when James Snapp made lucid arguments on the heavenly witnesses evidences - on BVDB note Carthage

Steven Avery

sister threads

James Snapp struggles against the heavenly witnesses - Proverbs 18:17


when James Snapp made lucid arguments on the heavenly witnesses evidemces

Gregory Nazianzen - and James Snapp on the grammatical discordance on BVDB
Council of Carthage

grammatical solecism

defense of authenticity by Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall

The sections below are from threads here, with minor tweaking and formatting. I hope to expand some of this into more depth on the discussions and arguments.


James Snapp commentary - Dec 27, 2012

Porter’s presentation is sketchy compared to the treatment given to the Latin evidence by N. E. Cornwall in two extensive articles written in the 1870’s. Cornwall forcefully defended the CJ as genuine, and anyone who wishes to joust with well-prepared defenders of the CJ should grapple with his writings first.

You can find Cornwall’s first meticulous defense of the CJ on pages 625-641 of Volume 26 (1874) of

American Church Review (1874)

and his even more impressive second defense of the CJ on pages 509-528 of Volume 29 (1877) of

American Church Review (1877)
http://books.google.com/books?id=YaPSAAAAMAAJ .

I found that after reading what Cornwall had to say, Metzger’s brief dismissal of the CJ did not seem very decisive. Nor does it seem objective. Metzger is frequently selective in his evidence-descriptions but it is clear that in his comments about the CJ his selectivity is especially remarkable; for example, he mentions that the CJ is not in Codex Fuldensis but he does not mention (and this cannot have been accidental) that the CJ is specifically mentioned in the Preface to the Catholic Epistles that is contained in Codex Fuldensis.[
[TC-Alternate-list] The NET, Cyprian, First John 5:7, and Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall
James Snapp - Nov 13, 2012

Finally, if you would like to read a nice case for the CJ, I refer you to pages 509-528 of the 1877 issue of American Church Review (Vol. 29), where N. E. Cornwall weighs in on the issue, in favor of the genuineness of the CJ. The author was no novice; his arguments are (mainly) lucid; his style is efficient; his rhetoric is fearless.
Just to be clear, Azim did not refer to it as the Middleton argument, and I do not know if he has followed that whole history. James Snapp used to reference the Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall papers, and Cornwall has a superb section on the argument which is on p. 627 here:

The Middleton argument and history could use its own thread on the PBF.

The point is that the argument is quite strong, and is one of the many grammatical and stylistic and internal excellent arguments that go with the grammatical gender solecism.
Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall on TC-Alternate
[TC-Alternate-list] 2013-01 - 5505 - new net fallacious accusation - do not ref scholars if not agree 100% - Nathaniel Ellis Cornwall rev

[TC-Alternate-list] 2013-01 - 5508 - Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall - Greek and Latin "living streams of Holy Truth and cherished knowledge of that

[TC-Alternate-list] 2013-01 - 5514 - Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall - h.w. - variants show Greek—>Latin independent translations, super-evidences

[TC-Alternate-list] 2013-02 - 5521 - Received Text quotes: Nathaniel Cornwall, Charles Forster, Gavin McGrath compared to piddle attacks - Mau
BVDB - Carthage discussion - Snapp uses Cornwall to take blinded ultra-contras to woodshed

James does a great job here on the Council of Carthage.

On the grammar, he is a bit weak, even referring to feminine substantives instead of neuter.
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Steven Avery

demonstrating the parableptic error

Here James in 2014 was showing the homoeoteleuton possibility, a parableptic error, in a 3-page album.
And we should bring the pics over to here as well.

This album contains resources for the study of the Comma Johanneum (First John 5:7 as presented in the Textus Receptus).
How could a copyist in the 100's read an exemplar that had this
(First John 5:7-8 in the Textus Receptus)

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Steven Avery - Oct, 2014
An early attempt to explain the missing elements of modern theory

Talking about my convolutions. (Who?)

The convoluted theory is that a glaring, barbaric Greek solecism is fixed by an amazing ultra-Johannine-stylistic, super-harmonious Latin paralellism interpolation, all made by Klunk the interpolator. Almost supernaturally, the interpolation fixes the Greek when brought over the language dividing line.


Convoluted theory #2 is that a good number of references, including Greek, and allusions and ECW writing and confession wording, all have no source in scripture. Despite the early reliance on scripture in the Ante-Nicene period for formulations. Yet this confessional and doctrinal wording matches to a "T" the supposed late Latin heavenly witnesses interpolation.

Convoluted theory #3 is that what is supposed to be a doctrinally motivated interpolation would have to be inserted before the period of the doctrinal battles that were supposed to have supplied the interpolation motivation.

Convoluted theory #4 are theories of late Latin interpolations that do not have any vector of transmission to explain how the full wide-geographic Meditteranean regions, Spain, Carthage, Italy, Crete, (Council of Carthage 484 AD and supporting references) all had their Bibles with a verse that was supposed to have been interpolated yesterday.

Convoluted theory #5 is how a crystal-clear Cyprian reference to the heavenly witnesses is hand-waved into ultra-convoluted allegorical mish-a-moshes.

