NOTE: This Blog post has been edited and updated since it’s original posting.
As mentioned earlier. We are coming back to the “Prologue” to the “Canonical Epistles” in the Codex Fuldensis.
( F ) = Codex Fuldensis, (circa. 6th century C.E.), officially known as Hessian State Library, Codex Bonifatianus I, also known as the: “Victor Codex.” A Latin Vulgate New Testament manuscript. Folios 443r, Page 869, 443v, Page 870, 434r, Page 871 = “Epistulae Canonice Prologus.” Folio 463r, Page 929 = 1st John 5:7-8, Comma-J excluded.
I have personally discovered something, that I really want to share with you, in regards to the passage about the Comma Johanneum mentioned within the Prologue, generally attributed to the Pseudo-works of Jerome in the Codex Fuldensis.
First images of the Prologue from the manuscript itself.
[ “Inc Epistulae Canonice Inc Prologus” ] Prologue to the Canonical Epistles begins on Folio 869:443r
Continues on Folio 870:433v
Ends on Folio 871:434r
Below are two paged images, single page images, then a zoomed in image of the main text of the Prologue:
The main text of the Prologue without the title heading:
Now lets take a closer look at whats in the Latin text.
First the heading to the Prologue, “Epistulae Canonice Prologus” which is believed to be (with degrees of certainty) a hand written note from Victor Caupa himself:
Now here’s the same image with Ernst Franke’s Latin transcription above:
Codex Fuldensis: Novum Testamentum latine interprete Hieronymo By Ernst Ranke (1868) = Prologue Pages 398-399:
Now lets have a close up look at the Prologue text.
Page 1 of the Prologue, Folio 433v:
Page 2 of the Prologue, Folio 434r:
For reference and comparison, here’s the key printed texts of the Prologue below.
PLEASE NOTE: At this date, I’m waiting for the critical text of the Stuttgart Vulgate to arrive from a friend. Hopefully, if it contains the text of the Prologue and a critical apparatus, I will add it later to this post.
Ernst Ranke’s text:
Codex Fuldensis: Novum Testamentum latine interprete Hieronymo By Ernst Ranke (1868) = Prologue Pages 398-399:
MPL, Vol. 29, Col. 865-874
Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels,” By J. Chapman (1908) = Prologue Pages 262-263:
Now going back quite a bit, here’s an older printed text of the Prologue, which will become relevant later in the post.
Complutensian Polyglot 1514-1517
So you may be asking: What’s so remarkable about that?
We know what the Prologue says in the Codex Fuldensis about the Comma Johanneum (don’t we?)! It says that unfaithful translators “omitted” the Comma!
Ranke (published 1868), Migne (MPL volumes published 1856-61), and Chapman’s (published 1908) text’s have all been wrong for over a hundred years on one crucial word!
What’s that? = Latin: “omittentes”, in the phrase: “testimonium omittentes”.
Ranke (Page 399):
Migne (Vol. 29, Col. 872-873):
Chapman (Page 263):
What I’ve discovered (and I must say I’m flabbergasted no one has noticed this) which has no reference in any literature whatsoever (that I’m aware of), is that: “testimonium omittentes” is not what the Codex Fuldensis actually says in that particular sentence, in that particular phrase!
So, what does that Codex really say?
See for yourself.
Here’s a close up look at Page 2 of the Prologue’s main text, Folio 434r, looking at the beginning of the fourth line from the top, on the left hand side:
A little closer yet again:
Notice the difference?
Does it say: “omittentes” with a single “m” and beginning with an “o”?
No it doesn’t!
It says, Latin: “committentes”! (Plural, present, active, participle of Latin “committo”). Beginning with a: “c” and a double: “m”.
It’s followed by a Scribal mark for a full stop.
It’s faded, but visible when zoomed in on (Ernst Ranke picked up on it!).
It’s also confirmed by a larger sized “I” (the text is all in uncial script) in the phrase: “In quo” which follows . “In quo” begins a new sentence, and therefore a separate thought by the author (whoever that may have been).
In the English translations there is no full stop indicated here at all. They take the two separate sentences as one continuous sentence.
