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Aug 4, 2010

Olshausen on the PA

Excerpt from: Hermann Olshausen, Biblical Commentary on the NT, 4th Ed., Vol II Transl. A.C. Kendrick (NY, 1858, 1866)

Page Index

Olshausen: Pericope Adulterae (Jn 7:53-8:11)
    Inserted Note: from main commentary
§ 3 The History of the Adulteress:
   (A) Authorship - re: John's Gospel
   (B) Authenticity - as a historical event in Jesus' ministry
     Evidence Against PA - difficulties with scenario
     Evidence For PA - with explanatory notes
    Writing in the Dirt - linguistic/historical background
    Authenticity Reconsidered - Kendrick's notes

Inserted Note

In main commentary, Vol. II, John

(p. 443, English Translation, A.C. Kendrick)

... Here the following history of the adulteress obviously interrupts the connexion. The passage Jn.8:12 (comp. with this Jn.8:21, 30, 59) proves that the discourse commenced Jn.7:37 should be continued; its unity also is clearly indicated by the connexion of the ideas, while Jn.8:20, 59 shew that the whole took place in the Temple. The paragraph Jn.7:40-52, as we have already remarked, is merely an intervening description of the circumstances occurring at the time when the discourse was delivered.

In the passage Jn.7:53, on the contrary, we find the altogether foreign statement : " Each went to his own house," etc., ( Καὶ ἐπορεύθη ἕκαστος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ: Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐπορεύθη εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν.), with which Jn. 8:59 is utterly incompatible, for, according to the latter, as Jn. 7:37, Jesus again teaches in the Temple. Being convinced upon other grounds also that the history of the adulteress is spurious, I have preferred postponing the closer consideration of this till after the interpretation of the entire section, in which it is unsuitably inserted, — (Comp, the particulars after Jn. 8:59.)

§ 3. History of the Adulteress.

(John 7:53-8:11.), pp. 465 fwd

Authorship: Connexion to John's Gospel

In considering this remarkable account, which we here treat in a supplementary way, we have to prosecute a twofold investigation ; in the first place, we must examine the subject of its authenticity in the Gospel of John ; and secondly, test the credibility of the history as such. On the first question, most of the modern inquirers are so unanimous in their opinion, that we may regard it as settled. On this account, and considering also, it belongs rather to the department of preliminaries, we shall only treat it briefly. The second inquiry, on the contrary, seems to me so far from decided, that I deem a careful consideration of it indispensable, and to this I hope I may be able at least to contribute something.

1. Textual Evidence: The spuriousness of the history of the adulteress in John is indicated by the manuscripts. Not merely is it wanting in distinguished Codices (as A B C),1 but in many of those which contain it, it is marked with the sign of suspicion ; not to mention that a great and striking variety of readings occurs in the account, by which interpolations are generally betrayed.

2. The Fathers and the Versions perfectly harmonize with the manuscripts in their testimony against its authenticity. For, anterior to Augustine & Jerome, 2 we find only slight traces of it, and at a far later period, Euthymius 3 declares himself doubtful as to its genuineness. Moreover, the oldest versions, e.g., the Syriac, Gothic, and Armenian, know nothing of the account of the adulteress in John.

3. Non-Johannine Style: Evidence to the same effect is derived from the language, which, in many instances, is not Johannine. The expressions καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς...καθίσας ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς (Jn. 8:2), and οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι (Jn. 8:3), are more in conformity with the usus loquendi of the synoptical writers than with that of John ; while the entire complexion of the language, particularly the incessant δὲ is quite contrary to the style of our Evangelist.