Convoluted theory #6 is how massive amounts of corollary evidences like the Old Latin ms. line, the additional words of Tertullian and Cyprian, the allusions of Claudius Apollinaris and Origen, Hundredfold Martyrs, and other Ante-Nicene evidences are simply similarly ignored when attempting #5. Those who close their eyes have no right to complain about not being able to see.

Convoluted theory #7 is the supposed invisibility in the Greek tradition, when the evidences like ones above (from Greek and bilingual writers) are ignored, and then the additional Greek evidences (in the earlier period -- Disputation of Athanasius with Arius at Nicea, Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) are simply ignored and handwaved.

Convoluted theory #7a is supposing a type of Greek-Latin Chinese wall made the largest church and Bible body invisible (European and African Latin) while the smaller Greek world was unable to read any Latin. In fact especially in the Ante-Nicene period, yet also for many in the later periods, dual language skills was normative.

Convoluted theory #8 is taking a powerful and crystal clear writing from the Greek-Latin fluent scholar and translator Jerome, that there were scribes and translators who deliberately chose to leave out the heavenly witnesses, and then, with no non-circular evidence, claim that the Vulgate Prologue is ... poof .. a forgery. And thus ignored even though it is one of the earliest extant 1 John 5 mss. Despite absolutely compelling evidences that Jerome was well aware of the heavenly witnesses verse, collaborating Jerome as fully the Prologue capable author. Note that the Prologue itself has numerous internal evidences of Jerome authorship authenticity. Thus, ironically, the inconsistency of ignoring Johannine "internal" evidences is supported by a similar inconsistency in ignoring Jerome's Vulgate Prologue "internal" (including historical and stylistic) evidences.

Convoluted theory #8A is not noticing that the decrepit forgery theory was originally based on the lateness of the extant Prologue mss, c. 800 AD. And then not fixing the error (i.e. real scholarship) when the 545 AD ms., only one century after the passing of Jerome, written directly under the auspices of the learned Victor Capua, was discovered to have the Prologue. This was in the mid-1800s and for most of the contras only led to a thunderous silence. And for a few there were tepid attempts at alternative oddball flakey-cakey new forgery theories.

Convoluted theory #8B is not noticing direct written evidence that even Augustine was adverse to the heavenly witnesses, in a manner that is comparable to what Augustine himself reported about the Pericope Adultera.

Convoluted theory #9 is that many evidences that Johannine Alogi and heavenly witnesses concepts were specifically delicate in the early Bible and textual period, and could be bypassed or suppressed, or placed by some under the disciplini arcana secrecy, is not considered a primary aspect of study and consideration. When it should be researched as one factor in determining whether text was omitted or inserted.

Convoluted theory #10, cycling back to #1, is that an ad hoc or accidental interpolation would fill specific gaps in logic and sense in the 1John 5 schema, such as showing what is the "witness of God" or the awkward redundancy of verse 6-->8 without the heavenly witnesses. In fact, the verse fits like the marine's compass (Wesley, Bengel) in the Johannine sectopm. chapter, book and overall expression. Removed, the mangling is untenable, the center does not hold.

Convoluted theory #11, with what is common sense and now science sense about scribal habits and textual transmission, is that any late interpolation would take over any major Bible language line. Never happened. (This convoluted theory is in opposition to the basic simple concepts of inspiration and preservation.)

Convoluted theory #12 is looking at omission atomistically, that it must be all accidental, or all deliberate and purposeful, when in fact many omissions were almost surely combinations of the two elements, over time.

Convoluted theory #13 is looking at the doctrinal Christological battles through modern pablum evangelical John MacArthur style glasses, and ignoring the actual evidences of the early nascent Trinitarian vs. Sabellian battles. Battles in which both sides could find the heavenly witnesses not their cup of Bible tea, when faced with a bifurcated Greek textline. As Edward Freer Hills, and others, have pointed out, the dropping of the verse from the Greek textline would be largely in those early Greek battle times, 2nd to early 3rd century. And this is way before any negative omission ms. evidences.

Convoluted theory #14 is the claim that the heavenly witnesses were missing from the doctrinal battles when (a) the wording of the verse was everywhere (b) we do have some direct Greek evidences including the Disputation above and (c) the uses in the Latin tradition in the Arian battles was massive
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Steven Avery

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism

A few years back, a gentleman going by Waterrock gave excellent source material about the Council of Carthage usage of the heavenly witnesses verse. He skillfully addressed a number of objections raised by those against authenticity of the verse and also explaining he significance of the evidence.

The Confession of the African Bishops in Carthage

You go to

page 5,
#41 44 47 50

Page 6
#51 54 60

The best discussion on the Net to date on the Council of Carthage and the heavenly witnesses.
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Steven Avery

Jan 20, 2013#41

Regarding the Council of Carthage in 484: this was not one of the ecumenical councils,
so one shouldn’t expect it to be listed where that category is covered. Try looking in other parts of your Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, consulting some of the movers-and-shakers
who were at the 484 Council of Carthage,
such as Huneric and Eugenius. (Be sure
to take spelling-variations into account if you are conducting a digital search;
for instance, search for “Hunneric” as well as “Huneric,” and for “Vigilius
Thapsensis” as well as “Vigilius Tapsensis.”)

