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Monday, June 13, 2005

The Comma Iohannaeum (The Johanine Comma)

The Johanine Comma is a gloss on 1 Jn. 5:7 that subsequently -- through the work of copyists -- found its way into the main text to make it read:

And there are Three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit and the water and the blood. And these three are one. (1 Jn. 5:7)

So-called "Non Trinitarian Churches" think that the inclusion of the gloss into the main text was done to bolster the doctrine of the Trinity. But is this the only explanation? The so-called "Trinitarian" doctrine cannot be traced to a date earlier than the year 800 AD, about the time when the gloss found its way into some manuscripts of the Latin version of 1 John. The Latin Church already believed in the Trinity even before this date. Second, the gloss can only be found in Latin manuscripts and never in any Greek manuscript prior to the edition published by Erasmus -- then still a Catholic Canons Regular of St. Augustine -- in 1520. The Greek churches therefore never had no recourse to a gloss for their belief in the Trinity. Both these facts can only mean one thing: the belief in the Trinity antedates the Johanine Comma.

Could there have been a motive for introducing the gloss into the main text of 1 Jn. 5:7 that would make it a conscious effort to pervert the Christian faith? Was there anything in the year 800 or thereabouts that made the Catholic Church want to "change" the belief in God? I don't think there is any except the desire of the so-called "non-Trinitarians" to blame the Catholic Church for their not being a part of it. The fact is, all so-called "Christian Churches" who are Non-Trinitarian were founded AFTER the Protestant churches have emerged. This can only mean one thing: the "non-Trinitarian" belief is but an attempt to "correct" a supposed impurity in Christian doctrine introduced by the Catholic Church. In other words, the "non-Trinitarian" belief is a modern teaching that arises from the need to make one's beliefs look original in the face of opposition and antagonism to Catholic belief.

Was the Johanine comma introduced so as to bolster belief in the Trinity? As explained above, no. One should rather say, that it was the belief in the Trinity already deeply rooted that made a copyist move a marginal gloss into the main text of 1 Jn. 5:7.

Note: Michael Sandoval and Ramil Parva of the program "Ang Tamang Daan" join the other "non-Trinitarian" Churches in making it look like that the Johanine Comma is the basis of the Trinitarian faith, which -- as we explained above -- is a preposterous claim.

Posted by biblista at 10:33 AM
Edited on: Monday, June 13, 2005 10:52 AM
Categories: New Testament