seems that Balguy found Travis’s book deficient, either because the argumentation was weak or because the treatment of the issue was unoriginal. Hurd wrote to Balguy on 19 October 1784:

“I could not help smiling at your grave comment on the books of Travis and Horsley. It is a fancy that has grown up with you from your early days that nothing should be published but what is new, or at least better said than it had been before. Nothing can be more mistaken than this notion. There is a necessity every day to inculcate old truths, though it be in a worse manner. The people, that is all the world, except about half-a-dozen scholars, know nothing of what has been said or written by others; and, I believe, what has brought Church and State into their present condition is, that old and new nonsense has been perpetually obtruded on the public, while the few of better sense and principles have not condescended to expose the broachers of it, because able men had said long since what was proper on the subjects of Religion and Government. You now see why I wish Travis and Horsley to be distinguished.”

Once again, this letter shows clearly that at least some English bishops considered that Travis’ letters against Gibbon constituted good grounds for promotion to a position even more attractive than the prebend he received in 1783, such as a deanery or archdeaconry.

On 4 October 1785, Hurd wrote to Bishop John Butler, Bishop of Oxford:
“I do not wonder that Mr. Travis declines a fresh labour till he has received some reward for his first, which he well deserves. And yet I know not how it is to be obtained, unless those bishops who have good preferments to bestow will resolve to give some of them to literary merit. It was natural to expect that Mr. Vernon’s connexions should procure him the Canonry of Christ Church [Oxford], though to the exclusion of one (I mean Dr. Horsley) who solicited that place, and deserves any preferment that can be given him.”

These letters provide strong circumstantial evidence that Travis’ promotion in the wake of the publication of his letters against Gibbon followed as a direct result for his defence of the textus receptus. I hope these few letters are enough to show that Mr Spencer is – yet again – out of line.
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Steven Avery

1809 Scrutator Identity

RGA - p. 268
23 “Scrutator,” 1809, 229. This “Scrutator” is perhaps John Loveday Jr, who wrote articles against Gibbon in the Gentleman’s Magazine 1778, one of which appeared under the name “Scrutator”; see McCloy 1933, 76. ...

BCEME - p. 289
40 ‘Scrutator’ 1809, 229. ‘Scrutator’ may have been John Loveday Jr, who wrote articles against Gibbon in the Gentleman’s Magazine 1778, one of which appeared under this pseudonym; see McCloy 1933, 76.

The Watchman, or Theological inspector [afterw.] The Christian watchman (1809)
p. 225-237 quote on p. 229

The 1778-1779 letters contra Gibbon were by the father:

LOVEDAY, JOHN (1711–1789), philologist and antiquary,

Loveday wrote many papers under various pseudonyms in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine.’ His ‘Observations upon Shrines,’ a paper read before the Society of Antiquaries on 12 Dec. 1754, was printed in ‘Archæologia,’ i. 23–6, without receiving his final correction. His annotations on the margin of his copy of Wood's ‘Athenæ Oxonienses’ were used by Dr. Bliss in his edition of that work (Preface, p. 14).


His son, John Loveday (1742–1809), scholar, born on 22 Nov. 1742 ... To the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ he contributed many papers on local antiquities.

The son is a possibility, however there is no history of his using a pseudonym or being involved in the Gibbon controversies. A style analysis might help.

There were various Scrutator possibilities, including Charles Jerram, however he does not fit doctrinally.

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Steven Avery

John Pye Smith - review of Timothy Brown (using Edward Evanson ebionite absurd canon) edition - misstating the books!

(note: the full name John Pye Smith was given in BCEME)

Grantley totally misses his most important work - The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, 1st edition 1821, apparently because Orme missed it in the 1830 edition.


RGE - p. 266- 267
As part of their process of self-definition during these struggles, Unitarians published several editions of the bible which reflected their own understanding of Scripture. In 1808, two Unitarian versions of the New Testament appeared, both based on the translation of Archbishop William Newcome. Both editions were subject to a joint critique in The Eclectic Review in 1809, probably written by Rev. J. P. Smith of Homerton. .... Nevertheless, Smith was concerned that details of the Unitarian revision of Newcome’s work, such as the translation of Jn 1:1 (“and the Word was a god”), promoted a theological position unacceptable to the majority of orthodox Christians.21 Smith dismissed the second 1808 version in few words as the product of “violent and arbitrary temerity.”

