the grammatical gender (solecism) research

Steven Avery

neuter series of nouns

Afaik, the New Testament has few verses that have a neuter series of nouns.
One verse, perhaps the only verse of this nature that is relevant to grammatical gender studies, is the earthly witnesses of 1 John, and the text is different in the Received Text and the Critical Text.

5:7-8 (Received Text)
ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατὴρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν
καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν

5:7-8 (Critical Text)
καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν

The issue comes up as to whether the neuter nouns would be expected to have neuter grammar, and in what circumstances they might exceptionally be connected to a masculine or feminine participle.

An article by Eugenius Bulgaris:

Eugenius Voulgaris (1716-1806)

written in 1780 touches on this issue. And Eugenius emphasizes that the situation with neuter nouns is very different than that of masculine or feminine (and by implication, mixed) nouns.

Since there are few comparable examples of the grammar of neuter nouns in a series in the New Testament, I wonder if a search on the classics and the early church writers would be able to find a few examples of neuter nouns in a series, showing their grammar? How many examples show them having neuter grammar? And how many, if any, have masculine or feminine grammar? And, if so, for what reasons. Any assistance in researching this question is appreciated.

1 John 5:7-8 (Received Text - AV text)
For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth,
the spirit, and the water, and the blood:
and these three agree in one.

1 John 5:7-8 (Critical Text - NETBible)
For there are three that testify,
the Spirit and the water and the blood,
and these three are in agreement.


The above was posted on the b-greek forum in an attempt to see if they would constructively engage the grammatical question. What spurred it on was some of the silliness from jimcontra, who makes up his own rules of grammar, but then the conversation developed its own dynamic.

Steven Avery
Hyde Park, NY
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Steven Avery

review of conflicting CT grammatical attempts

The response to the above went back to a few normal explanation attempts based largely on what is in Meyer.


This is actually a different question than I was asking, however it is important, so let's work with it a bit.

We see there are many explanations of the masculine, when a grammarian must work with the Critical Text.
This is something of an overview of what we have so far:



personalization of πνεῦμα - Ian Howard Marshall and others
(this has grammatical difficulties as well as presupposing a questionable interpretation)

personalization by being (concrete) witnesses -

personalization by witnessing - (even though the noun is not used) - Daniel Wallace offers that perhaps "the metaphor .. is driving the gender shift."
1814 -
"when the apostle represented the water and blood ... it became necessary to personify them, for as bearing witness is a personal act,
it would have been absurd to attribute it to things inanimate unless they were personified"

symbols of the Trinity - scholium from c.10th century, showing an awareness of the grammatical concern (see also Gregory Nazianzen)

classes of men from 1 John 5:9 - Bengel (however he actually did not base the male grammar on this connection)


Here is one verse referenced:

Matthew 18:16
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more,
that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

As for why a participle instead of a noun, that is somewhat in the realm of second-guessing, perhaps the earthly witnesses are a reference to the events witnessed at the crucifixion:

John 19:34
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side,
and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Luke 23:46
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said,
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Overall, the problem is, the text may simply be a corruption, and all these difficult and conflicting explanations would then be nothing more special pleading for the corruption.

So far, none of them are buttressed by analogous examples in the New Testament, or even Greek literature, which makes them problematic at best.

As an example: where else is the action of witnessing subject to masculine ad sensum? Or where else (putting aside any NT ultra-minority conjectures) does a metaphor drive a gender shift?

It seems like this type of question should be asked for any explanation. Especially since there is evidence that the Greek text being used is corrupted by omission. Are the specific explanations consistent with known Greek usage?

This is one reason why I requested going outside the New Testament, since you would more likely expect to find the analogies in the wider range of Greek writings.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

b-greek can't handle the truf

This post may go in, it deals more with tweak and terminology issues:

Re: neuter series of nouns

Steven Avery said:
1John 5:7-8 (Critical Text)"]
καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ, καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν
The issue comes up as to whether the neuter nouns would be expected to have neuter grammar, and in what circumstances they might exceptionally be connected to a masculine or feminine participle.
Stephen Hughes said:
οἱ τρεῖς is masculine, but is a numeral not a participle. Is what you are asking about why this is οἱ τρεῖς (masculine) not τὰ τρία (neuter)?
Yes, however the participle μαρτυροῦντες, is similarly masculine.

Steven Avery said:
I understand that the question could also be asked about singular neuter nouns
[quote="Stephen Hughes"]Singular is a grammatical word, meaning that a noun / verb / adjective / etc. is referring to just one thing / person. I guess you are trying to ask whether the same question could be asked about an individual / stand alone neuter noun, not one in sequence / connected with others in a list.[/quote] Right, singular, one noun. as compared to a series. Perhaps better would be something like a "one neuter noun phrase." (concord-unit :) ) Any ideas of what is best?

Steven Avery said:
How many examples show them having neuter grammar?
Stephen Hughes said:
The way to ask this question would be something like, Are there examples where there is concord between the neuter nouns in a list and neuter participles / adjectives / etc.?
Right. Understood. And also any examples of lack of concord, when you have a series of neuter nouns.

In the Greek body of literature as a whole, since, in terms of a series, there is a famous long feminine series in Philippians. However, not much after the earthly witnesses for a neuter series.

A related question could be asked about one-unit neuter nouns, where of course you would have many in concord, but where can we see examples of non-concord?


