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Friday, April 15, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part I)

Recently, Jamin Hubner, yet another Alexandrian text-type pusher, got into a lame debate with Jeff Riddle  over the TR/CR or Byzantine vs. Alexandrian text-type question.

In that debate, Riddle affirmed the authenticity of the PA, and pointed to E.F. Hills' arguments (1984) in its favor.

Hubner responded with the standard Bruce Metzger poison (1971), then followed with a further series of arguments.  He even uses Metzger's the infamous bombastic phrase, slightly modified: 
"The evidence (internal and external) is overwhelmingly clear: ..."
(see Metzger's tripe: "The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming. ..." )
He references Philip Comfort's nonsense (1989), and may be taking his backhanded quote from that ("The external evidence against the Johannine authorship of the pericope of the adulteress is ovewhelming." - Comfort also plagarizes Metzger),  although he has added "internal" evidence to the mix.  He seems to be cut-and-pasting from some commentary, or else possibly some Daniel Wallace crap (2007?) or even the W.H. Harris' (2001) / NETbible (2007) fluff:
"(1) the pericope wasn’t contained in the earliest Bibles and manuscripts we have (and there are a great variety in that category),
(2) when it does appear in later manuscripts, it is inserted in different places (e.g. after Luke 21:38; 24:53, John 7:36, 52, and end of John), and is usually marked off by obeli or asterisks to let people know it probably wasn’t in the original, and
(3) it disrupts the flow of the text and events of Jesus, and also demonstrates a different style/vocabulary,
(4) it is recognized as Scripture by almost no early church father. Thus, Comfort summarizes, “the inclusion of this story in the NT text is a primary example of how the oral tradition, originally not included in the text, eventually found its way into the written text” (Comfort, 286).
 This isn't scientific or historical data, but sloppy nonsense designed to mislead:

(1a)  "the pericope wasn’t contained in the earliest Bibles..." 
The passage obviously was in the earliest 'Bibles' (e.g. complete NT copies), since it was in many manuscripts ("both Greek and Latin") before Jerome's time, and was also in his Latin Vulgate translation (c. 390 A.D.), which was adopted reasonably quickly by the whole Latin church.  Thats a lot of 'Bibles'.  There were no 'Bibles' (complete collected NT writings in a single book) much before the middle of the 4th century, and the few surviving copies are often defective or edited for Church services.  If as Hubner says, "there are a great variety in that category", he must mean manuscripts later than the 4th century, because only four manuscripts containing John survive that can be dated before about 350 A.D., namely P66, P75, Codex B, and Codex Aleph.  (a great variety?).  On why these manuscripts are missing the passage, see our article here: What Causes Large Omissions?

(1b)  "The (internal) evidence is overwhelming..." (Hubner)
This might be might be better phrased as "The internal evidence is irrelevant." 
At the same time, the complimentary advances in knowledge about the vocabulary and syntactical features of gospel pericopes have shown that nothing can be concluded by the presence or absence of "Johannine" or "Markan" features.
All gospels present spans of text that do not conform to author usage or style, and yet which are not in any doubt as to their authenticity. The significance of this is that tests of vocabulary or style are not significant and therefore inconclusive.  Dr. Heard on Vocabulary Questions

Finally, it is significant that deeper and newer studies of John's Gospel for instance, have revealed structural, chiastic, and thematic patterns that indicate the authenticity of the PA, and the probable composition of John with the PA included.   Chiastic Patterns in John

(2)  "when it does appear in later manuscripts, it is inserted in different places"
This is nonsense.  It is found in the majority of MSS its usual place (in some 1,400 copies) with only a handful of MS from the latest era dissenting:

MSS which move the PA: Click to Enlarge
Normal manuscripts have the PA at John 7:52.  The few oddballs that don't were accounted for by von Soden (1913) long ago: The later Manuscript Families (1 and 13) cannot be traced earlier than the 8th or 9th century, fully five centuries too late to give first-hand testimony regarding the position of the passage in the crucial early period.  Von Soden has shown that most cases of displacement of the passage arose in the Middle Ages as copyists attempted to delete or reinsert the passage.  These anomalies don't represent the original position of the passage in any case.   The shuffling of the passage about does not indicate early doubt, but rather later confusion arising from its omission in some copies.

(2b)  "and is usually marked off by obeli or asterisks to let people know it probably wasn’t in the original" (Hubner)
Another falsehood from Hubner:  Only a minority of manuscripts have any markings.  Thus it is not 'usually marked off' at all.  When the passage is marked off in any way, it is usually as a church lesson (Lection) for public reading, not as a textual-critical indication regarding doubt.  Dr. Maurice Robinson has collated all of the some 2,400 manuscripts and lectionaries, and has fully analyzed the real meaning and use of the markings. 

(3)  "it disrupts the flow of the text..."  The question of whether the passage 'interrupts' the Gospel narrative is currently in dispute, and there is complex evidence on both sides of the issue.   The decision by the translators to remove the passage from John and place it at the end of the gospel was therefore misguided and is not supported by current textual and historical evidences.  For recent arguments see earlier posts here, and the evidence of J. P. Heil (1994)   Andrew Wilson, (2005) and recently Daniel Buck (2010) .

 (4)   "it is recognized as Scripture by almost no early church father"
Again Hubner seems to be relying upon the fact that most readers aren't going to check his facts.  The PA is quoted and recognised as Scripture by most of the important early Church writers.  Even those who don't quote it often seem to know it: See our extensive review of Patristic Evidence for the PA.

 We'll review Hubner's 13 further points in the next article.



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