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Aug 13, 2010

Lange on the PA

Excerpt from: J.P. Lange, (Bonn,) A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, xlated P. Schaff, (NY, 1871)

Page Index

Lange on the PA
    Introduction - Schaff on Lange
    Lange's Intro - (p. 31-2) Intro to John
    Lange's Text - commentary text
    Schaff's TC Note - General Intro to PA

Lange's TC Notes:
   1. The Authorities - Textual Witnesses
   2. Condition of Text - large variant count
   3. Historical Connection
      A. Strange Features
      B. Genuine Features
   4. Connection to Context - John's Gospel
   5. Other Interpolations - & evidence of Early Fathers
   6. Transmission History - stages in state of text

Lange's Commentary:
   7. Verse by Verse - examination, comments
      verse 1 & 2 - "Mount of Olives", "early morning"
      verse 3 & 5 - "scribes", "the very act"
      verse 6a - "tempting Him"
      verse 6b - "with His finger wrote"
      verse 7a - "without sin among you"
      verse 7b - "without sin"
      verse 7c - "first to cast a stone"
      verse 8 - "again He stooped down"
      verse 10 - "hath no man condemned thee?"

(Skipped, but embedded raw in html source for download):
   8. Doctrinal - ethical
   9. Homiletical - practical points

   10. Light of the World - 8:12 fwd. (Textual Notes cont.)

Schaff on Lange

- Translator of the German Commentary

"Dr. Lange’s theology is essentially biblical and evangelical catholic, and inspired by a fresh and refreshing enthusiasm for truth under all its types and aspects. It is more positive and decided than that of Neander or Tholuck, yet more liberal and conciliatory than the orthodoxy of Hengstenberg, which is often harsh and repulsive.

Lange is one of the most uncompromising opponents of German rationalism and scepticism, and makes no concessions to the modern attacks on the gospel history. But he always states his views with moderation, and in a Christian and amiable spirit; and he endeavors to spiritualize and idealize doctrines and facts, and thus to make them more plausible to enlightened reason.

His orthodoxy, it is true, is not the fixed, exclusive orthodoxy either of the old Lutheran, or of the old Calvinistic Confession, but it belongs to that recent evangelical type which arose in conflict with modern infidelity:

And going back to the Reformation and the still higher and purer fountain of primitive Christianity as it came from the hands of Christ and His inspired apostles, aims to unite the true elements of the Reformed and Lutheran Confessions, and on this firm historical basis to promote catholic unity and harmony among the conflicting branches of Christ’s Church.

It is evangelical catholic, churchly, yet unsectarian, conservative, yet progressive; it is the truly living theology of the age." SCHAFF, PHILIP (1819–1893) Swiss–American church historian

Lange on the PA

Introduction (p.31-32)

...It is otherwise with the section, Jn. 8:1-11 [compared to Jn ch. 21]. 1

It is, in the first place, established, that the section is wanting in a series of the most important codices, B L T X Δ, to which certainly Cod. Sinai. (א), and probably A, C, are to be added ; and that a series of the oldest and most eminent fathers, from Origen downward, are entirely silent respecting this section.

Add to this the fact that the section, at first view, does not improve, but impairs the connection of the Gospel.

We ourselves have hitherto thought there were sufficient proofs that it belongs to the day of the great onsets of questionings which the Pharisees made upon the Lord on the Tuesday after the feast of Palms (see Lucke, ii. p. 243 ; Hitzig, Ueber Johannes Markus p. 205 ; my own [Lange,] Leben Jew, ii. p. 952 ; p. 1222). From this apparent misplacement of the section, however, it would not necessarily follow that the passage itself is not apostolic ; not even that it is not Johannean.

Since the other Evangelists have described those onsets [confrontations], it is improbable that the section should have come from them (as, for example, Hitzig places the passage in Mark, between Mk 12:13-17 and Mk.12:18-27). On the contrary, it is more natural to suppose that this Gospel relic belongs to John, or, at all events, to the Johannean tradition in Ephesus.

The codd. 1, 19, 20 (Family 1), put it at the close of the Gospel ; codd. 69, 124, 846 (Family 13), put it after Luke 21:38. We might well suppose that the latter manuscripts are in the right as to the place of the incident, the former as to the authorship of the account.

We think it suitable, however, to recur to the question in the Commentary on the section itself; since, on a more accurate weighing of the critical and historical considerations, the section might decidedly maintain its existing position. (On the critical treatises relative to this section, compare Meyer, on chap. viii. [p. 320, 5th ed.] ).

1. [The genuineness of John 8:1-11, or rather 7:53-8:11, as also of Jn. 5:4, with the last clause of ver. 3, is purely a question of textual Criticism. See the Textual Notes in loc - p. 8.]

Christ, The Light of the World

The Adulteress, and Christ's sentence.
His ideal Appearance at the Court of the Jews...

Chap. (VII. 53) 8:1-11.

7:53 And every man went unto his own house. [;]
8:1, 2 [But] Jesus went unto the mount of Olives: And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down and taught them.
3 And the Scribes and [the] Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery,
4 and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him [The priests say unto him, tempting him that they might have to accuse Him],
5 Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what [what then] sayest thou?
6 This they said tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger, wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not [omit as though he heard them not]*
7 So [But] when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is toithout sin among you, let him first cast [be the first to cast] a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote [with his finger] on the ground.
9 And they which heard it being convicted by their own conscience [And when they heard this, they], went out one by one, beginning at [with] the eldest [or, elders], even unto the last :
10and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman [omit and saw none but the woman],
11 He said unto her, Woman, "where are those thine accusers? [where are they?] hath no man con demned thee? [Did no one condemn thee?] She said, No man [no one], Lord. And Jesus [he] said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and [henceforth] sin no more.

•[John names the Pharisees twenty times,- four times in connection with the chief priests, but never with the Scribes as here.- P.S.]

