'rogue’s gallery' of those accuses of fabricating the heavenly witnesses verse

Steven Avery

Vigilius of Thapsus (Tapsensis)



Theophilus Lindsey - 1788

Thus also the following history of recent facts will shew, in what different estimation this creed of Athanasius is held by some in high places in the church, than it was in Tillotlon’s days, by him, and others : and this, even after it has been still more clearly demonstrated not to have been composed by Athanasius, but drawn up long after his time, and put out under his name, most probably by one Vigilius Tapsensis; the same who first cited the spurious text of 1 John v. 7, as genuine; one who accustomed himself to put the names of learned men of former times to his works, and pass them off as their's; a practice, whatever his motive was for it, most highly to be condemned, tending to throw confusion into history, and to prevent our coming at certainty about any persons or things in former ages.

Thomas Belsham - 1805

Creed, falsely ascribed to St. Athanasius ... Vigilius Tapsensis, a notorious writer and forger of ancient writings and records, in the fifth century*
* He is supposed to have been the interpolater of the notorious text relating to the three heavenly witnesses. 1 John v. 7. See Griesbach on the Text.

Improved Version of the New Testament (1806)
Abner Kneeland - 1818

6. It is first cited by Vigilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century, and by him it is suspected to have been forged.

Oxlee - adds Fulgentius and Carthage


Nolan response

we are instructed (2) how to dispose of the positive testimony of the Latin Church to the disputed verse, by the intervention of Vigilius Tapsensis. It is at length fortunately discovered that this father disposed that Church to receive the verse as authentic text, “by inserting it as the testimony of St. John, in several tracts," which he imposed upon them “under the names of Athanasius, Augustinus, and Idacius." CONTINUES

David Harrowar (1822)
comments on Theophilus Lindsey - refutes
A Defence of the Trinitatian System, in Twenty-four Sermons: In which the Leading Controversial Points Between Trinitarians and Anti-Trinitarians are Stated and Discussed
It is insinuated however, by Mr. Lindsey, that Vigillius forged it himself; saying, that he is “the same person, who, most probably, forged the creed, which goes about under the name of Athanasius.” This retreat is the best that he could make from the position he had taken. Mr. Lindsey, however, has contradicted my opponent, by placing the first use of the text, three hundred years beyond his statement, Which was made in unqualified terms. Seeing that men of the same school disagree with each other, we may he justified in thinking, that other writers may be right in differing from them all. In the historical testimony which I haw adduced in defence of the text, Vigillius was mentioned; and it is supported, we see, by high Anti-Trinitarian authority. We may venture to believe, therefore, that it was quoted also by Jerom, in the beginning of the fifth century—by Augustine in the fourth —by his cotemporaries, Marcus Celedensis and Phebadius —by Cyprian and Tertullian in the third—and by Clemens, in the second century. We may rely on this evidence, until it can be removed by solid proof.

John Wilson - 1848
. It is first cited by Vigilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century; and by him it is supposed
to have been forged.

Victor of Vita
Richard Simon

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Steven Avery


Erasmus accuses Jerome as the falsifier of scripture - rogue's gallery of the conjectured fabrication/creation of the Heavenly Witnesses
Not mentioned in the books by Grantley.

More information in the Lee correspondence, and the Annotationes, where you can see how Erasmus crafts the accusation against Jerome.

Henry Thomas Armfield
Richard Simon
Thomas Smith
John Samuel Thompson
Franz Posset
Robert Coogan

Newton Accuses Jerome
Rob Iliffe
David Brewster

Pressed on the other side by the alleged authority of Jerome, who, in the “Prologue” to the Catholic Epistles, which bore his name, had declared that, in inserting this verse in his edition, he was following the Greek original from which certain Latin interpreters had departed, Erasmus revived the attack of which that “Prologue” so bitterly complained, and spoke of Jerome’s violence, unscrupulousness, and frequent inconsistency, as the probable origin of this supposed interpolation in the Sacred text.

Henry Thomas Armfield
Armfield points out that Socinus follows this suggestion from Erasmus, of Jerome being the culprit. Above, Armfield is mixing various complaints against Jerome a bit awkwardly, however the part in bold is the critical element.

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

He does disparage his own judgment, by inveighing against S. Jerome, as if that Father had been the Author of the Addition that is found in the Latin Copies ... "he on this occasion brings a heavy charge against him... Erasmus's judgment, S. Jerome must stand chargeable with forgery, a bold and presumptous undertaking to correct the ancient Latin Edition according to his own fancy, without the authority of good copies

Thomas Smith also looks at this, in the same section where he notes Erasmus "craftily concealing" the Cyprian reference.

