Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 8)

With Hubner's next blurt, its obvious that he either doesn't understand the point Hills has made, or else he doesn't care:

5.  Hills’ argument regarding the Montanists and the pericope is equally poor and deserves no weight (though it is creative!). Honestly, I have a hard time really following the argument and how it requires that the pericope as a Greek text has an early origin.

(- Hubner)

E.F. Hills' actual original argument runs as follows:
"Not only conservatives but also clear thinking radical scholars have perceived that the historical evidence favors the belief that the pericope de adultera was deleted from the text of the fourth Gospel rather than added to it. Hilgenfeld (1875) observed, "The bold presentation of the evangelist must at an early date, especially in the Orient have seemed very offensive." (43) Hence Hilgenfeld regarded Augustine's statement that the passage had been deleted by overscrupulous scribes "as altogether not improbable." And Steck (1893) suggested that the story of the adulteress was incorporated in the Gospel of John before it was first published.  Concluded Steck, "That it later was set aside out of moral prudery is easily understandable." (44)
Rendel Harris (1891) was convinced that the Montanists, an ascetic Christian sect which flourished during the 2nd century, were acquainted with the pericope de adultera.   He wrote, "The Montanist Churches either did not receive this addition to the text, or else they are responsible for its omission; but at the same time it can be shown that they knew of the passage perfectly well in the West; for the Latin glossator of the Acts has borrowed a few words from the section in Acts 5:18. (45) In Acts 5:18 we are told that the rulers laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. To this verse the Latin portion of D adds, and they went away each one to his house. As Harris observes, this addition is obviously taken from the description of the breaking up of the council meeting in John 7:53. If the Montanists were the ones who added these words to Acts 5:18, then the pericope de adultera must have been part of John's Gospel at a very early date.
Naturalistic scholars who insist that John 7:53-8:11 is an addition to the Gospel text can maintain their position only by ignoring the facts, by disregarding what the ancient writers say about this pericope de adultera and emphasizing the silence of other ancient writers who say nothing about it at all.
This is what Hort did in his Introduction (1881). Here the testimony of Ambrose and Augustine is barely mentioned, and the statement of Nikon concerning the Armenians is dismissed as mere abuse. (46) Contrary to the evidence Hort insisted that the pericope de adultera was not offensive to the early Church. "Few in ancient times, there is reason to think, would have found the section a stumbling block except Montanists and Novatians." (47) With the implications of this sweeping statement, however, Rendel Harris could not agree. "Evidently," he observed, "Dr. Hort did not think that the tampering of the Montanists with the text amounted to much; we, on the contrary, have reason to believe that it was a very far reaching influence." (48)

43. Einleitung, p.782.
44. T Z aus der Schweiz, vol. 4, p.98.
45. "Codex Bezae," Texts and Studies (Cambridge University Press), vol. 2 (1891), p.195.
46. N. T. In The Original Greek, vol. 2, Appendix, p.82.
47. Idem, p.86.
48. "Codex Bezae," Texts and Studies (Cambridge University Press), vol. 2 (1891), p.195.

In fact E.F. Hills himself has made no claim at all regarding the Montanists.

The original idea that the Montanists may have omitted the passage was from Augustine.  Since Augustine was actually there, and battled the Montanists and their successors for many years, its likely he knew more about them than we ever will.
What Hills does succeed in showing is that even Hort thought the Montanists had motive for removing the passage.   Hort downplays this, but he could hardly deny the the hostility of the Montanists, since the only reason we know anything about the Montanists at all is through Augustine's descriptions!

But E. F. Hills biggest score is the obvious fact that critics who reject the passage must also effectively reject the testimony of  all the 4th century Early Christian writers:

350 A.D. Ambrosiaster- a solid quotation
360 A.D. Didymus- quotes PA as scripture
370 A.D. Pacian- Supports Jerome
380 A.D. Jerome - on John 8:1-11
380-390 A.D. Ambrose- quotes Jn 8:1-11
350-400 A.D.Epiphanius  - Euseb. Canon has PA
380-400 A.D. Faustus - quoted by Augustine
390-400 A.D. AugustineSupports PA and TR

And this stance by modern textual critics is wholly unscientific and unhistorical.  Real historical investigation gives due weight to credible witnesses, who have been corroborated on other issues.

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 7)

E. F. Hills

Hubner continues to attack E. F. Hills, rather than analyze the current data on the PA (John 7:53-8:11).  By now the siren song is getting tedious.  The examination is superficial, and so inaccurate as to border on dishonesty:

" 5.  Hills makes another poor conjecture:
'...offence was taken at the story of the adulterous woman brought to Christ, because she seemed to have received pardon too easily. Such being the case, it is surely more reasonable to believe that this story was deleted from John’s Gospel by over-zealous disciplinarians than to suppose that a narrative so contrary to the ascetic outlook of the early Christian Church was added to John’s Gospel from some extra-canonical source.'          (E. F. Hills, - KJV Defended)
This is a conclusion based on one citation from early church history. It is a leap of logic that is incredible – especially given that all of the external and internal witness (see above quote by Metzger) points in the other direction."

The fact is, Hubner is just slagging Hills again.   Before quoting Cyprian,  Hills has actually just finished quoting some half-dozen early Christian writers;

(a) Ancient Testimony Concerning the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11)
The story of the woman taken in adultery was a problem also in ancient times. Early Christians had trouble with this passage. The forgiveness which Christ vouchsafed to the adulteress was contrary to their conviction that the punishment for adultery ought to be very severe. As late as the time of Ambrose (c. 374), bishop of Milan, there were still many Christians who felt such scruples against this portion of John's Gospel. This is clear from the remarks which Ambrose makes in a sermon on David's sin. "In the same way also 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 etc." (32)
According to Augustine (c. 400), it was this moralistic objection to the pericope de adultera which was responsible for its omission in some of the New Testament manuscripts known to him. He wrote, "Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord's act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said 'sin no more' had granted permission to sin." (33) Also, in the 10th century a Greek named Nikon accused the Armenians of "casting out the account which teaches us how the adulteress was taken to Jesus . . . saying that it was harmful for most persons to listen to such things." (34)
That early Greek manuscripts contained this pericope de adultera is proved by the presence of it in the 5th-century Greek manuscript D. That early Latin manuscripts also contained it is indicated by its actual appearance in the Old Latin codices b and e. And both these conclusions are confirmed by the statement of Jerome (c. 415) that "in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story of the adulterous woman who was accused before the Lord." (35) There is no reason to question the accuracy of Jerome's statement, especially since another statement of his concerning an addition made to the ending of Mark has been proved to have been correct by the actual discovery of the additional material in Codex W. And that Jerome personally accepted the pericope de adultera as genuine is shown by the fact that he included it in the Latin Vulgate.

Thus E.F. Hills' "poor conjecture" is not based on a single citation (i.e., Cyprian), but rather the surviving patristic evidence combined.  Hills could have cited another half-dozen more early Christian writers, which lend even more corroborative support to the view given by early Christian writers (ECWs).

Again, it looks like Hubner is hoping that readers simply won't check his omitted facts.   The full section written by E. F. Hills is available online here:

E. F. Hills on the PA  - - click here.

Dozens of other textual critics who have analyzed the evidence are available here:

Experts on the PA  - - Click here.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

W. Webster (1855) on the PA

A refreshing and no-nonsense review of the authenticity question was given by William Webster in his The Greek Testament with notes...(Princeton, 1855).  A conservative scholar, with little concern for the confusion of previous commentators, provides a good overview on page 442 fwd:
"The external evidence for and against the genuineness of this passage, derived from the number and value of the MSS and versions in which it is contained or omitted, is very nearly equal.  For a full account of it, see Bloomfield's Recensio Synoptica.   The internal evidence preponderates greatly in its favour as genuine. 
(1) No real discrepancy can be pointed out between its style and the usual style of the Evangelist.  On the contrary, see 2, 4, 6, 9, n.  
(2) The conduct of our Lord on the occasion here recorded is in accordance with his general conduct, with his character, and with several of his express declarations; so much so, that it might be adduced as a good instance of undesigned coincidence with them (See v. 15.  3:17, 12:47, L. 9:56, 12:13-15, 19:10. )
(3) At the same time, his treatment of the accused woman was obviously liable to be misunderstood, and would present many difficulties to the earliest commentators on the NT.  Their views of the nature and object of Christ's mission, and of the distinction between the covenants of the law and the Gospel, were imperfect and limited.  This was the result of the prejudices of their philosophical and religious education, whether Jewish or Gentile.  And they were all more or less embued with the spirit of that Gnostic asceticism which afterwards so extensively prevailed.  Hence this passage would be a stumbling block to them which they would be glad, on any pretence, to remove. 
To say the least, its omission by them is much more easy to bet accounted for than its introduction at a later date.  For if the story appeared improbable, from moral considerations, to expositors of the 3rd and 4th century, it would appear far more so, on the same grounds, to those of the 7th and 8th.  The former were more likely to pass by unnoticed, and their contemporary transcribers to omit, a narrative not found in all copies of S. John's gospel, and difficult to reconcile with their notions of the character of Christ and Christianity, than the latter were to insert in the sacred books a floating tradition, which had not previously appeared in them, and which their known opinions would lead them rather to reject than to receive.  
For the principles on which the rejection or omission of this narrative may be accounted for, see Dr. Wordsworth's Lectures on the Apocalypse, Lect. I, pp. 12-15. 
(4)  The contrivance of the Scribes to find matter of accusation against Jesus is in accordance with the attempts related in L. 20, viz. the enquiry concerning his authority, and the question about the tribute money.  And the subject, on this occasion, is nearly allied to that of divorce which the same parties brought before him, 'tempting him'.  M. 19:3, Mk. 10:2. 
(5)  His answer is of the same character as in the two former cases, creating a difficulty or dilemma, (see also L. 20:44.).   And yet the similarity is not so close as to suggest the idea of imitation by a pseudo-Evangelist.   Moreover, the conduct of our Lord in teaching by action on this occasion, corresponds with the instances of his setting a little child in the midst of his disciples, and his washing their feet. 
(6)  Each of the other three Evangelists has related, or alluded to , the attempts of the Scribes and Pharisees above mentioned.  Such attempts, therefore, were particularly important occurrences in the life of Christ.  Hence it appears natural that S. John should relate one; and it is in entire consistency with the general character of his Gospel, that he should pass by those described by the others, and record one not referred to by them.  See also on v. 15 and v. 20." 


