Council of Carthage

Steven Avery

Pure Bible Forum

Council of Carthage

Ambrosius Dorhout (Council of Carthage, Vulgate Prologue and more)

Jodicus Coccius - Victor of Vita - Council of Carthage 1500s editions.

The Latin Text at the Council of Carthage - Vulgate or Old Latin?

Council of Carthage - tricks to mask the evidence (which arose after Erasmus, in the 1500s.)

when James Snapp made lucid arguments on the heavenly witnesses evidences


The Text of the Gospels - Cyprian and the Johannine Comma - James Snapp later

My comment on the Snapp material at BVDB ( similar to "when James Snapp .. ")
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Steven Avery

The Witness of God is Greater

Confession of the 460 Bishops Read Aloud

2.56 We are enjoined by a royal command to provide an account of the catholic faith which we hold. So we are setting
out to briefly indicate the things which we believe and proclaim, aware of our lack of ability but supported by divine
assistance. We recognize, then, that the first thing we must do is give an explanation of the unity of the substance of the
Father and the Son, which the Greeks call homousion. Therefore: we acknowledge the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit in the unity of the divine nature in such a way that we can say with a faithful confession that the Father subsists as a
distinct person, and the Son equally exists in his own person, and that the Holy Spirit retains the distinctiveness of his own
person, not asserting that the Father is the same as the Son, nor confessing that the Son is the same as the Father or the
Holy Spirit, nor understanding the Holy Spirit in such a way that he is the Father or the Son; but we believe the unbegotten
Father and the Son begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father17 to be of one substance and
essence, because the unbegotten Father and the begotten Son and the Holy Spirit who proceeds have one divine nature
in common; nevertheless, there are three distinct persons.

2.82 And so, no occasion for uncertainty is left. It is clear that the Holy Spirit is also God and the author
of his own will, he who is most clearly shown to be at work in all things and to bestow the gifts of the
divine dispensation according to the judgment of his own will, because where it is proclaimed that he
distributes graces where he wills, servile condition cannot exist, for servitude is to be understood in what
is created, but power and freedom in the Trinity. And so that we may teach the Holy Spirit to be
of one divinity with the Father and the Son still more clearly than the light, here is proof
from the testimony of John the evangelist. For he says: 'There are three who bear
witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.'47
Surely he does he not say 'three separated by a difference in quality' or 'divided by
grades which differentiate, so that there is a great distance between them?' No, he says
that the 'three are one.'

Latin: Unde nullus ambiguitati relinquitur locus, quin clareat Spiritum sanctum et Deum esse, et suae
voluntatis auctorem, qui cuncta operari, et secundum propriae voluntatis arbitrium divinae dispensationis
dona largiri apertissime demonstratur. (0227C) Quia ubi voluntaria gratiarum distributio praedicatur, non
potest videri conditio servitutis: in creatura enim servitus intelligenda est, in Trinitate vero dominatio ac
libertas. Et ut adhuc luce clarius unius divinitatis esse cum Patre et Filio Spiritum sanctum
doceamus, Ioannis evangelistae testimonio comprobatur. (0228A) Ait namque: Tres sunt qui
testimonium perhibent in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus sanctus, et hi tres unum sunt (I Ioan. V,
7) . Nunquid, ait, tres in differenti aequalitate seiuncti, aut quibuslibet diversitatum gradibus longo
separationis intervallo divisi? sed tres, inquit, unum sunt.

(Victor Vitensis, Historia persecutionis Africae provinciae; Migne Latina, PL 58.227C)

3.1 When our little book had been presented to them and read out, their blind eyes found it impossible to endure the
light of the truth. They raved with intolerable shouts, taking it amiss that in the title of the book we had called ourselves
'Catholics'. Straightaway those liars declared to the king that we had created an uproar while rushing away from the
hearing. He was immediately inflamed and, believing the falsehood, lost no time in doing what he wanted to do.

3.2 He had already drawn up a decree and secretly sent his men with it throughout the· different provinces. So, while the
bishops were in Carthage, in one day he closed the churches throughout Mrica and he presented all the property of the
bishops and churches to his own bishops as a gift.