A sermon of the credibility of the mysteries of the Christian religion preached before a learned audience (1675)
Thomas Smith
https://books.google.com/books?id=0g5AAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA139 (Latin)

... hereby craftily concealing the citation out of St. Cyprian, he very boldly accuses St. Hierome of Forgery, who having got a Copy or Copies, in which this verse was added, adversus fidem aliorum omnium exemplarium, tam Latinorum, quam Graecorum, lectionem particulae istius tanquam germanam defendere & promovere coepit, conquerens publicè eam culpâ & fraude hereticorum abrasam à vulgatis codicibus fuisse. But St Hierome has sufficiently confuted the falseness and boldness of this Cavil. He was used to this kind of language, as if [Page 70] he had corrupted the Scriptures, but he was no way moved by it; though this accusation of those of his own time perchance may not so much be referr'd to this place, as to his translation in general, and may proceed not so much from heretical malice and pravity, as envy of several of his contemporaries, who were orthodox in the faith, but were no friends to his new translation. He charges the omission upon these unfaithful Translators (questionless Sabellians and Arians) and upbraids them with it as a thing manifest and notorious, and easily demonstrable; and certainly he would not have made himself so obnoxious, unless he had grounded his confidence upon the authority of several Greek Copies: with what little pretence of reason therefore Erasmus and Socinus fancy St. Hierome to have changed the publick and common reading, let any indifferent person judge.

A Course of Critical Lectures: Or, Systematical Theology, in Four Parts, Viz : Theology, Demonology, Christology, and Anthropology (1825)
John Samuel Thompson

That Jerome interpolated this verse in the Latiu vulgate, is manifest from the preface to his canonical epistles, in which he complains of being accused by some of the Latins of falsifying the scriptures. To this charge he replies, former translators have erred by omitting the testimony of the three in Heaven, so necessary for the confirmation of the catholic faith. But however orthodox Jerome might have been, he was unable to prevail on the churches of his own times to receive the testimony in heaven; and seeing they knew his insertion, and did not admit the change, they must have condemned it as a fraud. Farther be it known,that by the unanimous testimony of the ancient interpreters, the testimony of the heavenly witnesses was wanted in those very Mss. from which Jerome pretented to have borrowed the passage !

John Bugenhagen and the Comma Johanneum
Franz Posset

Jerome was the one who was responsible for the additio of verse 7, as he himself had pointed out in his prologue to the Catholic Epistles.

Erasmus, Lee and the Correction of the Vulgate: The Shaking of the Foundations (1992)
Robert Coogan

On 1 Jn 5:7-8, Bellarmine attacks Blandrata who teaches that only in Jerome does one find the three heavenly witnesses. He claims that Blandrata
simply follows Erasmus in accusing Jerome of doing something shameful by inserting the Comma.

This next one is the theory of Jerome as the verse fabricator from Isaac Newton:

Scripture and Scholarship in Early Modern England
Friendly Criticism: Richard Simon, John Locke, Isaac Newton and the Johannine Comma
Rob Iliffe

In stark contrast to Simon’s view, Newton held that the Preface to the Canonical Epistles - in which manuscripts lacking the comma were decried as perverted - was probably Jerome’s. Jerome began the corruption, after which it quickly spread to Africa and elsewhere, finally ending up in the printed Greek editions. Newton analysed the existence of the text in the pre-Vulgate writings of Cyprian and Athanasius, finding with Simon (and against the view of John Fell) that the passage was not referred to in those texts, and he then moved on to convict Jerome of having concocted the verse for the nefarious aims of the Catholic Church.
The Life of Sir Isaac Newton
by Sir David Brewster

This text he considers as a gross corruption of Scripture, which had its origin among the Latins, who interpreted the Spirit, Water, and Blood to be the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in order to prove them one. With the same view Jerome inserted the Trinity in express words in his version.

Jerome per Erasmus per Simon

Newton on Jerome
Jortin on Erasmus accusing Jerome

John Samuel Thompson - 1825

David Brewster (1831) uses Newton

Christian Reformer - Unitarian - 1841

Orme on Erasmus Jerome
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Steven Avery

Council of Carthage - Gibbon
Travis et al

Anti-Arians Arians and Jerome - Bugenhagen
William Baird
Bietenholz - 4th century