Schaff's Note on the PA

Overview by Philip Schaff,
Eng. Translator (p.267)

E. D. Yeomans was the first translator, but died 1868, having half-finished 1st English draft. Ms E. Moore finished the translation from chs. 9 to 21, and Dr. Craven added notes from Catena Patrum, Henry, Burkitt, Clarke, Ryle, Barnes, Owen, Stier, Krummacher etc. not already noted by Lange. Schaff credits himself with preparation of text, crit.apparatus, and numerous additions in brackets, as well as final revision and editing. (see Spec. Introd., p. xii-xiii)


[ The whole section concerning the adulteress, from Jn. 7:53-8:11, is omitted as spurious, or bracketted as doubtful by the critical editors of the Gr. Text. Hence I have italicized the E.V. to distinguish it from the undisputed text. (The same course should be pursued with Mark 16:9 fwd.) Without anticipating the very full and Judicious discussion of the genuineness by Dr. Lange in the EXEG. and CRIT. below, I shall only state the chief authorities for both opinions, and the conclusion to which I have attained :

1. The section is defended as genuine by Augustine (who comments on it in Trad, xxxill., and suggests, in another place, de conj. adults II. 7, that it was thrown out of the text by enemies or weak believers from fear that it might encourage their wives to infidelity), Mill, Whitby, Fabricius, Lampe, Maldonatus, Corn. a Lapide, Bengel, Michaelis, Storr, Kuinoel, Hug (RC) Scholz, Klee, Maier (RC), Horne, Owen, Webster and Wilkinson, Wieseler, Ebrard, Stier, Lange.

2. It is rejected as an interpolation (though not on that account as untrue) by Erasmus, Calvin (?), Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Semler, Paulus, Knapp, Lucke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Bloek, De Wette. Baur, Reuss, Luthardt, Meyer, Ewald, Godot, Wordsworth (?), Scrivener. So also Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Wescott & Hort. Hengstenberg regards it as an apocryphal fiction of some strongly anti-Jewish Christian of the 2nd century.

The prevailing critical evidence, though mostly negative (especially from the Eastern Church), is against the passage, the moral evidence for it; in other words, it seems to be no original part of John's written Gospel, but the record of an actual event, which probably happened about the time indicated by its position in the 8th chapter. The story could not have been invented, the less so as it runs contrary to the ascetic and legalistic tendency of the ancient church which could not appreciate it.

It is eminently Christ-like and full of comfort to penitent outcasts. It breathes the Saviour's spirit of holy mercy which condemns the sin and saves the sinner. It is a parallel to the parable of the prodigal, the story of Mary Magdalene and that of the Samaritan woman, and agrees with many express declarations of Christ that He came not to condemn, but to save the lost (Jn. 3:17, 12:47, Luke 9:56; 19:10; comp. John 5:14; Luke 7:37 fwd.).

His refusal to act as judge in the case, has a parallel in a similar case related by Luke 12:13-15. The conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees in trying Jesus with ensnaring questions is characteristic and sustained by many examples of the synoptical Gospels.

Calvin, who is disposed to reject it, admits that it "contains nothing contrary to the apostolic spirit."

Meyer (p. 321), while disowning its Johannean origin, says : "It entirely agrees with the tone of the Synoptical Gospels, and betrays not the least indication of a dogmatic or ecclesiastical reason whicn might account for its later invention."

It is moreover so manifestly original, and has so many positive witnesses in its favor, especially in the Western church, that it may be regarded as a genuine relic of the primitive evangelical tradition which was handed down in various recensions, but treated with great caution from fear of abuse in a licentious age, until in the second, certainly in the third, century it found its way into many copies of the Gospel of John. (Compare Meyer.)

Some older critics supposed that it is the same story as that which Papias (perhaps from the mouth of John) related of "a woman taken in many sins" (««i iroAAaic ajiapTtax?, not one sin, as in our case), and which was contained in the Gospel of the Hebrews (Euseb. H. JE, III. 89); but this Judaizing Gospel would hardly have given currency to a story so strongly anti-Jewish.

Alford suggests that John himself may have, in this solitary case, incorporated a portion of the current oral tradition into his narrative.

Wordsworth and others, that John delivered the story orally, and that another hand wrote it first on the margin from which it afterwards passed into the text. But these are mere conjectures.

The number of readings is unusually large. There are two main recensions, that of the received text (from which the E. T. is made), that of Cod. D. (Cod. Bezae) which is somewhat abridged ; both are given with the Lectiones variantes by Tischendorf, 8th ed.,I. pp. 830-836, and Tregelles, p. 417. To these may be added a 3rd and more lengthy recension of other MSS. differing from those on which the received text is founded (see Griesbach, and Wordsworth, p. 309).

For the critical details, the reader is referred to Dr. Lange's discussion below, Lucke's Comm. Vol. II, pp. 243-279; Meyer, pp. 320-323; Tregelles on the Text of the Gr. Test., pp. 236-243; Tischendorf (8th ed.). Bloomfield's Recensio Synoptica, Alford (6th ed.) and Wordsworth.

- P. Schaff ]

A. Chapter 8:1-11

Christ and the Adulteress and Her Accusers


Discussion of the genuininess of this section: - The difficulty of handling the question of the genuineness of this section, we have already indicated in the Introduction [p. 31 above]; and we have there indicated also the present state of the question. Four points are to be considered:

1. The authorities
  2. The condition of the text
  3. The historical connection of the occurrence.
  4. The connection of the seotion with what precedes and what follows.

1. The Authorities:

"Griesbach & Schultz give a list of more than a hundred manuscripts in which the PA appears. 1 Among them are D. G. H. K. M. U.2 Jerome, in his day, asserts that the PA appears in many Greek manuscripts, 3 and some scholia appeal to αρχαια αντιγραφα ('ancient copies')" etc.

- Lucke.

1. [Wordsworth (p. 309) says that it is found in more than 300 cursive MSS. - P. Schaff]

2. [Also E F S, but in E the passage is marked with asterisks in the margin, in S with obeli. Ten cursive copies put it at the end of John (Family 1), some insert it at the end of Luke 21 (Family 13). - P. Schaff]

3. [ "in multis et Graecis et Latinis codicibus" Adv. Pelag., II. 17. It should also be added that most of the copies of the Itala and Vulgata contain the section. - P. Schaff]

On the other hand,

"the majuscules B C L T do not contain the passage; 4 neither do the older manuscripts of the Peshito, nor the Nestorian manuscripts; and it is certain that it was not translated into Syriac till the 6th century. Of the manuscripts of the Philoxenian version, in which it occurs, some have it only on the margin, and others have it in the text with the note that it is not everywhere found. So in most manuscripts of the Coptic version, and in the Arabic version which was based upon the Coptic, we seek it in vain. Of the manuscripts of the Armenian version, some have it not, others have it at the end of the Gospel. In the Sahidic and Gothic versions it is also wanting.

Among the fathers, the Greek expositors Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Nonnus, Theophylact, entirely omit the pericope, and seem to know nothing of it. So the Catenas, both published and unpublished.

Euthymius expounds it, as a προσθηκη ['insert'?] which is not without use. 5 The current mention and use of the pericope in the Latin church begins with Ambrose and Augustine." Ibid. "Furthermore, several manuscripts in Griesbach contain the passage, but add either the sign of rejeotion nor of interpolation. Others put the passage at the end of the Gospel; others again, after chap. 7:36, or 8:12 ; still others place it after Luke 21. It not rarely appears in the manuscripts mutilated." Ibid.

