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Friday, September 30, 2011

G.A. Clark on the PA and TC

G.A. Clark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nor should one miss the following new findings:

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

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

John's Connection to Mark and the PA

Mark as a Base Outline for John

Mark and John are also similar in size and in the arrangement of their contents. And there seems to be a much stronger correspondence than would be indicated by the strictly 'parallel' material between the Synoptics and John.
At the same time, we can expect any Gospel to have a significant body of common material, with a (practically forced) standard arrangement /order (e.g. triumphal entry, passion, resurrection). And certain major events will act as a backbone against which the rest of the material is chronologically arranged.
We can see this basic structural outline in the position of several key events and sequences:

Shared Backbone

Its from this shared backbone that all the other elements find their relative chronological placement and correspondence between the two Gospels, Mark and John.
Although a few items are clearly displaced (e.g. the Temple Cleansing, the Annointing etc.), most other items have a surprising correspondence and connection between the Gospels. Some sections, although displaced, are only slightly and locally rearranged. One may discover that most of these minor oddities seem to have an additional structural purpose of their own.
Before assuming that diverse material is completely unrelated, we are obligated to examine the possibility that various segments which are chronologically parallel (relative to the Gospel frameworks) are related in other more subtle ways. Three obvious relations are:

(1) that parallel but divergent material is supplementary, and expands upon the (previous) narrative/discourse with which it has been paired off.
(2) that the alternate material is complimentary in some sense or function, such as for didactic purpose or ritual use.
(3) that this material is meant to create a larger wholistic 'meta-picture' which is only partially seen in individual Gospel accounts, or is even non-existant in fragments themselves.
It is only when avenues like these are exhausted, that we should probably abandon the idea that there may be a deliberate relation between the opposing passages in each Gospel. Opening up these lines of investigation allows us to consider many ways in which the Gospels may have been composed, and designed to work together.

Mark / John
Interconnections: Part I

Having accepted the possibility that John for instance has used Mark as a blueprint or structural basis for his own outline, the investigation is straightforward. Let us take the first third of the Gospel(s) and see what can be plausibly connected.

Stunning Parallels
Relaxing the requirement for strict literal parallelism gives a dramatic result: It is clear that a large portion of John interconnects with Mark. But most importantly, John is clearly meant to act as a kind of commentary or 'midrash' on Mark.
Many of the once puzzling Johannine Discourses, thought by some to have been virtually made up by John, are seen to be direct verbal interpretations of physical acts in the public ministry of Jesus. Its as though while Jesus is traveling through Galilee and Samaria, he is simultaneously debating with the Judaean authorities in Jerusalem.
We can see for instance how the Third Discourse (the Son of God Discourse, Jn 5:19-47) follows closely the narrative events in Mark 5:21-6:29. Both the chronological order of events is matched by the Discourses and the thematic content also is strongly connected, emphasized, and expanded.
Perhaps some of this exchange was historically carried out in a kind of long distance 'correspondence' between representatives from Jerusalem and Jesus/John during their public activity among the Lost Tribes of the North.
John has been written not only to function as a complete Gospel in itself, but also as a detailed commentary on Mark. This is now so evident that trying to write a commentary on Mark without consulting John appears foolish.

A Door Closes
The first Third of Mark's Gospel fittingly begins and ends with John the Baptist's ministry and testimony. What is left ringing in our ears, because of details only provided by Mark is that the Herodians (Mark 3:6) were actively behind the plot to kill Jesus. We recall that Herod had appointed and controlled the 'puppet priests', and his will was behind their organized activity, supported by the powerful Pharisees.
The Herodian party had already murdered John the Baptist, and John the Baptist's indictment against them was headed by the blatant "Accusation of Moses"(Jn 5:45) against their 'king': ADULTERY (Exod. 20:14) -

"It is not lawful for you to have her." (John Baptist, in Mark 6:18). And so this large section of the Gospel closes.

Mark / John
Interconnections: Part II

Now examining the next section, we are able to see again the same remarkable connections across both Gospels:

While some material undergoes a significant rearrangement locally, the main backbone remains full and solid, and the ADULTERY connection is glaring.
It seems quite plain that the confrontation between the Herodian religious authorities and Jesus in John's account (Jn 8:1-11) is meant to illustrate and resonate loudly with Jesus' teaching in Mark on ADULTERY and DIVORCE.
But the most powerful and remarkable feature of the whole correspondence, is that the two very difficult, almost impenetrable mysteries in John taken alone, the seemingly random "Jesus went to the Mount of Olives",(Jn 8:1) and the equally weak, almost disconnected Jn 8:12, "I am the Light of the World", suddenly jumps out at us and hits us over the head with a hammer:
John is calling to rememberance the Transfiguration on the Mount, but does not speak of it openly (he was under oath not to discuss it - Mk 9:9, but this no longer holds: yet there may be danger to parties still living in Jerusalem). Mark, writing in Rome from Peter's intimate testimony, is not under any such restriction, and happily reports the amazing event that transpired on the Mountain, including the discussion with Moses and Elijah.