4. Immediate Context: Finally, the context also shews that the history does not belong to the Gospel ; for it only interrupts the course of the conversation of Christ with the Jews in the Temple (comp. the remarks already made Jn.8:12), and it has no connexion at all either with that which precedes it, with that which follows it, or with the main design of John. The formula of transition, Καὶ ἐπορεύθη ἕκαστος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ: , 'and each went', etc. (Jn. 7:53), is in the highest degree obscure. It does not appear whether we are to understand by "each" the Sanhedrists, who have just been spoken of, or the strangers who had come to the feast. The remark in reference to the former, that after their sitting was concluded they went to their homes — would be perfectly idle ; and the application of it to the latter is forbidden by the context, for not a word has been previously said about persons who had been journeying to the feast.

Moreover, thus the following words (Jn.8:1-2), Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐπορεύθη εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν. Ὄρθρου δὲ πάλιν παρεγένετο εἰς τὸ ἱερόν, , 'but Jesus went to the Mount', etc., sound quite as if they related to the last days of the life of Jesus, the nights of which we know he spent out of the city ; that he did this before that period is not very probable.

In addition to all these grounds we have the internal argument derived from the account itself ; but as this is not needed to strengthen the conclusion that the narrative is spurious, 4 we shall view it under the second question, viz., the credibility of the history in itself.

1. In regard to Cod. A, however the omission is only concluded from the circumstance that the pages wanting would not have been sufficient to contain the section. There is a break also in Cod. C. The most important MS. in which the piece is found is Cod. D ; but this Codex gives an entirely different text.

2. Jerome, who devoted himself so much to inquiry, investigated this section. Comp. advers. Pelag. ii. 17. He remarks that it is found in many Greek and Latin Codices, but still he justly doubts its authenticity.

3. Euthymius was a learned monk who flourished about A. D. 1116. He was celebrated for his Panoplia dogmatica orthodoxae fidei adversus omnes Haereses, which was designed to defend the doctrines of the Greek Church against all its opponents. He also wrote Commentaries on the Psalms and the four Gospels. Mosheim ranks him among the principal writers of the age. See Soames' Mosheim, vol. ii. p. 434, note 2. — TR.

4. The most successful attempts to maintain the authenticity of the account in John have been made in recent times by Storr, Staudlin, & Kuinoel ; but still the scale preponderates against its genuineness ; in particular Lucke, De Wette, & Tholuck are opposed to it.

Historical Authenticity

As I cannot agree with the prevailing opinion (entertained even by Lucke & Tholuck) that nothing can be urged against the credibility of the account itself, I feel bound to give a full statement of the difficulties which present themselves to me in the history of the adulteress, in order that the objections which I myself shall endeavour to set forth may, if possible, be satisfactorily removed. 1

1. Tholuck finds, in the history of the adulteress, no difficulties of importance. He thinks the Pharisees, in arresting the woman, did not intend to perform any judicial act, but designed to propose to Christ a mere question of law ; and hence they could consistently withdraw. He is of opinion that the temptation intended for the Lord by the question of the Pharisees was this : they, knowing his gentleness, hoped he would speak freely to the woman, in which case they could have charged him with the open violation of the law.

By the treatise of Dieck, however (Studien, 1832, No. 4, p. 191, ff.), I confess that I am only confirmed in my doubts, and cannot see the propriety of the course which he takes. This scholar, to whom we Theologians must acknowledge an obligation for having, as a Lawyer, entered upon the close consideration of this narrative, says (loc. eit p. 796) it appears to him that all depends upon the answer to the question, whether, according to Christian principles, the punishment of adultery with death, is tenable ; and, in order to answer this question satisfactorily, Dieck thinks it necessary to enter into the Christian system of divorce in general. This mode of proceeding seems to me quite mistaken. Since both the woman and the Pharisees were Jews, how could the Christian rule be applied to the case? We always find that the Redeemer treats every one according to the principles which apply to his position: a confused transference of higher principles to persons occupying a lower level never occurs in his ministry.