Here’s the four examples in English:
“In this I found translators (or copyists) widely deviating from the truth; who set down in their own edition the names only of the three witnesses, that is, the Water, Blood, and Spirit; but omit the testimony of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; by which, above all places, the Divinity of the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is proved to be one.” – (Ben David, trans., 1826)
“Indeed, it has come to our notice that in this letter some unfaithful translators have gone far astray from the truth of the faith, for in their edition they provide just the words for three [witnesses]—namely water, blood and spirit—and omit the testimony of the Father, the Word and the Spirit, by which the Catholic faith is especially strengthened, and proof is tendered of the single substance of divinity possessed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” – (Wordsworth, White and Sparks, trans., 1889-1954)
“In which we find many things to be mistaken of the truth of the faith by the unfaithful translators, who put down in their own edition only three words, that is, Water, Blood, and Spirit, and who omit the witness of the Father and Word and Spirit, by which both the Catholic faith is greatly strengthened and also the one substance of the Divinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is proved.” – (Kevin Edgecome, trans., 2006)
“Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.” – (Thomas Caldwell, trans., 2010)
Download OpenOffice Word processor file with parallel Latin texts of Ranke, Migne, Chapman alongside four Englsih translations from link below:
All have one continuous sentence.
Such translators (IMO) where just following the printed editions of the text (mostly Ernst Ranke). So, we should give them the benefit of the doubt. They did this in good faith. So, I don’t blame them at all.
So what does all this mean?
What’s the big deal?
Well, the English translations, upon which the majority of people rely on to make an informed decision about the Comma Johanneum (from now on CJ) are inaccurate (in this part of the text). They do not convey the original sense of the Fuldensis text (which is the principal manuscript for Latin critical texts).
NOTE TO THE TRANSLATORS: This is not a personal criticism of the translators work. They are a good translation of the texts they had available. Not even Erasmus, or Sir Issac Newton (in his famous work: “Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture”) were aware of this reading (it appears). This new research shows the Latin text (with the flow on effect to the English texts) need’s revising.
The sense intended by the original author has been obscured!
So the question needs to be asked, if: “testimoniu[m] committentes” was the original reading instead of: “testimoniu[m] omittentes,” then what does the Prologue really mean?
One thing is certain, there is no specific mention of the word: “omit” or “omitting”! And that’s a big deal when it comes to the Comma Johanneum!
But if only that was all there was to it!
If only it was a single variant in the Codfex Fuldensis.
It goes deeper much than this. It’s by no means a single variant in an isolated manuscript.
What I have found (just so far) in my research shows, that (IMO at least) Latin: “committentes” was most likely the original reading of the Canonical Epistles Vulgate Prologue (from now on CE-Vul-Prol, or CE-Prol), not: “omittentes”, and that (like the CJ itself) there is a clear pattern that emerges in the Vulgate MSS of tampering and erasure of the original reading.
Here’s some examples of the tampering and erasure of the original reading that I’ve found so far.
Please note that not all Vulgate MSS have a CE-Prol in them. Also, there are no known Vulgate MSS (known to still exist) that have the CE-Prol in them dating from the Seventh-century C.E.
So, let’s have a look at MSS from the 8th century on-wards.
8th century C.E. Vulgate Manuscripts
BnF Latin ms. 8847 (circa 8th-9th century A.D.)
Folio 144r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with “c” and the second: “m” erased, but still visible.
Folio 148r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma J.
BnF, Latin ms. 11505 (circa 8th-9th century A.D.)
Folio 206r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with “c” erased, but still visible.
Folio 211v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma J.
BnF Latin ms. 9380 [Codex Theodulphianus] (circa 8th-9th century A.D.)
NOTE: This a revision of the Vulgate.
Folio 305r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “testimonium omittentes” with Scribal Notae (two dots) right above “o” in “omittentes” where “c” would be. This shows the Srcibe was aware of the reading.
Folio 308r = 1 John 5:7, is Comma-J inclusive. Text reads: “Filius” instead of “Verbum”.
Rome, Biblioteca Vallicelliana B.25II [Codex Iuvenianus, Codex Vallicellianus] (circa. 8th-9th century A.D.)
Folio 45r = Prologue (Anonymous) has a marginal Notae right beside: “omittentes”.
Folio 58v = 1 John begins
Folio 62r-62v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
9th century C.E. Manuscripts
St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, 75 (circa. 9th century A.D.)
Folio 769 = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with “c” erased, but still visible.
Folio 778 = 1st John 5:7-8, no Comma J.
London, British Library, MS Add. 10546, (circa. 9th century A.D.)
Folios 402r-403v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “committentes”. No signs of tampering.
Folio 406v = 1 John begins
Folio 407r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
London, British Library, MS Add. 11852 [Codex Ulmensis] (circa 9th century A.D.)
NOTE: This is possibly a Hartmut revision of the Vulgate.
Folio 168v = Prologue number one (Anonymous), incomplete.
Folio 169r = Prologue two (attrib. Jerome) begins.
