summary of invisible allegory, with Scrivener, Armfield and Pieper

Steven Avery


John Chapman wrote: "It is well known that it [the Comma Iohanneum] is founded on a mystical interpretation which St. Cyprian seems to assume as a commonplace, and which St. Augustine propagated" (p. 263).

We are mixing issues. John Chapman had the normal textcrit nonsense approach on the issue of Cyprian and the heavenly witnesses. Yet even Scrivener, a fierce opponent of authenticity, said in all his editions Plain Introduction going into the final one in 1894:

Plain Introduction (1861)

"it is surely safer and more candid to admit that Cyprian read v. 7 in his copies, than to resort to the explanation of Facundus [vi], that the holy Bishop was merely putting on v. 8 a spiritual meaning"

And Henry Thomas Armstrong and Franz Pieper express this in a far more forceful manner, as part of their verse authenticity positions.

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

—tho truth (so we are to believe) of a certain mystical interpretation which he has not given or alluded to,

And the Cyprian mystical theory must rely on the absurd nonsense of his expressing an invisible allegory.


Franz August Otto Pieper (1852-1931) is an example of clear thinking from 20th-century scholarship. For the Lutheran scholar Pieper the Cyprian citation is a key element leading to his acceptance of authenticity. Pieper disagrees with the Karl Ströbel claim (and all the hortians) that the old codices must be the judge in textual criticism, instead Pieper says:

"a quotation from the Fathers is often of decisive importance"
(Christian Dogmatics, 1950, p. 241, trans. from German ed. c. 1920.)

Francis Pieper wrote emphasizing the antiquity and significance of the Cyprian reference.

"In our opinion the decision as to the authenticity or the spuriousness of these words depends on the understanding of certain words of Cyprian (p. 340)... Cyprian is quoting John 10:30. And he immediately adds:

‘Et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est: “Et tres unum sunt”’ (“and again it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost: 'And the Three are One’”)

Now, those who assert that Cyprian is here not quoting the words 1 John 5:7, are obliged to show that the words of Cyprian: ‘Et tres unum sunt’ applied to the three Persons of the Trinity, are found elsewhere in the Scriptures than 1 John 5. Griesbach counters that Cyprian is here not quoting from Scripture, but giving his own allegorical interpretation of the three witnesses on earth. "The Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one." That will hardly do. Cyprian states distinctly that he is quoting Bible passages, not only in the words: ‘I and the Father are one,’ but also in the words: ‘And again it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.’ These are, in our opinion, the objective facts.” p.341 (1950 English edition).

Amen. Sometimes simple words are so clear.
"Cyprian states distinctly ... That will hardly do... the objective facts".


Afawk, John Chapman did not do any special studies on the heavenly witnesses, so his comment here is really of no relevance. Other than to show the normal textcrit indoctrination on the issue, very common after the publishing of the corrupt Westcott-Hort recension text..

Steven Avery

More can be added, Thiele, Marty Shue, Nikolaos Sotiropoulos etc. .. the three above make a nice team.
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