Synopsis of Scripture - Athanasius (Charles Forster) and alternate theories of authorship

Steven Avery

Sister post on the thread with various Athanasius references

Athanasius - review of heavenly witnesses references
Synopsis of Scripture

Let's look closely at one of the most important Greek evidences for the heavenly witnesses authenticity (secondary to the basic mass of Latin mss and ECW, the significance of the preservational imperative, and the super-evidences like Cyprian, Jerome's Vulgate Prologue, the Council of Carthage and the grammatical solecism .. yet still very fundamental. These types of Greek evidences eliminate the objection that the heavenly witnesses was missing from the early Greek. There are many such evidences, this is one of the clearest.)

An evidence that has flown under the radar. Back in December, 2009, we placed this on the Fighting Fundamental Forums (FFF) which has been largely dormant the last few years and the url goes nowhere:

Synopsis of Scripture - 1 John

Today we will add a lot more backdrop

From the Greek
Synopsis of Holy Scripture (Synopsis Sacrae Scripture) properly ascribed to Athanasius (more info below). The translation (with verses added, a bit more tweaking planned) here is by:


William Hales

William Hales (1747-1831)

author of Faith in the holy Trinity and writing in the:

AntiJacobin Review and True Churchman's Magazine, Vol 50 (1816)
Sabellian Controversy---Letter XII
William Hales

The section is quite beautiful, and about the first epistle of John.

Synopsis of Sacred Scripture

And lastly, St John distinguished
what Spirit is of God, and what of error; (iv. 6,)
and when we are known to be children of God, and of the Devil; (iii. 10.)
and concerning what sin we ought to pray for offenders; (v. 16)
and that he who loveth not his neighbour is not worthy of his vocation, and cannot be called Christ's; (iv. 20,)
and, moreover,
he sheweth the unity of the Son with the Father,
and that denieth the Son holdeth not the Father; (ii. 23.)

He distinguisheth further in this Epistle, saying,
that this also is peculiar to Antichrist
, to say that Jesus Christ himself is not the Son;
in order that it may appear, that if he be not,
the liar might say that himself is [the Son.] (ii. 22.)
And throughout the whole epistle,
he exhorteth the believers in the Lord, not to despond,
if they are hated by the world, but rather to rejoice;
because the hatred of this world sheweth that the believers
have passed over from this world,
and are sharers of the heavenly conversation, (iii. 13, 14.)
And at the end of the epistle, he again remindeth them, saying,
that the Son of God is eternal life, and that this is the true God, (v. 20.)
And that we should serve this (God) and keep ourselves from idols." (v. 21)

(There is more before this, given by Henry Thomas Armfield below, which is taken from the first three chapters.)

1 John 4:6

We are of God:
he that knoweth God heareth us;
he that is not of God heareth not us.
Hereby know we the spirit of truth,
and the spirit of error.

1 John 3:10
In this the children of God are manifest,
and the children of the devil:
whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God,
neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 5:16
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask,
and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.
There is a sin unto death:
I do not say that he shall pray for it.

1 John 2:11
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness,
and walketh in darkness,
and knoweth not whither he goeth,
because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:13-14
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
We know that we have passed from death unto life,
because we love the brethren.
He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

1 John 4:20
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1 John 2:22 -23
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?
He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
Whosoever denieth the Son,
the same hath not the Father:
(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come,
and hath given us an understanding,
that we may know him that is true,
and we are in him that is true,
even in his Son Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, and eternal life.

1 John 5:21
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Wiliam Hales
"This masterly synopsis, and paraphrase, of the spirit, rather than of the letter of this Epistle"
And what verse in 1 John fits the following description ?

"he sheweth the unity of the Son with the Father"

Simple to see:

1 John 5:7

For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one.

Before we leave William Hales, note that he builds on Travis and Nolan. He makes an excellent point that the Synopis fits excellently as the scripture texts that were requested by Constans / Constantius of Athanasius. He also explains why the Benedictine Maurists were in a pickle with the Synopsis, since it really supports the historical Reformation view of scripture rather than the Trent counter-Reformation view (my words.)

He is also excellent on the Disputation.


Richard Porson and Charles Forster

The heavy drinking skeptic, Richard Porson (1759-1808), canvassing earlier scholarship, attempted in response to claim that the authorship was another early Greek writer, from the fifth or sixth century, mentioning Euthalius, Sophronius, or a second Athanasius who lived at the time of Euthalius, 5th century.