E: “How come this “Council”
isn’t mentioned in the Oxford Dictionary?”

I dunno. Maybe it is,
but you’ve been looking in the wrong place.

E: “And, in addition,
where is the list of all the ‘real scholars’ that support Avery’s claim in all
of this nonsense? All from the 19th and
earlier centuries?”

We have the Latin account of the 484 Council of Carthage,
composed by a participant. How would
statements from recent scholars make this more credible than it already

E: “The Latin volume
Avery cited – “

See John Moorhead’s English translation of Victor of Vita’s
work. Quite a bit of it can be consulted
in preview-mode at Google Books.

E: “The preface notes
that the earlier manuscript concerning this supposed "Council" dates
from only the 9th century.”

And the earliest full manuscript of Justin Martyr’s First
is several centuries younger than that.
Does the account, complete with a list of the hundreds of bishops in
attendance at the council, look anything like a forgery to you?? Do you have any grounds to suspect an
interpolation other than the idea that a text that utilizes the CJ cannot be
genuine because it utilizes the CJ?

E: “For whatever
reason, this “Council” is apparently not so highly regarded by
the “real scholars”” –

Because most “real scholars” are unaware of it. Metzger avoided specifically mentioning the
484 Council of Carthage in his
TCGNT. The “real scholars” only know
that “In the fifth century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North
Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle;” they are not told that
the CJ was specifically cited in Latin at a council at Carthage in 484 attended
by 466 Africa bishops, led by Eugenius, in order to demonstrate their grounds
for believing in the Trinity, in opposition to the Arian doctrine that was, at
the time, state-sponsored by the Vandals there.
But that is the event to which Metzger hazily alluded.

Regarding the Unitarian writer J. Scott Porter’s attempt to
downplay the 484 Council of Carthage: a close reading shows that he does not
question the historicity of the council or that the CJ was utilized at the
council. He only mentions that (a) Vigilius Tapsensis, one of the bishops in
attendance, is more likely to be the author of the record of the council than
Eugenius himself, (b) Vigilius Tapsensis wrote other compositions in which he
used, as his pen-name, the names of earlier writers, and in two of these other
compositions he also utilized the CJ.
Porter merely suggests that a case could be made that the Council of
Carthage, plus the testimony of Vigilius Tapsensis (or Thapsensis), should be reduced
to the weight of a single witness (i.e., he suggests that the 13th,
14, and 15th witnesses to the CJ in Porter’s list amount to one
witness). Now, it might be
counter-suggested that Porter, as a committed Unitarian, has attempted to
minimize this piece of evidence by resorting to speculation and less-than-candid
verbiage, so as to draw readers away from the natural conclusions that
Eugenius, the leader of the Trinitarian African bishops, was the one who
presented the CJ, and that all the Trinitarian bishops in attendance, via their
affirmation of the decree, assented to its authority. But of course that would be ad hominem, and
we just can’t have that; no; our natural inclination should be to assume that
the Unitarian writers of the 1800’s were models of scientific objectivity, and
never tried to skew the evidence.

B: “WR kept [cautioning
against some lines of reasoning when facing] well-prepared defenders” of the

By which I meant that if you object that the CJ has hardly
any Greek-manuscript support, a novice CJ-supporter, or a casual bystander, will find that
intimidating, but a well-prepared one will fire back, “So? Readings
in NA28 in Acts 16:12, and I Peter
3:10 have no Greek manuscript support whatsoever.
Lots of readings in NA28 are supported exclusively by one
manuscript. The CEV’s reading in Acts
20:28 has no Greek support. The text of
Mark 1:41 in the 2011 NIV is based
on a reading found in only one Greek manuscript. The NET, in the Old Testament, frequently
abandons the Hebrew text, and adopts readings for which there is no Hebrew
support. You cannot deny that Hort,
without whose effort to replace the KJV we wouldn’t be having this discussion,
believed that primitive errors have resulted in the corruption of all Greek
manuscripts at numerous places in the New Testament, including First John 5:10.
Our listeners might somehow get the impression
that you admire the brilliant scholarship that supports a reading in First John
5:10 for which there is no Greek manuscript-support, but regard as absurd the
very idea that a reading in First John 5:7, for which there is some late Greek
manuscript-support, is original. There
is no way that you can say that the lack of early original-language
manuscript-support for a reading is automatically decisive against it, unless
you wish to condemn these other works, which you seem to routinely regard as
the best that modern scholarship has to offer.
Is that all you’ve got? ‘Hardly
any Greek manuscripts contain these verses’
Then you don’t have much.”
If you
want to only engage novices, or if you want to give a well-prepared
CJ-supporter a platform for this sort of response, then by all
means, ignore my advice.

Yours in Christ,


Jan 21, 2013#44

E: “Duhhh....how
can it be the “wrong place” when the entry is “Carthage,
Councils of”, and lists various Councils dating from 251 through 534 ?”