From what follows (loc. cit. p. 806, ff.), it is also clear that Dieck thinks, if the Lord had decided for the fulfilment of the law, the Pharisees would forthwith have stoned the woman. But I confess I find that this supposition encumbers the account with insurmountable difficulties ; for, according to this, the conduct of Christ would have been a complete interference with the course of justice — an act which Jesus never allowed himself to commit. Hence the legal view put upon the history of the adulteress, in the treatise by Dieck, clearly shews how important the perplexities are which the account contains. The whole question is associated especially with the difficult inquiry concerning the relation of the invisible Church, and that which obtains in it, to the external constitution of Church and State, and here primarily to that of the Old Testament. The words of Luther, "the preaching of Christ does away with sword, judge, and all the rest," may, in this connexion, be very incorrectly apprehended ; in relation to the spiritual world they certainly are perfectly true, but in relation to that alone. In the external world the Lord allows justice to take its solemn course. Although the thief on the cross sincerely repented, Jesus did not take him from the cross by miracle, but suffered him to bear his punishment. In like manner here, it cannot be said that the Saviour rescued a guilty but penitent woman from the arm of the law which had seized her ; although, it may well be supposed, that if according to Divine permission, no one was found who would make a charge against her, the Lord did not consider himself called upon to become her accuser.

It must therefore be presumed that the Pharisees in question did not act officially, but merely as private persons ; the narrative otherwise viewed becomes involved in difficulties. The great satisfaction with which this account is regarded by worldly men, who are destitute of spiritual life, rests mainly upon the misapprehension so easily arising from a false view of history ; they think of the Lord as doing away even with the just punishment of sin — a mode of proceeding quite suited to their moral indifferentism. But of such a Saviour the Bible knows nothing! The living Christ is as just as he is gracious, and because sin cannot but be punished, he takes its necessary consequences upon himself, bestowing the blessing of forgiveness upon those who, in true repentance, pronounce the sentence upon themselves, and believe in him who justifies. Thus the thief on the cross, rightly judged, in the conversation with his companion: "we receive the due reward of our deeds;" and it was only on account of such repentance arising from a true sense of justice, that he could believe in forgiveness.

In like manner it must be presumed respecting the adulteress, that she deemed herself deserving of death. It was only in this case that the words of the Lord could have been applied to her : "Neither do I condemn thee," — a declaration which is to be understood not merely as negative but as positive also : "I forgive thee thy sins !"

Only in this case could the words "sin no more," addressed to her after she had received forgiveness, convey their proper force.

Hence, as I have already remarked, I can only consider Dieck's view of the whole matter, according to which the Redeemer was even bound to act as is related, in order to save the life of the adulteress (loc. cit. p. 814), as altogether mistaken. So far from preservation of physical life being the subject of discourse here, the entire ministry of the Redeemer relates to that which is spiritual, and corporeal preservation may be regarded merely as the consequence of the salvation of the soul.

Evidence Against Authenticity

(1.) The first question is — were the Pharisees and Scribes, who brought the woman to the Saviour, acting officially as agents of the government, or as private individuals ? In the former case a difficulty springs from the circumstance that they came to Christ at all, and then that they afterwards let the woman go ; it would have "been their duty to hand her over to the magistrate. In the latter case, however, it bscomes a question to what law they refer when they say Μωσῆς ἡμῖν ἐνετείλατο τὰς τοιαύτας λιθοβολεῖσθαι: σὺ οὖν τί λέγεις; (Jn. 8:5). Moses had not appointed every one to be judge, but only the magistrate. It is true that appeal has here been made to the so-called law of zealots, but the opinion to be formed of this has already been indicated in the Comm. on Matt.21:12. 2

2. Olshausen's remark on this subject, in the Commentary on the passage here referred to, is, that the so-called law of zealots has been completely exploded by Lucke. — TR.

