writings on the heavenly witnesses grammar

Steven Avery

Each post here will focus on one writer when they are strong, or a group of writers who basically give one similar sluff explanation (e.g. the Spirit is personalized)

Steven Avery

James Slade - ( Samuel Minton and John Ellison Bates)

[W-V] do the heavenly witnesses eliminate the solecism of the earthly witnesses?

Granted, James Slade basically references Eugenius and Frederick Nolan, and use the phrase "figure attaction", the explanation is a bit scanty.


This objection was covered in a number of excellent writings in the 1800s, even after the superb Eugenius exposition, which also noted that the heavenly witnesses makes the grammar fine.

Here is one, clear and concise.

James Slade (1783-1860) noted clearly the solecism and how the grammar is fine with the heavenly witnesses included.

Annotations on the Epistles: Being a Continuation of Mr. Elsley's Annotations, and Principaly Designed for the Use of Candidates for Holy Orders, Volume 2 (1816)
James Slade

"... whatever question may be raised upon the external evidence, the internal evidence from the structure of the passage is very strong in its favour; sufficient not merely to justify, but to require, the retention of it in the text. "The text itself certainly affords no inconsiderable argument in favour of the genuineness of the disputed passage : many have justly observed, that if it be rejected the construction becomes wholly unaccountable; in the phrase (Grk in pic) the adjective and participle are both masculine, whereas all the substantives to which they refer are neuter; and one of those substantives (the only one of them, to say the most, which could have authorized the use of the masculine gender) is actually constructed in the proceeding verse with a neuter participle, (Grk in pic). Now, though it is scarcely possible to reconcile this, on any ground, with the plain rules of grammar, yet the error may be accounted for by supposing it to have proceeded from a repetition of the phraseology of the disputed passage ; or from, what grammarians call, the figure of attraction.

And Slade nicely is referenced here:

Unitariansm Confuted: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Christ Church, Liverpool, in 1839 by Thirteen Clergymen of the Church of England - Appendix
Lecture IX. The Deity, Personality and Operations of the Holy Ghost
John Ellison Bates, M. A.

(good pic that can be added)

Also nicely referenced by Samuel Minton (1820-1894)

Lectures on Unitarianism, more especially as taught by Mr. J. Barker and his followers (1847)
Samuel Minton

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY


Steven Avery

Country Parish Priest rejects participle as noun, bypassing spirit waster, and blood for grammar


In the times after Eugenius wrote, into the 1800s, the Greek fluency in England and the Continent was far stronger than the piddle Greek of today's seminaries.. (Though it had fallen some from the 1600s.) Thus odd-ball ideas like that of Hofstetter were smiled at and easily rejected.

Today, with the Critical Text deforming grammar, and a faux spirit of "let's learn Greek to correct the Bible with our new translations" and very little fluency, weak ideas easily float again, and the grammar discussions on salient Bible verses like John 1:18 and the heavenly witnesses and 1 Timothy 3:16 become worse than the blind leading the blind.

Now, if they want to float false ideas, that is their privilege. Fair enough. However, the boorishness of those making the proposals has to be noted. Plus, ironically, they get so upset that the people writing might actually have a high view of their Bible texts, so they try the genetic fallacy of "apologists", even on superb scholarly writings. (Hofstetter and his ilkies can not understand that we believe our Bible, and for many, myself included, studying the variants like the heavenly witnesses was precisely what informed us into this belief.)

Readers should understand that it is highly unlikely that Barry Hofstetter, with his dangerous little knowledge, will acknowledge receiving and learning anything at all from these studies and writings. Up to now, he has been hardened in rebellion against even learning about the pure Bible text. As we see by Hofstetter's recent his new parrot twist of calling all the errors and blunders in the CT, that he will not defend in apologetics, pure and perfect. Total hypocrisy. Political posturing. Nothing Hofstetter says about a Bible text variant can be trusted to be his real understanding.

However, let us go back to the grammar of the heavenly witnesses.

There are a couple of dozen good writers on the topic in English.The one today is short and to the point and early (before writings by Nolan, Brownlee, Slade, Burgess and others). I'm not sure if we can identify the Country Parish Priest, and, to be fair, his "I do not recollect to have seen offered before" may mean offered to that publication.

And if Hofstetter wanted to be helpful, and really learn at the same time, be edified by studies on the pure word of God, he would read and share on the heavenly witnesses from some of the Latin writers, and contribute to our body of knowledge. Many excellent writers in the 1600s to the 1800s touched on the heavenly witnesses in Latin that have not been translated.

