Ilias Theodosis explains how the poetry of the heavenly and earthly witnesses affects the grammar

Steven Avery

Ilias Theodosis text on next post #2.

sister threads - directly involving Ilias

Barry Hofstetter - USA Greek-Latin scholar challenges Eugenius Bulgaris - Greek fluent Bible believer from Athens weighs in[/COLOR][/URL]

Ilias Theodosis explains how the poetry of the heavenly and earthly witnesses affects the grammar

And more generally:

sister PBF threads on the solecism in the earthly witnesses text[/COLOR][/URL]

Facebook - NT Textual Criticism
August, 2018

Ilias - KJVToday
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Ilias explains why the earthly witnesses verses has masculine grammar in the full pure Bible section

This follow up became current when a good poster, Geoff, on the textkit language forum, asked about the grammar when you have the full text with the heavenly and earthly witnesses.

1Jn.5:7 Grammatical gender and the Johannine comma
Textkit Greek and Latin Forums

Geoff questioned whether the full heavenly and earthly witnesses verses have a grammatical problem.

(Generally this is only brought up by short text defenders, in reactive mode, when they say ..
"but the grammar is also off even with the heavenly witnesses, its all the same either way.")


And I asked Ilias how he looks at the neuter grammar of the earthly witnesses when you have the full pure text. Is there anything in question about the neuter grammar? Ilias gave a superb answer that compliments what I already understood, that the two verses are one grammatical unit.

(I am tweaking his English a bit, and the parenthesis are my additions for the reeader, plus the bold emphasis)

... in Jr's group (this is a reference to Facebook, NT Textual Criticism. James Snapp, Jr.) I already mentioned that there is a schema of Greek syntax that is used mostly in traditional songs, poems etc. and this schema justifies the second conflict in the last verse (in 1 John 5, the earthly witnesses). But, the first verse (in 1 John 5, the heavenly witnesses) must always have the grammar and gender correct.

when we have two rhymes in a song, the first one must be always CORRECT in grammar and syntax etc, but the second is not required because it must follow the first grammar construction (for symmetry reasons)... I think this rule is in many languages, not in Greek only.

John makes a construction like a song. The two rhymes are equal (length and rhythm) like a song, and that way the second rhyme MUST follow the first grammar, cause the two lines are almost equal. If John changes the gender in the second, then he breaks the symmetry.

In poems, songs etc. in rhymes, verses etc. that are almost similar lines, even if it consists of two verses like here - you can not have a break of symmetry, the symmetry is more important than to follow the tight (formal) grammar.

However, the fist part must be always correct and not the opposite.

Why is this so clear and simple to Ilias? Simply because Greek is his native language, he did not learn the language from grammar books, or as a second or third language.

Thank you, Ilias. I believe, overall, this is the best explanation of the neuter grammar question in the full text that has been given to date.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Frederick Nolan figure attraction reference from the Port Royal grammar.

An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek vulgate, or received text of the New Testament (1815)
Frederick Nolan

940 On the figure attraction, see Mess, de Port Royal Gr. Gram. B. VII. ch. i. p. 319. ed. Lond. 1797

Ironically, his auxiliary examples are the non-functional pneuma/paraclete verses in his analysis is uneven. However, in the broader sense he has the right section.

A new method of learning with greater facility the Greek tongue, tr. [by T. Nugent]
from the Fr. of messieurs de Port Royal [really only C. Lancelot]. Nugent. Revised
the same back to 1746

... it is peculiar to the Greek language, to make a case, that has its own concord, or government, draw sometimes to itself another noun, which is not at all governed by the verb, to which it should naturally refer:

This was a sound reference, however, not anywhere near as clear as to the why as we have from Ilias.

Historical Note:

This led to a certain amount of back and forth in the 1800s, I'll show how this was bandied about in the 1800s debate,

Annotations on the Epistles: Being a Continuation of Mr. Elsley's Annotations, and Principaly Designed for the Use of Candidates for Holy Orders, Volume 2 (1816)
James Slade
Now, although it is scarcely possible to reconcile this, on any ground, with the plain rules of grammar ; yet the error may be accounted for, by supposing it to have proceeded from a repetition of the phraseology of the disputed passage ; or from, what grammarians call, the figure of attraction. See Port Royal Gr. Grammar. ...

Monthly Review (1820)
suggests that the smaller grammar of August Heinrich Matthiae gives abstractum pro concreto (constructio ad sensum) that Nolan, Hales and Burgess overlooked. However, he ends up taking situations with masculine nouns and neuter grammar, clearly not relevant.

