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scholium on the heavenly witnesses - grammatical gender interp

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.

There is an unusual Greek scholium mentioned by the learned Christian Friedrich Matthaei (1744–1811) that apparently, in Greek, is a type of commentary on the grammatical gender. Offering a difficult interpretation similar to what has been revived in recent years and that is conjectured as a source of Cyprian's writing by those who do not accept that the heavenly witnesses verse was in his Bible. (Matthaei himself was a contra to the verse authenticity, however that is not particularly relevant, he was a very fine scholar in many ways.)

A reference to the scholium is given by Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885)


The New Testament (1862)
Christopher Wordsworth

"the gender of the words here is very remarkable ... And so the ancient Scholium in Matthaei says that

"John uses the number three in the masculine gender, because those three are symbols of the Trinity,"
and by using the word ἕν "he designates the unity of the Godhead".


The scholium is referenced by a number of other writers until about 1890, after which the quality of heavenly witnesses writing was not so strong, although it is likely referenced in Bludau.


The Matthaei section is here:

SS[ancti] apostolorum septem epistolae catholicae (1782)
Christian Friedrich Matthaei


Historically, and for analysis, this is quite a significant writing. Showing an awareness of grammatical issues in the witnesses section. The Gregory Nazianzen quote is the other extant discussion which can be compared in this way, however that is not straightforward like this one. So the scholium is likely the first place we have extant where the grammatical gender is specifically noted.

(We can discuss later whether the proposed interpretation is sensible or if it is simply trying to make the best of bad grammar.)

So if anyone wants to look more closely at the Matthaei page, and see if there is any other additional information in the Greek, that would be helpful.


The Richard Simon reference (I will place in pic) :

A critical history of the text of the New Testament: wherein is firmly establish'd the truth of those acts on which the foundation of Christian religion is laid (1689)
Richard Simon

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Richard Porson (1759-1808) says a bit more in translation

Richard Porson

... it cannot be said, that this interpretation was not current among the Greeks, when Simon found it in the margin of two mss. and Mr. Matthaei in a third. The latter scholium is this:
"Three in the masculine gender, in token of the Trinity : the spirit, of the Godhead ; the water, of the enlightening knowledge to mankind, by the spirit; the blood, of the incarnation."
These mss. are of the tenth and eleventh centuries.


Your thoughts welcome.

Steven Avery