(2.) Another difficulty is involved in the circumstance that stoning for adultery is not commanded by Moses. (Comp. Lev. 20:10 ; Deut. 22:22.) According to Talmudic statements, strangling and not stoning was customary; it was only when the adulteress had been betrothed, or was a priest's daughter, that the latter mode of punishment was adopted. Meanwhile, upon the perusal of the disquisition concerning this point by J. D. Michaelis (Mos. Recht. Part. v. p. 261, ff.), it is soon seen that little stress is to be laid on this circumstance; for the Talmudists take their data from mere conjectures, and the ancient practice in respect to this is unknown.

(3.) A far more important difficulty is started by the inquiry — how could this question involve a temptation for Jesus? (Jn. 8:6) Had he, according to the law, advised severe measures, or had he recommended leniency, it does not at all appear in what way this could have injured him, since at any rate he would merely have expressed a private opinion. All that has been adduced, in proof that such an expression of his sentiments would have exposed him to danger, has the evident appearance of being forced ; for example, that if Jesus had decided in favour of punishment by death, it would have seemed that he vindicated the right of the Jews to administer capital punishment, and thus he might have been rendered an object of suspicion to the Romans (so Grotius); or, that if he had pronounced a lenient judgment, he would have been accused by the Jews as a despiser of the law (so J. D. Michaelis).

The only means of solving the difficulty is to take πειραζειν tempt, try, in the milder sense, as denoting, not a malicious attempt to embarrass, but rather a well-meaning desire to gain information. (It is similarly employed Matt. 22:35, at which place compare the Commentary.)

It is true the words added, ινα εχωσι κατηγορειν αυτου, 'that they may have wherewithal to accuse him', appear opposed to this view of the term ; perhaps, however, they may be explained in such a manner as not to shew that these individuals intended to derive from the answer of Jesus materials for an accusation before the Romans or the Sanhedrim, but that they only designed by giving information concerning him, to get into favour with the leaders of their sect. In this case the act might be regarded as inconsiderate, but not as malevolent. Still this is not satisfactory, and the circumstance contains a difficulty hard to be removed.

(4.) The answer of Christ (Jn. 8:7) seems like an interference with the official administration of justice ; for the expression "the Scribes and the Pharisees," Jn. 8:3, appears to designate the members of the Sanhedrim, who were the lawful judges. The judicial punishment of crimes is independent of the guilt that may attach to the judge ; it is the duty even of the most wicked judge to punish the guilty (unless he intends to augment the number of his sins), because he is to be regarded not as an individual, but merely as the organ of Divine justice. Here, however, Jesus appears to connect the punishment of gross, open transgression with the innocence of those who punish. But if this connexion were just, no punishment could be admitted in any case, especially considering that αναμαρτητος, without sin (Jn 8:7), cannot be understood as referring 'merely to similar crimes of incontinence, in the sense "he who is conscious of being free from guilt in this point," but must be taken as implying sinlessness in general ; for that every one of these Pharisees was an adulterer, neither is involved in the words, nor is in itself to be supposed ; and hence, as no one is sinless, no sin could be punislied.

Lucke, indeed, on this point observes (p. 190) that here the Redeemer spoke merely in reference to the kingdom of God, and he quotes the words of Luther :

"Such is the doctrine of the kingdom of Christ ; and when this prevails, it does it does away with the G-word, the judge, and all the rest."

But in all the four Gospels we find no instance in which the Redeemer shielded an action evidently constituting a gross violation of the Mosaic law from the severity which that law enjoined, as it would appear that he shielded this. In Luke 15, the prodigality and harlotry of the son is not to be viewed as crime coming under the cognizance of the magistrate. Even συκοφαντειν defraud by false accusations, Luke 19:8-10, does not denote evident and actionable fraud, but the less palpable practice of overreaching, which is to be tried only before the tribunal of conscience. Adultery, however (i.e. illicit connexion with a married woman, who was regarded as the property of the husband), is a positive transgression of the law, which, according to the code of Moses, was a capital offence ; how, then could the Lord associate the punishment of such a crime with the guiltlessness of any one?

