Proof Or Not About The True Nature of The Trinity

Continued from Part 30

The problem with 1 John 5:7-8

It would seem that one of the best New Testament proofs for the Christian doctrine of a triune deity is found in 1 John 5:7-8.  However, this conclusion depends on which translation of the New Testament you are using.  Many modern translations do not include this supposed proof of a trinitarian deity.

As rendered in the King James Version of the Bible, it reads:  “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.”  However, these verses do not occur in any reliable Greek New Testament manuscript.  Westcott and Hort observe that “by editorial retouching without manuscript authority, the interpolation assumed the form which it bears in the ‘Received Text’ [The King James Version].”46  The words added to the text begin in verse 7 with “in heaven” and include every word through “in earth.”

There is an interesting footnote to the above to be found in the Catholic Jerusalem Bible (1966), which does not have the added words (except for “in heaven”) in the main text.  It states:

Vulg[ate] vv.7-8 read as followers “There are three witnesses in heaven:  the Father the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one; there are three witnesses on earth: the Spirit the water and the blood.”  The words in italics (not in any of the early Greek MSS, or any of the early translations, or in the best MSS of the Vulg. itself) are probably a gloss that has crept into the text.

Whatever its source, the crucial passage does not appear in any of the early manuscripts and is of much later origin than the original authorship of 1 John.

46 Westcott and Hort,  p. 104 (See their complete observation, pp. 103-104).

© Gerald Sigal