In response Charles Forster (more below) showed that this is a "genuine and indubitable work of ... Athanasius." And his demonstration of this has never been countered. And yet in any case, this is an early Greek witness to the heavenly witness, one of the refutations of the claim that the verse was not referenced in the Greek writings.

Porson tried to claim that the reference was to 1 John 2:23, using his own mistranslation to try to make this failed case. He also tried a cheap debating trick attempt, involving burden of proof on a peripheral issues, which is covered below. Since as Armfield points out:

Porson, in his opposition to the disputed verse, seems rightly to have felt that the alleged allusion to it in the Synopsis, if indeed it were an allusion, would be fatal to the view which he advocated. (p. 51)

Henry Thomas Armfield

Henry Armfield also points out that this writing was placed in editions by Oecumenius and Theophylact.

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

Henry Thomas Armfield (1836-1898)

And Armfield also has an excellent section, including three pages of the text translated in English. The first part (which I separated with an empty line, was not included by Hales, and would include more verses that are referenced from the epistle.)

Henry Thomas Armfield p. 48-50

From the Greek Synopsis
Fourth* of John
(footnote * Fourth, sc. in the group of the Seven Catholic Epistles

Thus, also, this is called; since also John the Evangelist writes also his Epistle, putting in mind those who had already believed in the Lord. And first, indeed, as in the Gospel so also in this Epistle, he speaks as a theologian about the Word, showing that He is always in God, and teaching that the Father is Light, in order that we may even thus know that the Word is a radiance from Him. But, speaking as a theologian, he declares that the mystery with us is not new, but even from the beginning it ever exists, but now has been manifested in the Lord, who is Life Eternal and very God. And, moreover, he assigns the cause of the coming of the Word and of His appearing, saying that it is to destroy the works of the devil, and to free us from death, and that we might know the Father and the Son Himself, Jesus Christ, our Lord. He writes accordingly to every age, to children, to young men, to old men, that God has become known, while the power of the devil has been conquered in the overthrow of death.

Further, for the rest, through the whole Epistle he teaches concerning love; wishing that we should love one another, since even Christ loved us. He discourses then of the difference between fear and love, and between the children of God and the children of the devil, and of a sin unto death and a sin not unto death, and of the difference between spirits. And, finally, he distinguishes what sort of a spirit is of God, and what is of error; and when we become known as the children of God and when of the devil; and for what sort of a sin we ought to pray; and that he who loveth not his neighbour is not worthy of his calling and cannot be called Christ's. And the Oneness, moreover, of the Son with the Father he shows; and that he who denies the Son neither has the Father. But he decides in this Epistle, saying that there is a peculiarity of Antichrist, and that it is this—the saying, that Jesus Himself is not the Christ, so that, as He is not, the liar says that he is himself Christ. But, through the whole Epistle, he exhorts believers not to despond, if they are hated in the world ; but rather to rejoice, because the hatred of the world shows that the believers have removed from this world, and afterwards belong to the heavenly citizenship. And in the end of the Epistle, moreover, again he puts them in mind, saying that the Son of God is Eternal Life and very God, both in order that we may serve Him and keep ourselves from idols.

George Travis

The full Greek section, with verse allusion numbers in the margin, is given by George Travis (1741-1797):

Letters to Edward Gibbon: author of the History of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (1794)
Appendix XXXV
George Travis

On p. 58-59.
With a smaller extract given in:

Appendix XXVIII

The English extract is given on p. 51-52.

The George Travis discussion of this verse reference is at p. 148-157 of the main body of the writing, in response to:

George Benson (1699-1762)

George Travis p. 148-157

On p. 151-152 Travis reviews Mill, Griesbach, Hody, Cave, Du Pin, Simon and Wetstein on the authorship. And p. 152-155 discusses an often discussed quote from Athansius which is consistent with his being the author. And on p. 155-157 Travis discusses the motive as to why the Benedictine editors considered this dubious (not spurious) as Athanasius. The work did not fit with the Trent pronouncements of certain apocrypha as scriptural books. Overall, a strong section from Travis, who at times was uneven, and on a couple of issues must be approached with caution.


Charles Forster

Charles Forster (1787-1871)

(Work on recreating the Forster paragraph extracts on authenticity.)