21 Smith, 1809a, 335-342.

[Smith, J.]. Rev. of The New Testament, in an Improved Version (London: Johnson, 1808), and A New Testament; or the New Covenant […] Published in Conformity to the Plan of the late Rev. Edward Evanson (London: Johnson, 1808). The Eclectic Review 5 (1809): 24-39, 236-251, 329-346. (correction p. 343)

BCEME - p. 288

Two Unitarian versions of the New Testament, based on the translation of William Newcome, appeared in 1807 and 1808 respectively. The 1807 edition was edited by Timothy Brown, the 1808 edition by Thomas Belsham, though both appeared anonymously.


The two editions were subject to a joint critique in The Eclectic Review in 1809, probably written by Rev. John Pye-Smith of Homerton College, a Congregationalist seminary in Hackney.36 Pye-Smith praised the exclusion of the comma from the 1808 New Testament, which follows Newcome here without alteration. (Brown’s abbreviated New Testament does not contain the Catholic Epistles.)37 However, Pye-Smith believed that other details of Belsham’s edition, such as the translation of Jn 1:1 (‘and the Word was a god’), promoted a theological position unacceptable to the majority of orthodox Christians.38

36 In identifying the anonymous author as Pye-Smith I follow Orme 1830, 139. In identifying the editors of the 1807 and 1808 editions as Timothy Brown and Belsham respectively, I follow Paul 2003, 26–27, 78, 174.

37 Pye-Smith 1809a, 248; cf. The New Testament 1808, 563.

38 Pye-Smith 1809a, 335–343. As far as I could determine, the English translation ‘the Word was a God’ was first argued by Nye 1692, 24: ‘Our Opposers themselves will not deny, because every Novice in Grammar knows it, that the original words should have been thus rendred, The WORD was with the God, and the WORD was a God. We claim this Translation as absolutely necessary for clearing the meaning of the Evangelist in this place.’ It was immediately denounced as a Socinian intrusion by Chauncy 1693, 38.


Chauncy, Isaac.
A Rejoynder to Mr. Daniel Williams His Reply to the First Part of Neomianism Unmaskt. London: Barnard, 1693.

[Nye, Stephen].
An Accurate Examination of the Principal Texts Usually Alleged for the Divinity of Our Saviour; and for the Satisfaction by Him Made to the Justice of God, for the Sins of Men. London: [n. p.], 1692.

Paul, William E.
English Language Bible Translators
. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2003.


John Pye Smith p. 342-343



Grantley has no understanding of the ebionite snipping of the New Testament by Edward Evanson, followed by Timothy Brown.

(This snipping to a new canon was the purpose of this edition, which is said to simply use the Newcome text.)

(Brown’s abbreviated New Testament does not contain the Catholic Epistles.)37
37 Pye-Smith 1809a, 248; cf. The New Testament 1808, 563.
[Pye-Smith, John.]. Review of Brown 1807 and Belsham 1808. The Eclectic Review 5 (1809a): 24–39, 236–251, 329–346

You can see this in the actual Timothy Brown New Testament.

A New Testament; Or, the New Covenant According to Luke, Paul, and John. Published in Conformity to the Plan of the Late Rev. Edward Evanson, A.M. (1807)
Timothy Brown

You can see the list of books, although it does not show you the snipped chapters as in Luke.

A New Testament; Or, the New Covenant According to Luke, Paul, and John. Published in Conformity to the Plan of the Late Rev. Edward Evanson, A.M.

So, the ONLY Gospel is Luke, then Acts, 10 Pauline Epistles (no Hebrews) and Revelation.

13 of 27 books total
The first two chapters of Luke have 4 verses total! (As I said, no virgin birth allowed around here.)

Grantley was totally clueless about this ultra-mangled edition.
And apparently they just took the Newcombe text, which is why John Pye-Smith dismissed this absurd enterprise.

