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Thread: 1John 5 three witnesses grammatical gender concord argument Q & A

  1. Default 1John 5 three witnesses grammatical gender concord argument Q & A

    what is the grammatical gender concord argument for 1John 5?

    why is this grammatical question of significance?

    is the argument complex? does it require Greek knowledge to understand?

    are there other grammatical arguments involving 1John 5?

    what is an internal argument?

    how does the grammatical argument relate to the external (manuscript and ECW evidences)?

    what is the history of the development of the argument?

    who are the principle figures in favor of the argument? opposed? others?

    who are the principle figures in the public debate today?

    who is the most important historical figure in seeing the short 3-witness text as a solecism?

    what are the objection responses to the force of the argument?
    a) constructio ad sensum
    b) masculine participle acts as subjunctive
    c) hybrid and other arguments
    d) the grammar does not change with the heavenly witnesses

    what is the basic underlying theory of grammatical excellence in reviewing variants?

    how have Greek grammar studies changed from the days of Bible belief and classical studies?

    are there interesting quotes form short text supporters?

    why do the short text defenders have so many conflicting explanations for their text?

    what is the overall conclusion as to the grammatical argument?

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  2. Default

    what is the grammatical gender concord argument for 1John 5?

    The three nouns for spirit, water and blood are neuter, and thus discordant with the masculine participle and grammar of the earthly witnesses verse.

    In the full, pure Bible text, with the heavenly witnesses, this is explainable by the connection of the two verses ,the heavenly and earthly witnesses. The masculine grammar of the heavenly witnesses pulling the whole section into masculine grammar, as one unit. To the learned Greek ear, with a high view of the Bible text (see quotes from Eugenius Bulgaris and Nolan, and his quoting Herbert Marsh) this short text is a grating solecism.

    Alternate attempts to explain the three witnesses verse as reasonable grammar without the heavenly witnesses, like constructio ad sensum, the three witnesses being personified. fail completely. As they simply do not match the "facts on the ground". Constructio ad sensum is not used for pneuma in the hundreds of times the neuter word is used in the New Testament, including 1 John 5:6. And the concept is really for living, animate beings, as pointed out by Winer.

    A more technical explanation will be placed on another thread.

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    why is this grammatical question of significance?

    "Palpable oversights in the texture of the sense, and gross solecisms in the grammatical structure, cannot be ascribed to the inspired writers. If, of two readings, one be exposed to such objections, there is but the alternative, that the other must be authentick." - Frederick Nolan
    To unbelievers and "Christians" without a pure Bible it is not that important. They can see errors, and solecisms, and bad writing, coming out of the New Testament.

    However, for true Bible believers, Nolan explains the issue. With the short witnesses text being a weird corruption, that is one extra-powerful evidence that the actual original text was harmonious and full and grammatically fine.

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    is the argument complex? does it require Greek knowledge to understand?

    Not really. It can be stated cleanly and clearly. And the American seminarian (even the grammarians) is not going to be able to judge the strength of the argument, because he has very limited fluency and proficiency.


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    are there other grammatical arguments involving 1John 5?

    Yes, there is one major one involving the article in verse 8 pointing back to what had been previously identified. This was mentioned by Leonard Twells and Wolfius, and honed by Thomas Fanshaw Middleton. It is strong, but less probative, and less glaring, than the argument for grammatical gender. There are other grammatical arguments involving specific iterations of the use of the verse, such as those of Cypran and Vigiliius.


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    what is an internal argument?

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    who are the principle figures in favor of the argument? opposed? others?

    In modern times, Eugenius Bulgaris, Archbishop of Cherson is the principle, central figure.

    First, he was he a world-class Greek scholar who pointed out with force the solecism and the solution.

    Beyond that he, we was not glib about the pure Bible text, he did emphasize that the full connection of verses 7 and 8 was the issue, and that this was quite unusual. (We have two clauses very closely connected in one thought, using the same participle, ergo the grammar is connected. Plus the second clause has only neuter nouns. It is this rather unique and incredible relationship that drives the heavenly and earthly witnesss grammar.)

    Later writers tried to make the purity of the full text grammar too ho-hum. So while some writers were good, (e.g. Nolan, Brownlee, Gaussen, Hills) our defense of the grammar of our verse, and pointing out the solecism in the CT, rests squarely on Eugenius. Frederick Nolan did supply the salient quote above about solecisms in the text.

    In the 1500s, the grammatical difficulty was referenced en passant by Erasmus and the Lutheran scholar
    Thomas Naogeorgus. The modern debate about the verse really began in earnest around 1700 (Martin and Emlyn), Twells and Wolfius discussed another grammatical issue in the early 1700s, and in 1780 Eugenius wrote on the verse.

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