Saturday, July 31, 2010

Martin Shue and The Comma Johanneum

Martin Shue is one of a small number of writers who argue that the Comma Johanneum (I John 5:7 as it appears in the King James Bible) is authentic Scripture. This particular post will have his argument as he himself has laid it out in response to Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, NT professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. This article - other than not quoting the entirety of Wallace's article - is quoted in its entirety. Or it may be accessed as originally written by clicking HERE.

In my studies of 1 John 5:7 I came across the following article by Daniel B. Wallace, Ph.D. In fairness to Mr. Wallace I would like to post his entire article instead of just quoting from it as many do. This way I will not be accused of using Mr. Wallace’s quotes out of context or inaccurately. Below in the shaded area is his entire article as found on his website.

(Wallace's article can be read in its entirety HERE).

I think myself happy this day to be able to respond to Mr. Wallace’s claims in his article. I shall endeavor to rebut his claim that Cyprian did not quote the Comma Johanneum before 258 AD. I shall also seek to prove that several of his statements, which Mr. Wallace states as fact, regarding the Comma are false. I trust that the following will be beneficial to both sides of the debate and will perhaps clear up some of the myths surrounding Cyprian and 1 John 5:7.

I would concur with Wallace that it would indeed be significant if Cyprian did in fact quote the Comma in the early third century. I would also agree with Wallace that all we need to establish is that Cyprian “quote(d) a version of 1 John that had the Trinitarian formula of 1 John 5:7 in it”. In the ensuing paragraphs this is exactly what I shall prove. But as Wallace points out “a little background is needed”. We proceed to examine the evidence set forth by both Wallace and Metzger.

Wallace immediately states that “the Comma occurs only in about 8 MSS.”. Obviously Mr. Wallace is referring to the Greek mss. only. I would like to point this out lest it be made to appear that there are LITERALLY ‘only about 8 MSS.’ which contain the Comma. There are many Latin mss., of those that contain the Catholic Epistle of 1 John the vast majority contain 1 John 5:7. Many of these dating back to at least as early as the 4th century. It can also be found in the Latin Vulgate; of which, Frederick Scrivener wrote, “it is found in the printed Latin Vulgate, and in perhaps forty-nine out of every fifty of its manuscripts”. So, the ms. evidence is far greater than 8. And even if we did take this to mean the Greek mss. it is still not correct. Though the actual count is somewhat disputed, each side claiming or denying certain mss., it is agreed upon by both sides that there are certainly more than just 8 Greek mss. that contain the phrase.

In the next portion of his article Wallace quotes from Bruce Metzger. Metzger is quoted as writing, “(2) The passage is quoted in none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian). Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.” This is a most interesting statement by Metzger. In an effort to make it appear to the unsuspecting saint that there is no Early Church Father support for the verse Metzger says “Greek Fathers”. This is interesting because at other times Metzger himself will appeal to these ‘non-Greek’ Fathers if they can be found to bolster support for his argument. The fact is the Comma Johanneum is cited by Priscillian (385 AD), Cassian (435 AD), Ps-Vigilius (date unknown), Ps-Athanasius (6th century), Fulgentius (510 AD)(see John Gill), Ansbert (8th century), Jerome (4th century), Tertullian (3rd century), Athanasis (350 AD), Council of Carthage (415 AD), Vigilius of Thapsus (5th century), Cassiodorus (6th century) and Victor Vitensis, who records that the passage was “insisted” upon in a confession of faith that was drawn up by Eugenius Bishop of Carthage and authorized by no less than 460 bishops in 484 AD. In addition to those already listed there are numerous other Early Church Fathers that cite the verse without doubting its authenticity. Of special note I would like to mention that the passage appears in the Greek Synopsis of Holy Scripture (4th century). It is also quoted in the ’Disputation with Arius’ by Ps-Athanasius thus proving Metzger’s statement that it was not used in the Arian controversy false. The passage is also cited in an isolated Homily by an unknown author, in the Benedictin edition of Chrysostom (tom. xii. pp. 416-21). The date of this Homily has been fixed to 381 AD. This is yet another Greek witness for the Comma of the fourth century. The Homily reads in Greek, “eis kekletai ho Pater kai ho Uios kai to Pneuma to Agion: dei gar te apostolike choreia parachoresai ten Agian Triada, en ho Pater kataggellie. Trias Apostolon, martus tes ouraniou Triados.” Once again this is Greek evidence which appears much earlier than Metzger purports when he says, “Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215.” I am not certain if Metzger is aware of the above facts or if he has just chosen to overlook them.

