De Moor V:18: New Testament Testimonies for the Doctrine of the Trinity, Part 4

Thus it was read by FULGENTIUS: this Bishop of Ruspe in Africa, at the beginning of the Sixth Century,[1] more than once in his Words cites this oracle in disputation, appealing also the Cyprian, who had previously made use of the same; which evinces that the Arians in the time of Huneric were not able to render this text suspect. In his Responsione contra Arianos, he writes: “The Most Blessed Apostle John testifies, saying: There are three that bear testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and the three are one. Which the most blessed Martyr Cyprian also calls to witnesss in his Epistle de Unitate Ecclesiæ, etc.” Again, Fulgentius in his de Trinitate ad Felicem Notarium: “Behold, thou hast in brief that the Father is one, the Son another, the Holy Spirit another, one and another with respect to person, not one thing and another thing with respect to nature: and therefore, I, says He, and the Father are one;[2] teaching us to refer one to nature, we are to persons: similarly also that saying, there are three, says he, that bear testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are one:” see MILL’S Dissertationem, folio 584a; MARTIN’S Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter VI, § 3; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part I, chapter VII; BENGEL’S Apparatum Criticum in Novum Testamentum, § 17.

By JEROME, in his Prologo in Epistolas Canonicas, where we read: “Which (Canonical Epistles), if, as they were set in order by them (the Greeks), so also they were faithfully translated into the Latin tongue by Interpreters; neither would theyhave neither created ambiguity for readers, nor would the variety of words assail itself, especially in that place where we read what is posited concerning the Unity of the Trinity in the First Epistle of John, in which also we find that there was much straying from the truth of the faith by unfaithful Translators, placing in their own Edition only three words, that is, water, blood, and spirit, and omitting the testimony of the Father, and of the Word and Spirit, in which also the Catholic Faith is greatly strengthened, and the one substance of the Divinity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is proven.” According to which words the Greek text undoubtedly had this passage, but Unfaithful Latin Translators had omitted it. But MILL contends that the Prologue does not belong to Jerome; but that it was likely written much later toward the end of the Seventh Century: nevertheless, from the same Prologue we learn, that in that age in which it was written, namely, the Seventh Century, the Greek text acknowledged this verse: see MILL, Dissertatione, folio 582b; add BENGEL’S Apparatum Criticum in Novum Testamentum, § 20, pages 756, 757, § 23, pages 762-764. However, MARTIN at great length claims the same Prologue for Jerome, Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter V; Examen de la Reponse de Mr. Emlyn, chapter IV; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part I, chapters VIII, XIV, pages 314, 315; likewise TRIGLAND, Dissertatione on this passage, § 5-10.

An eminent testimony for the αὐθεντίᾳ authenticity/authority of this passage, besides others found in Mill, Martin, and Twells, is funished by the Confessione contra Arianos et Pneumatomachos, presented to Huneric, King of the Vandals, in 484 by Eugenius, Bishop of Carthage,[3] and other orthodox Bishops of Africa, roughly four hundred in number, which is found in VICTOR UTICENSIS, or more correctly VITENSIS (see OUDIN,[4]de Scriptoribus Ecclesiæ, tome I, column 1330-1332), book III de Persecutione Vandalica,[5] or at the end of book II, in which these things are found: “And, so that we might yet more clearly show that the Holy Spirit is of one Divinity with the Father and the Son, it is demonstrated by the testimony of John the Evangelist: for he says, there are three that set forth testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. Could it be that he is saying that the three in a differentiating quality (either a quality of indifference; or differentiating equality; or undifferentiating equality) are parted, or by whatever degrees of diversity in a long interval of separation are divided? But the three, says he, are one:” see Bibliothecam Patrum Parisensem, 1644, tome 4, part 1, column 407, compared with tome 7, column 607. Now, that Confession exhibits the position of the entire Orthodox Church of Africa. Neither could it be done, that they might cite this text, if either it had not been extant in the Epistle, or was thought to be an insertion; since that fraud would have been easily revealed by the Arians, who were present. Indeed, in the Index of the cited Bibliothecæ Patrum is found: “Victor Uticensis…wrote…three books concerning the Vandal Persecution…. Of the same, or of another (for this account of the Faith is also attributed to a certain Victor, an African Bishop, who flourished in the sixth century, about the year 530 AD) is the account of the Faith, with Huneric, the King of the Vandals, requiring it.” Nevertheless, better is the position of those that think this Confession of Faith to be in the common name of the African Bishops in the year 484, presented to the King of the Vandals, which Confession Victor Vitensis, who also himself subscribed it, wanted to attached to his History: while for the other assertion, which is in the book de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis of Bellarmine, he himself offers no authority. This Confession of Faith is also found in VICTOR VITENSIS’ Historia Persecutionis Vandalicæ at the end of book II, in the Colognese edition, 1537, in octavo. This testimony is urged by MILL, Dissertatione on this passage, folio 583b, with the words of SMITH also cited; MARTIN, Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter VI, § 5-11; Examen de la Reponse de Mr. Emlyn, chapter VII; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part I, chapter VI; BENGEL, Apparatu Critico ad Novum Testamentum, § 16.

