Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

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Steven Avery
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Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by Steven Avery »

Potamius of Lisbon, in the mid-4th century, involved in the Arian controversies, repeatedly referenced the heavenly witnesses verse. Potamius was writing of "the three are one", from the writings of John, in the direct context of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Recently discovered for our verse analysis, although first published in 1908.)

1 John 5:7 (AV)
For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one.

We have four extant uses from Potamius:

Epistula ad Athanasium 1x
Epistula de substantia Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti 3x

The English and Latin texts are at:

Pure Bible Forum
Potamius of Lisbon
https://purebibleforum.com/index.php?th ... #post-7287

With lots of background material on the page.

And there was correspondence between Athanasius and Potamius,in both directions. There is a work Disputatio contra Arium which has a strong allusion to the verse, where the speaker is said to be Athanasius.

These four references from Potamius should help eliminate any idea that the verse was not circulating in Bibles during the Arian controversies of the 4th century. Potamius was writing about 360 AD. Earlier emphasis had been placed on Priscillian at 385 AD. It seems like the scholars do not really think in terms of the transmission in the Latin Bibles as a whole. e.g. The evidence is compelling that the verse was used by Cyprian much earlier in his Unity of the Church. And those who over-emphasize Priscillian with the verse in their scholarly papers should be rewriting their sections.

Plus this is yet another Old Latin evidence (one of many), many predating the Vulgate. Cyprian, the six references in De Trinitate, and the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome and the hundreds of bishops at the Council of Carthage of 484 to Hunneric are all part of this robust Latin transmission.

With thanks to the new book The Witness of God is Greater, which brought forth the translations of the sections of the four quotes. And it is rather amazing that this has not been brought into the public heavenly witnesses research and study until 2021. e.g Nothing from Raymond Brown. And Grantley McDonald has only a bibliographic index to the Athanasius letter of Potamius and an en passant reference with no text, Latin or English, but a hand-wave dismissal.

This can also help explain why the verse was dodgy for various doctrinal viewpoints, including the Orthodox, and the writers might prefer to use the manuscripts with only the earthly witnesses.

Jerome described this dynamic of scribes preferring to drop the text in his Prologue to the Canonical Epistles.

Your contributory thoughts welcome!

In a subsequent post I hope to address the difference between invisible (hidden) allegory and explanatory allegory.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY, USA
perseusomega9
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by perseusomega9 »

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.”
-Jocasta Nu, Jedi Archivist, just prior to the Battle of Geonosis and the start of the Clone War.
andrewcriddle
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by andrewcriddle »

This may be a trinitarian interpretation of 1 John 5:8
...the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are one.


Andrew Criddle
Steven Avery
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Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athana

Post by Steven Avery »

Hi Andrew,

For analysis, lets allow the theory that the Bible texts in 360 AD only had the earthly witnesses. (Classical ad hominem.) Despite many huge difficulties.

Then Potamius would look like a fool writing to Athanasius, or anyone, that John wrote “the three are one” about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Beyond that, the theory of invisible (hidden) allegorizing is a special pleading theory of no substance. As far as I can tell, the theory was created to hand-wave powerful references to heavenly witnesses usage, like that of Cyprian in Unity of the Church.

The real usage of allegorizing is explanatory, like this:

“In John’s Epistle, water means the Father, spirit means the Word/Son, blood means the Holy Spirit, voila!, the Trinity”

Explanatory allegorizing.

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
Steven Avery
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Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:27 am

invisible allegorizing becomes the normative faux textual claim - example Cyprian!

Post by Steven Avery »

The theory of invisible allegorizing slipped in quietly in the heavenly witnesses debate.
And I have not seen it used in any other spot in Biblical studies.

The classic is Cyprian, 3rd century, The Unity of the Church (Trinity is not the topic.)

The Lord says, "I and the Father are one"
and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
"And these three are one."

This is a very difficult reference to fit in with modern theories. E.g. if it is acknowledged that Cyprian is speaking of the heavenly witnesses, all the theories of the verse being created in the Arian controversies of the 4th century go out the window. And all the emphasis on Priscillian being the first witness goes kaput. Once those knee-jerk argumentative props are gone, the honest searcher will begin to review the full-orbed evidence for authenticity. Tabula rasa time.