Folio 169v = Prologue two continues over page and reads: “omitentes” (single: “m” single: “t”) with the “c” still visible but erased.
Folio 183v = 1 John begins
Folio 187v = 1 John 5:7-8, has Comma-J with the comparative variant of: “Sicut in caelo tres sunt” (“just like/as there is/are three in heaven” etc).
London, British Library, MS Add. 24142 (circa 9th-10th century A.D.)
NOTE: This is a revision by Theodolf of the Vulgate.
Folio 247r-247v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads “omittentes” with no signs of tampering.
Folio = The manuscript breaks off at 1 Peter 4:3.
BnF Latin ms. 1 (circa 9th century A.D.)
Folio 377v = Prologue (Anonymous [marginalia possibly refers to Jerome]) reads: “testimonium omittentes” with the “c” erased yet clearly visible, and a marginal note right beside this part of the text about the Comma-J.
Folio 382r = John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
BNF, Latin ms. 2 (circa. 9th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 407v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” no obvious signs of erasure.
Folio 411v = 1 John begins
Folio 412v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
BnF Latin ms. 3 (circa. 9th century [A.D.] C.E.)
Folio 353v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “comittentes” with no signs of tampering.
Folio 357r = 1 John begins
Folio 357v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
BnF Latin ms. 4, (circa. 9th century A.D.)
Folio 152v = Prologue (Anonymous [a later corrector’s hand attributes to Jerome]) reads: “testimonium ommittentes” with the: “o” in different colored ink to the rest of the word. Above the “o” is an erased: “o” showing “c” must have been in the main text originally. There is heavy signs of erasure all around this part of the text.
Folio 157v = 1 John 5:7-8, has half of vs 7 erased completely, with an adjacent marginal note with the Comma-J in a later hand with the vairant: “sanguis, aqua, & caro”.
BnF Latin ms. 47 (circa. 9th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 141v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “comittentes”
Folio 146v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J, but marginalia with CJ.
BnF Latin ms. 111 (circa. 9th century [A.D.] C.E.)
Folio 122r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with “c” clearly erased.
Folio 125r = 1 John begins
Folio 126r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J, yet has: “[et (?)] terra” extending out into the margin in darker ink, with erasure and evident signs of tampering in this text.
BnF Latin ms. 250 (circa. 9th century [A.D.] C.E.)
Folio 61v = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “ommittentes” with “c” erased but clearly visible.
Folio 65v = 1 John begins
Folio 66v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J, but a scribal Notae in the margin.
BNF Latin ms. 13174 (circa. 9th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 72v = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) bottom line mentions Johns Epistle
Folio 72r = Prologue continues, reads: “omittentes” with: “c” and: “m” erased but visible where they were.
Folio 92r = 1 John begins
Folio 98r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J in main text, but has Notae, and: “in t[e]r[r]a” above line. Comma-J is written in a marginal note by a later hand.
Folio 139v = three Patristic citations of the Comma-J. On the same folio I noticed the Pater Noster in very faded ink along side these. The Pater Noster in this case, may have acted as a switch or trigger (mentioned in Grantley McDonald’s “Raising the Ghost of Arius,” Page 38). Matt. 6:9 Vul: “in caelis” is very close to: “in caelo,” and may have triggered thoughts (i.e. activated the switch) of the CJ (or perhaps vice versa).
Bibliothèque Carnegie de Reims. Ms. 2 (circa 9th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 163v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with: “c” clearly erased.
Folio 167v = 1 John begins, and note on 1 John 5:7-8 (no CJ).
Folio 168v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J. But marginalia with CJ cut in half on edge of page.
Bamberg, Staatliche Bibliothek, Msc. Bibl. 1. [formerly A.I.5] (circa 9th century A.D.)
Folio 392r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omittentes” with: “c” erased yet still visible.
Folio 396r = 1 John begins
Folio 397r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J.
Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. perg. 185 (circa. 9th century A.D. [C.E.])
Folio 77v = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “committentes” with a spelling correction for “t”.
Folio 86r = 1 John begins
Folio 87v = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J, but very messy text with corrections abounding.
Codex Fulda. Aa 11 (circa. 9th century C.E.)
Folio 257 = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “omittentes” with no signs of correction.
Folio 262v = 1 John 5:7-8, has Comma-J with the comparative variant of: “Sicut in caelo tres sunt” (“just like/as there is/are three in heaven” etc).
St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 63 (circa. 9th century A.D. [C.E.])
Folio 245 = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “omittentes” with gaps in the word and signs of heavy correction and/or erasure surrounding that part of the text.
