the Matthaei scholium with the grammatical gender note

Steven Avery

the Matthaei scholium with the grammatical gender note

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scholium on the heavenly witnesses - grammatical gender interp

1 John 5:7-8 (AV)

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.

There is an unusual Greek scholium mentioned by the learned
Christian Friedrich Matthaei (1744–1811) that apparently, in Greek, is a type of commentary on the grammatical gender. Offering a difficult interpretation similar to what has been revived in recent years and that is conjectured as a source of Cyprian's writing by those who do not accept that the heavenly witnesses verse was in his Bible. (Matthaei himself was a contra to the verse authenticity, however that is not particularly relevant, he was a very fine scholar in many ways.)

A reference to the scholium is given by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885)


The New Testament (1862)
Christopher Wordsworth

"the gender of the words here is very remarkable ... And so the ancient Scholium in Matthaei says that
"John uses the number three in the masculine gender, because those three are symbols of the Trinity,"
and by using the word ἕν "he designates the unity of the Godhead".


The scholium is referenced by a number of other writers until about 1890, after which the quality of heavenly witnesses writing was not so strong, although it is likely referenced in Bludau.


The Matthaei section is here:

SS[ancti] apostolorum septem epistolae catholicae (1782)
Christian Friedrich Matthaei


Historically, and for analysis, this is quite a significant writing. Showing an awareness of grammatical issues in the witnesses section. The Gregory Nazianzen quote is the other extant discussion which can be compared in this way, however that is not straightforward for authenticity like this one. So the scholium is likely the first place we have extant where the grammatical gender is specifically noted as a defense of authenticity..

(We can discuss later whether the proposed interpretation is sensible or if it is simply trying to make the best of bad grammar.)

So if anyone wants to look more closely at the Matthaei page, and see if there is any other additional information in the Greek, that would be helpful.


The Richard Simon reference (I will place in pic) :
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

Matthaei scholium.jpg

Richard Porson (1759-1808) says a bit more in translation

Richard Porson
... it cannot be said, that this interpretation was not current among the Greeks, when Simon found it in the margin of two mss. and Mr. Matthaei in a third. The latter scholium is this:
"Three in the masculine gender, in token of the Trinity : the spirit, of the Godhead ; the water, of the enlightening knowledge to mankind, by the spirit; the blood, of the incarnation."
These mss. are of the tenth and eleventh centuries.

Richard Porson is avoiding the grammatical issue, even though he knows the writing of Matthaei and Bulgaris.


Your thoughts welcome.

Steven Avery
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Steven Avery

Posted on ETC and in Facebook PureBible adds some info to the above:

Post on the Matthaei scholium, which may make it into the Evangelical Textual Criticism forum, (YES, it was posted) where Elijah Hixson had his analysis of Greek mss.


One more search!

There is a Greek ms. of special importance, even though it does not contain the heavenly witnesses verse.

Richard Porson in 1790 translated the scholium as:

“Three in the masculine gender, in token of the Trinity: the spirit, of the Godhead; the water, of the enlightening knowlege to mankind, by the spirit; the blood, of the incarnation.”

Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis


Steudel updating Bengel's Gnomen has it as:

"He uses τρεῖς in the Masculine, because these things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are symbols of the Trinity.”

Steudel notes on Gnomen

A Schorium, quoted in Matthæi, seems to me to account for the origin of the words, which probably did not arise from fraud: οἱ τρεῖς δὲ εἶπεν ἀρσενικῶς, ὅτι σύμβολα ταῦτα τῆς τριάδος, “He uses τρεῖς in the Masculine, because these things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are symbols of the Trinity.” This also is plainly the reference of Cyprian, 196, “De Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto Scriptum est, Et hi tres unum sunt.” There is plainly in the genuine words, which use τρεῖς in the masc., though the antecedents to which it refers are neuter, some mystery or symbol; and that the Trinity was the truth meant, seems not an unnatural inference. The more recent Latin Vulg. embodied in the text what was probably a marginal comment, made not without reason.—E.


The Matthaei section is here:

trinity grammar.jpg

Also discussed by Friedrich Lucke, JFB, Tischendorf "Schol apud Matth", Friedric Charles Cook, Meyer. Lots of solid interest and discussion up till 1900.

And Christopher Wordsworth (different translation)

This is a remarkable indication of an awareness of the Greek grammatical problem in the short text (see also torquebit grammaticos by Erasmus), often seen as a solecism. And in the scholium we see an early attempt to offer an explanation of sorts. (Gregory of Nazianzen is earlier, however that dialog with writers unknown has layers of nuance.)

Overall, John writing an epistle, and extemporaneously adjusting his grammar to allegorize spirit, water and blood is really a non-starter.


See Richard Simon here:
Pic- Facebook - NT Textual Criticism (2014)


*** Yet where is this Matthaei manuscript now? ***

(And those referenced by Richard Simon.)
Note: the ETC forum does discuss the Richard Simon mss.

Thanks! Any help appreciated.
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