4. [To which must be added Cod. Sin. Tischendorf (I., p. 826) enumerates the following uncial MSS. as witnesses against the section : א A B C L T X Δ ; but A, C are here defective, and L, Δ have an empty space, though not sufficient for the whole passage. - P. Schaff]

5. [Euthymius remarks that the pericope from 7:53 to 8:12 παρα τοις ακριβεσιν αντιγραφοις η ουχ ευρηται, η ωβελισται Διδ φαινονται παρεγγραπτα και προσθηκη. - P. Schaff]

This position of the authorities presents a great critical problem, which at best makes the section in its present place suspicious ; especially when we consider that Origen has not the passage, that Tertullian & Cyprian, when they write on subjects which would bring it in, do not mention it, and that the older manuscripts of the Peshito (Syriac Version) are without it.

2. The condition of the text

This is the sorest side of the passage. Reading disputes reading. Compare Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf. 6

"We have three very different texts, - an unheard-of case in the Gospel of John. Besides the received text, Griesbach gives two others: first the text of Cod. D., secondly one compiled from other manuscripts." Lucke.

This diversity seems unaccountable, unless a traditional apostolic relic (oral or in Hebrew, or preserved in substance with free variations) was scattered through different copies before it resulted in this passage.

[To this unusual number of variations must be added the entire diversity from the narrative stylo of John, whioh Meyer and Alford regard as the most weighty argument against the passage. Here belong the terms which are not otherwise used by John, the absence of his usual which occurs but once in this passage, while is here found 11 times. Hengstenberg misses also the "mystic twilight" which is characteristic of John's style. Upon the whole, the style is more like that of the Synoptists. Tischendorf (8th ed. VIII. p. 829) says categorically: "Locum de adultera non ab Johanne scriptum, esse certissimum est." 1 - P. Schaff]

6. [Also Tregelles, Alford, Wordsworth. Godet (II., W) says : Un vari text apostolique n' a jamais ce expose a des alterations si considerable. - P. Schaff ]

3. The historical connection

A. Strange Features of Passage

A. In this respect many doubts have been raised, which must, of course, be carefully weighed.

(a) That Jn. 7:53 refers to Sanhedrists returning to their houses, not to festal pilgrims returning to their homes, is obvious. This, however, yields a very suitable connection. They had expected Christ to be brought before their bar, and now were compelled - to go home disappointed and divided.

(b) The statement in Jn 8:1, that Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. It is thought that this method of securing Himself against the snares of His enemies was not employed by Jesus till the time of the last passover. Yet the fact that this was necessary is here evident enough ; for the Sanhedrin was seeking to arrest Him. Lucke's reasoning (p. 255) overlooks this point.

(c) Jn. 8:2 "All the people came unto Him." Even if the great day of the feast, on which Jesus made His last appearance, was the eighth, there would be nothing to prevent all the people who did not immediately leave Jerusalem, from assembling the next day in the temple.

(d) The Scribes, γραμματεις, who do not elsewhere appear in John, are strange here. Their appearance here, however, is in keeping with the immediately succeeding fact that a question of the law comes up ; the strangeness of it is not decisive. Other differences of expression are less important (see Lucke, p. 257). [John names the Pharisees 20 times, 4 in connection with the chief priests, but never with the Scribes here. - P. Schaff ]

(e) It seems not clear whether the Scribes appear as witnesses, or as accusers, or as judges. Plainly as accusers, or as judges who would refer their decision, in irony, to the tribunal of Jesus; not as zealots, according to Wetstein.

(f) There is no mention of the adulterer (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22,24). This signifies nothing at all.

(g) According to the Rabbins the legal punishment of adultery was strangulation (Lucke, p. 250). On this point Michaelis has justly denied the authority of the Talmud, and has asserted, on a comparison of Ex. 31:14 ; 35:2 with Num. 15:32-35, that the formula put to death, generally means stoned. Besides, strangulation is frequently used first only as an alleviation of the prescribed penalty, as in the burning in the middle ages.

(h) But what temptation was there in the question? Chiefly the fact that Jesus had not yet officially declared Himself Messiah, while He nevertheless was largely acknowledged as such among the people, and seemed Himself to give occasion for such recognition. The procedure with the adulteress was, therefore, in its very form, a temptation to Him to declare Himself concerning His authority (with reference to Moses). Then in the matter of the case lay a further temptation, to wit, in the conflict between the so-called commandment of the law on the one hand, and the prevailing milder practice and the known gentleness of Christ on the other. To this question, however, we must return.

3. The historical connection

B. Features of Genuineness

B. But now the apparently strange features are offset by a number, which speak for the genuineness of the narrative.

(a) The feast of tabernacles was pre-eminently a joyous popular feast of the Jews; it was celebrated in the good time of the year; such a sin as the one here narrated, might easily occur.

(b) The writing of Jesus on the ground is so peculiar a feature, that it would hardly have been fabricated.

(c) The same may be said of His challenge ; "He that is without sin among you," etc., and of His closing word to the woman.

[(d) the peculiarity of the whole incident, as presenting to the Lord a case of actual sin on its direct merits, is in its favor. Such an incident might be said to meet a want, or at least to fill a place of its own, in the gospel history. And if such an incident occurred at all, John would be the Evangelist most likely to notice and record it ; since he is the one to record the somewhat kindred issue raised by the disciples over the man born blind (Jn. 9). With so many cases of actual human misery, and of general sinfulness, brought before the Lord for His treatment, "whether in pretence or in truth," and with various hypothetical cases of conscience put to Him, it would seem suitable that we should have one case of actual and flagrant crime.

- E. D. Yeomans. (first translator)]

Nothing, therefore, can be adduced against the details of the story or its connection with other facts of tho Gospels ; it is even a question, whether there are not special data in its favor.

4. The Johannine connection

Attachment to John's Gospel

As to the connection of the section with the preceding and following portions of the Gospel: It is clear that the story of the adulteress in this place not only introduces no disturbance, but even serves to elucidate the discourse of Christ in Jn. 8:12 fwd. The woman had walked in darkness; her judges had admitted that they found themselves in darkness in regard to the disposal of this case; but for the very purpose of making an assault of the power of darkness upon the Lord with their captious question. This connection does not exclude a further reference to the temple-lights and the torch-light festivities in the celebration of the feast of tabernacles.