(You're not using an abridged edition, are you?) One way might be if the editors made a decision to
differentiate between Councils that produced some sort of doctrinal declaration
intended to be binding upon all of Christendom, and Councils that did not; the
latter group would be called, instead, a conference of bishops.

E: “I have no grounds to suspect that
document or Council as being authentic in view of all other
scholars seeming to reject its authenticity.”

You mean scholars like

(1) Phyllis Jestice, author of the 2004 book Holy People of
the World: A Cross-Cultural
Encyclopedia at books.google.com/books?isbn=1576073556 who mentions the 484 Council of Carthage on page 263?

(2) Vincent J.
O’Malley, author of Saints of Africa, who mentions the 484 Council of Carthage
on page page 91?

(3) The producers of
the Ecole Glossary listing at http://ecole.evansville.edu/glossary/victorv.html

(4) Charles Joseph Hefele at http://www.cristoraul.com/readinghall/W ... 2/214.html

? (This, after just a few minutes of searching on the internet.)

Most scholars, in the course of summarizing church history, tend to give only scant attention, if any, to
the history of the North African church in the late 400’s, perhaps because the
historical trail in Vandal-controlled territory essentially comes to a dead end,
thanks to Belisarius. The North African history of the area
that was under Vandal control tends to be a low priority among
textbook-writers. But the specialists routinely acknowledge the historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage; I think that the most that can be said for the claim that there was no Council of Carthage in 484 is that there are some researchers who would prefer to call it a conference of bishops, rather than a council. Afaik, you are the only person who has questioned the basic historicity of this event as if it involved hundreds of unicorns instead of hundreds of bishops.

E: [WR: “Metzger
avoided specifically mentioning the 484 Council of Carthage
in his TCGNT.”]

This couldn’t perhaps be because of the virtually universal
of such a Council as authentic?

No, because Metzger, being a competent scholar, would not
have denied the existence of such an obviously historical event as the 484
Council of Carthage. But, being as
competent a propagandist as he was a scholar, he minimized its importance and declined
to mention it by name, since it features the CJ in use at a council (or,
conference of bishops) where the Trinitarianism-versus-Arianism dispute was the
focal point.

E: “It apparently can’t be demonstrated
that any modern orthodox Trinitarian scholar is exactly jumping
wildly to endorse the historical existence or the statements of that Council

See above. Perhaps
what you have demonstrated is that the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian
Church needs some work, and is not the exhaustive volume that some seem to
think that it is.
Yours in Christ,


Jan 22, 2013#47
Brandpluckt and Euthymius,

I don’t grant that “the entire conservative wing of the
church” has rejected the CJ. The KJV -- CJ
and all -- remains very popular. But, to
get as close as I can to answering your question: it looks to me like the CJ has been rejected by
most branches of the conservative Christian church for three reasons: (1) its lack of high-quality attestation
among Greek manuscripts, (2) its nigh-exclusive affinity with Latin
manuscripts, which implies that it originated in a Latin transmission-stream,
and (3) acquiesce to Unitarian or Unitarian-influenced propaganda on the part of non-Unitarian textual critics who do not want to appear biased or unscientific. (To me, reasons #1 and #2 are sufficient. And I don't think that #3 has been generally pivotal, just existent.)

B: “There were
protests of the removal of the CJ in the RV. But no major translation placed it back in.

Well, that’s easy enough:
the people who disliked the removal of the CJ kept on using the KJV;
they had little or no interest in creating a new translation. After the RV and ASV fizzled, most conservatives kept on using the KJV.

B: “If you could,
explain how Porter's Unitarianism made his documentation inaccurate. I am
assuming that you have evidence to the contrary?”

Inasmuch as I lack the ability to read Porter’s mind, it is
impossible to demonstrate that his Unitarianism produced inaccuracies in his

B: “Does the "miracle" in the "historical"
account of the Council concern you?”



E: Why then is there
nothing in the ODCC regarding even a "conference" of this type?

I dunno.

E: [After I provided quotations from
Phyllis Jestice, Vincent J. O’Malley, the Ecole Glossary, and Charles Joseph
Hefele, mentioning the 484 Council of Carthage]
“And these people are so widely recognized that their works are
regularly referenced in other sources relating to church history? Frankly I never heard of any of them, nor have
seen any of their names or works referenced in any published church history or
historical theology material.”

What exactly are you saying?
That the only real scholars are ones that you have heard of
already?? Or that the writers I listed
are, one and all, presenting an event that never happened as if it happened?? It seems to me that “I never heard of that
writer” is not exactly a persuasive demonstration that there is some deficiency
in anything that the writer has written.

E: “Seems like this
is about as good as Riplinger citing her “Harvard graduate” fellow who happens
to totally support her KJVO position...and at best shows you can Google as well
as Avery.”