Jonathan Robie took an inconsistent position (that can be seen on the thread) refused more posts, continued to hold the inconsistency in some personal correspondence. Now, to be fair, other Greek forums may do better in the days ahead. Barry Hofstetter, who is involved in this b-greek forum, has tried to handwave the question in the past, however not in as such a bumbling manner as Robie.

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Steven Avery

Daniel Wallace - grammar of the Earthly Witnesses

There were actually two posts on CARM that helped with understanding the Daniel Wallace significance. They highlight Daniel Wallace on the grammar of the earthly witnesses corruption. While Wallace takes a contra stance, he does so in a way that exposes that there is no counter to the grammatical problem, they are simply, as with 1 Timothy 3:16, looking for solecism covers.

And note that our position should actually be in synche with Wallace on the basics that the Holy Spirit is not grammatically personalized in the New Testament. Any personalization should only be interpretative and contextual, not falsely claimed to be by NT grammar.



special pleading to allow the abbreviated, corrupted text

Daniel Wallace is in a quandary how to maintain that position of non-personalization with the mangled grammar of the earthly witnesses in the abbreviated Critical Text.

Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (1997)
Daniel Wallace

Since his basic position is strong and clear, consistent and sensible.

"it is difficult to find any text in which πνεῦμα is referred to grammatically in the masculine gender"

Now he has to find a justification for the one exception in his text, simply because he is stuck with the solecism in the Critical Text. If he was a bit more of a skeptic he could simply say, "scribal error" or "Johannine error", but he wants to justify his text as ok, potentially inspired by God, even when compared to the pure Reformation Bible. He really, really does not want to say the obvious "The Received Text grammar is fine, my text is very difficult."

Wallace does point out successfully the failings of the personification of spirit attempt. (We can, by contrast, call the Wallace attempt, personification of witnesses. Note that this is a theory that any witness should, or at least can, be personified unto the changing of grammar by constructio ad sensum.)

And I will add one other point, about personification of spirit, that exegetically there is no real basis for thinking of the earthly testimony of the spirit as the Holy Spirit. Rather than other interpretations, of which I will give one from the crucifixion.

Luke 23:46
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said,
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:
and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

John 19:34
But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side,
and forthwith came there out blood and water.

Wallace ends up stating that the author "personified water and blood" and that "may be enough to account for the masculine gender" (note the tentativeness). Interestingly, this is circular, and logically inconsistent, if he is simply disagreeing with Ian Howard Marshall and others (who claim that this is a special verse where spirit is personified, regardless of the evidence of 1 John 5:6.) Since water and blood would not have to be personified to have the masculine grammar (if spirit were personified.)

The basic theme that witnesses can, by nature, be personified, is then stated by Wallace. No other examples in the New Testament, or in Greek literature, are given of this special pleading attempt to explain the masculine grammar, which is stated as:

"This interpretation also has in its behalf the allusion to Deut 19:15 (the necessity of "two or three witnesses"), for in the OT the testimony only of males was acceptable. Thus, the elder may be subtly indicating (via the masculine participle) that the Spirit, water, and blood are all valid witnesses."

Are there other cases where New Testament grammar is said to be changed to accommodate allusions to the Old Testament?
I'll summarize the concept:

The reader (who may have never read a book of the Old Testament) should think of Deuteronomy, and thus he should think that this is a masculine attribute, witnessing. Thus, the reader should think that a masculine attribute forces you to think of a man rather than the objects actually given (spirit, water and blood) Thus, we place an unusual masculine grammar to neuter words.
The reader should do all this without any real marker, and after he runs into the bald, grating grammar mismatch.

Would a glove (assuming the word used was neuter) be personified to masculine in Greek grammar, by constructio ad sensum, if it was testimony in a court case?

These types of obvious questions and problems are not addressed.
Special pleading
will always find a way.

Next we will look at the explanation given in:

Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit, (2003)
Daniel Wallace



Daniel Wallace in Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit

"The question is thus naturally raised. What is to account for the masculine participle?"

The first new part is the Alfred Plummer attempt at personalization, a Raymond Brown rebuttal, and then the Daniel Wallace attempt to find a new way.

Epistles of St. John (1900)
Alfred Plummer

τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτ. These who bear witness are three.
For μαρτυρεῖν see on i:2. S. John does not say merely οἱ μάρτυρες but οἱ μαρτυροῦντες. They are not merely witnesses who might be called: they are perpetually delivering their testimony. The masculine points to the personality of the Spirit. The Apostle is answering the misgivings of those who fancied that when he, the last of the Apostles, was taken from them, the Church would possess only second-hand evidence, and a tradition ever growing fainter, as to the Person and Mission of the Christ. ‘Nay’, says he, ‘evidence at first-hand is ever present, and each believer has it in himself’ (v.10). Comp. John xv. 26.

It is very doubtful whether the Trinity is even remotely symbolized. Perhaps S. John wishes to give the full complement of evidence recognised by law (Matthew xviii. 16; 2 Corinthians xiii .1; Deuteronomy xix .15; comp. John viii. 17).

Raymond Brown correctly takes this to task in the Epistles of John.

"Plummer . . . presses the gender too far when he states, 'The masculine points to the personality of the Spirit,' unless one wishes to claim the personality of the water and blood as well. . ."

