Friday, January 31, 2014

Heretics United: A Defense of the Textual Integrity and Trinitarian Interpretation of Matthew 28:19 - Part 1a

Since Paul Williams has watched many of his favorite arguments against the deity of Christ fall like bowling pins (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) he has apparently decided to outsource the job to “Christian” unitarians. A recent example of this can be seen in this post, where PW copied and pasted an article from a unitarian attacking the trinitarian statement found in Matthew 28:19 as a forgery at worst or a misinterpreted passage at best. This argument has been made by a wide variety of cultic groups from unitarians to Arians to Modalists. In his prefatory remarks to this article, PW says that he finds the article “interesting” and apparently believes the arguments it presents justify calling Matthew 28:19 only an “alleged” proof-text for the Trinity. Since PW is easily impressed by anything attacking the Trinity and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, not to mention other things that are central to the Bible that his prophet was supposed to confirm but ended up contradicting, the following post will see if the arguments found in this article should also be of interest to the less credulous.

The article presents six arguments against the Trinitarian statement in Matthew 28:19. In this post I will deal with the first one. Lord willing, the others will be dealt with in the future. Here is the first argument in full:

1. Eusebius (c. 260—c. 340) was the Bishop of Caesarea and is known as “the Father of Church History.” Although he wrote prolifically, his most celebrated work is his Ecclesiastical History, a history of the Church from the Apostolic period until his own time. Today it is still the principal work on the history of the Church at that time. Eusebius quotes many verses in his writings, and Matthew 28:19 is one of them. He never quotes it as it appears today in modern Bibles, but always finishes the verse with the words “in my name.” For example, in Book III of his History, Chapter 5, Section 2, which is about the Jewish persecution of early Christians, we read:
But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.”
Again, in his Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine, Chapter 16, Section 8, we read:
What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.”
Eusebius was present at the council of Nicaea and was involved in the debates about Arian teaching and whether Christ was God or a creation of God. We feel confident that if the manuscripts he had in front of him read “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” he would never have quoted it as “in my name.” Thus, we believe that the earliest manuscripts read “in my name,” and that the phrase was enlarged to reflect the orthodox position as Trinitarian influence spread. (Emphasis original)
To begin with, there simply is no textual basis for doubting the authenticity of this verse as it stands written in all modern Bibles, including those regularly used by heretics. The textual evidence without question or exception overwhelmingly and unanimously favors its inclusion. As Alfred Plummer said:
The question of the genuineness of the verse may be answered with the utmost confidence. The verse is found in every extant Greek MS., whether uncial or cursive, and in every extant Version, which contains this portion of Mt….It is incredible that an interpolation of this character can have been made in the text of Mt. without leaving a trace of its unauethenticity in a single MS. or Version. See Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe, ii. P. 153. The evidence for its genuineness is overwhelming. (Alfred Plummer, M.A., D.D., An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons, 1910), p. 431-432.)
And James LaGrand:
The external evidence of the manuscripts for this part of the Gospel is solid. But it was with obvious reluctance that Harnack acknowledged that “no positive proofs can be adduced for regarding xxviii 19f. as an interpolation [A. von Harnack, Mission and Expansion, 40 note 2.].” Indeed, the evidence is consistent even for the Trinitarian baptismal formula: “there is not a single manuscript which does not have it [H. Kosmala, “The Conclusion of Matthew”, Studies, Essays and Reviews 11: New Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1978), 132.].” But having acknowledged this, Hans Kosmala goes on to argue for textual emendation at verse 19b. His argument is based on the omission of the line referring to baptism from every quotation of the text in Eusebius’ ante-Nicene writings. The fact that the baptismal formula in the Gospel’s text appears also in Didache 7.1, however, is much stronger evidence for Matthean authenticity than Kosmala admits [For the date of the Didache, Audet sees “the last decades of the first century” as “the extreme end of probabilities”. The parallel reference to baptism “in the Lord’s name” (eis onomo kuriou) in Did 9.5 enables Audet to press his case for a date pre-AD 70. Jean-Paul Audet, La Didache instruction des apotres (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1958), 190-192.] Accordingly, the entire text of Matthew 28.16-20 (as it stands in the 26th edition of the Nestle-Aland text) should be accepted as a secure basis for an examination of Matthew’s understanding of the commission from the resurrected Lord. (James LaGrand, The Earliest Christian Mission to ‘All Nations’ in the Light of Matthew’s Gospel (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), p. 236.) (Information in brackets corresponds to footnotes in LaGrand.)
The following is from the NET Bible:
tc Although some scholars have denied that the trinitarian baptismal formula in the Great Commission was a part of the original text of Matthew, there is no ms support for their contention. F. C. Conybeare, “The Eusebian Form of the Text of Mt. 28:19,” ZNW 2 (1901): 275-88, based his view on a faulty reading of Eusebius’ quotations of this text. The shorter reading has also been accepted, on other grounds, by a few other scholars. For discussion (and refutation of the conjecture that removes this baptismal formula), see B. J. Hubbard, The Matthean Redaction of a Primitive Apostolic Commissioning (SBLDS 19), 163-64, 167-75; and Jane Schaberg, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (SBLDS 61), 27-29. (Source) (Bold emphasis mine)
Having said this, it is relevant to point out that there are manuscripts that are missing the final part of Matthew, but in their case it is impossible to know for sure one way or the other what reading they contained, which means they neither count for nor against the trinitarian reading. At the same time, there are some incidental grounds for holding that the missing parts of even these manuscripts contained the disputed phrase just like all other manuscripts for which we do possess the final chapter in toto. Bernard Henry Cuneo explains:
To one who is at all acquainted with the present controversy regarding Mt. 28, 19, it comes as a distinct surprise that the evidence of the manuscripts and versions is overwhelmingly in favor of the authenticity of the passage. The verse as a whole is contained in all extant manuscripts and versions with the exception of Syr. Sinaiticus, Syr. Curetonianus and Bobiensis. These manuscripts are fragmentary in many parts. The Gospel of Matthew in Syr. Sinaiticus ends with chapter 28, verse 7; the rest of the Gospel has been lost [Cf. The Four Gospels in Syriac, Translated from the Sinaitic Palimpsest, by Bensley, Harris and Burkitt, 1894]. Curetonianus stops at chapter 23, verse 25 [Cf. Remains of a Very Antient [sic] Recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac, by W. Cureton, 1858; also Evangelion Da-Mepharresche, by F. C. Burkitt, 1904]. Bobiensis has nothing after chapter 15, verse 36 [Old Latin Biblical Texts No. II, by John Wordsworth, W. Sanday and H. J. White, Oxford, 1886].