One of the principal questions is the question of internal criticism : Is it conceivable that the Jewish rulers would so early make a captious attack upon the Lord by an ironical concession of His Messiahship ? We must here, in the first place, remember that the enemies of Jesus at the last passover made a whole round, a very storm, of such assaults upon Jesus (Leben Jesu, II. 3, p. 1218).

The situation there was this: They first endeavored, by their authority, to confound Him before the people in the temple-enclosure with the question, by what power He thus appeared ; but He baffled them with counter-questions. He maintained His position before the people, and seemed unimpeachable ; while they were impotent. Then they had recourse to craft ; they ironically assumed that He was the Messiah, in order to catch Him in entangling questions. It is now asked, Is it conceivable, that they had already attempted this trick before? In the Synoptical Gospels there could be no mention of this, because they relate only the last attendance of Jesus at a feast. But in John we should expect earlier attacks of the same sort to be mentioned, if any had occurred.

A decisive preliminary question, however, is this: How came the Jewish rulers to their diabolical irony and the ensnaring questions which proceeded from it? The history answers: by the sense of impotence which came with the perception that with force and authority they accomplished nothing.

This condition already existed here at the feast of tabernacles, when eren the officers who had been sent to take Jesus, returned paralyzed by His word and unsuccessful, and when a division began to appear even in the Sanhedrin itself. The impotent embarrassment of force was there, and with it the devilish counsel of craft.

Accordingly this maneuvre was thrice repeated ; first at the feast of tabernacles as recorded in this section ; then at the feast of dedication in the winter, as recorded in Jn. 10:24; finally at the last passover, when these tempting proposals became so thick, that we may well infer the rulers of tho Jews had accustomed themselves to it by former practice. Of course in this first instance their assumption of His Messiahship is very equivocal; it does not reach the full measure of its insolence till the last passover.

But the same condition of things which brought the rulers of the Jews to this stratagem - that is, the previous failure of their forcible attempt, - led Jesus, for the purpose of security, to withdraw for the night to the mount of Olives. He would therefore be here just in the right place according to Jn 8:1.

That the gospel history thus gains much in life-like development, connected progress, is palpable. And at the same time tho exhibition of the Jewish feasts in their religious and moral degeneracy becomes more complete. Wo have already obsorved that, in the view of John, the tragic dissolution of Judaism in the gradual completion of the murderous design of the Jews against Christ at their successive feasts. This is tho one side ; the other is the religious and moral decay of . the people themselves, which comes to light at the great feasts. At the passover, the great passover of the Jews, this decay manifests itself in tho transfer of the whole traffic in sacrificial animals and money into the temple itself, chap. ii.

At the feast of Purim, the feast of brotherhood and deliverance, it shows itself in the leaving of the sick without attendance, help, or sympathy in their Bethesda, chap. 5. The feast of tabernacles, the great feast of popular thanksgiving and joy, appears defiled by licentiousness, scenes of adultery, and partizan, temporizing policy among the Pharisees (who here let the guilty man run free), chap. 8., while the blind brother is left to beggary and Pharisaic alms, chap. 9., against the law of Deut. 15:4.

The feast of dedication, Jn 10:22, seems not distinguished by any similar mark of corruption, unless it is symbolical that the storm of winter blows through Spirit-forsaken halls which the Spirit of Christ alone still quiokens, and that the multitude of the people, who at other times always gathered to protect the Lord, have fled before wind and weather, so that the Jews can suddenly surround Him, and at last propose to bury him under a heap of stones in the middle of the very court of the temple.

Internal evidence, therefore, speaks decidedly for this, as the proper place for the section in hand.

If the alternative is, either that the tradition of the early church for definite reasons partially overlooked and then dropped this section, or that it inserted the passage here as an ancient relic of Ephesian tradition from John, - the former theory is not more difficult than the latter. Indeed the prevalence of the ascetic spirit in the church might almost make the omission of a larger section of this character more probable than insertion.

Other Cases of Interpolation

Evidence of Early Fathers

We observe a late interpolation of a few words in 1 John 5:7-8. We consider the passage, 2 Pet. 1:20 to 3:2, an interpolation, but entirely taken in substance from the Epistle of Jude (Apostol. Zeilalter, I., p. 155).

On the other hand, the conclusion of Mark 16:9 fwd, seems to afford an example of omission rather than of interpolation.

Now it is easy to imagine that the centuries of ascetic austerity, from the end of the 2nd century to the end of the 4th, might scruple to read in public this passage, in which the guilt of adultery seemed to be so leniently dealt with.

We must, therefore, by all means consider any words of the fathers which speak of such a scruple:

Ambrose: Profecto si quis ea auribus otiosis accipiat, erroris incentivum erroris incurrit [quum legit . . . adulterae absolutionem, Lubrica igitur ad lapsum via] (Apol. Davidis posterior, chap. i.).

Augustine: lloc infidelium sensus exhorret,ita ut nonnulli modicae vel potius inimici verse fidei, credo, metuentes peccandi impunitatem dari mulieribus suis, illud quod de adulterae indulgentia Dominus fecit, auferrent de codicibus suis, quasi permissionem peccandi tribuerit, qui dixit: "Deinceps noli peccare" (De adulterinis conjugiis, II. 7).

Nicon [10th cent.] : "The Armenians expunged the pericope from their version: βλαβεραν ειναι λεγοντες τοις πολλοις την τοιαυτην ακροασιν ([in Coteler. Patr. Apost., L 238] see Lucke, p. 249).

Augustine's declaration we have only to reinterpret from one of pastoral animadversion to one of historical criticism: The scruple was begotten not of the interested unbelief of some individual husbands, but of the ascetic, weak faith of a legalistic age. (Against this Lucke, p. 248 and 252, can bring nothing that amounts to more than assertion.) 1

1. [ Wordsworth also urges this point, especially the severe discipline of the Eastern church towards adultery. According to Bingham (Antiqu. XVI., chap. 11), S. Basil's Canons prescribe 15 years' penance for adultery, the Council of Ancyra 7 years', the Council of Eliberis (in Spain) 5 years' for a single act, and 10 years if repeated.

Webster & Wilkinson :

" The views of the fathers of the nature and objects of Christ's mission, and of the distinction between the covenants of the law and the gospel, were imperfect and limited ... 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."

- P. Schaff ]

Transmission History

stages of text

It may be supposed that the disuse of the passage passed through different stages.

1. The narrative stood in its place, but was left standing and passed over in the public readings, or in discussions of the question of marriage. The ascetic Tertullian could form a very suitable predecessor to Cyprian in such a step, and Origen an equally suitable predecessor to others.

2. Next, perhaps, the pericope began to undergo improvement by other readings (e.g., Codex D επι αμαρτια instead of εν μοιχεια ), and especially abbreviation.