Folio 277 = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J in main text, but a Notae pointing to marginalia at bottom of page with the comparative variant: “Sicut in caelo tres sunt Pater & Verbu[m] & Sp[iritum] S[an]c[tum] & tres unum sunt” (“just like/as there is/are three in heaven” etc).
10th century C.E. Vulgate manuscripts containing the CE-Prol.
Bern, Burgerbibliothek, Cod. A 9 (circa. 10th century C.E.)
Folio 303v = Prologue (Anonymous [added in a different/later hand attrib. Jerome]) reads: “omittentes” with: “c” erased and still visible.
Folio 307r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J, but a later ahnd has put: “in t[e]r[r]a” above the line, and a scribal Notae pointing to bottom marginalia which has the Comma-J “& Filius” varriant.
BnF Latin ms. 6 [Codex Rodensis] (circa 10th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 67v = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome), reads: “comittetes” with what appears to be a spelling mistake.
Folio 73r = 1 John 5:7-8, no Comma-J. But has a marginal note containing the standard CJ.
Cava de’ Trirrenei, Biblioteca statle del Monumento nazionale della Abbazia Benedettina della Ss. Trinita, Codices Cavenses, Cod. 1 Biblio Sacra [Codex Cavensis] (circa. 10th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 273r = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “conmittentes” with the alternative spelling “n” (comp. Toletanus).
Folio 276v = 1 John 5:7-8, has Comma-J. Variant reading: “in Christ Jesus” (comp. Toletanus).
Toledo, Catedral, Biblioteca del Cabildo, 35–8 [Codex Toletanus] (circa 10th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 352 (700 PDF) = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “conmittentes” also with an: “n” (comp. Cavensis).
Folio 355 (707 PDF) = 1st John starts:
Folio 357 (710 PDF) = 1st John 5:7-8, has Comma-J. Variant reading: “in Christ Jesus” (comp. Cavensis).
11th century Vulgate manuscripts
From the 11th century on-wards Latin: “omittentes”, plus slight variants such as: “omittens,” or as in one 12th century Ms: “omittentibus”, become the more consistent reading. So I’m not going to bother posting all of these (takes so much time).
12th century Vulgate manuscripts
Vatican Manuscript-Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.A.1 (circa. 12th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 373r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “comittentes”.
Folio 379r = has Comma-J
British Library, Harley, MS 2834 (circa. 12th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 215r = Prologue (Anonymous) reads: “omitten-tibus”.
Folio 221r = has Comma-J.
13th century Vulgate manuscripts
14th century Vulgate manuscripts
15th century Vulgate manuscripts
16th century Vulgate manuscripts
I randomly looked at a 16th century manuscript (I didn’t think any MS after the advent of printing would still have the original reading) but remarkably one still has the reading: “comittentes”. There might be other late manuscripts with this reading, but it’s the oldest ones that are the most important.
Vat. Lat. 4221 (circa. 16th century C.E. [A.D.])
Folio 148r = Prologue (attrib. to Jerome) reads: “comittentes”.
Folio 152r = 1 John begins.
Folio 153r = 1 John 5:7-8, has Comma-J.
Please bear in mind that my research is not exhaustive (by any means).
It appears that, though some of the big players in the CJ-controversy must have had access to Vulgate manuscripts (such as Erasmus, Sir Issac Newton, and pro-CJ advocates, etc), yet from what I can find, (among English writers at least) they:
- Do not appear to have published anything on this reading, or
- Were not aware of it.
When I searched online for the phrase: “testimonium committentes” nothing came up from manuscripts themselves. Some will scoff at this, but it is a useful resource, Steven Avery has made (and continues to make – almost daily) one of the most extensive bibliography’s (among pro-CJ advocates) on works about the CJ-controversy, and there is no reference at all to this reading. In modern times Daniel Wallace, Hugh Houghton, Grantley McDonald, Metzeger, Brown, Walter Thiele, say nothing about this reading. So, unless someone kindly brings something to my attention that I’ve missed, I (for the time being at least) conclude that they were not aware of it.
The older writers (Newton etc) only appear to know: “testimonium omittentibus” in the CE-Prol.
Please excuse the font sizes and rough appearance of the post. I just want to get this online as quickly as possible.
If you have any useful and detailed information (i.e. not KJVO Pro-Comma-J propaganda and/or irrelevant research, emotional rants etc) that you possess, or have found on this particular reading in the manuscripts themselves, (such as links to the early Vulgate MSS or images thereof) please feel free to share it in the comments below.
P.S. This post will probably be updated later.