In his relations to the kingdom of God, we never see Jesus so invade the existing order of things as to abolish it. This (as it appears to me) very weighty objection to the history has not until now been set forth in its full importance, any more than it has been appropriately answered.

In addition to these considerations, we may also notice, in the first place, the extraordinary tenderness of conscience manifested, according to Jn. 8:9, by the Pharisees ; secondly, the circumstance that, as the same verse implies, the people (ver. 2) appear to have withdrawn with the Pharisees, for which there does not seem to have been any reason at all ; and lastly, the fact that Jesus, according to Jn. 8:11, utters the words "go and sin no more" (πορευου και μηκετι αμαρτανε), without anything being said about penitence and faith on the part of the woman. If it be said that Jesus perceived penitence and faith in her, it must be confessed that, in that case, either John or one of the other Evangelists might have been expected to name it, because by this means alone, all misapprehension of the account might have been removed.

Evidence For Authenticity

Whether it be possible to set aside all these scruples arising from the considerations which I have now enumerated, I know not ; but notwithstanding my full sense of their weight, I am restrained from positively denying the credibility of the history, because there are also important circumstances in its favour.

1. As one of these we may mention the peculiarity of the history, which makes a subsequent fiction improbable. Particularly Christ's stooping down and writing in the sand is such a singular act, that it would hardly have been invented without any historical occasion.

2. The account is ancient, even if it be not John's ; for, according to Eusebius, H.E. iii. 39, it was found among the additions to the original Matthew, which occur in the ευαγγελιον καθ' Εβραιους (Gospel Acc. Hebrews).

3. No design can be ascribed to the invention of this history. All traditional legendary compositions bear the impress of a certain party, for whose interests they are constructed ; here, however, not a trace of design is betrayed. Why it was inserted in this particular passage of John's Gospel cannot indeed he stated with certainty ; but the words, Jn. 8:15, εγω κρινω ουδενα ("I judge no one") might easily induce someone to write this anecdote in the margin of his Codex as a proof to the point.

Further Explanations

These circumstances, which exclude the supposition of a purposed fiction, induce the following remarks in reference to the difficulties specified:

In the first place, these Pharisees, although to be regarded as natural men, must by no means be considered malicious ; they appear rather to have been susceptible of the operations of the Spirit, and only to have desired information from Jesus as to his opinion on such a case.

True, this view of them does not suit the context in John ; but the account, looked upon as an isolated history, contains nothing opposed to it, if we except the words "that they may have wherewith to accuse him" (Jn. 8:6), which under any view, disturb the flow of the narrative. These persons must be regarded as acting altogether in a private capacity ; they apprehend the adulteress in order to bring her before the tribunal ; but as they happened to meet with Jesus they laid the matter before him.

Accordingly the requirement of the Mosaic law to which they refer (Jn. 8:5), is to be understood as relating merely to the sentence that might be expected from the court of Justice, and not to an arbitrary execution, on their part, of what the law demanded. They were not compelled by any law to present themselves as accusers in this affair (they were not at liberty to be judges) ; they might have quietly left the husband to complain and to call them as witnesses. Doubtless their indignation did not proceed from pure moral emotion, but contained an admixture of that secret malignant gratification, which so often creeps into the heart of man, when he sees his neighbour fallen into sin and misery.

Perhaps they hoped that as a Prophet, and the supposed Messiah, he would deliver an extraordinarily severe opinion respecting the unhappy woman. But Jesus first (by the symbolic action of stooping down and occupying himself with something else) shewed them that such matters did not belong to him (just as in Luke 12:14); and afterwards, when they pressed him more urgently, he pronounced no sentence concerning her, but indirectly rebuked the accusers themselves.

He awoke within them the consciousness of personal guilt, which was the most powerful means of suppressing their malignant joy ; and as they had now lost the motive for interfering in an affair that did not pertain to them, while on the other hand they were under no necessity to meddle with the woman, far from reckless malice and with right feeling, they withdrew.