Timothy Brown - This volume, then, in the estimation of Mr. Evanson, must be regarded, as containing all the writings of the New Covenant, which are properly authenticated, and against which there is not a suspicion of spuriousness.
It will be admitted by almost every impartial inquirer into the authenticity of the Scriptures, that there are passages, chapters, and even whole epistles in the commonly received New Testament, that stand on evidence by no means conclusive. Mr. Evanson professes to have carried his researches on this particular subject further than almost any other person: satisfied himself of the truth of Christianity as taught by its first preachers, he was struck with many apparent inconsistencies in several of the canonical books of the New Testament, which he thought could not be accounted for, on the supposition that the authors were men of veracity, and well informed on the subject on which they wrote. He examined with patience the nature of those proofs of the genuine authenticity of the books of the New Testament which, with the generality of Christians, he had heretofore taken for granted to be uncontrovertedly demonstrated. The result of this inquiry, which had occupied much of his time for very many years, he published in the year 1792, in a work entitled, “The Dissonance of the four generally received Evangelists, and the Evidence of their Authenticity examined." To this volume, the second edition of which was prepared for the press, and partly printed, just before the author’s death, the reader must be referred for the evidence adduced to prove that three of the generally received gospels, and no small proportion of the epistles, are not to be admitted as the genuine Scriptures.


Memoir of the Controversy (1830)


It is curious that the Orme 1830 edition did not have the 1821 Scripture Testimony to the Messiah


Memoir - 1869 - Ezra Abbot

Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, third edition, Lond. 1887, Vol. III. pp. 127, 128; fifth edition (1869), Vol. II. pp. 263, 264. See also Wardlaw’s Discourses on the Socinian Controversy, pp. 16, 16, Amer. edit.

This was answered by Burgess, quite nicely, and we have that in another spot.


In response, Grantley claimed that Edward Evanson did not have an Ebionite canon (contra the virgin birth). This was simply wrong.

"Furthermore, if Mr Spencer thinks that Evanson’s canon is Ebionite, he is simply wrong."

The Ebionite position of Edward Evanson was made 100% clear in these two posts.

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Notice how Grantley Robert McDonald will not answer this simple question about Edward Evanson, the virgin birth and his missing text in Luke 1 and 2.

If he needs more direct evidence of why Evanson's canon snipped the virgin birth account, he can find it here:

The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists: And the Evidence of Their Respective Authenticity Examined (1792)

Note the 2nd century claims, and the claim of an interpolation for pagan reasons. And the comparative reference to "pagan Heroes and Demigods, Bacchus and Hercules." - p.32-33

Edward Evanson is particularly taken aback by the beautiful scripture connection of the virgin birth and the phrase "Son of God".

Luke 1:35 (AV)
And the angel answered and said unto her,
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing
which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God.

Evanson's attack on the virgin birth account in Matthew begins on p. 118.

Grantley seems to try to avoid actually learning. Perhaps this Ebionite aversion to the virgin birth is his belief as well.

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Francis Cornwallis Conybeare (1856-1924)

also spelled out Edward Evanson's position against the virgin birth:

History of New Testament criticism (1910)
Francis Cornwallis Conybeare
p. 119-122

Evanson also saw that the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus was no part of the primitive gospel tradition. He argues that the first two chapters of Luke are an interpolation, but he was well aware of the similarity of vocabulary and idiom which connects them with the rest of the gospel, and met this obstacle to his argument by supposing that the interpolator imitated Luke. .... Evanson’s appreciations of the legend of the miraculous birth are couched in a very modern spirit. ,,, He speaks of “this pagan fable of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ”,


Amazingly, Grantley is still taking the position that the canon of Edward Evanson, missing most all of the first two chapters of Luke, is not Ebionite (denying the virgin birth.)
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Steven Avery

John Pye Smith - misrepresented on John 1:1, his motivation was said to be to push orthodox doctrinal position.

Actually, he gives in-depth grammar and linguistic analysis!
And gives zero indication of doctrinal motivations guiding his thinking.

Grantley does not understand that the "a God" translation is an outlier, with little support.

In the Eclectic Review of 1809

and in

Scripture Testimony to the Messiah (1821)


Grantley just makes up a fabricated history that fits his narrative, and has ZERO to do with what was written by John Pye Smith

RGA p. 267
Nevertheless, Smith was concerned that details of the Unitarian revision of Newcome’s work, such as the translation of Jn 1:1 (“and the Word was a god”), promoted a theological position unacceptable to the majority of orthodox Christians.21 Smith dismissed the second 1808 version in few words as the product of “violent and arbitrary temerity.”

BCEME p. 290
However, Pye-Smith believed that other details of Belsham’s edition, such as the translation of Jn 1:1 (‘and the Word was a god’), promoted a theological position unacceptable to the majority of orthodox Christians.38


This is ok, just FYI

RGA p. 2
This position is maintained strongly in the theologically sophisticated Fourth Gospel and in the Johannine Epistles, in which Jesus is identified as the Word who was in the beginning with God (Jn 1:1).