3. Some transcribers then went further, and transferred the pericope to the end of the Gospel as an appendix. [Family 1, 10th cent.]

4. This led to the last stage of entire omission. But now the codices which had kept the pericope reacted. The passage came to be inserted again in various places, either where we have it now, or after Jn. 7:36, or after Jn. 8:12, or, with the view of combining this temptation with those of tho last passover, after Luke 21:38 [Family 13, 10th cent.]. In this process some accepted it with a mark of addition or even of rejection. From this twofold procedure the critical confusion in regard to this section resulted.

In any case the passage is an apostolic relic 1

But another thing in favor of the genuineness of it is the παλιν ουν αυτοις ελαλησεν ο Ιησους, Jn 8:12, and the ουν παλιν αυτοις, Jn. 8:21. The words in Jn. 8:21 literally refer to the words of Jn. 7:34. It is harder to see the reference of the first παλιν, if we have to take in the idea; "I am the light of the world". The Lord, however, already implied this to them in Jn. 5:35-36 fwd. John was a light, and yet only a witness to Christ who was appointed for their deliverance, Jn. 5:40. Apart from this, the terms of Jn. 8:12: "Then spake Jesus again unto them", - must be taken absolutely, meaning simply that He addressed them again. In other words : by their attack upon His life they had, in all reason, already brought His intercourse with them to a close But then, chap. viii. 1-11, they had apparently relented, and though He knew that their question was put to Him in malicious hypocrisy, yet He let it pass in the official form which it assumed beforo the people, He was committed to the people, after this recognition of the rulers, to resume intercourse with them; but that Ho might soon say to them-once more, that He shall forsake them and give them up. Thus the two occurrences of παλιν in Jn. ch 8, form, in our view, a distinct demand for the section concerning the adulteress.

As to the opponents, as well as the advocates, of the genuineness of this passage, compare Lucke, p. 243, and Meyer [p. 820-328, 6th ed.].

1. See Leben Jesus, II., p. 052 ; Hitzig. Ueber Joh. Mark. p. 208 sqq.; and Meyer's designation of it as an "apocryphal document " is therefore extremely unbecoming. [In his 5th edition (p. 320), Meyer does not call it so, but rather "ein aus der apostolischen Zeit herruhrendes Schriftstuck, eins ural e Reliquie evangelischer Geschichte" - P. Schaff ]

Verse by Verse

Textual Commentary

Ver. 1. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. - This retirement for the night to the mount of Olives (Gethsemane or Bethany) was caused by the direct demonstration of the Sanhedrin against the freedom and life of Jesus. At the same time it forms a significant counterpart to the words: "Every man went unto his own house." To them everything, meantime, remained in the old way ; but not to Him, for He saw further. During His last residence in Jerusalem this method of spending the night in the mount of Olives appears as a fixed rule, Luke 21:37.

Ver. 2. And early in the morning. - ορθρου. John writes elsewhere πρωι (Jn. 18:28; 20:1; πρωια, Jn. 21:4). Luke, on the contrary, ορθρου. It is to be observed here, however, that the term ορθρου denotes more precisely the dawn of morning, and that it is intended to denote just this time. And all the people. - πας ο λαος.

If John elsewhere prefers ο οχλος the multitude, or οι οχλοι, the multitudes, we must consider that He here intends to signalize the gathering of the whole remaining mass of festal pilgrims to Jesus in the temple. The same may be said respecting the καθισας εδιδασκ. [which is not used by John] ; He again set Himself right down among them, as if He wished to begin again, after He had provisionally foiled the attack of the Sanhedrists.

That the γραμματεις, the scribes, are here named, though not elsewhere, arises from the fact that a question of scriptural law comes up in the sequel. And the frequently recurring δε, too, instead of the Johannean ουν, has an internal reason in the great series of unexpected incidents which here begins. That Jesus goes to the mount of Olives, is accounted for by the beginning of the hostile machinations, ver. 1. That He returns to the temple in spite of the persecution (ver. 2), ia due to the fact that the scribes and Pharisees now make as if they would acknowledge Him (ver. 3), though they mean only to tempt Him, ver. C. The like may be said of Imost of tho subsequent occurrences thus introduced. Only the great accumulation of the δε deems certainly strange ; but in these unusual turns there was less occasion for an ουν.

Ver. 3. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him, etc. - Certainly not as a distinct act of zealotry (Wetstein) ; , nor as a formal deputation of the Sanhedrin. Probably it is the committee of a particular synagogue court, with which on the one hand the zealots who had taken tho woman in her crime, leagued themselves as witnesses, and which, on the other hand, acts in concert with the Sanhcdrin. Tho case was just now brought before a Jewish court; it is thought well fitted to be made a trap for tho Lord, by an ironical concession, for reasons above-mentioned, that He is the one to decide it. The party cannot be described as "not official" (Meyer), because in that case it could not have deferred its judgment to the Lord. As the death penalty was involved, the Sanhedrin must have been in concert.

Ver. 5. Taken in the very act. - επ'αυτοφωρω , in ipso furto. 1 "The man, who was likewise liable to death (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:24), might have escaped." Meyer. Though stoning, according to Deut. 22:23-24, was ordered for the particular case in which a betrothed bride yielded herself to unchastity (because she was regarded as already the wife of her spouse), it does not follow that this guilty woman must have been a betrothed bride (Meyer), since in the passage referred to the death-penalty uniformly appointed for adulteresses (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22) seems only to be more particularly described (Michaelis, Tholuck, Ewald, and others). The sentence of the Talmud: Filia Israelite si adultera, cum nupta, strangulanda, cum desponsata, lapidanda, on the one hand cannot be decisive for that period, on the other may only mean a modification of the general penalty of stoning for a nupta.

1. [Also the adjective αυτοφωρος, caught in the very theft, and generally in the very act.- P. Schaff ]

Ver. 6. Tempting him. - That this means a malicious temptation, not innocent questioning (Olshausen), the clear sense of the term in other places proves. But wherein consisted the precarious alternative, which was to entangle Him?


1. The antagonism between the Roman criminal law, which did not punish adultery with death, and the law of Moses. Their expectation was that He would declare Himself for Moses against the Roman law, and then they would accuse Him to the Romans. Hence the cv ovv ri Ikyets, ver. 5. A plan, therefore, similar to that of the question about tribute-money, Matt. xxii. (Schulthess, Moyer). It is nothing against this, as Liicke thinks, that the criminal law of the Romans in the provinces did not override the peculiar customs or ordinances of tho respective peoples. But this interpretation is, no doubt, opposed by the fact that a declaration of the woman's being worthy of death might be joined with a reference of the plaintiffs to the legal court, besides the fact that they would cither have to execute the penalty themselves, or, as informers against Jesus, openly violate the preeppt of Moses.