Forster gives us a really fine section, p. 51-59, including a vocabulary and style analysis showing the Synopsis as from Athansius. Porson's deliberate mistranslation, made in order to fold the unity into 1 John 2:23, is discussed on p. 58. Note that Charles Forster makes a minor error in saying that the heavenly witnesses section (5:7) is "immediately before" (5:10) and "immediately after" (5:16) chapter 5 refs. That wording from Forster does not allow that 1 John 2:23 is put after 5:7. The reason for that unusual placement of 2:23 (generally the epistles section does go in order) being that 2:23 talks about the Son and the Father.

You can see that the placement of John 2:23 is unusual from the Porson list:
i.1 i.5 i.2 v.20 iii.8 ii.12—14. iii.10-18 iv.7—12. iv.19.18 iii.10. iv.2, 3, 6 v.16 iii.14 iv.8. [ii. 23.] 22. iii.13,14. v. 20, 21.

In fact, Hugoenot Pastor David Martin does nicely make this same point about the placement of 2:23:

"they are there only as a consequence of that Unity, not in proof of the Unity itself"

The genuineness of the text of the first Epistle of saint John. chap. v. [verse]. 7., tr. from the French (1722)
David Martin
Charles Forster
P. 55-57 - vocabulary and style
p. 57-59 - reference to 1 John v. 7


Various commentators had taken the contra side to this interpretation. The contra Thomas Emlyn in his Reply p. 265 to David Martin were early taking two sides of the issue.


Richard Porson places all the contra arguments together in the back-and-forth with George Travis.

Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, in Answer to His Defence of the Three Heavenly Witnesses, I John, V 7
Richard Porson (1790) (1828)

Some of his arguments had limited validity (e.g. that the section was not totally linear in verse referencing), some were easily answered later in Forster and Armfield. Porson had thrown in a deliberate mistranslation involving the conjunction, which Forster pointed out on p. 58-59.

And I want to focus on what is really the critical point, one that is mentioned in some detail by Armfield, allowing that Forster had handled the grammatical/translational aspect. The question arose as to whether the verse being referenced for unity was 1 John 2:23 (which is referenced next) or 1 John 5:7. However, 1 John 2:23 has no reference to unity.

Reference here is made solely to ii. 23, ... If you object that the verse ii. 23. does not teach the unity of the Son with the Father, you must prove,
1. that the author of the Synopsis means unity of essence, not of consent;
2. that no ancient writer would or could interpret it in that manner. - Porson
The logic from Porson here is a total fail. However, it is a standard action of Porson to use the cheap debating trick. In this case a red herring supposed burden of proof. In fact, whatever oneness the author of the Synopsis (e.g. Athanasius) desires for his unity will work for his exposition. If Athanasius read the heavenly witnesses as a unity of consent, rather than essence, he could still write that John is showing the unity or oneness (of consent) of the Son with the Father. (James White, while remaining a believer in the Lord Jesus, is an example of a writer who comes from the mode of the "Porson sneer" style.)

Also, the skeptic Porson demonstrates an animus, even a hatred, against scripture with this comment:

I once intended to transcribe the whole; but, to avoid the fatigue and disgust of such a task, I shall set down in their order the passages which the author cites from this epistle.


This inquiry into the Synopsis and the heavenly witnesses is planned for some forum discussions. One post has been placed in the NT Textual Criticism forum.

And I do want to possibly do a spot of tweaking on verse references and possibly add some notes from other commentators. Also show church history writers who accepted the authority of this work as early and significant (e.g Humphrey Prideaux and John Williams Proudfit) Also look a little more on the Athanasius request from Constans. And give a review of the 1800s discussions on authorship and dating. (note to self, check Pericope as well as heavenly witnesses writers in index.)

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

Synopsis of Scripture - general features and history

Here are some questions raised on the textualcriticism forum.

Synopsis of Scripture

This will be reformatted for this post, and lots of new material added.


Synopsis of Scripture - Text and Description

Michael Marlowe gives us the English of the description of the OT and NT books:

The "Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae" on the Canon

Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768), very knowledgeable on the early church, offers a general description:

The Credibility of the Gospel History (1750) (1838)

X. It yet remains, that we take notice of the Synopsis of Sacred Scriplure, usually joined with the works of Athanasius. By some it has been reckoned genuine; but fur the most part, it is supposed by learned men to be falsely ascribed to him. On this side of the question, the late learned editors of Athanasius's works have freely declared themselves and certainly they must be good judges. One reason of their rejecting it is, that it is not mentioned by any ancient writer, as a work of our Athanasius: which must be reckoned an argument of no small weight, considering how large a work it is. Some ascribe it to another Athanasius, who flourished near the end of the fifth century. Mr. Wetstein expresseth himself very positively: Mill is inclined to the same opinion, without being certain; which I think is best, as there is no very clear evidence who is the author. (excellent section continues p. 161-166)
Lardner, to my reading, is going along with the non-Athanasian authorship unenthusiastically.


