Why Did the NIV “delete” verses in the New Testament?

This website calls out the NIV based on the fact that various verses are no longer present. The claim is that the NIV deleted these verses with the conclusion that the NIV is not to be trusted. I appreciate their appeal to want a complete Bible, to not tamper with God’s word, and an understanding that God does not want us manipulating his word, adding to it or taking away from it. Since we don’t have the original documents to work from there are differences in some texts. The question is, what is the best reconstruction of the original text in these instances? I did a little research into this to find out how the decision was made on the 45 (actually turns out affect 49 verses) verses mentioned on the website. I first want to mention what the verses are:

Matthew 12:47 – This verse IS in the text of the NIV. What they don’t like is the fact that the NIV has a footnote that says, “Some manuscripts do not have verse 47”

Matthew 17:21 – In the footnotes, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Matthew 18:11 – In the footnotes, “The Son of Man came to save what was lost.”

Matthew 21:44 – Present but a footnote reads, “Some manuscripts do not have verse 44.”

Matthew 23:14 – In the footnotes, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Therefore you will be punished more severely.”

Mark 7:16 – In the footnotes, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Mark 9:44 & 9:46 – In the footnotes, “where / ” ‘their worm does not die, / and the fire is not quenched.”

Mark 11:26 – In the footnotes, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.”

Mark 15:28 – In the footnotes, “and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was counted with the lawless ones” (Isaiah 53:12).”

Mark 16:9-20 – This is in the text with a disclaimer that reads, “The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.

Luke 17:36 – In the footnotes, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”

Luke 22:43-44 – These verses ARE in the text of the NIV. There is a footnote saying some manuscripts do not contain them.

Luke 23:17 – In the footnotes, “Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the Feast.”

John 5:3b-4 – In the footnotes, “paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.”

John 7:53-8:11 – Again, these verses ARE in the text but have a line and a note saying, “The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11.”

Acts 15:34 – In the footnotes, “but Silas decided to remain there”

Acts 24:6b-8a – In the footnotes, “him and wanted to judge him according to our law. 7 But the commander, Lysias, came and with the use of much force snatched him from our hands 8 and ordered his accusers to come before you. By”

Acts 28:29 – In the footnotes, “29 After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.”

Romans 16:24 – In the footnotes, “24 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.”

1 John 5:7b-8a – In the footnotes, “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century)”

I appreciate the work they did compiling these verses. There are a couple of adjustments that were made to their list that made it a little more accurate. I also want to mention that all the verses mentioned are found in the NIV the question is whether or not they should be relegated to footnotes. There are many reasons the NIV committee decided to do that and I think it is important to realize that it wasn’t done haphazardly. I also want to mention that there are no doctrines that hinge on these verses and much of what is there is found in other places. Obviously that is no reason to say it is alright to remove verses otherwise we could remove much of the synoptic gospels as their content is found in each of the others. Is this a reason to throw out the NIV or were these good decisions? We will spend some time examining those questions.

For more information on how translators make these decisions see my post The Case of the Missing Verse (John 5:4) for more details.

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About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

208 Responses to Why Did the NIV “delete” verses in the New Testament?

  1. ladyp says:

    Ooops! that’s 1 Peter 3:15 instead. sorry…

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  3. Nathan says:

    If God created the heaven (SINGULAR KJV all most other versions say heavens in GEN 1:1) then He can create a perfect english translation i don’t limit the power of GOD.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Nathan, is the irony in your post on purpose? In Hebrew “heavens” is plural in Gen 1:1. In your example, the KJV didn’t translate it correctly. That is not to say the KJV is a horrible translation. It was amazing in its day. The point is there is no perfect translation. I am not sure if you are aware of this but there are many versions of the KJV. It was revised over and over again. Why revisions? It had problems. So I am not sure why people push for the KJV to be the perfect translation. It makes no sense. You can say a translation is good or adequate without saying it has to be perfect.

  4. They should have let the Holy Spirit guide them to translate, as only The Holy Spirit inspired them, initially to write the Bible. Oh Lord help us !

  5. jim Daniels says:

    The NIV is written by modern day man who have changed and or omitted text to promote feel good mega churches, Include the homosexual lifestyle and not condemn that nor the feminist movement. NO CONDEMNATION. God’s word was inspired in the original text, has been written for several hundreds of years and now has been changed by modern day man trying to promote churches for profit and a feel good gospel that matches our “NO MORALS” times. “If it feels good do it!” I have read that the publishers of the NIV also put out several other books that may be a bit racey for God. One thing is for sure; A church that uses the NIV will soon find the church condoning same sex marriage, all forms of feminism which are against the teachings of the KJV, as well as giving the OK to any sin like divorce and fornication, for any reason, at one’s whim. Use the NIV at your own risk. If I had some I would rip them up and burn them so nobody else could get their hands on them. God help us all!

    • mattdabbs says:

      Jim,

      Show me the proof of what you are saying. Give me examples of the following from the NIV book, chapter and verse:
      – Changing or omitting text to promote feeling good, homosexuality, etc (none of the “missing verses” have anything to do with that)
      – verses that were changed to “if it feels good, do it”

      Anything else you would like to add from the actual NIV and not just I read this and I have read that about it. Show me the proof! If it is there, there is nothing to hide or fear. The truth is the truth so if it is as you say put out the verses you are talking about so we can discuss those from the NIV. Thanks.

  6. Michael says:

    The various english translations of the Bible have all been evaluated to determine their literal and technical accuracy. They are also evaluated as to the “grade level” of understanding that they are written. If I am correct, the NIV is written at approximately the sixth grade level while translations such as the NASB and KJV are written at more of a college level of comprehensoin for full understanding. With that being said, the NIV may have its place for new converts and young christians but as we mature it is equally important for us to be able to gain the most knowledge possible and the more technically accurate versions may be where we need to focus our enery rather than the “dumbing down” or our ability or opportunity to understand.

  7. This is actually linked to a recent mail notification for “The 49 easiest verses to memorize in the Bible” … which seems to be a mismatch.

    I hesitate to say anything on posting that started so long ago, but I will say that I think that it would benefit people considering this type of topic if they used comparisons to how Data Recovery is done in real life for practical applications.

    For example, no one cares that no one has the “original manuscript” of Windows OS, but it doesn’t prevent someone from detecting if they have a damaged copy. In fact, when considering something as ancient as Windows 3.1, you will be guaranteed that an “original manuscript” will certainly be flawed. Those 5.25″ floppy disks are somewhat analogous to papyrus.

    The analogy breaks down at a certain point, but the science of data recovery (the logic and techniques) are still applicable when applied to manuscript evidence. It should bear some consideration when the (two) supposed “oldest and most reliable manuscripts” stand in stark disagreement to each other, and when the only way a manuscript would survive that long is by being shelved away (evidence that it was not used.)

    Imagine that you were trying to reconstruct the “originals” of a computer data CD, and you knew that some of them were accurate, and others had been tampered with. It’s easier to tamper with a new manuscript than a CD, but harder to get people to accept a “new reading” that only appears in your handwriting. People would tend to recognize the original reading, stick with those manuscripts, and reuse and recopy them instead.

    With this hypothetical CD scenario, the worn and scratched disks (even though they might have some damage) would be the correct way to rebuild the actual program down to the exact byte. Likewise, copies of copies (even if they had scratches) would be valid, and would testify that someone thought it worthwhile to back up a working disk. Disks that were unscratched would testify that they were seldom used, and one might have to wonder why.

    Even without that consideration, if you were to recover 100 disks (and scratches, aberrations, and even damage can easily be recovered by comparing like examples) and 95% of them stand in agreement with each other, this majority agreement bears significant weight compared to a few aberrations that would omit various portions. Just because someone has one or two disks that are older does not mean that it’s legitimate (it is likely a beta version or a hacked copy.) This is especially to be considered when the two oddballs are vastly different from one another!

    The difference between the computer data recovery example and manuscripts is that we have no divine guarantee that God cares about preserving a copy of Windows 3.1, but we do have passages where we are told that God has promised to preserve his word. There’s method, motive, and opportunity at stake, and the factors are not anywhere near as complex as they are made out to be. It’s not a question of “1000’s of differing manuscripts” but more like a couple different branches of readings (one is usually in the clear majority) and occasional aberrations (like a defect in a data file that can be detected by being compared with other copies.)

    It would be really nice to see people willing to look at these issues objectively (without worrying about what others will think of them). It seems to me that the main motivations are often tradition and anti-tradition, neither of which are very good reasons. Care should be taken to avoid misrepresentation by shallow reasoning, faulty reasoning, or even being right for the wrong reasons.

    By the way… there are some pretty big doctrinal differences between the various versions, even including those that are sometimes passed off as being “the same except for the thee’s and thous.” It’s not that “no major doctrine is effected.” Assuming that doctrine is derived from (and constantly proved) from scripture, rather than tradition, fuzzy feeling, impression, it’s not merely an academic exercise. Yet, doctrine should be derived from scripture, rather than choosing scripture to match doctrine (sadly, I know authors that argue the opposite view.)

  8. When I saw this, I thought, “Wow, Matt’s opening that can of worms again?” 🙂 Then I saw the number of comments.

    So, no, I haven’t read the whole discussion. I just want to throw into the mix that much that is said about God’s Word being preserved seems to assume that it being preserved for English speakers is enough. That is, if the KJV is God’s perfect preserved version, then speakers of other languages are out of luck.

    There is NO version in another language that matches up 100% with the KJV. That’s a linguistic impossibility. So if God’s promise to preserve His Word is fulfilled in the KJV and not in other versions in English, then speakers of other languages apparently didn’t receive the same promise.

    I’m glad that God’s promises don’t depend on the linguistic abilities of human beings.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

    • Hey Tim… it’s good that you’re thinking of things like that.

      If we allow God’s word to be preserved in Hebrew, we should consider that Hebrew is not a language that has been spoken by many people at all. It’s a rather obscure and specialized language.

      On the other hand, if we allow God’s word to be preserved in Greek, that was a world encompassing language at its time. Not everyone spoke Greek, but it was the language of learning and commerce. Sort of like …. modern English, except English is more widespread today than Greek ever was in its time.

      If we allow God’s word to be preserved exclusively only in Hebrew and Greek, then you have an even worse dilemma… everyone today, save perhaps a tiny handful (how many people really read Hebrew and Greek and are truly fluent) would have access.

      If one allows God to preserve his word in the first place, you’ve got a much bigger problem if it’s only allowed to be in Hebrew and Greek, most especially since Hebrew and Greek have fallen out of common use. But I think that this specific question could bear some more thought and/or discussion… maybe there’s an underlying assumption that could bear addressing?

      Is it unreasonable to consider that God might refresh his target language every couple thousand of years? I know that some consider the spread of the Greek language worldwide (via Alexander) before the birth of Christ as part of the plan to spread Christianity.

      • mattdabbs says:

        A few thoughts. Hebrew was more encompassing in the 1400-1000 BC timeframe than you might think. There were several languages that all had the same roots that were pretty prevalent at that time. These are the Semitic languages that include Aramaic, Phonecian, and the language used at Ugarit. The even cracked the language of Ugarit using Hebrew because they are so closely connected, just with different alphabets. So Hebrew and its associated languages were more prevalent than you might think.

        There is a difference in God preserving his word verbatim in every instance and God preserving his word generally speaking including once it has been translated into other languages. Since we don’t have the autographs we have textual variants. Once you have variants, someone has to make a decision in each instance on what is most likely to be the original. I wouldn’t say God’s word has been diminished at that point or even at the point of translation into another language. God’s Word still rings true. God is a better communicator than we give him credit for 🙂

        Can you help me understand what you mean by this, “Is it unreasonable to consider that God might refresh his target language every couple thousand of years?”

        God is targeting people. So I would guess God would want his word accessible to every language in existence to reach as many people as possible. So I am not sure why we would be talking about one target language because God is not exclusive in these matters.

      • Hello Matt. Before addressing your question, I’d like to recognize something else you also brought up:

        There is a difference in God preserving his word verbatim in every instance and God preserving his word generally speaking including once it has been translated into other languages

        There’s a lot of variety in what someone might mean when they say “God’s word” and I think a lot of confusion results when someone doesn’t define their term, or when someone assumes one thing in place of another meaning.

        1) it might be used to refer to specific literal words in written language
        2) it might be used to refer to specific literal words in spoken language
        3) it might be used to refer to general words in written or spoken language

        Although I recognize that any of those three might be valid, I want to make sure what we’re actually discussing. I am assuming we’re looking at the claim and/or possibility for God to preserve his word (his actual intended meaning) through his words (specific chosen words) in a language other than Hebrew.

        Since we don’t have the autographs we have textual variants. Once you have variants, someone has to make a decision in each instance on what is most likely to be the original.

        There’s usually an underlying assumption here that should be addressed. That “someone” who makes the decision might be God himself, who is allowed to use obvious and subtle means of direction. I’m just pointing out that it’s only a forgone conclusion that these decisions are invariably error-prone when God is left out of the picture.

        Also, I also want to mention that there aren’t that many textual variants. There’s usually only a couple types of readings, and even when you have 1000’s of manuscripts that are yet unread, they invariably fall into one of the existing readings.

        God is a better communicator than we give him credit for.

        He’s also a better translator that many people are willing to allow. Consider this for a moment: what else would you call the miracle of speaking in tongues as recorded early in the book of Acts? Each and every person heard the words in their own language and dialect. My point being, is that I’m suggesting that God could correctly translate his written word into any number of languages.

        Can you help me understand what you mean by this, “Is it unreasonable to consider that God might refresh his target language every couple thousand of years?

        I mean simply that God isn’t limited to Hebrew and Greek, and that a translation is not necessarily inferior to its source. In fact, if a translation becomes necessary (such as if the original languages become obsolete) it could be argued that a translation can actually be superior.

        God is targeting people. So I would guess God would want his word accessible to every language in existence to reach as many people as possible.

        Ah, now we might be getting somewhere. Granted, God is targeting people in general, but not necessarily every individual person at this time. I think that common observation can prove this point. Was the gospel preached to the Chinese peasant or the Australian aborigine that died in AD 42?

        Let’s think about this second item also. Does God want his word accessible to every language in existence to reach as many people as possible… at this time? If so, then it wouldn’t seem that he’s doing very well. See the peasant and aborigine examples above. We should talk about this… rather than just dancing around the tip of an iceberg.

        So I am not sure why we would be talking about one target language because God is not exclusive in these matters.

        But…. God has been exclusive in these matters before, hasn’t he? What advantage was it in being a Jew?

        Rom 3:1-2
        (1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
        (2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

        That is, we can see that God has been exclusive as to his keeping of the oracles of God in the past, so there is nothing that would require him to preserve his oracles in every language upon the earth at every point in time. God chose Hebrew in the past, and because of the spread of Greek and its transmission of the New Testament we also assume that he chose Greek for a time.

        I remember a young Jewish king who found the law after it had become forgotten and lost for a while. The scripture was preserved, but that doesn’t mean everyone was guaranteed access. And weren’t the scriptures practically buried for a very long time, including the infamous Dark Ages? But, if someone were to seek and to knock, to pray “open the eyes of the King of England”… might God answer the prayers of martyrs that sought to bring the scriptures to light for the common people? Don’t we have scripture that tells us that God can be thus persuaded, that he is not immune to appeal, that he would not give us a stone for an egg?

        I think I understand where you’re thinking here, and the answer might be with that iceberg about whether God is really trying to reach everyone right now (but if that is the actual game plan, how well is it working?)

      • mattdabbs says:

        God wills that all would come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). So yes, God does want every single person alive to hear the Gospel. Also, how can people know unless someone goes and preaches to them (Rom 10:14ff)? How will they understand unless it is in their language. Language is important and we are God’s instruments to make the translations necessary to reach various people groups (see joshuaproject.net if you get a chance). God isn’t dropping finished translations down into various people groups that came straight from his hand. God expects us to get that job done.

        Does God inspire translation? I am certain God can use godly mean to translate something that is incredibly accurate. Does that mean every choice, every word of every translation is straight from the mouth of God? Certainly not. Take the KJV. It has been revised a dozen or more times for various mistakes made by the translators. For instance, the 1611 KJV had Matthew 26:36 say, “Then cometh Judas” instead of “then cometh Jesus”. I don’t think that was an inspired mistake. So how far do you take it? That doesn’t mean everything is in question either.

        You wrote, “Also, I also want to mention that there aren’t that many textual variants. There’s usually only a couple types of readings, and even when you have 1000′s of manuscripts that are yet unread, they invariably fall into one of the existing readings.”

        It is one thing to say there aren’t many textual variants and quite another to say there aren’t many of significance. According to Nestle (who has done a lot of work compiling NT manuscripts and Greek texts) there are roughly 150,000 textual variants in the New Testament. Many of those are easily worked out. Some are a lot more difficult to figure out what is more likely the original reading. No major doctrine hinges on those variations but they do influence the conclusions here as to whether or not God is in the process of inspiring entire Bible translations into various languages today. If he is, how do we account for the differences among versions and which are more inspired than others? 😉

        Last, I am curious where you hear there are thousands of unread manuscripts. Can you point me to a source on that?

      • You’re answering a different question than what I asked. I am not contesting that God intends to reach all people, that he willing that all men be saved, and so on and so forth. I’m pointing out that the evidence shows that God isn’t doing all of that right now, certainly not for every person. See the Chinese peasant and the Australian aborigine examples.

        If your answer is that God isn’t finished yet, it still leaves the thorny problem that people were born and died without ever seeing a speck of the gospel. Did it arrive in time for them? No, it didn’t. Therefore, an argument that God has to make his word available in every language falls short. God has been exclusive in the past, and history shows that common folk have not always had access to the Word. That’s simply the facts. If we will be honest, it is our job to determine what those facts mean.

        I do have a question about this thing you just said though… specifically, what 1611 King James bible are you using as your source?

        Take the KJV. It has been revised a dozen or more times for various mistakes made by the translators. For instance, the 1611 KJV had Matthew 26:36 say, “Then cometh Judas” instead of “then cometh Jesus”. I don’t think that was an inspired mistake.

        Mat 26:36 KJV-1611
        (36) Then commeth Iesus with them vnto a place called Gethsemane, and saith vnto the Disciples, Sit yee heere, while I goe and pray yonder.

        Printing errors (or even a child scrubbing with crayons) are not fair considerations when determining the content of a translation. I am guessing that in your copy the printer had accidentally substituted a “d” for an “s.”

        Regardless, if this was fixed in a later printing, problem solved, right? When God speaks of his words, he talks about silver purified seven times. Why would you purify something if there wasn’t such a thing as dross to begin with? Since we’re considering Matthew 26:36, what does your King James bible from the shelf say at that place? To err may be human, but to refine is divine.

        … but they do influence the conclusions here as to whether or not God is in the process of inspiring entire Bible translations into various languages today. If he is, how do we account for the differences among versions and which are more inspired than others?

        I would think that the accounting would be to determine fair rules, and perform testing, observe, and measure the results. In some circles this is called the scientific method.

