1 John 5:7-8, the Comma Johanneum

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.

//This is one of the most intriguing passages in the Bible, and the source of some very heated arguments. It’s called the Comma Johanneum, and it doesn’t exist.

The above quotation comes from the King James Version. Problem is, it exists in none of the earliest manuscripts of the Bible, nor was it mentioned by any of the early church fathers when they quoted this portion of scripture. (No, Cyprian of Carthage did not quote the verse with the inserted Comma in the year 250!) The center of the passage appears to have added to the Latin text of the New Testament sometime during the middle ages. Commentators are virtually unanimous that it was added to the Bible in light of Trinitarian debates. The original wording is:

For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

Inserted in the middle is an explicit reference to the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Had the passage been original, there appears to be no good reason for it to have later disappeared. Many current translations, such as the NIV and the NSRV, now omit it, and the Vatican appears to approve. In 1927, Pope Pius XI decreed that the Comma was open to dispute, and the updated New Vulgate, published in 1979 following the Second Vatican Council, does not include the Comma.

Yet a number of recent fundamentalist movements advocate the superiority of the King James Version, and refuse to consider the possibility that the verse is inauthentic. For many, rejecting the Comma is tantamount to claiming that God did not have a hand in the translation of the KJV.

The argument continues. Ain’t religion fun?



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