Jesus, however, did not thus relax the rigour of the law, and still less did he take upon himself the judicial office ; he only pointed out to these accusers, who had taken pleasure in the unhappy circumstances of another, that, before they set themselves up as public protectors of morality, they should begin with their own faults, leaving the affair of the woman to the husband, who alone, in this case, was called to speak.

Now, regarding himself also merely as a private person, and perceiving the woman's sincere penitence, Jesus could say to her : ουδε εγω σε κατακρινω, 'neither do I condemn thee' — while this declaration being purely spiritual and individual, and not the sentence of one appointed to be Judge, neither was intended to make, nor could make, any invasion of the rights belonging to the husband and to justice, if the former chose to prosecute his cause.

Thus the conduct of Jesus wrought most beneficently upon all parties, without involving any injury whatever. — According to this view, the principal considerations against the credibility of the account disappear ; and if at the same time we admit that it was not directly composed by an apostle, but was produced at second-hand somewhat later, the circumstance that no explicit mention is made of repentance and faith (Jn. 8:11), which otherwise would be strange in the highest degree, becomes explained, as also the inexactness of the representation, e. g. Jn. 8:9, where μονος relates merely to the Pharisees who had withdrawn, and not to the people (Jn. 8:2).

The most dubious point, however, in the narrative, is the description of the Pharisees as πειραζοντες, ινα εχωσι κατηγορειν αυτου, 'tempting that they might', etc. (Jn. 8:6), which neither appears consistent with the by no means unsusceptible disposition afterwards ascribed to them, nor with the fact that no temptation was involved in the question.

Hence a certain suspicion respecting the credibility of the history of the adulteress continues in my mind, and no explanations as yet offered have sufficed to remove it. I would that some one may succeed, by a more acute analysis, in dispelling all my doubt! 1

Writing in the Dirt

The individual points of the section remain to be noticed. The expression επ'αυτοφωρω (Jn. 8:4), is, in the New Testament, an hapax legomenon. Hesychius explains it : ο επ' αυτω τω κλεμματι ευρεθεις, ετι κατεχων αυτο . In the wider sense it signifies "taken in the act itself". — The action of Christ in stooping down and writing on the ground is altogether peculiar. Even the transcribers were perplexed as to the manner in which this fact was to be understood ; hence some added και προσποιουμενος i. e. "appearing as if he wrote", while others, adopting a sense precisely opposite, appended the words μη προσποιουμενος "not pretending" i. e. he wrote in reality.

Many even sought to find out what the Saviour might have written ; the idea was widely prevalent that Jesus wrote hints concerning the sins of the Pharisees, and that when they perceived his knowledge of their hearts, they slipped away.

But this interpretation proceeded from the feeling that the withdrawment of the Pharisees required a motive, because in consequence of Jn. 8:6 they were regarded as malevolent tempters of Christ — which view, however, renders the history perfectly unintelligible. Modern expositors are united in the opinion that the stooping down and marking in the sand is merely an expression of refusal, indifference, unwillingness to reply. 2

Instances of the same custom frequently occur among the ancients. Thus, for example, in the beginning of the Acharnians of Aristophanes, ver. 30, ff. it is said :

κατ' επειδαν ω μονος,
στενω, κεχηνα, σκορδινωμαι, περδομαι,
απορω, γραφω, παρατιλλομαι, λογιζομαι
k. t. 1.

where the expressions γραφω and παρατιλλομαι , "I write" and "Ι pluck out a hair here and there", indicate actions implying embarassment, absence of mind, or occupation with something else.
Comp. also Aelian, Var. hist. xiv. 19, 3 and from the Talmud. Tract. Gittin, fol. vii. 1. (Consult Tholuck in loco.)