        Now, logically, if one or more parties to have a perfect translation or a perfect bible (some do) then how would this be tested? It is a mathematical axiom that one cannot prove a negative. Thus, the way to settle the question would be to prove flaws in something that is claimed to be flawless.

        Now, if two versions conflict, it seems to me that one or both are wrong. That would be a logical deduction, right? How can two witnesses that disagree both be right?

        I’ll add an additional consideration into the mix. If something is being developed or refined (like rough drafts, or precious metal) and the process is unfinished, it is not fair to go seek out earlier versions in the refining process for the sake of proclaiming error. Judge the finished product.

        For example, I consider that William Tyndale might have had special help when working on his translation of the Old and New Testaments. However, when he mixes terms like “ester lambe” and “paschall lamb” (Luke 22:15 vs. John 18:28) it would be hard to say that this was a perfected work. Nor was it…. Tyndale was a work in progress, and when he was killed by others, others took up the fight in his place.

        So… it would be important to consider 1) source as well as 2) translational aspects. If you were asked to test the “perfect bible” claim, what tests would you come up with?

        Last, I am curious where you hear there are thousands of unread manuscripts. Can you point me to a source on that?

        Most of the manuscripts in existence have not been analyzed, and remain unread. So the claims of having “so many more manuscripts” is somewhat misleading. Those manuscripts aren’t really being used, and even if they were, they’re not changing the balance as to the majority readings.

        No, I cannot offer you a source on that this very minute, but you should be able to verify that through other sources with due diligence. I thought it was pretty much well recognized that the sheer body of manuscripts wasn’t something that was expected to be processed before Christ’s return.However, when you consider the trend of what we already have, it’s highly unlikely that the trend will reverse. U.S. Presidential elections are decided (and conceded) before all the votes are in, and those run a lot closer than what we use to determine Majority Readings.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Your KJV is a corrected one. The original had what I put in my comment above. Google the phrase “then cometh Judas” and you will see it. The thing is,it is more than a single printing error. There were 413 changes/corrections made in 1613. By 1659 an additional 20,000 errors had been found across the different editions that had been published since 1611. By the 19th century there were 24,000 variants in the KJV itself among the six different editions published to date. Get that, six different KJVs by the 1800s. That is because it was revised over and over. Why the need for revision? It had mistakes. Inspired mistakes?

        Additionally the KJV inserted English phrases that had ZERO biblical support then or now. Here are three examples: Rev 5:14 they added “Him that liveth forever and ever”. Eph 3:14 they added “of our Lord Jesus Christ” and Rom 8:1 they added “who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit”. There are all kinds of issues here. My point is that I do believe God can help men come to a favorable translation. I don’t see God dictating the translation to them because of things like this.

        So I do think God preserves his word over time but I don’t subscribe to a dictation theory of translation. I would be careful of even subscribing to a dictation theory of original inspiration. We can talk about that more if you like. I still respect the text. I believe the originals are inspired and I think God wants us to work and study through these things and reach as many people as possible.

      • Lest this part be lost,

        …and I think God wants us to work and study through these things and reach as many people as possible.

        Granted that God wants us to work and study these things and reach as many people as possible, but do we admit that this foolishness of preaching (Paul’s words, not mine) has already failed to reach some people (in any way or opportunity) at all?

        If so, then I think we have to conclude that God isn’t depending upon reaching every person that ever lived with translations into every language on the earth today.

      • But you’re not categorizing “then cometh Judas” as a translation error. It seems to me that you’re actually taking up issue with the printing technology of the time, with the medium, rather than the material. Mass production of print was a new technology, and even things like standardized spelling were new concepts back then… something we usually take for granted today.

        Get that, six different KJVs by the 1800s. That is because it was revised over and over. Why the need for revision? It had mistakes. Inspired mistakes?

        Why would pure silver that was buried in the earth need to be refined? If you’re evaluating the authorized text (it seems that you are) you’re not looking at the finished product. The standard 1769 King James (which is what anyone here probably has on a bookshelf) is what we ought to be comparing. I wouldn’t judge the NIV on printing errors, not unless the publishers refused to correct them!

        Additionally the KJV inserted English phrases that had ZERO biblical support then or now. Here are three examples: Rev 5:14 they added “Him that liveth forever and ever”. Eph 3:14 they added “of our Lord Jesus Christ” and Rom 8:1 they added “who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit”.

        Are you choosing these your test cases? I ask because when something is placed for examination, there are an infinite amount of claims that can be placed against that thing, and a proper analysis takes far more resources than the claim. I have looked at one example (because I was only able to find one) where Beza inserted a couple words without manuscript support.

        That sounded rather shocking to me, but when it was looked at with the surrounding evidence, it actually made sense, and he had sound reasoning. The existing mss (and there were only a couple) that were supposed to have the passage in question were flawed. Believe me, I do investigate these things seriously (I probably saved the study on my hard drive.)

        I am skeptical about the three examples you’ve chosen, but I do not have a lot of free time resources right now, so that’s why I’m asking if those are your test cases. If so, then if there are good answers then it should count for something. However, if your mind is actually being made up by something else, let’s look at that.

        But please let me explain why I’m skeptical. Even just looking at the last claim that “Romans 8:1 was added with ZERO biblical support” it’s already contradicted by folk that oppose that portion of the verse already. Just a quick Google search yields this quote:

        courtesy of the heritagebbc site obtained by Google search on “does romans 8:1 belong in our bible” I find:

        Here are Dr. Ryrie’s notes concerning this verse.

        “8:1 Who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. This phrase is not in the best manuscripts.”

        Please note that Dr Ryrie says “best manuscripts” and not “any manuscripts.” That’s why I’m asking, are these really your test cases? If so, I think 1 of the 3 (the 3rd one) is already answered. Romans 8:1 does have manuscript support, just not from Aleph or Beta (though it’s quite a stretch to call these “best manuscripts” methinks.)

        When you look up these three passages in your normal off-the-shelf King James Bible, are these phrases in italics? Italicized words are added without direct manuscript support, but if they are not italicized, then they did have manuscript support.

        1. In Romans 8;1, the only italicized words are the first two, “There is.”
        2. In Ephesians 3:14, there are no italicized words.
        3. In Revelation 5:14, the only italicized word is the word “and.”

        So maybe I’m misunderstanding, but it seems to me that because the King James translators admitted when the added words (it was not kept secret) that the absence of admission should count as some sort of weight, lacking further evidence. Who told you that these passages were inserted with zero biblical support? What did they actually say?

        . So I do think God preserves his word over time but I don’t subscribe to a dictation theory of translation. I would be careful of even subscribing to a dictation theory of original inspiration.

        I’m not familiar with this theory, but assuming I understand what you’re implying, why would dictation be required for a perfect translation? God sometimes appears in a fire or a cloud, but he can also direct hearts and minds in subtle ways as well.

        We can talk about that more if you like. I still respect the text.

        I think this would be great to talk about. Have you ever looked into the arguments surrounding 1 John 5:7? That seems to be one of the dividing lines as to what counts as responsible translation, and as such it might make a good point for study.

  9. Oh, sorry… this showed up in my RSS feed and I thought it was a new discussion. Sorry to keep beating a dead horse.

  10. mattdabbs says:

    I was understanding you to say God inspires the translators to do their job. I took issue with that by bringing up the 1611 KJV and the thousands of errors they had to go back and correct, phrases they used that have never appeared in any Greek manuscript we have to date/no textual support, and I could have mentioned more but left it there…all to point out that God doesn’t inspire mistakes, right? So where do we draw the line? So you dropped the 1611 KJV and said what we really need to look at is the “finished product” of the 1769 KJV. There are several problems with your line of reasoning. First, there was a point in time the 1611 was considered the finished product. Second, the 1769 KJV has issues as does the 1984 NIV as does the 2012 NIV as does the TNIV as does the RSV and NRSV not to mention the Message and New Living Bible. They all have issues, problems, errors, poor translations. Which translation is inspired? Are you saying the 1769 KJV is but none other or they all are just with issues?

    • I was understanding you to say God inspires the translators to do their job.

      We might have a slight misunderstanding. I only presented reasoning to demonstrate that it was within God’s ability to inspire translators to do their job. I think I also said that this would not be outside of God’s character. Past that so far we’re running on a lot of assumptions without proper support.

      …all to point out that God doesn’t inspire mistakes, right?

      I think we need some more authentication for your proposed examples of mistakes. I have tried to use some biblical analogies (like silver, Psalms 12:6) but I might also borrow another image of clay in the hands of a potter. If you look at the clay at the wrong time it looks like a mistake, yet this would be a part of the inspiration process.

      So you dropped the 1611 KJV and said what we really need to look at is the “finished product” of the 1769 KJV.

      I wasn’t defending the 1611 KJV to begin with. I have put the 1611 (at least my copy) through a lot of tests and I have not been able to find source or translation flaw, but I still don’t think it was the finished product.

      There are several problems with your line of reasoning. First, there was a point in time the 1611 was considered the finished product.

      I don’t see how this constitutes a reasoning flaw. Without picking fault for printing problems and standardized spelling (the printing process was new and standardized spelling didn’t exist yet) it was a suited for the time… just like you don’t fault the Commodore 64 for not having USB 3.0 support.

      Second, the 1769 KJV has issues as does the 1984 NIV as does the 2012 NIV as does the TNIV as does the RSV and NRSV not to mention the Message and New Living Bible. They all have issues, problems, errors, poor translations. Which translation is inspired? Are you saying the 1769 KJV is but none other or they all are just with issues?

      The question of “inspiration” is rather difficult and difficult to measure. But as for your question about “inspiration” that’s probably an issue of faith. But there’s different types of faith. There’s the the fuzzy unsupported fluffy faith, the unthinking but adamant faith, and there’s also a faith that results when something is tested over and over again and found to be faithful.

      Personally, I think the entire process of the English bible from Tyndale all the way through the King James had God’s hand in it, and it (the end product) has stood against the tests. The 1611 was good, but standardized spelling really added a lot.

      Past that, other attempts I’ve seen to “modernize” it has introduced mistakes: I can find problems with the NKJV and the Modern King James Version, but not the 21st Century KJV (it passed my tests). The NIV, RSV, and Message all have some pretty bad problems – there’s enough biblical contradictions (self contradictions, mistakes, etc) in those that I wouldn’t venture to call them inspired.

      So which am I going to use? If I am talking to someone, do I really want to have to explain why a particular verse cannot be believed at face value because it is in error?

      A question for thought (answer when you can): when someone hands you an unfamiliar translation, do you have any particular tests that you apply to it to get a sense of whether it is accurate and reliable? I’m asking for some objectivity here. For example, if you think there are “issues” and “problems” with bibles, what do you look for? Let’s lay aside preconceptions and try to be objective.

      • mattdabbs says:

        “We might have a slight misunderstanding. I only presented reasoning to demonstrate that it was within God’s ability to inspire translators to do their job”

        – So you are presenting things you don’t necessarily agree with? As far as errors in the KJV I will give you some more examples tomorrow. I guess it is not enough to say that there were 20,000 revisions made to the 1611 to say it had issues? I will help you out with some more examples when I get a minute in the morning.

        “Personally, I think the entire process of the English bible from Tyndale all the way through the King James had God’s hand in it.”

        – I agree with that. I just wouldn’t call it inspiration on par with biblical inspiration.

        As for your last question. I want something translated by committee, not by an individual. It must be based on the original languages and not a paraphrase. Then there are a few passages I typically turn to in order to see how particular words were translated in order to see if there is any immediate bias/doctrines that are being pressed that affect the translation.

      • mattdabbs says:

        By the way, loved the Commodore 64 reference 🙂

      • So you are presenting things you don’t necessarily agree with?

        No, it’s just prudent to establish small steps rather than running ahead of oneself. Clarifying, I was only saying what I was prepared to providing reasoning for in that post.

        For example, if I am talking with someone who says that there is no God, I don’t immediately start with Jesus (even though that’s my eventual goal.) I may ask if they could reasonably allow for the possibility of a creator (why or why not) or if they dismiss all evidence of the supernatural. You get agreement at the first points and then move forwards. Any other approach usually winds up being a bunch of arguing that isn’t going to solve anything, nor result in agreement.

        As for your last question. I want something translated by committee, not by an individual. It must be based on the original languages and not a paraphrase. Then there are a few passages I typically turn to in order to see how particular words were translated in order to see if there is any immediate bias/doctrines that are being pressed that affect the translation.

        Quick thoughts (post note: I thought this would be quick):

        1) Thinking of Martin Luther and William Tyndale, I wouldn’t necessarily rule out something translated by a single person.

        2) Basing upon original languages is a good rule… though it might be worth consulting translations from other languages (Latin, Syriac, etc) when considering manuscript evidence.

        3) I’d be curious as to what passages you use for test cases. For example, I will read Genesis 1:1 to get a sense of the language, John 1 to see what they did with the Word, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, Luke 23:43, the reference to behemoth in Job, the pascha (Passover vs. Easter) reference in Acts (the one that follows the days of unleavened bread), 1 Timothy 3:16, and 1 John 5:7 (the versions that omit this portion have to answer why their chosen Greek text suffers from improper grammar.)

        Also Acts 2:34,Matthew 22:13, Revelation 20:10 (that one gets mangled a lot) … and usually a few others. Maybe 2 Kings 8:26 (to see if they’re being faithful to the Hebrew rather than trying to correct it.) I try to get about ten so I can think in easy percentages.

        Aside from Genesis 1;1, all of those hit upon doctrinal hot spots in their own ways, so it isn’t just about trivial changes in wording. My point being that this isn’t about just being silly, sticky, traditional, or trivial. These words really do matter in some pretty large ways.

        Care to share some examples of the types of checks you use? I’d also explain what I’m looking for (and why) on my examples, if you’d like.

  11. mattdabbs says:

    John 5:4 – is it there or missing? https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2008/03/20/the-case-of-the-missing-verse-john-54/ )
    Acts 2:38 – what did they do with “eis”?
    Romans 7:18 & 25 – what did they do with “sarx” – flesh or more dynamic equivalence/big time interpreting “sinful nature” (like the NIV)
    Rom 1:13 – is it gender inclusive

    These are not “make it or break it” tests for a translation. They just help me get an idea for what approach is being used. Is it more literal or is it more dynamic equivalence? Is it gender inclusive? Do they mess with baptism by manipulating the text? Etc. Hope that is helpful.

  12. I did read your linked blog post on John 5:4, and thought that the presentation seemed a little lopsided (Metzger was the only source.) I have some thoughts to contribute.

    * John 5:4 is the majority text reading.
    * That passage doesn’t even make sense without verse 4. Why would a sick person want to be put in the water when it was troubled? The account would obviously be missing a piece.
    * Early Fathers cite the account from as far back as the 3rd and 4th centuries, including Tertullian, Ambrose, and Chrysostom.
    * Manuscript evidence for John 5:4 dates back to the 4th and 6th centuries (Latin and Greek)

    I’ve heard it said that one should always be careful to listen to both sides of an issue. In your blog article Metzger is only one side (and he’s had to make retractions about spreading a false story concerning 1 John 5:7 before… he has some bias.) Have you seen any of the evidence discussed at Google’s “should john 54 Angel at the pool be in the bible” … ?

    “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just” (Proverbs 18:17)

    I think the author there at that article I referenced (I’m not putting the direct link because that seems to block posts from going through, but it’s the “KJV Today” site) answers Metzger pretty well, including the charge that the words are “non-Johannine.” I can’t vouch for the rest of the site (not being familiar with it) but I think that it might be good to consider reasons why the majority text stayed in the majority.

    How would the passage even make sense without verse 4? It seems to me that the original writings ought to make sense.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I do like to be as even handed as possible. However, I don’t always spend time making supporting arguments for things I don’t agree with.
      1 – Majority text reading. This is true. It was the reading from the Textus Receptus (“Received text” which is what the KJV translators used). Majority reading is not always the original reading. Here is the logic. If you have the original, there aren’t errors in it. If you copy it there will be few to none. If you copy those copies 10 times each by different people, errors start to crop out. Now copy those errors over and over for 1000 years and all of a sudden the majority reading (most common reading) are those with the errors because people had copied that error for 1000 years. You can’t line up all the manuscripts from the earliest to the latest, count which is the most common word in all instances and make the most accurate Greek or Hebrew text by that approach because of the problem I just laid out.

      What is even more disturbing is that the KJV reflects phrases that haven’t ever been found in any Greek manuscript.

      2 – Just because the passage doesn’t make sense to you today, 2000 years later doesn’t mean it made no sense to them. The text doesn’t read choppy without it.

      3 – This is certainly tradition but not necessarily scripture

      4 – 4th and 6th century manuscripts are certainly old and certainly much older than what the KJV translators had at their disposal (around 20 or so Greek NT texts from 1100 or so and only a single text of the LXX to work from). We now have over 5k texts to help us make these decisions. Even texts from the 4th and 6th centuries are going to vary to some degree. It is entirely possible that the tradition of the church fathers made scribes feel the need to insert the verse to help explain to later readers what is going on in the story.

      Let me give you a few things to look up on the KJV. I am pulling these examples from Jack Lewis’ book from the KJV to the NIV, p.42ff. Rather than explain a bunch of things you seem like the type who likes to look these things up for yourself and come to your own conclusions, always a good thing 🙂

      2 Kings 7:13 – errors in repeating of words
      Verses that lack mss support (Mtt 17:21, 18:11, 23:14, Mark 7:16, 9:44/46, 11:26, 15:28, Luke 17:36, 23:17, John 5:4, Acts 8:37, 15:34, 24:7, 28:29 and Romans 16;24
      Other additions (not involving a whole verse) – Matt 6:4, 6 & 18 – added “openly”
      “without cause” added Matt 5:22
      Rev 5:14 – added “him that liveth forever and ever” = Zero known Greek support. I am curious of your take on that one.
      “I trow not” – Luke 17:9
      “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever” added in Matt 6:13
      “and he trembling and astonished said, “lord what wilt though have me to do> and the Lord said unto him…” (Acts 9:6) – Zero known Greek support. Again, curious how you would work that out. Apparently Erasmus included that phrase into the TR based on his own translation from the Vulgate in 15:16 (Lewis, 43)
      Heb 11:13 added “and were persuaded of them”
      1 John 4:19 has an addition that completely changes the meaning of the verse when they added/supplied “him”
      1 John 5:7 is a biggie that was in the TR due to Erasmus including a phrase there known as the Comma Johanneum in order to support trinitarianism. See here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma_Johanneum and that is in the 1611 KJV even though it is a minority reading. It was done not because the texts supported it but because it supported their view of the trinity.
      Rev 22:19 – no known Greek mss have “book of life”

      Scribal additions and postscripts in the 1611 KJV: “amen” at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, postscript at the end of 1 Cor. Scribal additions – Acts 9:5, Rom 7:6, 89:1, 2 Cor 1:6, Rev 1:8 & 11, 2:3 & 20, 5:10, 15:3, 16:5, 17:16, 18:2 and more
      Then there are the omissions…phrases that later were found in earlier manuscripts that actually did make more sense of the passage – Mtt 24:36 – “nor the son”, Acts 4:25 – “by the Holy Spirit”, Acts 16:7 – “the spirit of Jesus”, Rom 8:28 – had lost “God” as the subject, 1 Peter 2:2 “unto salvation” was dropped where it was later to be discovered in earlier mss. On and on we could go – Gen 4:8, 44:4-5, Judges 16:13, 1 Sam 10:1, 14:41, John 19:3, 1 Thess 4:1, 1 John 3:1, etc

      Then there are translation and paraphrase issues like “God save the king” in 1 Sam 10:24 and “Give up the ghost” (Gen 25:8) for a verb that simply means “to expire”. Amos 4:4 reads “tithes after three years” where the text literally reads just “three days”. Psalm 8:5 translates “elohim” and angels but that isn’t correct. Probably an attempt to sound monotheistic.