Scrivener was at least honest enough to say that it is "safer and more candid" to acknowledge that Cyprian is giving a reference to the heavenly witnesses. Walter Thiele offered a similar approach, that the verse was in Cyprian's Bible, and that it even came over from the Greek. Franz Pieper truly understood the significance, and his acceptance of the verse used Cyprian as the authenticity fulcrum.

By creating the monstrous fiction of the invisible allegory, the heavenly witnesses contras have stuck to their guns, without a care in the world about how absurd is their claim.

Once the fiction of invisible allegorizing had become normative in the often dull thinking textual criticism world, with lemming repetition, it could be applied in a dozen spots. Grantley McDonald in Raising the Ghost of Arius applied it to 13 evidences at once!

Thus invisible allegorizing is the normal hand-wave for Potamius. (Not emphasizing Andrew, who at least wrote in an equivocal, questioning fashion.)

Steven Avery
Dutchess County, NY USA
andrewcriddle
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by andrewcriddle »

On reflection I still don't think that the passage in the Letter to Athanasius is a reference to the three heavenly witnesses passage. However I now think it likely that the passages in On the Substance of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. are allusions to the three heavenly witnesses passage.

One problem is the uncertainty whether on the Substance of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. is a genuine work of Potamius (see e.g. Hanson Search for the Christian Doctrine of God). In any case the work probably dates from the reign of Constantius and may be our earliest witness to the three heavenly witnesses passage.

Andrew Criddle
Last edited by andrewcriddle on Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Steven Avery
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by Steven Avery »

Thank you Andrew for modifying your position. You tend to be more a thinker, and quite reasonable, unlike the textcrits :). I'll check out your reference. ADDED: p. 357, seeing how the "three are one" sections are similar, I will tend to go with Wilmart. Anyway, you end up around the same time, although it is always nice to have a known name behind a quote. Who else would have written Athanasius in that time and manner?

Due to the huge difficulties of the invisible allegorization and the interpolation theories, and grammar and harmony and style and internal considerations, I consider Tertullian and Cyprian the earliest clear witness. Franz Pieper is very good on the Cyprian usage.
Maestroh
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by Maestroh »

I will respond to Mr. Avery Spencer's assertions by citing him in bold and replying.


Potamius of Lisbon, in the mid-4th century, involved in the Arian controversies, repeatedly referenced the heavenly witnesses verse.
An assertion that will be interesting to see the evidence if any exists.

Potamius was writing of "the three are one", from the writings of John,
Which is not the Comma Johanneum (your so-called "heavenly witnesses") but let's not let that fact get in the way.

in the direct context of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Which is hardly uncommon and proof of nothing.

(Recently discovered for our verse analysis, although first published in 1908.)
What in the world are you saying here? Are you saying this was known in 1908 but trying to pretend you or someone close to you "discovered" (your word) it? Why don't you just come right out and say exactly what you mean rather than dancing around the edges?

We have four extant uses from Potamius:

1) Therefore, he cries out in order to proclaim in himself the predecessor whom he remembers as his Father and begetter. Since the Son is named second, therefore he who precedes is greater: but, because "these three are one", the substance of him who sends and of him who is sent, in the context of the unity of the Godhead, is one: "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30), and "He sees me, sees the Father." (John 14:9) and, as the Savoir himself said to the Apostles.


I see no citation of the Comma here. No mention of the Father, Word, and Holy Spirit, and the phrase is in verse eight. So this isn't evidence of anything we don't already know.

2) Letter on the Substance of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 3. With good reason John asserts: 'and the three of them are one' (1 John 5:8)


The very citation you give contradicts your claim, so why in the world would you do this?

3) 'The Father and I are one' (John 10:30). Likewise John says: "And the three of them are one' (1 John 5:8). And David also: "For this purpose God has anointed you, your God' (Ps. 44:8) he says - that is, the God to whom David's words, the half of your part of which he is the whole. 'Yours' - he says - that is devoted to you, to whom your yourself should be made over.

Again, we have citation of a known portion of verse eight. So far you've come up to bat three times, and you've struck out all three times.

4) This is one substance, this is the invisible and eternal majesty, this is the everlasting unity of the undivided Trinity. As John says: 'And the three of them are one' (I John 5:8). And Peter implores 'three tabernacles' (Mark. 9:4), and 'every word is confirmed by three witnesses' (Matt. 18:16).

