Monday, April 25, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 4)

Lets turn to Hubner's attack on E. F. Hills now.

Granted that Hills' article is out of date (1984), and Riddle should perhaps have appealed to more recent work, the question raised is whether Hills' defense of the PA is reliable and sound or not, in the first place.   Hubner spends a page and a half blasting Hills, so it is important to examine his claims point by point:

Hubner's Case against Hills:

1.  "The references to Augustine, Ambrose, etc. are virtually irrelevant, as it does nothing to over-turn all of the evidence summarized above. It does little to the external evidence of manuscripts since the vast majority of early Greek manuscripts listed above were written prior to the Christians that Hills cites. Furthermore, this says nothing about the dozens of other Christians who quoted and preached from John and show no evidence that the pericope is even there."

Are Augustine, Ambrose etc. "virtually irrelevant"?   According to Hubner, this is because 'the vast majority of early Greek MSS" cited by Metzger were written prior to these writers.  Lets test the theory:  We have at least five EWCs who lived before 400 A.D., all commenting on the state of the text before this time (Didymus, Pacian, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine): 
350 A.D. Ambrosiaster- a solid quotation
360 A.D. Didymus- quotes PA as scripture
370 A.D. Pacian- Supports Jerome
384 A.D. Jerome - on John 8:1-11
388 A.D. Ambrose- quotes Jn 8:1-11
350-400 A.D.Epiphanius  - Euseb. Canon has PA!
380-400 A.D. Faustus on PA- quoted by Augustine
400 A.D. Augustine- Supports PA and TR

So we have a solid witness, in fact a consensus on the existance and placement of the PA in John for the 50 years between 350 and 400. 

But this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding patristic evidence.  There is far more evidence available than either Dean Burgon or E.F. Hills ever suspected:

Patristic Evidence for the PA click here.

Now look at Metzger's list:
Early Papyri and Uncials:
P66 (c. 200-250 A.D.)
P75 (c. 250-300 A.D.)
א  (c. 350-400 A.D. )
(c. 350 A.D. )

Other Later Uncials (5th - 10th century) : ... L (8th), N (5th),  T (5th),  W (5th),  X (10th c. commentary!), Y Δ Θ Ψ 0141 0211 
Minuscules  (9th-15th century): 22 33 124 157 209 788 828 1230 1241 1242 1253 2193 al.  Codices A and C are defective."

First, Hubner's language is deliberately deceptive: "vast majority of early  MSS..." ?!?  What is he talking about?  Lets talk clearly about either the majority, or the early MSS in the list, but not both, please.   The 'vast majority of MSS' in the list are LATE, not early.   The 'early MSS' are not a vast majority, but a tiny minority.
To give Hubner a break, we've included P75 in the list (Metzger may have left it out on purpose, given the suspicious nature of this copy and its relation to B). 
Only two papyri are earlier than the list of Early Christian Writers.  
Even א and B are merely contemporary survivors from the period between 350 - 400 A.D.   This was a period when there were literally thousands of copies of the NT made all over the Empire, and two surviving copies are simply not an adequate sample for determining the state of the text in this period.  We have to turn to the contemporary writers in this period to get any real information about it.
The rest of the copies, by Hubner's own reasoning, are 'virtually irrelevant' to the text in the 4th century, and in any case are completely outnumbered by other late copies that include the PA in its normal place.

'Silence' of Early Fathers?

Regarding the fact that no clear evidence survives of other writers quoting the PA, simple logic dictates the reasons why:
(1) We don't know what other writers said or wrote about the PA.  Only a handful of samples of even the most popular writers survive.   We simply can't expect to find Patristic evidence for every line or passage of the NT.  Its unreasonable. 
(2)  Writers often had no occasion to quote the PA.  In making the great Church Commentaries, they could only comment on parts of Scripture publicly read in the service.  Whole books are neglected, such as Revelation.
(3)   Some writers avoided quoting the PA.  In heated debates, its natural that writers would skip over scriptures that don't help their case.  Thus Tertullian for instance, seems to sidestep the PA in his dispute with a Roman bishop. 
All these factors lead us naturally to expect a lack of evidence regarding the PA from at least some quarters.  Its unreasonable to claim any special weight for the apparent 'silence' of some writers.  Such special pleading is worthless.

When we actually turn to the four earliest manuscripts omitting the PA, we find that contrary to the impression given by modern critics, these manuscripts seem to be well aware of the existence of the passage:

 (to be continued...)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Metzger on the PA...again.

For a while we were treated to somewhat of a vacation from the usual amateurish and frivolous Metzger quotes whenever the subject of the Pericope de Adultera (Jn 7:53-8:11) arose.    Most seemed to have taken the hint that textual criticism, and criticism of the PA in particular, was a dangerous reef sporting many a shipwreck.

But the recent attempt to resurrect Metzger's luring siren song by Hubner has forced us once again to deal another blow to this crumbling dinosaur.

We have already given ample examination to the details of Metzger's claims elsewhere, and James Snapp Jr.'s recent review of textual evidence in all categories may be reasonably called exhaustive.

What is left to say about Metzger's work?  Only this:

Here Comes the Judge:

(1)  The whole approach Metzger uses ought to have been abandoned by serious textual critics by the 1850s.   That was when people had no scientific method, and didn't know any better.    In fact, as Samuel Davidson (1848) demonstrates, the method of the day was apologetic in tone, not neutral by any stretch of the imagination.  The model in use was the 'judge, seated to hear evidence'.  

Manuscripts were trotted out as if they were witnesses, each with some important statement to make about this or that passage.  They were lined up carefully in a black-and-white fashion, and allowed to vote 'yay' or 'nay' regarding some proposition about the authenticity or authorship of a passage or its wording.

Today such song and dance performances should be laughable.  This is just not how science is done, or has been done, since 1906 and the publication of Special Relativity.  There are no faces to be saved that aren't long dead.  No reputations to protect (the whole concept has been reduced to peer-fawning).   There are no concerned agendas regarding Calvinism, Nomism, or Catholicism to desperately defend.  The only dogma of interest to religion is Providential Preservation, and this has been wholly abandoned by secular academia.  The only dogma of interest to secular academia is historical-criticism, and this is scoffed at by those of faith.

In short, the time is ripe for honest and scientific review of textual and historical evidence, not parades of the supermodel fashion-show type.

Here are the real facts:

Manuscripts don't testify regarding authenticity.  They don't vote, they don't have expert opinions, and in fact, they are inanimate objects.

What they can do, is tell us the earliest outside time-spot that a given reading must have been in circulation, or what amounts to the same thing, its latest cutoff point.  They can sometimes tell us who made use of a certain passage.  They can suggest a reading's status in a given era or place.  They can provide hints about possible controversies arising from variants. They can instruct us about church practices surrounding a passage.

After that, we are on our own.

The question of authenticity must be solved on other more important grounds, such as apparent knowledge revealed in the containing document about the existance of the passage. 

The question of authorship must be solved based on a combination of historical information and literary analysis of content, grammatical and historical knowledge found in both author and passage.

Manuscripts don't speak of authenticity or authorship; they speak of controversy and tampering, debate and policy, local historical understanding and practice.

In fact, manuscripts can't tell us directly about original documents at all.  They can only tell us about their subsequent treatment in a history of copying and usage.  All manuscripts and post-publication evidence is just that:  Evidence about what happened AFTER the publication of a document, and its release into the public domain. 

That is why Metzger's little parade of witnesses "for" and "against" "non-Johannine origin" is such a farce. 

His terse note that Papyri P66/P75,  Codices Aleph and B leave it out, without mentioning their condition or age.

His note that A and C must have omitted it, without any explanation for the mutilation of these manuscripts.

His guesses about what unknown copyists must have meant when putting an asterisk in the margin beside it in a few late copies.

His cleverly worded remark that "no Greek father" before the 12th century comments on the PA, skipping quickly over a dozen Greek-speaking Latin fathers who do comment on it.  (and the sad failure to correct this by his final editor Ehrman, the very scholar who wrote a book on Didymus the Blind - a 4th century Greek father who does comment on it..).

His deliberate omission of the late dates of all the manuscripts that displace the passage (they are all post 9th century documents).

His sluffing off of the real controversy around the fact that the three beginning verses are included in the omission (Jn 7:53-8:2, connecting narrative and context).

His bald assumption concerning the "earlier and better" manuscripts.

His failure to mention that the other editor on the UBS committee was an apparently nonconformist Roman Catholic Cardinal.

These are things that make Metzger's summary of the "evidence" laughable as a scientific document.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

James Snapp Jr. on textual evidence for the PA

Syriac PA...

Yesterday James posted quite a lengthy examination of the textual evidence in regard to the PA.   I reproduce it here for those who may not have ready access to the TC-Alt Yahoo Group:

------------------------------------ QUOTE ---

"I am not a PA-defender. I am still waiting for the PA-specialists to publish
something definitive on the subject. ...

"Meanwhile, as I said, I'm not a PA-defender, but I do like accuracy, and Jamin
Hubner's writings on this subject are not accurate. He is not writing as a
textual critic; he's writing as an apologist, and he leans heavily on Metzger.
Although I've been pretty busy, I felt motivated to respond vigorously to some
of Hubner's questionable claims, and to express some additional thoughts about
the PA.

Apparently Hubner does not allow comments at his blog, so I hesitate to disturb
his pleasant, comfortable world. But, he might have good reasons for that.
Anyway, here are some things I noticed in his blog-entry called "Case Studies in
King James Onlyism: The Woman Caught in Adultery Was In the Original?" --

Hubner correctly notes Riddle's note that the NKJV has a footnote stating that
the PA is "present in over 900 manuscripts." Has Wieland Willker been writing
to the wind? In his textual commentary on the Gospels, Willker includes a note
from Maurice Robinson that includes an up-to-date count of pertinent
manuscripts: "The number of MSS + lectionaries that contain the PA is at least
1350+43+470 = 1863 total MSS (there are somewhat more than 280 continuous-text
MSS that do not include the PA (excluding lectionaries, where the PA only
appears sporadically, when certain specified saints happen to be honored
therein)." So let there be an end to the "over 900 MSS" statement; we should
refer instead to "at least 1,393" (1350+43) MSS that include the PA, versus
"somewhat more than 280" MSS that do not contain it, not counting lectionaries.

Hubner stated, "Riddle's basic argument for the inclusion of the pericope is (1)
over 900 manuscripts contain it, (2) some 5th century Christians include it, and
a few earlier sources."
Whatever led him to the conclusion that the defense of the PA comes down to
these two points, the evidence is not really so simple. First, as I just said,
the PA is in at least 1,393 continuous-text MSS, and is absent from somewhat
more than 280; using round figures (1,400 with, 300 without), it looks like
inclusion of the PA is supported by 82% of the extant Greek MSS, and opposed by
18%. That's not close. Now, authenticity is not decided by democratic
election. I just bring up the numbers to improve the accuracy of the count, and
because I have noticed that some of the very same people who reject the PA have
been quick to enlist a numerical majority when it supports their own favored

Second, if some Christians in the 400's included the PA in their text of John,
and "a few earlier sources" also do so, how does that stack up against the MSS
which Hubner refers to as "the earliest texts of the New Testament," namely P66,
Aleph, B L N T W X Y Delta, Theta, and Psi? Hubner's list consists of four MSS
(P66, Aleph, B, and W) from before the 400's. The others break down as follows:
L = 700's. N = 500's. T = 400's. X = 900's. Y = 800's. Delta = 800's.
Theta = 800's. Psi = 800's (or 900's). I'll add to this list A and C (both
from the 400's), which are damaged but do not have enough space on the missing
pages to include the PA.
Instantly granting that the Alexandrian Text lacks the PA, we set P66, Aleph, B,
C, L, Delta, and Psi on the scales as its representatives.

But then we take L and Delta off the scales, because they both have features
which clearly attest to their copyists' awareness of the PA; though they cannot
attest to variants within the PA, they are two-voiced on the question of its

So, if we consider just the Greek evidence initially cited by Hubner, it's the
Alexandrian Text, + A, N, T, W, X, Y, and Theta against the PA. Waitaminute --
the testimony of W should be qualified; it has a blank page (blank on both
sides) between John and Luke; Willker notes, "It is possible that this indicates
knowledge of the PA." Okay; now we're ready to compare -- waitaminute again.
We might have to adjust the testimony of B, because it has an umlaut (distigme)
at the end of John; Willker states that it is "roughly in the middle of the free
space beneath the colophon. It is not clear what this means. It is in
principle possible that this indicates the PA, too." Indeed, figuring that B's
umlauts indicate the presence of a textual variant, the only textual variant
that occurs in the space after John is the inclusion of the PA in family-1 MSS.
(This could be nothing but a trace of a late medieval critic putting dots in B
where it disagrees with whatever other (Latin?) exemplar he possessed. But
until a case is made one way or the other it bears considering.)

Okay then: the crystal-clear, unequivocal Greek witnesses for non-inclusion of
the PA, before the 500's, are: P66. P75. B (at least, B's main exemplar).
Aleph. T. W. (I'll even toss in A and C.) That's it?? Eight Greek
manuscripts? And seven of the eight are either directly from Egypt (P66 and T)
or are leading representatives of the Alexandrian Text (Aleph and B and, to a
lesser extent, C) or both (P75 and W (in this part of John))?? We could just as
easily say that as far as Greek manuscripts before the 500's are concerned, the
manuscript-evidence for non-inclusion of the PA consists of representatives of
the Alexandrian Text plus Codex A (which is non-extant here in John;
non-inclusion of the PA in A is discerned via space-calculations; Metzger states
that non-inclusion of the PA in A is "highly probable" but Willker considers it
certain. I'm with Wieland on this one).

Eight manuscripts, seven of which represent one locale. Meanwhile, Ambrose, c.
375, made a clear reference to the pericope, from his Latin text. And where was
his Latin text from? Some earlier source. Pacian, c. 380, also referred to the
pericope. The Apostolic Constitutions also refer to the pericope. Jerome,
writing before 417, stated that he found the PA in "many codices, both Greek and
Latin." And, destroying Metzger's claim that "No Greek Church father prior to
Euthymius Zigabenus" comments on the pericope, Didymus the Blind mentions the
events in the pericope, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes (extant in the Tura
Papyrus, discovered in 1941 but not known to Metzger, apparently, when he wrote
his Textual Commentary. Regarding the Tura Papyrus see ). Ehrman, as I recall, has attempted to
excuse Didymus' statement that he found the pericope "in some Gospels" by
pointing out that this allows the possibility that Didymus might have been
referring to some Gospel-text other than the Gospel of John, but neither he nor
anyone else has explained why Didymus' statement should not be understood to
naturally mean that he was referring to codices containing the four canonical
Gospels. For wouldn't Didymus have been more specific if he had had some other
Gospel-text in mind?

And then there's Augustine, who treated the PA as an integral part of John, and
who surmised that some enemies of the true faith excised the PA because they
were afraid that their wives would use it as an excuse for, or defense of,
infidelity. Augustine also reported, according to Hort, that some pagans
ridiculed Christ's writing on the ground. Now, figuring that Augustine was
being honest, and that he hadn't shared his copies with those sacrilegious
pagans, their copy or copies of John should also be in the equation somewhere.
So should the reference from Augustine's correspondent Faustus, a Manichean.

Ambrosiaster, too, briefly chimes in about the PA.

About 100 years after Augustine, according to the Syriac translation of
Zacharias Rhetor's Ecclesiastical History (which is not the work of Zacharias at
this point; see Willker's commentary for details), Mara of Amid (519-527)
possessed a Greek copy of the Gospels that included the PA, probably added at
the end of the Gospel of John with a note that it belonged in Section 89, (which
is a mistake; Section 86 would be correct).

Now let's see here: what are the patristic witnesses for the PA before the
500's? Ambrose + Pacian + Apostolic Constitutions + Didymus' Gospels-text +
Jerome's "many codices, both Greek and Latin" + Ambrosiaster + Augustine +
Faustus + Augustine's pagans, and, figuring that Mara's Greek copy did not come
into existence ex nihilo, one other witness. Even if we were to make the silly
assumption that Jerome's "many codices" should be counted as a single witness,
this would still be ten witnesses. And consider the geographical variety
involved: Ambrose is in Milan. Pacian is in Barcelona. Augustine is in North
Africa. Didymus is in northern Egypt. Jerome is, well, all over the place.
Mara had his Greek copy when he was in exile in Alexandria.

And we're not quite done. In Codex Lambda (800's), the PA is obelized and there
EN DE TOIS ARCAIOIS OLA KEITAI (followed by a reference to the use of the PA in
Apostolic Constitutions). -- The obelized section is not in some copies, or in
Apollinaris'. In the old ones, it is all there. -- The same note appears in MS
262. [Apollinaris = Apollinaris of Laodicea, d. 390, who is said in a scholium
to have made a text-critical comment at Mt. 6:1. Probably.] Codex Lambda also
has the Jerusalem Colophon ("copied and corrected based on the ancient exemplars
from Jerusalem preserved on the holy mountain," or words to that effect) after
all four Gospels. (Other confirmatory margin-notes appealing to older MSS to
vindicate the inclusion of the PA are in MSS 135, 301, and 34.)
Then there's 565 (from the 800's or 900's). NA-27 says that 565 omits the PA,
but that is not entirely true. 565 has the PA after John, but the page is in a
very deteriorated and unreadable condition. Willker does not mention the note
that F. C. Burkitt said (in the first note in "Two Lectures") was in 565 (read,
perhaps, when the MS was not in such bad shape as it is now): TO PERI THS
Burkitt comments: "In other words, the Pericope stood in the usual place in the
MS from which 2-pe [ = Tischendorf's siglum for 565] was copied, but the scribe
left it out for what we may call critical reasons." We should recollect that
565 also has the Jerusalem Colophon. We should also recollect that that the
text of John in 565 is Caesarean; it's in sync with the text of f-1. So
although 565 attests to the presence of the PA after Jn. 21, this note makes it
clear that 565's exemplar had the PA in the normal place.

And let's not forget the Old Latin evidence: there's the Latin text in Codex
Bezae, which Parker assigns to c. 400. Another piece of evidence in Codex D is
its variant in Acts 5:18, which seems to be based on John 7:53 -- EPOREUQH EIS
EKASTOS EIS TA IDIA. Now, Codex D is from the 400's or 500's, but the Western
Text to which it attests is considerably earlier, so this is no trivial piece of
evidence -- but it would carry more force if there were another witness with
this reading in Acts 5:18. Oh wait -- we *do* have another witness for it:
none other than G67!

And there's e (Palatinus), from the 400's. Willker lists seven Old Latin
copies, which appear to echo three or four earlier strata, each echoing a
pre-Vulgate text.

But Metzger notes that the PA is absent from Old Latin a (Vercellensis, c. 370),
l*, and q. It's also absent from the Sinaitic Syriac, the Curetonian Syriac,
and "the best manuscripts of " the Peshitta. The Armenian text which was the
base-text for the Old Georgian version did not include the PA. On the other
hand, another form of the Armenian text does include the PA, and (as one might
expect in a Caesarean text-witness) some Armenian copies have the PA at the end
of John; see the footnote in Metzger that begins "According to a note in
Zohrab's edition" for details. Matenadaran 2374 includes the PA but in a very
unusual form, which Burkitt presents in English in "Two Lectures." (Matenadaran
2374 is an especially important Armenian MS, for various reasons.)

Metzger did not mention Old Latin b. Could that be because Old Latin b
(Veronensis, from the 400's) has been mangled so as to be bereft of the whole
page where the PA had been before (from 7:44 onward)? Just as
space-considerations preclude the presence of the PA in Codex A,
space-considerations insist on the inclusion of the PA in OL Veronensis. The
thing to see is that it looks like somebody deliberately detached the PA from
this copy, ruthlessly rendering it useless at this point -- which is just the
sort of thing that Augustine said was being done to the pericope. I wonder why
Metzger didn't mention the testimony borne by Old Latin b.

By the time we finish considering the external evidence outside Egypt, things
are not nearly as overwhelming as Hubner's parroting of Metzger makes it appear.

We now turn to the rest of Metzger's comments that were repeated by Hubner:
"Most copyists apparently thought that it would interrupt John's narrative least
if it were inserted after 7:52." How did Metzger know what the copyists of
roughly 1,400 manuscripts were thinking? There is no evidence that most
copyists of John who included the PA did anything but attempt to mechanically
reproduce the contents of their exemplars. MS 225 (in which the PA comes after
7:26) shows that the PA was grafted into that particular MS at the wrong place
(Hort suggests that this was an accidental error; 7:53-8:11 is transposed with
7:37-52), but it does not set a precedent. Ditto for the smattering of Old
Georgian copies Metzger mentions -- which, as far as I can tell, is just one
copy. (If the Alexandrian Text had not supported non-inclusion of the PA, these
items would not be given a second thought.) As for family-13, the group of MSS
in which the PA appears in Luke, after Lk. 21:38, this placement is nothing,
more or less, except an adaptation to the lectionary-order of readings.

Having adopted Metzger's recipe, Hubner proceeded to add plenty of yeast: "When
it does appear in later manuscripts" -- as if this is rare, instead of the
reading of 80% of the MSS -- "it is inserted in different places (e.g., after
Luke 21:38, 24:53, John 7:36, 52, and end of John)." (The reference to an
appearance after Lk. 24:53 must refer to MS 1333, which Maurice Robinson
describes in a note that is included in Willker's commentary.) Some perspective
is in order: the copies that have the PA after Lk. 21:38 (= f13), or after Lk.
24:53, or after John 7:36 are a smattering; they occupy a thin borderline, so to
speak, between inclusion and non-inclusion of the PA. As for the copies that
have the PA after the end of John, well, we are always being told to weigh MSS,
so let's weigh this batch: their weight boils down to their shared ancestor-MS,
from the 400's. Important? Certainly, especially since it agrees with part of
the Armenian evidence, testifying to the Caesarean Gospels-text. But the
misplacement of the PA does not settle the question, it only frames it.

Hubner stated that the PA "is usually marked off by obeli or asterisks to let
people know it probably wasn't in the original" but that is false. He also
stated that "It is recognized as Scripture by almost no early church father,"
but this is essentially an argument from silence.

Hubner proceeds: "The references to Augustine, Ambrose, etc. are virtually
irrelevant, as it does nothing to over-turn all of the evidence summarized
above." This is wishful thinking on Hubner's part. The patristic quotations
from Augustine and Ambrose (and the others I have mentioned) reflect the
contents of their manuscripts, and cannot be realistically dismissed so
cavalierly. This is, perhaps, a teaching moment: when patristic writers are
silent, their silence is interpreted as support. But when patristic writers
gush with support, their testimony is "virtually irrelevant." Jerome, virtually
irrelevant! What a sense of humor.

He continues: "It does little to the external evidence of manuscripts since the
vast majority of early Greek manuscripts listed above were written prior to the
Christians that Hills cites." The reader who takes the time to review the
production-dates of the manuscripts listed by Hubner will see that the rate is
about even among the 12 MSS that he listed; that is, P66, Aleph, B, T, and W are
earlier than, or contemporary with, the patristic testimony from Ambrose,
Augustine, Jerome, etc., while L, N, X, Y, Delta, Theta, and Psi are later.
Five out of twelve? A vast majority, you say? Even if one donates P75, A,
and C to the list, there's still no /vast/ majority.

The juggernaut keeps on rolling as Hubner engages Edward Hills' presentation of
evidence. I will address just a few points, though, in the interest of brevity:

What about Codex Bezae? Oh, that thing was written in 400-450 and is therefore
dismissed like the patristic evidence, of course! It's a manuscript "of
secondary importance." As if all the contents of D sprang up no earlier than
the MS.

What about Apostolic Constitutions? Hey, that's from 375-380 -- a whole 25
years later than the estimated production-date for Codex Sinaiticus. So that's
just trivial! It was produced "after the vital manuscript evidence." We have
reached another teaching moment: the "vital manuscript evidence" is not f-1 or
f-13 or anything other than P66, P75, Aleph, and B. (All the other Greek
manuscripts for non-inclusion, except T, which is clearly from Egypt, is later
than 380.) There you have it, folks: in Hubner's world, the "vital manuscript
evidence" is all Alexandrian.

Hubner rejects Hills' idea that the silence of Origen, Chrysostom, and Nonnus
does not necessarily imply that they were not aware of the PA. Hills proposed
that "they may have been influenced against it by the moralistic prejudice of
which we have spoken and also by the fact that some of the manuscripts known to
them omitted it." Hubner regards this as largely conjectural, which it is, but
it is not an unreasonable idea, considering how controversial the
What-To-Do-With-Those-Who-Commit-Adultery question was in the early church.
It's not a strong enough mechanism to elicit the excision of the passage from
the text, but it could elicit the non-inclusion of the passage in public
reading, and that could cause it to be avoided in homilies (thus explaining a
lot of the "stunning" patristic silence), and even to be obelized (and that, in
turn, could cause it to be excised). I think there's more to it. But Hills
should not be taken to task for offering suggestions and theories; this is
something that Metzger does on page after page (when he reads the copyists'
thoughts, for example).

Hubner states that we have "Lots of texts of Scripture in both manuscripts and
church father references that go from John 7:52 to 8:12. Is that not true? No
"omission" exists unless we presuppose it." If the evidence is against the
pericope, then what occurred is an "insertion." Hills says there is no motive
for this insertion." Of course it is true that 18% of the Greek manuscripts of
John do not have the PA between John 7:52 and 8:12. This is not the question.
All that Hubner is doing at this point is, in essence, saying that if Hills is
wrong, then Hills is wrong. That is certainly true, but it does not build a
case. Hills' point that there is no motive for this insertion is a strong one.
It is not hard to see why strict-minded moralists would not be fans of this
pericope; the motive for avoidance is easy to see. Where is the motive for
inclusion? There were lots of sayings and anecdotes floating around in the
early church; some of them slip into the NT text here and there, but they are
quirks, whereas the PA is in 1,300 Greek MSS, not to mention its Old Latin and
Vulgate support. Why would this controversial story receive such special
treatment, so as to be grafted into the Gospel of John?

As he wraps up, Hubner offers a theory: "My conjecture is that the popular
version was first inserted by the scribe of Codex Bezae � not only because this
is the earliest extant manuscript to include the story but also becase the
Bezaean editor had a proclivity for enlarging the text." It's not clear if
Hubner is citing himself or someone else. But a comparison of the PA's text in
Codex D to the PA's text in Byzantine MSS should quickly relieve everyone of the
notion that the Byzantine form of the PA was derived from the Bezan form. Next
comes a paragraph bolstering the idea that Codex Bezae was the first MS to
include the PA in the text of John. I won't address this idea simply because I
think Hubner is able to think his way out of it without my help.

Now you might be wondering what I think of the PA. I consciously avoid reaching
a firm decision, waiting for the experts who have been researching it to deliver
a decisive case. But I have developed a theory which would explain why, if the
passage is original, it was excised. Leaving the critique of Hubner's
blog-entry, here's the theory, expressed as a narrative, with supportive
citations given along the way:

The final form of the Gospel of John was not written down by the apostle John.
In Ephesus in the late first century, there were two individuals names John:
John the apostle, son of Zebedee, and his prot�g�/assistant who was also named
John. It was this second individual who assembled the Gospel of John, using
source-materials provided by his mentor -- some written sources, and some
memorized recollections. Meanwhile, nearby in Hierapolis, Papias (a man
described by Irenaeus as a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp) was
ministering and writing, and in his writings he included one of John the
Apostle's many anecdotes which he had heard. Eusebius mentions this in Eccl.
Hist. III:39 -- "He also notes another story about a woman, who has been accused
of many sins before the Lord, which the Gospel according to the Hebrews

Now, if you'd like a refreshing review of the available citations about Papias,
consult . There you will find the
following extract from the Arabic writings of Agapius of Hierapolis (who lived
in the 900's -- in Hierapolis-in-Syria, not the Hierapolis in Asia Minor): "At
this time there lived in Heirapolis a prominent teacher and author of many
treatises; he wrote five treatises about the gospel. In one of these treatises,
which he wrote concerning the gospel of John, he relates that in the book of
John the evangelist there is a report about a woman who was an adulteress. When
the people led her before Christ our Lord, he spoke to the Jews who had brought
her to him: whoever among you is himself certain that he is innocent of that of
which she is accused, let him now bear witness against her. After he had said
this, they gave him no answer and went away." (This is from Holmes'

A statement by Vardan Vardapet is also presented: "That story of the
adulterous woman, which the other Christians have written in their gospel, was
written by a certain Papias, a disciple of John, who was declared and condemned
as a heretic. Eusebius said this." The heresy in question is chiliasm, the
belief in a future earthly kingdom which shall be ruled by Christ for a thousand
years. Of course this was not considered heresy in the early church; Vardan
Vardapet here has projected upon Eusebius' description of Papias his own (i.e.,
Vardan's) opinion of chiliasm.

Papias' five books are not extant today except in disjointed fragments, but they
seem to have been available to Eusebius in the early 300's, to Apollinarius of
Laodicea in the late 300's, and even to Maximus the Confessor in the 600's.
Thus, Papias' five books, while not exactly commonplace, were extant somewhere
or another all that time. And in one of those five books was the anecdote that
Eusebius mentions, "A report about a woman who was an adulteress." When we
align Eusebius' statement with Agapius' statement that one of Papias' five books
was about the Gospel of John, it seems safe to deduce that Papias' report about
a woman who was an adulteress was in that book.

Now advocates of the authenticity of the PA might be celebrating, thinking, "If
the PA was in Papias' book on the Gospel of John, then we have a witness for the
text of John with the PA in it -- and this witness, Papias, was a contemporary
of the author (or co-author) of the Gospel of John! We have here a witness that
outweighs everything else that is to the contrary!" But before you light the
fireworks, remember that Agapius is a tenth-century source (see ), and his claim
that one of Papias' books was about the Gospel of John might be merely a
surmise, based on Eusebius' statement that Papias had reported a story about an
adulteress; figuring that Agapius used a text of John that included the PA, he
may have taken the small step of deducing that Papias must have been writing
about the Gospel of John when he wrote about the story of the adulteress.

Why shouldn't we picture one of Papias' five books as a commentary on Jesus'
statements in the Gospel of John? Because, in the extract from Papias provided
by Eusebius, Papias expressly states his preference for oral statements over
books: "I inquired about the words of the elders, what Andrew or what Peter had
said, or what had been said by Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or
Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord, [and] the things which both
Aristion and the elder John, disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I did not
suppose that things from books would profit me as much as things from a living
and remaining voice."

Such a statement would seem rather out of place in a book about another book.
But it would be right at home in a book about sayings of Jesus which Papias had
collected over the course of his inquiries about what Jesus' companions
(including John) had said that Jesus had said. The focus of Papias' five books
was, as their title implies, the sayings of the Lord, but those sayings were
frequently framed or prefaced by short narratives; there is no need to picture
the collection as a list of raw proverbs and axioms. And one of those short
narratives was an anecdote about Jesus' encounter with a woman accused of
adultery, framing Jesus' instructions to the woman's accusers. This anecdote
was not from the Gospel of John, but had come directly from one of the oral
sources that Papias listed, possibly John the son of Zebedee or John of Ephesus.

Papias' anecdote, while recognizably reporting the same incident that was
reported in the Gospel of John, was very different verbally. But it was
sufficiently similar that when someone with ecclesiastical influence in the
second century encountered Papias' Five Books, and then read the Gospel of John,
this person said to himself, "This section is from Papias!" And, determined to
preserve only the text from the author, without any unauthorized additions, this
person proceeded to excise the passage in his copy of the Gospel of John, and
exerted whatever influence he had so as to assure that future copies of the
Gospel of John would not contain what he considered to be an intrusion from
Papias' Five Books.

And thus the PA was removed from the Gospel of John, sometime in the 100's. The
misunderstanding that the PA was from Papias (instead of being another report of
the same event) was considered sufficient grounds to obelize or excise the
passage, sometimes beginning at 7:53, and sometimes beginning at 8:3 or
thereabouts. This had a widespread impact on the text of the Gospel of John in
Egypt and in Syria. What Augustine assumed to be the work of people concerned
about how their wives might misinterpret the passage was actually the work of
meticulous second-century scribes who had unfortunately misidentified the PA in
the Gospel of John as an intrusion of a similar passage in the works of Papias.

Later on, things got complicated. The influence of Papias' anecdote sometimes
worked in the opposite direction. Somewhere in the east, an influential reader
looked into this textual question and concluded that the PA belonged in the text
of John -- but none of his copies of John contained it. But he had access to
Papias' five books, and so, thinking that Papias' anecdote and John's pericope
were one and the same, he extracted the anecdote from Papias' text, and placed
it in his text of the Gospel of John. Thus we ended up with texts such as what
is found in the Armenian Matenadaran MS 2374 (an English representation of which
can be read in the first appendix-note of Burkitt's "Two Lectures").

And here we must revisit the evidence from Mara of Achid. John Gwynn (in
Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. 27) mentions that in one of the
earliest copies of the Peshitta (Add. MS 14470, from the 400's or 500's), there
is a note, "written in a ninth-century hand on a leaf prefixed" to the rest,
which states, "Yet another chapter from the Gospel of John son of Zebedee. This
SUNTAXIS is not found in all copies, but the Abbat Mar Paul found it in one of
the Alexandrian copies, and translated it from Greek into Syriac, according as
it is here written; from the Gospel of John, canon tenth, number of sections
96,* according to the translation of Thomas the Harklensian." (The * refers to
a footnote: "* A mistake for 86. The number of sections in the Harklensian St.
John is the same as in the Greek, 232." Gwynn adds citation-references.)

Let's read the rest of what Gwynn had to say about this: "It then starts from
vii. 50 ("Nicodemus saith unto them . . . ."), giving it and the two following
verses as in the Harklensian text, then proceeds with the disputed passage,
beginning vii. 53, and ends with viii. 12, modified as in our MS. [By this he
means that the Syriac text of 8:12 is different from what normally appears in
the Peshitta; it reads the equivalent of "When therefore they were assembled
together, Jesus spoke, saying, 'I am the light of the world,' etc.] A note
nearly the same, but abridged, is found in a Paris MS. (XXII, Catal. Bibl. Reg.)
of the Harklesian Gospels, dated A. Gr. 1503 (i.e., A. D. 1192, not 1202, as
Adler wrongly states), which also contains the Pericope; appended to, but not
inserted in, St. John's Gospel. This copy (b) begins with vii. 53, and ends
with viii. 11, to which it subjoins the note. Adler has printed the whole,
Verss. Syrr., p. 57. In the third copy (c) the Pericope takes its place in the
text of the Gospel: this is another Harklensian MS., known as Cod. Barsalibaei,
now in the Library of New College, Oxford (No. 334), from which White has
printed the Pericope as an appendix to his edition of the Harklensian Gospels
(p. 559). In this MS., viii. 12 is given in its altered form. A marginal note
states that "this SUNTUCION is not found in all copies"; when the Greek word,
evidently a blunder for SUNTAXIS, points to a common origin with the notes in
the two MSS. last mentioned. Thus in these three MSS. the Pericope appears
associated more or less directly with the Harklensian version."

(I note in passing that at the very least, this Syriac evidence echoes Greek
copies accessed in Alexandria by Thomas of Harkel when he produced the Harklean
Syriac in the early 600's --616, to be precise, using two or three Greek copies
in the Gospels, according to Syriac colophons.)

No doubt you noticed, when I read the Syriac note provided by Gwynn, stating
that the Abbat Mar Paul found the story of the adulteress in an Alexandrian
copy, that it bears a certain resemblance to Burkitt's description of Mara's
codex, as drawn from the text that incorporates Zacharias Rhetor's Church
History. Gwynn and Burkitt both point out errors in their sources' description
of the section-number; Burkitt's source refers to Section 86, and Burkitt points
out that this should be 89; whereas Gwynn's source refers to 96, and Gwynn says
that the correct number is 86 (the same number that Burkitt considered a

Let's take a moment to get acquainted with Mara of Amid. Mara must be the same
individual who is called Moro Bar Kustant in the reworked form of Zacharias
Rhetor's Church History, in which we find the following in Book Eight, at Roger
Pearse's Tertullian
website��and here
is the excerpt (about events after the death of Nonnus of Seleucia, who came
from Amida) to prove it:

"And in succession to him again, in the presence of three bishops, as the canons
require (namely, Nonnus of Martyropolis, Arathu (?) of Ingila, and Aaron of
Arsamosata, who were on the spot), they ordained Moro Bar Kustant, the governor,
who was steward of the Church, an abstemious man and righteous in his deeds,
chaste and believing. And he was fluent and practised in the Greek tongue,
having been educated in the monastery of St. Thomas the Apostle of Seleucia,
which in zealous faith had removed and had settled at Kenneshre on the river
Euphrates, and there had been rebuilt by John the Archimandrite, a learned man,
who was at that time an ex-pleader (?), a native of Edessa, the son of
Aphthonia. And this Moro had been trained up in all kinds of right instruction
and mental excellence from his boyhood by Sh'muni and Morutho, his grave,
chaste, and believing sisters.

"And after remaining a short time in his see he was banished [by Justin] to
Petra, and from Petra to Alexandria; and he stayed there for a time, and formed
a library there containing many admirable books; and in them there is abundance
of great profit for those who love instruction, the discerning and studious.
These were transferred to the treasury of the Church of Amida after the man's
death. And in every matter which I record, in order not to cause annoyance by
blaming one man or praising another, I have related whatever the truth of the
matter is without any falsehood. However, the man progressed more and more in
reading in Alexandria, and there he fell asleep. And his body was conveyed, by
his sisters, who were with him and ministered to him, comforting him in
affliction, as it is written, and laid in his own Martyrs' Chapel in the village
of Beth Shuro. And as a record of the eloquent expression of his love of
instruction I will set down at the end of this Book the prologue composed by him
in the Greek tongue and inserted in his Tetreuangelion."

It is at the end of Book 8 of the reworked text of Zacharias Rhetor's Church
History that we find the same material to which Burkitt (and, as Burkitt noted,
Dionysius Bar-Salibi) referred:

"Now there was inserted in the Gospel of the holy Moro the bishop, in the
eighty-ninth canon, a chapter which is related only by John in his Gospel, and
is not found in other manuscripts, a section running thus: "It happened one day,
while Jesus was teaching, they brought Him a woman who had been found to be with
child of adultery, and told Him about her. And Jesus said to them (since as God
He knew their shameful passions and also their deeds), `What does He command in
the law?' And they said to Him, `That at the mouth of two or three witnesses she
should be stoned.' But He answered and said to them, `In accordance with the
law, whoever is pure and free from these sinful passions, and can bear witness
with confidence and authority, as being under no blame in respect of this sin,
let him bear witness against her, and let him first throw a stone at her, and
then those that are after him, and she shall be stoned.' But they, because they
were subject to condemnation and blameworthy in respect of this sinful passion,
went out one by one from before Him and left the woman. And, when they had gone,
Jesus looked upon the ground and, writing in the dust there, said to the woman,
`They who brought thee here and wished to bear witness against thee, having
understood what I said to them, which thou hast heard, have left thee and
departed. Do thou also, therefore, go thy way, and commit not this sin again.'

We should notice that Zacharias Rhetor died around 550, and Gwynn states that
the manuscript (British Museum Syriac Add. 17202) that incorporates his Church
History is from the 600's, so the antiquity of the text seems securely

It seems possible that someone may have confused the Mara of Amid with Paul of
Tella, since both were scholarly fellows working in Alexandria. But nothing
precludes that idea that Mara found a Greek manuscript at Alexandria in the
early 500's that included a story about the adulteress, and that Paul of Tella,
working with Thomas of Harkel in the early 600's, also found the same story in a
manuscript there. Maybe Paul and Thomas knew of Mara's manuscript and somehow
obtained it, or a copy of it.

The thing to see is that the text of the pericope that is presented in Mara's
note, as preserved in the postscript to Book 8 of Zachariah Rhetor's Church
History in a Syriac MS from the 600's, is far different from the usual text of
the PA. As Gwynn says, "The original of this version must have differed
considerably from all existing Greek copies; keeping at first pretty close to
the Textus Receptus, but approximating especially towards the end to that of
Cod. Bezae (D), which is the oldest extant Greek of the passage."

Why this variation? Because, via the collision of copies (or recollections of
copies) in which Papias' anecdote had been inserted into the text of the Gospel
of John, and copies in which the PA itself appeared, variants from the anecdote
intruded into the text of the PA, and variants from the PA intruded into the
text of Papias' anecdote. We can't verify this regarding Papias' anecdote,
since his works are not extant in anything like an intact form, but in the text
of John, this mechanism accounts for the extreme variations in the form of the
PA that are observed in Mara's copy, and for some of the variations in the text
of D (which are listed by Willker), and for the variations in the Armenian codex
Matenadaran 2374. These variants are echoes of a competition between the PA as
it appeared in the Gospel of John, and a very similar anecdote that appeared in
one of Papias' Five Books -- a competition that began in the 100's. It never
had a strong effect on the Old Latin, though, perhaps because Papias' Five Books
were not translated into Latin and for that reason the PA never had a Latin
doppelganger. (There was, nevertheless, some effect, in a, l, and q.)

Matenadaran 2374 exhibits this phenomenon. In the 900's, Nikon accused
Armenians of "casting out the account which teaches us how the adulteress was
taken to Jesus," and, indeed, figuring that the Armenian Gospels-translation, by
450, was conformed to the Caesarean text (exemplified in f-1), how natural it is
to see the PA, in Armenian copies, placed at the end of John instead of within
the narrative (not, as Nikon thought, because the Armenian copyists thought it
was improper to read, but mainly because they were following their Caesarean
exemplars). But in Matenadaran 2374, something else happened: the PA was
inserted into the text of John -- not from the Caesarean text (as if a scribe
had merely moved the passage from the end of John, in his exemplar, to the place
after Jn. 7:52, in the copy he was making), but from a substantially different
text, namely, the text of Papias' Anecdote.

Matenadaran 2374 was produced in 989, but its exemplar was probably produced no
later than the 600's. It's a tenth-century MS with a seventh-century text. Its
copyist -- or /somebody/ -- was at least a little familiar with Papias' writings
(perhaps indirectly via Eusebius and/or Rufinus), considering the "Aristou
eritzou" note that preceeds Mk. 16:9 in this MS. I can't think of any other
source for Matenadaran 2374's version of the story of the adulteress other than
Papias' Five Books. Vardan said that this is the source.

To summarize the theory: with Papias' Anecdote in the equation, a mechanism
exists for the early excision of the PA in Greek texts that affected
transmission-streams in Egypt and Syria, as reflected by the Alexandrian Text,
the Proto-Byzantine Text, and the Peshitta. Greek copies of John containing the
PA continued to circulate in areas unaffected by the initial excision (as Jerome
explicitly declared), and these copies are echoed in about 80% of the extant
Greek MSS. When, at various times and places, copyists whose copies of John did
not have the PA decided to insert the PA, they sometimes took it from copies of
John, but on one occasion (in the case of Matenadaran 2374) a copyist inserted
Papias' Anecdote instead, and in other cases copyists used forms of the PA which
had been contaminated by variants that may be traced to Papias' Anecdote.

Now, I am not endorsing this theory today; I could take the same evidence and
assemble a case for the prosecution. But if you want a theory that defends the
PA as original and accounts for the strong external evidence against the PA, as
well as the high rate of textual variation within the text of the PA, there you
have it.

In other news: "Assorted Essays on New Testament Textual Criticism," a
collection of some materials that are in the Files here at TC-Alternate is now
available for the Kindle (in conveniently edited, slightly condensed, annotated

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

(P.S. -- about Euthymius Zigabenus: as one might suspect by now, Metzger did
not give the whole story. Here's Euthymius' comment, drawn from Donaldson's
thesis: "It is necessary to know that from there until 'Then, again, Jesus
spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world,"' among the accurate copies
is neither found nor obelized. Wherefore these words appear written alongside
the text and as an addition; and the proof of this is that Chrysostom does not
remember them at all. But nevertheless we must attempt to elucidate even these
things; for the section in these texts concerning the woman caught in adultery
is not without benefit." Does this reflect a thorough investigation on
Euthymius' part, or simply reliance upon an earlier scholium? I would say the

---------------------------------------- END QUOTE ---

Our very grateful thanks to James Snapp,
for the Herculean effort here at thoroughness
and clarity regarding the complex textual evidences.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 3)

 Hubner on Metzger

Before delving into Hubner's critique of E.F. Hills, we need to look at Hubner's handling of Metzger.   As noted previously, Metzger himself is a fraud, an ecumenicalist and liberal scholar who spearheaded the re-writing of the entire Old Testament (the RSV/NRSV), re-interpreting it from the Jewish perspective, and obscuring or destroying every major prophecy concerning Jesus.  This has been documented here:

Metzger & the NRSV   - - Click here.

We have analyzed Metzger's propaganda on the PA elsewhere in detail:

Metzger and the PA   - - Click here.

(1)  Hubner presents Metzger as 'gospel'.  What concerns us here is first of all the obvious double standard Hubner applies.  He presents Metzger without any critique or analysis at all, introducing as:  "These are the facts:" (!), while he submits E. F. Hills' counterpoint to a minutely detailed critique, thirteen long paragraphs.

This is effectively the same (politically correct) double standard that is applied to the court testimony of women today:

His version of the story:  "Thats just his version."
Her version of the story:  "Thats the gospel truth."

(2)  Hubner botches the Metzger quote,  leaving out not only his footnotes, but he fails to properly cite the manuscript evidence, dropping out identifiers and superscripts.  This is important, for it misleads the reader further in several places.  There is no excuse, because even if he can't cut and paste superscripts, the information can easily be provided other ways.  Here are the missing footnotes:

1. According to a note in Zohrab's edition of the Armenian version,

"Only five of the thirty manuscripts we used preserve here the addition [i. e. the pericope of the adulteress] found in Latin manuscripts. The remainder usually agree with our exemplar in placing it as a separate section at the end of the Gospel, as we have done. But in six of the older manuscripts the passage is completely omitted in both places"
(translated by Erroll E Rhodes, who comments as follows in a note to the present writer: "When the pericope is found in manuscripts after 7.52, it is frequently accompanied with an asterisk or other symbol").

2. The pericope is lacking in the Adysh ms. (a.d. 897), the Opiza ms. (a.d. 913), and the Tbet' ms. (a.d. 995).

3. Occasionally an attempt is made to support the Johannine authorship of the pericope by appealing to linguistic and literary considerations (e. g. J. P. Heil in Biblica, lxxii [1992], pp. 182-191); for a convincing rebuttal of such arguments, see D. B. Wallace in New Testament Studies, xxxix (1993), pp. 290-296.
For patristic evidence of other forms and interpretations of the pericope, see B. D. Ehrman, New Testament Studies, xxxiv (1988), pp. 24-44.

4. So Eberhard Nestle, who, however, identifies no specific manuscripts (Einfuhrung in das Griechische Neue Testament, 3te Aufl. [Gottingen, 1909], p. 157). According to information kindly provided by Dr. J. N. Birdsall, the pericope follows 7.44 in Sinai ms. georg. 16.
In the editio princeps of the Georgian Bible (Moscow, 1743), as well as the editions of the New Testament of 1816, 1818, 1878 (Gospels), and 1879, the pericope stands in its traditional place after 7.52.
 Footnote #3 is particularly telling, as it was added by Ehrman (the apostate editor), who reveals that there are recent and substantial scholarly counterarguments regarding the supposedly "overwhelming" Internal Evidence, such as those by J. P. Heil (1992).  To counter that, Ehrman also references Wallace's response, but Ehrman fails to cite J. P. Heil's immediately published counter-response to Wallace.  Both pieces by Heil along with a critique of Wallace are available here:

J. P. Heil on the PA (1992,1994) - - Click Here.

 In Heil's second piece, Wallace is effectively refuted.

On Hubner's carelessness re: textual witnesses:

"syrc" = Syriac-c and Syriac-s, "syr" = Syriac-p (some Palestinian MSS).
"ita, *, " = Italic-a, Italic -l* (original hand), and Italic-q. (three MSS).
"arm" = Armenian-MSS (i.e., some manuscripts only).

Such mistakes make tracing the witnesses impossible, and perpetuate new errors regarding the evidence.

(3)  Hubner actually trims Metzger down, snipping off a disturbing section which might not enhance either Metzger's or his own position.  Here is the missing final section of Metzger:
"Sometimes it is stated that the pericope was deliberately expunged from the Fourth Gospel because it was liable to be understood in a sense too indulgent to adultery. 13
But, apart from the absence of any instance elsewhere of scribal excision of an extensive passage because of moral prudence, this theory fails...

" 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 chapter viii were spoken, should have been omitted with the rest"
(Hort, "Notes on Select Readings," pp. 86 f.). 14

Although the committee [that is, the editorial committee of the United Bible Societies' (UBS) Greek New Testament, (1966, 2nd ed. 1968)] was unanimous that the pericope was originally no part of the Fourth Gospel, in deference to the evident antiquity of the passage a majority decided to print it, enclosed within double square brackets, at its traditional place following John 7.52.
Inasmuch as the passage is absent from the earlier and better manuscripts that normally serve to identify types of text, it is not always easy to make a decision among alternative readings. In any case it will be understood that the level of certainty ({A}) is within the framework of the initial decision relating to the passage as a whole. "
Here are our own footnotes to this section of Metzger:

13. When Metzger says "sometimes it is stated", he is deliberately leaving out WHO actually did the stating.  In fact, such statements are traceable to the 4th and 5th centuries, when St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome spoke about the verses, and their absence in some manuscripts.
These statements are not just nebulous 'theories' by unknown opponents of Metzger's view.  These are eyewitness accounts and opinions of ancient fathers and scholars who were actually there to record the state of the MSS evidence, and give their understanding of what had happened.

14. Metzger now presents Hort's argument against Augustine's explanation for the omission of the verses. What Metzger fails to give notice of, is that Hort was commenting in 1886. A lot has been written on this subject in the 100 years since.

Nowadays, many textual critics are less ideological about such problem passages, and have less trouble admitting the many ideological, cultural, and psychological factors that may have contributed to textual variants. Specifically, the problem of misogyny and patriarchical attitudes that go back to Jesus' time are now more fully recognized than in Hort's day. Not only does Augustine's explanation appear more plausible now, at least as a partial solution, but critics are willing to consider multiple factors in explaining textual history.
It may be true that Augustine's explanation cannot fully account for the extent of the omission, but it may well explain the opportunism which would arise out of an initial removal of the verses in some copies.
Today it looks quite plausible that the passage was removed in early times for expediency or to avoid charges by Jewish opponents. The choice of the size and place of the 'cut' may have been determined by liturgical factors. Then, once omitted, this would play into the hands of those who were ideologically motivated, like a Tertullian or some factions within the church at later periods.
It may be that the only acceptable final explanation for the omission of these verses will necessarily involve multiple historical events, motives, and parties. There is no shame in allowing a complex solution to a complex problem.

(to be continued...)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 2)

After noting that Riddle appeals to E.F. Hills' defense (1984) of Jn 7:53-8:11, Hubner dismisses this as ignorance or neglect of "the point made by White", which is apparently some critique about TR supporters and the history of the Reformation bibles (who cares?).

Hubner now claims that the earliest copies are important, and that it is a "faulty assumption" to give the TR priority over the texts of the early MSS.   He reduces Riddle's position to: (1) over 900 MSS contain the PA; (2) some 5th century Christians and a few earlier sources include it.  This says Hubner is a very weak basis for the originality of the PA.   If this were all there was to say, it might be a weak case.  But this is a straw-man argument.  Riddle's reliance on Hills is irrelevant.  The fact is, all three stooges here are completely out of touch with the real evidence and also any effective and credible scientific method.

Hubner tries to make the argument that the later copies are numerous simply because of circumstance:  MS production is far easier in some places and at some times than in other places and times.  This is simply absurd.  This is not the reason there are thousands of later MSS and only a few early ones.

The large number of later manuscripts is not the result of any 'special circumstances' or uneven distribution of resources.  Its a universal effect independent of any local variations in production.

(1)  Overall, the number of Christian texts exhibited constant exponential growth, because Christianity itself experienced constant exponential growth for nearly two thousand years.
(2)  Typically, many copies were made from almost every master-copy, throughout the entire period.  As a result, the total number of copies continually expanded, and just as importantly, because of this method of reproduction later copies would ALWAYS outnumber earlier copies by a large factor, even with wide variations in production at various times and places. 
(3)  That would be true if no manuscripts at all were ever lost or destroyed.   But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the earliest manuscripts have indeed been lost or destroyed, making the later MSS outnumber the earlier in even greater numbers.
(4)  The 'early manuscripts'  have indeed virtually all perished (i.e. pre-300 A.D.) as a result of a combination of:
(a) the moist conditions of most of the Mediteranean, mold and rot,
(b) the manuscripts almost all suffered heavy use from popularity,
(c) the early manuscripts were confiscated and destroyed by authorities, 
(d) the only manuscripts to survive come from Egypt, where they were preserved in bone-dry desert conditions and buried in sand, protected from oxidation, insects, and moisture. 

These are the main factors which have resulted in many later manuscripts, and almost no early manuscripts at all.  Variations in production at different times and places have nothing to do with it.  Hubner doesn't know what he's talking about.

Hubner admits he hasn't faced down Hodges or Robinson, but his confidence is undisturbed.  He says,
"(Now, if Riddle wants to appeal to an argument from Hodges or Burgon or Robinson, they can be dealt with, though I’m not sure I have much more to add (or have time to) than what has been already said by Wallace, Fee, and others.)"
Against Hodges and Dr. Maurice Robinson, he would match Wallace and Fee. But they are simply not up to the task.  Fee is out of date, and Wallace has refused open debate on the question of the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11, and has repeatedly tried to stop productive discussions everywhere.   Against these two (Laurel and Hardy), there is no real contest:  Hodges properly reopened the question of authenticity in his landmark articles (1979), carefully sifting the textual and patristic evidence. Dr. Maurice Robinson (2001, etc.) is probably the world's leading expert on the Pericope de Adultera, after having personally collated every surviving manuscript known.
It may be that Fee felt he had the better of Hodges in their debates over the Byzantine text-type, but this has little to do with the evidence proper for the PA.

Next, Hubner quotes Metzger's tired blurb against the PA (Commentary, p 187 fwd), which hasn't been significantly updated since 1971.  Ehrman, Metzger's groomed clone, merely added a reluctant footnote on Didymus the Blind for the 1994/2000 reprint.   Ehrman's lying propaganda campaign against the PA is well documented.

What Hubner doesn't tell the reader is that Metzger is the closet Jewish heretic responsible for the infamous RSV  and NRSV, who spearheaded the complete sabotage of all the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, based on the modern Jewish interpretation of the O.T.
Betrayer of 20th century Christianity

If most Christians knew the real diabolical nature of Metzger and his friends, they would burn all copies of this infamous mistranslation.
Wallace describes Cardinal Martini as follows:
"the...5 editors on the [UBS] committee. ...Another was a Roman Catholic scholar, Cardinal Carlo Martini, formerly the Archbishop of Milan (from 1980 to 2002). Martini was highly considered for the papal office, too. The point is that Martini is a squeaky-clean Catholic with impeccable credentials. Yet, on the committee for the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, he agreed with the rest of the committee (it was a unanimous decision each time) that Mark 16.9-20 and John 7.53-8.11 were not original to the Gospels but were added later. "
What kind of Protestant would describe a committed Roman Catholic as "squeaky clean", with "impeccable credentials"?!?  His lifetime commitment to Roman Catholicism ought to be credentials enough to utterly reject him as a candidate for  the 'reconstruction' of the Protestant Bible.  Wallace has obviously been bought and walks down the same road as Billy Graham, toward a "new world order" and "universal religion", concocted in the backrooms of the Vatican.

Unconcerned about Roman Catholic 'ecumenicalism', 'Hubris' marches forward to attack the (now dated) defense of E. F. Hills (1984), another straw-man attack which does nothing to address the current state of Johannine studies in regard to the PA.


(To be continued...)

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.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

NEB Nonsense on the PA

One of the earliest English modern New Testaments to dare to actually remove the Pericope de Adultera (the PA: John 7:53-8:11) and place it at the very end of John's Gospel, was the New English Bible (NEB, 1961).

Shortly thereafter, The text adhered to by the translators of the New English Bible was published separately as The Greek New Testament, edited by R. V. G. Tasker  (Oxford U., 1964).  In this second volume, the thinking behind some of the editorial decisions was revealed in much more detail, in an Appendix.  On page 426 the note on Jn 7:53-8:11 is as follows:
"(chapt) 7. 53- 8:11.  This passage, usually printed in this position [i.e. John 7:52] in editions of the NT (following most late Greek MSS and the Latin versions) is found here in no ancient Greek MSS, except D;  and some MSS which insert it at this point mark it as doubtful.   It is also absent from the Syriac versions.  It is found after Jn. 21:24 in Family 1; after Luke 21:38 in Family 13; and after Jn 7:36 in  [MS] 225.   This evidence seems to indicate that it was not generally recognized as part of the Gospel of John.  Internal evidence supports this.   It is un-Johannine both in style and content;  and its presence here interrupts the discourse at the festival of Tabernacles.   The translators decided, therefore, to treat it as a disconnected incident and print it at the conclusion of the Gospel of John." 
The factual errors, and subsequently erroneous decision on the part of the translators can be corrected concisely as follows:

(1)  There are only two surviving 4th century Manuscripts (B, א ),  and two 2nd - 3rd century papyri copies of John (P66, P75) in existence.   Yet the number of manuscripts in circulation by the 4th century is estimated to be in the thousands to several thousands.   These few surviving copies cannot credibly represent the text at large, as the sample-size is absurdly low.   Even these few copies show a wide variation in the text at this time, especially in North Africa and Egypt.

(2)  The fact that Codex D (Bezae) includes the passage, along with the testimony of Ambrose, Didymus, Jerome and Augustine, makes it clear that many copies must have had the passage in its normal place, even though none have survived.

(3) Dr. Maurice Robinson has collated the bulk of the MSS having the passage, and has found that most of the marks (asterisks, obelisks, notes etc.) do not indicate doubt at all, but rather indicate the beginning and end of 'Lections' or Church Lessons for public reading.

(4) 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.
Only LATE MSS displace the PA

(5)  The argument that the passage is "un-Johannine" is based on crude and now discredited tests of vocabulary and style, and the methods and interpretation of the evidences have not held up in subsequent analysis.  Dr. Heard has shown that all such vocabulary/style tests for pericopes are invalid, given the nature of John's gospel.

(6)  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.

(7)  In the meantime the question of whether John's Gospel has knowledge of the passage has been answered in the affirmative by the discovery of structural and chiastic, and thematic structures embedded in the Gospel which are damaged when the passage is omitted.   It appears that the Gospel was composed with the passage in place and consciously blended with the other materials.
Interlocking Sections of John's Gospel