      Lewis gives several pages to Greek words that were not properly understood when the KJV was translated that we now have more light on today, which enables us to have a more accurate translation.

      Here is the point – humans are involved in this process. It isn’t a perfect process. There are going to be mistakes. YOu are going to take issue with every single translation in some way, shape or form but you have to live with that. God’s word is still in there and we can still learn what God wants today even though the delivery system is imperfect in the sense that translations will always be lacking.

      • Matt, this is something that we need to talk over directly. For example, your “zero manuscript support” charges … I’ve already dealt with three of those, and they had manuscript support.

        I’ve spot checked a few more, and they passed as well (no italics). The 1 John 5:7 story you just repeated…. that was propagated by Metzger, it was false, and he even retracted that in his 3rd edition. I cannot even make sense of some of the charges… like “2 Kings 17:3, error repeating words?” What is that supposed to mean? The only words that occur more than once are “him” and “and” (what is supposedly repeated?) How are you coming up with these?

        So, no, tossing 100-200 claims at me and then saying I should “do my own research” is not very convincing. If you’re going to say (and believe) something, you should be ready to reexamine it with someone else when challenged. So far it seems to me that I’m the one that’s researched this more (but I’m not saying that I’m unwilling to reexamine.)

        If I were to make a ton of claims, and you were to pick 5-6 at random and find that they had zero merit, how much credit would you be willing to grant me for the other 94? You’d want me to slow down and speak in my own words, not simply say “do your own research”, right?

  13. mattdabbs says:

    Andrew,

    Scan the above posts. You have made a ton of claims. More than me or anyone else for that matter. I will get to this when I have some more time and back up some of this. If it proves out that I am wrong then I will say I was wrong.

  14. mattdabbs says:

    Can you show me where Metzger recanted on 1 John 5:7? I am looking all over but can’t find it. All I can find is that the words first appear in Medieval Greek texts.

    • To establish context, first from Wikipedia, under “Comma_Johanneum”

      One popular theory today is more general, and is expressed by Bruce Metzger. The Comma may have arisen as a gloss as early as the 4th century, and was worked into the epistle’s text in the Latin Vulgate in around the year 800.[8]

      But from Metzger in his 3rd edition,

      “What is said on p. 101 above about Erasmus’ promise to include the Comma Johanneum if one Greek manuscript were found that contained it, and his subsequent suspicion that MS 61 was written expressly to force him to do so, needs to be corrected in the light of the research of H. J. DeJonge, a specialist in Erasmian studies who finds no explicit evidence that supports this frequently made assertion.” Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of The New Testament, 3rd Edition, p 291 fn 2.

      In general, pretty much all that you said about 1 John 5:7 seems to fall in line with what I’ve seen out of a short paper from Dallas Theological Seminary… but it’s inaccurate (wrong.) If we have to pick a test case, let’s pick 1 John 5:7, and if the evidence shows that someone has been telling a wrong story or suppressing evidence, I think that should bear some consideration.

      By the way, when researching the earlier manuscripts and quotations from the Fathers, although Tertullian does not provide an exact quote, he does dispute Praxaes reading of the verse (demonstrating that it is not merely a Trinitarian gloss) and Priscillian quotes the passage and attributes it to being written by John.

      If you’d like to do some quick research on your own (the type that would only take a couple minutes) it would be good to check on the Matthew Henry and John Gill commentaries, and we could proceed from there. E-sword has the commentaries for free download (but if you’re using a Mac that may not be compatible with E-sword.)

      • mattdabbs says:

        Thanks for looking that up. I just had a look in the book and was really surprised that they left that in a footnote on page 291 and left the story intact on p. 101 with no footnote there. It is probably because it was revised and expanded and since they didn’t know to correct it in earlier editions they only footnoted it in one instance of 1 John 5:7 and missed footnoting that in the actual story or even correcting the story itself and making the story a footnote instead. I have read that book in the past but never noticed that correction in the notes. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

      • You’re very welcome. Thanks for the objective response.

        The problem with something like that (the unsubstantiated story) is that once it gets spread, it’s oft repeated and almost impossible to reign back in, so the majority of the damage is still done in spite of a footnoted retraction, which apparently can be overlooked even by people that read the whole book. Thanks for the verification.

        So, if you’re up to looking at this 1 John 5:7 question some more with me, this could get very interesting. Shall we approach it step by step, so we can examine perhaps why Erasmus, Tyndale, and England’s best translators accepted the passage as genuine in spite of its minority status within the Greek manuscripts?

      • mattdabbs says:

        If you want to talk more about 1 John 5:7 that is fine. To me, if the story has no validity then that is fine. What I still haven’t heard is that there actually are other mss that contain that phrase. It is one thing for the origin of the phrase to be made up and another thing for the verses to rightfully be there. I am still not seeing those words in early texts of 1 John 5:7. Any ideas on that? As for me, I would rather move on to other verses that have merit than spend more time discussing one that has already been shown to be without merit.

        Rev 5:14 is in the 1551 TR of Erasmus so one would think it had some sort of textual support but I can’t find any. When I try to find anything on it all I can find are lists of mss that don’t containt “him that liveth forever and ever” and I can’t find any that do. It is in the TR and thus in the 1611 KJV but why was it in the TR if it had no textual support (if that is in fact the case)? Here is a helpful link – http://openscriptures.org/prototypes/manuscript-comparator/?passage=Revelation+5:14&view=parallel&ins%5B%5D=1&ins%5B%5D=2&ins%5B%5D=3&ins%5B%5D=4&del%5B%5D=5&del%5B%5D=6&del%5B%5D=7&strongs=1

      • What I still haven’t heard is that there actually are other mss that contain that phrase.

        The majority of Greek manuscripts omit the phrase, and as a result the grammatical construction of the passage is fatally flawed. Gregory of Nazanius even commented on the obvious error in the abbreviated text (and I think it should be evident that he understood the Greek.)

        The full passage has suffered damage in the Greek manuscripts, but it has survived in a few, and this reading is the only alternative reading that satisfies the “wholeness” of the passage, both grammatically and for internal meaning.

        However, in spite of damage in the Greek manuscripts, the passage is extremely well preserved in the Latin manuscripts, and Jerome is on the record as complaining that lazy scribes had a tendency to omit this very passage (1 John 5:7) while they were transcribing the Greek to Latin. So apparently, the Greek manuscripts of Jerome also had the passage.

        There’s something else to consider here: besides the problem of lazy scribes (who might be tired and skip over an area because it seems like a repetition) … would anyone have had motive to want the passage to be removed? Besides the obvious motivations, I could also point out a reason that might not be so obvious as well. That particular verse still remains extremely offensive to some people now, and you can bet it was disliked for similar reasons back then.

        So to answer your question, yes, the passage does have manuscript support, so this is not a question of a fabricated reading. Rather, it’s something that must needs be judged objectively on other evidence, both internal and external.

        1) Which passage makes sense with or without the passage?
        2) Which passage appears to be whole in the grammatical sense?
        3) What is the record of the other translations (such as the Latin?)
        4) Did the early fathers quote it as scripture?

        This is not only about whether this particular passage has merit, but also a question of the integrity of the methods chosen by the whole Critical Text plan. Considering that this is one of the very few places that the TR departs from the majority readings, and that this passage is so oft attacked (and judged sans evidence) I think this is an important test case.

        Has anyone ever mentioned the grammar problem (from removing 1 John 5:7) before? Imagine that you encountered a phrase like this:

        We welcome the brethren, Anita, Maria, and Sophita…
        vs.
        We welcome the brethren, Jose, Charlie, Gomez, Anita, Maria, and Sophita.

        If this was a Spanish phrase, one would refer to a large group that included at least one male in the masculine sense. The former phrase (above) would be so grammatically flawed to be insulting, but the second phrase would be correct.

        The Greek presents a similar problem. The Critical Text omits 1 John 5:7 and refers to neuters in the masculine, but the Received Text includes the passage and thus suffers no grammatical difficulty. Here’s the aforementioned Gregory commenting on a text that lacked verse 7…

        What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness, the Spirit and the Water and the Blood? Do you think he is talking nonsense? First, because he has ventured to reckon under one numeral things which are not consubstantial, though you say this ought to be done only in the case of things which are consubstantial. For who would assert that these are consubstantial? Secondly, because he had not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of Deity?

        It seems to me that any Greek translator worth his salt ought to recognize the discrepancy and ask, “where’s the rest of the passage?” But we have the rest of the passage, even it it hasn’t always been popular.

      • mattdabbs says:

        It may have latin mad support but I am unaware of any greek mad with the phrase in rev 5.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Autocorrect mad should have been mad

      • It’s a good thing our scribes didn’t have auto correct features back then! 🙂

        Seriously though, I don’t know anything specific about Revelation 5 right now and don’t have the time to research at the moment. However, I have put many other sections through various tests, and after so many instances of successes (the accusations were faulty or even false) by default my faith tends to rest with what’s already proven. But if it’s important to you (and it seems that it may be I will try to look into the question later? Fair enough?

      • mattdabbs says:

        Jack Lewis says there is no greek text to support that phrase in rev 5:14. I am wondering if it came from the vulgate. There would be a big difference in saying the vulgate supports it and saying there are Greek manuscripts that support it.

      • Rev 5:14 is in the 1551 TR of Erasmus so one would think it had some sort of textual support but I can’t find any. When I try to find anything on it all I can find are lists of mss that don’t containt “him that liveth forever and ever” and I can’t find any that do. It is in the TR and thus in the 1611 KJV but why was it in the TR if it had no textual support (if that is in fact the case)?

        I’d be glad to go through this later the best that I can, but it’s very hard (extremely difficult) to find manuscript evidence on the internet. It’s not put out there where it’s easy to see, if it’s even put out there at all.

        But yes, if Erasmus included it in the TR then would have had manuscript support. Consider that even though he knew that 1 John 5:7 belonged in the text (from the grammar, the internal meaning, the quotes of the fathers, and the Latin translations) yet he refused to include it until he actually had a Greek text containing the passage. So it would be very unlikely that he would break that rule for a different passage.

      • mattdabbs says:

        I have the DeJonge article if you want to read it.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Good footwork. If you post the link I’ll try to read it later (and probably file it on my hard drive.)

  15. mattdabbs says:

    By the way, I do see the Romans 5 passage was in a few earlier manuscripts so I retract that one. Will get to more as I am able.

  16. mattdabbs says:

    A similar list of textual variants and discrepancies between the MT and TR – http://www.dtl.org/alt/main/variants.htm

    • There will be differences between the Majority Text and the Received Text, because the Received Text does have some minority readings. However, the Critical Text favors minority readings far more than the TR.

      So the question is not whether something is a majority or a minority reading, but whether the minority reading is justified. Both texts admit that a minority reading can be the correct one.

  17. Refreshing the thread,

    Jack Lewis says there is no greek text to support that phrase in rev 5:14. I am wondering if it came from the vulgate. There would be a big difference in saying the vulgate supports it and saying there are Greek manuscripts that support it.

    These are the reasons I am skeptical about Jack Lewis on this issue:

    1) Erasmus refused to include 1 John 5:7 from Vulgate support. He insisted upon Greek source text.

    2) The King James text marks words that were added without manuscript support (there can be legitimate reasons for this) … but “…him that liveth for ever and ever” is in normal font.

    3) If such was the case, I really would expect someone else to have raised the question sooner.

    4) I have also seen other people make false claims like “1 John 5:7 occurs in no Greek text” (which I do know how to disprove) so I know accusations like that are oft made too easily.

    5) Adam Clarke (the bible commentator) declares that the phrase is spurious, and says that it is “wanting” in many versions, but he does not say that it occurs in no Greek manuscript.

    6) John Gill (the bible commentator) counts the passage as genuine, but acknowledges that it is missing in certain manuscripts,

    … for the Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, and the Syriac and Arabic versions, omit the words “him that liveth for ever and ever”; and leave it to be understood of either of them, or both; and the Ethiopic version reads, “and the elders worshipped him”

    7) Jamison, Faucett, and Brown say that the phrase is entirely made up by translators, being “omitted by all manuscripts?”

    8) I finally found a site which seems to address the question…

    http://wilderness-cry.net/bible_study/courses/mssevidence/lesson10.html

    However, we shall consider several passages which opponents of the Traditional Text have denied as to their authenticity. Later, in our next lesson, we will consider what some have deemed mistranslations. But for now, we will limit ourselves to the textual considerations of the following passages. Matthew 6:13; Mark 1:2; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 2:22; John 5:4; John 7:53-8:11; Acts 8:37; Romans 8:1; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 3:14; 1 John 5:7; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 16:5; and Revelation 22:19.

    Let’s see what it has…

    Dr. Jack Lewis states, “The phrase, “Him that liveth for ever and ever” has no known Greek manuscript support. (Jack P. Lewis, The English Bible From KJB to NIV [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982], 43.) However, James R. White notes, “This addition is found in only three suspect Greek manuscripts, . . .” (White, The King James Only Controversy, 66.) Although White does not speak favorably of these Greek manuscripts, he is correct in citing them as supportive of the passage.

    That sounds like the evidence we need. So it would seem that Jack P. Lewis and the JFB commentary (and a couple other people I saw repeating that on the web) are … wrong.

    Since we went through all that work to get here, let’s see what the rest of the lesson says after noting the conflict between Jack Lewis and James White?

    Further, it should also be noted that the Revelation does not have as many Greek witnesses as other New Testament books do. For example, among the uncial manuscripts there are only three which contain the entire text and three others which contain the majority of the Revelation. Other uncial manuscripts contain only a chapter or two, and these are not complete chapters. Among the papyri, only five contain some part of Revelation. Most of these are fragmentary. But in the economy of textual thought among modern versions, it is a nil point. To the modern critic, it would not matter if all the Greek manuscripts had the phrase as long the Sinaiticus did not contain it, or if it was missing from one of the African papyri. These manuscripts take precedence over the promise of Biblical preservation according to the views of modern scholarship.

    As shown by Dr. H. C. Hoskier, the reading is supported by 57, 137 and 141. (H. C. Hoskier, Concerning The Text Of The Apocalypse [London: Quaritch, 1929] vol. 1, 474-477 and vol. 2, 454 and 634.) In addition to the Latin text, the longer ending is cited by Primasius, Bishop of Hadrumetum (552 AD ) in his commentary on the Revelation. (Henry Alford, Alford’s Greek Testament [Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1874], vol. 4, 611.) This work is important because it draws from the lost work of Tyconius (as does the work of Beatus, see comments on Rev. 16:5), and that the text used is that of the Old Latin which pre-dates Jerome’s Vulgate. (Berthold Altaner, Patrology [New York: Herder and Herder, 1960] trans. by Hilda Graef. 590.)

    So, summing up what I understand on this question,

    1) Revelation is one of our books for which we have few good manuscripts to begin with

    2) the reading “him that liveth for ever and ever” is supported by three manuscripts, 57, 137, and 141. By the way, that does not mean that there are 141 manuscripts that even have Revelation 5:14.

    3) Besides being supported by the Latin text, it has additional support from a 6th century bishop who is citing the 2nd century old Latin,

    And that would place the support for that portion of the verse before (older) than any extant manuscript or papyri fragment.

    So it would be nice if those people out (and that commentary) there would stop saying false things like “him that liveth for ever and ever” appears in no Greek manuscript. I know of only one place where the TR text was patched by Beza without Greek mss support (“shalt be” rather than “holy one”) and that’s in Revelation 16:5. I was surprised by that at first, but after looking at it in some detail it made sense.

    But if you really want to find a place that lacks Greek support, that would be the verse, not Revelation 16:5.

    (whew… was that long enough?)

  18. mattdabbs says:

    Andrew,

    I am not seeing how the support you are rallying for this phrase really adds up to anything significant. You cited a bunch of guys who range from saying it was made up by translators to just one guy who says it is legitimate but from questionable mss. Then you point out a quote that says it is in three Greek mss of Revelation (57, 137, 141) but that those three mss are “suspect”. I can find all sorts of poor textual variants that have support of Greek manuscripts from the middle ages…if the criteria for a reading is that it shows up in 3 mss of suspect quality then we don’t have much to stand on when it comes to textual criticism. So the end of 5:14 does have support, just not any reasonable kind of reasonable support from actual Greek manuscripts.

    What is more, according to this link the only Gk mss that has the line is mss 2045 (not the three mentioned)- http://bibletranslation.ws/trans/revwgrk.pdf Mss What is the story on 2045? It is a manuscript that contains portions of Revelation and is from the 13th century – http://carm.org/minuscules-1012-through-2768-9th-16th-century-copies. That isn’t good that it doesn’t show up in a Greek manuscript until the 13th century.

    As for mss 57, 137, and 141 – I have looked all through the manuscript lists and can’t find any of these three represented as containing any portion of Revelation. See here under “Greek biblical manuscripts” – http://carm.org/bible So now I am wondering how good of a citation it is that those three even exist as mss of Revelation at all. So back to Jack Lewis’ statement…does that line have any Greek mss support? Looks like 1 mss from the 13th century. So I guess he was wrong but that doesn’t make your point that this phrase has any significant Gk mss support whatsoever.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      Matt, I think you might be missing the obvious.

      1) This was an example (and one that you picked) that demonstrates how accusations are made carelessly or irresponsibly without a seeming need to be truthful. If Jack Lewis had done any research, he would have known that his statement was faulty, so I am left to conclude that Jack Lewis lied. For whatever his reasons, it would seem that he thinks that “the ends justifies the means” when opposing the Received Text.

      2) Jack Lewis (and quite a few others) employ this type of tactic frequently. False accusations are fired left and right without regard for accuracy. Attempting to clean up behind these rumors are time consuming, and once they have their first impression most people really don’t care anyway. Simply put, these charges are seldom honest, and evidence is routinely ignored or buried in favor of an anti-TR agenda.

      3) Considering that James White is a hostile witness against the Received Text, and he acknowledges three specific Greek manuscripts by name, why are you discounting these manuscripts in favor of a single different manuscript name? White has no reason to invent imaginary manuscripts.

      4) Any biblical translator recognizes that the authenticity of a reading is not always determined by a majority status… there are other legitimate factors. Furthermore, it would be particularly ironic for a proponent of the Critical Text (NIV, NASB, etc) to dispute a passage merely on the basis of it being a minority reading. The Critical Text relishes minority readings.