It would be interesting to have the full Raymond Brown section, although it looks like the point is clear.

Fair enough so far. The next part is about "mixed groups", such as one man and children. Wallace points out the difficulty of such an analogy when all the nouns are neuter, for personalization the spirit would have to be viewed as masculine, and that this goes against all NT grammar, including the just written 1 John 5:6.

This leads to a longer expression of the personalization by witnessing explanation, and that
"the metaphor .. is driving the gender shift." He then end up with a "whatever the reason" negative argument against the spirit being personalized, since he clearly did not have any real support in the New Testament or the classical Greek corpus that he could give for the special pleading metaphor theory.



"it is difficult to find any text in which πνεῦμα is referred to grammatically in the masculine gender"

"The question is thus naturally raised. What is to account for the masculine participle?"

"the metaphor .. is driving the gender shift."

"whatever the reason for the masculine participle"

Wallace simply took a stab in the dark, maybe it is masculine because of the personalization of witnessing. Not one verse from the Bible, or one sentence from Classic or church writer Greek, was given to support this grating, harsh, personalization by metaphor idea! Essentially, all he did was refute the popular and false Spirit personalized as a person idea.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

jimcontra and fabricated rules of natural gender

This is so absurd, I am only going to put in a couple of urls here, in a "lest we forget" mode.

1 John 5:7
playing two ends of the fulcrum

This was a followup to one above.

the grammatical non-symmetry of neuter and (masculine and feminine) nouns

What the reign of grammatical error from jimcontra shows us how low are the current internet understandings.

The CARM forum discussions have had the fortuitious result of showing the utter incompetence of these convoluted attack attempts.

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Steven Avery

outline of grammatical gender problem history

references through Reformation era

Gregory Nazianzen

900 AD ms that sees Trinity as the masculine grammar explanation - Matthaei Scholium

Erasmus - torquebit grammaticos

1600s-1700s references - (add list) - some references are in Latin, talking of the masculine gender and/or the neuter gender, and need careful translation and review. Before 1690, the debate was relatively a quiet one, authenticity was generally accepted, so there was less need for apologetics, including grammatical material.


Eugenius (1782) to modern times c. 1980

The major position taken was that internal evidences themselves could not be conclusive, the emphasis given by Herbert Marsh

(Sidenote: One of the 1800s supporters of the Vulgate Prologue made a similar point. No matter how strong the evidences of authenticity, it would be difficult to definitely prove a work authentic, however certain evidences, like an anachronism in dates and events, can prove a work spurious.)

When faced with giving a commentary on the abbreviated text, a couple of possibilities would be given, usually revolving around either the concept of witnessing being masculine, or witnesses being considered as male because males give testimony. Two constructio ad sensum techniques. Meyer is a key writer here. In the 1900s the "personalization of the Holy Spirit" idea became more popular.


modern time - the results of the Hortian Critical Text fog and the internet pluses and minuses

Internet Contra Confusions

A couple of new attempts were made to radically dismiss the whole issue.

Gary Hudson followed by jimcontra. Gary Hudson was handled reasonably well by Jeffery Nachimson. jimcontra, who was much worse in both incompetence and propaganda (at one point he had put up literally dozens of blogs) was a big influence on the forums for some years. Nobody could understand what he was writing, many did not even realize that he was rewriting grammar theories, but the turgid method of writing looked good, it looked like he must know what he is talking about. Bill Brown of Dallas Theological Seminary would try to use the confusions of jimcontra, for posturing, even though, having studied under Daniel Wallace, whom jim severely misrepresented, Bill should know they make no sense. However, he is more interested in attacking TR and AV defenders than any real scholarship.

The discussion forums like b-greek would clamp down quickly if the discussion actually offered the possibility that the CT text was corrupt. They would use a condescending approach in order to not answer simple and clear questions about their inconsistency in hand-waving the grammar (b-greek, July 2015). A fluent Greek writer and speaker going on those forums could probably force them to smell the roses, much like has happened with the Granville Sharp Rule for Fools.


Commentary and Scholarship - Recent

Ironically, a paper by Daniel Wallace nailed shut the "personalization of the Spirit" idea, thus eliminating the most popular hand-wave in the modern commentaries. In its place, Wallace tried a tentative and tepid reference to the personalization of the metaphor of witnessing idea, without showing any similar uses in the New Testament or Greek literature.

New literature should be checked, Grantley Robert McDonald's The Ghost of Arius should be reviewed. This book, while exceedingly weak in argumentation, is generally quite strong in referencing and documentation, in text and footnotes. Grammar material is largely around p. 19-23. He actually managed to omit Eugenius Bulgaris, and if this was not an an unusual case of his research incompetence, the alternative is not pretty, deliberate research shenanigans to hide from the readers the basic history.

In Greek that was published, perhaps by a JW contra, should also be studied.