Epistola Festiva -(Canon of Athanasius)

Note the following:

"this synopsis has a great agreement with the Festal Epistle" (Lardner p. 162, 1838)
The Epistola Festalis is written by Athanasius in 367. So this is consistent with Athanasian authorship.

Tregellles points out on p. 575 of the:

Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (1856)

that Athanasius has an enumeration and order of the Pauline epistles that is exactly the same as in the Synopsis. This would be the Epistola Festiva. And sounds like another strong external confirmation of Charles Forster's internal evidence,


Synopsis of Scripture - Authorship and Dating

There was an 1800s debate on the Synopsis authorship and dating. The overall result is as follows.

a) authenticity to Athanasius - Charles Forster - strong section in New Plea.

A new plea for the authenticity of the text of the three heavenly witnesses
Charles Forster

After a long life spent in the comparative analysis of styles, I hesitate not to pronounce this one result of collation, decisive for the rank of the Synopsis, as a genuine and indubitable work of 'the great Athanasius.
And I believe this holds the field unless there is some actual anachronism or clear marker that makes it non-Athanasius. The vocabulary and style arguments of Forster are corroborated by the historical tone, pointing to 3rd century events and people, not 4th and 5th.

Here is an example of historical consistency with Athanasius authorship (Hales is building on Travis and Nolan):

Faith in the Holy Trinity, Vol 2
William Hales

And Athanasius himself, in his apology to the Emperor Constantius, repelling the charge of having held a secret correspondence with the late Emperor Constans, the brother and the rival of Constantius, furnishes the following strong presumptive evidence, that he wrote the Synopsis.

"I did not write to your brother, except when the Eusebian party wrote to him against me, and I found it necessary, while I was still at Alexandriadria, to apologize for myself: and [except] when he ordered me to compose tablets of the Holy Scriptures; which I did, and sent them, (.. Greek ..) For when I apologize, it is fit that I should tell truth to your Majesty" ...
This is one of many indications that the Synopsis is simply Athanasius. While it is often said that Athanasius was to copy Bibles for Constans, in the same manner that Constantine commissioned Eusebius to make 50 Bibles, the wording used fits better the Synopsis. Corroborative evidence to the similarity to the Epistola Festiva canon, and the style of Athanasius.

''The Benedictine Editors wishing, at any rate, to get rid of the Synopsis, supposed that St Athanasius prepared an edition of the Holy Scriptures, under the auspices of the Emperor Constans, and that his revisal was made, A. D. 340, Nolan, p 131, 132 ; but the term ... rather signifies a tablet, or small roll; than a large volume, such as the Bible, and it is so applicable to a Synopsis, or abridgement of the Scriptures, which Constans might naturally desire; that we cannot hesitate to prefer its application to the Synopsis ; with which it so exactly corresponds. The Benedictines wished, indeed, to place the Synopsis among the dubia of Athanasius. And some ascribe it to another Athanasius, who flourished near the end of the fifth century. This opinion was adopted by Mill, with some hesitation, and by Wetstein, positively. But even if true, the Synopsis is valuable for its Antiquity: And surely some respect is due to the first Editors, who inserted it among the genuine works of the Nicene Fathers; and who were free from the prejudices of the Benedictines." ibid p.187
While Nolan is referenced with info on the tablets issue, Nolan, writing long before Forster, did not clearly respond to the Benedictine editors positions, and references Bengel on the question of the dating of the Synopsis:

An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek vulgate, or received text of the New Testament (1815)
Frederick Nolan

Although this work is now generally admitted not to have been compiled by St. Athanasius; vid. Patrr. Benedd. ibid. p. 124: the learned M. Bengel has proved, from the internal evidence, that it must have been written in or near the age of that ancient father; Apparat. Crit. P. I. p. 30.
Thus, the Bengel section would be interesting, his name for the work is Synopsis apud Athanasium.

b) 5th-6th century - Pseudo-Athanasius - Maybe Euthalius or Sophronius or the 5th century Athanasius. This person or that -- most scholars, including Zahn. Why? So far, I have seen no good reasons, although Zahn gives one minor point that is referenced by Euthalius. And no alternatives are referenced as having the impetus, skill and background.