      5) In this specific case of Revelation 5:14, it is a minority reading with Greek support, and when considering additional factors, the rest of its support goes back to the 6th century and even traces back to a recognized work from the 2nd century, giving it far greater antiquity than the majority reading.

      6) It would be an unrealistic expectation to be able to insist to see the previously named individual manuscripts, or to have access to the rest of the body of manuscripts that have yet to be examined. If this is your standard, then you will be unable to accept anything, of any book from any bible.

      7) If David Robert Palmer is saying that the passage only has Greek support in a single Greek manuscript, you should report this to him as an error as he requests on his title page:


      Any errors please report to me at
      kanakawatut at yahoo com

      8) Again, please remember that this was never about whether the phrase was a majority reading, but rather as to whether it was the authentic and accurate reading, as supported when considering the whole body of evidence, rather simply accepting false (disproved) statements at face value.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,

        I know Jack Lewis personally and he is not the type to take these things lightly. So you need to be very, very careful when you call him a liar. He is the most studious person I have ever met. You are saying he did this intentionally. How do you know that? If I get a chance I will ask him what happened there and let him speak for himself. You said yourself, “It would be an unrealistic expectation to be able to insist to see the previously named individual manuscripts, or to have access to the rest of the body of manuscripts that have yet to be examined. If this is your standard, then you will be unable to accept anything, of any book from any bible.”

        Are you willing to extend that same grace to Dr. Lewis? You are the one who brought up three Greek texts. My next question then is “well, what are these texts..when were they copied, etc?” Those are fair questions to ask of the evidence for that phrase, don’t you think. If you are going to bring up manuscript support you have to be open to examine the evidence of the validity of the mss themselves. You are doing that yourself based on your own rejection of the minority reading in this and in other instances.

        Second, we are trying to prove the same thing – what is the most accurate reading here. You are saying that 13th century manuscripts are enough. I am saying they are not if 99% of earlier evidence does not support the reading. I think that sums this whole thing up pretty well.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        If you know Jack Lewis personally, then it would be good if you could bring him to speak here for himself. When Jack set himself forward as an authority, he he is judged at a different standard than your everyday reader who may not know better than to believe the first thing they read.

        But even a casual reader of a commentary can tell that the verse is not without Greek support. If you are talking about making accusations without hearing someone first, then are you also applying this to Jack Lewis? It doesn’t seem that you are being consistent. Why is Jack held guiltless for making a blanket accusation of “has no Greek manuscript support” without any further explanation?

        You are saying that 13th century manuscripts are enough.

        I cannot recall saying anything as to that claim one way or another. I have no reason to accept your claim of “one single manuscript support from the 13th century.” So, no, that is not something that I said.

        If this whole thing must be summed up pretty well, I think it is this: when a witness steps forwards with accusations that are proven false, and even that they were made in spite of obvious evidence, the further claims of that witness bear less credibility, and should not be accepted at a higher value than the witness that has been consistently proven.

        Was this not my earlier prediction? That such claims would most likely be among those that were made with improper research or in spite of obvious facts to the contrary? I didn’t pick the test case here… someone else did. This was not a rigged contest.

        So, please, regardless of any personal bias that we might inherit for one reason or another, I ask that we make sure to take extra care to remain objective.

  19. mattdabbs says:

    Objective? I am not the one calling people liars. I am also more than willing to say where I am wrong or have missed it. You still contend Jack Lewis intentionally lied about Rev 5:14? Did he also lie when he said no known Greek mss are known to exist that have “book of life” (Tr & 1611 KJV) instead of “tree of life” in Rev 22:19? He lists several more instances like these. Would you be objective to admit any instances where he got it right?

    What is more, you quote a guy who says there are 3 mss that support TR and the KJV, I go find the manuscript list and none of those show up as even having any Revelation content in them and you don’t bat an eye. How is that? How about your source? Is he beyond reproach or do you believe the passage has Greek manuscript support because a guy on a website says so? Objectivity would be good.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      If Jack Lewis did not intentionally lie about the manuscript support for Revelation 5:14, then it seems to me that he must have purposely spoken while intentionally avoiding even casual research. If you really do know him personally, then please bring him here so he can speak for himself. The manuscript support is not new information, nor particularly hidden among scholarly circles, so I would like to hear his explanation.

      Is it not written, “Be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation?”

      Jas 3:1-2
      (1) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
      (2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

      Because, in the meantime, it seems that a lot of people are trusting Jack Lewis at his word as if he were an authority on the subject, because that rumor has been spread about the internet. Even if Jack Lewis was willing to admit his mistake, how would he go about undoing the damage? As we have seen, even if you put a footnote in your book, people will still overlook it and the false story continues to spread.

      When someone places themselves in the position of teacher, they can do greater damage, and they must need be held to a higher standard. That’s not simply my opinion, that’s also scriptural.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Those charts that you mentioned also failed to recognize the manuscripts acknowledged by James White in support of Revelation 5:14, did they not? James White is a well recognized author. Maybe there’s something wrong with those charts instead.

        This may seem to be off topic, but I would like to make a request, and I think (with reflection) it will illustrate a point I am trying to get across here.. Go download a copy of “Zeitgeist” and watch their section concerning the Christian religion. You will see one side of a story. Then, afterwards, download a copy of “Zeittgeist Refuted” as a comparison.

        This would require about 3-4 hours of your time, but I think it would be well worth it for many reasons, besides the specific reason I have for this request. The reason I thought of this was to demonstrate how effective misinformation can be unless and until it is actually addressed, but it might be useful to you in other ways as well. That is, the “Zeitgeist” message is being pushed onto the youth, and we should not be ignorant of our enemy’s devices.

        If you need links to find those I can provide them.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      Since you asked… yes, it would seem that Jack Lewis was being just as untruthful concerning his statements about Revelation 22:19.

      From the same source that gave the specific manuscripts supporting Revelation 5:14,

      Rev. 22:19:

      And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

      The objection here is cited by Dr. Jack Lewis, “No known Greek manuscript reads “book of life” in Revelation 22:19; the manuscripts have “tree of life”.”(Lewis, 43.). Lewis is correct in asserting that the majority of Greek manuscripts read “tree of life” instead of “book of life.” However, he is incorrect in stating that there are no known Greek manuscripts which read “book of life.” It is found in the Greek manuscripts noted by H. C. Hoskier as 57 and 141. Nor is Lewis correct in assuming that there is no other textual evidence for the reading.

      The Latin reads, “et si quis diminuerit de uerbis libri prophetiae huius auferet deus partem eius de ligno uitae et de ciuitate sancta et de his quae scripta sunt in libro isto.” The word “libri” means “book” and is where we derive our English word “library.” This is true of not only the Vulgate, but also of Codex Fuldensis (sixth century); Codex Karolinus (ninth century); Codex Oxoniensis (tweth to thirteenth century); Codex Ulmensis (ninth century); Codex Uallicellanus (ninth century); Codex Sarisburiensis (thirteenth century); and the corrector of Codex Parisinus (ninth century). It is also the reading of the Old Bohairic Coptic Version. Further, it is supported by Saint Ambrose (340-397 AD), by Bachiarius (late fourth century), and by Primasius in his commentary on Revelation (552 AD).

      If Jack Lewis ever says something that is correct, then I will acknowledge it. Until then, at best his arguments on this subject seem to amount to little more than misinformed bias. At worst, considering that he is making absolute statements that he expects others to accept at face value, they could constitute willful deception.

      But once the rumor is spread, the prejudice is formed, and the damage is done, and few people seem to care about whether the information they judged upon was accurate to begin with.

      • mattdabbs says:

        You cited that website before about manuscripts 57 and 141 and according to the charts at the link I provided there is no such mss that has Revelation in it unless I am missing it.

  20. mattdabbs says:

    In D. A. Carson’s book “The King James Version Debate” he says some things that support Dr. Lewis. He says that Erasmus’ first Greek edition was done “precipitately” resulting in hundreds of printing errors. He used a handful of texts (none of which had an entire New Testament) and none of which were earlier than the 12th century (p.34). For Revelation he had only 1 Greek manuscript and it was missing the final page (6 verses that he backwards translated into Greek from Latin). “Several words and phrases may be found there that are attested in no Greek manuscript whatsoever.” (p.34). Carson says that at other times Erasmus introduced things based solely on the Vulgate (Acts 9:6 – “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” (KJV) are not found in any Greek manuscript (p.34).

    Carson recounts the story of 1 John 5:7-8 and how it does in fact have manuscript support (miniscule 61 – fabricated?), miniscule 88 (12th century with the extra phrase scribbled in the margins in the 17th century), a 16th century copy of the Complutensian Polyglot and one other mss dated somewhere between 14-17th century. Carson believes that the phrase originated with Priscillian in the 4th century and later “became an established gloss in the Old Latin Bible in the fifth century.” and says it “appears in no copy of the Latin Vulgate before about A.D. 800. So there you go…yes there are manuscripts to “support” the phrase but not ones superior to other manuscript witnesses that are earlier and more numerous that leave the phrase out.

    He notes that Erasmus revised his Greek edition later using more manuscripts (now up to about 6) and older ones (now dating back only to the 10th century. He says, “The TR is not the ‘received text’ in the sense that it has been received from God as over against other Greek manuscripts. Rather, ti is the ‘received text’ in the sense that it was the standard one at the time of the Elzevirs. Nevertheless the textual basis of the TR is a small number of haphazardly collected and relatively late minuscule manuscripts. In about a dozen places its reading is attested to by no known Greek manuscript witness.” (p.36)

    Last he notes that the TR is based on less than 1% of manuscript witnesses that we have at our disposal.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      I think you are getting ahead of yourself. I cannot compete with spam, and I think I have already demonstrated that these types of accusations are seldom backed by actual evidence, with test cases that you chose yourself (Revelation 5:14 and Revelation 22:19). If you want to look at something, let’s resolve one before going on to the next.

      For example, I have already offered to talk about the oft-despised 1 John 5:7. It seemed like you were avoiding that, but now it has cropped back up in the middle of a bunch of other stuff. So let’s resolve this fully before anything else.

      Carson believes that the phrase originated with Priscillian in the 4th century and later “became an established gloss in the Old Latin Bible in the fifth century.” and says it “appears in no copy of the Latin Vulgate before about A.D. 800. So there you go…yes there are manuscripts to “support” the phrase but not ones superior to other manuscript witnesses that are earlier and more numerous that leave the phrase out.

      Carson is plainly misinformed. How could 1 John 5:7 have appeared in no copy of the Latin Vulgate before AD 800, when Jerome specifically complained that some of his scribes had sometimes been omitting this very passage while they were creating copies of this Latin Vulgate? His claim is illogical on its face.

      By the way… I asked a question a while back that I was hoping you would answer. Is this the first time that you noticed (or had someone point out) that the Critical Text (majority) reading of 1 John is plainly deficient in the Greek grammar? Did Carson mention this at all? Can you recall any of these “against the King James” authors even bringing this up once, or attempting to offer a plausible explanation?

      I’m sensing a lot of bias, or even hostility, but not so much objectivity. What is really so at stake that people are willing to conceal information and hide relevant issues on subjects like this? If someone has a legitimate concern, their argument shouldn’t be started with false information.

      When considering these types of questions, one needs to retain a healthy dose of skepticism in both directions… to remain fair and objective. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you cannot necessarily trust someone to be fair even if they’ve published a book, or had respect for them for some other reason.

      • mattdabbs says:

        I didn’t ignore you on 1 John. I said above, “If you want to talk more about 1 John 5:7 that is fine. To me, if the story has no validity then that is fine.” The grammatical argument doesn’t hold any weight. In fact, it can speak against your point because often textual variants arise for the very reason of trying to smooth out things like that.

        All I am after here is the truth. What makes me feel agitated is not an opposing point of view. I welcome that and love dialoging on those types of things all the time. What gets to me is when you run the names of other people, respected people through the mud. Dr. Lewis is THE most studious person I have ever met. He has a PhD in NT from Harvard and one in OT from Hebrew Union. He served on the NIV translation committee as well and has published many books and taught theology, Hebrew, Greek, etc for decades. He knows this type of thing better than most. He is very respected and has no need to just make things up or lie about it. That is not in his best interest. So I am curious what his take on this is. That doesn’t mean he can’t make a mistake I just approach with caution before I start making accusations against a man like that because he is someone I hold in high regard. D.A. Carson as well. But he is wrong too.

        I will give you a fuller response on your questions regarding 1 John 5 tomorrow.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        I’m not asking for an adversarial response about 1 John 5:7, but would prefer a discussion and open analysis. This is not a battle (or at least, it shouldn’t be.)

        I have difficulty with the “grammatical argument holds no weight” argument, because we generally credit our scriptures with being inspired by the Holy Spirit, by God himself. The rest of our bible is written with correct grammar, and grammar is a fundamental part of the language that serves as like a computer data checksum, ensuring that we didn’t misunderstand or accidentally miss a piece. One ignores faulty checksums at their own peril.

        I think it might also help if we consider the actual content of the passage in both of its proposed forms. That is, the passage doesn’t make sense without the full text, and the latter verses would be making reference to things that were non-existent. Why would verse 9 be comparing the witness of men and the witness of God, if it never mentioned the witness of God to begin with?

        So, both context and grammar point to an omission within the majority text.It becomes more difficult to argue in favor of the verse being originally written, by the Holy Spirit, in a sense that is nonsense both contextually and grammatically. How plausible is that that God had one massive hiccup in the middle of John’s epistle?

        If it matters to you, at one time I believed that the passage was spurious, “added by Catholic monks in the middle ages to insert support for the Trinity.” Please understand that I am not making an argument for reasons of tradition or doctrine.

  21. mattdabbs says:

    By the way, here are two other resources you might find helpful in your studies:
    http://www.csntm.org/manuscript
    http://www.tlg.uci.edu/

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      At the manuscript site (the first link) did you notice that most of the images are only samples… by agreement they are only posting part of them? Also, the ones at the top of the chart are not yet cataloged. I mention this because I think it might help explain what I said earlier, that we will still be opening and reading manuscripts until Kingdom Come.

      I’d like to mention one thing based upon an earlier comment you made above:

      Last he notes that the TR is based on less than 1% of manuscript witnesses that we have at our disposal.

      That’s actually a very deceptive statement (not your fault) which I will explain here. Imagine that I had a huge workshop, with a bench that held many different wrenches. I need to work on my car which is parked 300 feet away, so I get a bucket, and reach inside and take out less than 1% of the wrenches. Is this realistic?

      Yes, it is… .because with that “less than 1%” I have taken samples of all the relevant families of wrenches: one of each size from both standard and metric. I can have a proper representation of the pieces even if I only select a small sample set for my bucket.

      That’s why the “less than 1%” claim is deceptive, and if it was being stated fairly, they would also mention that there was a similar very tiny percent of all manuscripts for every extant translation upon this earth. You really don’t need 500 wrenches to go work on your car, do you? When you have lots of duplicates, you take one of each.

      Did you know that Noah only took less than 1% of all animals onto the ark? That would be a misleading statement, but it’s true, isn’t it?

      • mattdabbs says:

        So you are saying that Erasmus’ 10th and 12th century manuscripts were representative of all reliable manuscript family types? If so, how what do you base that assertion on unless you have actually examined the mss he used and understand how representative they are? Remember, Erasmus didn’t even have one whole mss of the NT at his disposal. He had all the bits and pieces to put it together and did as good of a job as can be done with that. Does that mean everything in there was representative of all the families of texts? Do you really know the half a dozen mss he used well enough to make a claim like that? Or is that the type of thing that is said on a blog like this and then many people just repeat that misinformation over and over again? That is how misinformation gets spread. Feel free to back up that assertion. The problem is, you can’t without tracking down the mss he used, reading them in Greek and doing a comparative study with various families of texts. Are you still going to hold to that analogy?

        Now, in principle I agree wholeheartedly (as does Jack Lewis by the way) with this principle – ” You really don’t need 500 wrenches to go work on your car, do you?” Of course not…that is really what all boils down to. We have many excellent translations available to us today that all convey the truth God wants us to understand. We can disagree about all sorts of things but at the end of the day it is remarkable how well God’s word has been preserved. In fact, the more texts we find the more accurate we find his word to be and the majority of these variants, even ones we have discussed, mean very little if they are present or absent. No major doctrine hangs on any of these variants. So that is refreshing!

        Last, I want to say…thank you for your zeal and thank you for the time you put into looking at these things. That is refreshing as well. We won’t agree on everypoint but I sure respect the time you put into it all. We all have to back up what we are saying whether it comes from Jack Lewis or a google search result. Some things we won’t ever be able to back up personally. For instance, am I going to be able to gain access to and read every single Greek mss of a particular verse to find all the variants and whether or not they exist? Certainly not. So we also have to have grace toward one another in these things and do the best we can do with what we have.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Remember, Erasmus didn’t even have one whole mss of the NT at his disposal. He had all the bits and pieces to put it together and did as good of a job as can be done with that. Does that mean everything in there was representative of all the families of texts?

        You might be overlooking that Erasmus did quite a bit of traveling, visiting various libraries, so he would be able to recognize what “wrenches” he needed to comprise a representative sample. He was certainly aware of the Vatican-style readings, but he chose against them.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Erasmus didn’t have a complete manuscript of the NT at his disposal but he traveled a lot so no problem and probably saw some other manuscripts somewhere along the way other than the ones he actually sat down and used. How does that make sense? I am not sure what to even make of that rationale.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        And I’m not sure what to make of a rationale that continues to accept claims at face value from the same folk that have already been proven to be leveling irresponsible charges. The “no whole New Testament” thing sounds fishy to me, but I don’t have time to keep up with all the spam.

        You do keep avoiding basic questions though.. like, did you even attempt to read Matthew Henry and John Gil? You could learn some interesting items there, and it would demonstrate an attempt to be objective, other than simply parroting those that favor a predetermined side.

        For example… remember how you were saying that there were only eight extant copies that contained the passage of 1 John 5:7? If you had read John Gill…

        And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens’s, nine of them had it:

        Apparently, even as far back as a few hundred years ago, they were a lot more extant Greek manuscripts available with the passage than there are now. Robert Stephens had sixteen ancient copies, and nine of these had it. Just considering Stephens, nine is a majority out of his sixteen, and nine exceeds the former eight that detractors recognize today.

        The math is fairly simple… there may not be many today, but there used to be far more. Did Daniel Wallace mention this in his popular tract? No, he didn’t.

        So please, if you want to put forth questions, please treat others as you want to be treated, and have the courtesy to answer the ones that are already asked of you. If you want someone to read this essay and that tract, please be willing to read a couple relevant commentary entries yourself, when it is suggested. That would only be fair, right? And also an extension of that famous golden rule?

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        … and I didn’t mean that as harshly as it sounded when I read it back to myself again. I apologize if that sounded mean.