Steven Avery

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Steven Avery

historical research - referencing



(0390) Gregory Nazianzus - complex statement shows awareness in 400 AD of grammatical issues
(0900) Matthaei Scholium note ascribing masculine grammar to the Trinity

(1535) Eramsus Annotations with 5th edition - "torquebit grammaticos" - make grammarians squirm
(1544) Thomas Naogeorgus (Kirchmayer) - Lutheran notes grammar difficulty
(1550c) John Calvin - (1550c) John Calvin - the passage flows better when this clause is added
(1616) Lapide - notes grammatical matching "he might have said tria in the neuter (v.8)"
(1641) Grotius -"
He suggested that the participle ‘the witnessing ones’ (μαρτυροῦντες) is a Hebraism, and remarked on the potential semantic difference between ‘these three are one’ and ‘these three are unto one’."
(1710) Matthew Henry/John Reynolds of Shrewsbury
"If we admit v. 8, in the room of v. 7, it looks too like a tautology and repetition of what was included in v. 6"
(1740) Bengel - complex, looks at grammar in a funny way
(1755) Bernardo Maria De Rubeis
(added 12/10/2018)
(1761) Ernesti - internal evidences are primary defense, later others combine such internals with grammatical
(1780) Wesley - defender-popularist who follows a Bengel questionable part "Properly, persons only can testify"



TEAL (COLOR) may be a bit less important

(1731) Twells - used or translated by Wolfius
(1741) Wolfius - "article" difficulty developed in more fullness by Middleton (per Burgess, not translated)
(1781) Eugenius Bulgaris - grammatical gender .. highly significant as a Greek linguist
(1781) Matthaei - published Eugenius letter
(1785) Knittel - publishes Eugenius-Matthaei in English - includes section on Gregory Nanzianzus
(1797) Port Royal Grammar - Claude Lancelot (1615-1695). ... - used as reference
(1806) Griesbach "diatribe" - does it mention Eugenius - Matthaei - Knittel ?
(1810) Country Parish Priest (pre-answers Hofstetter)
(1811) Middleton - extremely important
(1815) Nolan - defender who works and molds Eugenius arguments, presumably Middleton too.

(1816) Valpy - includes in Greek NT based on internal evidence
(1818) William Hales - strong summary of Ernesti, Valpy, even Griesbach on internals -
(1821) Horne reasonably fair overview, albeit too "even-handed" when arguments are strong or weak, in 1828 after flip he discounts internal arguments
(1822) Oxlee contra Nolan - no such attraction
(1822) Burgess uses the arguments above - Vindication-1821 Introduction-1833
(1824) Slade - Annotations on the Epistles Vol 2
- quoted by John Ellison Bates and later Samuel Minton)
(1824) John David MacBride "objections are outweighed by the internal evidence..."
(1825, 27, 28) William Craig Brownlee - Gleanings and Hints and more
(1827) Turton reply to Middleton
(1827) Graius strong article - is grammar straight Middleton or a little different "this one" ? see Dabney "aforesaid one"
(1830) Nolan supplement

(1830) Orme - references Horne new approach from 1828
(1837) Lucke - claims internal evidences against heavenly witnesses - bypasses major issue
(1839) John Ellison Bates - Unitarianism Confuted - full section from Slade
(1842) Gaussen - strong support for Nolan type position, Kitto critiques "in the earth" interpolation issue, Scrivener notes

(1846) Kitto review
(1850) Albert Barnes - contra like Lucke and Griesbach

(1857) Tregelles - you mention his de facto acknowledgement, highly unusual
(1863) JFB -

(1864) Boston Review - The Greek Text in Acts xx. 28: 1 Timothy, III 16: and 1 John, v. 7, 8.
(1868) Lange - translated by Schaff, demolished by Church Review, a more involved contra attempt
(1871) Forster - New Plea - strong grammatical section
(1871) Dabney - defender-popularist who follows Gaussen "very bald grammatical difficulty" also "aforesaid one"
(1874) American church review (excellent) gives Erasmus reference - may be Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall who has book

(1881) Dublin Review - a bit humorous sardonic
(1881) Westcott - 7+ pages, no mention of the grammatical difficulties, sets stage for other commentators
(1883) Scrivener - Gaussen note, may be his editors.
(1956) Edward Hills - renews grammatical debate
(1963) TCGNT - Metzger and USB4 - oft referenced yet essentially ignores grammar
(1976) Marshall - rare bird in modernists who directly acknowledges, along with weak explanation
(1980) Strouse reply to D.A. Carson -- (1996) Strouse challenges Don Wilkins, Dr. Dan Wallace and Dr. Art Farstad
(1983) Knopp - excellent overview of many internal and grammatical (almost unknown)
(1988) Moorman - When the KJV Departs from the "Majority" Text and any updates

(1990) Kevin James - The Corruption of he Word (mini-response by James White)
(1993) G. W. and D. E. Anderson (TBS) - relies on Matthew Henry, Dabney
(1995) James White - perfunctory response to Hills and James

(1995) Maynard - first summary of grammatical history especially p. 200 - collator and analyst par excellence
(1996) Wallace - reference in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics

(1997) Fuller - Which Bible
(1998) David Cloud - Dabney and commentary

(1999) Boyd - extensive internal evidences - and most extensive use of Maynard
(2002) Thomas Holland - Living Faith Bible Commentary - one paragraph
(2002) Gary Hudson - I John 5:7 "Grammatical Argument'"Refuted: An Answer to Dabney, Hills, Strouse, & Cloud
(2002) John Painter - hoti is not easy to translate - masculine, probably influenced by the idea of persons bearing witness

(2004) Timothy Dunkin - Dabney on grammar, strong on Nazianzus
(2005) Nachimson - The Greek Grammatical Desperado - rebuts Gary Hudson
(2006) Ricci, DeBoer - The Preeminence of Christ, Appendix 1,
superb picture of grammar, p. 218-219
(2009) Kent Brandenburg
(2011) Grantley McDonald - Raising the Ghost of Arius
(2016) Grantley McDonald - Biblical Criticism (Eugenius on p. 114-115)
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Steven Avery

grammattical with text onliine

Personally, I believe the actual evidence is clear that the "internal evidences" (it includes looking at doctrinal exegesis and wording from John throughout the New Testament as well as the many internal markers right in 1 John 5.) virtually prove the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses.

