1Jn 5:7b-8a “Comma Johanneum”

For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

And there are three that bear witness in earth,] the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

~ 1Jn 5:7-8

As much as I like the KJV and even the NKJV, they are not without their problems. Indeed, the above text is one of the most disputed verses in these versions. Most modern translations omit it, italicize it or at very least relegate it to the footnotes.

Has the Bible Been Reliably Transmitted?

Before I get too far along, though, I want to point out that the accuracy of many of the translations of the Bible is amazing. While it is true that occasional scribal parenthetical statements have made their way into the text and translator bias has influenced others, what is amazing is that there are about 24,000 manuscripts around to spot these with a high degree of accuracy. There are more copies of the Bible than any other ancient work. In contrast, Homer’s Iliad only has about 643.

Hundreds if not thousands of manuscripts were destroyed across the Roman Empire during this persecution, which lasted until A.D. 311. But even if Diocletian had succeeded in wiping every biblical manuscript off the face of the earth, he could not have destroyed our ability to reconstruct the New Testament. Why? Because the early church fathers – men of the second and third centuries such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, and others – quoted the New Testament so much (36,289 times, to be exact) that all but eleven verses of the New Testament can be reconstructed just from their quotations. In other words, you could go down to your local public library, check out the works of the early church fathers, and read nearly the entire New Testament just from their quotations of it! So we not only have thousands of manuscripts, but thousands of quotations from those manuscripts. This makes reconstruction of the original text virtually certain.

~ I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler, Frank Turek and David Limbaugh

When someone finds a fragment of a clay tablet, what is written on it is automatically assumed to be accurate of the times and culture from which it originated. What is amazing, though, is that in spite of all of this evidence, when it comes to the Bible, critics automatically assume that it is wrong until it is right. It is assumed to be full of transmission and translation errors, let alone what it may claim inside.

Many critics assume the Bible is wrong until something proves it right. However, like an American citizen charged with an offense, the Bible should be read with at least the same presumption of accuracy given to other literature that claims to be nonfiction. This is the way we approach all human communications. If we did not, life would not be possible. If we assumed that road signs and traffic signals were not telling the truth, we would probably be dead before we could prove otherwise. If we assumed food packages are mislabeled, we would have to open up all cans and packages before buying. Likewise, the Bible, like any other book, should be presumed to be telling us what the authors said, experienced, and heard. But, negative critics begin with just the opposite presumption. Little wonder they conclude the Bible is riddled with error.

~ Are There Any Errors in the Bible?, North American Mission Board (previously on 4Truth.net)

Different Manuscripts

The KJV began to be translated in 1607. At that time, there was only believed to be 1 Greek Byzantine text done by Erasmus (See Which Bible Translation Should I Use?). This became known as the Textus Receptus (TR), or Received Text. When compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a 98.33% favorable comparison to the KJV (ibid). Also, 98% of Greek manuscripts agree with it (ibid).

Since the time the KJV was put together, other Greek manuscripts have come on the scene. These are called the Majority Texts (MT). Unfortunately, often these are relegated to a more minor status as compared to the older Alexandrian documents. Is older always better? The Alexandrian manuscripts differ from each other more frequently than the MT do. Yet, in spite of this loss of accuracy, many modern translators opt for older over accurate.

Back To the Comma Johanneum

It would be a mistake, though, to assume that just because it is the TR that it contains 0 errors. It is a circular argument that the TR (which presumably came from the originals) had the Comma Johanneum passage contained within, and so therefore so did the original. There are no manuscripts before the 16th century that contain that passage. It would have had to have been included after 1516, when Erasmus published his first version of the NT. In fact, he got so skewered for not including what is now known as “Comma Johanneum” that the Catholic fathers pressured him to include it into his 1522 edition by finding a Greek translation that had it in it (see “The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8“).

That Greek translation was forged! See Footnote 1 on “1 John 5:7 (Johannine Comma) – ‘These Three Are One’“.

Another reason for doubting its inclusion is that it wasn’t “quoted by any of the early Church Fathers, who would have had plenty of reason to quote it in their Trinitarian debates” (Wikipedia article, “Comma Johanneum“, emphasis mine).

Trinity = Confusion

God says He is not the author of confusion. What is more confusing than the doctrine of the Trinity? Have you been able to figure it out? Can you explain it to others? If God made us in His image in order to help us to understand Him, then why do people have so much trouble wrapping their minds around it?

What about non-Christians? Do you think you can explain it to a Muslim? In ending, here is a quote that I would like to share with you from a Muslim, but it should give you a new perspective to think about this issue:

Also see Luke 19:30-38 which has a similar detailed description of this occurrence. On the other hand, the Bible is completely free of any description of the “Trinity” which is supposedly a description of the very nature of the one who rode this ass, who is claimed to be the only son of God, and who allegedly died for the sins of all of mankind. I found myself asking the question: If every aspect of Christian faith is described in such detail such that even the description of this ass is so vividly depicted for us, then why is the same not true for the description of the “Trinity”? Sadly, however, it is a question for which there is no logical answer.

~ The Lie of 1 John 5:7

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