A CALL FOR SERIOUS EVANGELICAL APOLOGETICS: The Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 as a Case Study

A CALL FOR SERIOUS EVANGELICAL APOLOGETICS: The Authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 as a Case Study

© 2015, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

The Problem

There is a troubling dearth of serious and competent apologetics being done by evangelicals in the matter of the origins and transmission history of the New Testament.  The “received wisdom” about such issues as when, how, and in what order the Gospel books were written and about the original form of the NT text has come to be dominated by liberal paradigm assumptions.[1]  These paradigm assumptions[2] are used by liberal skeptics, Muslim apologists, and others opponents of Christianity to undermine the case for Christ.[3]

We assume that our scholars and leaders examine such assumptions carefully and reject ones that are unjustified, but that is not the case.  On the contrary, what M.J. Harper says about historians holds true for Biblical scholars, as well:

historians … aren’t asked to consider the evidence for the paradigm assumptions of their subject; they are taught the paradigms in the first five minutes – or better still are assumed to know them when they arrive.[4]

These paradigms are absorbed without question in seminary; as Harper correctly says,

If that version is taught formally to you at school by authority figures, then repeated to you as an undergraduate by even more highly regarded authority figures, and all your colleagues agree that it’s more or less self-evidently true … you tend pretty much to go along with things.[5]

So the liberal paradigm assumptions are passed on from teacher to student, who in turn becomes the new teacher passing it on to new students.  And all the while the credibility of the NT is diminished.

We assume that when evangelical apologists and scholars investigate a matter and make pronouncements upon it they carefully weigh all available evidence and think it through carefully, but it is exceedingly rare that this is done.  What actually happens is the apologist opens a book or two to see what the party line is on the matter under question and then he passes on this party line with little if any critical filtering, blissfully unaware of the quintessential role that may have been played by liberal paradigm assumptions in formulating that party line.

The word of God deserves better from us.  Serious apologetics requires that we not simply trust what we read in books or hear from professors and pass it on; we must investigate matters carefully and verify everything, in order to make sure that what we teach is correct.  Those who take on the mantle of Bible teacher or apologist or Bible scholar must take very seriously such warnings as are given in James 3:1 (“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment”) and Job 42:7b (“’My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right’”).

A Case Study: John 7:53-8:11

To illustrate what we have been saying, let us consider the question of the authenticity of a certain passage in the Gospel According to John.  How this matter is handled by evangelical scholars shows how dramatically evangelical apologetics has gone off the rails.

The passage in question is one of the most familiar ones in this Gospel book; it is the account of Jesus’ encounter with an adulteress brought to him for judgment, recorded in John 7:53-8:11, a passage known as the Pericope Adulterae (“extract of the adulteress”).[6]  The authenticity[7] of this passage has long been challenged by scholars and skeptics who claim that the Pericope Adulterae was not part of the original text of the Gospel According to John, but was a later addition.  According to the liberal Oxford Bible Commentary,

This passage, though canonical, does not properly belong to the Gospel of John, since it is missing in the oldest textual witnesses (e.g. P66, P75, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, old translations).  Most MSS that have the text put it after Jn 7:52 … Some MSS, however, place it after 7:36, 7:44, or 21:25; the Ferrar group after Lk 21:38.  Several witnesses mark the text as doubtful.[8]

According to the well known liberal scholar Bart Ehrman, the pericope adulterae

was not originally in the Gospel of John.  In fact, it was not originally part of any of the Gospels.  It was added by later scribes … scholars who work on the manuscript tradition have no doubts about this particular case … I can simply point out a few basic facts that have proved convincing to nearly all scholars of every persuasion: the story is not found in the our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John; its writing style is very different from what we find in the rest of John (including the stories immediately before and after); and it includes a large number of words and phrases that are otherwise alien to the Gospel.  The conclusion is unavoidable: this passage was not originally part of the Gospel.[9]

From the evangelical side, John MacArthur offers a more detailed case against the Pericope Adulterae:

This section dealing with the adulteress most likely was not a part of the original contents of John.  It has been incorporated into various manuscripts at different places in the gospel (e.g., after vv. 36,44,52, or 21:25), while one manuscript places it after Luke 21:38.  External manuscript evidence representing a great variety of textual traditions is decidedly against its inclusion, for the earliest and best manuscripts exclude it.  Many manuscripts mark the passage to indicate doubt as to its inclusion.  Significant early versions exclude it.  No Gk. Church father comments on the passage until the twelfth century.  The vocabulary and style of the section also are different from the rest of the gospel, and the section interrupts the sequence of v.52 with 8:2ff.[10]

Evangelical scholars Carson, Moo, and Morris make similar assertions, pointing out the passage is “absent from virtually all early Greek manuscripts that have come down to us” as well as from some early versions and manuscripts; averring that “All the early church fathers omit this narrative,”; and suggesting that “it would be very difficult to justify the view that the material is authentically Johannine: it includes numerous expressions and constructions that are found nowhere in John but that are characteristic of the Synoptic Gospels, Luke in particular.[11]  They insist that

modern English versions are right to rule it off from the rest of the text (NIV) or to relegate it to a footnote (RSV).[12]

Similarly, Bruce Metzger insists that “The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming,[13] and Daniel Wallace, the wannabe “go-to guy” on textual criticism for evangelicals, tells us that it is “unquestionable” that this pericope is not original to the Gospel According to John.[14]  Donald Guthrie, taking a more measured stance, writes,

The strongest evidence is clearly for its exclusion from John’s gospel, and yet the evidence in support of its genuineness is by no means inconsiderable.[15]

Some scholars, such as Wilbur Pickering[16] and Zane Hodges[17], defend the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae outright.

In sum, the overwhelming – though not universal – consensus among scholars is that this passage is not authentic.  Illustrative of this is an article recently posted on the website of Creation Ministries International (CMI),[18] in which CMI golden child Lita Cosner tells us that “Very few textual critics believe there is even a chance of [this passage] being in the original text” and avers that

on the basis of my investigations as a NT specialist, I believe the evidence is clear that the Pericope Adulturae is an authentic record of something that happened–but it is not originally Johannine.

To summarize the evidence 1) It is not in any of the earliest manuscripts of any textual tradition.  2) It is not in the earliest translations of John.  3) When it does start to be included, many manuscripts set it off with scribal markings that indicate the copyist is unsure of the authenticity of the passage.  4) Manuscripts insert the pericope in different places, some earlier in John 7, and some in Luke!  Authentic parts of Scripture don’t migrate like this.[19]

Elsewhere, Miss Cosner wrote that

The adulteress story is almost certainly not original and thus should not be included, at least in John (it may have originally been part of Luke).[20]

So what is the truth of this matter?  Are the large majority of Biblical scholars who insist that the Pericope Adulterae is not from the original Gospel According to John correct, or would careful investigations lead to the opposite conclusion?  Let us do careful investigations and see where the evidence leads.

The Internal Evidence

Scholars who challenge the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae point to both internal and external evidence against the passage.  Internal evidence focuses on the content of the text itself, looking at such things as style and vocabulary.  As we have seen, MacArthur asserts that “The vocabulary and style of the section also are different from the rest of the gospel,[21] and The Oxford Bible Commentary claims that

The style reminds us of Luke and the story may be compared with Lk 7:36-50.[22]

Carson et al, meanwhile, aver that

it would be very difficult to justify the view that the material is authentically Johannine: it includes numerous expressions and constructions that are found nowhere in John but that are characteristic of the Synoptic Gospels, Luke in particular.[23]

And Metzger avows that “the style and vocabulary of the pericope differ noticeably from the rest of the Fourth Gospel” and that “it interrupts the sequence of 7.52 and 8.12 ff.[24]

Andreas Köstenberger, in The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible: The Gospels and Acts, sums up the internal evidence against this passage as follows:

  • “Fourteen out of eighty-two words used in this pericope (or 17 percent) are unique to John” [Ed. Note: He means to say that these fourteen words appear nowhere else in the Gospel According to John]
  • Each of verses 8:1-4 and 8:6-11 contains hapax legomena (i.e. words appearing only once in this Gospel)[25]
  • “Standard Johannine vocabulary is conspicuously absent”
  • “only two of John’s standard style characteristics” are found in this pericope, “a ratio of 21:1.”[26]

Now, all this may sound impressive and, indeed, conclusive to artsy Bible scholars, but they are complete nonsense, as anyone who knows statistical analysis and bothers to apply it would certainly see.  Let us examine the charges in order.

Regarding the argument from vocabulary, Köstenberger actually seems to sense that it is problematic; he writes

An examination of these 14 words used only here in John’s Gospel by itself is less than conclusive.  First, the issue of adultery is not addressed elsewhere in the Gospel, which could explain why the verb and noun for ‘adultery’ are limited to the present context.  Second, three closely related words describing Jesus’ bending down and straightening up may likewise be unique to the present passage.  ‘Without sin,’ too, may be explained as unique to the present situation.  Thus, only a handful of words remain that may suggest non-Johannnine authorship.[27]

Köstenberger is correct as far as he goes (except, as we shall see, for the last sentence in the quotation above), but he is not being properly rigorous.  The fact is that no argument against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae can be made on the basis of vocabulary.