And the Greek grammatical component (CT solecism) being the most significant in any ways.

Thus I will include for our research community a full complement of urls, so that others can benefit from the research to date. I plan some updating, this goes back a couple of years, and even mini-reviews of many of the writings below, in terms of how they handle the grammar issue.


(1535) Erasmus
(1550) John Calvin
(1616) Lapide
(1641) Grotius

(1710) Matthew Henry/John Reynolds
(1719) Whiston
(1740) Bengel - Fletcher
- Lewis & Vincent
(1741) Wolfius reference in Burgess
(1748) John Gill
(1780) Wesley
(1781) Eugenius .. in Knittel
(1785) Knittel/Eugenius - (p. 87 and 206-207)
(1797) Port Royal Greek Grammar
(1811) Middleton
(1815) Nolan
(1816) Valpy Latin in Hales
(1818) William Hales (see also p. 219-226)
(1821) Horne
(1822) Burgess
(1824) MacBride
(1825) Brownlee (p. 64-72)
(1827) Brownlee Vol 1
(1827) Brownlee Vol 2
(1827) Graius
(1830) Nolan supplement
(1837) Lucke
(1839) Bates - quotes Slade
(1842) Gaussen (also google)
(1846) Kitto
(1850) Albert Barnes
(1857) Tragelles
(1864) Boston Review THE Greek Text... 1 John, v. 7, 8
(1871) Forster
(1871) Dabney
(1874) American church review
(1881) Dublin Review
Their new-made Greek text will make schoolboys wonder how the first Greek scholars of the day could have so forgotten their syntax as to try and make a masculine participle agree with three neuter nouns. The Article too, as Bishop Middleton foretold, will reproach them with a half measure, for they should either have kept both verses in or cut both out.
(1883) Scrivener note (editor?)
(1956) Edward Hills
(1886) Westcott
(1956) Hills
(1963) TCGNT
(1983) Knopp
(1988) Moorman (may be updated)
(1993) TBS-Anderson
(1995) James White - KJVO Controversy
(1996) Wallace - Greek Grammar
(1997) Fuller
(1998) Cloud Vindication
(1998) Cloud Defending (White)
(1999) Jesse Boyd
(2002) Thomas Holland
(2002) Gary Hudson
(2002) John Painter
(2004) Timothy Dunkin
(2005) Nachimson
(2006) John A Ricci, Louis E. DeBoer
(2009) Kent Brandenburg (sample)
(2019) Ilias Theodosis gives a clear explanation of how the two variants differ in the grammar


Hand-waving parrots of ideas like personalization

(2004) John Christopher Thomas
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Steven Avery

constructio ad sensum per Barry Hofstetter

Since Barry Hofstetter did write a small post, the thread is continuing. We will see if my response makes it on forum.


Barry Hofstetter said:
One doesn't have to read Greek too terribly long before one realizes that there are a whole lot of exceptions to the formal rules of gender agreement. Here, I think a constructio ad sensum is the best explanation. The three are thought of as witnesses in an active sense, and so are personified with a masculine reference. It's not absolutely necessary, but it is a matter of emphasis.

Thank you, Barry. Yesterday I actually looked up what you had written on this some years back :), concluding with:

"Another way to say this is the water and the blood are personified in order to emphasize the quality of the witness given through the Spirit, who is already felt to be personal."

This time it looks like you are bypassing the Spirit being felt to be personal, bringing along the full grammar. And giving a different emphasis that has been used in some commentaries the last century and more. And I appreciate that it is not an appeal to other Johannine grammar. Since the common personalization of spirit and Spirit is a person attempts would lead directly to the point that Daniel Wallace handled quite well, that there is no analogy there. Since there is no personalization of the spirit, by grammar, by John or any writers in the NT. Seen clearly when the texts are looked at closely. Daniel Wallace, very tentatively, fell back on an approach similar to yours. Considering his stance against the authenticity of the longer text, it would be difficult for him to also offer the possibility that the text is simply corrupted, not the full text that John wrote (heavenly and earthly witnesses.)

Eugenius Bulgaris particularly emphasizes that the neuter nouns rarely have exceptions to direct concord with neuter grammar. He makes this a clear distinction, compared with what happens with masculine and feminine (and by implication, a mixed series) of nouns. Since he is world-class, and was fully fluent in the language in a way that is rare today among grammarians, that position stands strong until counter-examples are given.

That declaration by Eugenius is why I wondered if there are similar examples of neuter nouns taking masculine or feminine grammar by either the metaphor of witnessing (the approach taken by Daniel Wallace, tentatively) or by the more concrete witnesses sense that you are giving. Or, to be fair, we can not limit it to witnessing, and any truly analogous examples in other realms would be very helpful. Overall, I think a good phrase for this would be "abstract personalization". Any there other examples in the Greek corpus?