2. The issue lay between the traditional tribunal of the people and the supposed new tribunal of the Messiah : the question being, whether Jesus would leave the decision to the ordinary course, or would at once take it upon Himself. Undoubtedly this was a leading point in the temptation; this gave tho temptation its form (see above) ; but it was not the whole of it (Baumgarten-Crusius, et al.).

3. The alternative was the old, strict letter of the law, and the looser popular practice which had gained prevalence, which no longer visited adultery with death; hence the question of a judicial process or none at all (Ebrard). But with this alternative in full view their question would + have condemned themselves. The popular practice had a sort of indulgent tradition on its side.

4. The alternative was tho Mosaic law literally applied and the known gentleness of Christ. A negative answer would appear, therefore, as in contradiction with Moses; an affirmative answer, as in contradiction with Himself (Augustine, Erasmus, Luther, and others). A modification of this view is, that they certainly expected the lenient decision, in order to charge Him with opposition to Moses (Euthymius, Bengel, Neander, et al.).

This modification increases the tangling dilemma. But this was not simply an issue between the rigor of Moses and the mildness of Christ; it had reference to tho old legislation of Moses and the new reformation of the law by Christ as opposed to the traditional practice of the Jews. If He had simply affirmed the Mosaio letter, He would have invaded the rabbinical tradition and practice, the existing order of things, the popular opinion and feeling concerning Himself; they would have turned the tradition against Him. If Ho had affirmed the popular practice, they would have turned the letter of Scripture against Him. But they wished above all things to find out whether He would venture, with Messianic authority, to lay down a new law. On another interpretation, by Dick {Stud, und Krit.y 1832), and Baur's view, see Moyer.

And with his finger wrote 1 on the ground. 2

1. [ or , a descriptive imperfect, 'He kept writing.' - P. Schaff ]

2. [This minute circumstance Hengstenberg considers as a mark of fiction unworthy of Christ ; Meyer, Stier and Alford, correctly as a mark of originality. The hypocritical malignant questioners well deserved this contemptuous treatment. Writing or figuring on the ground may indicate ennui or distraction of mind or embarrassment or deep reflection or intentional indifference to what is going on. The last case is the only one that is applicable to Jesus, and the gesture here has the same meaning as His words, Matt. 22:18 : 'Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites!' (Comp. also Luke 22:14.) This disregard and rebuke implied in the act itself, is the thing essential, not the words or signs written ; else they would have been recorded. It is therefore idle to ask what he wrote on the ground. - P. Schaff ]

- Some manuscripts, such as E. K., add fift irpoffKotobfievoc [dissimulant], others kcI Trpooiroiobfievoc [simulant]; that is, according to Liicke, in the one case: not merely feigning ; in the other: only feigning. Manifestly exegetical additions. According to the correct interpretation of Euthymius Zigabenus, the whole act of stooping down and writing on the ground was symbolical, and was meant to express inattention to the questioners before Him.


"This gesture was familiar to antiquity as a representation of deep musing, perplexity or languor of mind ;" see the examples in Lucke, p. 269, note 1, where Wetstein also is quoted.

It is, therefore, contrary to the spirit of the text to ask what Jesus might have written (Michaelis: the answer: "As it is written". Bede: the sentence in ver. 7 ; as also conjectures in Wolf & Lampe). 1

If we ask, why Jesus does not here enter upon the question, as He did in like cases at the last passover, - it is not enough to answer, that Ho would not interfere in civil matters (Matt. 22. ; Lu. 12:13 sq., Meyer), or that He would intimate that the question was too malicious to deserve an answer (Luthardt).

We have rather to consider that He has not yet received His distinct introduction as Messiah in Jerusalem by the public hosanna, and now abstains from any official offer of Himself as Messiah, and indeed intends not to appear at all as Messiah, according to their idea. Therefore, as this matter is still in suspense, He also leaves His position towards their question in suspense ; He neither rejects nor accepts it. But He certainly does already assume the expression of a calm majesty which is not pleased to have its leisure and recreation intruded upon with a street scandal. If they really take Him for the Messiah, they must consent to this.

1. [Some MSS. add after the word (ver. 8) : tfct tint of every one of them.

Wordsworth: An emblem that the law which He Himself had given, had been written on earthly and stony hearts. Very fanciful.

Lightfoot & Boaser: the curses written by the priest against unfaithful women, Num. 5:17.

Augustine and others: reference to Jer. 17:13,
"They that depart from me shall be written in the earth."

Wolf & Lampe, like Bede, conjecture that He wrote the sentence in ver. 7;

Godet: the sentence of the judge which must be written. But Christ evidently did not wish to listen to them or to act as judge, and when asked the second time, He did not answer their question about the woman, but reminded them of their own sins.- P. Schaff ]

Ver. 7. He that is without sin among you, etc. 1 - The test just named, they stand. They continue in their questioning. Hence He now gives them the New Testament decision.

1. [Owen remarks on this verse: 'This is one of the most profound and searching remarks to be found in the whole gospel. " Who are you that you should be so clamorous for the meting out of punishment to this woman? Have you no sins of your own to be repented of? Is it your appropriate task to sit in Judgment upon your fellow-men, as though you yourselves were perfect and deputed of God to do this? Look to your own hearts, inspect your own conduct in the light of God's law (Matt. 5:28, 32), and be less solicitous in respect to the exact degree or kind of punishment to be meted out to your fellow-men.' " - P. Schaff ]

Ver. 7 (cont.). "Without sin." As αναμαρτητος, "sinless", occurs only this once in the New Testament (though frequently in classic usage), it cannot be made into an inconsistency with the style of John. How is the word "without sin" to be understood?

1. Erasmus, Zuingle, Calvin, Baur, Hase [Owen] make it absolute sinlessness. Hase therefore thinks that the answer is a proof of the apocryphal nature of the section ; so do Paulus & Baur, since the demand that only sinless men alone should act as judges and pronounce sentence, is utterly inadmissible.