In view of this almost unanimous consensus of the manuscripts, it is rather surprising to find men of such undoubted scholarship as F. C. Coynbeare [Hibbert Journal art. Three Early Doctrinal Modifications of the Text of the Gospels, 1902, p. 108] and K. Lake [Article Baptism (Early Christian) in ERE, p. 379], trying to minimize the weight of this evidence, by emphasizing the defect of the oldest African and Syrian manuscripts at this point.

The fact that Curetonian has nothing in Matthew after 23, 25, and Bobiensis nothing after 15, 36, cannot even by the wildest stretch of the imagination be ascribed to the vandalistic efforts of a “dominant party”, who purposely sought to suppress a more ancient, and therefor presumably untrintiarian reading of Mt. 28, 19.

The case of Siniaticus, it is true, is somewhat different. Here the last folio is missing; but, even at that, there is no reason to assume that this was done on purpose, and was not due rather to the ravages of time. In itself this defect in Sinaiticus, and a fortiori in Curetonianus and Bobiensis is neither an argument for, nor against, the authenticity of the textus receptus, and does not in the least affect the testimony of the other manuscripts.

If we be allowed any conjecture regarding the original reading of the text in Bobiensis, we should certainly decide in favor of the traditional reading, since this reading is found in Palatinus and in the biblical citations of St. Cyprian, with which Bobiensis has clear affinities [Cf. the detailed study on the relation between Bobiensis, Palatinus and St. Cyprian, by W. Sanday, in Old Latin Biblical Texts: No. II, Oxford, 1886, Introduction XLIII-CLXVI]. The same may be said of Syr. Sinaiticus and Curetonianus, since the textus receptus is found in Tatian’s Diatessaron [Cf. the critical apparatus of H. J. Vogels Novum Test. Grace 1920 ad loc.; also, the Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. IX, New York, 1896, p. 128].