Monday, May 2, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 6)

Hubner continues with more fluffery:
4.   "The argument regarding Eusebius is poor and carries no weight. It is based on conjecture (e.g. “Eusebius may have been hostile to the story of the woman taken in adultery not only because of moralistic objections but also because it was related by Papias.”) and straw men (“Instead of stressing Eusebius’ silence it is more reasonable to lay the emphasis upon his positive testimony, which is that the story of the woman taken in adultery is a very ancient one, reaching back to the days of the Apostles.” – who is suggesting that the story of the woman in adultery is not ancient? No one. Most scholars agree that the story probably happened, which means it goes back to the life of Jesus Himself)."
Actually, no.

In fact, the evidence regarding Eusebius is relatively  very important, because it can be firmly dated around 300-320 A.D., making it  some of the earliest testimony we have.   Since we all apparently agree that the PA story is 'ancient', i.e., coming from the late 1st to early 2nd century (e.g. Papias, Didaskalia, Apost.Const.  etc.), we are glad Hubner concedes that issue is established.
But it is even more important, because it shows that in certain cases, Eusebius is willing to fudge the facts himself.  He cannot be seriously or credibly claiming that the PA was unknown to him other than from a citing of Papias.  Something is horribly wrong here, and its pretty obvious what it is:

(1) We know that the PA was left out of copies in the 3rd century in Egypt (P66, P75), and there are obvious factors here:
(a) Certain scriptures could not be read publicly, even in secret meetings, when the Church was underground and illegal, persecuted by Romans and Jews, and infiltrated, spied on, and betrayed by both enemy camps.   Thus for instance, no one dared read from Revelation, especially after the Roman/Jewish Wars (cf. Josephus), and key passages from all books were avoided.   Special manuscripts prepared for 'public services' were prepared from the earliest times, modeled after Jewish synagogue practices (P66 and P75 are of this type).
(b)  There was a large Jewish population in Alexandria and Egypt (cf. Jeremiah, Josephus etc.) being actively proselytized by early Christian Jews.  They had their own Greek OT translation (the LXX), and were extremely volatile, sensitive and hostile to stories that made the Jewish authorities and the Jews look bad.   They even later removed the Story of Susanna from the Greek Daniel, because it slagged the Babylonian Jewish Authorities (cf. Origen ,  Theodoton etc.).   Its obvious that the Alexandrian Jews were willing to alter texts in their own interest. 
(c)  The PA was offensive to Jews, and dangerous.  Unlike other recorded conflicts between Jesus and the Jerusalem authorities, this story made it appear that the Jewish parties were willing to stone a woman to death, just to entrap Jesus.  This was not a mere disagreement over Torah interpretation.  It painted the Jews as murderous, lecherous monsters.