First, regarding the use of hapax legomena, every book of the New Testament has words that are used only once.  The Gospel of Matthew has 664; the Gospel According to Mark, which has only 61.6% as many total words as Matthew’s, has almost as many hapax legomena, with 637; the Gospel According to Luke has 962 (and Acts another 939).

Now, the Gospel According to John has 376 hapax legomena in a total of the 15,635 words in this book.  The unaware could calculate that this comes to an average of one hapax legomenon for every 41.6 words, and that the Pericope Adulterae, which consists of 174 words, should therefore have only four hapax legomena, instead of the fourteen that it does have.  The problem with this is that unlike, say, flipping coins, which is regular and has a limited number of possible outcomes, the choice of words a writer may use is vast and is dependent on subject matter,[28] so whatever the average may be in such cases, the standard deviation is huge and finding three or four times the average number in a passage carries no significance at all.

On the contrary, because of this nature of writing, a very large written sample is necessary to establish meaningful data:

G. Udney Yule, a professional statistician and reader of statistics at the University of Cambridge, has shown that it takes at least 10,000 words to form any solid statistical basis for authorship.  In John 7:53-8:11 there are only 174 words.  The insufficiency is evident.[29]

This means, of course, that no conclusions can be drawn about the Pericope Adulterae on the basis of vocabulary, as Biblical scholars would know if they understood statistical analysis.

To drive this point home, let us note that such arguments from vocabulary could easily be used to “prove” unquestionably authentic passages to be false.  For example, Alan F. Johnson examines John 2:13-17 and shows that, based on arguments from vocabulary, this passage is much less Johannine than is the Pericope Adulterae![30]  Although John 2:13-17 is less than half the length of John 7:53-8:11, it has more words that appear nowhere else in the Gospel According to John (and as a percentage of the total vocabulary used it is almost double).  Furthermore, inter alia, “nearly twice the percentage of Johannine preferred words appear in 7:53-8:11 than in John 2:13-17” and there is an “absence proportionately of a sufficient number of Johannine preferred words and particles compared to other sections in the Fourth Gospel.[31]  All this for a passage that is unquestionably Johannine!  This reinforces the fact that no conclusions can be drawn about the Pericope Adulterae on the basis of vocabulary.

The same holds for the arguments based on “John’s standard style characteristics.”  Köstenberger does not tell us what these are, but we can look at those advanced by Raymond Brown: “inclusion, chiasm, twofold or double meaning, misunderstanding, irony and explanatory notes.[32]  Now “explanatory notes” (aka “editorial comments”) are certainly a characteristic of the Gospel According to John,[33] yet there are only eight of them in the entire book.[34]  That means we should expect it to appear only 0.089 times in every 174-word unit.[35]  Even if there are forty-two valid Johannine style characteristics, as Köstenberger indicates,[36] and each is as common as the “explanatory notes,” we should expect 3.7 Johannine style characteristics in any given 174-word unit.[37]  To have two in the Pericope Adulterae is well within the standard deviation.  So the argument from the presence or absence of supposed “style characteristics” of John is worthless.

What we have seen thus far, then, is that Metzger’s claim that “the style and vocabulary of the pericope differ noticeably from the rest of the Fourth Gospel” is utter balderdash – regardless of how many Biblical scholars unthinkingly parrot such claims.

Yet it gets still worse.  Recall that Carson et al asserted that “it would be very difficult to justify the view that the material is authentically Johannine: it includes numerous expressions and constructions that are found nowhere in John but that are characteristic of the Synoptic Gospels, Luke in particular,[38] a claim also made in the Oxford Bible Commentary, which asserts that “The style reminds us of Luke and the story may be compared with Lk 7:36-50.[39] Keith, too, echoes this claim, saying,

PA’s language is closer to Synoptic material than Johannine, particularly Lukan material.[40]

The assertion, however, that the style and language of the Pericope Adulterae are Lukan is arrant nonsense, birthed and sustained only by the same profound ignorance of statistical analysis that we have already encountered regarding the style and vocabulary of this passage.  The “evidence” offered in support of this contention includes such bleat as claiming that a word that appears only once in Luke is “Lukan” and arguments based on words that do not even appear in the Pericope Adulterae!  And it should be noted that this fantasy was first flouted and promoted by liberal scholars such as Henry Cadbury, and used to undermine the trustworthiness of the New Testament.  It is lamentable that so many evangelicals endorse such ideas without any apparent effort to check on their validity.


FOR A DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THIS TOPIC, see our companion article “EXAMINING THE CLAIM THAT THE WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS OF JOHN 7:53-8:11 ARE MORE LUKAN THAN JOHANNINE


Finally, the claim is advanced that the Pericope Adulterae seems to be an interpolation because “it interrupts the sequence of 7.52 and 8.12 ff”,[41] as Metzger puts it.  MacArthur phrases it this way:

the section interrupts the sequence of v.52 with 8:2ff.[42]

Now, one must ask exactly how this passage interrupts the sequence.  The charge is repeatedly made, but we are never told how it interrupts the sequence – which is not surprising, since prima facie it seems to fit the context perfectly and does not interrupt the sequence in any way!  Again, one must wonder whether such scholars are passing on claims without bothering to check them, because the truth of the matter is that it is when the Pericope Adulterae is absent that a sequential problem results.  Below is John 7:43-8:14 without the Pericope Adulterae:

So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”

Therefore Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.” (Bolding added.)

As can be seen, the passage begins with a discussion between the officers and the chief priests and Pharisees, into which Nicodemus joins.  Jesus is not present (7:45), yet suddenly He is speaking “to them again”!  Who are the “them”?  In the context it can only be the Pharisees and their companions.  The Pharisees were there all along, but Jesus was not there to be speaking to them, and yet suddenly He is.  That is a sequential problem.

Now, let us look at the same passage with the Pericope Adulterae included:

So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” And everyone went to his own house. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Therefore Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.” (Bolding added.)

Now there is no sequential problem.  Jesus is speaking to “all the people” (8:2) prior to the incident with the adulteress, and then He is speaking to them again (8:12), at which point the Pharisees begin another dispute with Him (8:13).  So, contra the glib claims of the scholars, a problem of sequence happens only when the Pericope Adulterae is removed, not when it is present.

 It must be concluded, then, that no case against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae can be made from the internal evidence.  Those who argue that there is such a case simply demonstrate that they are lacking the necessary skills set (especially statistical analysis) to comment upon the issue.

The External Evidence

The overwhelming majority of scholars also insist that the external evidence[43] proves that the Pericope Adulterae is not authentic.  We have already seen, for example, that MacArthur assures us that

External manuscript evidence representing a great variety of textual traditions is decidedly against its inclusion, for the earliest and best manuscripts exclude it.  Many manuscripts mark the passage to indicate doubt as to its inclusion.  Significant early versions exclude it.[44]

Lita Cosner further adds,

Manuscripts insert the pericope in different places, some earlier in John 7, and some in Luke! Authentic parts of Scripture don’t migrate like this.[45]

Is it true that the external evidence is “decidedly against its inclusion,” as MacArthur states?  Once again, a careful investigation is needed, which we shall now do by surveying the full range of the external evidence and then determining what explanation best accounts for it.  The following are the facts that must be explained.

The Greek Manuscripts

According to Wilbur Pickering,

Verses 7:53-8:11 are omitted in about 15% of the extant MSS, including all the early uncials except Codex D (Codex C has a large lacuna from 7:3 – 8:34, while Codex A has a larger one, 6:50 – 8.52).[46]

To be precise, he says, there are some 240 manuscripts extant in this portion of the Gospel According to John[47] that omit the Pericope Adulterae and 1,389 that include it.[48]  More recent information indicates that 1,428 Greek manuscripts include this passage.[49]  So the large majority of manuscripts include it, but the ones that omit it include nearly all the early uncials.

But how many such “early uncials” are there?  After Codex D, the earliest relevant uncial[50] that includes the Pericope Adulterae is Codex Basilensis, from the 8th century.  Of the two other 8th-century codices, one (Codex 0233) apparently includes it and the other (Codex Regius) does not.  Of the 9th century codices, a solid majority include the Pericope Adulterae.  It is present in nine codices[51] and absent in two.[52]  This means that when we speak of “all the early uncials” that omit it, we are speaking only of uncials from the 7th century and earlier.  How many of these are there?

Other than Codex Bezae, which includes the Pericope Adulterae, and Codices Alexandrinus and Ephraemi Rescriptus, which both have lacunae where the relevant part of the text was, there are only six such uncials: Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, both from the 4th century; Codex Borgianus and Codex Washingtonianus, both from the 5th century; Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus from the 6th century, and Codex 0211 from the 7th century.  That is all.