And before the times of Arius, CYPRIAN, libro de Unitate Ecclesiæ, pages 78, 79, in the edition published at Amsterdam in 1700: “The Lord says, I and the Father are one. And again concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, it was written: And these three are one.” Similar things to which are found in Epistle LXXIII ad Jubajanum, at the beginning of page 310. Now, that book de Unitate Ecclesiæ is among the genuine writings of Cyprian, although in some things corrupted to establish the Primacy of Peter; but the words alleged do not make for that. Now, it is pretended without warrant that those words of Cyprian have regard to verse 8, and depend upon an allegorical exposition of the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood concerning the Trinity: although AUGUSTINE appears to have been the first to bring in that allegorical exposition, book III or II, contra Maximinum, chapter XXII, opera, tome 8, column 514, which appears to have arisen from the absence of verse 7 in some exemplars, while nevertheless they were seeing from this context an argument taken for the Trinity by the Doctors of the preceding generation; which, when verse 7 had been cut out, they were only able to find here by an allegory of this sort. This testimony of Cyprian is vindicated from the wrestings and exceptions of others just now mention by MILL, Dissertatione on this passage, folio 582; MARTIN, Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter VII, § 2-5; Examen de la Reponse de Mr. Emlyn, chapter VIII, page 89 and following; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part I, chapter IV, pages 47 and following; TRIGLAND, Dissertatione on this passage, § 23; BENGEL, Apparatu Critico ad Novum Testamentum, § 12; ITTIG,[6]Dissertatione de Hæresiarchis primi et secundi Seculi, section II, chapter XV, § 5; JOHN ERNEST GRABE, Annotationibus ad Bulli Defensionem Fidei Nicænæ, section II, chapter X, § 1, page 137; SPANHEIM, Historia ecclesiastica, Century III, chapter III, § 3, column 707.

Indeed, already before Cyprian we see that TERTULLIAN, writing contra Praxeam, chapter XXV, has manifestly alluded to this passage: “Moreover, He (the Paraclete) shall take of mine,[7] just as also He of the Father’s: thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, makes three cohereing, one from another. Which three are unum, one thing, not unus, one person; just as it is said, I and the Father are unum, one thing;[8] with respect to the unity of substance, not the singularity of number.” Of course, these words, the three are one, are much rather of John than of Tertullian himself: thus the Father were accustomed many times to recite words of Scripture with no citation set before; or even to cite two passages of Scripture, with the citation made (as here) in between: see MILL’S Dissertationem on this passage, folio 581b; MARTIN’S Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter VII, § 6; Examen de la Reponse de Mr. Emlyn, chapter VIII, page 89 and following; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part I, chapter IV, pages 41-46; BENGEL’S Apparatum Criticum ad Novum Testamentum, § 11; BULL’S Defensionem Fidei Nicænæ, Section II, chapter X, § 2.