Christian Remembrancer (1822)
John Oxlee contra Nolan

"There is, I think, a high degree of inconsistency in the espousers of the Heavenly Witnesses, when they argue against its possible personification of the earthly witnesses in the eighth verse, in order to bring in the seventh...., if we may not be permitted to personify the spirit, the water, and the blood, when the seventh verse is omitted, how, I ask, shall we be any more at liberty to do so when it is actually thrust in? I am aware that the learned Bishop of St. David's has said, by an attraction ; but to that I may reply in one word, that the Greek tongue acknowledges no such attractions as this, nor any other tongue whatever, with which I am in the least acquainted..

Christian Remembrancer (1822)
Frederick Nolan
(Marsh and false grammar)

Quarterly Review (1822)
Review of Burgess book - Vindication
(various weaknesses in the argumentation)

Christian Advocate (1825)
William Craig Brownlee

.... The criticks of the German school, it is true, though they do not venture to contravene the text quoted above. do nevertheless permit themselves to use unjustifiable liberties with the sacred style; particularly with that of John. And I am not quite sure that Griesbach can wash his hands of this sin.

But we may fearlessly say that no scholar can impeach the grammar of an inspired writer: or can convict him of a gross solecism. A priori, thething is impossible. It is enough to say that the Holy Spirit was with him. He who gave the gift of tongues, would not give it in imperfection: far less with the drawback of palpable blemishes; still less would he bestow a gift involving false grammar, and absurdities which would expose to the ridicule of men his venerable apostles, employed in discoursing on the most grave subjects. Such an idea involves the purest absurdity—if not something even more than absurdity. The apostles did speak—they did write as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, Be our plain answer this.

But if our opponents choose to decide in this matter by a dictate ex cathedra—if they prefer the decision of a council of scholars—we are most willing. We too have our scholars. Without deducting the least item from the well earned and glorious laurels of the very learned Griesbach.and Michaelis, and Marsh, and Porson—we can name, on our side, men to whom we gravely say, they, on the opposite side, can select no equal from their ranks. We have—(to pass by a multitude)—we have Matthaei, Ernesti, and arch-bishop Eugenius—the first of Greek scholars. The fact is, we are indebted to the last mentioned Greek scholar, (Greek was as familiar as his mother tongue to him, who translated the Georgies into classick Greek.)—We are indebted to this Eugenius for the first detection of this anomaly of our opponents’ false Greek. He thus expresses himself in a letter to Matthsei—Speaking of our opponents’ proposed reading, by leaving out our verse, he says: .. continues through p. 72
Christian Advocate (1827)
Review of the argument in behalf of the text of the Heavenly Witnesses
William Craig Brownlee
p. 336-339

Thomas Horne (1821) (1841)

Lectures on Theology, Volume 1 (1850)
By John Dick, Andrew Coventry Dick
and also go back to the Eugenius explanation.

However, the simple and clear explanation of Ilias Theodosis should close this particular question.
Last edited:

Steven Avery

the Frederick Nolan online detail (different in two spots)

This post needs some tweaking, especially placing in the Greek.

The 1815 book online.
p. 259-260 matches inquiry4.
p. 564 matches inquiry6

Eugenius Bulgaris section
"... a grosser solecism than can be ascribed to any writer, sacred or profane"
(add pic, also on Port Royal)