(Victor Vitensis, Victor of Vita: history of the Vandal persecution; Translated by Moorehead, Liverpool Press 1992)

[Ben David] The verse is quoted by above four hundred orthodox bishops, in a confession of faith
presented to Hunneric, King of the Vandals, in Africa. This was in the year 484, and the confession has
these words, which they ascribe to John the Evangelist: "Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in coelo.
Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus." Observe, this is not a quotation of one writer, but of all the heads of the
churches in Africa, [PAGE 280] in the Mediterranean islands, in Greece, in Rome, and in other places. The
quotation, therefore, virtually presents the united testimony of all the learned throughout the whole
Christian world to the genuineness of the text of the three Heavenly Witnesses. The king, who summoned
them to appear at Carthage, was a furious Arian, bent on exterminating the orthodox. They produced the verse,
they said, as placing the divinity of Christ in a point clearer than light. Could they hope by forging it, to impose
upon a powerful enemy, surrounded by all the Arian bishops, who were ready to refute or expose any
unfair dealings in their opponents? The thing is impossible: they all knew that, though their interpretation
of the verse was opposed, the authenticity of it could not be called in question. ('Ben David' [John Jones],
'Letters to the Editor', The Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, vol 21 ,1826, 279-280.)

Hefele : Sec. 214. Religious Conference at Carthage, A.D. 484.
In the meantime there was held in Africa, if not a Synod proper, yet an unusually numerous and important assembly of
bishops. Huneric, king of the Vandals, son of the successor of Geiseric, since his entrance on the government, A.D. 477,
had not ceased to persecute the Catholics, and had endeavored by all means of craft and violence to obtain a victory for
Arianism, which he and his people professed. To this end he sent out, in May 483, a circular letter to Eugenius of
Carthage, and all Homoousion bishops, in which he gave orders that, on the first of February in the next year, they should
be present at Carthage, in order to have a disputation with his "venerable" bishops on the Homoousion faith, and to
examine whether it were scriptural or not.2 [2. Mansi, t. vii. p. 1141; Hardouin, t. ii. p. 857.] Eugenius declared that he
was willing to attend, on condition that the Catholic bishops from the other side of the Mediterranean, particularly
the Church of Rome, should be [PAGE 36] allowed to take part in the disputation, as the controversy would have
reference to the Catholic creed, and not to the special creed of the African Church.1
[1. Mansi, t. vii. p. 1142;
Hardouin, l.c.; Victor Vitensis (Victor of Vita), De persecutione Afric. lib. ii. in the Biblioth. Max. PP., Lugd. t. viii. p. 682;
also in Baron. ad ann. 483, n. 93 sqq.] He made this stipulation particularly, because the bishops wher were not under
Vandal rule could express themselves with much greater freedom than he and his colleagues who were living under that
heavy oppression. King Huneric made the scornful reply: "When you make me master of the whole world, then what you
want shall be done," that is to say, then shall the bishops be summoned from the whole world. To this Eugenius returned
a befitting answer; but instead of complying, Huneric did the reverse, and drove into exile those Orthodox bishops of
Africa who were pointed out to him as peculiarly learned and eloquent.2 [2. Victor Vitensis, l.c.] At last the first of
February arrived, and no fewer than 461 Catholic bishops had appeared at Carthage, as is
shown by the list of them which is still extant.
3 [fn. 3. In Mansi, t. vii. 1156; Hardouin, t. ii. p. 869. Sixteen
sees were then made empty, or the bishops sent into exile, so that the Vandal kingdom counted 447 Catholic bishops.]
Most of them were from Africa itself; some were from the islands of Sardinia, Majorica, and Minorica, which belonged to
the Vandal kingdom. Huneric had some of the ablest of the Catholic bishops separated from the others and arrested, and
