the grammar of the heavenly and earthly witnesses

Steven Avery

Well-known member
the grammar of the heavenly and earthly witnesses

First we show the Textus Receptus text, as in the Authorized Version.

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1 John 5:7-8 (AV)

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

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5:7 ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες εν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος, καὶ τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν.
5:8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἕν τῇ γῇ, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἐν εἰσὶν

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Here is the Greek of the shorter Critical Text, with only the earthly witnesses.

ὅτι τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν

Here is one translation (NET)

For there are three that testify, the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are in agreement.

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The question is the neuter substantives with masculine grammar, which has been considered as unacceptably solecistic by world-class scholars. We will show what is written by Eugenius Bulgaris (1716-1806) and Georgios Babiniotis, the premier Greek linguist today. This has been a subject of controversy.

In addition, we will look at a modern attempt, post AD 2000, to “overthrow” or “refute” the argument, using 16 New Testament verses. This will include a thesis accepted at Dallas Theological Seminary.

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Steven Avery

Well-known member
Now the key point of the assertion of a solecism in the short text is that it has a very specific anomaly, neuter nouns and masculine (or feminine) grammar.

Eugenius Bulgaris
"That it is certainly a peculiar virtue of our language that masculine and feminine nouns, in reference to τὰ πράγματα [ta pragmata], are constructed with adjectives and pronouns expressed in the neuter gender, is well known to all who are practised in the language. But no one would say that conversely neuter nouns substantive are also indicated by masculine and feminine adjectives or pronouns."

Frederick Nolan
3. In 1 Joh. v. 7, three masculine adjectives τρεῖς οἱ μαρτυροῦντες are forced into union with three neuter substantives, τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα; a grosser solecism than can be ascribed to any writer, sacred or profane. n93. And low as the opinion may be which the admirers of the Corrected Text may hold of the purity of the style of St. John; it is a grosser solecism than they can fasten on the holy Evangelist, who, in his context, has made one of these adjectives regularly agree with its correspondent substantive in the neuter:
... "This objection was first started by the learned Abp. Eugenius, who has translated “the Georgics” into Greek; and may be seen in a letter prefixed by M. Matthiei to his Greek Testament, Tom. XI. p. ix ...

See also his 1830 writing

Now there is a constructio ad sensum exception that arises for singular nouns referring to people (e.g. teknon referring to a child), or groups of people, here are two examples that were pointed out by Barry Hofstetter.
ἔθνη (ethne, nations) - Matthew 25:32
πλῆθος (plethos) - Luke 18:37

However, there are no people, or groups of people, in the earthly witnesses.
So this well-known feature of the language was simply bypassed.

The key point we want to examine from Eugenius:

masculine and feminine nouns, in reference to τὰ πράγματα [ta pragmata], are constructed with adjectives and pronouns expressed in the neuter gender,
 
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Steven Avery

Well-known member
The High View of the Bible Text

We are predicating this discussion on the high view of the Bible text, that the Holy Spirit moved on the writers, and they did not simply fumble and write gross solecisms. Here is one of the explanations of the high view, in the context of the heavenly and earthly witnesses.

Incidentally, this goes far wider than simply the grammatical gender.
Other internal evidences also call for the heavenly witnesses, such as the awkward repetition if you go from verse 6 to verse 8, and explaining the witness of God of verse 9.

Christian Remembrancer (1822)
The Heavenly Witnesses
Frederick Nolan - written June 18, 1822
http://books.google.com/books?id=i_EDAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA460

... the introduction of the Heavenly Witnesses removes every grammatical objection to the context of the Apostle. That the suppression of them creates an insuperable objection to it, may be referred to the decision of a judge whose sentence none will deny to be impartial, and few dispute to be competent. "But what," observes Bishop Marsh*, in reference to the epistle before us, "shall we say to readings, which when connected with the context make false grammar? What shall we say to a verb singular, &c.....to a masculine adjective referring to a neuter substantive?" .... "Even a man," he elsewhere reasons, "who learnt Greek by mere usage and conversation, without being taught its first principles, could not possibly have written" as St. John is proved to have written, by those who reject the disputed text from his epistle.

* Lett, to Travis, Append, iii. p. 276. sqq. comp. Pref. p. i. n. 1.
 

Steven Avery

Well-known member
The Attempt to Overthrow or Refute the Grammatical Argument

This attempt has arisen after AD 2000, and the key focus is on William A. Brown, Jr. who wrote on CARM and also in a thesis accepted at Dallas Theological Seminary. Amazingly, it makes the most trivial blunder possible.

First, the CARM writing, from the earlier CARM.