But according to Coynbeare such an argument is inadmissible; for long before the year 400 “the question of the inclusion of the Holy Spirit on equal terms in the Trinity had been threshed out, and a text so invaluable to the dominant party could not but make its way into every codex, irrespectively of its textual affinities” [Hibbert Journal, 1902, p. 108, Three Early Modif. Of the Texts of the Gospels].

No better reply could be made to such a dogmatic statement than that of F. H. Chase in the Journal of Theological Studies, 1905 [The Lord’s Command to Baptize, p. 499], viz: “all the surviving Greek codices were not produced by a band of conspirators. They grew up naturally in different portions of the Greek-speaking Church. An interpolation could not be thus foisted into the text of the Gospels, and all evidence of its true character be obliterated”.

Were Coynbeare’s statement correct, that our present textus receptus is the result of a systematic suppression of an earlier, untrinitarian text,--a suppression carried on so thoroly [sic], so universally, and so ruthlessly as not to leave a single trace of the original text in any existing manuscript or version, we should be confronted by a marvel unparalleled in the history of our text-transmission. We have clear instances of interpolations in our accepted text, some dating back to very ancient times; yet the evidence of the manuscripts have preserved for us the original along with the interpolated….

Consequently the case of Mt. 28, 19 inasfar as the manuscripts and versions are concerned, must be judged to be exceptionally strong. “It is only when we shut our eyes to facts that we can persuade ourselves or allow ourselves to be persuaded, that it was possible for words to have been interpolated into the text of the Gospels, without a trace of their true character surviving in the manuscripts and versions [F. H. Chase, 1. C., p. 499].” (Bernard Henry Cuneo, The Lord’s Command to Baptise: An Historico-Critical Investigation with Special Reference to the Works of Eusebius of Caesarea, NTS No V. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Univesity of America, 1923), pp. 37-39.)

In addition to this observation, i.e. that all extant complete manuscripts contain the phrase, which by itself renders this virtually an open and shut case, for patristic citations are secondary and usually only come into play when there is first some evidence in the manuscript tradition for a variant, there are several things that mitigate against putting much stock in Eusebius’ so-called short version in an effort to displace the traditional reading.
First, given that Eusebius often abbreviates or paraphrases certain passages of Scripture, only citing as much as is necessary to the point he is making at the time, it is quite possible that the “short version” that lacks reference to baptism into the triune name is not intended as a verbatim quotation.
A textual question involves the presence of the Trinitarian formula, “into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Eusebius cited the command in various forms, most often omitting the phrase about the Trinity. This led to the conclusion that he knew the text in a shortened form, “Go, make disciples of all the nations in my name.” Since all other textual witnesses give the full text, most textual critics have accepted it as original. An examination of Eusebius’s references where the baptismal command was omitted shows that it was superfluous to the context (for in ever case the emphasis was on the universality of Christ’s teaching in contrast to previous religious and civil law) and consideration of Eusebius’s method of citing Scripture (omitting phrases he counted irrelevant and blending phrase from other passages he counted pertinent) deprives the argument for a shorter text of any validity….It seems more likely to me that Eusebius paraphrased when his interest was the apostle’s mission or the Lord’s ethical teaching and cited the full text when Trinitarian concerns were at the forefront. The early and general acceptance of baptism in the Trinitarian name and the presence of the long form of the verse in all manuscripts and all witnesses to the text (except for Eusebius, and even in some places by him) are difficult to account for on other grounds than that the words are original in Matthew (especially when one considers that Matthew was the most widely used Gospel in the second century). Some words were necessary at the baptism—spoken either by the administrator, the candidate, or both—to show its purpose and distinguish it from what others did. (Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2009), pp. 134-135. See also: Peter M. Head, Christology and the Synoptic Problem: An Argument for Markan Priority, Society for New Testament Studies, Monograph Series 94 (Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 212f.)
Secondly, Eusebius never denies the “longer reading,” even though, as Eusebius would have known full well, many early Christians before him quoted it. In any case, the patristic evidence refutes the claim that “the phrase was enlarged to reflect the orthodox position as Trinitarian influence spread” after the council of Nicaea. Here is a smattering of quotations of Matthew 28:19 that appear in the church fathers prior to the council of Nicaea:
Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then “baptize” in running water, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If you do not have running water, baptize in some other. If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand. (ch. 7.1-4)
Justin Martyr:
As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them….For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. (First Apology, LXI)
And again, giving to the disciples the power of regeneration into God, He said to them, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Against Heresies, Bk. 3, ch. XVII)
Then said Jesus unto them, I have been given all authority in heaven and earth; and as my Father hath sent me, so I also send you. Go now into all the world, and preach my gospel in all the creation; and teach all the peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to keep all whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, unto the end of the world. (The Diatesseron, LV)