We should look outside some difficult attempts with the mystery/μυστήριον of 1 Timothy 3:16, involving ὃς, which is only in a small handful of mss. Which explanation sometimes involves an abstract personalization, when they do not involve text hidden in an earlier part of the conjectured hymn. This would be a circular reference in the context of NT authenticity (allowing that one is minority Greek and the other majority). If you can allow a spot of humor, I might see that as one good solecism deserves another!

One problem with the idea of an abstract personalization and metaphor personalization is that the reader would see and feel the clash before he could do the brain-work to figure out the abstract connections that are theorized by grammarians a millennium or two later, sitting in front of a library of commentaries and lexicons.

As a sidenote, it is interesting that the earthly witnesses text was subject to a 900 AD margin commentary that tried to say that the masculine grammar was meant as John's reference to the Trinity! This shows that even Greek readers way back when were struggling with the unusual grammar, as is also seen in Gregory Nazianzen. And few today would take that position, grammatically or dramatically!

It is common to look for analogous grammatical examples when a position is given or rebutted. E.g. in the Granville Sharp debate this appeal to other writings, church writers and classics, was used to show some of the great difficulties with the complex set of rules. So why would it be wrong to ask for analogies here? Especially if an unusual or ultra-tentative explanation is given. We want to be careful about the dangers of special pleading. Remember, this question was in the forefront of Greek Biblical grammatical discussion for a century or two, without any clear resolution, nor any clear, supported explanation given by the abbreviated text side. There were top scholars and grammarians who said, in essence, while also emphasizing other evidences, that if the:

"omission grammar does not fit, the heavenly witnesses you must acquit."

If all this is too much to ask for, a reasoned response on the b-greek forum for consideration, then you can look for the same question on some other forums. However, b-greek is especially given in a readable format, it would seem to have the right audience that is interested in the Bible and Greek, and would seem to be the natural spot!


Steven Avery
Hyde Park, NY

(minor change made here
"or feminine"
"One doesn't have to read Greek too terribly long before one realizes that"

Note the difference. Our grammarians "read Greek" but for Eugenius Bulgaris Greek was a living, tonal, fully fluent everyday language. Thus a clash in the grammar would hit him more directly, he would not be dissecting and parsing in order to understand.
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Steven Avery

five grammar books in agreement on concord


An Elementary Grammar of the Greek Language: Containing a Series of Greek and English Exercises for Translation,
with the Requisite Vocabularies, and an Appendix on the Homeric Verse and Dialect (1853)

§ 147b. Agreement when there are several subjects,
1. Two or more subjects require the verb or copula to be plural. When the subjects are of like gender, the adjective is of the same gender, and in the plural; but when the subjects are of a different
gender, then, in case of persons, the masculine takes precedence of the feminine and neuter, and the feminine of the neuter; but in case of things, the adjective is often in the neuter plural, without
reference to the gender of the substantives.

When the subjects are of like gender, the adjective is of the same gender, and in the plural ... but in case of things, the adjective is often in the neuter plural, without reference to the gender of the substantives.
If the subjects are neuter, the adjective is neuter. The exception to simple concord is that neuter might also be used in some cases of things even if the subjects are masculine or feminine (which does not affect neuter nouns.) This agrees 100% with Eugenius Bulgaris, and all the evidence from the grammar writers who consider their CT text exceptional and look for a constructio ad sensum reason, like methaphor.


A Greek Grammar for Colleges (1920)
Herbert Weir Smyth

Agreement of Predicate Adjectives
With Two or More Subjects

1054. With substantives denoting persons of like gender, a predicate adjective is of the like gender ...
(however, this is persons)

1056. With substantives denoting things of like gender a predicate adjective is of the same gender and plural. A neuter plural with the singular verb is often preferred
(this is the earthly witnesses)

1058. When the substantives denote both persons and things, a predicate adjective is — a. plural, and follows the gender of the person, if the person is more important, or if the thing Is treated as a person:
Smyth is not as clear as Kühner, yet he still affirms my position 100%. If you thought of spirit as a "person", it would still follow the neuter gender. If Jim wants to make a claim to invoke 1058, this would only be possible if the spirit is a male person (like Frank.)


A Second Book in Greek: Containing Syntax, with Reading Lessons in Prose; Prosody and the Dialects, with Reading Lessons in Verse Forming a Sufficient Greek Reader. With a Vocabulary (1859)
John McClintock

(10.) With two or more nouns,
(a) Of the same gender, the adjective will be of the same gender, plural.
The mother and daughter were beautiful.
(Grk example)
(b) If of different genders, denoting persons, the most worthy* gender prevails.
The woman and her children are good.
(Grk examples)
* The masc. is said to be more worthy than tho fern., the fern, than the neut.
(a) If of different genders, denoting things, the neuter plural is generally used;
e. g.
Stones, bricks, and sticks thrown about at random are good for nothing.

And again, crystal clear.

