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Thread: Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald

  1. Default Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald

    Grantley Robert McDonald has written two books that are rather unique.

    Raising the Ghost of Arius - (2011)

    Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe : Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate (2016)

    These books are meant to be contra the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses.
    Ironically, they can work as tremendous tools to help pure Bible defenders, as you learn to walk through the fuzz and buzz.
    The strong point: the referencing is very helpful from the 1500s to today. What is quoted, is quoted well.

    Grantley uses a lot of little tricks to hide the significance of evidences.
    Analyzing his books can really, really inform us on many issues, as a jumping off spot to understand:

    1) the authenticity of the heavenly witnessers
    2) the mental box of constriction, restriction and convolution of the contras

    These posts might be a little free-form .

    Some information is started off here, on how the grammatical is handled:

    PureBible group
    Acknowledging the Erasmus connection to Luther and the Reformation
    Grantley McDonald is funny, because he always puts on his anti-heavenly-witnesses glasses.
    However, he did a decent job ferreting out some of the factual material.

    Solecism in the Corruption Text
    Constructio ad Sensum


  2. Default how Raising the Ghost of Arius handles the Vulgate Prologue evidence

    Let us look at the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome, one of the super-evidences.

    Grantley refers to this evidence a lot, because it was front and center in the Erasmus discussions.
    He misses many important elements, but first, let us look at how he argues against the evidence.

    For more detail go to the section:

    Vuglate Prologue - super-evidence

    However it needs its own special apologetic paper and Zotero-style bibliography.


    Raising the Ghost of Arius references to the Vulgate Prologue:


    p. 30 - ridiculous anachronism for Regensburg ms :
    " its erroneous attribution of the Prologue to the Catholic Epistles to Jerome"
    p. 54 - Main section
    “Serious doubts attend the authenticity..”
    Wordsworth-White Berger
    Künstle – “compelling evidence if..”
    Martin Bludau Chapman (McDonald) Ranke.
    p. 55 - “another document forged” (sic)
    p. 77-79 – Lee (who called it forgery? no mention of late date element of Fuldensis)
    Erasmus exclusion in his edition of works of Jerome
    p. 80 uncertainty. Moreover, Erasmus points out that Jerome was criticised for changing the readings of the Latin bible as they were commonly accepted. In other words, Jerome’s text of the Vulgate did not reflect the form of the Scriptures familiar to the majority of the church in the fourth century. In fact, Jerome’s prologue provides evidence that the Latin translations most widely read in the fourth century gave a reading in 1 Jn 5:7-8 which corresponded to that found in the Greek manuscripts familiar to Erasmus.
    p. 84 - Arian's dispose of Jerome's testimony
    p. 90-91 – Erasmus
    p. 125 - Erasmus rages against Jerome
    p. 126 - Jerome accused of forgery
    p. 134–135 - Beza
    p. 137 – Emser
    p. 141 - Calvin
    p. 146 - Zegers
    p. 147 – Lucas Brugensis .. unaware of forgery (more trickster writing)
    p. 155 - Biandrata
    p. 160 - Ravensberg
    p. 162 - Sandius .. (misrepresents Selden)
    p. 163 - Selnecker
    p. 165 – Brouchmard (Calvin)
    p. 184 – Selden
    p. 188 – Poole
    p. 190 -191 Simon **
    p. 194 – Burnet
    p. 195 –197 Smith defends
    p. 206 – Newton
    p. 361 – “wrongly attributed to Jerome” – Erasmus Annotationes
    p. 448 – Stellingen – “Jerome did not write "

    There are references to "Jerome" as well, e.g. Selnecker on p. 163 (we can return to some of those later.)