2. Meyer [p. 330], after Lucke:

"Whether He means freedom from the possibility of fault (of error or of sin), like Plato in Pol. I. p. 839 B., or freedom from actual fault [comp. γυνη ιν'αμαρτητος , Herod, t. 39] ; and likewise, whether He means this latter in general (2 Macc. 8:4), or in respect to a particular category or species of sin (2 Macc. 12:42; Deut. 29:19), is to be decided solely by the context. And here freedom from sin must be understood, not indeed of adultery specifically, because Jesus could not presume this of the whole hierarchy even in view of all their moral corruption ; but of unchastity, because one guilty of this stands in question and before the eyes of all as an actual opposite of ιναναμαρτητος [sinless one]. Compare αναμαρτωλος, Lk. 7:37. αναμαρτανειν, Jacobs' ad Anthol. X., p. 111; and in Jn. 5:14, in μηκετι αμαρτατε, a specific sort of sinning is meant; and the same injunction given in Jn. 8:11 to the adulteress, is the authentic commentary on this αναμαρτητος."

So De Wette also, and Tholuck [& Alford]. Yet Lucke (and De Wette likewise) takes in addition the moral point of view: Jesus would not trench upon the office of civil justice ; He looked at the case solely in its moral aspect and with reference to. the ftaaifaia rov tieov

(Luther: "Therefore we have preaching in the kingdom of Christ, and when this preaching comes, it supersedes swords, judge, and all").

The question is: In what relation did Christ place Christian morality to the theocratic civil law of Moses? And here it must be remembered that, with the Pharisees, the idea of being a sinner, and of being without sin, had reference to the law.

Publicans and sinners are such as are fallen under Levitical discipline, liable to excommunication. But now the Levitical discipline was, according to the spirit of the law, so ideal that, strictly taken, it made every one necessarily unclean (see Hag. 2:12 sqq.; our Comm. on Matt. chap. 3.).

And this is most especially true with regard to sexual impurities and offences. The law, therefore, in its full ideal consistency, could not be carried out ; and the mitigations of it in practice partook not only, on the one hand, of laxity, but, on the other, of moral earnestness, which must scorn to apply the law with hypocritical rigor in particular cases, when it could not apply it consistently in all.
(Luther & Zwingle had scruples about the discipline of church law in similar consistency. )

Christ, therefore, by His word, approves the prevalent leniency, but at the same time leads His hearers back to the principle of the ideal stringency.

His expression means, in the first place : Whosoever among you knows himself to be Levitically clean, particularly in respect of sexual defilements and unchastity, let him begin the execution of the penalty upon the woman. It presumes that no one will venture to proceed, and the conscience of the accusers must sanction this judgment. Then, secondly, in this actual impossibility of restoring the Mosaic rigorism is couched the deeper moral principle, that, in the Christian point of view, any condemnation of a guilty person by a host of accusers and judges who deem themselves guiltless, must be abandoned.

For it must be considered that the legal condemnation presupposed this guiltlessness, and, at the same time that theocratic penalty of death stood for damnation (the cutting off of its soul from its people). Christ could no longer recognize either the innocence of those supposed to be clean, nor the liability of the culprit to damnation (which in fact the Mosaic system had only aimed to exhibit symbolically). The Old Testament had now unfolded itself into the New, which laid down on the one hand, the liability of all, even of human judges, to damnation, and on the other . hand, the capacity of all even of the fallen, for salvation.

This, however, in the third place, does not supersede human acquittal and condemnation; it only shows that they must proceed upon a new basis (sympathy of the sentence with the sinner) and caution against hasty and over-stringent judgment). How, far, then, this principle should allow the civil punishment of seduced or infatuated women, Christ leaves to the future, but intimates that, on the part of severity, stringency and pride, there is a motive equally ready to hold the culprit to punishment. It was itself a death-penalty, that the adulteress was socially outlawed and condemned.

It must further be considered how singularly Christ distributes His decision between Himself and the appellants or Jewish court. He states the principle, that is the vital idea of the law ; but they are left to apply it according to their best knowledge and conscience: First judge themselves, then others.

Ver. 7 (cont.). Let him be the first to cast a stone at her [not the first stone; βαλετω, not only permission, but command]. - According to Deut. 27:7, the witnesses were to cast the first stone. But here the first one means him who will have tho courage to condemn as being himself innocent. - According to the Rabbins the first blow struck the breast, often with fatal effect.

Ver. 8. And again he stooped down. - The Prophet, the Messiah, had solved His problem and returned to His rest, and represented His leisure in symbolical recreation, that they may understand that it now rests with them to act, that is, in the first place to condemn themselves. He is discharged of the matter. And as He has previously not looked nor glanced at the woman in her conscience of guilt, so He now does the same with them.

Jerome: "He would give them room to make their escape." [Inconsistent with ver. 6.]

[Ver. 8 (cont.).They went out one by one, (εξηρχοντο, descriptive imperfect), εις καθ' εις (instead of καθ'ενα, a later Greek formula.) - The preposition is here adverbial. Compare Mark 14:19; Rom. 12:5; Acts 21:21; and Winer, p. 234.- P. Schaff].

Ver. 8 (cont.). Being Convicted by their own conscience. - Tholuck: "It is historically attested, that at that time many prominent Rabbins were living in adultery." Wagenseil on the Sota, p. 525. And some of them must have feared that when He should lift up Himself again, they might hear something further, which would be still less pleasant (Musculus).

Beginning at the eldest 1 - Fritzsche and others construe so as to make αρξαμ. απο τ. πρεσβυτερ. substantially a parenthesis ; the main statement being, that they went out even to the last ; this being more particularly described by the parenthesis ; the eldest made the beginning.

Winer & Tholuck : They went out, the eldest leading off; and the εως τ. εσχ. a breviloquent addition. The former interpretation seems clearer ; and in many manuscripts this last addition is wanting. The eldest went out first, partly because of a guilty conscience, partly because they were the more shrewd.

Is not Tpeojl'uTspoi here an official name? This is at least probable, because the group is a judicial one ; hence Lucke, De Wette and others take it of rank. Meyer (and Tholuck, 7th ed.), on the contrary: This is not yielded by the contrast; there would then be no proper antithesis; it is a phrase: from the first to the last.

But from the oldest to the last is no antithesis. On the contrary, a sufficiently clear antithesis is: from the elders (of the synagogue) to the last, i.e. the servants, 1 Cor. 4:9.

The expression: to the last, might, however, have been afterwards added, to destroy the definiteness of the term elders, which perhaps might have given the section a wrong and offensive bearing in the Christian congregations.

[ "They went out - what else could they do? Not stop there, with the people gazing alternately at them, and at the finger moving to and fro on the ground! They retreat, but observe how orderly they do it. The Evangelist is careful to inform us that they went out, one by one, beginning 'at the eldest, even unto the last'.

Perhaps they hung back for a moment, no one disposed to go first, lest he should thereby seem to betray himself the greatest sinner in the lot. So, to avoid suspicion, they will depart in the order of age. As well-bred men, they give precedence to seniority, the younger bowing out the elder. - 'Not before you, sir, reverend Doctor - Rabbi Eliezer, Habbi Jehudi,' etc.

