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Why did Scrivener Capitalize the S?

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one, 1st John 5:8.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1st John 5:8 in the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible, the Oxford Text since 1893, and the revised Cambridge Text since 1985.

From 1638 until 1873, both Oxford and Cambridge were settled on a small s in 1st John 5:8. That s survived and was confirmed by F.S. Parris after a 7 year collation of all existing texts finished in 1762. It was reaffirmed in 1769 after Benjamin Blayney's seven year study of F.S. Parris's work, the 1701 Bishop Lloyd Bible and the 1611 printing.

It was not until FHA Scrivener published the Cambridge Paragraph Bible that one of the Major University Printers to whom the Kings of England had commissioned the keeping of the word of God capitalized the s in 1st John 5:8. He reversed the judgment of the translators themselves who for the first time in 1638 were allowed to edit the text before printing.

At first glance that seemed to make sense since the original printing of the 1611 had capitalized that same s. Not only did the 1611 capitalize the S in spirit, but it capitalized the B in blood. In 1611 Capitals were used quite like high school girls text. They used capitals for emphasis. I have heard many people urge a return to the 1611 format for the s in 1st John 5:8 based on a fealty to the 1611, but so far nobody has advocated using that same principle to capitalize the b in blood.

Just because Scrivener was a participation in the tragedy of the Revised Version of the bible, he cannot be dismissed out of hand. He did catch a few typographical errors that had crept into the text over the years. He is responsible for restoring the word "flieth" to Nahum 3:16 and he corrected the error in Joshua 19:2 which Oxford still retains. What he also did according to the King James Bible's last great editor, AW Pollard was to introduce hundreds of additional errors. (Here)

Why then did he capitalize that s seeing that there was not manuscript evidence for it? The key to that is looking at 1st John 5:7 in the 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible. He put the entire verse in italics. He did not believe that there was any validity to the verse and he believed that the Greek Text never had it. Therefore he put the whole verse in italics. Go read 1st John 5:6 and 5:8 together as if 1st John 5:7 was not there. They seem like paired readings. They look like the same thing being said in two different ways.

In actuality, 1st John 5:6, 5: 7 and 5:8 are a trinity of proofs that Jesus is the Son of God. This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth, 1st John 5:6. In this verse God's Spirit is inside of the believer proclaiming Jesus Christ as the Son of God by bearing witness to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one, 1st John 5:7. In this verse we are reminded of the times when heaven opened and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be the Son of God.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one, 1st John 5:8. In this verse we revisit the revelation of the Roman Centurion. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God, Mark 15:39. As was discussed in the last post, Jesus Christ was not only on earth, he was in earth. He was in an earthen vessel and in that vessel he died on the cross. The centurion saw three things come out of him. He saw Jesus give up his spirit to the Father, and he saw the water and the blood come forth. It bore witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Scrivener missed all of that because he was blind to the authenticity of 1st John 5:7. By placing 1st John 5:7 in italics, he created doubt in the minds of men as to whether the verse was legitimate or not. In doing so he placed two blows against the deity of Jesus Christ. He relegated verse 7 to the dust bin and he neutered verse 8 by obscuring the cross reference to the spirit that Jesus Christ yielded to the Father in Luke 23:46 and the the spirit of the Lord in Genesis 6:3.

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Luke 23:46.

And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, Genesis 6:3.

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1 Comment

Yi-Ming Shao
Yi-Ming Shao
Jun 14, 2021

Thanks for this article. It is rare to see an article that articulates the difference between Spirit and spirit to an extent that really satisfies me in the depth of my heart. Thank you, John, for your excellent article.

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