If historically it is thought to be Athanasius, and is a work in the style and form of Athanasius (as Charles Forster showed), why look elsewhere?

c) 10th century - Karl August Credner (1797-1857) theorized that the Synopsis came after the early 9th century Stichometry of Nicephorus - this was answered by Reuss and more emphatically by Zahn.

Scholars like Westcott would, not surprisingly, invoke Credner. Despite the difficulties and unlikeliness of this theory, for a text with early historical referencing and passed down with the writings of Athanasius. Westcott references Credner in 1866, discussing Euthalius, in the General Survey. And in 1881, in the NT in the Original Greek, Notes on Selected Readings, to lessen the evidence for the Mark ending.

Another reason for trying to push the date back would be the fact that the Synopsis references the Pericope Adultera, an early Greek evidence from the church writers, and the textual pseudo-scholars like to word-parse in such a way as to make the Greek supports late. We see that this type of deceptive manipulation of evidences is not limited to the heavenly witnesses.

On the rcc side, the canon given by the Synopsis is not favorable to their apocrypha view, so their scholars would tend to move it away from Athanasius, as a preference.


Evidence for heavenly witnesses and Pericope Adulterae

Whether the Synopsis is Athanasius or a century or two later, it remains an important and powerful early Greek evidence for the heavenly witnesses. The 10th century date given above is simply a scholar's nonsense stab, and not even consistent with the heavenly witnesses history. (After the general problems, it would be highly unlikely to find a Greek reference to the text in the 10th century.) The Credner date only had the effect of muddying the waters, and can be ignored, my sense is that after Zahn wrote a smart scholar would simply discard the date. (Zahn supported a 6th century date.)

However, in terms of cachet and interest, we should, unless real evidence is presented contra such as a historical marker, indicate our belief that it is written by the 4th century Athanasius. Forster's fine work was never rebuffed. This is also consistent with the text that affirms his usage of the verse in the Disputation against Arius at Nicea.

"Synopsis Scriptura Sacrae mentions the PA, although the reference is out of sequence." - James Snapp

In the 1 John section, where the heavenly witnesses verse has a solid reference, sequence is not the purpose. If the Pericope is given in the context of John's Gospel, that is fine as evidence. Maybe James will check into this question.


Euthalian Apparatus (or sections)

Tregelles in 1856 tells us that the Euthalian sections have headings taken from a previous Synopsis of Scripture.

"Euthalius ... division ... also gave headings to the chapter descriptive of their contents ; these, however, are not his own, but they were collected by him from a previously existing synopsis of Sacred Scripture, and from other sources."
This synopsis is very possibly our Synopsis of Sacred Scripture. If that Synopsis was written by Athanasius, or anybody within that period up to the 5th century, it would be readily available. And this would help date Synopsis variants and usage, such as the Greek usage of the Pericope Adulterae and the heavenly witnesses.

Are there any other contenders for the Synopsis used? Do the texts align? Are there any reasons not? (Questions asked on the textual forum.)

Note that Athansius the younger mentioned by Tregelles is the 5th century contemporary of Euthalius.

(It at times is a little tricky with "Introduction to the Textual Criticism" to determine for sure the original writer, Horne, John Ayre, Samuel Davidson, Tregelles, later Ezra Abbot. A note in 1856 and not in earlier editions should be Tregelles, and this is confirmed by a very similar section in his 1863 Harmony of the Gospels.)

Helpful resources are:

Texts and studies : contributions to Biblical and Patristic literature Euthalina (1895)
Joseph Armitage Robinson

Texts and studies : contributions to Biblical and Patristic literature Appendix: Collation of the Pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis (1894)
p. 106-120

The Collation lists some other writers on the Synopsis.

Euthalia might help with the Euthalius question, as Robison can be interpreted as supporting the idea that the Synopsis came before the Euthalian apparatus.

"portions of this Synopsis are frequently interpolated into the Euthalian apparatus"
Perhaps the Synopsis portions were included, not interpolated. Which is much simpler. Notice that headings were theorized to be brought in from a synopsis, or the synopsis, so why not other portions directly from the synopsis to the Euthalian sections?