Bishop Laetus of Neptis even killed, in order to strike terror into the others. The place of meeting was fixed by their
opponents; but the Catholics immediately selected from their number ten speakers, so that the Arians should not be able
to say that they were clamored down by the Catholic bishops by reason of their majority. There were, however, no real
debates. At the very beginning the Arian Court Bishop Cyrila placed himself in the president's chair, and the Catholic
bishops in vain appealed against this, and demanded an impartial president. When the royal notary gave to Cyrila the title
of patriarch, the Orthodox asked "by whose authority Cyrila had assumed the title of patriarch"; and when the Catholic
spectators made a noise at this, they were driven by blows from the place of [PAGE 37] assembly. Eugenius complained
of violence; but, in order to get at the chief matter in dispute, the Catholic speakers requested Cyrila to open the
proceedings, and to lay before them the points which were to be discussed. Cyrila replied, "Nescio latine," and persisted
in his objection to the speaking of Latin, although he answered that he had elsewhere made copious use of this language.
Victor Vitensis maintains (p. 683) that Cyrila had met the Catholic bishops with better preparation and more boldly than he
had expected; but that they had taken the precaution of drawing up a confession of faith in writing of which he gives a
copy (lib. iii.), and which is also given in Mansi and Hardouin. 1 [fn. 1. Mansi, t. vii. p. 1143; Hardouin, t. ii. p. 857.]
Tillemont shows (p. 797) that, in the subscription of this formula, xii. Kal. Mart. instead of Mai. must be read. Huneric now
put forth an edict, on February 24, in which he blamed the assembled Orthodox bishops that they had not either at the first
or second day of sitting (so that the assembly lasted two days) proved the Homoousion from Holy Scripture, although they
had been challenged to do so; but, on the contrary, had occasioned a rising and an uproar among the people. He
therefore gave orders that their churches should remain closed until they should come and take part in the disputation.
Further, the laws which the Roman Emperors, misled by the bishops, had promulgated against heretics, should now be
directed against the maintainers of the Homoousion. They were therefore forbidden to hold meetings anywhere; they were
not to have a church in any city or village; they must not take part in any baptism, ordination, or the like; and in case they
continued in their perverseness, they should be punished with exile. Moreover, the laws of the Roman Emperors against
heretical layman should now be in force, and they should be deprived of the right to sell, to leave by will, and to succeed
to legacies, inheritances, trusts, etc.; and, moreover, those who occupied dignities and offices should be stripped of them,
and should be declared infamous. All books in which they defended their error (the Nicene doctrine) were to be burnt.
Anyone, however, who should return from his error by the 1st of June, was [PAGE 38] to be free from all punishments.
Finally, all the churches, together with church property, in the whole kingdom, were to be made over to the truth, that is,
the Arian bishops and priests.1 [fn. 1. Victor Vit. lib. iv. l.c. p. 687 sqq.; Mansi, t. vii. p. 1153 sqq.; Hardouin, t. ii. p. 867
sqq.; Baron. ad ann. 484, n. 54; Tillemont, t. xvi. p. 562.] Besides this, King Huneric had the Catholic bishops present
in Carthage sought for in their lodgings, deprived of their property, their servants, and horses, and driven out of
the city. Whoever should receive them was to have his house burnt. Later on they were all excommunicated; the
majority (302) being sent to different parts of Africa, where they had to live as country people without any
spiritual functions, whilst forty-six were sent to the island of Corsica, where they had to hew wood for the royal
ships. Victor adds that twenty eight had escaped, one had become a martyr, one a confessor, and eighty eight
had died earlier

