In part one, I demonstrated that neuter substantives can indeed by modified by masculine modifiers, contrary to Eugenius’ claim. In part three, I suggested an alternative, that “the three bearing witness” is treated itself as a substantive, and thus there is no need for it modify the three neuter nouns, since they stand in apposition. Here I hope to show that Eugenius’ argument is really the claim that the three neuter nouns are personalized through their association with the Trinity, and thus the masculine participle is repeated. This is really the argument that many modern commentators use, the difference being that they see no need for added text. For Eugenius, the added text is what forces the spirit, the water and the blood to be taken as earthly representatives of the heavenly witnesses.
From my translation of the Eugenius fragment:
What reason can therefore be given for this failure to comply with the rule? It can only be the expression of the preceding 7th verse, which through the immediately following 8th verse is set forth symbolically and obviously restated, an allusion made to that which precedes. Therefore the three who give witness in heaven are first placed in the 7th verse, τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν. Then immediately the very same three witnesses are brought in, to confirm on earth the same witness, through these three symbols, in vs. 8: και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν. And so our Evangelist might say “They are the same as those giving witness in heaven.” (This is sufficiently indicated through the particle καί, the force of which here is not simply connective but plainly identifying. [At this point, Eugenius shifts to Greek] Concerning what was said in the text [perhaps = manuscript] above, clearly the Father, the Word and the Spirit. These are the ones giving witness also on the earth, and they are made manifest to us through symbols. These symbols are the spirit, through which the Father is revealed, the blood, through which the Son is revealed, and the water, through which the Holy Spirit is revealed. But these three, who above by way of revelation through the divine names themselves are presented as giving witness in heaven, are the same on earth through remembrance in the divine plan presented repeatedly by way of symbols.
Eugenius refers to the three earthly witnesses as “symbols,” a word which develops quite a technical sense in the centuries following the writing of the NT as “that which represents divine truth in another format” (so the word is used of creeds and confessions). Here, however, Eugenius seems to use it not in that technical sense but much the way we use the word in English, as that which represents something else. Tantalizingly, he does not tell us what he thinks these symbols actually are, although his Greek Orthodox provenance might indicate a Eucharistic interpretation.
The important point here, however, is that Eugenius sees these earthly witnesses as essentially the same as the heavenly witnesses. The question here is whether the heavenly witnesses need to be there in the text. I would suggest not. John simply needs to be thinking of the witnesses as those who actively give witness, οἱ μαρτύρες, “the witnesses.” Did John in fact intend a Trinitarian allusion? Given the way he expresses himself both in this epistle and in his gospel concerning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit I personally think it’s quite likely, although impossible to prove definitively. Eugenius in principle then simply uses a variety of the personification argument, that the assumed natural gender of “witnesses” would be masculine. Note, however, that the argument is one which is heavily theological, and not really grammatical.
Now, several 19th century apologists for the added text have taken Eugenius’ argument to be primarily grammatical, and seen it under the category of grammatical attraction, that the second expression is overwhelmed, as it were, by the previous and so naturally becomes masculine rather than the expected neuter. Now there is grammatical attraction in Greek, but it usually works with pronouns, and especially in relative clauses. It would be highly unusual to see such an attraction between two parallel clauses. In this discussion on attraction:
There is nothing at all related to any kind of grammatical attraction between parallel clauses, and rightly so, since there are no such examples in the language. Several variations of a morphological search using Logos in the Perseus collection showed no parallel among hundreds of ancient Greek authors. The argument that this is a special, one of kind case is simply special pleading. Languages just don’t work that way.