An Elementary Grammar of the Greek Language, for the Use of Colleges (1885)
J. M. A. Schultheis, Friedrich Spiess, Moritz Ludwig Seyffert

6. When there are two or more Subjects, the Predicate is in the Plural. A predicative adjective agrees with the Subjects in gender, when they are all of the same gender. When they are of different genders, the masculine has the preference over the feminine, and the feminine over the neuter, if they denote persons; but the neuter, if they denote

A Greek Grammar for Schools and Colleges (1861)
James Hadley

Agreement with two or more subjects

With subjects of different genders
e) the predicate-adjective is masculine, if they denote persons
f) it is neuter, if they denote things
g) if they denote persons and things together, it takes the gender of the persons

Nerdy Language Majors{"tn":"R8"}

Clearly, while masculine and feminine and mixed series of nouns can easily have neuter grammar (ie. they are not locked in to gender concordance, and there are examples in the NT) neuter nouns take neuter grammar normatively. Which is why the witnesses (earthly and maybe heavenly) is such a fascinating controversy.

The learned world-class scholar Eugenius Bulgaris actually wrote about this back in 1780!


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Steven Avery

Constructio ad Sensum - A Worthwhile Topic

Facebook - Nerdy Language Majors
Constructio ad Sensum - A Worthwhile Topic{"tn":"R"}

(small updates)

As for BDF, I am sure 10 more grammar books can confirm the same thing. With 4 grammars already lining up, I doubt that 8 more will make a difference smile emoticon. Although if anyone wants to share, it will be appreciated.

Also, you do make a point about "grammatical curiousities". Once we dump this one-man Internet nonsense about changing NT grammar, all the books are wrong ... we still have a lot to consider about constructio ad sensum in general.

Constructio ad sensum, in a variety of iterations, is where the traditional (less flaky or non-flaky) attempts to justify the CT grammar lie. And most of the grammars I am looking at have only a smidgen on the topic, and nothing that would match the proposed constructio on the CT (e.g. the metaphor of witnessing.)

And you have to be careful with modern NT grammars because they can have a circular approach of a priori accepting a dubious Critical Text variant as authentic. Simply because it is in the critical text. (This could effect anything after 1881.) This leads to circular reasoning. Thus, they can not even offer the alternative that the CT grammar of 1 John 5:7-8 is lacuna derived! There is a similar phenomenon with the grammar discussions of 1 Timothy 3:16, involving alternate variants rather than lacuna.

So that leaves open the open-ended question.

Who has a really strong section or paper on the Greek grammar phenomenon of constructio ad sensum?

Similarly, who has a native Greek fluency fluid sense of the topic? (Including, how close would a modern Greek expert's sense be appropriate for issues like grammatical gender concord and constructio ad sensum determinations and liberties.)

On the heavenly witnesses, how much weight (appeals to authority are sometimes valid) should we place on Eugenius Bulgaris, who at least was world-class and fully fluent, even unto tonal skills?

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

Greek grammar books vs. jim (contra)

The acknowledgement by Jimcontra that he does not agree with the grammar book statements is most clearly stated here:

1 John 5/7 - 8-05-2015 - Pg. 52 - #520
I disagree with the author’s statement that the adjective is plural and agrees with the grammatical gender of multiple nouns that have the same grammatical gender. That is NOT what happens."

1 John 5/7 - 8-05-2015 - Pg. 53 - #522
"Those grammarians that you have quoted have not provided any such example. They say it, but they don't back it up with an example. I think that their statement is incorrect and that they have misunderstood what they think they are seeing."

Perhaps a picture should taken of these pages for future reference, when the CARM thread poofs. Also some CARM pages could be saved or mirrored, as we can expect the thread to last through about 2016. And a couple of similar quotes, saying that the grammar writers should not be looking for grammar concord as normative, could be found, including earlier in the thread. However, the two quotes above are sufficient for the purpose of showing that the grammar books say one thing, jim another.

There are also a short series of unanswered questions.


Oh, once you start with an absurd positions, other absurdities flow forth. eg.

1 John 5:7 - p. 51 - #508

Eugenius -> Since indeed "the spirit and the water and the blood" are nouns of neuter gender

Jim ends up claiming that this statement from Eugenius is not a reference to the grammatical gender of the three nouns!
Rather, Eugenius is supposed to be referring to "natural gender", which in Jim's economy is a different something.

Normally I might say "bridge for sale" .. but I don't want to make bridge salesmen look bad!



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Steven Avery

why not let the Greek geeks handle this?

Nerdy Language Majors{"tn":"R0"}

It is true that I have little expectation of convincing the recalcitrant. And it is also true that the examples (more sentences with multiple neuter nouns) are not that important, now that the grammatical sections from the books are available, and show clearly that the claims are bogus.

However, the significance goes way beyond the phenomenon of someone being wrong on the internet.

An important Bible discussion has been effectively diverted and even derailed, and the puppy has to be put to sleep and taken off the tracks so the discussion train can continue. Much of that has been accomplished in the last few days (it will be easy enough to place the refutation truth on one master page).

Another consideration is that this is not just academic. Wild accusations have been made against Bible scholars with fine reputations, to impugn their positions, right or wrong. All part of using a bogus argument to attempt to discredit a critical verse in the Reformation Bible tradition.

So there has been a purpose above and beyond simply correcting something wrong on the internet.


the battle here is Jim vs. the Greek grammarians

Oh, it would have been nice if all sorts of Greek-savvy folks had pointed that out over the years. It is now 100% clear, and simply because of the extra effort to nail down Jim's position and compare it to the grammar books. Why did other contras try to hitch their posturing against the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses on arguments that they should have easily seen were bogus? (Note also that Jim would continually attack the integrity and skill of the Christian defenders of authenticity who raised the grammatical discord issue.) Hmmm... I would say that anyone who tried to use Jim's thousands of lines of mistaken writing to their advantage has some splaining, at least before God, and best also to man.