Porson - Prologue by Decretals forger

Augustine - "glided into the text"
London Quarterly Review
p. 83
question of fact on actual evidence. The verse, as we contend,
is not quoted by the writers of the fourth century ; but with re-
gard to one of them, Augustine, there are circumstances which
require distinct notice....
the affirmation that ‘the three are one.’ From this single pas-
sage of Augustine, we believe it to be impossible (airly to avoid
the conclusion that, at the beginning of the filih century, the verse
containing the Three Heavenly witnesses was unknown as a part
of Holy Writ.*
was sown. Augustine, who died about the year 430, had taught
the African church, with an authority only inferior to that of the
Apostles, that the Homoiisian doctrine of the Trinity was con-
tained in the words of St. John—Trcs sunt qui testimonium dant,
spiritus et aqua et sanguis; el hi trcs unum sunt.’ It is not im-
probable that, as a security for the faith, this dogma of the great
teacher was recorded in the margins of the Latin MSS. of the
New Testament; and thus it may have glided into the text. At
all events these African bishops, or at least the compiler of the
Confession, discovered what had escaped all the acuteness and
all the researches of preceding times.
as it appears in the printed edition* of Vieior Vitensi*. It is
easy to conceive the mode in w hich these w ords may have been de*
rived into the text from AuguMint’s intc rj relation of ihr eighth
verse: it is not easy to conceive that they could have existed as
Scripture, w*quoUd^ till the close of the futh century, and then be,
all at once, advanced as an argument to make every thing k luce
clarius.’ Perh «ps it may be objected, that Augustine enumerates

Life of Porson
Dublin Review - 1881
Westcott - "complete the gloss"

Charles Briggs before Kunstle
Chapman on Kunstle
Moffat also Mangenot and others contra Kunstle
Brooke - contra Kunstle, check for alts
Preserved Smith - 1920
F F Bruce
Craig Evans - 2005
Hull to Metzger to Liber

Athanasius Disputation (info Greek, Richard Simon)
Richard Simon
Charles Elton

Brownlee on Simon on Greek scholium gloss

John Hay on Voltaire

William Whiston - double
George Benson
Richard Porson - Cyprian to Augustine to Eucherius blah blah
Universalists Miscellany - 1800
Henry Alford - Cyprian to Augustine

Tertullian and Montanists!
VI. So then this interpretation seems to have been invented by the Montanists for giving countenance to their Trinity. For Tertullian was a Montanist when he wrote this; and it is most likely that so corrupt and forced an interpretation had its rise among a
sect of men accustomed to make bold with the Scrip-
tures. Cyprian being used to it in his master’s writings,
it seems from thence to have dropt into his; for this
may be gathered from the likeness between their
citations. And by the disciples of these two great
men, it seems to have been propagated among those
many Latins, who, as Eucherius tells us, received it
in the next age, understanding the Trinity by the
" spirit, water, and blood.” For how, without the
countenance of some such authority, an interpreta-
tion so corrupt and strained should come to be re-
ceived in that age so generally, I do not under-

Life of Richard Porson - Tertullian and Cyprian


William Wright on Newton



Vigilius and more Dublin Review

Henry Armfield (3 pages)

The Christian Life

post-Augsustinian revision of an old addition

Bruce Metzger - 1963

Houlden - 1973

Grantley McDonald kitchen sink theories

Raymond Brown blah blah

David Bernard
Randall Hughes

Rob Iliffe


Standford Rives





Thomas Burgess - Ittigius



Thomas Hodgkin

Robert Dale Owen

Daniel Wallace


Nolan discussion

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Steven Avery

With Grantley there are sections on the
"invention of the Comma"
Johannine comma fully articulated.

This study seeks to show how the Johannine comma (1 Jn 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. Next we suggest how the Johannine comma entered the biblical text.
First, Tertullian (Adversus Praxean XXV.1) considered that the (authentic) verse
1 Jn 5:8—just like many passages in the Hebrew bible, such as Gen 1:26-27, 3:22
and 19:24—gave some intimation of the Christian Trinity. In Cyprian we see a
further development: the allegorical interpretation of the Spirit, water and blood
of 1 Jn 5:8 as types of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the persons of the
Christian Trinity, a doctrine still in the process of formulation and negotiation.
This allegorical stage is represented by several other figures, including Augustine,
Eucherius of Lyon and Facundus. There is evidence from the late fourth century
that this explicitly Trinitarian interpretation of 1 Jn 5:8, especially the phrase
“these three are one,” gained some currency as a credal statement, primarily in
the Latin tradition. Accordingly, it is in the context of (Latin) creeds (such as
Priscillian’s Liber apologeticus and the Expositio fidei chatolice) that we first find
the Johannine comma fully articulated.

It is then posited that the invention of the comma involved the
combination of three elements: first, the regular text of 1 Jn 5:8; second, a
rendering of 1 Jn 5:8 in which the water, spirit and blood are replaced by their
allegorical equivalents; and third, the phrase “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). All
three of these phrases are bound by the phrase “are one” (unum sunt), which acts
as the “switch” at which these phrases can converge. The textual diversity of the
comma from the fourth to the fourteenth century is explained by the number of
possible ways in which these three phrases can be combined. Once this credal
phrase had been formulated, the comma began to enter the text of Latin bibles,
probably after being copied into the margin and mistaken as an integral part of
the text by a subsequent copyist. Through the Middle Ages, the comma is found
in Latin bibles with increasing frequency. The verse also became entrenched in
the Roman liturgy as part of the lectionary reading for the first Sunday after
Easter, and as versicle to the commonly-used responsory Duo seraphim.