[2. Victor Vit. l.c. p. 693; Mansi, t. vii. p. 1164; Hardouin, t. ii. p. 875. Cf. Tillemont, t. xvi. p. 565 sqq.]
(Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, From the Original Documents, 1895, vol 4, p. 35-38)

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460 Bishops “stood on the brink of death”

[Brownlee] There is no trace of evidence that any of the different sectaries brought an accusation against the Christian
fathers of having interpolated this verse. — It is a fact on record that our verse was received by the western churches in
Europe, in general, at a very early period. Now on the supposition that this verse had not existed in the ancient genuine
MSS. and that the Christian fathers had brought it forward, and quoted it publickly, without effective evidence of its
authenticity, how is it to be accounted for, I pray you, that all the sectaries kept silence? The Sabellians, and the Arians,
had both the disposition, and the power, and the means in their hands to expose the audacity, and to punish the
sacrilegious deed of these fathers, who had committed the interpolation. If they could not discover the first who dared to
add to God’s word, they could easily discover the first who dared to make use of the fraud. How can it be accounted for
that they never brought any charges of this kind? It cannot be affirmed that our verse never was quoted against them.
This was done. It was done publickly by those brave Christian bishops, who, in Africa, “bearded the lion in his den.” I
allude to the famous assembly of bishops in Africa, who laid in their solemn testimony before the king of the Vandals, and
the Arian bishops. In the year, 484, Hunneric, by an edict did summon all the orthodox bishops of Africa, and the isles
dependent on his power, to appear before him in February of the following year, and to defend and establish out of the
Scriptures, their doctrine of the unity of the three divine persons; their doctrine of the homoousian. They had nine months
allowed them and their antagonists to prepare themselves; to confer, and to collect MSS. and to draw up their confessions
of faith respectively. At the time fixed by the royal edict, there appeared, says Gibbon in his Roman History, four hundred
and sixty bishops from the orthodox African churches. They presented their confession of faith to the king. They had
known their danger from that man of blood. [PAGE 547] They stood on the brink of death. The bar of their God seemed as
it were, almost immediately before them. They had made their preparations of proof for nine months. They knew that the
eyes of all the churches of the east and west were on them. Would men ready to offer their lives on the altar of
martyrdom—men who actually, after this, braved banishment and death —would these men interpolate, or bring forward a
quotation, which by one word could be refuted and exposed by their learned and shrewd and powerful enemies? Would
they do a deed which would expose their memory to infamy, before the eyes of all the churches? It is surely not
supposable. They knew that their enemies had every facility to expose them by the possession of MSS. of the Scriptures.
Hence they must have come conscious that what they were going to quote, they could sustain by ancient and authentic
MSS. and by the testimony of the fathers. If they did not all this, then their act of quoting what was not scripture, and their
offering what was interpolated, and not found in their enemies copies, was little else than a wanton and a gratuitous act of
throwing themselves into the fangs and the jaws of the lion—an act of self destruction—when they had abundance of
other texts to sustain them in the dispute. Now, the following is the clause of their confession, to which I have alluded. It is
from Victor Vitensis. “And further that we may teach it to be clearer than the light, that the Father, and the Son, and the
Holy Ghost have one divinity; it is proved from the testimony of the evangelist John: for he says, there are three that bear
testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.” — The Quarterly Review, Mr.
Editor, to get rid of this testimony, tried to impeach the authority of Victor Vitensis. But the able refutation by bishop
Burgess has shown that Victor is sustained by the most unexceptionable authority—from that of the Emperor Justinian,
even unto Gregory the Great. (Bp. Burgess's Vindication of 1 Jo. v. 7. p. 52. And Horne, vol. iv. p. 448.) Dr. Marsh
supposes that the Arians did not stay to reply—or to reason the point. They resorted instantly to violence. But the Arians
did reply—not at first by blows—not immediately by cutting out their tongues, but “with the most tumultuous clamours.”
They insisted that these words did not prove the point in debate. They insisted that they could not find, in as many words,
in the scriptures, the very word — the homoousian — which was the word used by both antagonists in the Arian
controversy. (See Kettneri, p. 105.) Hence they did not deny our text — but they denied that the homoousian was
contained in the Verse. Others of our opponents suppose that the Arians must have objected to this text brought against
them: but that this has not been recorded by the orthodox, from whom we have the account. To this it has been justly
replied, that if they had objected, we should most assuredly have found on the pages of the orthodox some reply to the
objection. For it is evident that these fathers could say enough for it, when permitted — and did persuade the whole
western churches to receive it as a genuine portion of the word of God! We feel ourselves fairly entitled to say, that the
Arians were silent on this point. They brought no such accusations. And this silence seems to us a proof that they had it in
their MS. copies of the Bible.

(Brownlee, [Letter to the Editor], No. IV, in the Christian Advocate, vol 2, 1824, p. 546-547)
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Steven Avery

Grantley Robert McDonald error

On the Council of Carthage we have this from Grantley Robert McDonald:

BCEME - p. 114
"the presence of the comma in the African text of the Latin Vulgate was indicated
by the fact that it was cited by the bishops who appeared before Hunneric."

Ironically, if this were true, it would end any debate about whether the Vulgate the c. 400 AD contained the verse.

ADD Additional Grantley sections.
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Steven Avery

Some of the major writers on the Council:


Jean Jehan Petit - printer 1493-1500

Beatus Rhenanus


John Bugenhagen - 1550

Bellarmine - 1586

1599 Latin Text (there may be one around 1539, check Simon margin)

Diego Ruiz de Montoya -

1644 edition per Calamy

Cheynell - 1650 p. 12 and 16

John Selden (Grantley) - 1653 1655

Richard Simon - 1689

Isaac Newton - 1690

David Martin - 1719

Edmund Calamy - 1722

Leonard Twells - 1731


Richard Porson - 1790

Johann David Michaelis - 1790
= 436

Griesbach - 1810

Ethan Smith - 1814

Frederick Nolan - 1815

John Hewlett - 1816

Charles Butler - 1817

then flip


Burgess - 1822
1826 review

Quarterly Review - 1825

Ben David - 1826


Irish Ecclesiastical Record 1867

Karl Halm 1879

Philip Smith

Karl Hefele 1895

Joseph Arbitage Robinson

Jodocus Coccius

Otto Bardenhewer - 1908

John A. Moorhead - 1992
History of the Vandal Persecution

Andrew H. Merrills - 2004

Jonathan J. Arnold - 2008

Peter Sarris - 2011

Jonathan Conant - 2012

David E. Wilhite - 2017

Being Christian in Vandal Africa
Robert Whelan - 2018

Michael Marlowe
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