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Steven Avery

resources on the heavenly witnesses excellence and the earthly witnesses solecism

These are the pro-authenticity resources. Included are ones that are either very fine, historically significant, or get an a-+ for clarity.

Beyond this set of writings.


Eugenius Bulgaris - read here!

Matthaei - Eugenius - Greek scholium

Franz Knittel
(check other pages)

Frederick Nolan

Robert Louis Dabney (1871c) (1890)

Jeffrey Nachimson

Thomas Holland

Tim Dunkin



(On forums and articles Thomas Strouse and Thomas Cassidy may have written a little years back.) - Edward Freer Hills - Burgess etc ?

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Steven Avery



personalization of πνεῦμα - Ian Howard Marshall and others
(this has grammatical difficulties as well as presupposing a questionable interpretation)

personalization by being (concrete) witnesses -

personalization by witnessing - (even though the noun is not used) - Daniel Wallace offers that perhaps "the metaphor .. is driving the gender shift."
1814 -
"when the apostle represented the water and blood ... it became necessary to personify them, for as bearing witness is a personal act,
it would have been absurd to attribute it to things inanimate unless they were personified"

symbols of the Trinity - scholium from c.10th century, showing an awareness of the grammatical concern (see also Gregory Nazianzen)

classes of men from 1 John 5:9 - Bengel (however he actually did not base the male grammar on this connection)
Wallace calls the Marshall idea, #1, "an oblique reference to the Spirit's personality" (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics). Since Wallace is focused on witnessing, he offers a counterpoint that:

"the author has personified water and blood, turning them into witnesses along with the Spirit, may be enough to account for the masculine gender ... the elder may be subtly indicating (via the masculine participle) that the Spirit, water, and blood are all valid witnesses".
If this seems a bit backwards, the answer is yes, it is.

Why is water and blood "personified". It should be pointed out that even if one element were personified, the Spirit, that would impel the masculine grammar. (Wallace has a major related stumble in he issue of masculine constructio ad sensum in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, which we will plan on documenting below.)

You could have the Spirit personified, and you can have the concept, or metaphor, of witnessing personified, but there is no reason to talk of water and spirit being personified.

And since Wallace eschews the Spirit being personalized in his other work:
Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit

How does he reconcile water and blood being personified, while claiming that the Spirit is not personified?


Bill Brown, amazingly the author of a paper on the heavenly witnesses, claims that the first three points above are the "EXACT SAME THING".

This of course is totally dumb, and makes you chuckle that someone so devoid of logic could pass a paper throught DTS. The ideas of
Lücke and Wallace is independent of what are the substantives, they could be broached even if there was no pneuma, unlike the Marhsall and company idea of personalizing Spirit. They are focused on the concept of witnessing.

Lücke and Wallace are closer. However, Wallace is insisting that witnessing is a personal act and emphasizing a "metaphor".

The exact meaning of the "concrete witnesses" of
Lücke, and by extension unnamed others, (this is the term used by Lunemann):


can be examined here:


The first oddity we find is that
actually tries to marshall Eugenius Bulgaris!
Later we find:

In ver. 8, St. John places the pneuma first, as endowing the two others with a testifying power. He lays a stress on the witnesses being three, according to the ancient rule, Deut. xvii. 6 ; xix. 15, cfr. Matt, xviii.
16. John viii. 17, 18. This is a popular mode of demonstration, an argumentum ad hominem. ...
So is the witnesses of Lücke and others the same as the metaphor of witnessing of Wallace? Not really. Only Wallace talks in terms of a "metaphor" being the cause of the gender shift.

Now Barry Hofstetter is adding another idea. Shifting away from his earlier support of a Marshall type of approach. This is a specific grammatical idea that the witnesses participle acts as a noun, and since that noun is masculine, the grammar is masculine. (See the separate page on the Hofstetter idea.) This idea is purely grammatical. There is no need to personify anything, the grammar of witness supplants the grammar of the actual nouns. This becomes idea number six.

(We don't include jimcontra, because that is nonsense. We could add James White, who has an oddball attempt around "three". Gary Hudson could be checked.

Going backwards, Westcott started the idea of just ignoring the issue, how about Lange?)

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Steven Avery

an example of the explanations before the modern corruption version arrogance became the norm

In an earlier day, the writing was a bit more sensible.

Sermon illustrating the doctrine of the Lord, and other fundamental doctrines of the New-Jerusalem Church (1840)
Richard de Charms (1796-1863)

He says, using the crippled text, that if the Spirit is personalized, then that would mean also the water and blood, which of course is absurd.


Looking for simple attempts to say the corruption grammar is ok, the two main attempts in earlier days are John Pye Smith and Henry Alford.

Scrivener actually acknowledges the argument from Gaussen, "Remove it, and the grammar becomes incoherent:" and just decides that this is not strong enough!
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Steven Avery

improvements made to this solecism research thread

(1755) Bernardo Maria De Rubeis (added 12/10/2018) was added above, and the posts made easier to read. e.g. the five grammatical books about concord were placed in their own boxes. the font size was normalized, the German umlauts that got messed up with the forum upgrade were corrected, etc.