      • mattdabbs says:

        You really don’t have to apologize. I always try to assume the best of people. Sometimes I don’t do as well at that as I would like but it is what I try to do. I just want to point out that you are right that I haven’t addressed all your questions (there are many) and yes I have read the things you have suggested (and many more). I just haven’t gotten around to putting all the pieces together yet. It takes time. So please don’t assume that just because I haven’t responded that it means I haven’t taken the time to do some homework myself.

  22. mattdabbs says:

    Here is a cite that tells what Greek support there is for 1 John 5:7-8 – http://bible.org/article/textual-problem-1-john-57-8
    The article is by Daniel Wallace who is a very highly regarded NT scholar. He says the longer reading is found in only 8 late manuscripts (which he lists) four of which have it written in the margin. By late we are talking everything is after 1215 AD. That doesn’t make for a very good witness for the long reading. I won’t repeat everything he says because he lays it out really well. This is in no way an original reading from the pen of John. So do Greek manuscripts exist? Yes. Do they carry any weight? No.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      I am familiar with the Daniel Wallace piece. Been there, crushed it to ribbons in writing via a private stamped letter to my friend seven years ago. In my defense, I was not aware that he was a “highly regarded NT scholar” back then, I mistook it for a badly written (and poorly supported) short essay written by an undergraduate student from Dallas Theological Seminary.

      I have some questions that I hope you will answer:

      1) Did you stop to read the John Gill commentary at 1 John 5:7?
      2) Did you stop to read the Matthew Henry commentary at 1 John 5:7?

      (if not…. does it seem like you are attempting to gather the evidence with objectivity?)

      3) Does Daniel Wallace offer any evidence to support his imputed motives against the character of Erasmus?

      4) Are you under the impression that Daniel Wallace is attempting to offer a fair and/or unbiased presentation of the external evidence concerning 1 John 5:7?

      5) When was the first time anyone asked you to explain the grammatical or contextual difficulties that arise if one were to follow the Critical Text that omits 1 John 5:7?

      6) Have these internal problems been addressed by Daniel Wallace in this (or another) paper?

      Let’s briefly take a look at one of these golden statements from Mr. Wallace here…

      … since many a Greek Father would have loved such a reading, for it so succinctly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity.2 The reading seems to have arisen in a fourth century Latin homily in which the text was allegorized to refer to members of the Trinity.

      There’s multiple problems with his theory, the first of which is that historically the passage was often an embarrassment to the Trinity position (when not dealing with Arians.) For example,

      If this was a fourth century Latin homily to refer to members of the Trinity, then why does Tertullian debate the meaning of “these three are one” (rather than disputing the validity of the phrase) with Praxaes as early as 213 AD?

      And if this was merely a fourth century Latin homily to refer to members of the Trinity, then why did Priscillian (who was not Trinitarian) quote the passage and attribute it to the apostle John?

      And if the passage was not recognized as scripture back in those days, then why did the African bishops put this passage forward as their primary defense in 415 AD? Considering that they were to be banished for their statement, wouldn’t it seem strange if they unified behind a phantom verse? Why would they say that “the evangelist John” said “there are three which bear testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one?” Had this “Latin homily” spread that far in such a short time?

      All of this is a little hard on his theory that the verse is a “Trinitiarian gloss” that arose in a fourth century Latin homily. First, it is being argued earlier than the fourth century; second, it’s absence leaves a gap in the Greek text, not the Latin; and third, the passage was actually inconvenient for the Trinitarian position, rather than a comprising a helpful homily.

      Wallace’s conclusion seems to cut both ways…

      … a knee-jerk reaction and ad hominem argumentation becomes the first and only way that they can process this issue. Sadly, neither empirical evidence nor reason can dissuade them from their views.

      Hmm….

      1) His claim that Erasmus compromised his principles to promise his future book sales does not constitute ad hominem argumentation? And that entire last paragraph constitutes ad hominem argumentation…

      2) We aren’t seeing a ton of knee jerk reaction against anything associated with the King James text here?

      3) And let’s not get started on whom is excluding reason and empirical evidence.

      All that matters is that Daniel Wallace has written a short (thus easily read) paper with misleading statements that neatly sidesteps the body of evidence and attempts to label his opponents as simply furthering tradition and emotional baggage. So the knee jerk crowd that thinks of themselves as “anti-traditionalist” and/or “enlightened” loves it without further thought.

      Would you like to guess how many times I’ve seen people regurgitate this specific short essay as if it were gospel? But it seems that it doesn’t matter whether a paper is honest, rational, or reasonable, as long as it sides with a popular view. I have written against this essay before, but maybe it’s time to do so in a more public manner.

      If by any chance Daniel Wallace is one of your good friends, could you please bring him forward so we can discuss his piece out in the open where others can see both questions and answers? Please understand my frustration with this grand game of keep-away.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,
        I just posted a list of text study tools and lists that might be helpful to you. Feel free to comment with anything you have found helpful – https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/greek-and-hebrew-textual-study-tools-big-list/

        I also wanted to say that while I haven’t found copies of the actual manuscripts, I have found 57 and 141 listed and they do contain Revelation but aren’t very old (12th century or so if my memory is right). You can find them listed in one of the wikipedia text lists. I will talk about that more when I get some more of my thoughts together on all of this. Working on it 🙂 Thanks for your patience.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        It is okay with me if we take a break for a few days. I just accepted a job offer today and will be moving again (several hundred kilometers) as soon as I find housing, and this is in the context that I recently crossed national borders a couple months ago. Metaphorically speaking, there’s too many ping-pong balls on the table right now to hit them all.

      • 1) Did you stop to read the John Gill commentary at 1 John 5:7?

        I’m quite familiar with Gill’s claims. I’m equally familiar with the fact that – quite simply – they’re in error. For example, his so-called “ancient” copies of Stephanus do not pre-date the tenth century. Furthemore – since you are the one claiming these phantom MSS for your position – what are their names and where are they now?

      • Replying to Wes,

        1) Did you stop to read the John Gill commentary at 1 John 5:7?

        I’m quite familiar with Gill’s claims. I’m equally familiar with the fact that – quite simply – they’re in error. For example, his so-called “ancient” copies of Stephanus do not pre-date the tenth century. Furthemore – since you are the one claiming these phantom MSS for your position – what are their names and where are they now?

        You seem to have missed the point. John Gill was aware of nine manuscripts in one person’s collection (out of sixteen) alone, and he started naming others as well. This was in comparing another Jack Lewis who claimed with authority that the passage had ZERO Greek manuscript support.

        The first point was that even a basic research of a few commentaries would show that the passage (1 John 5:7) did have manuscript support.

        The second point was that the 1 John 5:7 passage seems to have had better extant support in the Greek back in John Gill’s day than it does today. It is an error in thinking to confuse “extant” with “all that existed in space-time.”

        Whether I know the names of these manuscripts or what happened to them (they could have been destroyed by fire for all I know) is irrelevant, but apparently there were plenty enough examples in John Gill’s realm that he could simply say “many” and start listing instances.

        Now… if you would like to add something productive, please explain why you believe John Gill to be in error as to his reference to Greek manuscript authority per 1 John 5:7.

      • 2) Did you stop to read the Matthew Henrwey commentary at 1 John 5:7?

        Yes. I’m also aware that Henry himself didn’t actually write it as he died when he was in the book of Acts.

        However – I don’t consider throwing out the name of a scholar who says something to be much of an argument at all. After all – if you’re going to throw out the names of scholars and demand interaction as if those scholars spoke infallibily then do you not also have to deal with the vast majority of scholars who REJECT the comma?

      • Replying to Wes,

        2) Did you stop to read the Matthew Henrwey commentary at 1 John 5:7?

        Yes. I’m also aware that Henry himself didn’t actually write it as he died when he was in the book of Acts. However – I don’t consider throwing out the name of a scholar who says something to be much of an argument at all. After all – if you’re going to throw out the names of scholars and demand interaction as if those scholars spoke infallibily then do you not also have to deal with the vast majority of scholars who REJECT the comma

        Whether Matthew Henry wrote the Matthew Henry commentary is irrelevant. The question was not whether the name was recognized, but rather if the section had been read when Matt (the blog author) was gathering information… because it seemed that the data was missing from the picture being painted.

        If you’re thinking that “names of scholars” matter here, you’re missing missed the boat entirely. Quality of information matters, not quantity of people trying to cast their vote.

      • 5) When was the first time anyone asked you to explain the grammatical or contextual difficulties that arise if one were to follow the Critical Text that omits 1 John 5:7?

        There are none. Before I address this, however, please inform me of the amount of Greek you’ve studied firsthand.

        6) Have these internal problems been addressed by Daniel Wallace in this (or another) paper?

        Although not specifically referencing 1 John 5:7, Wallace discussed the issued of gender in his paper “Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit.”

        http://www.ibr-bbr.org/files/bbr/BBR_2003a_05_Wallace_HolySpirit.pdf

        I will now await to see your response before continuing.

      • Replying to Wes,

        5) When was the first time anyone asked you to explain the grammatical or contextual difficulties that arise if one were to follow the Critical Text that omits 1 John 5:7?

        There are none. Before I address this, however, please inform me of the amount of Greek you’ve studied firsthand.

        6) Have these internal problems been addressed by Daniel Wallace in this (or another) paper?

        Although not specifically referencing 1 John 5:7, Wallace discussed the issued of gender in his paper “Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit.” http://www.ibr-bbr.org/files/bbr/BBR_2003a_05_Wallace_HolySpirit.pdf I will now await to see your response before continuing.

        There are no grammatical difficulties? That seems rather strange seeing that the folk that spoke Greek in those days recognized the problem back then. I may not be fluent in Greek, but I did take the time to study the passage until I could identify the difference, and whereas I may not be an expert in Greek myself, it seems that Gregory of Nazanius was.

        I will interpret your answer (6) that you have never seen Daniel Wallace address the grammatical difficulty behind the Critical Text of (the absent) 1 John 5:7. It’s “swept under the rug” so to speak, and none should be the wiser.

        However, before you start lighting off on a tangential direction on some questions that were not aimed at you in the first place, would you mind introducing yourself? If you would start by sharing where you’re starting from (what you accept as givens) I might be able to have some constructive questions for you.

  23. David Brent says:

    Great post. I noticed that the reply string has been going since 2007! Reading through them made me think of something that has been on my mind. I hope it is relevant to this discussion. It is different but related.

    I bought into textual criticism a long time ago. It seemed so reasonable. It seemed like the educated thing to do. It seemed smart. When I pick up a Bible to read, I want it to be based on the best available evidence we have today . . . on the best manuscripts . . . on the most reliable sources . . . on the oldest texts . . . using the best Greek texts for the New Testament scriptures and the best Hebrew texts for the Old Testament scriptures. That way, I will have a Bible that is as close to what God intended for me to have can be. Right? Doesn’t that sound like a good and worthy goal? It has always seemed so.

    Until recently, that is. Now, I’m not so sure. You see . . . I found Orthodoxy. Or Orthodoxy found me. And it has turned my world upside down.

    I learned that the Orthodox do not use the Hebrew text as the basis for the Old Testament scriptures. They use the Septuagint, (I know you probably already know this) which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew text that was begun in the late 3rd Century BCE. After the translation was completed, the use of the Septuagint spread like wildfire throughout the Greek-speaking Jewish world . . . and also became the primary version of what the church called the Old Testament for hundreds of years. It was so commonly used at the time of Christ and the Apostles . . . that virtually all of their references to “scripture” in the New Testament writings come from this Greek translation . . . and some of the parables, stories and other wisdom teachings that both Christ and His Apostles reference are from the Septuagint.

    The Septuagint was “the Bible,” so to speak, for the Greek speaking Jewish people in the first century . . . and also for the Apostolic Church. As the Church aged, the Septuagint served as the Old Testament for hundreds of years. This same Septuagint has been the text supporting the translations used by the Orthodox right up to the present day. In other words, when studying the Old Testament scriptures, the Orthodox use translations that are based on the text the Early Church used, unless they are worship where Greek is the liturgical language, in which case they continue to use the Septuagint itself . . . THE SAME ONE JESUS USED.

    To the Orthodox, Textual Criticism is seen as a lack of faith . . . a reliance on ourselves to get it right. Instead, Christians should rely on the Holy Spirit to guide the Church as the Pillar and Ground of Truth. . . along with the scriptures as used by the Early Church. In plain language, if the Septuagint was “good enough” for Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church Fathers to study and quote from . . . then it is “good enough” for the Church to place its confidence in. And not only is it “good enough” . . . it is exactly what we need. And regardless of any claims that there may be error in the Septuagint, the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church. This is the Orthodox view in a nutshell.

    But we in churches of Christ (and Protestants in general), throughout our history up to the present, have been and continue to be tied to the work and deeds of the Reformers . . . who chose to reject the Septuagint for the Masoretic Text. The Orthodox believe the Masoretic Text was the result of an effort by the Jews to rid as many references/prophesy to Jesus and his teachings as they could. You have to wonder how Jewish scholars who lived long after the destruction of Jerusalem would know more about what should be included in the Jewish cannon than those who participated in the translation of the Hebrew text into Greek and who participated in the spiritual life of the Jewish people right on up to the time of the destruction.

    Have you ever given this some thought? I may not be articulating all of this correctly, but hopefully you get the gist.

    • Andrew Patrick says:

      A while ago I was handed some questions that were being put forth by a Muslim skeptic, alleging “clear contradictions” in the bible. Some of these were easy to answer, but a few required a little more research than a simple knee-jerk response.

      One of the things I noticed (in the course of these questions and answers) was that the Greek Septuagint was somewhat revisionist. That is, if there was a place where the Hebrew Old Testament seemed to conflict with the New Testament, they were willing to change the Old Testament to make it match.

      For example, where the Old Testament speaks of Jacob and his seventy going down to Egypt, in two places the LXX reads “seventy-five” (presumably, in an effort to match Stephen’s mention to seventy-five souls of Joseph and all his kindred… ) … but they missed the other place where the Old Testament said “seventy.”

      A further examination of that particular example indicated that rather than a popular expalanation of “Stephen was quoting the Septuagint” that rather the Septuagint had been edited after the fact (in only 2 of 3 places) in an attempt to make it sound more like Stephen, rather than reading Stephen carefully to see what he might have meant (if he is read literally there is no conflict between his seventy-five and the Hebrew count of seventy.)

      I know that some of the early fathers did favor the Septuagint. For example, Justin Martyr believed that the Greek translation was inspired, and that the Jews avoided it because it contained more Messianic prophecies. I like Justin, but I would respectfully disagree with him here, and I have yet to see any deciding evidence that Jesus or the apostles used the Septuagint, or that it even existed in the same form that we have today. That is, maybe the early church had a Greek translation that didn’t attempt to correct the Hebrew (as in the case of removing the seventy in favor of seventy-five.)

      Someone that is guided by God’s spirit may not be immune from error, but I would also think that someone who is guided by God’s spirit would want to strive to be free from error. The Hebrew scriptures are accurate, and Paul says that the Jew held a significant advantage as they kept the “oracles of God.”

      Rom 3:1-2
      (1) What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
      (2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

      As for the Masoretic text, I have not encountered evidence that would indicate signs of tampering, and it stands up under testing, even against all sorts of the skeptic’s charges of “clear contradiction.” I am inclined to believe that if God has provided us with scripture, he would want us to have it in its purest meaning… not that we must necessarily learn original languages, but that it would make sense, without contradiction, and not suffering from an editor’s pen (or his penknife.)

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,

        I wanted to follow up on a few things here. The first is the Jack Lewis comment about no Greek manuscripts with the Comma. I haven’t been able to speak with Dr. Lewis (he is in his 80s and lives 800 miles from here). I have asked a few people who do spend time with him the question but haven’t heard back yet. I have looked at what Greek manuscript evidence there is and the Comma doesn’t exist in anything prior to 1400AD in Greek. In light of that, Dr. Lewis has plenty of ground to stand on to basically say it is non-existent in Greek. I want to summarize two different takes.

        Some will say the church fathers quoted it and so that is our Greek evidence going back even to the 3rd century. Dr. Gill says Athanaseus, Cyprian and Tertullian quoted the Comma. I can’t find evidence of that. It seems they made trinitarian interpretations of the text but didn’t actually quote what we have as the Comma itself.

        One valuable resource on this is Raymond Brown’s Anchor Bible commentary on the Epistles of John. He has a whole appendix on the Comma. I will summarize his evidence against the comma here,

        First, he says the vocabulary is not typical of John’s epistles. John doesn’t use “Holy Spirit” or the “Word” personified anywhere else in his letters, although he does in his Gospel. Second is the grammar…The point some make in regard to this verse is that without the comma the grammar is awkward. Advocates of the Comma say it is original because it reads better. Brown believes that the grammar doesn’t make things clearer, it makes things more complicated. It has the Spirit being both a heavenly and earthly witness. How is the Spirit a heavenly witness? That isn’t found anywhere else in John’s writings. Third is the textual and church father’s evidence. Brown has three areas of textual evidence that he covers in detail: pre 1500 AD, Important discussions since 1500 and The Origins of the Comma.

        Pre 1500 AD textual evidence:
        Non-Latin evidence (Greek)
        There are 8 Greek manuscripts with the Comma. None of those 8 date before 1400 AD (this is why Jack Lewis said there are no Greek mss with the comma because they don’t appear until after 1400AD! Of those 8 manuscripts,
        • 4 have the comma in the text and 4 have the comma written in the margin (marginal/variant reading). Here are the MSS…
        • The four where the Comma is in the text
        o 61 – Codex Montfortianus (Britannicus) from the 16th century
        o 629 – Codex Ottobonianus in the Vatican from the 14th or 15th century that has a Latin parallel written with it.
        o 918 – Escorial (Spain) from the 16th century
        o 2318 – Bucharest *Rumania) from the 18th century influenced by the Vulgate
        • The four where it is a marginal reading
        o 88vl – a 16th century marginal addition to a 12th century Codex Regius in Naples
        o 221vl – a marginal reading added later to a 10th century MSS in the Bodleian Library at Oxford
        o 429vl – a variant later added to a 16th century MS at Wolfenbuttel
        o 636vl – a variant reading added to a 15th century MS at Naples

        Greek Church fathers
        Brown says the Comma isn’t *directly* quoted by any Greek author of the first 1000 of Christian history (p.777). This verse is quoted by early Greek authors and none of their quotations have the Comma ( eg Cyril of Alexandria quotes the passage in Greek on three occasions and none of those quotations have it). That is significant.

        The first time it appears in Greek is in 1215 where the Latin “Acts of the IV Lateran Council” was translated into Greek and again around 1400 when Manuel Kaleka (backwards) translated the Comma into Greek from the Vulgate.