There is then one God and Father, and not two or three; One who is; and there is no other besides Him, the only true. For “the Lord thy God,” saith [the Scripture], “is one Lord.” And again, “hath not one God created us? Have we not all one Father?” And there is also one Son, God the Word. For “the only-begotten Son,” saith [the Scripture], “who is in the bosom of the Father.” And again, “One Lord Jesus Christ.” And in another place, “What is His name, or what His Son’s name, that we may know?” And there is also one Paraclete. For “there is also,” saith [the Scripture], “one Spirit,” since “we have been called in one hope of our calling.” And again, “We have drunk of one Spirit,” with what follows. And it is manifest that all these gifts [possessed by believers] “worketh one and the self-same Spirit.” There are not then either three Fathers, or three Sons, or three Paracletes, but one Father, and one Son, and one Paraclete. Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” not unto one [person] having three names, nor into three [persons] who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honour. (To the Philippians, II; although generally considered to be part of the spurious writings of Ignatius, this work is, in any case, an early witness to the text of Matthew 28:19.)

 The Father’s Word….gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead: “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth. (Against the Heresy of One Noetus, 14)


Accordingly, after one of these [disciples – AR] had been struck off, He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to “go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost.” (The Prescription Against Heretics, XX)

For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: “Go,” He saith, “teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (On Baptism, XIII)

After His resurrection He promises in a pledge to His disciples that He will send them the promise of His Father; and lastly, He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names. (Against Praxeas, 26)


15. “And His voice as it were the voice of many waters.”] The many waters are understood to be many peoples, or the gift of baptism that He sent forth by the apostles, saying: “Go ye, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John, ch. 1, sec. 15.)

And again, after His resurrection, sending His apostles, He gave them charge, saying, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth. Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (The Seventh Council of Carthage Under Cyprian)

Dionysius of Alexandria:
Those who were baptized in the name of the three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—though they were baptized by heretics who confess the three Persons, shall not be re-baptized. But those who are converted other heresies shall be perfected by the baptism of the Holy Church. (Letter to Stephanus)

Gregory Thaumaturgus:
Seest thou that all through Scripture the Spirit is preached, and yet nowhere named a creature? And what can the impious have to say if the Lord sends forth His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit? Without contradiction, that implies a communion and unity between them, according to which there are neither three divinities nor (three) lordships; but, while there remain truly and certainly the three persons, the real unity of the three must be acknowledged. (A Sectional Confession of Faith, XIII. Although dubiously ascribed to Gregory, this stands as a witness to the full text.)

Council of Arles (AD 314):
9 (8). Concerning the Africans who use their own special law in that they practice rebaptism, it is resolved that if any come to the church from heresy, they question him on the creed (used at his baptism), and if they consider him to have been baptized into the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, let him only receive the laying on of hands so that he receive the Holy Spirit; but if when questioned he does not solemnly confess this Trinity, let him be baptized. (Canons To Sylvester, canon 9 (8))
The careful reader will have noticed that tucked away in the above quote by Ferguson is the following statement: “The early and general acceptance of baptism in the Trinitarian name and the presence of the long form of the verse in all manuscripts and all witnesses to the text (except for Eusebius, and even in some places by him)…” This leads into the third factor that militates against appealing to Eusebius over and against the unanimous manuscript, versional, and patristic witness to the verse. What Ferguson is referring to is the fact that Eusebius does in fact cite the full text in some of his writings, a fact that supports the earlier observation that in the case of the “shorter form” Eusebius was abbreviating or speaking loosely. Different numbers are given in the scholarly literature, but by my tally Eusebius quotes the full phrase on at least five occasions.
Ecclesiastical Theology:
Wherefore only this Spirit has been included in the holy and thrice-blessed Triad. This is not different from the Savior’s explaining to his apostles his sacrament of rebirth for all those from the nations who believe in him. He commanded them to baptize “them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (III.5.22)

8. After his resurrection from the dead, all of them,-- being together as they had been commanded,--went to Galilee, as He had said to them. But, when they saw Him, some worshipped Him, but others doubted. But He drew near to them, spoke with them, and said: "All power (both) in heaven and earth, is given to me of my Father. Go ye and make Disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And, behold! I am with you always even to the end of the world." (4.8)
2. As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Laver, and as we have learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this: -

3. We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead. And we believe also in One Holy Ghost: believing each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Concerning Whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy. That this we have ever thought from our hear and soul, from the time we recollect ourselves, and now think and say in truth, before God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ do we witness, being able by proofs to shew and to convince you, that, even in times past, such has been our belief and preaching. (Letter of Eusebius to the People of His Diocese, 2-3.)

Two other occurrences are found in Contra Marcellum, I.1.9, I.36.
Although not offered by the unitarian author in the argument here being responded to, the usual outs put forth by unitarians or anti-Trinitarians who appeal to Eusebius is to say that these quotes are interpolations into the writings of Eusebius or that they all come from after the council of Nicaea, after which Eusebius is alleged to have changed his mind. Of course they can’t have it both ways, for the quotes can’t at the same time be an interpolation by others and also a reflection of the fact that Eusebius changed his mind, but neither can one or the other of these conspiratorial contrivances be accepted as true, for, as Eduard Riggenbach pointed out, there is neither evidence from any manuscript that the quotes are not original to Eusebius, nor is it the case that Eusebius changed his mind after Nicaea, for not only does he cite the longer form in Theophania right along with quoting the shorter paraphrastic form, showing that such a manner of citation was never intended as a denial of the full text, but the way Eusebius quotes the full text demonstrates a longstanding familiarity with it.
Professor Faulkner has a good summation of Eduard Riggenbach’s essay, Der Trinitarische Taufbefehl und seiner Authentie untersucht, Gutersloh, 1903:
Riggenbach shows that the alleged quotations of a shorter form from Eusebius are not literal quotations, but free reproductions, that when he does quote he gives the text as we have it, that he did not change his attitude in this regard after A. D. 325, that there is no trace of any MS. tradition of any other Eusebian text, and that such a shorter form cannot be found before Eusebius. (John Alfred Faulkner, Crises in the Early Church (New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1912), Appendix II, p. 161.)
A study in English by F. H. Chase that is comparable to but independent of Riggenbach's can be read here: The Lord's Command to Baptize.

Fourthly, since the full Trinitarian statement appears in Sinaiticus (not to be confused with Syr. Sinaiticus) and Vaticanus, if various scholars are right in contending that these two manuscripts were among those produced by Eusebius (e.g. Tischendorf, Batiffol, et. al), an idea opposed by other scholars (Scrivener, Westcott, Hort, et. al), then this would be additional evidence that Eusebius knew and assented to the traditional reading.
In his magisterial refutation of Oneness theology, Dr. Edward Dalcour provides a fitting summary of why Eusebius provides no evidence against the traditional reading of Matthew 28:19:
…in the case of Eusebius, this is an argument from silence. His partial rendering of the passage does not indicate that he denied the concept of the Trinity or the Trinitarian formula enunciated in Matthew. It only shows that he loosely quoted the passage. In fact, Eusebius does use the full Trinitarian formula at least four times, twice in Contra Marcellum, once in De Ecclesiastica Theologia, and once in a letter written to the church at Caesarea (Ferrarx, 1981: 152-59).