Well, all I see is four citations of what we've always known as verse eight. Consequently, we can now reject your assertion as having an evidence at all.

And there was correspondence between Athanasius and Potamius,in both directions. There is a work Disputatio contra Arium which has a strong allusion to the verse, where the speaker is said to be Athanasius.

You have literally given us nothing that was unknown, despite you using the word "discovered."

These four references from Potamius should help eliminate any idea that the verse was not circulating in Bibles during the Arian controversies of the 4th century.
You are 100% correct. We have eliminated the nonexistent idea that what we now call that phrase in verse eight existed in the time of Athanasius. To my knowledge, nobody ever rejected that idea, although one scholar (Bultmann, I believe, but I don't have the reference handy) rejected vv. 6-9 as a redaction.

Of course, this isn't the issue, and you know it. The issue is that nobody quotes that part about the Father, Word, and Holy Spirit for one reason - because they didn't have it.

Potamius was writing about 360 AD.
Which means he contributes nothing beyond what we already knew.

Earlier emphasis had been placed on Priscillian at 385 AD.
Why don't you possess the basic communication skills to say, "Scholarship generally has agreed that the first UNDISPUTED citation of the Comma is from Priscillian"? Also, the 385 AD date is because that's when he died, not because anyone thinks that has to be when he wrote what he did. Believe it or not MOST PEOPLE are aware of the fact that once a person dies, he cannot write again. Who knows, maybe he was writing at the same time, which would vindicate scholarship yet again.

It seems like the scholars do not really think in terms of the transmission in the Latin Bibles as a whole.
Because no such monolith existed. Scholars don't tend to think of fictional narratives as something they need to justify. The hard reality is there are plethora of OLD LATIN readings that you would reject out of hand for no other reason than they didn't wind up in your King James Bible (which is all that's driving YOUR investigation - to be charitable - in the first place).

e.g. The evidence is compelling that the verse was used by Cyprian much earlier in his Unity of the Church.
The evidence is specious at best, and most folks aren't willing to die on that hill.

And those who over-emphasize Priscillian with the verse in their scholarly papers should be rewriting their sections.
Why? Because an Internet hack who couldn't even read the passage in Latin made an ill-informed internet post and now has delusions of adequacy?

Plus this is yet another Old Latin evidence (one of many),

There's Old Latin evidence for almost anything a person wants to endorse. It's why Jerome compiled the Vulgate.

many predating the Vulgate.
I'd say most Old Latin evidence likely predates the Vulgate since the Vulgate was derived from (I don't know if you actually know this yet).....the Old Latin.

Cyprian, the six references in De Trinitate, and the Vulgate Prologue of Jerome and the hundreds of bishops at the Council of Carthage of 484 to Hunneric are all part of this robust Latin transmission.

Nobody disputes the Comma Johanneum was in the Latin textual stream as early as the fourth century. i mean, this isn't even debated by the nearly 100% of scholarship that rejects its originality with John.

With thanks to the new book The Witness of God is Greater, which brought forth the translations of the sections of the four quotes.

And altered nothing at all we didn't already know. And I'm guessing this is yet another KJVO book.

And it is rather amazing that this has not been brought into the public heavenly witnesses research and study until 2021.
Just a minute ago you implied this was known in 1908. Given your poor communication, I guess maybe you can clarify this for the rest of us. There's nothing amazing about it at all. Potamius simply reinforces what we already know.

e.g Nothing from Raymond Brown.
Given you've not budged Brown's comment of the first certain citation, why would there be? Also, Brown died a long time ago so if this was just "discovered" (your word) then maybe write a little better. If it was known since 1908 it's obviously been rejected as having the meaning you insist it must.

And Grantley McDonald has only a bibliographic index to the Athanasius letter of Potamius and an en passant reference with no text, Latin or English, but a hand-wave dismissal.

Who cares?

I mean, you have zero mention here of your rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity while you're trying to use arguments presented in favor of the Trinity in favor of a citation of a KJV verse you desperately want to defend. Ordinarily, I'd consider it out of bounds to bring up your theological views, but since you opted to go the route of attacking other people here with the old "they're hiding stuff," I have no second thoughts at all about subjecting you to the same level of penetrative judgment.

This can also help explain why the verse was dodgy for various doctrinal viewpoints, including the Orthodox, and the writers might prefer to use the manuscripts with only the earthly witnesses.

