Trinity on Trial An in-depth examination of Trinitarian doctrine
Disinformation


"Let us do evil that good may result."


1. The John Gill "Said So" Debacle

One of the most disturbing displays of disinformation concerning 1 John 5:7 originates with a quotation made by John Gill in his Exposition of the New Testament. John Gill was a Baptist pastor born in England in 1697. His disingenuous comments are being gleefully perpetuated daily among advocates of 1 John 5:7. Let us now review these very unfortunate errors which border on outright lies.

"The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that as to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher's copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text. As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters. 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: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ: and yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius {z}, in the beginning of the "sixth" century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom, as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the "fourth" century; and it is cited by Athanasius {a} about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian {b}, in the middle, of the "third" century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian {c} about, the year 200; and which was within a "hundred" years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the, first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. The heavenly witnesses of Christ's sonship are, (Gill, Exposition of the New Testament, Vol 2, pp. 907-8, emphasis mine).

Let us now look at the facts.

Fiction: "it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts"

Fact: The truth is that the Comma is not found in any early Greek manuscripts. The only manuscripts which contain it are very late manuscripts dating from the sixteenth century and sixteenth century or later marginal glosses added to earlier manuscripts.

Fiction: "nor cited by many of the ancient fathers"

Fact: It was not cited by any of the ancient fathers. It is not cited by any anyone until at least the late fourth century when it we first find a quote made by Priscillian who was excommunicated for heresy and later executed for sorcery by the state. After this we do not hear of it until the fifth century in North Africa.

Fiction: "it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date."

Fact: What does Gill mean by the suggestive use of the word "early?" Again, Gill leads his readers to believe the Comma existed authentically in early manuscripts. The Comma has not yet been found in any Latin manuscripts prior to the sixth century.

FICTION: "[it] stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible."

FACT: The London Polyglot Bible was completed in 1657 and contained the III Maccabees.

FICTION: "[it stands in] the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom, has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters"

FACT: Jerome completed his translation of the Vulgate about A.D. 405. We do not have the original. We have no solid evidence the Comma was in Jerome's original Vulgate. The quotation allegedly made by Jerome is found in the Prologue to the Canonical Epistles of the Codex Fuldensis dated A.D. 546, the earliest copy of the Vulgate in existence.

"according to the rule of truth, so these Epistles I have restored to their proper order; which, if arranged agreeably to the original text, and faithfully interpreted in Latin diction, would neither cause perplexity to the readers, nor would the various readings contradict themselves, especially in that place where we read the unity of the Trinity laid down in the Epistle of John. In this I found translators (or copyists) widely deviating from the truth; who set down in their own edition the names only of the three witnesses, that is, the Water, Blood, and Spirit; but omit the testimony of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; by which, above all places, the Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is proved to be one."

Interestingly, in spite of the above words, this copy of the Vulgate does not contain the Comma. It does, however, contain some evidence of the Comma as 1 John 5:8 contains the words "in earth."

FICTION: "it is in an old British copy"

FACT: The "old British copy" is the Codex Codex Britannicus.
HOME