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Author Topic: The Trinity in Translation  (Read 918 times) Average Rating: 0
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Aklie Semaet
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« on: January 30, 2005, 06:27:12 PM »

I don’t know where to put this thread but it seems proper here. If the moderators find it inappropriately placed please move it.

Be'Seme Sellasie, Amen.

There are many Old Testament metaphors and New Testament verses that justify our belief in the Trinity. But one of the most clearly stated is 1 John 5:7:-

”For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”

That is what it says in the Original King James version. Once a Unitarian Protestant pointed out to me that this verse has actually been “corrected” in the Revised King James Version (and most of the new translations in the different English Bibles):

For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one.

I read the Amharic version and it also had this version of “spirit,” “water,” and “blood.” But the Orthodox Church does not produce the modern Amharic Bible; it is produced by the International Bible Society (which in my understanding is a Protestant organization. The Orthodox Bible is the one in Ge’ez).

I had someone read the Arabic translation and it said “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.” The International Bible Society also produced the Arabic Bible.

At this point my hands are in the air and I have not a clue of what this verse is supposed to say. Is anyone privy to a Greek translation? What does it say in Church Slavonic? Of course our dogma about the Trinity is not dependent on this verse alone but it is still important to know what this verse said originally.

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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2005, 07:07:41 PM »

Aklie Semaet,

As a newbie, I probably shouldn't reply. But I do have a copy of the Orthodox New Testament, published by the Holy Apostles Convent in Buena Vista, Colorado. It puts the disputed part of 1 John 5:7, 8 in italics: "For there are three bearing witness in the heaven: the Father, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are One. And there are three bearing witness in the earth: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three are for the one."

A note for the passage says: "These words--'in the heaven: the Father, the Logos (Word), and the Holy Spirit; and these Three are One. And there are three bearing witness i the earth"--are not found in any early Greek manuscript. Four of eight existing manuscripts contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from the late recension of the Latin Vulgate. The four minuscules which contain the passage as a variant reading written in the margin as a later addition are as follows: Minuscules 88 v.l. (16th c.), 221 v.1. (10th c.), 429 v.1. (16th c.), and 636 v. 1. (16thc.). The remaining Minuscules are: 61 (16th c.), 629 (14th c.), 918 (16th c.), 2318 (18th c.).

"Down to the thirteenth century, no Greek writer makes mention of this passage. Later, it is cited only by one Greek author, the 15th-century Dominican monk and adherent of Thomas Aquinas, Manuel Calecas. The first to cite this phrase in Latin was the Spanish heresiarch Priscillian (4th c.), and it appears in a considerable number of Latin manuscripts. It entered the printed versions of the Greek text when it was included as a translation from the Latin in the first printed Greek Bible edition (1514), by the publisher Cardinal Ximenes de Cisneros. The Greek Lectionaries of Apostolike Diakonia and Phos include it. The Constantinople Edition, designating the phrase as an addition, has printed it in small italic type.

"it is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin. However, it is neither found in the Old Latin, nor quoted by St. Cyprian or Augustine, nor is it in the Vulgate issued by Blessed Jerome" (explanatory note 39).

As a believer in the Trinity, I've long been partial to the verse, but I concede that it's poorly supported by the extant manuscripts. So it's not useful for refuting Unitarians or Jehovah's Witnesses. Still, the formula "Father, Word, and Holy Spirit"--instead of the usual "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit"--sounds so Johannine that I like to see the verse retained with the appropriate explanatory notes.

In Christ,

"Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17 OSB).

"The future isn't what it used to be" (Yogi Berra).
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2005, 07:56:59 PM »

most clearly stated is 1 John 5:7:-

”For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
What does it say in Church Slavonic?

In the Slavonic Bible published in St. Peterburg in 1900 and re-issued in 1993 the with the blessing of the MP, it has "Iako trie sut svidetelstvuiushchii na nebesi, otets, slovo i sviatii dukh: i sii tri edino sut." (Abbreviations resolved.)

In English, "For there are three bearing witness in the heavens, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one."


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and if everbody's a sinner then everybody can be a winner
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'I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."' - Psalm 91:2
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2005, 10:32:19 PM »

I raised this issue a while ago, it was thoroughly discussed here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php/topic,4470.0.html

No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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