Adding to this, prominent textual scholars believe that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus were two of the fifty copies of the Scriptures that the Emperor Constantine commissioned Eusebius to have written, all containing the Trinitarian phrase (Metzger, 1994: 47- 48). There are plenty of earlier church fathers….that quote the full Trinitarian clause of Matthew 28:19. Third, of all the extant Greek manuscripts that contain the ending of Matthew, not one omits the Trinitarian formula and no variant reading of the formula exists. (Edward Dalcour, A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism, 3rd Edition, Revised, Updated, and Expanded (Potchefstroom, South Africa: North-West University, 2011), p. 111.)

With all of the above in view, there is no good reason to doubt the traditional reading. Hence, the first “interesting” argument from the paper spotlighted by PW hardly justifies calling Matthew 28:19 an “alleged” Trinitarian proof-text. The text is as bona fide as they come…there is nothing “alleged” about it. PW's scholarship has once again been tried and found wanting. 
And now, since you have so patiently read through all of the above, here is a video from back in the day where James White hashes this out with another Muslim who appears to have jumped on the unitarian-arian-modalist-antitrinitarian bandwagon of attacking Matthew 28:19 long before PW decided to hitch a ride on Heretics United. As you will see in the video, what drives the claim that this text is not original is not the evidence but a presuppositional commitment to or bias for unitarianism and what appears so often to be its correlative – an antipathy for Trinitarianism.


Radical Moderate said...

Great way to end Paul Williams Month

David Wood said...

"Paul Williams Month"???

I thought this was Paul Williams YEAR.

Dk said...

PW is once again decimated by Rogers.

Rogers has presented the best explanation of all the data and all the historical evidence collectively. PW (as per usual for him), presents half-truths, incomplete research, and hyper-literalist claptrap.

Imagine the type of conspiracy theory you would have to believe in order to deny all the evidence presented here. You would not only have to come up with an explanation for why Euesbius quotes the formula in four respective works and show why his copies of the Scripture possess the formula, you would then have to dismiss every extant MSS (from all multiple Manuscript families) and every quotation from the Ecclesiastical Authors (of which many pre-date Eusebius).

PW honestly always provides the worst reasoning for his so-called apostasy. In fact you would think a so-called apostate could define the Christian view of the Trinity. PW define the trinity as "300% god" and "3 gods". PW is unable to articulate in any accurate sense what Christians actually believe, unsurprising since he derives this misrepresentation from the Quran itself.

Since PW has blocked me and Royalson recently (but having difficult blocking Radical haha), I would like to post some links here that undermine his latest claptrap.

Would Jesus Command the beheading of rebellious children?

And here are the links exposing his incomplete, inept and inadequate perception of Apostle Paul:

Does Paul have a 'low view' of the Law?

Is Paul's view of the Law radically different from that of Peter, James, John, and the Writer to the Hebrews?

Did Jesus come to perpetuate the Mosaic Law?

But didn't Jesus strongly affirm the Law in Matthew 5.17-19?

And here are a few bonuses where PW (historically) is DECIMATED on the Apostle Paul:

Not to mention here is 133 similarities between Paul and Jesus:

Hopefully one of these days PW will actually decide to write anything of substance. He has been refuted so badly, I'm starting to feel sorry for the poor man, I think he is to delirious to understand what has happened to him.

Radical Moderate said...

Anthony Rogers you wrote a great resource. I had no idea so many church fathers quoted the baptismal formula.

David Kemball-Cook said...

Derek said

“PW honestly always provides the worst reasoning for his so-called apostasy. In fact you would think a so-called apostate could define the Christian view of the Trinity. PW define the trinity as "300% god" and "3 gods". PW is unable to articulate in any accurate sense what Christians actually believe, unsurprising since he derives this misrepresentation from the Quran itself.”

In defence of PW, it is extremely difficult to get trinitarians to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. This is especially so, because there are so many different versions.

I have been dialoguing on PW’s site with some trinitarians for the last few weeks. One of them believes that Jesus created the world by himself with the other two Persons watching. Another believes that all three Persons created the world together.

I have not been able to get any trinitarian to explain what it means to say ‘Jesus is God’, and what kind of identity is being claimed here. Nobody has been able to explain the flaw in such simple arguments as

1) The Father is God
2) Jesus is God
3) The Father is Jesus (which I would agree is absurd)

Perhaps there is a trinitarian out there who can explain the flaw here. It must be a simple one!

I don’t think PW is correct in his ‘300% god’ criticism. The figure of 300% must be wrong!

But I think he is right in saying that trinitarian definition slides between modalism and tritheism. I would add that it is only ambiguity in the terms used (‘Person’, ‘is God’ and ‘Being’) that prevents people from seeing this,

Anthony Rogers said...

DKC said: "Perhaps there is a trinitarian out there who can explain the flaw here. It must be a simple one!"

Yes, there is a flaw here. Your argument is elliptical. It rests on a hidden and deeply flawed (read: unbiblical) premise.

(3) only follows from (1) and (2) on the unexpressed assumption of unitarianism, i.e. God is unipersonal.

But since the Bible teaches (1) and (2) but rejects (3), as you admit ("which I would agree is absurd"), then it follows that unitarianism is false.

I hope that was simple enough for you.

While you are of course free to reply to this, in order to economize my time I will have to forestall further discussion of this on my part until I get further along in this series, particularly to the exegetical part where I demonstrate that the text supports the doctrine of the Trinity. This post was simply a defense of the authenticity of the text against the attacks of some of your unitarian friends.

Anthony Rogers said...

Thanks for the links Derek.

David Kemball-Cook said...

Thank you Anthony

I am sorry you are too busy to expand your reply. (This happened on the Mark 13:32 thread as well, shame).

I think the flaw in the argument lies in ‘Jesus is God’. I suspect that most trinitarians don’t really know what they mean by it. Some of the possibilities are:

Jesus is Yahweh
Jesus is divine
Jesus is a god, but a lesser god than Yahweh
Jesus is a member of the Trinity
Jesus is a Person of the Trinity

The (ridiculous) argument I gave is only valid on the assumption that ‘Jesus is God’ means ‘Jesus is Yahweh’, numerical identity with Yahweh. Trinitarians claim this, but perhaps are not aware of the absurd consequences (Jesus is his own son? Jesus sent himself?).

Re your explanation, you would have to show how the argument should be rephrased to reveal how it is invalid under the assumption the God is tripersonal. I think it would have to go like this

1) The Father is one of the Persons of the Trinity
2) Jesus is one of the Persons of the Trinity
3) The Father is Jesus

It can be clearly seen where the flaw in THIS argument is.

But the only problem (from the trinitarian point of view) is that we have to give up this claim that Jesus is (identical to) Yahweh.


Radical Moderate said...

David the Unitarian

You wrote..

"I think"

My response:

It's obvious after reading you response to AR, that you should probably give up on thinking. Your not very good at it.

David Kemball-Cook said...


Thanks for your thoughtful response.

I am actually not too bad at thinking. My wife says my brain is about the best part of me (a joke I hope). I have 5 degrees, including a PhD Economics from University of London, a BA in Theology, and a BA (1st class) in Mathematics and Philosophy from Oxford University. I am a teacher by profession, and so I have spent a lot of time thinking over the years.

Sometimes I say ‘I think’ when I am pretty sure of something, but I know I could always be wrong. It is better to underplay one’s hand in debating or discussing, rather than overplay it.

One of the things I came to ‘think’, after 20 years as a loyal trinitarian, is the incoherence and unbiblical nature of the doctrine of the Trinity.

I ‘think’ it is a good thing in debate to show a little respect to the person one is dialoguing with, and for their point of view. This website (they do a great job) is all about reaching out to Muslims, and I ‘think’ that they do it in love and respect for each individual they encounter.

BTW I ‘think’ your spelling (‘you’ instead of ‘your’, ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’) needs a bit of brushing up


Anonymous said...


1. Are you a human?
2. Is "to err" (a) human or (b) a human?

Think long and hard before you respond to this question.

