Any Proof of the Trinity in 1 John 5:7, 8?
LONG have Bible scholars questioned the authenticity of certain words found at 1 John 5:7, 8. But since these words do appear in the Textus Receptus (“Received Text”), they are found in the King James, the Douay and other versions. As increasing evidence proved the words spurious, however, those believing in the Trinity seem to have taken a delaying action against expunging them from Bible translations.
For example, the noted English Roman Catholic Bible scholar Monsignor Knox has a footnote in his translation (1944) saying: “This verse does not occur in any good Greek manuscript. But the Latin versions may have preserved the true text.” And in its main text the Catholic Confraternity translation (1941) reads: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three are one.” In a footnote, this translation states: “According to the evidence of many manuscripts, and the majority of commentators, these verses should read: ‘And there are three who give testimony, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three are one.’” Nevertheless, the footnote adds: “The Holy See reserves to itself the right to pass finally on the origin of the present reading.”
A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1953) presumes to explain how the Father, the Word (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit all give testimony to Christ’s divinity. Then, in explanation of the words “and these three are one,” this work states that they “have one identical nature.” However, it then refers to another page (which most readers probably would not consult). There one finds an admission that this passage now is generally held to be a gloss that crept into the Old Latin, Vulgate and Greek manuscripts. Since that is true, why attempt to explain it?
In contrast is the footnote appearing in The Jerusalem Bible (1966), which does not have the added words in the main text. It states: “Vulg[ate] vv. 1 Jo 5:7-8 read as follows ‘There are three witnesses in heaven: the Father the Word and the Spirit, and these three are one; there are three witnesses on earth: the Spirit the water and the blood’. The words in italics (not in any of the early Greek MSS, or any of the early translations, or in the best MSS of the Vulg. itself) are probably a gloss that has crept into the text.”
Significantly, the spurious words in question are not found in the latest Roman Catholic translation in English, The New American Bible. But, how did they creep into Bible manuscripts? Likely, an over-zealous copyist deliberately inserted this statement so as to support the Trinity teaching. Yet, there is no proof of that false doctrine here or elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures.