Friday, September 30, 2011

G.A. Clark on the PA and TC

G.A. Clark


In 1986 (revised 1990) G.A. Clark issued a small book(let) entitled, Logical Criticisms of Textual Criticism   (Trinity Foundation, Maryland; 70 pgs).

It is only an introductory view of the subject, but before dismissing it out of hand, a word or two about G. A. Clark is in order. He was a well-educated, highly respected Presbyterian theologian.
"He began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania after receiving his bachelor's degree and also taught at Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia. In 1936, he accepted a professorship in Philosophy at Wheaton College, Illinois, where he remained until 1943, when he accepted the Chairmanship of the Philosophy Department at Butler University in Indianapolis. In 1973, he retired from Butler University and taught at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and Sangre de Cristo Seminary in Westcliffe, Colorado.  ...Clark was a prolific author who wrote more than forty books, including texts on ancient and contemporary philosophy, volumes on Christian doctrines, commentaries on the New Testament and a one-volume history of philosophy. "
- wikipedia on  G. H. Clark.
When approaching Textual Criticism, Clark was humble, but his extensive knowledge, scientific and linguistic training, should not be underestimated.   In writing his booklet, his concern was always to clarify and assist the ordinary Christian layman, not pander to academics.  He remained a firm believer in the traditional Bible and the Protestant faith.  In his chapter on John's gospel, he faces the Pericope de Adultera head-on:
"This is the passage concerning Jesus' judgment of the woman whom the Pharisees caught in the very act of adultery.  It is the longest and probably the most peculiar textual problem in all the New Testament; and though the liberal critics would not say so, the consevative scholars must admit that it is the most difficult also." ( - Gordon H. Clark, p. 37)
He is certainly right in recognizing both the size and difficulty of the textual problem.  Dean John Burgon held the same view over 120 years ago:
"I have purposely reserved for the last the most difficult problem of all: namely, those 12 famous verses of St. John's Gospel (7:53-8:11) which contain ...the Pericope de Adultera ... It is altogether indispensable that the reader should approach this portion of the Gospel with the greatest amount of experience and the largest preparation."  
( - John Burgon, the Pericope de Adultera)

On pg 39, Clark briefly reviews the so-called 'textual evidence' as typically presented, and remarks:
"On the basis of this evidence [alone], it is doubtful that the original contained the verses because it is unlikely that so many scribes would have deleted it. On the other hand, if it was not in the original , how can one explain so many manuscripts that include it?"  (Clark , p. 39)
This is the other side of the same coin.  The very 'textual evidence' that is held to be against the passage simply cannot be explained any better by just rejecting the passage.   This is because the evidence itself is irrepairably split, and some other mechanism and/or explanation must be sought beyond textual evidence alone; that evidence is not only ambiguous, but self-contradictory, and self-condemning.

Clark then turns to the pre-textual situation (the extant manuscripts only go back to about 250-300 A.D. with Papyri P66 and P75).  Since all critics are in the same boat, Clark proposes  an alternate conjecture: 
"...it will be at least a possibility [that] just perchance the Apostle John himself wrote a second edition of his Gospel, adding a paragraph.  [second editions often have additional material added].  ...Could not John have don similarly?" ( - Clark, p. 39)
Its an interesting idea.  Many critics have felt this both a necessary and plausible solution to the fact that there are two very divergent versions of the book of Acts (i.e., 2 editions released by Luke).   But as Clark himself acknowledges, this is not a necessary hypothesis.  

Instead Clark prefers to turn to internal evidence, like Hodges and Farstad do (Majority Text, etc.), to seek additional evidence that could tip the scales in one direction or another.  Both find evidence of John's linguistic style in John 8:6 of the passage: τουτο δε ελεγον πειραζοντες ('this they said tempting him').  Similar phrases are found in: John 6:6, 7:39, 11:51, 12:6, 33, and 21:19.  Hodges and Farstad mention other keys also, but  Clark is happy not to insist too strongly on those evidences: 
"the [presence of] favorite introductory phrases is far from proving that someone else could not have used it occasionally.  The most that can be concluded is that the phrase does not destroy authenticity. 
The authors add three other, less striking items.  At least the second is less striking:  It is the argument that the passage fits nicely in its place.  This can hardly be contested, though their evidences are slightly too many [i.e., overstated].   
But if the authors have not demonstrated authenticity, their argument is quite satisfactory in undermining any counter claim.  There is also a third argument, a very complex genealogical argument, too difficult to reproduce here.  The data are important, but the whole requires further investigation." (p. 39-40). 

Given G. H. Clark's state of knowledge in 1990, his position is a most reasonable compromise, worthy of and similar to  F.H.A. Scrivener's position in the 1880s. 

We now know that there is substantive additional structural evidence for the authenticity of the passage, far stronger, and more reliable than mere linguistic or stylistic evidence.  We recommend reviewing this additional material below:

1997M. SchneiderMORE internal evidence
1998R. A. CulpepperNEW internal evidence!
1999J. StaleyChiasm, Unity of ch 7-8 new!

2000J. M. C. ScottMORE internal evidence
2007A. W. WilsonMORE internal evidence

Nor should one miss the following new findings:

Moses and John 8:1-11 - Thematic Structure discovered!
O.T. Quotation Structure in John - powerful new evidence
CHIASTIC Structure (2008) & Jn 8:1-11 - new evidence!
Mount of Olives CHIASM - English Version!
Mount of Olives CHIASM - Greek Unicode 

 All in all, Gordon H. Clark's position on the PA has indeed held up over time, in an era of many new discoveries and advances in the study of the Holy Scriptures.

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