We wouldn't want any sliding going on.


Radical Moderate said...

David The Unitarian you made the claim...

" I have 5 degrees, including a PhD Economics from University of London, a BA in Theology, and a BA (1st class) in Mathematics and Philosophy from Oxford University."

My response

Really 5 degrees including a BA in theology and this is what you came up with...

"But the only problem (from the trinitarian point of view) is that we have to give up this claim that Jesus is (identical to) Yahweh."

My response:

YHWH is the ONE BEING THAT IS GOD. All three persons in the TRINITY share the name of this ONE BEING YWHW. So Jesus YHWH, The Father is YHWH, and the HOLY SPIRIT IS YWHW.

David you have 5 degrees, and the only think you have demonstrated that you are qualified to do is be my secretary.

Anthony Rogers said...


Thanks for repeating your argument in different words. I am sure we have both wondered at times if other people were joking. By repeating your argument it lets me know that you were not.

While it resolves the above issue for me, your reply has surprised me a bit in another way. You asked for a simple solution when you first asked your question, and I guess I am just not used to it when a simple answer goes clean over someone's head. Did you run into that a lot at Oxford?

Anyway, hopefully when your line of questioning appears on the appropriate thread (hint: it isn't this one) we will be able to sort this out. Since you have some time to kill between now and then, perhaps you could think of a third way to repeat the same thing.

I should also mention quickly that I find it a little disquisitive that you have shied away from the topic in view in this post. You did say on PW's blog (in reference to your unitarian brother's article): "I think this is a good paper." Have you changed your mind?

P.S. I am sorry I can't give you more attention now and that I only had time to correct your Hebrew (Re Psalm 110) on the Mark 13 thread. Alas, I am only one person, and sometimes I spread myself thin. On top of Ecclesiastical, familial, and vocational responsibilities, not to mention the two series of articles I am writing in reply to PW, I am also gearing up for a debate with a unitarian in the near future. If you are still around when the time draws closer, I will try to let you know how you can listen to it.

David Kemball-Cook said...

Hi Anthony

Thanks again for replying. I am sorry I was a bit off topic.

I didn’t reply to your article because I agreed with practically everything you said, and thought it would be a bit boring just to say Amen!

I don’t see how anyone can seriously argue that Matt 28:19 as we have it is not in the ancient Greek manuscripts. The evidence of Eusebius does seem a bit thin.

I thought that points 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the unitarian paper were made strongly, and I particularly agreed with point 6.

I said on PW’s site that if Jesus had believed himself to be part of a Trinity, he would never have left it until his resurrection appearance to mention the ‘threeness’ of God to his disciples. He would have taught them about it, and prepared them for this ‘updating’ of the Shema.

Also there is the witness of Acts (as oneness pentecostals keep pointing out!). Baptism there does always seem to be in the name of Jesus, and there is no mention of baptism into the three names. I think that, whatever the disciples thought about what Matt 28:19 meant, it did not conflict with baptizing in the single name of Jesus.

Thanks for letting me know about your upcoming debate with a unitarian, and I will watch out on this site for when it is going to happen. It should be very interesting.

I wish you guys all the best for this great work you are doing


Answering Judaism said...

Anthony, forgive me for my ignorance, but if the section about the Baptismal Formula is spurious in the letter of Ignatius to the Philippians, why appeal to it.

If I recall the Didache is far better witness on this subject?

Anthony Rogers said...


I gave the reason for quoting it right along with the quotation. Here is what I said:

"...although generally considered to be part of the spurious writings of Ignatius, this work is, in any case, an early witness to the text of Matthew 28:19.)"

Also, as far as the main reason for bringing up ante-Nicene witnesses, namely to show that it was not invented or interpolated at Nicaea, the Didache is of no greater importance than any of the many other patristic quotes I provided. Of course the Didache does have greater significance in other senses, but those other senses were not in view in the point I was making in this connection.

Answering Judaism said...

Fair Enough Anthony. Thanks muchly for your comment.

Answering Judaism said...

One thing I meant to clarify, the Didache is A VERY good witness to the Trinitarian Baptismal formula. My apologies on my end.