We further note that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are manuscripts of terrible quality, copied with appalling carelessness by the original scribes.  For example,

Codex Vaticanus omits words or whole clauses 1,491 times in the Gospel accounts alone and is “disfigured throughout with repetitions.”   Codex Sinaiticus ‘abounds with ‘errors of the eye and pen …’   On many occasions ten, twenty, thirty, forty words are dropped through very carelessness.  ‘Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begin and immediately cancelled: while that gross blunder … whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less times than 115 in the new Testament.”[53]

Herman Hoskier did a careful comparison of these two codices and found more than 3,000 significant disagreements between them in the Gospel books alone,[54] which actually exceeds the number of times they agree with each other (and which, by the way, means they cannot correctly even be classified as belonging to the same so-called “text type.”)[55]  Thus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus should be afforded no credibility by anyone serious about textual criticism.[56]

It should also be mentioned that two early papyrus manuscripts, P66 and P75, which are usually dated to the early 3rd century, also omit the Pericope Adulterae.  However, these two manuscripts are also of terrible quality.  P66, in its extant length of 808 verses, has 400 hundred itacisms[57] and another 482 “singular readings,”[58] 40% of which are nonsense readings.[59]  That is one singular error for every 17 words – and that doesn’t include errors in it that may also be found in other manuscripts.  P75, meanwhile, has 145 itacisms and 257 other singular readings, 25% of which are nonsensical.[60]  That is one singular error for every 60 words, which is still very poor quality.  Pickering correctly remarks,

Although Colwell gives the scribe of P75 credit for having tried to produce a good copy, P75 looks good only by comparison with P66.[61]

In light of the extremely carelessness of the scribes of these papyri, it is difficult to attach much significance to their omission of the Pericope Adulterae.  Add to this the fact that the original owners of these manuscripts, who were in a position to compare them to plenty of other 3rd-century (and earlier) manuscripts that are not available to us, concluded that they were not worth keeping and tore them up and threw them into the garbage.[62]  This means that not only do we not need to take these manuscripts into account, we must not take them into account.

Another argument raised against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae is that, as CMI’s Lita Cosner puts it,

When it does start to be included, many manuscripts set it off with scribal markings that indicate the copyist is unsure of the authenticity of the passage.[63]

In fact, Aland “lists 195 manuscripts (ninth-eighteenth centuries CE) that express doubt regarding PA’s textual status.[64]

There are three problems with this argument, however.  First, the “scribal markings” may not actually indicate uncertainty about the authenticity of the passage.  Scholars such as Maurice A. Robinson and T. van Lopik suggest that these asterisks and obeli are lectionary indicators rather than indicators for textual criticism.[65]  Second, if they are text-critical markers, the fact that a scribe indicates that there is a question about a passage does not mean that he thinks it is inauthentic (else why would he include it at all?).  Third, even if all 195 were accepted as witnesses against the Pericope Adulterae (which cannot legitimately be done), they would constitute only a small portion (11.7%) of the total number of relevant manuscripts of the Gospel According to John.  Overall, 74% of the Greek manuscripts would still favour inclusion – an overwhelming majority.

Lita Cosner offers one final argument, asserting that

Manuscripts insert the pericope in different places, some earlier in John 7, and some in Luke!  Authentic parts of Scripture don’t migrate like this.[66]

However, this is an extremely careless argument, as we shall see.

Now, it is true that the Pericope Adulterae is found in different places in some manuscripts.  In fact, a total of fifty-eight manuscripts have the Pericope Adulterae in other locations – which means that an overwhelming majority of 95.9% have it at the standard location after John 7:52.[67]  Furthermore, based on the manuscript and Patristic evidence, the standard location is both the overwhelmingly attested location and the earliest recorded location.[68]

There are a total of eleven other locations at which these fifty-eight manuscripts place the Pericope Adulterae.[69]  However, five of these alternate locations are attested to by only one late manuscript each, and in two of these only by the hand of a later corrector.  One alternate location is attested to only by a genetically related family, f13, (so it should count only as one witness), one by only two late Greek manuscripts, and one only by Georgian manuscripts and not by any Greek manuscript at all.  One alternate location is attested to by only another genetically related family, f1, and Armenian manuscripts.

The final two “alternate locations” are actually not alternate locations at all, since the Pericope Adulterae is not moved at all; rather, all or part of 8:12 is moved from the end of this passage to the beginning.[70]  In light of the fact that the manuscript basis for each alternate location is so scant, this hardly seems to be an argument.

Where Miss Cosner’s argument is truly careless is the claim that

Authentic parts of Scripture don’t migrate like this.

Now, she believes that 1 John 5:7-8 and Mark 16:9-20 are inauthentic,[71] yet neither passage “migrate[s]” i.e. is found anywhere else in any NT manuscript.[72]  On the other hand, there are at least two unquestionably authentic New Testament passages that are found at different places in the manuscripts.  The doxology found at Romans 16:25-27 in the KJV and NKJV (and in at least eighteen Greek manuscripts) is found after 14:23 in most manuscripts, in both places in six manuscripts, and after 15:33 in P46.[73]  And 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is found after 14:40 in three Greek manuscripts, five Old Latin manuscripts, and some Vulgate manuscripts.[74]  So, pace Miss Cosner, authentic parts of Scripture do sometimes “migrate like this.

These, then, are the salient facts about the manuscript evidence for the Pericope Adulterae: the overwhelming majority of manuscripts (about 85%) that are extant in this portion of the Gospel According to John include the passage.  By the 8th or 9th century its inclusion is dominant.  Prior to this there are only two papyri that witness against it (but they are so corrupt that their testimony should carry little weight), and only nine uncials, one of which includes it and two of which have lacunae at the crucial part, and the two earliest of which are completely corrupt and untrustworthy.  All but one of the uncials omitting it are considered to be of the Alexandrian text-type.

A WORD ABOUT LECTIONARIES: The Christian church eventually adopted the custom of reading a fixed cycle of lessons from the Gospel books, Acts, and epistles at worship services, and to facilitate this, “lectionary manuscripts” were created, which were made up of the passages to be read out on successive Sundays or feast days, in order.[75]  The lectionary manuscripts generally do not include the Pericope Adulterae, and textual critics adduce this as evidence against its authenticity.  It has been pointed out, however, that the omission from the lectionaries may simply have been because this passage was not included in the regular reading for Pentecost:

That some Lectionaries have the passage in part, in full, or not at all, cannot be taken as definitive proof that the passage was known or not known.  Many churches read the passage surrounding this, in John, at Pentecost.  Obviously the account of Jesus and the sinful woman did not fit into the theme of Pentecost.  In many Lectionaries, it is probable that there was an intentional omission of this passage to suit the theme for that Sunday.  This may also explain why some of the Greek fathers did not comment on the passage, as they commenting primarily on the surrounding passage in light of Pentecost, as practiced in their churches.[76]

This seems reasonable, but as far as the issue of the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae is concerned it is irrelevant.  It is impossible to argue against its authenticity on the basis of the absence of the passage from lectionaries when the same churches are using regular, continuous-text Bibles that do include the passage, which shows that it was indeed part of the Gospel According to John at that time.

The Versions

The versions are the ancient translations from Greek into other languages.  Bruce Metzger sums up the versional evidence in this matter as follows:

In the East the passage is absent from the oldest form of the Syriac version (syrc,s and the best manuscripts of syrp), as well as from the Sahidic and the sub-Achmimic versions and the older Bohairic manuscripts.  Some Armenian manuscripts and the Old Georgian version omit it.  In the West the passage is absent from the Gothic version and from several old Latin manuscripts (ita,i*,q).

Let us now take a closer look at this evidence.  Immediately we can remove the Gothic version from consideration, as the claim that “the passage is absent from the Gothic version” is unsustainable.  There are only seven extant Gothic NT manuscripts,[77] none of which is complete, and only one, the 6th-century Codex Argenteus, includes the Gospel According to John.  Codex Argenteus is missing the Pericope Adulterae, but a sample size of one cannot establish anything.[78]

Regarding the Syriac version, Metzger[79] avers that

syrc,s and the best manuscripts of syrp” also omit this passage.

It should be noted that syrc (the Curetonian Syriac) and syrs (the Sinaitic Syriac) are each represented by only one manuscript, and, again, a sample size of one cannot establish anything.  The passage is certainly absent from syrp (the Peshitta) – as are 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation – but it is present in the syrph (the Philoxenian Syriac) and the syrpa (the Palestinian Syriac).  There are about 350 extant manuscripts of the Peshitta,[80] far more than there are of the syrph and the syrpa.

Regarding the versions in the various Coptic dialects, the Pericope Adulterae is found in a minority of these, as well.  As Metzger points out, it is missing in the Sahidic and sub-Achmimic manuscripts.  It is present in some of the Boahiric Coptic manuscripts and absent in others.

Regarding the Old Georgian manuscripts, there are not many, though the “exact number is unknown.[81]  According to Vaganay, there are about sixty fragments “preserving passages from the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles,[82] but he lists only twelve substantial manuscripts, eight of which include the Gospel books,[83] though it is not possible to know how many include the relevant part of the Gospel According to John.  Gregory listed seventeen substantial Old Georgian manuscripts,[84] though this is not considered exhaustive.  Interestingly, the prevalent scholarly opinion seems to be that the base text for the Old Georgian version was the Armenian version;[85] if this is so, then the Old Georgian is not an independent witness to the presence or absence of the Pericope Adulterae.

Regarding the Armenian manuscripts, Metzger tells us that “some” of them omit the Pericope Adulterae.  This is technically true, but in fact only six Armenian manuscripts omit this passage![86]  There are some 2,587 extant Armenian manuscripts,[87] and while it is impossible to know how many of them include the relevant part of the Gospel According to John, it seems certain that it is found in far more than six Armenian manuscripts.  One should also mention the Ethiopic version, of which there are over 2,000 extant manuscripts[88] and which is solidly a witness for the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae.[89]

Finally, we come to the Old Latin (OL) version, which is most likely the earliest of the ancient translations.[90]  Out of the approximately fifty extant Old Latin manuscripts, ten to twelve include the relevant part of the Gospel According to John.  Of these, seven (or eight) include the Pericope Adulterae: Codex Aureus, Codex Colbertinus, Codex Bezae, Codex Palatinus, Codex Corbeiensis, Codex Sarzanensis, and Codex Usserianus Primus.[91]  Codex Usserianus Secundus also includes this passage, but “Most editors no longer classify Usserianus secundus (r2/28) as OL.[92]

Meanwhile, only three OL manuscripts omit the Pericope Adulterae: Codex Vercellensis, Codex Rehdigeranus, and Codex Monacensis.[93]  So at least 70% of the extant relevant OL manuscripts include the Pericope Adulterae – and we can add to this Codex Veronensis.  This manuscript does not have the passage, but the two folios immediately before John 8:12 were removed, and

It is relatively certain that the scribe either copied the passage or at least left exactly enough space for it to have been copied.[94]

In light of all this, it is clear that the Old Latin version must be considered a witness for the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae.[95]

Last, we must mention the Latin Vulgate, which was compiled by Jerome in the late 4th century AD.[96]  Jerome was a “sagacious textual critic[97] who was careful not to include anything inauthentic in the Vulgate and who had access to many much earlier Greek manuscripts than are available today and who indeed “relied upon older Greek manuscripts[98] in preparing his work – and he included the Pericope Adulterae in the Latin Vulgate.  This means that in AD 384,[99] a large majority of existing Greek New Testament manuscripts must have included this passage, enough to convince Jerome of its authenticity.

What can we conclude from our examination of the versional evidence?  First, while John MacArthur is approximately correct that “Significant early versions exclude[100] the Pericope Adulterae, he has failed to mention that other significant early versions include it.  Lita Cosner’s assertion that “It is not in the earliest translations of John[101] is flat-out wrong.  It is in the Old Latin, which is probably the earliest translation.

What we can conclude is that attempts to convince people that the versional evidence is against the Pericope Adulterae are unjustified; one cannot say more than that this evidence is divided.  The eastern versions, the Syriac and Coptic, strongly – though not completely – support the omission of this passage.  The Gothic and Old Georgian evidence is too scant to allow any valid conclusions.  The Armenian and Ethiopic versions overwhelmingly support the inclusion of this passage.  The Old Latin, which seems to be the earliest version, clearly supports its inclusion as well, and Jerome’s decision to include it in the Latin Vulgate speaks strongly to the authenticity of this passage.  So, while the versional evidence is divided, it leans noticeably towards the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae.

The Patristic Evidence

The impression given by most Biblical scholars is that the evidence from the writings of the Church Fathers is decisively against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae.  Bruce Metzger points out that

No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it.[102]

Immediately we note the Metzger is too clever by half here.  We have just seen that in AD 384, a large majority of existing Greek New Testament manuscripts must have included this passage, enough to convince Jerome of its authenticity, and we have also seen previously that by the 9th century manuscripts that included the Pericope Adulterae were overwhelming dominant.  If no Greek Church Father commented on this passage in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and particularly 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries, when we know that the Pericope Adulterae was present and dominant, then what Metzger has proved is that the absence of such commentary does not correlate with the absence of the passage from the Greek manuscripts.

Furthermore, other Church Fathers do comment about the Pericope Adulterae long before the twelfth century.

  • It is found in Chapter 7 of the Didascalia Apostolorum, which dates to the 3rd[103] The passage is as follows:

    • But if thou receive not him who repents, because thou art without mercy, thou shalt sin against the Lord God; for thou obeyest not our Saviour and our God, to do as He also did with her that had sinned, whom the elders set before Him, and leaving the judgement in His hands, departed.  But He, the Searcher of hearts, asked her and said to her: Have the elders condemned thee, my daughter?  She saith to him: Nay, Lord.  And he said unto her: Go thy way: neither do I condemn thee. In Him therefore, our Saviour and King and God, be your pattern, O bishops.
  • This is carried over into the late 3rd or 4th-century Apostolic Constitutions (II.24), which reads: “And when the elders had set yet another (woman) which had sinned before Him, and had left the sentence to Him, and were gone out, our Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had condemned her, and being answered “No”, He said unto her: “Go; neither do I condemn thee.

  • Ambrosiaster, writing in Quaestiones ex Utroque Mixtim – CII: Contra Novatianum (AD 350-370), says “(that) the Master, in the offer, restrained himself [showed mercy] toward the harlot, whom one may see, a crowd of the Jews caught in adultery, they say; due to the conscientious pronouncement from the start not requiring her condemnation but her pardon, that it might teach them likewise [mercy].[104]

  • Didymus the Blind (c.AD 360) makes a clear reference to the Pericope Adulterae and quotes from it in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes, which was discovered in 1942.[105]

  • Pacian in Against the Novatians 39 (AD 370) writes “Choose then not to read in the Gospel that the Lord spared even the adulteress who confessed, when none had condemned her,” and puts this quote on par with other Scriptures and expects his readers to be familiar with it.[106]

  • Jerome in Contra Pelagius17.4 (c.AD 384) writes “Next in the Gospel of John in many codices both Greek and Latin is found the (story) of the Adulteress Woman, who was accused before the Lord” and then quotes and comments on several verses of the passage.[107]

  • Ambrose (c.AD 388) quotes and comments on a number of verses from the Pericope Adulterae in both Epistle 25 and Epistle 26, and mentions it in Apologia David Altera.[108]

  • Augustine (AD 400) quotes the passage and comments on it in detail in Tractate XXXIII Homily on John.[109]

  • Sedulius (c.AD 425-450) mentions the passage in Carmen Paschale IV: “… The incident of the Samaritan woman who, drawing water from the well, gave Christ to drink, suggests that He is the true Fountain of the Waters of Life.  The case of the woman taken in adultery is told in the simple language of the evangelist.  The sightless eyes of one who was born blind, his Redeemer anointed with the native clay and bade him wash in the pool of Siloam, and he beholds the day …[110]

  • The Venerable Bede (c.AD 700) quotes and comments on the passage in his Sermon for Lent.[111]

In light of all this, it is clear that Metzger’s throwaway comment that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it[112] certainly does not fairly represent the patristic evidence.  It is true that most of the fathers whose comments on the Pericope Adulterae have been preserved are Latin fathers, but they should not on that basis be discounted, especially since, as we have seen, this passage was retained in the Latin Vulgate because the sagacious textual critic Jerome found it in enough Greek manuscripts to be convinced that it was indeed authentic.

Finally, we note in passing that Metzger’s comment that “Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it[113] is pointless.  One would think that Euthymius is writing at far too late a date (12th century) for his opinion about this matter to carry weight.  Furthermore, if one checks Euthymius’ actual comment, he will find this:

However, it is fitting to know that those things which are found from this place to that where it is said: Therefore Jesus spoke again to them saying, I am the light of the world: in the more exact copies, these are either not found, or marked with an obelus, because they seem illegitimate and added.  And the argument for this is because Chrysostom makes no mention anywhere of this; but the mind for us is to also declare even these things, because they do not lack usefulness, just as also the chapter on the woman taken in adultery, which is placed between these.[114]

So Euthymius has no independent information about the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae, but is simply basing his opinion on the fact that one particular Greek father did not comment on the passage.  In other words, he is doing the same thing modern textual critics are doing and even more poorly, as he is appealing to only one patristic writer.  The method, as we have seen, is not valid for the modern critics, and neither is it valid for Euthymius.

Assessing the Evidence

We are now in a position to assess the evidence germane to the issue of the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae.  Recall that scholars claim that both internal and external evidence prove that this passage was not originally in the Gospel According to John nor, in fact, is the passage Johannine at all.

Let us consider the internal evidence first.  Regarding this, we have done what scholars – especially evangelical scholars – should do but do not do: we have actually examined this putative internal evidence.  We showed that the argument from vocabulary and style is utterly bogus, and would not fool anyone who knows statistical analysis and bothers to apply it.

We further found that the claim that the Pericope Adulterae is more Lukan than Johannine in vocabulary and style goes back in all essential points almost a century to the pronouncements of liberal scholar Henry J. Cadbury.  We examined his lengthy list of supposed evidence and found that his case was built on sand; none of arguments is valid and the entire notion that the Pericope Adulterae is Lukan is risible.

This would soon be obvious to anyone who does not just accept liberal claims and pass them on but bothers to take the time and make the effort to examine these claims.  It is not difficult to understand why liberal scholars do not do this, but it is exceedingly difficult to understand why evangelical scholars do not.  Yet it is difficult if not impossible to find an evangelical scholar who seems to have examined the evidence independently and carefully, instead of uncritically passing on what he has heard.  Nevertheless, the bottom line, as we have shown is that there is absolutely no case to be made against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae from internal evidence.  Let us stop flogging that dead horse.

With the case from internal evidence dead in the water, the question of the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae must be settled on the basis of the external evidence alone.  And, as we have seen, the picture painted by both liberal and evangelical scholars of this external evidence is off the mark.

Regarding the Greek manuscripts, which stand as the most important evidence, we are repeatedly told that the Pericope Adulterae is not found in the “earliest,“oldest,” and “best” manuscripts of the Gospel According to John.  Carson, Moo, and Morris tell us that the passage is “absent from virtually all early Greek manuscripts that have come down to us.[115]  This sounds like strong evidence – until we ask exactly how many manuscripts make up this “virtually all,” and whether they are really the “best.”  Strangely, it never seems to occur to evangelical scholars to ask these questions.  But we did ask, and we found that the “early” material[116] consists of only two papyri and eight uncials, or 0.06% of extant relevant manuscripts of the Gospel According to John.  The two papyri were seen as garbage by the original owners and should not be taken into consideration.[117]  The two earliest uncials date from the 4th century, and, as we have seen, are both extremely corrupt and unreliable – to call them “the best” is to subvert reality – whereas we have testimony from Jerome in that same century that many Greek manuscripts had the Pericope Adulterae, so many, in fact, that he was persuaded to include it in his Latin Vulgate.  This certainly overrules the testimony of six later uncials, two of which actually have lacunae at the relevant place.

The argument, then, from the “earliest and best” manuscripts is a failure.  The fact that the Pericope Adulterae is present in the overwhelming majority of manuscripts (85.6%) is decisive evidence in favour of the authenticity of this passage.[118]  However, it should be noted that the 240 manuscripts omitting the passage is a much higher number than in any other case in which a NT passage has been accidentally omitted.  No other example comes close, and this will require an explanation.

Regarding the evidence of the versions, we have found that it leans noticeably towards the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae, especially since what is probably the earliest version, the Old Latin, supports its inclusion.  However, the fact that the passage clearly seems to be almost completely missing from two significant early translations (the Syriac and the Coptic) is noteworthy and calls from an explanation.

Finally, regarding the Patristic evidence, we have noted that it is misleading to point out that no Greek Church Father comments on the Pericope Adulterae until Euthymius Zigabenus does so in the 12th century.  First, this is not true, as Didymus the Blind comments on the passage in the 4th century.  Second, Fathers comment on the passage from the 3rd century onwards, and although most of them are Latin fathers, the Pericope Adulterae was in the Latin Vulgate because Jerome found it to be authentic in the Greek text.  However, it is true that the commentary seems far sparser than would be expected, and this, too, calls for an explanation.

We can now sum up the actual evidence that bears upon the question of the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae thus:

  • The question is settled on the basis of external evidence only because, despite the claims of liberal scholars and unwary evangelical scholars, there is no internal evidence against either the authenticity or the Johannine authorship of this passage.

  • The external evidence, most noticeably that of the Greek manuscripts, when examined carefully decisively support the authenticity of this passage.

  • There remain anomalies in the external evidence that call for explanations.

  • These are the conclusions evangelical scholars should reach if they are doing proper and careful investigations as NT specialists.  Would that they would do so.

Drawing Conclusions

The first thing to note is that, as indicated by the law of logic known as the Law of the Excluded Middle, there are only two possible scenarios in this matter: either (a) the Pericope Adulterae was originally part of the Gospel According to John, or (b) it was not originally part of the Gospel According to John.  If the first scenario is true, it means that at some point subsequent to the publication of this Gospel book, the Pericope Adulterae was excised from one or more copies.  If the second scenario is true, it means that at some point subsequent to the publication of this Gospel book, the Pericope Adulterae was inserted into one or more copies.

The second thing to note is that we can be virtually certain that whichever scenario happened, it was intentional.  If the first scenario is true, we note that though accidental omission is by far the most common scribal error,[119] by its nature it involves short bits of material.  It is not impossible but it is exceedingly difficult to see how a scribe could have accidentally omitted a full twelve contiguous verses from the middle of the book.[120]

Similarly, accidental insertions, which do happen, also by their nature involve only short bits of material, typically when an explanatory comment written in the margin of a manuscript is mistaken by a later copyist for a part of the actual text.[121]  Again, though, a marginal comment the size of the Pericope Adulterae is inconceivable.  We can safely conclude that the deletion or insertion of this passage was done deliberately.

The third thing to note is that early Christians were very much opposed to adding anything to or taking anything away from Scripture.  The so-called “inscriptional curse” in the OT against adding to or subtracting from Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6) is also found in the NT (Revelation 22:18-19) and is repeatedly emphasized by the early Fathers, including in the Didache (4.13), Dionysius of Corinth (Historia Ecclesiastica 4.23.13), Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5:13.1), Polycarp (Philippians 7:1), and Justin Martyr (Dialogue 72).[122]  As Kruger says,

This overall attitude toward the reproduction of Old Testament scriptures – particularly the language of ‘not adding or taking away’ – is not abandoned when we reach the New Testament era but is reaffirmed and applied (implicitly or explicitly) by early Christians to the New Testament writings.[123]

We have now looked at all of the facts and evidence that pertain to this issue.  We are now ready to assess the viability of the two scenarios we have put forth.

First, in light of the early Christian opposition to adding to or taking away from Scripture, we must ask why either would have been done.  Would the Pericope Adulterae have been added to the Gospel According to John at some date subsequent to publication?  If so, why?  It may be a nice story, but why would this nice story (out of all nice stories) have been arbitrarily added to a Gospel book when early Christians were so strongly opposed to doing such thing?  Even to countenance the idea that the Pericope Adulterae was added later, proponents of such an idea must offer a reasonable suggestion as to why this was done, and no scholar, liberal or evangelical, has done so.

Further to this, in light of the fact that early church Fathers railed against making changes to Scripture,[124] would such a blatant change have been accepted without any sort of objection at all?  Yet we certainly find none.

Further still, even if this passage was added by a Christian leader or even several of them, it would have been resisted across the board and so would never have entered the overwhelming majority of manuscripts, though in fact it clearly is in the overwhelming majority of manuscripts.

On the other hand, a later excision of the Pericope Adulterae would also prima facie be opposed by early Christians, and so to countenance this idea a reasonable suggestion as to why this would have been done must be offered.  However, in this case the reason is given by early Christians themselves.

Ambrose in Apologia David Altera 1.1, 3 (late 4th century) comments on the Pericope Adulterae, saying,

the Gospel lesson which has been read, may have caused no small offense to the unskilled, in which you have noticed that an adulteress was brought to Christ and dismissed without condemnation … Did Christ err that He did not judge righteously?  It is not right that such a thought should come to our minds …

Ambrose’s comment hints at a certain dissatisfaction among some with the Pericope Adulterae.  Augustine, however, makes the fruit of this dissatisfaction clear in De Adulterinis Conjugiis 2:6–7:

But because of namely this, the mind of the unfaithful was terrified so that some people of modest faith, or rather, enemies of true faith, I believe, fearing that impunity of sinning be given to their women, removed from their codices that thing which the Lord did concerning the pardon of the adulteress (as if He who said, “Now do not sin anymore” granted permission of sinning or for that reason a woman did not have to be cured by the doctor, God, by the remission of that sin!) in order that insane men may not be offended.[125]

So what we have here is hard evidence of the deliberate excision of the Pericope Adulterae, along with the expected objection to such an excision by a respected church authority.  This is in stark contrast to the complete lack of evidence of a later insertion of this passage into the Gospel According to John.

Furthermore, we have corroborative evidence in the 5th-century Old Latin manuscript Codex Veronensis.  In this manuscript,

The two folios that presumably contained John 7:53-8:11 … are missing so that the following folio begins with the first words of 8:12.  It is relatively certain that the scribe either copied the passage or at least left exactly enough space for it to have been copied.  From this, one may assume that the presence of the passage prompted its removal.  For why would the folios have been removed if only a blank space had been left?[126]

So we have an actual manuscript of the Gospel According to John showing the exact sort of excision that Augustine deplores.  This is powerful evidence in support of the scenario that the Pericope Adulterae was originally in the Gospel According to John, and subsequently excised in some copies – against no actual evidence for the opposite scenario.

There are, of course, attempts to discredit this evidence.  In his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Metzger allows that “Sometimes it is stated that the pericope was deliberately expunged from the Fourth Gospel because Jesus’ words at the close were liable to be understood in a sense too indulgent to adultery,[127] yet it is passing strange that he neglects to mention that it is the towering figure of Augustine who states this, and he, unlike Metzger, was in a position to know.

Metzger offers two arguments against this idea, but neither impresses.  First, he points to “the absence of any instance elsewhere of scribal excision of an extensive passage because of moral prudence.[128]  But unless Metzger can point to another passage that would cause the same sort of moral concern, his argument is bogus.  Furthermore, the argument rebounds upon Metzger, as he himself cannot point to “any instance elsewhere” of scribal insertion of a story into the middle of a Gospel book for no apparent reason other than its being a nice story.  It is hard to see how he overlooked this.  Further still, even if there is no other example of such an excision, it does not mean that there cannot have been one such; we should not expect many in light of the resistance of Christians to tampering with the text.  Finally, such airy ideas do not carry weight against the actual testimony of Augustine, who was in a position to know, and of Codex Veronensis.

Then Metzger cavils that

this theory fails ‘to explain why the three preliminary verses (vii 53; viii 1-2), so important as apparently descriptive of the time and place at which all the discourses of  c. viii were spoken, should have been omitted with the rest.’[129]

Well, let’s see: If the excision had been 8:3-11, this would have been the result:

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

This surely reads strangely.  “Taught them” followed immediately by “spoke to them again”?  Why specify “again” when you have just led into the passage by telling us Jesus taught them, and not specified any content?  That “spoke to them again” is unnecessary, and makes it look as if something has been omitted between these two statements.  And how did “all the people” morph into “the Pharisees,” who are clearly the only audience in the rest of the passage.

Since starting the excision with 8:3 yields such a strange result, why not start it with 8:2?  But then this is the outcome:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.” Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.

Now we are clearly told that Jesus was speaking on the Mount of Olives, but then we are told that He was speaking in the treasury in the temple!  How did Jesus magically move from the Mount of Olives to the temple in the midst of His speech?  This strange result is even worse than when starting the excision with 8:3.

Why not then start the excision with 8:1?  In that case, this is the result:

And everyone went to his own house. Therefore Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

Now, how does Jesus speak to them if everyone is in his own houseThis clearly is not viable, so another verse must be lopped off.  If the excision begins with 7:53 the resulting connection from 7:52 to 8:12 also is, as we have seen, clumsy, but it is not as bad as the previous three, and sooner or later one has to stop cutting extraneously.  So there is a completely reasonable explanation for the place in the text at which the excision was started, and it is difficult to see how Metzger could not have figured this out for himself.

There is a second possible explanation, suggested by Codex Veronensis.  Perhaps the easiest way to remove the Pericope Adulterae was simply to skip over the page with this passage when making the next copy.  In Codex Bezae, the earliest manuscript to include this passage, the segment from 8:3-8:11 would not quite fill an entire page – but a segment from 7:53-8:11 would do it almost exactly.[130]

So, although Metzger somehow missed it, there are two viable explanations for the excision beginning at 7:53 instead of 8:3.  But even if we could see no explanation, it does not mean that there was not one.  Metzger’s captious argument simply cannot stand against the weight of the actual evidence that we have seen.  There is no reason, then, to reject Augustine’s testimony that some Christians found the Pericope Adulterae disturbing, so much so that they actually excised it from their manuscripts.

In light of this additional evidence, we can refine our two possibilities, and weigh each against the entire gamut of facts and reach our final conclusion.

Scenario 1: The Pericope Adulterae was originally part of the Gospel According to John.  Its depiction of an adulteress going unpunished was disturbing to early Christians, so much so that some of them actually excised the passage from their copies of this Gospel book, despite the extreme reluctance of Christians to add to or take away from Scripture.  The mainstream church leadership rejected this and railed against it.

Scenario 2: The Pericope Adulterae was not originally part of the Gospel According to John.  At some point subsequent to the publication of this Gospel book, the Pericope Adulterae was inserted into one or more copies in spite of the extreme reluctance of Christians to add to or take away from Scripture.  There is no recorded objection from any mainstream church leader to this.

Now, we will see how each matches the evidence, in an a fortiori order.

The Versions

In the case of Scenario 1, the later versions that omit the Pericope Adulterae were translated from Greek manuscripts from which the passage had been excised.  Alternatively, most Syriac and Coptic churches may have agreed that the passage was too dangerous (because of its leniency towards an adulteress) to be left in the Gospel book and so perpetuated the excision of this passage.

On the other hand, Scenario 2 has trouble explaining why the earliest translation, the Old Latin, includes the passage if it was not originally there.  If the Pericope Adulterae were not originally in the Gospel According to John and added later, it should be the earlier versions that omit it, and the later ones that include it.

The Patristic Evidence

There are many centuries during which the Pericope Adulterae dominated the manuscript tradition yet was ignored by commentators.  This shows that Fathers who were well aware of the presence of the passage nevertheless passed over it when writing their commentaries.  This can be easily explained by Scenario 1.  It is clear from Augustine’s statement that many Christians found the passage disturbing, so it may well be that the Fathers tried to avoid the passage as much as they could (e.g. bypassing it in their commentaries), yet would not go to the extent of altering Scripture by actually removing it.  This would result in exactly what we see: the near complete absence of commentary on the Pericope Adulterae throughout many centuries in which it is certain that the passage was in the overwhelming majority of the manuscripts.

By contrast, Scenario 2 does not accord well with the Patristic evidence, for it fails to explain the fact that through the centuries, as far back as the Didascalia Apostolorum in the 2nd century, the passage was talked about by various church Fathers, with nary a hint that any of them found it inauthentic.  Furthermore, if the Fathers did not comment on the passage because they believed it to be inauthentic, why then did they not remove it from their manuscripts?  After all, proponents of Scenario 2 must believe – contrary to the actual evidence – that early Christians were indeed willing to add and subtract from Scripture readily.  Finally, Scenario 2 is unable to deal adequately with the implications of Augustine’s statement.[131]

The Inscriptional Curse

We have already seen that the evidence indicates that early Christians did not accept the addition to or subtraction from Scriptures,[132] and that the mainstream leadership would inveigh against it.  This indicates that any deliberate addition would not have met with widespread approval and so would only ever have extended to a small minority of manuscripts.  This is what the evidence shows and it is completely in accord with Scenario 1.  On the other hand, proponents of Scenario 2 cannot explain why a later addition would have been broadly accepted, and to such an extent that it came to dominate the manuscript tradition.

The Greek Manuscript Evidence

Statistical analysis shows that it is virtually impossible for any secondary reading ever to come to dominate the manuscript tradition.[133]  Whenever a change is made, that change will be found in one manuscript among all the NT manuscripts that already exist.  It will begin as a minority of one, and as copies are made of all the manuscripts, the secondary reading will always remain in the minority.  Cross correction will further reduce the number of manuscripts in which a secondary reading is found.

Secondary readings that are introduced inadvertently will only affect a very small number of manuscripts, and it is hard to miss the fact that the secondary (and in some cases erroneous) readings that have been inserted into modern critical texts under the guise of being the original readings are found in only a handful of manuscripts.

On the other hand, in the case of a deliberate change, there are people who are promoting and perpetuating the change, and it may come to infect a larger proportion of the manuscripts, though it will nevertheless be in a small minority.  To have a secondary reading in 240 of 1,668 extant manuscripts, as is the case with the omission of the Pericope Adulterae, is unique and strongly indicates that the omission was deliberate.  Nevertheless, this omission is in only a small fraction of the total manuscripts, and so is clearly a secondary reading.  Thus, what we see in the Greek manuscript evidence is completely consistent with Scenario 1.  On the other hand, there is no viable explanation for a secondary reading coming to dominate the manuscript tradition.  Scenario 2, therefore, is again shown to be untenable.

IN SUM, THEN, we have seen that all of the evidence, including the early versions, the Patristic writings, the attitude of early Christians towards the altering of the NT text, and then explicit testimony of Augustine is consistent with, and in most cases inevitably points to the conclusion that the Pericope Adulterae was from the beginning a part of the original Gospel According to John, written as God-breathed Scripture by the apostle John himself.  The idea that this passage was not authentic but was added to the Gospel book later simply cannot be maintained in the face of the actual evidence.