You must be joking.
First you ask for references, and then mock them (without any reasons
given) when I give you four easily accessible ones.
But surely if I listed inaccessible ones, you would object that they are
too obscure to prove anything. As for your comparison to Riplinger's pseudo-reference: Phyllis Jestice is a Stanford grad, currently
teaching at the University of Southern
She’s an award-winning researcher; read all about it at http://www.usm.edu/history/faculty/phyllis-jestice
. Hefele was a respected Roman Catholic
prelate in the late 1800’s, and his work on the Church Councils was a standard
in its time.

E: [When I mentioned that the
specialists routinely acknowledge the historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage] “Where are those "specialists"?
Certainly not in a few Googled citations.”

Jestice is, and Hefele was, a specialist. What you should be asking, Euthymius, is, “Where
are the writers who claim that the 484 Council of Carthage
never happened?”.

E: “What about the
remaining majority of all other scholars in the field?”

What about them? Do
you have a single statement from any of them saying that the 484 Council of Carthage
never happened? If you do, please
present it.

E: “Again, you keep
trying to clutch at straws, merely to "assist" the KJVOs in their
futile quest.”

In the case at hand, I don’t think it’s the KJV-Onlyists who
are having difficulty acknowledging historical facts. Here are a few more of those straws:

(1) The Catholic Encyclopedia’s
entries for “Eugenius of Carthage” ( http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05602c.htm
) and “Victor Vitensis.”

(2) The page at http://www.voskrese.info/spl/XvictorVita.html
; the paragraph begins: “Victor of Vita, the author of Historia persecutionis Africae
(translated as The
History of the Vandal Persecution)
, was
a priest at Carthage who later became bishop of Vita. He refused to attend the 484 Council of Carthage, a joint Nicene-Arian synod, at
which Eugenius of Carthage put forth Nicene Christianity.” The author is Karen Rae Keck, a professor at Texas Tech University.

(3) At http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/1194.html
is a page-scan from Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and
Mythology. See the entry that begins,
“EUGENIUS, an African confessor, not less celebrated for his learning and
sagacity.” Notice the reference to the
stormy council that occurred in Carthage in February of 484.

(4) At http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/chu ... andals.htm
notice the paragraph that begins, “In 483,
Huneric summoned the Catholic Bishops to hold a conference with the Arians in
February of 484. 464 bishops assembled themselves, though some of the ablest
had been detained or intimidated by Huneric.”

you will say that these resources are too new.
In that case, turn to page 106 of Orme’s Memoir of the Controversy of
the Three Heavenly Witnesses (the page-number might vary in different editions,
but in any event, the text is searchable at Google Books); there Nolan mentions
the 484 Council of Carthage. On page 187, Wiseman mentions the bishops who
attended the 484 Council of Carthage. On page 48, Gibbon refers to the 484 Council
of Carthage. On page 52, Travis mentions the 484 Council
of Carthage. On page 77, Michaelis describes the 484
Council of Carthage. On page 94, the 484 Council of Carthage is
described in a letter by J. Benigne, bishop of Meaux. On page 146, Oxlee mentions the statement of
the decree issued at the 484 Council of Carthage, and, in case Oxlee’s opinion
is rejected because it comes from Oxlee, also consult Unitarian Ezra Abbot’s reference to
the 484 Council of Carthage in the appendix, on page 183ff. These statements come from people who have made
special investigations of the evidence; some of them favor the genuineness of
the CJ and some of them vigorously oppose it, but none of them deny the
historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage.

the score so far:

of writers who affirm the historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage: 16.

of writers who state that there was no such meeting in 484: none.

E: [WR:
"Metzger, being a competent scholar, would not have denied the existence
of such an obviously historical event as the 484 Council of Carthage."] Then perhaps he should have mentioned it
somewhere else besides his "propagandist" Textual Commentary -- if
so, where?

As far as I know, nowhere.
Are you suggesting that because Metzger avoided specifically naming the
484 Council of Carthage, we should
conclude that it did not exist? I know
that the influence of Metzger’s TCGNT is very strong, but to define the
historicity of an event by asking, “Did Metzger mention it?” would take things
to a whole new level.

This is becoming amusing.

Yours in Christ,



Jan 23, 2013#50

You know how, in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the deepest portion
of hell is so hot that it’s cold? This
discussion is so amusing that it’s sort of sad.

It should be obvious that there was a Council of Carthage
that took place on Feb. 1 and Feb 2 of 484.
This was a local council, and it involved the participation of an
unknown number of Arians, plus hundreds of Trinitarian bishops. The Trinitarians did not walk out as Frazier
claims; instead, as Hefele states, they were “driven with blows from the place of assembly.” Nor should Frazier’s second mis-statement,
that no one ever read the Trinitarian bishops’ declaration, be taken seriously,
since the Arian leader Cyrila’s claim was merely a maneuver to avoid
discussion; it was after this objection to Latin discussion that the formal
document was presented. As for his third
objection, regarding the date of the manuscripts, it amounts to nothing but an
aspersion of last resort; he has no reason to mistrust their contents. What must he think of the Old Testament text,
if he considers a MS from the 900’s, describing events in the late 400’s, to be
too far separated from the events it describes to be reliable?? The entry for Victor Vitensis in the Oxford
Dictionary of the Christian Church, at any rate, disagrees with Frazier about
this, stating that Victor’s account is “of special value as giving not only a
trustworthy account of the historical events, but also a vivid picture of the
political and religious civilization of the country.”

