Quick read on the history of 1 John 5:7-8

A little late night study going on tonight.  In particular, I’ve been reviewing some of the arguments of “King James Only” proponents, most of which (go figure) have come up rather short.  Though, as a fan of the “old” King James, I wouldn’t say all of them do — at least as far as defending the KJV as an enduring translation of high quality (which it is), but not as far as defending the KJV as “God’s perfect translation into English” (which it isn’t).

1 John 5:7-8 in the Codex Sinaiticus
1 John 5:7-8 in the Codex Sinaiticus, with the Comma Johanneum properly absent (rare kudos here)

In doing so, I thought that I would check out Wikipedia’s section on the extra-biblical insertion into 1 John 5:7-8 called the Comma Johanneum which turns the inspired “For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one,” into the uninspired, Trinity-supporting “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.”

When this passage comes up, we often point out to those who are reading translations that mistakenly include the inserted phrasing that the “extra stuff” was not inspired and was added by men much later.  This fact is common knowledge in the LCG, but I don’t know how many of us have actually read about the history of the inserted material.  For those of you who haven’t, you might find the Wikipedia entry to be a nice summary (at least as of 4/3/2010–who knows how it will change in the future).

Here it is for your reading pleasure: Wikipedia on the “Comma Johanneum” (the late pro-Trinitarian insertion into 1 John 5:7-8).

P.S.  A confession: The lamentable programming I picked up as a child of the 80s has had me singing in my head for the last 20 minutes: “Comma, comma, comma, comma, Comma Johanneum…”  If you don’t know why, thank God.  If you do, then pray with me that God will help us children of the 80s to deleaven our brains… 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Quick read on the history of 1 John 5:7-8

  1. Ed Ewert

    I got up at 3 AM this morning, and I thought I would check your blog. Interesting reading. I was already basically familiar with this, but I wound up taking a more thorough look at it this time. I clicked on some links in the Wiki article, and now I’m wondering about Mark 16:9-20! I see it is bracketed off in the ESV, NASB, and HCSB versions on my electronic bibles.

  2. James Taylor might not know whether to be amused or chagrined. There’s no earworm more pernicious than a parodic earworm, especially an unintentional one. 🙂

    Cool stuff, sir.

  3. Norbert

    In these later years of my life, I have found the proffession of textual criticism as it relates to the entire bible a fascinating area of research. Much of it being like ‘detective work’ where it’s very possible to connect the dots and come to the truth of the matter, most of the time.

    If I could rechoose my trade and proffesion it would be this area of employment, something which I would have liked to persue. Albeit grammar, how sentences are constructed has never been a strong talent of mine, nor was the public school system. 🙂 However as it is, there still is a certain great ammount of satisfaction in being somewhat of a hobbyist.

    I have found a good place to start is to always pay attention to the footnotes found in most of the better editions in the many translations of the bible. Many of which do reference and mention 1 John 5:7-8 and why it’s perculiar. Not that all footnotes should be understood as the correct one just because it’s being ignored, nor do they all make much of a difference either.

    However before I would express beliefs about that verse, rather than just parrot what anybody else says (even if they are a lovable person such as yourself Mr. Smith), I would research and study it as much as possible. Otherwise concidering some of the pro arguments for its’ inclusion, a proponent for that can provide a person with a world of hurt. Because in one very real sense such things go a little beyond the idea, “Don’t believe me, believe your Bible, believe God”.

    Also:

    “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.” (Pro 18:13)

  4. I agree, Norbert, that it is good to look into such things on one’s own and encourage it. I know it’s helped me, and that’s why I provided the link. The Wikipedia article is a nice summary for anyone interested in pursuing the matter.

  5. For the record, BENJAMIN WILSON’S EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT (published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses) gives a basic summary of the textual evidence about the Comma. 🙂

    I love classical textual criticism, but then I love anything that has far-reaching implications for understanding. I should’ve been a clone…one of an army of clones, all interconnected Borg-style, so I’d have a decent chance of learning everything I’d like to learn. 😀

  6. 13brian

    Thanks for the discussion and link- I will read it shortly. However, at the present time I too have the irrepressible earworm doing it’s deed virtually in my conscious also. For that I DO NOT thank you, I shall be rather disappointed if it is there whilst driving to Services tomorrow also – especially as I am in the choir and we are performing tomorrow! 🙂

    To all- have a great High Sabbath.

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