    The very first reference is a scholarly disaster, an anachronism that only betrays a type of vicious scholastic bias.

    the Regensburg Epistolae rhetoricae, which makes the following claims: “St Jerome argued that that verbal repetition [replicatio] in the [first] Epistle of John—‘And there are three that bear witness, the Father, the Word and the Spirit’—was established as certain. By contrast, St Augustine prescribed that it should be removed, on the basis of the Apostle’s meaning and the authority of the Greek.” Given the relatively recent date of this text (eleventh century), its erroneous attribution of the Prologue to the Catholic Epistles to Jerome ... it is difficult to know how much confidence to place in this assertion. p. 53
    This is a classic shoddy scholarship anachronism. Until close to 1700, the Vulgate Prologue was universally accepted as written by Jerome (quite understandably and forcefully, since it is a well-written first-person document, that is consistent with his writing and knowledge.) There can be no tinge against the integrity of any early manuscript that uses that attribution. Even if they were wrong in this attribution, it does not lessen the authority of the manuscript that works on the basis of Jerome as the author of the Prologue.

    To make it ever worse, Grantley is assuming a position for which he has given no evidence. And his later attempts to give evidence are milquetoast.

    Yet it also seems that the apparent utility of the comma in fighting heresy and its increasingly frequent occurrence in Latin bibles led some to forge documents to bolster its claim to authenticity. Serious doubts attend the authenticity of a document claimed as the most important early witnesses to the authenticity of the comma: the prologue to the Catholic Epistles (incipit: Non ita ordo est apud Grcecos) ascribed to Jerome (c. 340-420). The earliest extant source of this prologue is Codex Fuldensis. The author of the prologue complains that the lack of uniformity between the various Latin versions of Scripture led to confusion; the biggest single problem with these Latin versions, he contends, was the fact that they omitted the comma:
    While Grantley already made his authoritative diktat that the Prologue is not by Jerome, here he simply contradicts that conclusion and says there are "serious doubts". Grantley also makes a decision that it is "the most important early witness to the authenticity of the comma." Actually, three documents (leaving aside the grammatical and the wide-ranging Latin evidences) share that distinction, as super-evidences.

    The usages by Cyprian, especially in The Unity of the Church
    the Prologue of Jerome
    the hundreds of bishops from a wide Mediteranean region specifically and strongly endorsing the verse as scripture against Arian opposition and persecution at the Council of Carthage of 484

    Grantley's factual awkwardness here probably accounts for the grammatical error "a document .. the most important early witnesses".

    Then after quoting the Prologue (and craftily omitting the first-person parts by Jerome, this will be partially referenced on p. 201 on Richard Simon) we get a real logical doozy from Grantley.
    First let's include the part about the verse, emphasis added, this is a truly amazing antiquity document.

    If the letters were also rendered faithfully by translators into Latin just as their authors composed them, they would not cause the reader confusion, nor would the differences between their wording give rise to contradictions, nor would the various phrases contradict each other, especially in that place where we read the clause about the unity of the Trinity in the first letter of John. Indeed, it has come to our notice that in this letter some unfaithful translators have gone far astray from the truth of the faith, for in their edition they provide just the words for three [witnesses]—namely water, blood and spirit—and omit the testimony of the Father, the Word and the Spirit, by which the Catholic faith is especially strengthened, and proof is tendered of the single substance of divinity possessed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    Then we get a really absurd and unscholarly comment.

    This prologue would be compelling evidence that Jerome considered the comma to be genuine if the text of John’s Epistle in Codex Fuldensis also contained the comma—but it does not.'
    The discordance between the Prologue and the Johannine text is simply evidence that what was stated by Jerome to be the norm (removing the heavenly witnesses) still happened with Vulgate copies. The only thing shown is that the transmission of the Vulgate text to Fuldensis was independent of the Prologue Text. Grantley continues with even more lack of logic.

    We are thus forced either to accept that the preface gives a true picture of the situation, and that the biblical text transmitted in Fuldensis is unreliable
    This is meaningless gibberish. The Biblical text in the Fuldensis Gospels is a harmony text. Does that make it unreliable? If one edgy verse was excised between 400 AD and 540 AD (to be fair, Fuldensis might actually be later than commonly thought) this does not effect the general reliability of the text. Does Grantley throw out Vaticanus and Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus because of textual unreliability?

    —a conclusion which might in turn raise fresh questions about the authenticity of the preface; alternatively, we must reject the prologue as spurious and accept that the comma was not an original part of the Vulgate.'
    None of this makes any sense at all. Call it logical gibberish.

    Then on p. 56, we get more McDonald hop-scotch.

