For those interested in textual criticism, 1 John 5:7, the KJV and NKJV, I thought it might be helpful to post Dan Wallace’s comment to this post below:

* * *

Folks, allow me to clear up a few matters. First, as Justin pointed out I did not claim that Erasmus had many any promise about inserting the comma Johanneum at 1 John 5.7. Even de Jonge admitted that his research was not complete, and critically that the earliest source in which the tale about Erasmus and the comma was put into print involved too many volumes for de Jonge to sift through. So, there remains the possibility that Erasmus did make just such a claim, but it is buried in unaccessed volumes. Be that as it may, the consensus of scholarly opinion is that, until further revelations come to light, de Jonge’s position that Erasmus never made such a promise must stand.

Second, de Jonge (who is unquestionably the world’s leading Erasmus scholar) also demonstrated that Erasmus himself did not express suspicion that codex Montfortianus was made to order, nor did I say that. I believe that it was probably made to order, as Tregelles and others have sufficiently demonstrated (see Thomas Hartwell Horne, Samuel Davidson, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scripture, tenth edition  [London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1856], 4.213-16). Tregelles summarizes their findings (4.216):

as it is certain that the copyist here altered the Greek, and made it suit the Latin, and as it was brought forward just when it was needed (having been in that sense found, while so many other MSS. remained in obscurity), and no similar copy having ever since appeared which has not been proved to be a forgery, it is hardly too severe a conclusion, if we believe that the Epistles were written at that time, and added to the Gospels, in order to meet Erasmus, and to compel him to insert the text.

Although it now seems that Tregelles was wrong to claim that Erasmus was forced to put the comma Johanneum into the text of his third edition, the evidence that Tregelles adduces that codex 61 was made to order is based on comparisons of this MS with others, not hearsay. What is significant here is that Tregelles does not say that Erasmus thought that the MS was made to order; this is Tregelles’ opinion, and not that of Erasmus. What I said was that the MS was made to order, not that Erasmus thought it was. Thus, I was not speaking in contradiction to de Jonge’s fine article on the comma.

Third, the owners of the famous codex were Froy (or Roy), a Franciscan friar at Oxford; then, Thomas Clement (1569), William Clark (1582), then Thomas Montfort (hence, Codex Montfortianus), Bishop Ussher, and finally, Trinity College, Dublin, where the MS resides today. I do not recall the source that says that Roy produced the MS, but my library is in a shambles and it will take a few more weeks before I can find the volume I’m looking for.

Fourth, I would like to make one correction on what was quoted from me above, however. The quotations were accurate, but I was not. First, the oldest MS to have the comma Johanneum in the text is from the 14th century, not the 16th century. I originally based that part of my research on Metzger’s Textual Commentary, but he left out this particular MS!

There is also a significant updating to the list of MSS that have the comma Johanneum. Up until a few weeks ago, scholars knew of only eight Greek NT MSS that had the comma either in the text (four MSS) or in the margins (four MSS). The earliest textual reading, as I said above, is found in a fourteenth century MS. The marginal readings are found in one 10th century MS, one 11th century MS, and then three later MSS. But the marginal notes are all written by a later hand. If you’ve been counting, you’ll notice that there are nine GNT MSS that have the comma. I discovered the ninth one at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, in July 2010. This is an 11th century MS, codex 177. Its early Gregory number indicates that it has been known for a long, long time. Yet the marginal reading of the comma has gone unnoticed. I did not see it in the catalogs of the BSB, and it’s not listed in Nestle-Aland27, which does list the other eight MSS. The marginal gloss was added no earlier than the second half of the sixteenth century, and probably a century or two later. For a discussion on this find, see the “TC Note” posted at www.csntm.org. I will be co-authoring an article, in the not-too-distant future, on the MSS that have the comma with one of de Jonge’s current doctoral students.

Nevertheless, it can safely be said that there are no GNT MSS which have their comma dated to the first millennium AD. Further, nine late MSS vs. hundreds of MSS, ranging in date from the fourth century on, is hardly a confidence builder that the comma is authentic.

Finally, I would like to comment on what one commenter said about the Byzantine text, the Textus Receptus (the printed text behind the KJV), and Harry Sturz’s work. Dr. Black and I were students of Harry Sturz at Biola University. I held to Sturz’s views for seventeen years, but as I worked in the primary and secondary literature the weight of the data could no longer sustain such a view for me. I know of no textual critic today who follows Sturz. Dr. Black is a superb NT scholar, but he is not a textual critic.

You say, “While neither of these scholars advocate a KJV only view, they also demonstrate that the KJV’s text is not quite as problematic as Dr. Wallace asserts.” Perhaps. But this really requires more refinement. When the editors of the NKJV were working on their translation, simultaneously working on the first published Majority Text, they estimated that there would be between 500 and 1000 differences between the MT and TR. They were quite surprised when the number was significantly higher: The Textus Receptus differs from the Byzantine text 1838 times! The Byzantine text also differs from the standard critical text 6577 times. In reality, all of them are closer to each other than they could be; there are several MSS that are ‘out there,’ far more disparate from either the Byzantine or critical texts. But here’s a curiosity about the NKJV: as the commenter correctly noted, it is based on the TR, not the MT. And none of the editors thought the TR was the best text, even though that’s what they translated. (I know this from first-hand experience; I was assisting Dr. Arthur Farstad on the NKJV at the time.) All of them disagreed with the KJV at 1 John 5.7, Rev 22.19, Acts 8.37, and a host of other places where the KJV has very poor external testimony. To be sure, there are verses that are both in the MT and TR and are lacking from the critical text, but none of what I discussed in the quoted material on this blog site are those texts. Thus, I would say that even these scholars would agree with me that these particular KJV readings are very problematic and hardly authentic. So, if you want to place your confidence in the NKJV, please understand that it still has some very late, poorly attested readings which none of the editors thought were original.