Thus regarding Frazier’s first three claims, to touch them is to destroy them. We now come to his fourth
claim: “Even if the wording of the Comma as it
appears in the declaration were actually there, again it is in Latin, and we
already know that a Spanish-oriented Latin version of the Comma was in
existence about a century earlier, so no major surprise if it
were to show up in Latin in North Africa at that time.”

But there’s no “if,” Euthymius. The
wording is actually there. If Frazier
has some evidence to the contrary, let him present it. We both know he can’t. He has tried to do two things: first, minimize the evidence by pretending
that the accounts of the Council might not say what they obviously say. Second, minimize the implications of the
evidence, as if we really know no more, after observing that a small army of
North African bishops gave their support to a prepared document in which the
Trinity was affirmed on the basis of the CJ in 484, than we did before; he
tries to guide his readers to the conclusion that since we already know that
Priscillian quoted the text of First John with the CJ around 383, this evidence
from a different locale, in a context in which the CJ was prominently cited in
a setting in which, had it not been widely accepted, it would be exceptionally
vulnerable to be challenged, does not augment the case for the CJ at all.

So quickly we reach his fifth point – which is not even a
point: “All the blather about the
so-called ‘Council of Carthage’ in reality proves nothing, nor
does it help settle or support any of the KJVO claims regarding
the Comma.” Not only does he descend to
name-calling, but he also fails to differentiate between the establishment of
evidence, and the establishment of its implications. If he only aimed to show that the evidence
from the 484 Council of Carthage does not prove that the CJ is genuine, that
would be one thing. But he has attempted
to make a case that the 484 Council of Carthage
never happened, and his attempt is an abysmal failure, and the reason why it
fails is that the facts are against him.

E: “I am saying that
the broad or even huge consensus of scholars of church history and/or
historical theology are not exactly trumped by a handful of
Googled citations” –

Holdonasecond. You
don’t have any such thing as a huge consensus of scholars supporting your claim
that the 484 Council of Carthage
never happened. Now, feel free to spin
the events: call it a conference; call
it a ruse by Huneric to get the Trinitarian bishops all in one place. But you can’t serious say that it didn’t
happen; nor can you seriously say that there is a scholarly consensus that the
events did not occur, and that Eugenius did not present a written document that cited the CJ as clearer-than-the-light (or, one might say nowadays, plainer than day) support for the doctrine of the Trinity. The consensus to
which you refer is entirely imaginary!
I’ve mentioned 16 authors who affirm the historicity of the 484 Council
of Carthage. Show me the articles you have compiled – not
by Frazier, but by scholars such as Hefele or Jestice or Keck – that say that
the CJ was not used at the 484 Council, or Conference (no need to quibble over
nomenclature) of Carthage.

E: “Duuhhh once more,
and asking for evidence from silence.”

On the contrary: I'm
objecting to your resort to argument from silence! You are clearly treating an apparent silence
on the part of some writers (especially the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian
Church) as if it implies “prima facie evidence that they don't
accept the Carthage 484 Council as ever having happened.” Right?

E: “You really have to work extremely
hard to explain the widespread ‘conspiracy’ among all these scholars to avoid
mentioning this supposed Council, even while allowing all others to stand

“All these scholars?”
Would you mind providing a few samples of the names on this long list of
scholars you have collected? How many
have you contacted to ask if they think that the 484 Council of Carthage ever
happened? Not a single solitary one, I
strongly suspect.

E: “What reason
would there be for the ‘conspiracy’ to avoid such mention?”

Whereas I suspect that Metzger avoided specifically
mentioning the 484 Council of Carthage because he perceived that doing so might
draw readers’ attention away from where he wanted to take them, in the case of
most scholars and historians, no doctrinally motivated conspiracy is necessary: it’s simply a matter of editorial prioritizing. As I mentioned already, North African church
history in the late 400’s is a bit of a dead-end road since Belisarius
destroyed the Vandals in the 530’s. You
can’t expect single-volume works to cover everything thoroughly. I don’t think there is any information in the
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church about Theodelinda, for example, but
that does not mean that she did not exist.
Look to writers who specialize in her era and locale, and you
will find accounts of her accomplishments.
Likewise, consult writings that focus especially on the North African
church – such as O’Malley’s Saints of Africa – and you will find
references to the historical event known as the 484 Council of Carthage, and
you will see, if you explore the sources, that the CJ was part of the written
exposition of the Christian faith that was presented there by Eugenius, with
the backing of hundreds of bishops.

E: “Your continued
protests on this point make no sense whatever” –

On the contrary, I consider them quite lucid, and I think
you will too, if you consider them thoughtfully.