    Another document forged to prove the authenticity of the comma is a decretal ascribed to Pope Hyginus (c. 138-140),
    Sly and crafty charlatan writing. No forgery was ever demonstrated for the Vulgate Prologue, and Grantley wants to try to dupe the reader into thinking this point has been demonstrated. In his more lucid moment, Grantley acknowledged that he was only referencing "serious doubts". And one scholar called these arguments "frivolous" and I think that is a better representation of the "doubts". Grantley has actually given not even a single iota of evidence so far against authenticity.

    We see the same circular unsubstantiated and inconsistent trickiness in the Erasmus Annotations note he gives on p. 361:
    "this preface is wrongly attributed to Jerome, as discussed above in Chapter I.5."
    And in p. 448, Stellingen:
    "St Jerome did not write the prologue to the Catholic Epistles."

    In the footnotes to this section on p. 54-55, Grantley briefly mentions the scholarship back-and-forth on this issue. He references Wordsworth-White (edition of the Vulgate), Samuel Berger, Karl Künstle,, J. P. P. Martin, August Bludau, John Chapman, Ernst Ranke and his own idea that:

    However, I suggest that the degree of textual corruption in the text of the prologue as it stands in Fuldensis argues against such a close connexion (with Cassiodorus.)
    There is nothing substantive given here, except the acknowledgement that the scholars writing after the discovery of Fuldensis, from around 1880 to 1920, were perplexed and flummoxed in trying to come up with any author rather than Jerome.

    As for the textual corruption Grantley perceives in the Prologue, who knows? This is a throwaway line.

    In fact, the key arguments against authenticity from c. 1700 till 1850 had always been that the Prologue was a late addition to the Vulgate line. And the Fuldensis discovery had destroyed this argumentation, since it is considered our earliest extant Vulgate. Grantley, since he is not really doing scholarship, rather he is involved in polemic and apologetics, simply excised that argument from the history.

    Now we move ahead to p. 79-80.

    Erasmus then deals with Lee’s citation of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles attributed to Jerome. John Selden (1653) and Christoph Sandius (1680) would later suggest that this prologue is a pseudonymous forgery, and Richard Simon (1689) brought cogent arguments to support their suggestion.19 Curiously, Erasmus never openly called its authenticity into question, though he did exclude it from his edition of Jerome’s works.20 Instead, he deals with the arguments presented in this prologue as if they had been put forward by Jerome, and he even makes the text work for his own ends. First of all, Erasmus points out that even Jerome is not always consistent, and sometimes approves of readings he had criticised elsewhere. Jerome called into doubt and obelised much that the church subsequently taught without harm, such as the stories in the Old Testament Apocrypha, and liturgical texts such as the Song of the Three Young Men (Dan 3:52-87); if we disagree with Jerome’s judgment on those passages, perhaps we should be suspicious of his conclusions about the comma, Erasmus suggests. In any case, Erasmus notes that Lee misread Jerome, who simply pointed out that there was some variation between rival Latin translations of the Catholic Epistles, and that this variation had led to some confusion and uncertainty. Moreover, Erasmus points out that Jerome was criticised for changing the readings of the Latin bible as they were commonly accepted. In other words, Jerome’s text of the Vulgate did not reflect the form of the Scriptures familiar to the majority of the church in the fourth century. In fact, Jerome’s prologue provides evidence that the Latin translations most widely read in the fourth century gave a reading in 1 Jn 5:7-8 which corresponded to that found in the Greek manuscripts familiar to Erasmus. And lest Lee should convince himself that it was only heretics who excluded the comma from their texts, Erasmus cites two orthodox Fathers, Cyril and Bede, who both cite a large section of 1 Jn 5, yet omit the comma.
    Let's put this together with the other remaining significant attempt, with Richard Simon p. 190-191:

    Perhaps Simon’s most important contribution to the debate was his assessment of the authorship of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles, about which Selden and Sandius had already raised some doubt. For Simon, Erasmus was wrong to criticise Jerome as “violent, shameless and inconsistent,” as if he had been the author of the comma. In fact, the implication of Erasmus’ criticism was that “S. Jerome must stand chargeable with Forgery, a bold and presumptuous undertaking to correct the ancient Latin Edition according to his own fancy, without the authority of good Copies.” As Simon points out, Sozzini developed Erasmus’ suspicion in his commentary on l Jn by suggesting that Jerome, wanting to champion his own position, acquired a copy containing the comma, or perhaps even a few, and then concealed his own fraud by writing that those that did not contain the comma had been altered by heretics. But in such cases, Simon suggests, speculation is fruitless; we are on firmer ground when we examine the surviving documents. Had Erasmus examined the evidence of Jerome’s preface more fully, “he would rather have been inclined to reject that Preface, as suppositious, than to charge S. Jerome with Forgery.” (Again, Simon’s judgment of Erasmus’ position on Jerome’s statements in this matter are based on the fact that had had only read Erasmus’ Apologia ad Stunicam, and not the more subtle argument in the refutation of Lee, where he defends Jerome’s integrity.)
    In all this fascinating history about the false attempts to impugn Jerome's integrity as one who fabricated the verse (a truly absurd position, as we can easily see today but was a blot on Erasmus and others who went that route at times) there is a glaring omission:

    Where are the arguments, the evidences, against the authenticity of the Vulgate Prologue from Jerome?

    Nothing at all is given by Grantley!

    In fact, those arguments are in Jean Martianay (1647-1717), a Benedictine Maurist (not a Maoist ), writing in 1693.

    My conjecture is that Grantley McDonald was well aware of this, but did not want to undermine his posturing by actually presenting the arguments! They really are absurdly weak, frivolous. In fact, Grantley mentions Martianay as a Vulgate Prologue contra on p. 216 (with Antoine Pouget) and then has the specific work in the bibliography.

    Jerome. Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Stridonensis presbyteri Divina bibliotheca.
    Ed. J. Martianay and A. Pouget. 5 vols. Paris: Anisson, 1693-1706.

    New Testament Scholarship Worldwide
    Steven Avery

    The Prologue was seen as a forgery largely based on internal arguments that were given by Jean Martianay in 1693 in the Benedictine edition of Jerome's writings. The Latin is here:

    Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Operum tomus primus [-quintus], studio et labore monachorum ordinis S. Benedicti e congregatione S. Mauri

    and it is summarized as five arguments. However, those arguments received solid responses, and you would be hard put to find anybody today seriously giving any of them as a strong evidence for inauthenticity. (And because of the first person nature of the writing, inauthenticity must mean forgery.)

    It is hard to separate the internal arguments from the question of the heavenly witnesses defense, where the Prologue was seen as inauthentic simply because of how it referenced the verse. In terms of textual history, though, that can be circular, since those evidences in the early centuries are fascinating and often hotly contested.

    And in the meantime, many people opposed to authenticity had emphasized the lateness of the Prologue, which they thought was around 800 AD. based on the mss known. However, the Prologue was then discovered in Codex Fuldensis, dated 546 and written under the auspices of the learned Victor of Capua. This was published by Ernst Ranke (1814-1888) in 1868.

    You would figure that this would cause a reexamination of the forgery accusation, yet very little was published and you would have a hard time even finding the reasons why this writing became "Ps-Jerome".
    (To be continued from Grantley. There is also more that can be looked at in that thread, at least to make sure it is in this forum.)

    So nowhere in the 450 page book of Grantley McDonald, where the Vulgate Prologue is a key evidence, does Grantley even give the arguments against authenticity!

    Nonetheless, Grantley repeatedly pretends as if he had shown that this is a forgery, or at least pseudonymous in some way, with an unspecified time and place of authorship. (A theory with huge difficulties, since it is a first-person document.)

    To make it worse, not only is Grantley aware of the (weak) arguments given by Martianay, he refers to the writings of a number of men who forcefully answered these arguments, without giving even a peep of acknowledgement of this element of their writings. Most of the following are referenced by Grantley:

    David Martin (French and English translation)
    Louis Roger (French),
    Edmund Calamy (English)
    Antoine Augustin Calmet (French)
    Ambrosius Dorhout (Latin)
    John Jones (English)
    Frederick Nolan (English)
    William Craig Brownlee (English)
    Antoine Genoud (French)
    Daniel McCarthy (English)
    Charles Vincent Dolman (English).