Of course all study of Holy Scripture is a rewarding endeavour in itself.
We are content at the moment however, with revealing to the reader the remarkable evidence from the Gospel of Mark itself, as to the Authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera .
Even though we happily concede that Mark was probably written before John wrote his own Gospel, the fact that John used Mark as a base for his own supplementary historical and teaching material exposes for us the remarkable feature that John intended his story of the Woman Taken in Adultery to resonate with Mark's report.
Jesus' teaching regarding the Accusation of Moses exposed by John the Baptist against the Herodians, His teaching regarding Divorce and Adultery, is aptly contrasted with His tender mercy toward a woman caught in the middle of this epic battle between the corrupt Religious authorities of Jerusalem and the King of Kings.
Mark has become the earliest textual witness for the authenticity of John 8:1-11, being acknowledged to be the first gospel written, and penned some 150 years before the oldest known copy of any gospel.
Some may think it must end here. For how could there be an even earlier witness to the existance and authenticity of John 8:1-11?
We can only remind our brothers and sisters in Christ, that with the Lord, anything is possible. And more evidence will surely follow, since it is a task of the Holy Spirit to bring the truth of the Gospel to the light of day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pat Robertson on Adultery and Alzheimers

Recently Pat Robertson apparently advised a man whose wife had contracted Alzheimers to divorce and remarry...

Many, such as Dr. Moore, condemned the teaching as anti-Christian, and rightfully so.  What struck my eye however was another comment by a reader of the post, who went a little deeper into the issues:

"Moore completely missed the point, although everything he said is good and right. Folks, did you not hear what Pat Robertson subtly said in the interview? He called Alzheimer’s a type of “death,” and on THAT basis, justified divorce. This is the exact same trap, in principle, that virtually every Christian pastor and writer has fallen for in the matter of divorce on the grounds of—not Alzheimer’s but—adultery. From John MacArthur to Tony Evans to James Dobson to Charles Swindol to Charles Stanley and on and on, they argue that when a spouse commits adultery, such adultery amounts to the death of the marriage, since in the Old Testament, adultery would have resulted in the death penalty of the guilty spouse, hence, no more marriage. Therefore, they argue, in the New Testament, divorce is the “gracious” alternative to the death penalty that would have otherwise ensued. What Pat Robertson did is no different in principle than what any of your favorite preachers do when they say that adultery kills a marriage and therefore divorce is OK. We need to set the record straight with ALL these guys, not just Pat Robertson, and say that death means death; Alzheimer’s doesn’t kill a marriage, and neither does adultery. Divorce is not the alternative to the Old Testament death penalty; forgiveness is! You have no right to criticize Pat Robertson’s “Alzheimer’s-equals-death-of-marriage” view if you yourself hold the “adultery-equals-death-of-marriage” view. Both are built on the same premise and both must be condemned. “Till death us do part” does not include adultery any more than it includes Alzheimer’s, or any other thing we want to insert that we believe “kills” a marriage, including desertion, or incompatibility. Death means casket-death, and nothing less. If you’re going to criticize Pat Robertson, you must attack the foundation of his premise, which is that Alzheimer’s amounts to the death of a marriage. But if you’re going to do that, then you must [also] be consistent and condemn the view that says adultery amounts to the death of a marriage."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

James Snapp Jr's Observations on Asterisks

In his discussion of the Ending of Mark, James Snapp Jr. had some remarks concerning the function and meaning of different forms of asterisks in the margin of manuscripts.  His observations however, equally apply to manuscripts which have marks in the margin beside John 7:53-8:11:

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

Msg #6619:

'Bruce Metzger wrote that

"Not a few manuscripts which contain the passage have scribal notes stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional signs used by copyists to indicate a spurious addition to a document." (Bruce Metzger, p. 123, A Textual Commentary on the Greek N. T., � 1971 by the United Bible Societies.)
The second part of Dr. Metzger's statement is incorrect. To the best of my knowledge, not a single manuscript that does not have a note about the passage has been shown to place asterisks or obeli alongside it to convey scribal doubt about the passage. When copyists wanted to signify doubt about a large passage, they ordinarily placed a *series* of asterisks or other marks alongside it. But the marks that have been claimed to signify scribal doubt about the passage in unannotated manuscripts are solitary. I looked into this, and in every case that I could track down, where the presence of a mark at Mark 16:9 has been verified, and it does not refer to a note in the margin, the same mark appears elsewhere in the same manuscript at places where there is no textual issue, but there is  a lection-division."

(...See, regarding this, my earlier posts about those copies [at Willker's TC-Group]. There is still one MS in Spain that I have not been able to check out. But it's a MS with a commentary accompanying the text. Time in.)

'In other words, these manuscripts were studied superficially, and marks that were made as part of the lectionary apparatus were misidentified as if they were made to convey scribal doubt. In the real world, instead of conveying scribal doubt, they do just the opposite, showing that the passage was expected to be read in the churches as a normal part of the church-services on Ascension-day, and as part of an eleven-part series of readings about Christ's resurrection'.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.


...The implications for those manuscripts having singular asterisks at the beginning and end of John 7:53-8:11 (the Pericope de Adultera) are obvious.