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Aug 18, 2010

Dunwell on the PA

Excerpt from: F.H. Dunwell, A Commentary on the AV of St. John, (London, 1872), p. 186-7

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Dunwell: - The PA

Dunwell on the PA

Commentary Ch. 8, p. 186-7

[S. V. Omit aU these verses (1-11)].

The first eleven verses of this chapter are omitted in the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. They were also omitted in the copies of St. John which St. Cyril and St. Chrysostom and other Greek commentators read. They are contained in the Vulgate, which received the sanction of the Council of Trent.

The omission of the whole paragraph respecting the woman taken in adultery in early copies of St.John's Gospel is not a discovery of modem scholars. It was known, and discussed, and accounted for, in very early times. St. Augustine thinks it was omitted from some of the Greek and Latin copies of St. John, lest our Saviour's meaning should be perverted, and it should be thought that He dealt leniently with adultery as being a human frailty. (Aug. de Conjug. Adult., i. 10 ; vi. 468, Migne.)

Notes: Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener:

1. "Pericope Adulterae. — On no other grounds than those just intimated (see note to i. 43) can this celebrated and important paragraph, the pericope adulterae as it is called, be regarded as a portion of St. John's Gospel. It is absent from too many excellent copies not to have been wanting in some of the very earliest: while the argoments in its favour, internal even more than external, are so powerful, that we can scarcely be brought to think it an unauthorised appendage to the writings of one who in another of his inspired books deprecated so solemnly the adding to or taking away from the blessed testimony he was commissioned to bear. (Rev. 22:18-19)

If chap. 20:30-31 show signs of having been the original end of this Gospel, and ch. 21 be a later supplement by the Apostle's own hand, which I think with Dean Alford is evidently the case, why should not St. John have inserted in this second edition both the amplification in chap. 5:4, and this most edifying and eminently Christian narrative?

The appended chapter (21) would thus be added at once to all copies of the Gospels then in circulation, though a portion of them might well overlook the minuter change in chap. 5:4 ; or from obvious though mistaken motives, might hesitate to receive for general use or public reading the history of the woman taken in adultery."

— Scrivener's Introd. to Criticism of NT, p. 439.

Quote 2: J.B. Lightfoot:

"The passages (in the English Authorised Version) which touch Christian sentiment or history or morals, and which are affected by textual differences, though less rare than the former (instances in which doctrine is directly, or indirectly involved) are still veiy few. Of these the pericope of the woman taken in adultery holds the first place in importance. In this case a deference to the most ancient authorities, as well as a consideration of internal evidence, might seem to involve immediate loss.

The best solution would probably be to place the passage in brackets, for the purpose of showing, not indeed that it contains an untrue narrative (for, whencesoever it comes, it seems to bear on its face the highest credentials of authentic history), but that evidence external and internal is against its being regarded as an integral portion of the original Gospel of St. John.

The close of St. Mark's Gospel should possibly he treated in the same way. If I might venture a conjecture, I should say that both the one and the other were due to that knot of early disciples who gathered about St. John in Asia Minor, and must have preserved more than one true tradition of the Lord's life and of the earliest days of the Church, of which some at least had themselves been eye-witnesses."

— Dr. J. B. Lightfoot in Revision of New Testament, p. 27.

Quote 3: Dean John Burgon:

"I am convinced that the first occasion of the omission of these memorable verses was the lectionary practice of the primitive Church, which, on Whitsunday, read from St. John 7:37 to 8:12, leaving out the twelve verses in question. Those verses, from the nature of their contents (as Augustine declares) easily came to be viewed with dislike or suspicion. The passage, however, is as old as the second century, for it is found in certain copies of the old Latin. Moreover, Jerome deliberately gave it a place in the Vulgate."

- Burgon on The Last Verses of St. Marks Gospel, p. 219.

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