It also seems that the Synopsis includes information, like the Lucian revision of the GOT, that is of more interest and study back in the earlier centuries. Yet afawk, no individuals are referenced after Athanasius!

Here is where the textual study would help, to look for all the historical markers. Thus, it would be helpful to try to find the full translation. Plus to know more about the scholarship that tried to support a later date, which will generally be German and Latin, and not that easy to find.


So far I have not found an English edition of the Synopsis, except the section translated by Michael Marlowe. A good question for Roger Pearse.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

oneness of essence or consent

In discussing oneness of essence or consent, and the red herring demand of Porson (i.e. in the context of the Synopsis), Henry Thomas Armfield makes an important point that should lead into its own thread on doctrinal issues.

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

This lends colour to a consideration which is advanced in another page.* If the edge of the disputed text can be so easily turned as (i) implies, is not that of itself a sufficient reason why the Fathers refrained from quoting it in their argument against Arians. p. 52
Chapter IV is on p. 29-37

Leading Difficulties - True Controversial Value of the Verse

This, I believe, is one of the most important short sections on the heavenly witnesses. Please read and consider.

Many individuals stake out the position based on modern doctrinal conceptions, rather than first and foremost the integrity of scripture. In this construction, it is all very simple: the good guys, the orthodox Trinitarians, wanted the verse, the bad guys, the Arians and other ilkies, tried to keep it out.

In fact, this misses much of the fluid dynamic of the heavenly witnesses omission in the first centuries. We only see through a glass darkly, there is a lot to consider. However superimposing backwards from the current limited perspectives backwards to 200-400 AD is generally a fail. (Even if popular as the fundamentalist Baptist defense posture.) Historic, doctrinal and scriptural truth, informed by the pure and perfect word of God, should always be our goal. We should be slow to back-impose doctrine over truth, rather than simply let doctrine be informed by the pure scripture.

Armfield explains part of the reason why. Even Edward Freer Hills touches on these points a bit. Thus, it is planned for its own thread on this forum.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

It is always interesting to see how Grantley McDonald shades and evades the evidences. Oops. In The Ghost of Arius the Synopsis of Scripture is not mentioned, despite the fact that Athanasius gets a lot of attention and it was a major reference discussed in the debates.
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Steven Avery


The ‘Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae’ on the Canon
Michael Marlowe

The Synopsis of Sacred Scripture is an ancient treatise which has been traditionally ascribed to Athanasius, but most scholars now think that it was composed by an anonymous Greek churchman sometime in the sixth century. Below we reproduce the most relevant portions of the treatise. The Greek text is according to J.P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca, vol. 28 (Paris, 1887; volume 4 of the collected works of Athanasius), cols. 284-93 and 432. The English translation is my own.

This is an early Greek work that supports our verse.
The fact that a copyist put the name of Athanasius on top is irrelevant.

Anonymous, not “spurious”.

Here is where Charles Forster shows that the style is consistent with Athanasius.

New Plea (1867)
Charles Forster
p. 53-57

‘The great Athanasius ’ is no exception. Such is the character of his undisputed writings; and, like them, such is the character of the Synopsis. It gives the salient points of St. John’s First Epistle, but in a disrupted order of its own. I have carefully collated it with his unquestioned writings, and (Porson’s sweeping censure notwithstanding) I see the hand of Athanasius in the style. In proof of this, one or two examples may suffice. . .
Identity of manner of the Synopsis with St. Athanasius’s undisputed writings, where treating alike on the First Epistle of St. John. (continues)

So I would be reluctant to accept "anonymous" as the most likely, unless there are compelling arguments against Athanasian authorship that are stronger than the Charles Forster writings.
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Steven Avery



and concerning what sin we ought to pray for offenders; (v. 16)
and that he who loveth not his neighbour is not worthy of his vocation,
and cannot be called Christ's; (iv. 20,)
and, moreover,
he sheweth the unity of the Son with the Father,
and that denieth the Son holdeth not the Father; (ii. 23.)

He distinguisheth further in this Epistle, saying,
that this also is peculiar to Antichrist,
to say that Jesus Christ himself is not the Son;
in order that it may appear, that if he be not,
the liar might say that himself is [the Son.] (ii. 22.)


1 John 2:22 (AV)
Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?
He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:23 (AV)
Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father:
[but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

1 John 4:20 (AV)
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1 John 5:10 (AV)
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself:
he that believeth not God hath made him a liar;
because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
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