1 John 5:7-8 (TR-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.

CT text: (NetBible)
7 For there are three that testify,
8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.

The Classical Journal, Volume 2 (1810)

Here you can see the general situation discussed, and the connection of the two verses (this is simply an element of grammar that can be given various names in context, Nolan pegged it as "figure attraction" for Eugenius no name was needed) is described as: Besides, it cannot be difficult to conceive, that the sacred writer, when about to express the earthly Witnesses in the next verse, might carry on the same expression, or adjuncts, to that verse : and the correspondence in the number of Witnesses-, and the similarity of their design in bearing witness to the truth of the religion of Christ, may tend to confirm this sentiment. But if the former verse did not precede, and should be rejected as spurious, it will be hard to account for the use of the masculine gender; ... Now in the days ahead, we can show, by the grace of the Lord Jesus, that the learned men of the time understood this easily, and thus those stuck with the Critical Text simply were concerned about finding an "out" for their difficulty. As explained by Cornwall to Hofstetter, who had tin ears. Even in 1810 the potential Hofstetter approach was considered, acknowledged as a feeble try, and rejected.

If it should be suggested, that the word marturounteV (marturountev) is equivalent to marturaV (marturov) I am ready to allow, that it may be so in sense or meaning;
it cannot be so in construction, or in the ordinary characters of language.

Hofstetter creatively free-lances. He does not really have the feel for any part of this historic discussion, nor any language depth on the level of these earlier days. He is simply stuck with the Critical Text corruption, which he deceived himself into thinking is pure and perfect (either he deludes himself or he is a liar when he writes that.) Thus, he is forced defend corruptions with any argument possible. And as a modern seminarian Professor, he is loathe to acknowledge his minimal fluency in Greek, and thus learn from solid writers of years back.

Steven Avery


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Steven Avery

Spirit personalization explanations with short three witnesses text

John Christopher Thomas (b-1955)

The Pentecostal Commentary on the Johannine Epistles (2004)
John Christopher Thomas

First, the phrase occurs in the masculine gender (οἱ μαρτυροῦντες), despite the fact that all three witnesses that follow are neuter in gender. Such a move may underscore for the readers the personal nature of the witness being described. Second, the readers learn that the nature of the witness of these three is ongoing and continuous as this participle occurs in the present tense. p. 254

The thought of v. 7 continues uninterrupted in v. 8 where these three witnesses are identified as the Spirit and the water and the blood. As earlier observed there is a change in gender from the masculine, 'those who bear witness', to the neuters, 'the Spirit and the water and the blood'. Normally, one would not think that such inanimate objects would serve as personal agents who bear witness. However, such an emphasis here would not likely be lost on the readers of v. 8.194 Does this shift imply a change in meaning for the terms, the Spirit and the water and the blood, from their meaning in w. 6-7? The readers might be inclined in this direction for a couple of reasons. First, there is an emphasis on the ongoing nature of the witness being borne. This raises the question, is it likely that the events of Jesus' life and death would be spoken of as continuing in their witness or would they be looked upon primarily as past events with enduring effects? Second, owing to their knowledge of Jn 19.34, the readers would be appreciative of the tight interplay that exists between a number of elements associated with Jesus' salvific work to include the Spirit, eternal life, water and the blood. Given the fact that certain rites have been established in the Fourth Gospel for the community to observe (e.g. the footwashing in Jn 13.1-20), it is not at all unlikely that the readers might see in v. 8 reference to such rites. In addition to the footwashing, a sign of continual cleansing from sin, it would appear that other signs were also practised by the community, including water baptism and the Eucharist. Although an allusion to the Eucharist by means of the word 'blood' is unique in the New Testament .. p. 255

194 While it is true that on occasion the neuter
πνεῦμα may be referred to by the masculine ἐκεῖνος, on both occasions this change appears to be the result of the appearance of napaKXirroc, as the antecedent instead of πνεῦμα .
Continues on p. 256 (library check needed)


David Edmond Hiebert (1910-1995)

An Exposition of 1 John 5:1-12 (1990)
David Edmond Hiebert

These three Greek nouns are all in the neuter gender, yet the preceding numeral and participle are masculine gender, constituting "a testimony, the more striking because involuntary, to the personality of the Spirit" (David Smith, "The Epistles of St. John," in The Expositor's Greek Testament [reprint, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerd- mans Publishing Co., n.d.], 5:195).