A Call for Serious Evangelical Scholarship

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

At the beginning of this study, we saw that liberal scholars are united in their insistence that the Pericope Adulterae is an inauthentic, later addition to the Gospel According to John.  We also saw that this claim is passed on without any apparent question by evangelical scholars, who parrot the party lines against authenticity, viz. that the Pericope Adulterae is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts; that it migrates in the manuscript tradition; that scribal markings in other manuscripts indicate doubt as to its authenticity; that it is not present in important early versions; that no Greek Father comments on the passage prior to the 12th century; that the style of passage is not Johannine; that there are numerous words and constructions in the passage that are not Johannine; and that the style of the Pericope Adulterae is actually more Lukan than Johannine.  If any evangelical scholar has examined these claims carefully prior to passing them on, it is not evident.

Yet those who take it upon themselves to defend the word of God cannot afford to be careless.  The claims of Biblical scholarship can never be taken at face value, but must always be checked.  Certainly this requires time and considerable effort, but that is not an excuse for not doing it.

First, we looked at the internal evidence.  We examined the claims that vocabulary and style of the Pericope Adulterae are non-Johannine, but unlike artsy Biblical scholars we did it according to the standards of statistical analysis.  We found that the claims are utterly without merit.  We then examined the claim that the Pericope Adulterae is more Lukan than Johannine and found the “hidden agenda” behind this claim: to discredit the historical reliability of the Gospel books.  No surprise, that; liberal scholarship always has an agenda, and it is always to discredit the Bible.  We found here, too, by statistical analysis that the claim is absurd.

Then we looked at the external evidence.  We found that the situation is not fairly represented by the standard party-line claims; on the contrary, the external evidence supports the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae.  Indeed, if the passage was found so offensive that some Christians actually excised it deliberately, as Augustine says, all of the evidence lines up with authenticity.

The fact, then, that evangelical scholars carelessly pass on the risible claim that the Pericope Adulterae is not authentic, that both the internal and external evidence prove this, and that it is more Lukan than Johannine, is both tragic and inexcusable.  We need more careful and serious apologetics from evangelicals.


Endnotes

[1] See, inter alia, Linnemann, Eta. Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? Reflections of a Bultmannian Turned Evangelical. Trans. Robert W. Yarbrough. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990; Linnemann, Eta. Biblical Criticism on Trial: How Scientific is “Scientific Theology”? Trans. Robert W. Yarbrough. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001; Wenham, John. Redating Matthew, Mark & Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992; Tors, John. “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism (in Manageable, Bite-sized Chunks).” At https://truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/

[2] These include such claims as the “late dating” of the Gospel books (i.e. the assertion that these books were written “decades after” the events they recount), Markan priority and literary dependence (i.e. that the Gospel According to Mark was the first Gospel book written, and Matthew and Luke copied from it), and the superiority of the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Societies critical Greek text as best representing the original text of the NT.

[3] See, for example, “From Mark to John: the development of the Gospels by Dr. Shabir Ally”, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DxUgi9pyac (from 1:03 to 12:36)

[4] Harper, M.J. The History of Britain Revealed. Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd., 2006, p. 34.  This certainly applies to historians of the Bible, as taught in seminaries.

[5] ibid., p. 2

[6] This is also known as the pericope de adultera, “extract about the adulteress.”

[7] In this context, “authentic” means part of the Gospel According to John as it came off the pen of the original author.

[8] Barton, John and John Muddiman. eds. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 999.  The chapter on the Gospel According to John is written by René Kieffer.  The Ferrar Group is a group of thirteen genetically related NT manuscripts dating from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

[9] Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, pp. 64-65

[10] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997, p. 1597

[11] Carson, D.A., Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, pp. 172-173

[12] ibid., p. 172

[13] Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, United Bible Societies, 1994, p. 187

[14] Interviewed in Strobel, Lee.  The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007, pp. 90-92

[15] Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction, Revised Edition. Leicester: Apollos and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990, p. 334

[16] e.g. Pickering, Dr. Wilbur N. The Identity of the New Testament Text II, Third Edition. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003, pp. 177-178

[17] e.g. Hodges, Zane. “Problem Passages in the Gospel of John Part 8: The Woman taken in Adultery (John 7: 53- 8:11): The Text.” Bib.Sac. 136 (1979), pp. 318-332

[18] Cosner, Lita. “Newsweek attacks belief in Scripture.” http://creation.com/newsweek-response. Posted on January 8, 2015.

[19] This was written in response to one of the “Readers’ comments.”

[20] Cosner, Lita. “Politicizing Scripture: Should Christians welcome a ‘conservative Bible translation’?” Posted on 24 December 2009, at http://creation.com/politicizing-scripture-conservative-bible-translation.

[21] MacArthur, op. cit.

[22] Barton, op. cit.

[23] Carson et al., op. cit., p. 173.  The authors give no examples of these putative “numerous expressions and constructions.”

[24] Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 188

[25] A hapax legomenon (plural: hapax legomena) is a word that appears only once.  It could be with respect to one book or to one author or to the entire New Testament.

[26] Howard, Jeremy Royal. ed. The Holman Apologetics Commentary on the Bible: The Gospels and Acts. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2013, pp. 554-555

[27] Howard, op. cit., p. 555

[28] For example, the vocabulary a professor uses when writing a physics textbook will be quite different from the vocabulary he uses when composing a love letter to his wife.

[29] Johnson, Alan F. “A Stylistic Trait of the Fourth Gospel in the Pericope Adulterae?JETS 9 (1966), p. 93

[30] ibid.

[31] ibid., p. 94

[32] Botha, J. Eugene. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: A Speech Act Reading of John 4:1-42. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1991, p. 9

[33] Tors, John. “‘They Took the Words Right out of My Mouth’: Does John 3:16-17 Record the Words of Jesus or of John the Evangelist?” At https://truthinmydays.com/they-took-the-words-right-out-of-my-mouth/

[34] ibid.  They are at 5:18, 6:6, 6:64, 8:27, 10:6, 12:33, 13:11, and 21:19.

[35] (8 occurrences) ÷ (15,635 words in the Gospel According to John) x (174 words per 174-word unit).  Bear in mind that the average is means very little in light of the large standard deviations in such cases, as we have seen.

[36] If we are talking about characteristics that actually distinguish Johannine writing from other NT writings, it is exceedingly unlikely that there are actually forty-two.

[37] 0.089 x 42 = 3.7

[38] Carson et al., op. cit., p. 173.  (Bolding and underlining added.)

[39] Barton, op. cit.  (Bolding and underlining added.)

[40] Keith, Chris. “Recent and Previous Research on the Pericope Adulterae (John 7.53-8.11).” Currents in Biblical Research 6:3 (2008), pp. 379-380

[41] Text, op. cit., p. 188

[42] MacArthur, op. cit.

[43] i.e. evidence that is not based on the contents of the writings themselves, but on the physical evidence of the manuscripts and versions (ancient translations), and testimony from people in a position to comment upon the matter in question

[44] MacArthur, op. cit.

[45] Cosner, Lita, Newsweek, op. cit.

[46] Pickering, Wilbur. The Greek New Testament According to Family 35. Lexington, 2014, p. 199

[47] Sixty-four of these are based on the commentary of Theophylact.

[48] Pickering, Wilbur. “Concerning the Text of the Pericope Adulterae.” Posted at http://www.walkinhiscommandments.com/Pickering/Miscellaneous/Concerning%20text%20of%20PA.r.pdf.  The statistics are based on Robinson, Maurice A. “Preliminary Observations regarding the Pericope Adulterae based upon Fresh Collations of nearly all Continuous-Text Manuscripts and over One Hundred Lectionaries”, presented to the Evangelical Theological Society, Nov., 1998, pp. 11-13.

[49] Keith, Chris. “The Initial Location of the Pericope Adulterae in Fourfold Tradition.” Novum Testamentum 51 (2009), p. 6

[50] By “relevant,“ we mean those uncials that are extant in the portion of the Gospel According to John where the Pericope Adulterae is normally found

[51] Codices Boreelianus, Seidelianus I, Seidelianus II, Campianus, Nanianus, Mosquensis II, Tischendorfianus III, Petropolitanus, and Athous Dionysiou

[52] Codex Macedoniensis and Codex Coridethianus.  It is also absent in Codex Sangallensis, but in this one the scribe left a blank space in the manuscript in order to allow it to be added, which suggests that it should be viewed as a witness for the inclusion of the Pericope Adulterae rather than for its omission.  In addition, Codex Athous Lavrensis is dated as IX/X century; if it is indeed from the 9th century, it would make the majority in favour of inclusion 9:3 rather than 9:2.

[53] Burgon, John W. The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established. Oxford and London: James Parker and Co., 1871.

[54] Hoskier, Herman C. Codex B and Its Allies: A Study and an Indictment. 2 vols. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1914.  After finding so many differences in the Gospel books alone, Hoskier did not bother checking the rest of the New Testament books.