Mountain Retreat section of 1815 book

An inquiry into the integrity of the Greek Vulgate, or received text of the New Testament - in which the Greek manuscripts are newly classed, the integrity of the authorised text vindicated, and the various readings traced to their origin.
by Dr. Frederick Nolan (1784-1864 A.D.)
A Presbyter of the United Church,
3. In 1 John v. 7. the manifest rent in the Corrected Text, which appears from the solecism in the language, is filled up in the Received Text; and (Grk) being inserted, the masculine adjectives, (Grk) , are ascribed suitable substantives; and by the figure attraction, which is so prevalent in Greek, every objection is removed to the structure of the context. Nor is there thus a necessary emendation made in the apostle's language alone, but in his meaning. St. John is here expressly summing up the divine and human testimony, “the witness of God and man;” and he has elsewhere formally enumerated the heavenly witnesses, as they occur in the disputed passage. In his Gospel he thus explicitly declares, “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me; and when the Comforter is come, even the Spirit of truth, he shall, testify of me." And yet, in his Epistle, where he is expressly summing up the testimony in favor of Jesus, we are given to understand that he passes at least two of these heavenly witnesses by, to insist on three earthly; which have brought the suppressed witnesses to the remembrance of almost every other person who has read the passage for the last sixteen centuries! Nay more, he omits them in such a manner as to create a gross solecism in his language, which is ultimately removed by the accidental insertion, as we are taught, of those witnesses, from a note in his margin. Nor is this all, but this solecism is corrected, and the oversight of the Apostle remedied, by the accidental insertion of the disputed passage from the margin of a translation; the sense of which, we are told, it embarrasses, while it contributes nothing to amend the grammatical structure! Of all the omissions which have been mentioned respecting this verse, I. call upon the impugners of its authenticity to specify one, half so extraordinary as the present? Of all the improbabilities which the controversy respecting it has assumed as true, I challenge the upholders of the Corrected Text to name one, which is not admissible as truth, when set in competition with so flagrant an improbability as the last. Yet, on the assumption of this extravagant improbability as matter of fact, must every attack on the authenticity of this verse be built, as its very foundation !
On summing up the arguments which have been urged against the text of the heavenly witnesses, I cannot therefore discover any thing which materially affects the authenticity of this verse, either in the omissions of the Greek manuscripts or the silence of the Greek fathers, in the variations of the Latin version or the allegorical explanations of the Latin polemics. The objections hence raised against that text are perfectly consistent with that strong evidence in its favor, which is deducible from the internal evidence and the external testimony of the African Church, which testimony remains to be disposed of before we can consider it spurious. Nor is there any objection to which the text of the Vulgar Greek is exposed, in other respects, which at all detracts from its credit.

It has been stated against I Joh. v. 7, 8. as read in the Greek Vulgate, that the objection raised to the grammatical structure of the Palestine text, is removed but a step back by the insertion of I Joh. v, 7, as the same false concord occurs in the context [in] I Joh. v. 8. as read in the Byzantine edition;(Grk) being there made to agree with to. (Grk) But this objection has been made without any attention to the force of the figure attraction. The only difficulty which embarrasses the construction lies is furnishing the first adjectives (Grk) with substantives; which is effectually done, by the insertion of (Grk) , in the disputed passage. The subsequent (Grk) are thence attracted to the foregoing adjectives, instead of being governed by the subsequent to. (Grk) in the strictest consistency with the style of St. John and the genius of the Greek language.

This Mountain Retreat 6 does not have the Port Royal Greek grammar footnote, which is above.

The 1830 edition by Nolan has some additional points, including on the Sabellian issue.

Supplement to an inquiry into the integrity of the Greek Vulgate, or received text of the New Testament (1830)
p. 179-181
1. The internal evidence, it seems not to be disputed by any competent judge, and is not to be disproved by any conclusive mode of reasoning, confirms the testimony of the Latin Church, as requiring the insertion of the Heavenly Witnesses. Without considering the scope of the Apostle’s reasoning, or the connexion of his sense; the structure of his language requires them to be inserted, as necessary to avoid a barbarously solecistic construction. On discarding the passage from the sacred text, masculine adjectives (Grk) are forced into concordance with neuter substantives, (Grk): on replacing it in the apostle’s text, this objection vanishes; those adjectives finding suitable substantives in the Heavenly Witnesses, (Grk) (continues, bring full text in)
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Helps on the threads.

Jeremy Menicucci contributed on the NT Textual Criticism thread, and this can lead to an extra issue or two.
hi Jeremy,
thank you for really trying to work with the point that Ilias was making, about the "hi" and the proposed Latin to Greek translation
Greetings! I think that point was actually made quite effectively in an article by Nathaniel Ellsworth Cornwall c. 1870
Last edited:

Steven Avery

Abbe Le Hir - "The apostle has been guided by the taste for parallelism"

Irish ecclesiastical record - Vol V -
The Late Abbe Le Hir on the Authenticity of 1 John v. 7 - p. 123 -

This interpretation of verse 8 has nothing of forced about it, if verse 7 be retained in its place. The apostle has been guided by the taste for parallelism, so deeply rooted in the Jewish mind, that it forms the basis of their poetry and of their poetical prose. This love of symmetry explains how the tres sunt is in the masculine, whilst the three nouns that express in the Greek, water, blood, and Spirit, are neuter; it likewise explains how this idea of appealing to the testimony of water and blood, which in verse ti is still obscure and undefined, becomes fully developed in verse 8.

Like the Ben Knopp article, this has solid additional internal points stated clearly.
Last edited: