1 John 5:7-8
Textual commentary on the 16h century addition to (corruption of) 1 John 5:7-8
by Robert Nguyen Cramer (version 220.127.116.11)
The text from 1 John 5
KJV - 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth], the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
NRSV - 6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 7 There are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.
TEV - 6 Jesus Christ is the one who came with the water of his baptism and the blood of his death. He came not only with the water, but with both the water and the blood. And the Spirit himself testifies that this is true, because the Spirit is truth. 7 There are three witnesses: 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and all three give the same testimony.
1Jo 5:7-8 - in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth - (based on the original text's correction of KJV's Greek text)
This text is not found in any modern English versions, i.e., not found in those versions that are translated from the current representations of the original texts. (The NKJV is not such a modern translation. It is still totally dependent upon the KJV and the same faulty Hebrew and Greek texts from which the KJV was translated. )
For additional details regarding the corruption of the Textus Receptus that was the basis of the Greek text used by the KJV translators, browse http://www.bibletexts.com/kjv-tr.htm#1jo0507. Below is an excerpt from that article.
Even up to the fifth and final edition of Erasmus' Greek text in 1535, Erasmus fell prey to pressure and manipulation from church authorities to add to subsequent editions phrases and entire verses that he strongly (and rightly) suspected were not part of the original text. (Ibid., pages 100-101, which document how Erasmus was conned to include what is translated in the KJV in 1Jo 5:7-8, the following text: "in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth." Conservative biblical scholar F.F. Bruce (History of the English Bible, Third Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1978, pages 141-142) explains the sad history of how 1Jo 5:7-8 had been errantly added to Erasmus' Greek text:
The words ["in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth."] omitted in the R.V. [Revised Version, 1881] were no part of the original Greek text, nor yet of the Latin Vulgate in its earliest form. They first appear in the writings of a Spanish Christian leader named Priscillian, who was executed for heresy in A.D. 385. Later they made their way into copies of the Latin text of the Bible. When Erasmus prepared his printed edition of the Greek New Testament, he rightly left those words out, but was attacked for this by people who felt that the passage was a valuable proof-text for the doctrine of the Trinity. He replied (rather incautiously) that if he could be shown any Greek manuscript which contained the words, he would include them in his next edition. Unfortunately, a Greek manuscript not more than some twenty years old was produced in which the words appeared: they had been translated into Greek from Latin. Of course, the fact that the only Greek manuscript exhibiting the words belonged to the sixteenth century was in itself an argument against their authenticity, but Erasmus had given his promise, and so in his 1522 edition he included the passage. (To-day one or two other very late Greek manuscripts are known to contain this passages; all others omit it.)
[For more details on Erasmus' addition of the 1Jo 5:7,8 text, see Metzger's The Text of the New Testament, Second Edition, pages 101-102.]
In the Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (NY: United Bible Societies, 1994, page 647-649), Bruce Metzger writes a detailed textual commentary regarding this verse, excerpts from which are below:
After marturountes [the Greek word meaning "testifying", Strong's #3140] the Textus Receptus adds the following: en to ourano, ho Pater ho Logos, kai to Hagion Pneuma. kai houtoi hoi treis hen eisi (8) kai treis eisin hoi marturountes en te ge. That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in the New Testament is certain in the light of the following considerations.
(A) EXTERNAL EVIDENCE.
(1) The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except eight, and these contain the passage in what appears to be a traslation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate... The eight manuscripts are the following:
2318v.r.: an eighteenth-century manuscript, influenced by the Clementine Vulgate, at Bucharest, Rumania.
(2) The passage is quoted by none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certaily have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies...
(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions.
(B) INTERNAL PROBABILITIES.
(1) As regards transcriptional probability, if the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission, either accidentally or intentionally, by copyists of hundreds of Greek manuscripts, and by the translators of ancient versions.
(2) As regards intrinsic probability, the passage makes an awkward break in the sense...
7. For there are three who bear witness (hoti treis eisin hoi marturoountes). At this point the Latin Vulgate gives the words in the Textus Receptus, found in no Greek MS. save two late cursives (162 in the Vatican Library of the fifteenth century, 34 of the sixteenth century in Trinity College, Dublin). Jerome did not have it. Cyprian applies the language of the Trinity and Priscillian has it. Erasmus did not have it in his first edition, but rashly offered to insert it if a single Greek S. had it and 34 was produced with the insertion, as if made to order. The spurious addition is: en toi ouranoi ho pater, ho logos kai to hagion pneuma kai houtoi hoi treis hen eisin kai treis eisin hoi marturountes en tei gei (in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth). The last clause belongs to verse 8. The fact and the doctrine of the Trinity do not depend on this spurious addition. Some Latin scribe caught up Cyprian's exegesis and wrote it on the margin of his text, and so it got into the Vulgate and finally into the Textus Receptus by the stupidity of Erasmus.
Textual criticism is the discipline that seeks to identify the original wording of an ancient document. Textual criticism of the Bible benefits preaching by preventing nonbiblical sermons... We regret giving up a nice doctrinal sermon on the Trinity based on 1 John 5:7b (KJV). Nevertheless, if it is determined that these are additions to the original writings, whether intentional or accidental, biblical preaching based on these texts cannot occur... Sermons based on spurious or corrupted texts cannot be genuinely biblical. The determination of exactly what the Scripture said is the starting point for biblical preaching.
Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer
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