    Also Petrus Pithaeus (1500s scholar, referenced very respectfully on this point as a top scholar even by Richard Simon) and Jean Mabillon and John Fell are mentioned as defenders of authenticity, authorship by Jerome, by Edmund Calamy. These are separated because they came before any real attempt to claim non-authenticity by giving various arguments. Similarly Thomas Smith.

    There had been some minor questioning, especially since Erasmus had dubiously omitted the Prologue from his edition of Jerome, and John Fell forcefully pointed out that this was simply improper by Erasmus (did the heavenly witnesses evidence affect Erasmus here? Why did he not mention Cyprian?) Remember that the main argument (lateness of mss with the Prologue) poofed away with the publication of Fuldensis by Ranke c. 1850. As a little side-note, Martianay was a solid defender of heavenly witnesses verse authenticity, contra Simon, thus his arguing weakly on this issue should be seen simply as a quirk, rather than an agenda.

    If Grantley had given the weak Martianay arguments, he would have had to mention and reference the responses, and the jig would be up.

    So Grantley wrote superficially on all elements. Polemic, agitprop.

    He did include Thomas Smith, whose Latin section can be read here, however this was before the Martainay attempt to claim inauthenticity:

    Altera miscellanea: responsio ad Simonii cavillationes ; Integritas loci 1 Jo. V, 7 ; Defensio contra exceptiones Simonii ; Commentarius in 2am Petri epistolam. [Apendix contra Simonem] (1690)

    Here is how Grantley gave Smith:

    Smith defends the attribution of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles to Jerome, though he notes that “Erasmus and Socinus work hard to dissolve the strength and the bond of this testimony, by which they realise that they are bound. They turn and twist this way and that; and lest they should seem to be struck dumb, flatter themselves that this matter is to be disentangled with untrustworthy and dishonest answers.” As Smith reports, Fausto Sozzini suggested in his commentary on the Johannine epistles that Jerome had chanced upon a copy containing the comma—perhaps even several—and assuming that this reading was correct, complained that the texts more generally in use were corrupt; Smith characterises Sozzini’s hypothesis as “pure, vile calumny” (mera & putida calumnia). However, Smith’s argument seems to acknowledge tacitly that it was he who was in a bind. To follow Selden’s sceptical attitude towards Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant jettisoning a powerful piece of evidence for the authenticity of the comma; but to maintain Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant having to deal with the suggestions of Erasmus and Sozzini that Jerome’s version did not represent the text as commonly accepted in his day, or—even worse—that Jerome had interpolated the comma into the text himself.
    This is not even a discussion of authenticity. This is Smith responding to the absurd arguments and implications that Jerome had fabricated the verse, or had been duped or dishonest in some way. The last sentences from Grantley .. "However, Smith's argument.." is again logical gibberish, similar to above. Grantley is just using throwaway words as if they were an argument!

    "but to maintain Jerome’s authorship of the prologue meant having to deal with the suggestions of Erasmus and Sozzini that Jerome’s version did not represent the text as commonly accepted in his day, or—even worse—that Jerome had interpolated the comma into the text himself."

    If we accept Jerome's authorship of the Prologue (which is affirmed by positive evidences everywhere, and has, to date, not a single decent contra argument), the antiquity and authenticity of the heavenly witnesses is essentially proven. With a split line, there is no "text as commonly accepted."

    Everyone senses this truth, which is why contras have come with a barrage of conflicting denial alternatives. Nothing that Grantley writes, as his two cents, makes any sense. Jerome indicated that the text was split in his day and that many preferred editions without the verse. And he indicated similar in the Psalm 91 homily.

    And who cares about the totally ridiculous hypothesis of Jerome as the fabricator and interpolater. This was stupidity in the 1500s and 1600s, and is even more ridiculous, if that is possible, today. Today we have a wealth of ECW and Old Latin manuscript evidence that double and triple seals the issue. To those with a bit of sense, Cyprian alone totally refutes this nonsense.


    Real scholarship from Grantley? Feh!


    The same shoddy scholarship approach, bias over substance, is the standard motif of Grantley McDonald.
    Cyprian, grammar, Council of Carthage.
    Above, I simply pulled out the Vulgate Prologue for the first fairly full analysis.


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