Yours in Christ,




First, regarding Wiseman’s theory that the Old Latin
originated first in Africa: are you presenting this as an exhibit of incompetence? More effective samples could be chosen, since many others in the 1800’s, and on into the 1900’s, thought
along the same lines. To this day, some
researchers think that the text of Codex Bobbiensis, an “African” Old Latin MS,
is genealogically anterior to all other extant forms of the Old Latin.
But let’s not get distracted: my purpose for citing these authors is simply
to show that when one considers the writings of individuals who have looked into
the evidence pertaining to the CJ, whether they were bright or dim, and whether
they favored the CJ or opposed ithe CJ, it is clear that they regarded the 484
Council of Carthage as a historical event.
Abbot casually mentions “the four hundred bishops assembled
under Huneric at Carthage”
and although he questions Wiseman’s citations
of Tertullian, Cyprian, et al, he does not press the issue regarding these
Many thanks for the quotation from Michaelis: “In this
manner the passage having gained admittance into one or more Latin manuscripts
written in Africa, it had the undeserved good fortune
to be quoted in the Confession of Faith presented at the end of the fifth
century by the African bishops to Huneric, king of the Vandals
. And as these
bishops became martyrs, and were said even to have performed a miracle, the
passage, in consequence of its having been quoted in their Confession, not only
acquired celebrity, but was stamped with authority.” That Michaelis regarded the 484 Council of Carthage
as historical, and that he affirmed that the CJ was part of the exposition
faith presented there, cannot be questioned.
Thanks for the correction that what I referred to as a
statement from Oxlee was really from Burgess.
It remains a statement by a specialist, which is all I wanted to show
that it was.
Returning to Abbot: of
course it is not a ringing endorsement; Abbot knew how to frame evidence to
favor his position. But nor is it a
denial of the historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage. It is simply an obfuscation, a loose end to
which, as far as I can tell, he never returned.
B: [Wiseman’s
statements] “will impress the academic world!”

Again: I am not trying
to present each and every specialist as a supergenius; I am looking through
their writings to see if any of them deny the historicity of the 484 Council of
Carthage. And, as far as I can tell, not a single
specialist, regardless of theological background, and regardless of whether he
supports or opposes the CJ as part of the text of First John, ever denies the
historicity of the 484 Council of Carthage.
Is this your impression as well?

Yours in Christ,



Jan 24, 2013#54

S: "Let's take the Council of Carthage in 484 as a given."

Yes; let’s say farewell to the revisionist-attempts to say that there was no
such meeting.

S: "Let's also assume that the attending Trinitarian bishops gave their
endorsement (for whatever that may be worth) to the inclusion of the Comma
in the materials they left with the attending Vandals."

Or at least, let’s assume that Eugenius and the ten Trinitarian spokesmen
believed that the other 436 Trinitarian bishops would, if given the opportunity, echo their affirmation of
the authority of the CJ.

S: “Now, whether the Trinitarians were
martyred, or whether or not any miracles were performed, just how does any of
this constitute any sort of proof to the Comma being part of the autograph of 1
John 5?"

It doesn’t. But it does add to the case that the CJ was the dominant
reading in the Latin text of First John used in North Africa
in the late 400’s. (This is relatively
early evidence – earlier than 95% of the Greek manuscripts of First John, I
reckon.) And, when combined with Cyprian’s
testimony, if Cyprian’s statement is simply interpreted as a slight
misquotation of the CJ, with “Son” stated in place of “Word," -- instead of
interpreting his statement as a somewhat opaque and juggled allegorical interpretation
of First John 5:8 -- then, when combined, these two pieces of evidence may be
used to show that the main Old Latin text of First John used in North Africa
contained the CJ from the mid-200’s on into the late 400’s; this was no
medieval accretion as far as the Old Latin text of North Africa was

If that is established, then the next question must be, from
where did the Old Latin text of First John in North Africa
acquire this feature?
Setting aside the
question of genuine-or-not, this is an interesting little puzzle in its own
right, especially in light of Cornwall's deduction of a Greek source underlying one Old Latin form of First John 5:7-8. At the beginning of this
discussion, I believed that the CJ originated as an interpolation based
directly on Cyprian’s statement; I am willing now, however, to interpret
Cyprian’s statement as an inaccurate quotation of something he found in his Latin
copy of First John. Which simply means
that Cyprian’s copy of First John contained an interpolation before 5:8. But still, the question of its origin is
Btw: I recommend to everyone that you download the five-volume "History of Church Councils" by Hefele (translated into English by a few different translators). All five volumes can be downloaded as PDF's (although volume 4 is a bit elusive).
Yours in Christ,


Jan 26, 2013#60
Euthymius et al,
I just wanted to chime in to make sure everyone understands that the statements that I previously attribited to Robert V. Frazier were not-altogether-precise summaries of what he has said about the 484 Council of Carthage. Frazier's views are more accurately on display in his own comments, here and over at CARM.
E: "Given that the existing Old Latin manuscripts (except it-ar) have some form of the Comma present, and that it continued to be recognized within the later Latin tradition, I fail to see how much the supposed "Council of Carthage" document actually adds to the issue."
RVF seems willing to grant that a majority of the 461 bishops who attended the 484 Council of Carthage, including Eugenius, their most illustrious leader, accepted the CJ as a genuine part of the text of First John. I'd say that adds to the issue: from observing a smattering of Old Latin support for the CJ in the 400's, we have now deduced the existence of a small army of Latin witnesses favoring the CJ, from North Africa, Sardinia, and elsewhere.