        Non-Greek sources
        Gill was correct that it doesn’t exist in any of the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic or Old Latin texts prior to 1500. What he didn’t add is that it also doesn’t exist in any Coptic, Armenian or Slavonic translations of the NT in that time frame either. How would it not appear in the original language (Greek) or any translation but Latin if it was original?
        • It is missing in the Pishitta
        • Only later came into Syriac manuscripts back translated from Latin Vulgate
        • No early Syriac church writers reference it
        Latin – there are two great traditions of the Latin text, the Old Latin and Jerome’s Vulgate
        • It wasn’t in early versions of either
        • It showed up in the Old Latin after 600 and in the Vulgate after 750 (p.779)
        • The manuscripts where it begins appearing are all isolated to Spain
        o Palimpset of Leon Cathedral – OL-Vg/7th century
        o Fragment of Freising – OL-Vg/7th century
        o Codex Cavensis – Vg/9th century
        o Codex Complutensis – Vg/10th
        o Codex Toletanus – Vg/10th
        o Codex Theodulphianus – Vg/8th
        o Some Sngallense MSS – Vg 8th century
        Going earlier in Spanish manuscripts Brown says it is unclear if it was in St. Peregrinus Vulgate in Spain in the 5th century. It was later found as a marginal reading and came into the text around the time of Isidore of Seville (7th century). Brown surveyed 258 MSS in the National Library of Paris all prior to the 12th century and over half lacked the comma (p.779)

        So it doesn’t show up directly quoted in Greek until 1215 and not in any Greek manuscript prior to 1400. It isn’t quoted by any Greek author until after 1000 AD. Even the Latin evidence is late and shaky. This doesn’t make a very good case for the authenticity of the verse. I wanted to lay all this out because we can talk in generalities but here is the actual manuscript evidence with dates.

      • Hello Matt,

        I admire the way you are trying to research this, and I think this is a good starting spot. I will get back to this a little later, and I would like to address the points by point. For example, I can show you were Tertullian is referencing 1 John 5:7 (although I wouldn’t call it a precise quote… it’s Priscillian that has the solid quote attributed to John) … and some of that data is wrong and/or misleading (like the volume manuscript evidence.)

        Be back with you later.

      • mattdabbs says:

        As you know, there would be a big difference between a church Father giving a Trinitarian interpretation of those verses and one directly quoting the Comma. Brown is saying that the examples we have from early fathers in Greek aren’t direct quotes.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Priscillian would be Latin, not Greek.

      • Okay, I have a moment now to review that follow-up.

        1) Concerning Jack Lewis,

        I sympathize that you would prefer to allow your friend to answer, but (in spite of your reasoning) Jack Lewis has absolutely no ground to “basically say … [that] it is non existent in Greek.” There is a huge difference between whether a passage is non-existent or a minority reading. If Jack Lewis wants to speak in absolutes, he needs to make sure his statements are absolutely correct.

        2) Where are those quotations?

        a) Cyprian is fairly easy to find… I used Google for “cyprian 1 John 5:7” and had the quote within moments:

        `he Lord warns, saying, “He who is not with me scattereth.” He who breaks the peace and the concord of Christ, does so in opposition to Christ; he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ. The Lord says, “I and the Father are one;” and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” And these three are one.” And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold unity does not hold God’s law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”

        Those are pretty clear quotes of John 10:30 and 1 John 5:7. Cyprian died in 258, so here you have a very early testimony as to the accepted authenticity of both passages in the 3rd century. The John 10:30 passage is attributed to the words of the Lord, and in the same breath he says “it is written” … and quotes 1 John 5:7 as one speaks with the authority of scripture.

        b) Tertullian is an interesting example, because even though his reference is less direct, he is protesting his opponents non-Trinitarian interpretation of the words. This strongly implies that the text itself was beyond dispute, or else why would Tertullian need to dispute the wording?

        You can find this quickly with a Google search of “Tertullian against Praxeas.” For this section I am quoting from the archive on the Catholic site at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0317.htm (and the Latin quote from http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?t=29489)

        “Ita connexus, Patris in Filio, et Filii in Paracleto tres efficit cohaerentes, alterum ex altero, qui tres unum sunt, – non unus; quomodo dictum est, ‘ego et Pater unum sumus’. ad substantie unitatem, non ad numeri singularitatem” (adv. Praxeam. c.25)

        Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are one essence, not one Person, as it is said, “I and my Father are One,” John 10:30 in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number.

        It’s not just this single location, but rather Tertullian keeps referencing “three are one” or “three in one” all throughout, and by his method of argument, it does not seem as if his opponent disputes the validity of “these three are one.” This isn’t a very good example of a quote, which is why John Gill (whom you noted earlier) calls it a “reference” rather than a “quote.”

        c) Athanasius has a very plain quote that he attributes to John.

        “Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»”

        “But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, ‘and these three are one.’

        2d) Priscillian has a very clear quote of the passage.

        “and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.”

        Whether Priscillian was writing in Greek or Latin is irrelevant. If this was merely a recent addition that had only been introduced into a Latin copy, he could not have used it as an authority… all someone would have had to do was to say “that’s a spurious text” and his credibility would have been shot. When he quotes the passage, he is

        Besides this, let’s consider the irony of discarding Priscillian’s quote because he was writing in Latin. What language do you write in? Just because you write in English does not mean that you can make up scripture whenever you feel like it, and if you quote a passage, it is because you feel confident that it will be recognized as genuine.

        All of these have far greater weight than any single manuscript. A manuscript can be flawed, edited, damaged, or even rogue, and there is no guarantee of who wrote the script in question. An author stakes his reputation on the quote being genuine.

        Such as the 350 prelates at Council of Carthage that stood up against the Arians (and thus suffered banishment) and chose 1 John 5:7 as their defense. If the verse was recognized as being spurious or a “Latin gloss” why would they choose that passage? When you know that you’re going to be taken for standing up for the right, you aren’t going to waste your last prepared words on something flimsy.

        … but this is getting much longer than I anticipated, and I should use another post for readability. I want to step through your points.

      • … continuing

        You were saying,

        It seems they made trinitarian interpretations of the text but didn’t actually quote what we have as the Comma itself.

        Cyprian was not using the passage in a Trinitarian sense, and I don’t think that Priscillian was Trinitarian. The Council of Carthage was Trinitarian, but Tertullian was arguing against Praxeas’s interpretation of “these three are one.”

        4) Raymond Brown’s commentary,

        a) I don’t understand his reasoning about the language not being “typical” … because he says the Holy Spirit is personified in his gospel but not elsewhere in his epistles? There’s not a lot of bulk there in the remaining epistles of II John and III John, and besides, why does he discount the gospel of John?

        b) He massively understates the grammatical problem. It’s not simply a matter of it being “awkward” or “reading better” but a matter of being horribly flawed or grammatically correct.

        c) You gave me an easy question 🙂

        . Brown believes that the grammar doesn’t make things clearer, it makes things more complicated. It has the Spirit being both a heavenly and earthly witness. How is the Spirit a heavenly witness? That isn’t found anywhere else in John’s writings.

        Of course the Spirit is a heavenly witness. See John 4:24, “God is a spirit” and John 1:32, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove.” God abides in (and arrives from) heaven, not the earth or the seas. The Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9) is a spirit and if God cannot witness his own throne (per Matthew 5:34) than who can?

        I fail to understand how this would somehow complicate things. Satan was cast down to earth and fell like lightning (Isaiah 14, Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:4) and as such might not be counted as a heavenly witness…

        … but if Jesus could say that the Son of Man (himself) was in heaven while he spoke to Nicodemus (see John 3:13) then why would it be strange for God to be present as Spirit on earth and in heaven at the same time?

        d) omissions from some Greek copies

        This verse is quoted by early Greek authors and none of their quotations have the Comma ( eg Cyril of Alexandria quotes the passage in Greek on three occasions and none of those quotations have it). That is significant.

        Significant, but not conclusive, since one of the evidences that we are considering is that the Greek that lacks the full passage is fundamentally flawed, as noted by Gregory of Nazianzus at the end of the 4th century.

        “he has not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourselves disclaim in the case of Deity?”

        It is already observed that the Greek text was suffering in this location. It might also be inferred from Gregory’s quote that the scripture was not expected to be “fundamentally flawed” or else it would not have borne any special notice. Gregory was commenting on a deficient Greek copy.

        It is also allowable that Cyril of Alexandria likewise could have had a deficient Greek copy.

        5) Motives,

        You asked a good question,

        How would it not appear in the original language (Greek) or any translation but Latin if it was original?

        What I think you are really asking is “assuming the passage is genuine and in the original epistle from John” (regardless of internal contextual or grammatical considerations) how could it suffer such widespread damage in the Greek?

        You simply need to consider the possibilities and motivations.

        a) First, omissions are far more common (and probable) than additions. If someone is tired after copying something, if something looks like a repetition it can easily get passed over. It is quite possible that someone could innocently make a mistake and omit a portion of a passage this way (although the grammar would leave tell-tale signs of the mistake.)

        b) When someone is trying to establish their own doctrine (such as Jesus is NOT God) there is a motivation to omit scriptures that “shouldn’t be there” or to even grasp at straws. In the example of 1 Timothy 3:16 “God was manifest in the flesh” I have seen people stake their argument on whether there are four or five manuscripts that do not have the “God was manifest in the flesh” passage.

        So imagine how the Arian camp would first react if they found a first couple manuscripts with the 1 John portion omitted? It wouldn’t matter how badly grammatically flawed the reading was, they would try to claim it was the proper one. You can see the same thing today with the aforementioned 1 Timothy 3:16. “God was manifest in the flesh” is the only reading that is grammatically correct (and also supported by 99%+ of all manuscript evidence) but arguments are made that a grammatically flawed reading must be the correct one (you might want to check your bibles at this place too.)

        c) Although the passage was sometimes used for Trinitarian support against the Arian position, it was no help against the more simple “Jesus is God is one God” position of Praxeas (etc) and would rather seem to backfire, because it does say “These three are one” but not the inverse of “this one is three.” That’s why Tertullian was arguing so hard that the “one” meant “essence” instead of “person.”

        d) It is also worth noting that God is not obliged to preserve his words solely in Greek. Even if Matthew 5:18 were to be interpreted in this light, it only speaks of jots and tittles, which are elements of the Hebrew alphabet.

        But, even casting this aside and if we place all our emphasis on Greek as our only acceptable backup medium, we’re back at the grammar issue again. The manuscripts lacking the full 1 John 5:7 fail the check sum test. The manuscripts that have the full 1 John 5:7 text pass the check sum test.

        6) Almost forgot this… Greek Manuscript Evidence is being omitted

        This “only eight Greek manuscripts” keeps being repeated, but that’s a rather slanted statement and could be even be considered misleading. I would like to call attention (again) to John Gill,

        And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens’s, nine of them had it:

        Even using the most modest interpretations of “many”, John Gill was aware of at least eleven Greek manuscripts that contained 1 John 5:7, nine of which were “ancient copies” in the hands of Robert Stephens. Nine is more than eight, and eleven is more than eight, and unless John Gill is using words strangely, his language implies a lot more than nine.

        The point being is that all these authors that keep saying “only eight copies” are failing to mention that as far back as a few hundred years ago we had more copies with 1 John 5:7 available then than we do now. Here’s a question – what happened to those copies?

        There’s a question here that I want considered. Are those who are campaigning against 1 John 5:7 using pure methods? Some are saying that there is ZERO Greek manuscript evidence, others are saying there are only eight manuscripts, yet John Gill spoke of “many” and spoke of at least eleven specific manuscripts.

        . Even the Latin evidence is late and shaky.

        Uhm…. in spite of remaining a minority reading in the Greek, 1 John 5:7 is extremely well preserved in the Latin. Jerome is on record as to complaining about the laziness of his scribes in copying this specific passage (1 John 5:7) … which again, testifies that the verse was considered authentic, and that omission was considered a sign of laziness, not accuracy.

        This is from Jerome’s preface to the Vulgate:

        The order of the seven Epistles which are called canonical is not the same among the Greeks who follow the correct faith and the one found in the Latin codices, where Peter, being the first among the apostles, also has his two epistles first. But just as we have corrected the evangelists into their proper order, so with God’s help have we done with these. The first is one of James, then two of Peter, three of John and one of Jude.

        Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.

        Just summarizing some points here
        a) These scriptures were being translated from the Greek,
        b) The Greek from which these are translated contain the full passage in question
        c) The “early” Vulgate copies that do not have the passage were defective, and Jerome calls the transcribers of those surviving “early Vulgate” copies unfaithful translators.
        d) The full text of 1 John 5:7 (in the Greek) was considered to be orthodox and correct in the time of Jerome.

        That’s not “late and shaky” evidence. Rather, it’s even a testimony to the Greek evidence at the time (for if it was not in the Greek text, then why is Jerome complaining about it being omitted from the translations?) and also an explanation of how defective copies were arising.

        7) Let’s consider the text itself?

        The NIV presents the passage thus:

        1Jn 5:6-9 NIV
        (6) This is the one who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
        (7) For there are three that testify:
        (8) the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.
        (9) We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

        Even without considerations of grammar (which cannot be seen in the English) the passage doesn’t make much sense here. Why is it comparing man’s testimony with God’s testimony out of the blue? There’s a missing piece of a puzzle here.

        Now let’s look at the other reading (I’ll use the Geneva Bible this time),

        1Jn 5:6-9 Geneva
        (6) This is that Iesus Christ that came by water and blood: not by water onely, but by water and blood: and it is that Spirit, that beareth witnesse: for that Spirit is trueth.
        (7) For there are three, which beare recorde in heauen, the Father, the Worde, and the holy Ghost: and these three are one.
        (8) And there are three, which beare record in the earth, the spirit, and the water and the blood: and these three agree in one.
        (9) If we receiue the witnesse of men, the witnesse of God is greater: for this is the witnesse of God, which he testified of his Sonne.

        Here there is no confusion about the witness of men and the witness of God. The witness of men is of water, blood, and spirit (which agree in one) but the witness of God is in the Father, Word, and holy Ghost (which are one). No missing puzzle piece.

        Of course, if you’re willing to look at the Greek, it only gets more conclusive. One of the readings has a gaping hole, and the other fits like a glove. There are no third readings up for consideration.

        A responsible translator shouldn’t choose an obviously flawed source text (in grammar and content) and claim that it’s the genuine article. That would be like taking a program disk that “skipped” and was “unable to read data” over a group of sectors, and then taking that image and saying it was the “original source” of the code.

        To the contrary, any responsible data recovery person would take the minority of the disks (even if there was only a couple) that had a complete compilation over the damaged majority source, especially if the genuineness of more complete version was testified to by early users of the program. Grammar is the checksum of language.

        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
        The quick brown fox over the lazy dog.

        This example doesn’t really do the subject justice, but which of the above readings are correct? One through six and eight, or number seven?

        But 1 John 5:7 is a little more important than “the quick brown fox.” John 10:30 says “My father and I are one” but only 1 John 5:7 says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. An author shouldn’t have to put a statement in twelve different places so it won’t be ignored. This does not fall into the category of “no doctrine hinges on the disputed passage” (or else it would not be so hotly disputed.)

  24. mattdabbs says:

    1) Jack Lewis – Dr. Lewis says there are no Greek manuscripts with the verse. As has already been stated, there are 8 Greek manuscripts with the verse all dating after 1400. So technically he was wrong but the reality is, there are no good manuscripts with this verse. Can you imagine if a phrase didn’t show up in copies of the Declaration of Independence until the year 3176 but we still think (in spite of all the manuscripts of the Declaration with out the phrase from 1000 years earlier) that the phrase is original or that it has any real manuscript support? That is quite a leap.

    2) You realize these “quotations” are not uniform and are in different languages. You don’t need the Comma to get “Father, Son and Spirit”. It is in Matt 28:19, Cyprian wrote in Latin, not Greek and it is not a direct quote of the Comma but could just as easily be quoting the Matthew passage with a trinitarian interpretation. It reads as his interpretation of the Father, Son and Spirit quote. It seems to me he is saying, not quoting from scripture that the three are one.

    I will get to the others when I have more time.

    • “There are no good manuscripts with the verse?” It seems to me that the definition of “good manuscript” depends on what the author intends to prove. Ironically, do you know what the supposed “oldest and best” manuscripts (Aleph and Beta) look like? Even cross-outs and corrections are accepted for these.

      2) When you and I speak, our quotations are not necessarily uniform either. We might interchange “Jesus” and “Christ” or “Son” and “Word” and no one is going to throw a fit. But if you look at the quote from Cyprian, it does not read like an “interpretation” but a quote:

      a) He does not say “it is written Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” but rather that it is “written of” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”
      b) Then he says what is written of them, saying “These three are one.”
      c) If the former phrase is recognized as a scriptural quote, why is the latter phrase contested?

      The Lord says, “I and the Father are one;” and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” And these three are one.”

      Do you think that “I and the Father are one” is a just Trinitarian interpretation of his impression of Christ’s speech in the gospel, or because he says “The Lord says” do you recognize this as a quote of John 10:30? I want to make sure you’re being consistent.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Andrew,
        Let me summarize a bit myself.
        1 – The most important evidence we have are manuscripts, not church Fathers. This doesn’t show up in Greek until 1400.

        2 – The second best thing we have are quotations from church Fathers based on the manuscript(s) they had at their disposal. There are numerous quotations of this verse in the early church fathers that does not have in the Comma, in Greek. You point out an example or two that are close and early (Cyprian) but still no direct quotation in Greek. Cyprian is Latin, Athanatasius is not a direct quote (he says they are “three in one” which is not what the Comma says at all).
        3 – Now you are saying the Latin texts are not sufficient when you said this, “Whether Priscillian was writing in Greek or Latin is irrelevant. If this was merely a recent addition that had only been introduced into a Latin copy, he could not have used it as an authority… all someone would have had to do was to say “that’s a spurious text” and his credibility would have been shot. When he quotes the passage, he is”

        These phrases come from somewhere. It is entirely possible someone like Cyprian or Priscillian say something like the Comma and then it ends up being an addition to the Latin text early on. You are assuming that if they say anything close to it they must have had the comma when it could be the other way around as well. Just something to think about.

      • Hello Matt (I am looking at your recent summary),

        Re: Manuscripts vs. Church Fathers.

        Manuscripts are very important. If a passage had no manuscript reading and only quotations from early Fathers, then that would simply be a “saying” and not scripture itself.

        However, when a reading has support from church Fathers, a quote has a lot more weight than a simple manuscript. The reasons are thus: a manuscript could have been written by anybody (it is anonymous) but a church Father that quotes the scripture is testifying that this is what his scripture read.

        In other words, it’s not only evidence, but it’s evidence that is submitted by a known witness, and one who was willing to place his reputation behind it in his day when he would have been subject to criticism. Thus, additional support from a church father is of far greater importance than support from simply another additional manuscript.

        It may be that the oldest extant Greek reading of 1 John 5:7 may be from the 14th century, but it does not logically follow it appeared in the 14th century, correct? When people were quoting the passage as scripture (and attributing it to John) back in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and when Jerome complained about his translators omitting the passage when they were translating the Vulgate from Greek into Latin in the 4th century, that attests to its antiquity, regardless of what determined the surviving scraps we have today.

        Accuracy needed on these quotes, please

        You wrote:

        Athanatasius is not a direct quote (he says they are “three in one” which is not what the Comma says at all).