[55] Pickering, Wilbur N. The Identity of the New Testament Text. Revised edition. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980, p. 218 f.n. 68

[56] For more details, see Tors, “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism,” op. cit.

[57] Colwell, Earnest Cadman. “Scribal Habits in Early Papyri: A Study in the Corruption of the Text.” In Hyatt, J. Philip. ed. The Bible in Modern Scholarship: Papers read at the 100th meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. London: Carey Kingsgate Press, 1965, p. 374.  Itacisms are vowel substitutions.

[58] ibid., p. 375.  “Singular readings” are textual variants that are not found in any other manuscript.

[59] ibid., p. 376.  “Nonsense Readings include words unknown to grammar or lexicon, words that cannot be construed syntactically, or words that do not make sense in the context,” from ibid., p. 375

[60] ibid., pp. 374-376

[61] Pickering, Identity (1980), p. 123

[62] For more details, see Tors, John. “GIGO: Unearthing a Decisive New Tipping Point for Textual Criticism” at https://truthinmydays.com/gigo-unearthing-a-decisive-new-tipping-point-for-textual-criticism/.

[63] Cosner, Lita, Newsweek, op. cit.

[64] Keith, Initial, op. cit., p. 17 f.n. 67.  Keith here cites Aland, Kurt. “Glosse, Interpolation, Redaktion und Komposition in der Sicht der neutestamentlichen Textkritik,” Studien zur Überlieferung des Neuen Testaments und seines Textes (ANTF 2). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1967, p. 43

[65] ibid., p. 18 f.n. 68

[66] Cosner, Lita, Newsweek, op. cit.

[67] Keith, Initial, op. cit., p. 6

[68] ibid., pp. 6-14

[69] ibid., p. 5

[70] ibid.  In addition, a corrector of the 11th-century minuscule 1333 places the passage between the end of Luke and the beginning of John, but since it is the work of a corrector and not the original scribe, and is done so late, it is insignificant.

[71] Cosner, Lita, Newsweek, op. cit.  To be precise, here she only states that “Very few textual critics believe there is even a chance of these being in the original text.”  Elsewhere she expresses her (mistaken) conviction that Mark 16:9-20 is not authentic (Cosner, Lita. “Excursus: How did Mark end his Gospel?” in “Is the whole creation fallen?” Posted on March 8, 2011, at http://creation.com/whole-creation-fallen)

[72] Granted, 1 John 5:7-8 is found in only eight very late Greek manuscripts – though it is found in many Latin manuscripts (Metzger, Textual Commentary, pp. 647-648).  Mark 16:9-20, however, is found in some 1,800 manuscripts of the Gospel According to Mark and perhaps 2,000 lectionaries (Pickering, Identity II, p. 167)

[73] The Greek New Testament (UBS-5). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, United Bible Societies, 2014, p. 548

[74] ibid., p. 581

[75] Metzger, Bruce M. The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 30-31

[76] MacDonald, Brent, of Lion Tracks Ministries. “Disputed passage in the Gospel of John (John 7:53-8:11) Sinful woman forgiven by Jesus. Is this passage Scriptures? Rare major case of a truly disputed Bible passage.” Posted at http://www.notjustanotherbook.com/disputedjohn.htm#end4

[77] Falluomini, Carla. “The Gothic Version of the New Testament.” in Ehrman, Bart D. and Michael W. Holmes. The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. 2nd Edition. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2013, p. 330, f.n. 5

[78] If, for example, the ratio of Gothic manuscripts including the Pericope Adulterae to those omitting it were the same as among the Greek manuscripts, the chance that the one manuscript found would be missing it is roughly the same as rolling a die and getting a 4, which is well within the range of random chance and therefore cannot be used to prove anything – as Bible scholars would know if they knew anything at all about statistical analysis.

[79] Metzger, Text, pp. 68-71

[80] How many of them include the relevant part of the Gospel According to John is not readily determinable.

[81] Vaganay, Léon and Christian-Bernard Amphoux. An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism. English Translation by Jenny Heimerdinger. Cambridge, UK: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1991, p. 41

[82] ibid.

[83] ibid., pp. 41-42

[84] Gregory, Caspar René. Textkritik Des Neuen Testamentes. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrich’s SCHE Buchandlung, 1900, pp. 573-575

[85] “Versions of the New Testament.” Posted at http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/Versions.html#Georgian

[86] MacDonald, Brent, 2009. http://www.notjustanotherbook.com/disputedjohn.htm

[87] McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Vol.1. San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers Inc., 1979, p. 40

[88] ibid.,p. 79

[89] Metzger, Bruce. The Early Versions of the New Testament.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977, pp. 222-223

[90] Hodges, op. cit.

[91] Borland, Jonathan C. The Old Latin Tradition of John 7:53-8:11. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC, 2009, pp. 5-13

[92] ibid., p. 10

[93] ibid., pp. 10-13.  A fourth one that omits this passage, Codex Brixianus, “is now thought to be based on the Vulgate.” (p. 10)

[94] ibid., p. 13

[95] It should be noted that Borland considers Codex Aureus, Usserianus Primus, Usserianus Secundus, and Rehdigeranus to “all exhibit the Vulgate form of text” (p. 5) and he removes them from consideration.  That gives inclusion at 6:2, or 75% edge over omission.

[96] Metzger, Text, pp. 75-76

[97] ibid., p. 153

[98] ibid.

[99] As Keith (Initial, op. cit., p. 7) points out, “Jerome completed work on the Gospels for his Vulgate by 384 CE when he presented them to Pope Damsus.21 There is widespread agreement based on the Vulgate manuscript tradition that PA was at John 7:53-8:11 in these manuscripts.”  Keith here references Kelly, J.N.D. Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies. London: Duckworth, 1975, p. 88.

[100] MacArthur, op. cit.

[101] Cosner, Lita, Newsweek, op. cit.

[102] Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 188

[103] Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John I-XII. Anchor Bible Series Vol29: Commentary on John, 1966, p. 355

[104] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Ambrosiaster.html

[105] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Didymus.html#s04

[106] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Pacian.html#s01b

[107] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Jerome2.html

[108] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Ambrose.html

[109] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Augustine2.html

[110] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Sedulius.html

[111] http://textualcriticism.scienceontheweb.net/FATHERS/Bede.html#s02

[112] Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 188

[113] ibid.

[114] Patrologia Graeca 129.  Translated from the Latin by Sonya Tors.

[115] Carson et al., op. cit., p. 172.  (Bolding added.)

[116] i.e. before the 8th century, when the Pericope Adulterae came to dominate the manuscript tradition.

[117] See Tors, “GIGO,” op. cit. for details

[118] See Tors, “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism,” op. cit. for the mathematical proof.

[119] Tors, “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism,” op. cit.

[120] The last twelve verses of the Gospel According to Mark were in ancient times accidentally omitted from a manuscript, but that passage is at the end of the book, and it could easily be explained by the last page of the exemplar being used having fallen off and becoming lost.

[121] This no doubt explains how “Isaiah” found its way into Mark 1:2 in a handful of manuscripts and created an error in the text.

[122] See Kruger, Michael J. “Attitudes toward Reproduction of Texts.” in Hill, Charles E. & Michael J. Kruger. The Early Text of the New Testament. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 72-79 for this information and further details.

[123] ibid., p. 73.  (Bolding added.)

[124] e.g. Irenaeus, Dionysius of Corinth

[125] Translated from the Latin by Sonya Tors.  Do note that it is Augustine, and not we, who describes those who which to have this passage as not part of the Gospel According to John as “insane.”

[126] Borland, op. cit., p. 13.  (Bolding added.)  In f.n. 54 on the same page, Borland points out that the two missing leaves in Codex Veronensis would have been filled exactly by the equivalent text in Codex ff.

[127] Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 189

[128] ibid.

[129] ibid. Metzger is quoting F.J.A. Hort here.

[130] If the excisor were working with a Greek/Latin manuscript (like Codex Bezae), but with the passage on opposite sides of the same leaf in the two languages, he could have simply cut out that leaf.

[131] We have already seen that Metzger’s attempt to do so is an utter failure.

[132] It is interesting that Kruger (op. cit., pp. 79-80) is puzzled by the fact that while the evidence he has found shows that Christians “valued their texts as scripture and did not view unbridled textual changes as acceptable,” he believes, apparently on the basis of the NT papyri, that “some Christians changed the New Testament text and altered its wording (and sometimes in substantive ways).”  He can’t quite reconcile these two observations, and suggests these represent “two competing forces.”  Actually, as we showed in “GIGO: Unearthing a Decisive New Tipping Point for Textual Criticism” (op. cit.), the altered NT papyri were discarded as garbage; their alterations were not acceptable.  Kruger was right the first time; early Christians did not alter the NT text.

[133] See Tors, “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism,” op. cit. for details.

Comments: 1

  1. ken wallace says:

    Well thought out, researched and easy to follow article! I hope it goes viral – in particular to those in the position of teaching the Bible!

    Thank you for your invested time.

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