Since today's review will be about Isaac Newton, I thought it would be appropriate to play some music by a contemporary musician.
Everyone knows, G. F. Handel, and J. S. Bach, but not everyone is familiar with Jean-Philippe Rameau. The composition, Nouvelles Suites (performed by Alexandre Tharaud) is a transcription for the piano. I love the harpsichord, but I have discovered that is not true for everyone and the piano has vastly superior expressive qualities. You can listen here.
This was a hard book to review, but I want to review it since I read it, however I review it with reservations about my ability to accurately assess the words of someone who history proves to be one of our greatest mathematicians.
I'm not sure I entirely understand everything that Newton is asserting because almost half of the letter is in Latin and Greek. I presume this is because Newton is trying to prove his point by going back to the original languages of Scripture. And what is his point? That based on two scriptures that he claims have been corrupted, the Trinity does not exist. Or, to be more precise, Jesus Christ is not divine.
Before I explain his reasoning let me first quote the two Scriptures he is referring to.
The first is from 1 John 5:7,8
7.For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
The above Verses are a direct quotation of the King James Version. Newton's argument with this translation is that even though it is directly translated from the Greek and Latin, it is only from later manuscripts that the un-italicized portion is inserted. The earliest manuscripts don't include them.
And indeed, my Bibles, which are English Standard Version, New American Standard, New International Version and Holman Christian Study Bible omit the un-italicized part altogether, although they include a foot note about later manuscripts including it.
To make it clearer to the reader, this is a direct quote from the English Standard Version of the same two verses:
7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement
The other translations are no different than the above quotation.
Newton asserts that because in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth were later additions, these two verses were corrupted to make a false claim, namely that the Trinity (one God in three persons) is non-existent.
I will here point out that the foot notes in my English Standard Version Bible explains the verses this way:
The Gospel is not based on merely human testimony. John indicates that there are in fact "three that testify", namely the witness of the Spirit, the water baptism of Jesus (including the "Spirit descending on him like a dove") and the voice of the Father from heaven; Mark 1:10-11 and the blood (which "cleanses us from all unrighteousness"; 1 John 1:7). These three agree thereby providing persuasive confirmation for believing in Jesus as the "Son of God". The Old Testament taught that every charge must be confirmed by two or three witnesses.
Personally, I have no quibble with what Newton is expostulating concerning what might be extra-biblical Scripture. However, the question is, what is the original Scripture declaring?
For that we need to start with the beginning of the chapter. I will provide a link here so I don't have to retype everything: 1 John 5.
In a nutshell, John is stating that Christians' salvation is determined by their belief in Jesus as the Son of God because only He made the sacrifice by shedding His blood on the Cross and paying for the sins of all who believe in Him.
I will mention that the point is not whether the readers of my blog believe that or not, but rather what the Scripture is actually saying.
It seems to me that Isaac Newton, in one of the most tragic of ironies, misses the entire point of this passage of Scripture based on a portion of -what he considers-spurious words. I say what Newton considers to be spurious because the more I have been reading various sources concerning the scripture in question I am seeing good arguments for including as well as excluding those portions.
But even if that part does not belong there, so what? The context of the entire chapter is to clearly pronounce Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Several passages of Scripture assert this. The most obvious passages would be John 1:1-5 and 14 (italics mine).