Yours in Christ,

Steven Avery

These are rhetorical questions, the gist of which is that to accept the CJ is to undermine the reliability of the extant Greek evidence. This
conclusion, however, is no more valid than its premise, which is that the defenders of the CJ must regard a Greek text of I Jn that lacks the CJ to be Arian handiwork. But this is not the case.

Defenders of the CJ can easily propose that the CJ was lost at an earlier stage of the transmission-stream, in the 100’s, and that the loss was accidental. Such a proposal would efficiently answer the objection that so much versional evidence opposes the inclusion of the CJ: that is (they would argue) because all those versions were made from a Greek text of First John after the phrase was accidentally lost in the main Greek transmission-stream; the Old Latin text used by Cyprian, Vigilius, Cassiodorus, etc., originated earlier than all of them and accordingly outweighs all of them.

Steven Avery

(4) The misquotation of First John 5:8 by
Vigilius implies that his text of First John 5, including the Comma Johanneum,
was based on a Greek witness which, inasmuch as Vigilius wrote in the late 400’s,
must have been older than almost all of the Greek manuscripts of First John
that do not contain the CJ. Consider Cornwall’s analysis, the gist of which is as follows: Vigilius quoted First John 5:8 by stating: ‘Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in
terra; aqua, et sanguis, et caro; et tres in nobis sunt.’ Consider the last part, especially: no possible change in Latin-writing could produce
IN NOBIS out of the word UNUM. But it is
easy to see how much more likely it is that in a Greek manuscript, EISTOENEISIN
might, as the result of sloppy writing and careless reading, be mistaken for

EISINENHMIN, “are in us.” Thus, although
the words in front of our eyes are Latin, they imply the existence of certain
words in a Greek manuscript which was used by the translators of the Latin text
known to Vigilius.

Steven Avery

(1) It is not obvious at all that the Comma
Johanneum is a parenthetical comment. If
we were aware only of witnesses that included it, we would see it as a
full-blooded brother of the sentence in 5:8.

(2) Grammatically, when First John 5:6-8 is
compared with, and then without, the CJ, it is evident, as it was evident to
Gregory of Nyssa, that without the CJ the grammar of the passage is anomalous;
this rough grammar is the scar caused by a very early loss in the transmission
of the passage.

(3) The very early loss of the CJ is accounted
for when one observes how vulnerably it is situated in the text. If an early copyist’s line of sight wandered
from OI MARTUROUNTES in 5:7a to the same words in 5:8a, the intervening words
would be lost, leaving only EN TH GH as a clue as to what had occurred – or, if
a benign transposition had already occurred in the text of 5:7, in which EH TH
GH was moved to the very beginning of the verse, nothing at all would remain to
indicate that a loss had occurred.

Steven Avery

Moved to

Now, this is plowed ground to you, but I thought it might be worthwhile, nevertheless, to present Gregory’s statement about his opponent’s grammatical rule. I have taken some liberties with the Browne-Swallow translation but I think this conveys what he means:

“And consider what John says in his catholic epistle, when he says that there are three that bear witness, the spirit and the water and the blood. [TI DE O IWANNHS, TREIS EINAI TOUS MARTUROUNTAS LEGWN EN TAIS KAQOLIKAIS, TO PNEUMA, TO UDWR, TO AIMA.] You must think he is talking nonsense, first, because he has ventured to list things under one numeral although they do not share the same substance. Who would assert that these are of the same substance? Yet you say this ought to be done only to things which share the same substance. And, second, because he comes forward without putting his words in grammatical agreement, for after using “three” in the masculine gender [ARRENIKWS] , he adds three words which are neuter [OUDETERWS], contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down.”

Then, in the 20th paragraph, Gregory rejects the validity of his opponents’ grammatical rule; Mason sums up the 20th paragraph:

“It [his opponent’s grammatical rule] will not bear the simplest test of addition or division. Your rules about the order of enumeration, and about the use of prepositions, are just as ridiculous.”

So, looking at the statement in its context, it seems clear that Gregory mentions a grammatical rule but states, and shows, that it is not valid. The
rule could be a very simple generalization – the sort of thing one might say to a child, “Numbers are used to show the quantity of things of the same kind” – that the target of Gregory’s criticism has not invented but has unrealistically over-applied. This is the sort of thing that needs to be explained to CJ-defenders who have pictured Cyprian's statement as if he spontaneously said that there is a long-established rule of Greek grammar that is violated by the (CJ-lacking) text of First John 5:7-8.
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Steven Avery

Whereas I suspect that Metzger avoided specifically mentioning the 484 Council of Carthage because he perceived that doing so might
draw readers’ attention away from where he wanted to take them ...
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Steven Avery


Gregory - which solecism

More waterrock


Invisible allegory

More thoughts
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