        One of us must be misreading this…

        “Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν, καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δίδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν Ἰωάννης φάσκει· «Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν.»”

        “But also, is not that sin-remitting, life-giving and sanctifying washing [baptism], without which, no one shall see the kingdom of heaven, given to the faithful in the Thrice-Blessed Name? In addition to all these, John affirms, ‘and these three are one.’

        Regardless of whether Athanasius says in other places, what does he say here that he attributes to John? Does he say “three in one” or “these three are one?” (Maybe you were thinking of Tertullian and said Athanasius by accident?)

        Possibility of rogue addition

        For refreshing your thought,

        These phrases come from somewhere. It is entirely possible someone like Cyprian or Priscillian say something like the Comma and then it ends up being an addition to the Latin text early on. You are assuming that if they say anything close to it they must have had the comma when it could be the other way around as well. Just something to think about.

        Seriously considering this angle,

        Cyprian specifically attributed the 1 John 5:7 text to “being written” which means it was already accepted as scripture on par with the gospel of John where Jesus says “I and my Father are one.” So, it is very unlikely that Cyprian started a trendy saying that got written in later.

        As for whether this could have been an addition to the Latin text (I am aware that this is one of the stories that is circulated) this seems improbable… considering that the passage completes the Greek text (and not the Latin)… if one was inclined to consider that the passage was an addition, why would it have been added to the Latin first and not the Greek? The Latin text works (grammatically) with or without 1 John 5:7.

        So it seems to me that a decent conspiracy theory should start with the Greek text, and then explain how those Greek texts became the accepted text to be adopted by the Church and to become the accepted reading in the Latin. I could probably think of a story myself, but the problem would be finding any evidence to support that theory (the same problem shared by the “Lucian Recension” theory…)

        But Athanasius, Priscillian, and Cyrprian do a little more than simply saying something “close” to 1 John 5:7. Twice the passage is attributed directly to John. If age is a concern (as it is often claimed to be) then these have far greater antiquity than any of the most ancient manuscripts.

        Incidentally, the vast majority of all support for any of the epistle of 1 John are “late” manuscripts… Half of the “oldest and best” manuscripts (as they are sometimes called) omit the entire book. That’s just something to consider when you hear people talking about “only late manuscript support” and the like.

        A friend of mine once suggested that perhaps John really did “write” the words of 1 John 5:7, but in a different letter or writing other than what we refer to as 1 John today… and I guess that would assume that those church fathers were referring to that unknown mystery writing (of which we have no actual physical evidence of its existence for support.) But besides the lack of evidence, the theory hits a snag because 1 John requires an additional phrase for sufficient grammar. We only have two extant readings of the passage, and only one of those readings is grammatically correct.

        And that winds up being the deciding factor when you have two different readings, and find that both were accepted. The check sum of a written language is its grammar, and for those of us that allow the scripture to be inspired, we must assume that the original text was written correctly in the first place.

        So what is our goal here? To determine which is the most popular interpretation, which version of the manuscripts have been most widespread, or to determine the text of the original reading? Was the original text written correctly in the first place?

        By the way, Matt, I appreciate the willingness to look at these things from new angles. Thanks.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Manuscripts vs Early Church Fathers
        You wrote, “However, when a reading has support from church Fathers, a quote has a lot more weight than a simple manuscript. The reasons are thus: a manuscript could have been written by anybody (it is anonymous) but a church Father that quotes the scripture is testifying that this is what his scripture read.”

        The problem here is there are no manuscripts in Greek from this time that have the verse at all. So all you have are a couple of quotes that are close. What is more, you haven’t addressed the fact that Cyril of Alexandria quoted 1 John 5:7 on three occasions around 400 AD and none of his quotations had the comma. That means none of the texts at his disposal had it either. So you have a somebody, Cyril, who didn’t have the Comma and you have a couple of guys who said things similar to the Comma.

        The Athanasius quote says they are “three IN one” and not “three are one” Καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν. I am not sure why the translator of that passage in the translation you quoted translated it the way they did.

      • The elephant in the room that no one wants to address is that there are only two extant readings of this passage in John. Both of them have Greek manuscript support, and there is supporting evidence that both were known, but one of the readings is so badly flawed that it could not have possibly been the original (correct) reading.

        When there is a perfect quote from someone that identifies it as scripture from John, the response seems to be that he probably wasn’t reading from a Greek text. When someone speaks in Greek and says that it is scripture from John, the response is that his phrase wasn’t a precise match of the Greek manuscripts. When someone complains that his translators are omitting the passage from the Greek to the Latin it’s simply passed over. So these do not seem like good answers.

        So while the elephant in the room continues to eat our decorative ferns, may we at least make sure that the rest of our reasoning is accurate?

        What is more, you haven’t addressed the fact that Cyril of Alexandria quoted 1 John 5:7 on three occasions around 400 AD and none of his quotations had the comma. That means none of the texts at his disposal had it either.

        No, I specifically commented (comment 30515) that Cyril likely had one of the damaged manuscripts in his possession. You’ve managed to establish that some people did not have the text of 1 John 5:7 in their copies, but this was never contested. My example of Gregory of Nazanius was proof enough of this, when he was pointing out that the Greek grammar of the passage was fatally flawed. Gregory didn’t have access to 1 John 5:7 either.

        So you have a somebody, Cyril, who didn’t have the Comma and you have a couple of guys who said things similar to the Comma.

        That’s a bit of an understatement. You have a couple people who didn’t have 1 John 5:7 (Cyril and Gregory) and you have a couple people who quote 1 John 5:7 and attribute the passage to John. So you’ve managed to establish that some people had access and some didn’t… which is precisely what I was saying before.

        The field of textual criticism recognizes that the correct reading for a passage might be found even in only a single manuscript copy among hundreds of contrary manuscripts… there are other considerations that require accounting. Passages can inadvertently suffer damage and sometimes people will purposely attempt to strike passages from the record. That’s why we consult multiple manuscripts to avail ourselves of all the readings.

        So here are the two choices:

        1) You have a passage which has the vast majority reading in the extant Greek text, but it flawed internally (in meaning) and fatally flawed in grammar, as if there is a missing piece. You have some testimony (like from Cyril and Gregory) that they did not have access to a better Greek text. The elephant remains that the majority reading betrays a big hole in our jigsaw puzzle.

        2) Or, you have the passage that is a minority reading in the extant Greek text (but it seems we used to have more Greek manuscripts than we do today) but resounding support in the Latin, it was quoted as scripture as far back as the third century, attributed to John, and Jerome testifies that it was present in the Greek manuscripts from which they translated the Vulgate. The passage fits internally (in meaning) and has no grammatical flaws.

        3) There are no third readings.

        This doesn’t seem like a hard choice, unless there are some other non-related factors that are determining how people want to believe on this.

  25. Mr Patrick,

    I am willing to engage this issue off and on. However, I have two questions:

    1) You are demanding answers to a series of questions here. I will answer six of your seven questions regarding the Wallace paper. Do you agree in advance therefore to answer MY six questions in return?

    2) How EXACTLY do you do textual criticism?

    Do you simply count the manuscripts and pick the majority reading? How exactly do you do it? The reason I’m asking is that your presentation here ASSUMES what you have yet to prove. Rather than starting at the first century and going forward, you are assuming the reading in the KJV is somehow an infallible or inerrant standard.

    • Hello Wes,

      I do not think that we have talked before, but those questions were specifically for Matt, and were based upon (presumed) our previous discussion and exchange. As such, they might not have the same relevance for a third party just entering the discussion.

      1) If you have reasonable questions, I will endeavor to answer them the best I can.

      2) There is not an exact “equation” with biblical data recovery, however, there are some pretty sensible guidelines.

      First, I think it is proper to start with the assumption that the data can be recovered, and that it was written correctly (by God himself) in the first place. It may be that perhaps not everyone will start with this assumption.

      Second, there are a variety of factors that must be considered, including Greek texts, support from text in other languages, majority vs. minority readings, lectionary readings, and when the passages are quoted by other writers as scripture.

      Answering your sub-question, No, you do not simply count manuscripts (the ones you know about) and rule in favor of a majority to the exclusion of all other evidence.

      As for the “reason you are asking” I think you might do well to review what I’ve said already before laying down a criticism of circular reasoning. Whether I might happen to think that the KJV is an infallible standard or not would be irrelevant, and I’ve used no such reasoning within this discussion. You’ve raised a straw man (which is rather unproductive.)

      Rather than starting at the first century and going forward, you are assuming the reading in the KJV is somehow an infallible or inerrant standard.

      But if you are starting at the first century…. then you have nothing. Dead end, sorry. The entire New Testament has absolutely ZERO support from any first century manuscript. 🙂

      By the way, I am not “Mr. Patrick.” In my case, Patrick is not a surname, it’s a middle name. But for the purposes of friendly discussion, do you have another name I may call you besides “Wes?”

      • mattdabbs says:

        “My example of Gregory of Nazanius was proof enough of this, when he was pointing out that the Greek grammar of the passage was fatally flawed. Gregory didn’t have access to 1 John 5:7 either.”

        I don’t get what you are saying there…Gregory was critical of the grammar of a passage he didn’t have access to?

      • mattdabbs says:

        Let me respond to your points more thoroughly:

        “The elephant in the room that no one wants to address is that there are only two extant readings of this passage in John. Both of them have Greek manuscript support, and there is supporting evidence that both were known, but one of the readings is so badly flawed that it could not have possibly been the original (correct) reading.”

        – There are two major readings of this text. Both do have Greek manuscript support. The short reading (that you don’t think is original) has Greek manuscript support and Greek church Father support back to the 300s or so. The longer reading (you support) has early Latin manuscript support and early Latin church Father support. It has no Greek manuscript support for 1400 years. So yes they both have manuscript “support” but in the manuscript category, the shorter reading blows away the longer reading. There is just no denying that. You can make all the points you like but there is just no disputing the superiority of the manuscript evidence in Greek for the shorter reading.

        – You say the longer reading is terribly flawed (grammatically, I suppose?). You haven’t studied Greek but those who have aren’t making that point. Raymond Brown (one of the most respected scholars on the Gospel and epistles of John to have ever lived) didn’t make that point. He actually went the other way, saying the longer reading was awkward. I just looked at the Greek text again and I honestly don’t see any awkwardness to it. Maybe Wescottandhort can give his 2 cents on the awkwardness of the shorter version.

        “When there is a perfect quote from someone that identifies it as scripture from John, the response seems to be that he probably wasn’t reading from a Greek text. When someone speaks in Greek and says that it is scripture from John, the response is that his phrase wasn’t a precise match of the Greek manuscripts. When someone complains that his translators are omitting the passage from the Greek to the Latin it’s simply passed over. So these do not seem like good answers.”

        – Cyril didn’t have it, Jerome didn’t have it, Clement didn’t have it, Cassiodorus didn’t have it. There are more we can cite who didn’t have the verse. Even the Cyprian quote is not an exact quote. Why not quote it exactly? You wonder why we say they weren’t reading from a Greek text? The reason is you are quoting Latin guys and the Greek ones you do cite aren’t even exact quotes! No wonder that is the point we are making. Could it be any clearer?

        “So while the elephant in the room continues to eat our decorative ferns, may we at least make sure that the rest of our reasoning is accurate?”

        – That goes both ways, of course.

        “No, I specifically commented (comment 30515) that Cyril likely had one of the damaged manuscripts in his possession. You’ve managed to establish that some people did not have the text of 1 John 5:7 in their copies, but this was never contested. My example of Gregory of Nazanius was proof enough of this, when he was pointing out that the Greek grammar of the passage was fatally flawed. Gregory didn’t have access to 1 John 5:7 either.”

        – What manuscript did Cyril have? You seem to know since you say he likely had a damaged one. How do you know that? You can prove your point based on assumptions. So the Cyril response doesn’t hold water. He didn’t have the verse and we aren’t aware of the quality of his MSS. In fact, the point can be made the the Greek Cyril did have at his disposal was consistent with every single pre 1400 Greek manuscript of 1 John 5 that we have at our disposal. With that in mind, it sounds more like Cryil had a good copy of that verse…one that was actually in line with the other manuscripts of his day but not in line with post 1400 Greek MSS.

        “That’s a bit of an understatement. You have a couple people who didn’t have 1 John 5:7 (Cyril and Gregory) and you have a couple people who quote 1 John 5:7 and attribute the passage to John. So you’ve managed to establish that some people had access and some didn’t… which is precisely what I was saying before.”

        – Again, we have no exact quote of it from the guys you mention. A quote is exact. You can’t call the things you have presented quotes.

        “The field of textual criticism recognizes that the correct reading for a passage might be found even in only a single manuscript copy among hundreds of contrary manuscripts… there are other considerations that require accounting. Passages can inadvertently suffer damage and sometimes people will purposely attempt to strike passages from the record. That’s why we consult multiple manuscripts to avail ourselves of all the readings.”

        – That is correct. You are making my points for me. We have no pre-1400 Greek manuscript with the Comma. Did all of them suffer damage? Or why are you so opposed to see this as the original reading? Saying John had poor grammar (which to me doesn’t even seem to be the case – I have studied Greek at the graduate level, by the way).

        “So here are the two choices:

        1) You have a passage which has the vast majority reading in the extant Greek text, but it flawed internally (in meaning) and fatally flawed in grammar, as if there is a missing piece. You have some testimony (like from Cyril and Gregory) that they did not have access to a better Greek text. The elephant remains that the majority reading betrays a big hole in our jigsaw puzzle.”

        – You have said it was flawed in Grammar. Show me how please. You are now saying it is flawed in meaning. Proof? Here it is in context,

        “6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the[a] Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

        Help me see how that is flawed. It actually has a really nice symmetry to it.

        “2) Or, you have the passage that is a minority reading in the extant Greek text (but it seems we used to have more Greek manuscripts than we do today) but resounding support in the Latin, it was quoted as scripture as far back as the third century, attributed to John, and Jerome testifies that it was present in the Greek manuscripts from which they translated the Vulgate. The passage fits internally (in meaning) and has no grammatical flaws.”

        3) There are no third readings.

        This doesn’t seem like a hard choice, unless there are some other non-related factors that are determining how people want to believe on this.”

        Please re-read your two choices and see which ones seems more clear. The short reading
        has ALL/100% of the early Greek manuscript support and Latin support as well (that hasn’t been mentioned). It is supported by the early church fathers in Greek as well. I can’t tell that is suffers in meaning or grammar (help me see that please). The Comma is non-existant in pre-1400 Greek texts. It has no actual quote from early church fathers, although they did say things that were similar. By the way, the wikipedia article on the comma says Jerome didn’t have it (that is why I said that above). Can you get me the Jerome quote that he got it from the texts he used to translate the Vulgate? That would be really helpful. According to Raymond Brown (who knew Greek better than either of us) said the Comma was more awkward, not less. The choice seems very clear to me, more clear than at any other point in our conversation on this.

      • Patient Number Unknown says:

        Actually, I will call you Andrew (assuming you do not mind) and you can call me Chuck.

  26. Andrew,

    I have a long written response that I will post at the bottom here in the next day or two. (I’m at work today). I will also look over your own reponses and proceed accordingly.

    God bless.

  27. Patient Number Unknown says:

    OK, please note I’m finding this confusing. I’ve not used such before. That being said I’m having trouble following the nested replies, so I will simply respond here at the bottom if that’s fine.

  28. Chuck says:

    Trying again?

  29. Chuck says:

    OK, it appears I’m here.

    Therefore, let’s begin.

    1) Did you stop to read the John Gill commentary on 1 John 5:7?

    The answer is yes. I’m not quite sure what you think this proves. We could go on citing scholar after scholar. Over 90% of those who comment on this verse note its non-originality. This tiny sampling you’ve provided here ignores two issues: 1) the discoveries since Gill wrote; and 2) the commentaries since then. Furthermore, have you read Carson’s 1979 refutation of Gill’s comments? To show how in error Gill is (just for one example), can you give me the names of the 9 copies of Stephanus that allegedly contained 1 John 5:7 in that day – and where are they now? Plus you aware that Stephanus’ copies were NOT ancient even though Gill says they were.

    Furthermore, who else invokes the Gill argument and cites the manuscripts?

    Now please note – I don’t consider “such and such a scholar said x” to be much of an argument anyway. Scholars have varying degrees of competence in various fields. But I don’t consider saying “John Gill said” to be much of an argument. After all, I could list a multitude of scholars – Trinitarians – and they almost universally reject this passage. So while I’ve read this particular point, I don’t quite see what you think it proves.

  30. Chuck says:

    2) Did you stop to read the Matthew Henry commentary at 1 John 5:7?
    Yes. I also know Henry didn’t write it as he died and it was later added by others finishing his work. But Henry hardly addresses specifics. He mentions specific things but then answers them vaguely. For example, he suggests that homoioteleuton (similar endings) could have caused the omission. That’s an acceptable answer if we were talking about either one or some manuscripts. In this case, I’m supposed to believe that the omission can be explained by the idea that every single person copying it in the first century or so after it was written somehow all committed the same error. Surely you don’t believe that happened.

  31. Chuck says:

    In response to Andrew:

    This in response to Andrew’s comments up the board. There was no reply feature that I could find – and as I stated earlier, I am new here.

    ANDREW:
    There are no grammatical difficulties?

    CHUCK:
    Not a one.

    ANDREW:
    That seems rather strange seeing that the folk that spoke Greek in those days recognized the problem back then. I may not be fluent in Greek, but I did take the time to study the passage until I could identify the difference, and whereas I may not be an expert in Greek myself, it seems that Gregory of Nazanius was.

    CHUCK:
    No, sir. With all due respect this is incorrect. Michael Maynard made this mistake and I believe (but could be wrong) that Thomas Holland did as well.

    Gregory of Nazianzus commented on the passage thusly:

    For I also will assert that Peter and James and John are not three or consubstantial, so long as I cannot say Three Peters, or Three Jameses, or Three Johns; for what you have reserved for common names we demand also for proper names, in accordance with your arrangement; or else you will be unfair in not conceding to others what you assume for yourself. What about John then, when in his Catholic Epistle he says that there are Three that bear witness: the Spirit and the Water and the Blood? Do you think he is talking nonsense? First, because he has ventured to reckon, under one numeral, things which are not consubstantial, though, you say this ought to be done only in the case of things which are consubstantial. For who would assert that these are consubstantial? Secondly, because he had not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your Grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of Deity? What have you to say about the Crab, which may mean either an animal, or an instrument or a constellation? And what about the Dog, now terrestrial, now aquatic, now celestial? Do you not see that three crabs or dogs are spoken of? Why of course it is so. Well then, are they therefore of one substance? None but a fool would say that. So you see how completely your argument from connumeration has broken down, and is refuted by all these instances. For if things that are of one substances are not always counted under one numeral, and things not of one substances are thus counted, and the pronunciation of the name once for all is used in both cases, what advantage do you gain towards your doctrine?