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Examples That Overthrow The Alleged Grammar Argument

A first (and easy) example comes from the same author who wrote 1 John. It's the opening of 2 John 1:
Ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ
In this instance, the antecedent of the masculine pronoun (οὕς) is both a feminine singular (κυρίᾳ) and a neuter plural (τέκνοις).
Boom. There was the sound of the grammatical argument hitting the floor. But you have other examples. Keep in mind some knowledge of Greek is necessary to comprehend this grammatical discord. There are probably close to 100 examples of discord in the OT and NT combined.
These include:

Matt 25:32 [τα εθνη (N)…αυτους (m)];
Mark 3:8 [πλῆθος (N)…ἀκούσαντες (m)];
Mark 5:41 [τοῦ παιδίου (N) λέγει αὐτῇ (f)];
Luke 2:13 [πλῆθος (N) στρατιᾶς (f)…αἰνούντων (m) …λεγοντων (m)];
Acts 13:48 [τὰ ἔθνη (N) …ὅσοι (m)…τεταγμένοι (m)];
Acts 14:4 [τὸ πλῆθος (N) …καὶ οἱ (m)…οἱ (m)…];
Acts 15:17 [τὰ ἔθνη (N) ἐφ’ οὓς (m)];
Acts 26:17 [τῶν ἐθνῶν (N) εἰς οὓς (m)];
Rom 2:14 [ἔθνη (N)…οὗτοι (m)];
Rom 9:23-24 [σκεύη (N)...οὓς (m)];
Gal 4:19 [τεκνία (N) …οὓς (m)];
Eph. 2:11 [τὰ ἔθνη (N)…οἱ λεγόμενοι (m)];
Eph 4:17-18 [ἔθνη (N)…ἐσκοτισμένοι (m)… ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι (m)…αὐτοῖς (m)];
Col 2:19 [κεφαλήν (f) ἐξ οὗ ]

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The blunder is simple.
Bill Brown is giving verses that are not neuter substantives, but masculine and feminine, with neuter grammar.

Eugenius Bulgaris makes it 100% clear above that these verses are NOT relevant.

This same list, in a less bombastic manner, is given in the paper, p. 21-23.
Eugenius Bulgaris is referenced in the paper, so if he was read, then Bill Brown should have known that these verses were not a valid overthrow.

An evaluation of the internal support for the Comma Johanneum (2013)
William A. Brown
https://www.tren.com/e-docs/preview-w-security.cfm

This is a perfect example of the problem of USA seminaries. Folks who are supposedly learned in Greek, and their thesis readers at DTS, miss the most basic facts.

And this fundamental error has dominated the Internet discussion.
Bill Brown has not acknowledged his error, nor have any other contras.
 
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Steven Avery

Well-known member
Now there are other attempts to justify the corrupt solecism text.

The simplest is the modern approach, the Bible simply has errors by the writers. John made a horrid goof.

Another involves the claim of personalization.

Another involves shifting the grammar focus, and claiming the masculine participle actually is the grammar focus, and the substantives do not matter. (This was Barry Hofstetter, however he also included non-analogy verses with masculine and/or feminine substantives in trying to make the argument.)

My purpose here is not to go into these ideas, the purpose of this thread is to show how Dallas Theological Seminary could help propagate a totally false idea of the heavenly and earthly witnesses text.

Yet, there is no correction.
 

TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
What, and whose grammar works would the ECW/ANF/PNF compared John's supposed "solecism" against Steven, in order for them to actually know it was a Greek "solecism"?

I don't think you can name the work's or author's of Greek grammars (or Grammarians) from the first 5 centuries A.D. or going back several centuries B.C. either!

Can you name the works? The authors?

Who were the authorities on Greek grammar in the time of the apostles and after Steven?

What grammar book's could the earliest Christians compared 1 John 5:7-8 with?

If you're such an authority on the subject of Greek gender concord, then, educate US on the subject of who, and what grammar works the earliest Christians could/would have used?
 
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Steven Avery

Well-known member
If you're such an authority on the subject of Greek gender concord, then, educate US on the subject of who, and what grammar works the earliest Christians could/would have used?

Hi TNC,

There is one particular grating discord that is notable to the top Greek scholars and linguists, as we see in Bulgaris and Babionitis, which is masculine (or feminine) grammar with neuter nouns. That is the key issue in the heavenly and earthly witnesses solecism analysis.

As Eugenius Bulgaris pointed out, the opposite, masculine or feminine nouns with neuter grammar, is normative. Yet, Bill Brown used verses of that type, wrongly, as his supposed overthrow of the grammatical argument. And this incredible error has skewed what should have been a respectful and accurate discussion of the heavenly and earthly witnesses grammar and "internal" arguments. My goal here is basically to unskew, to help bring the discussion to a more edifying level, sans rancor. Is that possible for any contras (heavenly witnesses authenticity)? Perhaps.

The Macedonians noticed the discord in the 300s in their discussions with Gregory Nazianzen, so it is not a new grammar discovery. Erasmus gave us a pithy note about it as well, since he was, at first, trying to defend the short solecism text.

And I am not interested in laundry lists of red herring questions.
 
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TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
Steven Avery said:
Vasileios Tsialas, Athens, Greek


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There is no reason to think that the writers of the New Testament needed grammar books, and there is no reason to think that any Greek grammars at the time of the New Testament specialized on the ins and outs of gender discord, rather than morphology.

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Click to expand...

So what are we to gather from this vague, out of context, unreferenced snippet from Mr Vasileios (from Hellenic Open University) above?

That YOU (I doubt he is) are implying that Greek grammar rules were not important to the grammar of the New Testament or to the apostle John?

Are you implying John was ignorant of the intricacies of the grammar of the Greek language?
 
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TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
Where and how did the Hebrew speaking, native born Israelite, the apostle John, learn the rules on Greek Concord from? About the agreement of gender, number, case, (which you effectively say the apostle John at 1 John 5:7-8 has violated) in the Greek language Steven?

Because it is >>> YOU <<< who is saying he must not violate the rule of concord, Steven.
 

TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
The Macedonians noticed the discord in the 300s in their discussions with Gregory Nazianzen, so it is not a new grammar discovery. Erasmus gave us a pithy note about it as well, since he was, at first, trying to defend the short solecism text.

And where and how did both the Macedonians and Gregory Nazianzen learn the rules on Greek gender-case-number concord from?
 
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Steven Avery

Well-known member
So what are we to gather from this vague, out of context, unreferenced snippet from Mr Vasileios (from Hellenic Open University) above?

Probably not, likely your Google search failed you.

There is an Evangelical fellow with that name, and that might be the one you googled.
https://eap.academia.edu/VasileiosTsialas

The gentleman who has been writing on Greek issues on the forums since at least 2008 should be the one with the Greek lexicon review
https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/a...G7BNBAXHG2VRS4WQ?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_cr_srp_d_pdp

He has posted excellently on the b-greek forums such as this one on the Granville Sharp "Rule"

It is a logical tendency in the Greek language, not an absolute rule. It cannot be an absolute rule when it has exceptions, when it is so complicated in order to avoid (unsuccessfully) exceptions; it cannot be an absolute rule in a developing lingua franca spoken mostly by multinational groups, and when it overlooks overwhelming historical data in the case of theology.
 

Steven Avery

Well-known member
And where and how did both the Macedonians and Gregory Nazianzen learn the rules on Greek gender-case-number concord from?

By speaking the language every day, full immersion, the same way most of us learn English grammar. When a foreigner, like a Japanese, learns English by the book, the results are very problematic. Especially if they start correcting their English language friends.
 
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Steven Avery

Well-known member
Where and how did the Hebrew speaking, native born Israelite, the apostle John, learn the rules on Greek Concord from? About the agreement of gender, number, case, (which you effectively say the apostle John at 1 John 5:7-8 has violated) in the Greek language Steven?.

Dionysius of Alexandria praised the Greek of John's Gospel and Epistles.

We do not know his native languages, Greek was common, especially in Galilee of the Nations.

Isaiah 9:1 (AV)
Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation,
when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan,
in Galilee of the nations.
 

Steven Avery

Well-known member
So what are we to gather from this vague, out of context, unreferenced snippet from Mr Vasileios (from Hellenic Open University) above?
That YOU (I doubt he is) are implying that Greek grammar rules were not important to the grammar of the New Testament or to the apostle John?
Are you implying John was ignorant of the intricacies of the grammar of the Greek language?

Individuals who are truly proficient and fluent in a language rarely, if ever, need to go to grammar books.

And grammar books can be quite limited, and unreliable and also can be biased, a point that was seen in the accusations made around the supposed Granville Sharp "Rule".
 

TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
By speaking the language every day, full immersion, the same way most of us learn English grammar. When a foreigner, like a Japanese, learns English by the book, the results are very problematic. Especially if they start correcting their English language friends.

So who's rule is John (at 1 John 5:7-8) breaking?
 

TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
Individuals who are truly proficient and fluent in a language rarely, if ever, need to go to grammar books.

And grammar books can be quite limited, and unreliable and also can be biased, a point that was seen in the accusations made around the supposed Granville Sharp "Rule".

So grammar rules are not important?
 

Steven Avery

Well-known member
So who's rule is John (at 1 John 5:7-8) breaking?

Nothing is broken in the pure Bible text with both heavenly and earthly witnesses.

Eugenius Bulgaris and Georgios Babiniotis show you that the earthly witnesses alone are a solecism. World-class Greek scholars and linguists do not need to reference a grammar book (which today can be written by people who really can not even speak any Greek fluently.)

So grammar rules are not important?

They can be a crutch, especially for those who are not fluent and experienced in the language.
 

TwoNoteableCorruptions

Well-known member
Nothing is broken in the pure Bible text with both heavenly and earthly witnesses.

Eugenius Bulgaris and Georgios Babiniotis show you that the earthly witnesses alone are a solecism. World-class Greek scholars and linguists do not need to reference a grammar book (which today can be written by people who really can not even speak any Greek fluently.)



They can be a crutch, especially for those who are not fluent and experienced in the language.

So John's breaking Eugenius' and Georgios' grammar rules?

When did they set the rule of concord?
 

Steven Avery

Well-known member
So John's breaking Eugenius' and Georgios' grammar rules?
When did they set the rule of concord?

The world-class scholars know the language by being skilled and proficient in Classical, Koine and Modern Greek.

Folks on that level to not have to "set" rules.

You can go back to the enchiridion explanation :).
 
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