BCEME p. 3
Others insisted that Jesus was in some sense one with God. This latter position is represented by the Johannine Epistles and the theologically sophisticated fourth gospel, in which Jesus is identified as the Word who was in the beginning with God (Jn 1:1).
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Steven Avery

John Pye Smith and Thomas Burgess - interesting on the grammar discussion

Grantley missed this, it would have been a fine example on both sides of the grammar discussion.

They also were both involved in the Granville Sharp discussions, on that Smith made more sense than Burgess.



John Pye-Smith - metonymy


The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah - Vol 2 Part 2 (1821)
John Pye Smith
1847 edition, to be compared

Burgess - 1821 response (see also response on skill issues)

Monthly Repository (1822)
John Pye Smith

First lines of Christian theology (1854 1st edition) (1860) metonymy
John Pye Smith

Steven Avery

Grantley writes of the edition of Thomas Belsham (1750-1829) approvingly:

BCEME p. 288
"Belsham had emphasised that readers ought to be apprised of the current conclusions over critical difficulties such as the comma, which are ‘easily comprehended’, even though the process of reaching those conclusions was ‘most tedious and difficult’. 35

35 Belsham 1800, 7.

Belsham, Thomas. Freedom of Enquiry, and Zeal in the Diffusion of Christian Truth, Asserted and Recommended in a Discourse Delivered at Bristol, July 9, 1800. London: Woodfall, 1800

Grantley Robert McDonald ignores the fact that Belsham's supposed "current conclusions over critical difficulties" relate to calling many books non-authentic as well as the virgin birth account. A little silver polish on a greased pig.

Here is the page from the footnote 35:

Grantley’s quotes are on p.15.
Reading Belsham is indeed “most tedious”, allowing one humorous footnote on p.7.

Brought over from Facebook Textus Receptus Academy


the 1808 so-called Improved Version of Thomas Belsham was cagier (than the Timothy Brown edition of Edward Evanson), leaving the birth texts in italics, with notes attacking authenticity in Matthew and Luke. It had notes attacking the authenticity of many NT books, but not Matthew or Luke as a whole.
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Steven Avery

Priscillian and Augustine (not before Priscillian)

RGA - p. 27
Moreover, Thiele’s hypothesis does not adequately explain the absence of the comma from the works of the Greek Fathers or from other Latin writers before Priscillian, notably Augustine, who seems to have been familiar with this text-type.

Priscillian (d. 385)

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

And there is good indication that Augustine was familiar with the heavenly witnesses.

Priscillian is generally handled reasonably in RGA, totally omitted in BCEME.

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Steven Avery

Priscillian in Erasmus to Westminster

And is a mumble jumble in Westminster, Grantley apparently forgot that Priscillian says he is quoting John from his Bible


The Johannine Comma from Erasmus to Westminster

A formulation in which the spirit, water, and blood are replaced by ‘the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit’, and the two triads of Father-Word-Spirit and spirit-water-blood are explicitly located in heaven and earth respectively, is found in creeds from the late fourth century, such as that of Priscillian, burned as a heretic in 385.


The idea that this is a special formulation is nonsense, since Priscillian specifically says this is from John in his Bible:

as John says: "There are three who testify on earth, the water, the flesh (body), and the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three who testify in heaven, the Fathers, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Jesus Christ." (I Jn 5:8,7)

Grantley even points that out in RGA p. 51

The author of De Trinitate, like Priscillian, moreover claims to be quoting the words of John, which suggests that both authors had actually seen the words in a biblical manuscript.


Steven Avery

The Bible Translator - 2016
Erasmus and the Johannine Comma (1 John 5.7-8)

p. 144
Modern scholarship has determined that Jerome translated only the Old Testament and the Gospels. The rest of the New Testament was a compilation of earlier translations.

Simply a bogus claim. No such determination has been made.


The Comma is absent from the earliest Latin Bibles,

Bogus claim.

The earliest extant Latin Bibles include about four Old Latin evidences that are from about 500 to 700 AD with the verse.


Earlier Bluff stuff - bad motive conclusion from Grantley, covered on PBF

Lee had insinuated that Erasmus’s reading of 1 John was based on one faulty manuscript, but Erasmus claimed to have inspected a great number of manuscripts in Basle, Brabant, and England. (This was bluff. Erasmus’s reading of the Catholic Epistles still rested only on the three manuscripts he had seen in Basle.)