    END QUOTE

    Maynard reads this and comes up with this: “thus Gregory of Nazianzus objected to the omission of 1 John v.7f.” This has also been claimed by Timothy Duncan’s paper and his online site that you mentioned earlier up the page. Unfortunately, the claim is erroneous. Simply read the passage above. Gregory is not debating the details of Greek grammar as Maynard suggests, but he is instead responding to a critic polemically that the Trinity cannot be enumerated as three gods and explaining why. His examples are very explicit as to what he is referencing. Gregory notes that this use of the neuter with the masculine is not contrary to biblical or Greek grammar but rather to “the laws” of grammar that Trinitarian objectors have used. Contextually, he is referring to the persons of the Trinity. He never hints at the notion he is aware of another reading or that the grammar is incorrect. It is therefore incorrect to say that Gregory invoked the grammatical argument.

    GRAMMATICAL PROBLEM in verse eight? John Oxlee pointed this out to Nolan in 1824 and Nolan’s ingenious response was to read it going backwards!!! (I would note also that this so-called grammatical problem doesn’t do much good on another front – pneuma hagion is actually in the neuter following the masculine participle even in the Comma. Nolan’s response is to say that it has had “masuculineness” forced upon it, a creative way of saying that his proposed solution didn’t work).

    Consequently, I do sincerely hope you will not continue the claim of a grammatical error. Gregory cited no such thing, the error does not exist as numerous counter-examples prove, and you basically have six guys who make the claim against the bulk of Greek scholarship on the other side.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thank you for clearing this up. I looked at the verse without the Comma and couldn’t find anything wrong with it in Greek. I appreciate you going back and clearing up the confusion on what Gregory was saying as well. Seems pretty clear to me. Context is so important. Thanks for going to the source and providing the actual data/info.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        I am no longer able to *track* these threads, but regardless, it is extremely difficult to coherently respond to 18 new posts that were put up after I said that I was going to be absent for reasons of moving. So briefly,

        … it seems to me that y’all (Matt and Chuck) do not understand the grammar issue here. Greek nouns have gender, and the rest of the sentence is required to match the gender of those nouns. For example (of our case in point):

        1Jn 5:8
        (8) και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν

        This verse standing alone is grammatically incorrect. Here’s Gregory (again) reminding us of the rules of the language.

        Secondly, because he had not been consistent in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your Grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourself disclaim in the case of Deity?

        If you were speaking Spanish, would you refer to a group of three women as “los hermanos?” That likewise would be a grievous grammatical error, and potentially insulting. However, those same three women would be part of “los hermanos” if at least one male member were present. If your original document address six siblings (with at least one male) this would explain why “los hermanos” would be used.

        So now let’s look again at our passage:

        1Jn 5:7-8
        (7) οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν
        (8) και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν

        Within the fuller context (including verse 7) now there is no grammatical problem, because in the Greek language both “pater” and “logos” have male gender, and this transference applies to the “three” in both verses.

        Just as a demonstration of how “three” can be used with differing gender:

        Act 10:19 GNT-TR
        (19) του δε πετρου ενθυμουμενου περι του οραματος ειπεν αυτω το πνευμα ιδου ανδρες τρεις ζητουσιν σε

        three men = ανδρες τρεις

        1Co 13:13 GNT-TR
        (13) νυνι δε μενει πιστις ελπις αγαπη τα τρια ταυτα μειζων δε τουτων η αγαπη

        three (faith, hope, and charity) = τρια (but not the masculine τρεις)

        It seems to me that one of the motivations against 1 John 5:7 is an emotional resistance against the idea that some of those obnoxious “King James Only” folk might be right on this passage. That might not be a comfortable consideration.

        I think it is fair to ask one question on a post (and to wait for and respect a response) so I will ask (perhaps rhetorically, if no one shall answer) … should we expect that the original manuscripts of the New Testament (inspired by the Holy Ghost) be inerrant, in both content and grammar? Or does God not know how to speL and never lernt grammur?

        So when faced with two extant Greek readings, and only one of them fits, why is this such a hard choice?

        P.S. Chuck…. if you want a longer conversation, please contact me via email. You can find the address by following my Gravatar link. This is too much to wade through.

  32. Chuck says:

    ANDREW:
    However, before you start lighting off on a tangential direction on some questions that were not aimed at you in the first place, would you mind introducing yourself?

    CHUCK:
    Now Andrew – I’m going to quote what you said earlier on September 10:

    If by any chance Daniel Wallace is one of your good friends, could you please bring him forward so we can discuss his piece out in the open where others can see both questions and answers? Please understand my frustration with this grand game of keep-away

    Now I would note that your tone was much less than charitable and more than just a little insulting. No, I am not Dan Wallace. No, I do not represent or speak for him. But you asked Matt several questions here. Your words were that you had some questions you hoped that he would answer. And you also stated that you had written against this particular paper and that you are frustrated with a game of keep away.

    Well, I’m here to answer your questions. I have already shown that your Gill and Henry arguments are not exactly based upon much more than “X said this, but Y said this.” I don’t consider such comments scholarly, but I realize it is the norm in the day of the Net. So I hope you will not mind me answering the questions you stated you wanted answered.

    I have spent some 14 years dabbling in textual criticism with an intense focus the last seven. This particular verse is troublesome on the popular level, which explains my interest in it.

  33. Chuck says:

    6) Have these internal problems been addressed by Daniel Wallace in this (or another) paper?

    Although not dealing specifically with 1 John 5:7 (which he obviously rejects), the answer is yes. Wallace dealt with so-called grammatical problems regarding lack of concord in “Greek Grammar and the Personality of the Holy Spirit,” Bulletin For Biblical Research 13.1 (2003), 97-125.

  34. Chuck says:

    ANDREW:
    There’s multiple problems with this theory, the first of which is that historically the passage was often an embarrassment to the Trinity position (when not dealing with Arians). For example, if this was a fourth century Latin homily to refer to members of the Trinity, then why does Tertullian debate the meaning of “these three are one” (rather than disputing the validity of the phrase) with Praxaes as early as 213 AD?

    CHUCK:
    I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say it’s because that’s in the text regardless. It is amusing to me how much mileage people want to get out of a phrase that is already in verse eight. But before going further please give me the specific citation from Tertullian so I can look it up and know what specifically you’re talking about. (I think I know, but please indulge me).

    ANDREW:
    And if this was merely a fourth century Latin homily to refer to members of the Trinity, then why did Priscillian (who was not Trinitarian) quote the passage and attribute it to the apostle John?

    CHUCK:
    Priscillian is the Latin homily in question – that kind of answers that question does it not? Note also that not only does he quote it but he adds the words “in Christ Jesus” to the quote. Are you now suggesting that John wrote those words as well? If not then I fail to see how this is overly relevant other than to note you may not have known Priscillian is quoting the homily in question, “Lieber Apologeticus.” This is the first CERTAIN quote of the passage you’re talking about.

  35. Chuck says:

    ANDREW:
    “First, it is being argued earlier than the fourth century;”

    CHUCK:
    I will set this aside until you give me the specific quote by Tertullian.

    ANDREW:
    Second, it’s absence leaves a gap in the Greek text, not the Latin.

    CHUCK:
    You’re in error about the grammar as I pointed out, but I will address this further when I ask you a series of questions that I fully expect you to answer as I have yours.

    ANDREW:
    And third, the passage was actually inconvenient for the Trinitarian position, rather than a comprising a helpful homily.

    CHUCK:
    I am assuming that you are alleging (as Nolan did) that the Sabellians would have quoted this verse. Why then do we not have Christian explanations as to why the Trinity is found here? In point of fact, it seems to me this passage would be all over the place with back and forth debate over the meaning of the words. The fact there is total silence about such debate suggests strongly such a passage never existed at the time in the Greek language. Numerous fathers include Ambrose quote everything around the Comma but never once hint at it.

  36. Chuck says:

    Going back, however, to your allegation that there is somehow a gap in the Greek. It is what you are alleging that truly frightens me. I am aware that a very tiny group of KJV Onlyists has invoked this argument, and the reason they get away with it is because nobody in their congregation knows enough Greek to challenge them on it. But there are numerous places where there is grammatical disagreement. Consider two examples. The first is in 1 Cor. 13:13. In that verse, the neuter three occurs with three feminine nouns. How is this any different than the passage in 1 John without the Comma? Or what about 1 Cor. 6:9-11, where the word “these” is in neuter and the sins listed are all masculines? Once again, how is this any different than 1 John 5:7? And finally, even if one removes the verse (“the gap” as you call it), there is still grammatical disagreement in verse eight, a point that was made by Horne in 1824, Oxlee in 1825, and Westcott in 1892. How then can you allege that there is a gap when the same grammatical problem occurs?

    Now – in light of the fact I have dealt with your seven questions and quite fairly might I add, I expect the same courtesy in return. I will deal with the Tertullian quote when you give me specifics regarding where it is

  37. Chuck says:

    Now please answer my questions:

    1) Conceding the Greek manuscript testimony (none prior to 1215) and assuming for the sake of argument your “gap” allegation – who specifically removed the passage and please show how you know this?

    2) If you’re alleging heretics removed the gap then they must have had immense intelligence to be able to round up every Greek manuscript on the planet and remove the Comma. How could such people have been so intelligent to remove the Comma yet not intelligent enough to alter the grammar in 1 John 5:7 (to use the neuter rather than masculine)?

    3) If John wrote this Comma then why is it missing not only in Greek but also in every language derived directly from Greek?

    4) Is there any other passage of Scripture in the KJV that you would use the exact same text-critical method that has no Greek support for so long?

    5) Do you seriously believe that every single person who was copying 1 John somehow looked away at the manuscript at the exact same time and place and thus removed the same passage without a trace multiple (possibly hundreds of) times?

    6) Do you support changing the text of the New Testament to support other readings from the same Greek manuscripts that contain the Comma? (For example, do you favor rewriting 1 John to match Codex Montfortianus precisely?). If not then why?

    7) If as you say 1 John 5:7 was intentionally not quoted by Christians during the Trinitarian controversies because it would embarrass them, why then did you also say Cyprian quoted it?

  38. Andrew Patrick says:

    Hello Matt and Chuck,

    I just got my internet connected today and see that about eighteen (18) messages have piled up on this thread. I’ll try to get back later, but it’s a bit hard to keep a coherent conversation with chains of reply-to-and-replied-to posts.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      Just a response to your questions about the grammar of this passage. Not sure if Chuck has anything to say on this…he probably didn’t know you typed it since it was written as a reply to me and not to him. Anyway, I have been looking over the Greek in the Comma as well as some other verses that shed light on this for us. If you leave out the Comma you have a present, active, participle (nominative, plural, masculine) referring to three neuter nouns (spirit, water and blood). If you keep the Comma you have a present, active, participle (nominative, plural masculine) referring to 2 masculine nouns (father and word) and one neuter noun (Holy Spirit).

      Above you said this, ” it seems to me that y’all (Matt and Chuck) do not understand the grammar issue here. Greek nouns have gender, and the rest of the sentence is required to match the gender of those nouns.”

      First, lets talk about some exceptions to what you just said there…There are several other verses that show your conclusion about how nouns, verbs and direct objects work in Greek is incorrect.

      Number:

      Gal 5:22 has the “fruit of the Spirit” (singular noun) with a singular verb (is) and then multiple direct objects (love, joy, peace…etc) and he concludes with “against these things” (plural) there is no law. Sounds pretty confusing because here the number doesn’t match up from noun to verb to direct object. You said above the rest of the sentence is required to match the noun and verb…it doesn’t here. Did the Holy Spirit not know Greek…as you asked in your comment (“should we expect that the original manuscripts of the New Testament (inspired by the Holy Ghost) be inerrant, in both content and grammar? Or does God not know how to speL and never lernt grammur?”)? Or maybe your understanding of Greek rules is incomplete. Which is more likely, especially considering you haven’t ever had a class on Koine Greek.

      Gender:
      Your assertion was that Greek nouns have gender and that the rest of the sentence has to match the gender of the noun. How about Ephesians 1:13-14 has the same word here as in 1 John 5:7-8 “Spirit”. At the end of 1:13 Spirit is neuter but it is then referred to in 1:14 as ο εστιν αρραβων which means “who is a deposit” (all nominative/subject, singular, masculine) and refers directly back to the neuter Holy Spirit. So there you have neuter H.S. being referred to by masculine nouns. So your assertion about rock solid, 100% never to be violated rules of gender agreement doesn’t stand up either.

      Daniel Wallace does offer a plausible explanation for the gender differences between the participle and the objects in 1 John 5:7-8 is that John is using the idea of 2-3 male witnesses being needed to validate something (Deut 19:15)…so he makes the participle masculine to refer to the three neuter witnesses. Just a thought as to why it might be there like that.

      Anyway, don’t miss my point…your hard and fast rules of grammar have exceptions. So it is unfair to say God couldn’t have inspired it that way because He did in other instances.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        Looking at your examples,

        Gal 5:22 has the “fruit of the Spirit” (singular noun) with a singular verb (is) and then multiple direct objects (love, joy, peace…etc) and he concludes with “against these things” (plural) there is no law. Sounds pretty confusing because here the number doesn’t match up from noun to verb to direct object.

        Content-wise, it isn’t really confusing to me. There is no law against love, joy, or peace, but it is the whole conglomerate effect is the fruit of the Spirit. If any of these elements were divorced from the others, then that would not be the fruit of the Spirit.

        In English, there is a slight change in meaning between “fruit of the Spirit” and “fruits of the Spirit” but a grammatical rule that “fruit” requires “is” and “fruits” require “are.” So Greek-wise, are you saying that Galatians 5:22 is merely confusing or actually grammatical incorrect?

        Perhaps I was not phrasing my words well, but then again, I am not claiming expertise. One wouldn’t even gain fluency (or language mastery) from a dozen semesters. So rather than attempting to use my own credentials, I was relying on a native speaker, namely, Gregory, who said that the 1 John passage (lacking verse 7) was contrary to all the rules of grammar.

        Whether I have ever taken “classes” in “koine Greek” is irrelevant. But, if we are on that topic, I did check with someone else where you disagreed on the translation of “these three are one” from that other document were were discussing. Are you interested in what he said?

        Back to the topic, I understand that we are not debating whether the Greek majority reading of 1 John is “contrary to the rules of grammar” or not, but rather whether there are provable exceptions to the grammar in scripture?

        I’d like to look at the Ephesians 1:13 a bit more. Immediately I’m noticing that your translation is different, and so I’m wondering if you also have the same source text. “Who is a deposit” (NIV) implies you’re talking about an individual, whereas “which is the earnest” seems more appropriate for a neuter.

        To make sure that I understand, are you saying that Ephesians 1:13-14 absolutely violates the rules of Greek grammar (and if so, do you have an authority to support this?)

        Daniel Wallace does offer a plausible explanation for the gender differences between the participle and the objects in 1 John 5:7-8 is that John is using the idea of 2-3 male witnesses being needed to validate something (Deut 19:15)…so he makes the participle masculine to refer to the three neuter witnesses. Just a thought as to why it might be there like that.

        That explanation doesn’t make sensible sense to me… I guess I am saying that it doesn’t sound very plausible. And if we’re back to internal arguments, there’s the problem that in verse 9 John compares “the witness of men” with “the witness of God” and if you only have verse six then there is no “witness of God” to be referenced.

        Anyway, don’t miss my point…your hard and fast rules of grammar have exceptions. So it is unfair to say God couldn’t have inspired it that way because He did in other instances.

        If God inspired flawed grammar in other instances, then your point would have merit, but …

        1) that presumes that there really are other instances that allow for no other explanation than flawed grammar (not merely possibly confusing to someone else),

        2) that presumes that you are evaluating them correctly as to whether they are correct or not (how many semesters grants one proper fluency and/or mastery of a language?)

        3) that presumes that if we were to find provable instances of flawed grammar, whether we would consider them as legitimate and therefore, truly inspired (are we assuming that we have extant copies of all of the original text?)

        … so rather than accepting your conclusion, I am questioning its assumptions. I think that identifying those assumptions might be helpful. Yes, one could contend that scripture might have flawed grammar, but it would really help to have solid supporting examples that could be easily illustrated.

      • mattdabbs says:

        I meant to say previous that I messed up on the athanasius quote. At least that is my memory…hard for me to check on my phone. I am not saying God violated Greek grammar laws. I am saying your understanding that Greek rules for number and gender are not the 100 percent absolutes you said they are. Sorry if I didnt’t communicate that well. Chuck dealt with the Gregory quote above if my memory is right…again hard to look back on my phone.

      • Andrew Patrick says:

        I’m sure that I do not understand all the nuances of Greek grammar, but Gregory grew up with the language and was a lot closer to it than any of us are… and he said that the passage (his access was to Greek was without verse seven) violated all the laws that their grammarians had laid down. What Chuck did (earlier) was to provide the very lengthy text surrounding Gregory’s quote… which didn’t do anything to change what we already established. All we got was more text.

        On a related tangent: Hypothetically, could there be a third reading for this passage that would have been the actual original text? That is, perhaps the majority reading might not be correct, but perhaps the minority reading might not be correct either… if the real reading was yet undiscovered?

        After all, there’s no guarantee that scripture has to be preserved as majority readings in any particular language, is there? No textual critic would be able to maintain that argument. So I’m not trying to sell anyone on this hypothetical scenario, but how would this possibility be fairly weighed and considered?

  39. mattdabbs says:

    Andrew – I am working through parsing the two verses and will get back to you on the grammar of it when I am able. Thanks.

  40. Rebekah L says:

    Satan loves when we argue about the Word of God. The more we focus on translation differences, the more we lose focus on Him. I’m not saying there aren’t important and valid reasons for these disagreements, I just think a debate that goes on for three years on a single blog is a bit much. We are all sinners, the translators on all sides were sinners. We can argue all day long about different manuscripts or we can decide to focus on what matters. Our Lord and Savior came to die for us. He is coming back. Let’s spend our time helping people be ready for His return rather than spending our time on this. These are just my thoughts, please don’t think I mean any harm or offense to anyone by them. In Him. -Rebekah L.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks for your comment. It is certainly important to speak the truth in love. By the way, the conversation with Andrew doesn’t go all the back to when the post was written three years ago. The reason it continues is because I don’t like to ignore people, especially when they discuss things in an informed and respectful way, as he has done.

      • Rebekah L says:

        I actually didn’t mean to reply to the thread specific to Andrew, as it more applied to the entire post in general, but I respect what you said about not wanting to ignore people. And though I don’t agree with a debate going on this long, I appreciate your obvious effort to keep it respectful. God Bless you and all your readers 🙂

      • There can be value in the manner of the discussion even regardless of the thing being discussed (1 Cor 13:2… “though I have all knowledge… and have not charity, I am nothing.”)

        From that perspective, I think it’s more healthy to be able to talk about something controversial in an open fair way, than to have certain subjects that must remain taboo to avoid a chance of “rocking the boat.” An artificial peace is not a real peace.

  41. Jacquelyn Sterner says:

    Maybe it was left out so that people, especially worldly folks, would not focus in on the healing ‘Angel of the Lord at the water’. Lovingly not an ad in the Bible like the newsletter.

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