Wallace next cites Metzger as writing, “The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic) except the Latin:”. Again we find a distortion of the facts by both Metzger and Wallace. Being that both these learned men write extensively on this subject one would think they would be a little more familiar with the facts of the matter. These facts are not hidden and can be found by anyone willing to do a little research. The Comma is in fact found in some of the Armenian manuscripts. F. H. A. Scrivener reported this fact in his book “Plain Introduction” (cf. p. 403). Now even the newest UBS critical text has updated this information and admits that the passage is in fact found in some Armenian manuscripts. Additionally, the first printed edition of the Armenian Bible, which was published in 1666 by Bishop Uscan, contains the Comma. It is also reported by Dr. Scrivener that “only a few recent Slavonic copies” do in fact contain the Comma. I will be the first to admit that it is hard to keep up with all the evidence when dealing with this issue of textual criticism but for such respected men as Daniel Wallace and Bruce Metzger to not be aware of the above facts is perplexing. Especially when so many read their books and articles and, as can be seen by the clubs, hang on to every word that flows from their pen (or in this day I should say ‘keyboard’).

I will now move on to his arguments concerning whether or not Cyprian quoted “a version” of 1 John 5:7. Mr. Wallace makes a lot of accusations about Cyprian putting a “theological spin” on 1 John 5:7 thus intimating that Cyprian did not actually read the Comma in his copy. Most of his statements are pure conjecture and cannot be proven in any way. It would be easy for me to make such hypothetical allegations as: “theological spin”, “What is evident is that Cyprian’s interpretation”, “Apparently, he was prompted”, “it was a natural step”, “obviously his interpretation”, “Trinitarian interpretation was superimposed on the text by Cyprian”, and my favorite is his concluding remarks, viz. “Thus, that Cyprian interpreted 1 John 5:7-8 to refer to the Trinity is likely; but that he saw the Trinitarian formula in the text is rather unlikely.” I would thank Mr. Wallace for giving us his opinion as to what Cyprian was “likely” or “unlikely” to have both read and thought. However, it is this type of ‘scholarship’ that has landed us in the mess that we are currently in. I can assure you that what Mr. Wallace points out as conjecture will be used by another as FACT. We pass on!

Since Cyprian wrote the disputed passage in Latin I feel it necessary to list Cyprian’s words in Latin. Cyprian wrote, “Dicit dominus, Ego et pater unum sumus (John x. 30), et iterum de Patre, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancto scriptum est, Et tres unum sunt.” (The Lord says, "I and the Father are One," and again, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost it is written: "And the three are One."). This Latin reading is important when you compare it to the Old Latin reading of 1 John 5:7; “Quoniam tres sunt, gui testimonium dant in coelo: Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt.” Cyprian clearly says that it is written of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--”And the three are One.” His Latin matches the Old Latin reading identically with the exception of ‘hi’. Again, it is important to note that Cyprian said “it is written” when making his remarks. He never indicates, depsite Wallace’s claims, that he is putting some sort of “theological spin” on 1 John 5:7 or 8. There is no other verse that expressly states that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are ‘three in one’ outside of 1 John 5:7. If Cyprian was not quoting 1 John 5:7 the question must be asked and answered: What was he quoting?

The matter becomes even more devastating for Wallace when we take into account another of Cyprian’s many statements. When considering issues such as this one before us it is necessary to lay on the table as much of the evidence as one can. Often many of the facts are purposely kept silent due to their damaging testimony. Cyprian writes in another place, “et sanctificatus est, et templum Dei factus ets, quaero cujus Dei? Si Creatoris, non potuit, qui in eum non credidit; si Christi, nec hujus fieri potuit templum, qui negat Deum Christum; si Spiritus Sancti, cum tres unum sunt, quomodo Spiritus Sanctus placatus esse ei potest, qui aut Patris aut Fillii inimicus est?” (If he was sanctified, he also was made the temple of God. I ask, of what God? If of the Creator; he could not be, because he has not believed in Him. If of Christ; he could not become His temple, since he denies that Christ is God. If of the Holy Spirit; SINCE THE THREE ARE ONE, how can the Holy Spirit be at peace with him who is the enemy either of the Son or of the Father?) Here again we see Cyprian stating that “the three are One” (i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This I feel is important because it gives us another reference in Cyprian’s writings testifying to the fact that he was not merely putting a “theological spin” on 1 John 5:7/8. The fact is 1 John 5:7 was found in Cyprian’s copies.

Admittedly, the second quote is not near as ‘strong’ as the first but when the evidence it presented, without all the conjecture, only one seeking to hide something can ignore the fact that Cyprian knew full well the wording of 1 John 5:7 as found in our Authorized Version. This is so evident that even Frederick Scrivener, who adamantly opposed the Comma, was compelled to say, “If these two passages be taken together (the first is manifestly much the stronger), it is surely safer and more candid to admit that Cyprian read ver. 7 in his copies, than to resort to the explanation of Facundus, that the holy Bishop was merely putting on ver. 8 a spiritual meaning (Plain Introduction, p. 405).” I couldn’t agree more with the words of Dr. Scrivener! The question then becomes, why does Mr. Wallace continue to espouse this “spiritual meaning/theological spin” hypothesis when this allegation has been refuted for centuries? One can only wonder if the reason behind this charade is not to further conceal the actual evidence and to further mislead the unsuspecting saints.

I hope in this short confutation of Wallace’s article that 1) More light has been shed on the evidence in favor of the Comma Johanneum and 2) Exposure has been made of the constant misrepresentation of the facts by people such as Daniel Wallace and Bruce Metzger.

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