You are literally saying here that the entire early church engaged in a conspiracy to suppress. Do you REALLY want to make THAT argument, Mr KJVOist?

Jerome described this dynamic of scribes preferring to drop the text in his Prologue to the Canonical Epistles.

You know full well nobody accepts Jerome authorship of this as well as the fact it's clearly an after-the-fact justification.

Your contributory thoughts welcome!
Well, you didn't contribute anything substantial to the post but I did well with what little you gave me to handle.

In a subsequent post I hope to address the difference between invisible (hidden) allegory and explanatory allegory.

I can hardly wait. I've always been curious what a guy who in this post advocated a "Da Vinci Code"/Karen King level of conspiracy might have to say about something that doesn't exist. I assume a hidden allegory might be written in invisible ink.
Maestroh
Posts: 153
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Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athana

Post by Maestroh »

Hi Andrew,
For analysis, lets allow the theory that the Bible texts in 360 AD only had the earthly witnesses.


What if we turn this around and ask you for ACTUAL EVIDENCE that this passage existed IN GREEK (the original language) in 360 AD?

THAT is how historical inquiry occurs. Not by pretending a situation that doesn't exist actually does.

(Classical ad hominem.)

You literally have no idea what an ad hominem actually is.

Despite many huge difficulties.

Well, only if you think the manuscripts in all non-Latin languages and the writers in all non-Latin languages are ALL WRONG.

Then Potamius would look like a fool writing to Athanasius, or anyone, that John wrote “the three are one” about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Actually, he wouldn't look any more like a fool than Irenaeus did saying we have four gospels because there are four corners of the universe. So this is special pleading at best.

Beyond that, the theory of invisible (hidden) allegorizing is a special pleading theory of no substance.

And this is a straw man of Empire State Building level dimensions, too. Can you show me someone writing and saying, "I'm writing in allegory only it's invisible" or some other such nonsense?

As far as I can tell, the theory was created to hand-wave powerful references to heavenly witnesses usage, like that of Cyprian in Unity of the Church.

Something tells me it doesn't take much to convince you of much foolishness. I mean, you DO deny the moon landing occurred (yes, folks, he actually admitted this last week) and you DO suggest maybe atomic bombs never existed.

So it clearly doesn't take much to convince you of things that are untrue.

The real usage of allegorizing is explanatory, like this:
“In John’s Epistle, water means the Father, spirit means the Word/Son, blood means the Holy Spirit, voila!, the Trinity”
Explanatory allegorizing.


Guy who never stopped to read a book on hermeneutics spends post wrongly explaining hermeneutics and symbols to the rest of us.
Maestroh
Posts: 153
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2016 10:03 am

Re: Potamius of Lisbon references the heavenly witnesses in writing to Athanasius

Post by Maestroh »

Thank you Andrew for modifying your position. You tend to be more a thinker, and quite reasonable, unlike the textcrits :).

Now THAT is what's called an ad hominem. Learn what one actually is.

I'll check out your reference. ADDED: p. 357, seeing how the "three are one" sections are similar, I will tend to go with Wilmart.
You'll go with whomever will allow you to keep your precious KJVOism, and we know it.

Anyway, you end up around the same time, although it is always nice to have a known name behind a quote. Who else would have written Athanasius in that time and manner?


Who cares?

Due to the huge difficulties of the invisible allegorization and the interpolation theories, and grammar and harmony and style and internal considerations, I consider Tertullian and Cyprian the earliest clear witness.

It's hilarious to watch you pretend you've actually read these guys in the original language. You don't know jack squat about Tertullian's writings OR Cyprian's, you just want to vindicate the KJV. But Tertullian never even came close to quoting 1 John 5:7. Cyprian came at least within a taxi ride of it, but his citation contributes very little. Even if we say, "He was first," all that means it the Latin corruption is proven to be a century older than it is currently known to be.

Franz Pieper is very good on the Cyprian usage.
No, he's actually pretty lame, but I'll concede both are opinions.

Mine is better-informed than yours and not clouded with KJVO presuppositions, but it's still opinion.

And again - have the scholastic integrity to drop your "made up out of my feeble brain" inaccuracy of "invisible allegory" since I seriously doubt anyone with a brain can see invisible things.
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