(2)  We know that the PA was left out of later copies in the 4th century,  from the Constantine Period (e.g., Aleph, B).
Boiled his Queen Alive for Adultery

(a)  The PA was offensive to Emperor Constantine.  Although the omission of the PA was not originated by Constantine or Eusebius, its omission clearly served Constantine's interests and safeguarded Eusebius' Christianity, only recently made legal and winning official support.  Constantine had executed his own son from an earlier marriage based on testimony of his new queen, re: alleged adultery.  Later Constantine found out she had apparently lied, being an adulteress herself, and having caused Constantine to wrongly kill his own son.  Emperor Constantine had his Queen boiled alive for this.   It is clear from this horrific record that Constantine was not inclined to forgive adultery in any form.  At the same time, Constantine apparently bribed the bishops with extraordinary promises of immunity and protection and he actually quoted the PA during the discussion!
(b)  Constantine and Eusebius actually edited the Bible.  Eusebius was in the unfortunate position of trying to keep the decision by Constantine to embrace Christianity, while providing a text for public worship services acceptable to Constantine.   This often involved severe abridgments and deletions of Holy Scripture.  For instance, when approving of a translation into the Gothic language for his Goth troops, Ulfulas, following the policy set by Constantine and Eusebius earlier, omitted the entire Books of Kings, because in their view, the Goths were "already too warlike", and these books would only encourage them.   
The foregoing facts make the testimony of Eusebius and other historians regarding the events in the 4th century very important to establishing why the PA was missing from key manuscripts of this period.

E. F. Hills' opinion is not based on mere conjectures, but rather a careful evaluation of a combination of important historical evidences.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hubner's garbage on the PA (Part 5)

Lets proceed further down Hubner's list of points against E. F. Hills:
2.   "The same principle goes for Codex Bezae Cantibrigiensis, which was written from 400-450 AD (compare to P66, B,  א, all of which were written earlier and do not contain the pericope).
3.  The same principle goes for Apostolic Constitutions, which was written from 375-380 AD – again, after the vital manuscript evidence. But more importantly, this source isn’t a biblical manuscript at all."
Hubner proceeds with the same naive and flawed 'textual criticism' of the 19th century.  His whole argument again centers on the actual crude dates of manuscripts.

(1)  However, the dating of most manuscripts is a joke. The 'dates' provided in the literature are guesstimates that have a typical range of plus or minus 50 years, or about a 100 year window, when dated by crude and ambiguous palaeographic assessments of 'style' and scribal technique.   But these factors are not only complicated by the wide range of scripts and styles which existed in every age, but also by the fact that these features could vary between copyists or within the same manuscript, before a manuscript ever left the scriptorium.
Futher, copyists would often deliberately imitate older styles, to give a manuscript a prestigious look, or an authority, which also gives a false impression of the date of manufacture.  

(2)  No one even knows the origin of even the most famous manuscripts.   Copies like Codex B and Aleph are of completely unknown origin, but can hardly be dated earlier than 340 A.D., when such expensive MSS were first made.  But the wild variations between the styles, format, and text of these MSS betrays a time-spread of 50 or 100 more years, pushing the date of Aleph closer to the time of Jerome (c. 400 A.D.) or even later.   (See our examination of the text and dating of Sinaiticus here.)  Manuscripts like Codex Bezae show signs of being in the possession of magicians and alchemists, more interested in fortune-telling and astrology than Christian dogma.

(3)  There aren't enough MSS from the 4th century and earlier to give us a proper sample of the texts in circulation from these early centuries.  It is ridiculous to pretend that less than 4 copies which vary wildly among themselves can possibly represent 4 centuries of copying involving many thousands of manuscripts.  Reports from contemporaries like Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine make it clear that there were many problems with the text.  The narrow geographical area of out of the way Egyptian settlements is not any kind of finger on the pulse of the mainline copying lines of transmission.

(4)  Hubner completely misunderstands the meaning and proper use of patristic and ECW evidence.  For our purposes, it doesn't matter that the Apostolic Constitutions are 'not a manuscript'.  They are a datable record of when the passage was in circulation and viewed as authoritative.  From this data, the reasonable conclusion is that the Pericope de Adultera was found in copies of John going back to the 2nd century or earlier.  This coincides with what can be gleaned from the testimony of other Early Christian Writers (ECW) like Jerome etc.   The first thing that patristic evidence does is establishes the earliest verifiable date for a passage or verse.  For purposes of establishing its existance, it matters not what condition that verse or passage is in the source, or even the credibility or accuracy of the source.

(5)  What Hubner calls "vital manuscript evidence" isn't 'vital' at all.  Its fragmentary, sporadic, undatable, and untraceable anonymous 'testimony' which must be carefully and cautiously evaluated.   We don't actually need it at all to do rational historical research and reach reasonable conclusions about the early text.

Click to Enlarge

(to be continued...)