Why Was 1 John 5:7 Not In Any Bible Manuscripts Until the 16th Centaury

By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1996
A conversation with the editors of the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New International Version (NIV), and representatives of the 1611 King James Version (KJV).


Why Was 1 John 5:7 Not In Any Bible Manuscripts Until the 16th Century

Dr. John Ankerberg:All right, let’s get the third verse on the board. That is 1 John 5:7. And, Sam, this is the verse in KJV: “For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these three are one.” And let’s take any one you want, Dan. NASB, New American Standard Bible: “It is the Spirit who bears witness because the Spirit is the Truth.” Sam, what’s the objection, first of all?
Dr. Samuel Gipp:Well, the verse has been removed. There is no 1 John 5:7. That 1 John 5:7 you have from the NASB is the last half of verse 6. The NIV doesn’t do this. The NIV splits verse 8 and makes it fall to verse 7. So verse 7 has been removed from both.
Ankerberg:All right, should it have been?
Dr. Daniel Wallace:What’s the evidence for that?
Gipp:I believe God put it in that book; I believe the King James Bible is perfect.
Gipp:Now, you have…listen, you have old readings…no, you have second century readings of it from Tatian’sDiatessaron, so it was…so don’t say it never existed or that it was put in fourth century recension. It was there.
Wallace:I wouldn’t say it was put in the fourth century. I would say it was put in the 16th century.
Ankerberg:All right, my question, Dan, people want to know, Were the new translations, NIV, New King James, etc., were they all wrong in taking it out?
Wallace:They were not wrong and I need to preface it by saying this. I believe all the translators for the New American Standard and the NIV would love to have this verse in their Bible. They all are Trinitarians.
Dr. Kenneth Barker:That’s right. That’s right.
Wallace:They all believe in the Trinity. But what they are going on is the basis of the evidence. An ounce of evidence is worth a pound of presumption, and that’s what we’re really resting with here. What you’ve got is this: Erasmus in 1516 published the first Greek New Testament. It did not have the verses as they ended up in the King James Bible. In his second edition in 1519, it did not have the verses as they appeared in the King James Bible. In fact, he pretty much let out the challenge and said, “If you can find some manuscripts, I’ll put it in.” And so someone made some manuscripts to order.
Gipp:You don’t know that.
Wallace:We can do it on paleographical data that it looks pretty much “made to order.”
Gipp:You don’t know that they made….
Wallace:We certainly know…
Ankerberg:Wait, wait, wait, the people haven’t heard what Dan…wait, wait, we haven’t heard what you’re even arguing about. Say the sentence, the statement, and then we’ll argue. What did you say?
Wallace:Well, the point is, if you want to argue that this goes back very early, why is it that we have no Greek manuscripts that have this early? We have six, at most, late manuscripts. Most of them are in the margin of the text. In other words, it looks as if the manuscripts were written maybe in the fourteenth century and a later hand, a different hand, put something in the margin. Crossed out what was in the text and put this in the margin. You don’t have enough evidence to say this is what the original said.
Ankerberg:Is that in any of the manuscripts up to the fourteenth century?
Wallace:As far as we know, it’s not in any manuscript until the sixteenth.
Barker:That’s right.
Dr. James White:Right.
Wallace:In terms of the actual wording.
Dr. Thomas Strouse:What about internal evidence? We talk a lot about internal evidence, but if you leave that out you have a grammatical problem. I. H. Marshall in his commentary says this is a striking and unparalleled Greek construction if you have a masculine participle and three neuters.
Ankerberg:Let me ask the question. If there are no manuscripts up to the sixteenth century that have it in, were all those manuscripts up to that time when they came to that verse, were they all grammatically wrong?
Strouse:Well, we have in the Church Fathers, Cyprian, for instance, alludes to it. I think there’s a clear allusion to it.
Ankerberg:But how many don’t that quote it?
Strouse:Well, it might be a reason why it’s been deleted in many of the manuscripts. We think that’s a Gnostic effort.
Wilkins:There’s no literature close to it, first….
White:Dr. Strouse…
Strouse:But I think we get back to the point here, you’ve got a grammatical problem. Gaussen a century ago; Dabney a century ago said there’s a grammatical problem if you….
Ankerberg:My New Testament people, do we have a problem?
Dr. Arthur Farstad:The Trinitarian controversy with the Arian heretics, they would have adored this verse if it had been in their text. It would be a clear verse for the Trinity and they never once mentioned it. So if they had had it, you can see…
Ankerberg:So the first councils back there in the 300s or 400s would have loved this verse.
Farstad:They would have adored it. And, you know, we believe in the Trinity.
Ankerberg:But they didn’t quote it.
Farstad:They didn’t quote it because they didn’t have it. It showed up first in the Latin and then years later it was put in the margin.
(Excerpted from The John Ankerberg Show series entitled: “Which English Translation of the Bible is Best for Christians to Use Today?”)

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