[Not to add the forgeries of HYGINUS:] GOMARUS, opera, part II in Epistola 1 John, pages 473, 474, treating of the genuineness of the text of 1 John 5:7, and setting forth authorities that are cited either for its νοθείᾳ/spuriousness, or for its genuineness, writes on behalf of the latter opinion: “And they adduce the testimonies of the Orthodox Fathers: who partly read it thus, partly asserted that it was thus to be read. Of which sort are Hyginus, Epistle 1; Cyprian; etc.” However, for good reason does our AUTHOR say that this testimony of HYGINUS is forged. Indeed, regard is thus paid to Epistolam 1 of Pope HYGINUS ad omnes Christi Fideles, in which we read: “And John the Evangelist says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And again to the Parthians: There are three, says he, that bear testimony on earth: water, blood, and flesh: and there are three in us, that bear testimony in heavh, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit: and these three are one. And so we, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one, do not believe that the Father preceded by any time, that He might be greater than the Son: nor that the Son was born afterwards, so that He might be made less than the divinity of the Father.” Certainly, if this Epistle were genuine, it would exhibit to us the most ancient testimony for the divinity of this text of John. Indeed, Hyginus, or Hyginius, sat as Pope in the middle of the Second Century. But the Epistle of Hyginus pertains to that collection of Epistles of the Roman Pontiffs, the author of which feigns himself to be Isidore Hispalensem;[9] but whom the Learned called Isidore Mercatorem,[10] or even Peccatorem,[11]Pseudo-Isidore; and with many arguments they most clearly prove that all these Epistles were, not gathered, but forged at the beginning of the Ninth Century by an uncertain Author, one, or even many: just as in the Corpore Conciliorum, published by the Jesuits LABBE[12] and COSSART,[13] where this Epistle of HYGINUS is read, tome I, columns 566, 567, an addition is also found in the Margin at the word Epistle I: “By learned Men it is said to be of doubtful character, together with the following.” Concerning the νοθείᾳ/spuriousness of these Papal Epistles consider carefully GERHARD VAN MASTRICHT’S[14] Historiam Juris Ecclesiasticæ et Pontificii, § CCXX-CCXXXVII, pages 232-268; JOHN GERHARD’S Confessionem Catholicam, tome I, book I, part II, chapter IX, pages 430 and following, in which in particular he proves the Epistles of HYGINUS to be spurious, page 455, 456; and of his Disputationem priorem on 1 John 5:7, in Disputationibus Jenensibus, § 20, pages 1315-1317. Nevertheless, it is evident from this, that this passage was found in the Codices of the Century in which these Epistles were forged.

[Not the doubtful writings of ATHANASIUS.] Our AUTHOR indicates the Disputation, which is said to have been held at the Council of Nicea by Athanasius against Arius, in which we read, opera of ATHANASIUS, tome I, page 147: Τί δὲ καὶ τὸ τῆς ἀφέσεως τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν παρεκτικὸν, καὶ ζωοποιὸν καὶ ἁγιαστικὸν λουτρὸν, οὗ χωρὶς οὐδεὶς ὄψεται τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, οὐκ ἐν τῇ τρισμακαρίᾳ ὀνομασίᾳ δέδοται τοῖς πιστοῖς; πρὸς δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν, Ιὠάννες φάσκει, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς τὸ ἕν εἰσιν, but also is not that sin-remitting, life-giving, and sanctifying baptism, without which no one will see the kingdom of heaven, bestowed upon the faithful in the thrice-blessed name? but in addition to all these, John says, and the three are one. Likewise Synopsin Sacræ Scripturæ, which is in the opera of ATHANASIUS, tome 2, where on page 138 in the review of the argument of 1 John, among other things it is said: καὶ τὴν ἑνότητα δὲ τοῦ Υἱοῦ πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα δείκνυσι, and he shows the unit of the Son with the Father: which words are also believed to have regard to our text. That that Synopsin Sacræ Scripturæ is of ATHANASIUS is denied by CAVE in his Historia litteraria;[15] by OUDIN in his de Scriptoribus Ecclesiæ, tome I, column 349; and by MONTFAUCON in his Palæologia Græca: on the other hand, DU PIN claims it for ATHANASIUS in his Bibliotheca Ecclesiastica. Whatever the case may be, it is not able to be denied that this Synopsin surpasses in antiquity almost or verily all Codices that are today extant. Similarly, although ATHANASIUS was not the Author of the cited Disputation, it appears to have been written already before the death of Constantine the Great about the year 336: see MARTIN, Dissertations Critiques, part I, chapter XII; Examen de la Reponse de Mr. Emlyn, chapter XV; La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part II, chapters IX, XIV, pages 318, 319: compare GERHARD’S Disputationem posteriorem on this passage, § 22, 23, pages 1318-1320, and his Patrologiam, page 212. Concerning the νοθείᾳ/ spuriousness of the Disputation, which is reported to have by managed by Athanasius contra Arium at the Synod of Nicea, OUDIN discourses at length, de Scriptoribus Ecclesiæ, tome I, columns 328-331, who refers this Disputation to a later age, and thinks that perhaps it is able to be ascribed to Vigilius Tapsensis, a Writer of the Sixth Century.[16] But see what MARTIN observes, on the other hand, for referring this Writing to the Fourth Century, La Verite du Text 1 John 5:7, demontree, etc., part II, chapter IX. But if it was the offspring of even the Fifth or Sixth Century, it would exhibit a sufficiently ancient testimony for the authenticity of the text of John. BENGEL, in his Apparatu Critico ad Novum Testamentum on this passage of John, § 23, observes concerning the Author of this Dialogue: “The Author of the debate the learned today teach to be Maximus the Confessor,[17] who, in the year of our Lord 640, with his monastery near Constantinople left behind, went into Africa: in the year 645, he went to Rome: and in the year 655 he was brought back to Constantinople by force. From which you may gather that Maximus among the Africans got possession of the Johannine Saying, previously unknown to him: and that he, exalting in that event, composed the Dialogue for the sake of showing and promoting that Saying. But if one does not acknowledge Maximus, he will be obliged to produce another author not at all unsuitable, and sufficiently ancient, and relying on the Codices of the Africans, and those in Greek: for he cites many saying of the New Testament (not to mention the Septuagint) in a manner that corresponds to the African codices: and this saying, the Three are one, if he had repeated it from some annotation only, if from Latin monuments, if the allegation had less strength in any regard: how could Athanasius, the Greek doctor, be introduced as making use of it? how had the author set the end and totality of the whole conversation on him? how would John be said to say that? and finally how would Arius, resisting for so long, yield?”

But, for the genuineness of the text of John, of which we treat, one may yet appeal to the unquestionable testimony of MARCUS AURELIUS CASSIODORUS or CASSIODORIUS Senator, who lived in Italy in the Sixth Century; and who, commending to others the ancient and corrected Codices for the reading of Sacred Scripture, how much more in the exegesis of the same Scripture would himself have made use of Codices of this sort: but if Cassiodorus read this place, it will also then be evident that, not only the Africans, but also the Italians at that time had the same in their Codices. But in his Complexionibus in Epistolas, Acta Apostolorum, et Apocalypsin, which had hitherto lain buried in darkness, and were first elicited from the most ancient parchments of the Veronese Clergymen and made public at Florence in 1721, and then reprinted at Rotterdam in 1723, we read on 1 John 5, among other things: To which matter testify on earth three mysteries, water, blood, and spirit; which are read to have been fulfilled in the passion of the Lord: but in heaven, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God. For, although SAMUEL CHANDLER[18] in his Præfatione of these Complexionum prefixed to the Rotterdam edition fears that the entire controversy for the genuineness of the Johannine text is not able to be concluded hence, pages IX, X, there is no doubt that a very probable argument for the authenticity of that text is able to be sought from the cited words of Cassiodorus; especially if you compare what things the Marquis SCIPIO MAFFEIUS,[19] the first editor of the same Complexionum, noted on the words urged above, both on the very text cited, pages 132-134, and in the Præfatione of the book, pages LVII, LVIII.

[1] Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe (468-533), was a champion of Augustinian and Nicean theology. [2] John 10:30. [3] Eugenius (died 505) was Bishop of Carthage. He was a staunch defender of Nicean orthodoxy, and suffered a measure of persecution from Huneric and his government. [4] Remi-Casimir Oudin (1638-1719) was a Premonstratensian monk and scholar, specializing in ecclesiastical history. He converted to Protestantism, and was appointed as an assistant librarian at the University of Leyden. [5] Victor (born c. 430) was Bishop of Vita in North Africa. Little is known of his life, but his Historia persecutionis Africanæ Provinciæ is an invaluable account of the Arian persecution of the Orthodox in North Africa. [6] Thomas Ittig (1643-1710) was German Lutheran Theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Leipzig (1697-1710). [7] See John 16:13-15. [8] John 10:30: “I and my Father are one (ἕν, neuter).” [9] Isidore (c. 560-636) was Archbishop of Seville and a bright and shining light of learning in the intellectual darkness of his age. He presided over the Second Council of Seville (619), which ruled against Arianism, and the Fourth Council of Toledo, which required bishops to establish seminaries in their principal cities. [10] That is, the Merchant. [11] That is, the Sinner. [12] Philippe Labbe (1607-1667) was a French Jesuit, and a prolific writer on matters of history, geography, theology, and philosophy. [13] Gabriel Cossart (1615-1674) was a French Jesuit history. He taught rhetoric, and kept the library, at the College de Clermont. [14] Gerhard von Mastricht (1639-1721) was a German lawyer. [15] William Cave (1637-1713) was an Anglican churchman and theologian, and patristic scholar. His Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Historia Literaria is held in high esteem. [16] Vigilius was Bishop of Thapsus, in what is now Tunisia. He was probably banished by Huneric for his defense of Nicean Orthodoxy. [17] Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662) was a monk, philosopher, and theologian. He was an outspoken opponent of Monothelitism, which was in favor with the Emperor, Constans II. This led to his arrest, trial, maiming, and banishment. [18] Samuel Chandler (1693-1766) was an English Presbyterian pastor and a leader among Noncomformists. [19] Francesco Scipione Maffei (1675-1755) was a Venetian antiquarian and art critic.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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