The words Jn. 8:7, πρωτος τον λιθον επ' αυτη βαλετω, "let him first throw a stone at her", are not to be regarded as containing an invitation to put the sentence in execution themselves (this belonged to the judicial authorities); the phrase is rather equivalent to the following condemn, Jn. 8:10. Any one may in his own thoughts condemn as well as acquit a criminal, without assuming the prerogative of the magistrate, supposing that he passes his opinion merely as an individual judgment. It is thus that we are to take the language of Jesus : "neither do I condemn thee", i. e. in reference to the external fact ; while, again regarded spiritually, it has its eternal significance.

It may be supposed that after this acquittal of the woman by the Lord, if the husband had prosecuted her, she would have been condemned by the court and stoned ; but this would not have annulled the pardon granted by Christ, which was of everlasting force in regard to her soul.

Hence Augustine very justly remarks : ergo et dominus damnavit, sed peccatum, non hominem. (Concerning εις καθ' εις or καθεις [Mark 14:19 ; Romans 12:5] comp. Winer's Grammar, 4th edition, p. 227. It is a solecism occurring also in profane writers. On the formation of this expression comp. Doderlein de brachylogia [Erl. 1831] p. 10.)

1. Olshausen himself has answered, partially, the leading doubts which he has urged against the authenticity of the passage here in question. I think they may be answered still more fully.

(a) Apart from external [textual] evidence, no good objection can, perhaps, be raised against it on the ground of its interrupting the narrative. Jn. 8:12 agrees fully as well — (perhaps better—) with this narrative as with the close of ch. 7. If the narrative was to be introduced at all, there seems no valid objection against it here.

(b) The narrative itself presents no greater difficulties than many unquestioned passages in the Evangelists. No difficulty can be raised against our Saviour's assuming the judicial office, for, as Olshausen rightly remarks, he does not assume it. He treats the woman as he treated all other sinners, forgiving her as a penitent, and his declaration, "let him who is without sin," etc., is strictly moral in its bearings, and is not intended to interfere with the rights of the magistrates. Olshausen's chief objection seems founded on the alleged malicious purpose of the questioners (that they might have wherewith to accuse him), Which he says is not apparent in the question, and which is inconsistent with the susceptibihty which they subsequently manifested.

To this we may reply first, that we can conceive a variety of ways in which the question might have been captious and malignant, and it is no ground of surprise if at our distance of time we cannot precisely determine how it was so. Either lenity or severity might have been turned against the Saviour.

Secondly, the subsequent susceptibility of the questioners argues rather guilt than innocence, and none can tell how much moral power may have been thrown into the words, looks, and manner of the Lord. It may have been sufficient to abash any amount of malignant hypocrisy.

Finally, the moral character of the transaction renders its fabrication almost incredible, and makes it worthy of the Gospel. In the simple sublime wisdom with which it evades a difficulty, and triumphantly repels the arts of the insidious, it stands on a level with the reply in respect to paying tribute to Caesar, and to the authority by which he acted : nay, in its moral element it is superior to these, and stands in the same relation to the general tenor of John's Gospel, which they do to that of the synoptical Evangelists. As in those cases he silenced his enemies by a reply framed with most simple and beautiful adroitness, he here confounds them by an appeal to their consciences, whose felt majesty and omniscience drove them from his presence. -TR.

2. Jer. 17:13, the phrase "to write the name of some one in the earth"' is a figurative form for "leaving to destruction". But if this signification be applied here, it follows that Christ judged the Pharisees, which, according to Jn. 8:15, does not appear to be the tendency of the account. Besides which, in that case the words εγραφεν εις την γην would not have stood alone, but ονοματα αυτων / αυτους must have been added.

3. In Aelian it is said of Archytas, that being asked an impudent question, he was silent, επεγραψε δε κατα του τοιχου, δειξας μεν, ο ειπειν εβιυζετο, ου μην βιασθεις ειπειν. But we must not overlook the circumstance that Aelian mentions this fact as an unusual one.

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