Wrong year - covered earlier

In his devotional
paraphrase of the Catholic Epistles (1523)


Ho-hum Textcrit Dupe Circular stuff

At some points he remained very close to the Vulgate, but at other points his interventions were more radical, especially where he saw that the Vulgate diverged from the Byzantine (or Majority) text, which he mistakenly believed to be the most accurate form of the Greek text.

Modern 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. I, II, & III John: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox.
(This nonsense I may have covered above.)

The textual evidence suggests that the Comma developed within the Latin tradition as an allegorical gloss to the phrase “these three are one,” which occurs as a Trinitarian formula in several early Latin creeds and creed-like statements

Lee relied heavily on a prologue to the Catholic Epistles, widely believed at the time to have been written by Jerome, but now generally regarded as an early forgery surreptitiously passed off as Jerome’s handiwork.9
9 PL 29:825–32.


Double check this, he was not chief editor, was he one of the editors?

Stunica’s opposition to
Erasmus may have been motivated in part by personal animus, since he
was one of the editors of the Complutensian Polyglot edition of the Bible.


The identity of the manuscript sources used for this edition remains unclear.

ms. sources, we know at least one Latin source used, Codex Complutensis.


Valladolid - generally a very good section:

Some suggested that denying the genuineness of the Comma should be made a capital offence.

This one should have a reference quote.

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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 199
Another of Simon’s clerical detractors in France was the Benedictine Prudent Maran, who devoted a chapter to the question of the comma in his
treatise On the divinity of Christ, manifest in the Scriptures and tradition (1746). Again it is clear that Roger’s defence was the source of much of Maran’s material.

However, we know that Grantley tends to blunder in such claims, as in Turretin and Michael Walther. Here he gives one overlapping reference of minimal import.

Did Grantley look at much of Maran's material, 22 pages, and compare it to Louis Roger and other scholars of that era?

A good example of the savvy of Prudent Maran was his writing of Corbie 13174 150 years before Berger.


Grantley also has Boucat relying on Roger, but that is only on one specific point.
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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 57
Given the increasing frequency with which the comma occurs in Latin bibles
from the eleventh century onwards, it is not surprising to find it quoted by
mediaeval writers such as Peter Damian (c. 1007-1072),84

84 Petrus Damiani, Epist. X, in Damiani, 1983-1993, 4.1:132.

Damiani, Petrus. Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani. Ed. Kurt Reindel. Monumenta Germaniae
Historica: Die Briefe der Deutschen Kaiserzeit 4 (1–4). Hannover: Hahn, 1983-1993.


From the checking so far, this is only an earthly witnesses reference. (With terra.)

Peter Damian
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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 26
Nor does his hypothesis explain why the author of De rebaptismate—someone close to Cyprian in space and time, using a very similar biblical text—should also have cited 1 Jn 5:8 without the heavenly witnesses.

Did Grantley even read Rebaptism? The context is water baptism.

That explains why the earthly witnesses are used, and not the heavenly.

Sometimes his arguments of convenience, especially those around the supposed formation of the Comma, are nonsensical to the point of irritating.
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Steven Avery

RGA - p. 61
Guillaume of Saint-Thierry (c. 1085-1148) had also shown a remarkably historical view of the textual status of the comma, and of the language of Christianity in a broader sense:

Let us run through the entire course of the canonical Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testaments. As far as the word “Trinity” is concerned,
nowhere do we read that God is a Trinity; nowhere is any mention even found that there are three—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—except in
the Epistle of John, where it is said: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” But even this verse is not found in the old translation [i.e. earlier forms of the Latin Vulgate]


Once again, Grantley gets confused on Latin editions. The old translation is likely a reference to Old Latin, non-Vulgate, similar to Jean Morin.

This may also be in The Witness of God is Greater

Steven Avery

NOTE: Covered in #14. May remove here.

BCEME - p. 211
Emlyn applauded Mill’s refusal to credit the improbable notion that the comma was erased by heretics, and his rejection of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles as the work of ‘some silly Rhapsodist after Bede’s time’. -
Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate
p. 211

Grantley has a writer's scholarship responsibility to tell his readers that Emlyn and Mill were simply wrong.

Fuldensis disproved this notion.

Notice all the times that he says that a support argument was wrong (sometimes correctly, sometimes not.)