They leave; the people staring after them: their long robes and broad phylacteries not quite so imposing as when they came in. They are gone. The court has adjourned. There has been an adjudication, not precisely that for which the court was called. There has been a conviction not of the accused, but of the accusers, and they, self-convicted, not daring to look the Judge in the face, who could see them through and through."

- From a sermon of Dr. Muhlenberg,
on the Woman and her Accusers. (NY., 1867).
- P. Schaff]

Left alone, and the woman. - Only the band of accusers had gotten away ; the disciples and the people who were looking on could remain. But that the woman remained standing as if bound, and did not withdraw, seems to show what an impression Jesus made upon her conscience. She stood, as if bound to His judgment-seat.

1. [Or as Lange below explains it, from the elders, the presbyters of the synagogue.- P. Schaff.]

Ver. 10. Hath no man condemned thee? - The ουδεις is emphatic ; but so is the condemn, κατακρινω [not found elsewhere in John].

It denotes the sententia damnaloria of theocratic judgment, a sentence of death considered at the same time as a religious reprobation. Meyer remarks that since these people came asking advice, the vote of each one is the only thing intended. But in asking advice they wished to refer to the Lord a judicial sentence, which He referred back to them, and this is therefore the thing in question.

Hence it is neither, on the one hand, the actual "stoning" (Wolf) which is meant, nor on the other hand a mere moral condemnation (Tholuck), nor any dismissal of the reference (Meyer). 1

The people had left the decision to Him, though in irony ; and they did the same again, when He in a conditional way cast the decision back upon them. When He now says : if they have desisted from their condemnation, I also condemn thee not, - unquestionably He means this in the New Testament sense, as in Jn. 3:17 ; Matt 18:11. But in this case her acquittal is included in His decision, so far as He interprets the tacit practical verdict of her accusers. This is proved by His next words. This withholding of moral condemnation is, however, no withholding of moral judgment.

Augustine (Tract.22): Quid est Domine? faves ergo peccatis? Non plane ita. Attende, quod sequitur : 'vade, deinceps jam noli peccare.' Ergo et Dominus damnavit, sed peccalum, non hominem."

[Ambrose: emendavit ream, non crimen absolvit. - P. Schaff]

1. [In his 5th edition, p. 832, Meyer says on ουδε εγω σε κατακρινω: "This is not a sentence of forgiveness, like Matt. 9:2 ; Luke 7:48, nor yet a mere refusal of jurisdiction, . . . but a reversal of the condemnation, in the consciousness of His Messianic mission, which was not to condemn, but to seek and to save the lost, Jn. 3:17, 12:47 ; Matt. 18:16." - P. Schaff.]

The Light of the World

Exegetical and Critical (Jn. 8:12 fwd.)

Ver. 12. Again therefore Jesus spoke to them

[παλιν ουν αυτοις ελαλησεν ο Ιησους]. - The connection varies according as the section on the adulteress is regarded as in its true place or interpolated.

On the supposition of its interpolation, Meyer construes thus (and Lucke) :

" After the Sanhedrin had failed in their attempt to get possession of Jesus, and had become divided among themselves, as is related in Jn. 7:45-52, Jesus was able, in consequence of this miscarriage of the plan of His enemies (ουν), to appear again and speak to the assembly in the temple."

The παλιν is supposed to show that the time of the discourse is one of the days following the day of the feast.

De Wette, on the contrary, supposes that John has not intended to preserve closely the thread of the history. Tholuck considers it impossible to decide whether the discourse was delivered on the last day of the feast or after it. He says: "If the pericope is genuine, this exclamation must have occurred some hours later." Rather, a whole night and some hours later.

If the section be genuine, the words following are connected with the affair of the adulteress (Cocceius, Bengel). We have given this connection the preference.

In view of the remarks that the repeated παλιν in Jn. 8:12 and Jn. 8:21 is quite unmeaning without this section, for Jesus has not been interrupted by the history Jn. 7:45-52; only the evangelist has interrupted himself, by communicating some things which preceded behind the scenes.

But the official state of things after the production of the adulteress must have been essentially changed. The rulers who threatened to take Jesus, and occasioned His saying, "I shall soon go away from you,.." - have given Him an involuntary token of acknowledgment before the people; now He has the field again for a time, and can speak once more. The transactions following took place, accordingly, after the scene just preceding, on the day after the last day of the feast.

I am the light of the world. - Opinions as to the occasion of this figurative utterance :

1. Sunrise, or sunset. But the former was long past, and the latter had not yet come; and Jesus appears here not as antitype of the sun, as in Jn. 9:5, but as the essential light, the light of the night.

2. The reading of the section Isa. 43: since the "light of the Gentiles" (φως εθνων) of ver. 6 is equivalent to the "light of the world" (φως του κοσμου) of this place, and designates tne Messiah. Jesus, accordingly, here addresses Himself to the hope of the light of Israel and the Gentiles (Luke 2:32 ; John 1:4,9).

Against this it has been observed that the reading of Scripture lessons belonged to the synagogues, not to the temple; even the temple synagogue, which Vitringa adduces, was not in the temple itself (Lucke, p. 283).

3. The Torchfeast, or the illumination at the Feast of Tabernacles. In the court of the women stood great golden candelabras, which were lit on the evening of the first day of the feast, and spread their light over all Jerusalem, while by the men a torch-light dance with music and singing was performed before these candelabras (see Winer, Laubhuttenfest. These lights are not to be confounded with the large golden lamps in the sanctuary).

According to Maimonides this illumination took place also on the other evenings of the festival. Even apart from this, the exhausted lamps in the women's court, or in the treasury-hall where Jesus according to Jn. 8:20 was speaking, would on the day after the feast as distinctly suggest the symbolical transitory illumination of Jerusalem, as the 8th day of the feast would suggest the cessation of the symbolical streams of water; and this gave the Lord the same occasion for describing Himself as the true enlightener of the night, which the previous day had given for presenting Himself as the opener of the true fountain (Wetstein, Paulus, Olshausen; see Leben Jesu, II., p. 955).

Opinions which lack a full appreciation of John's symbolization, like Meyer's, lose their weight by that very lack ; though according to them we must take not the torch-light part of the feast, but, with Hug, the sight of the candelabras, as the occasion of our Lord's expression.

Of course the Messianic prophecies in Is. 42:6; Mal. 4:2; Lu. ii., as well as the rabbinical figures (Lightfoot, p. 1041), assisted this application. But beyond doubt the illumination was specifically an emblem of the pillar fire which had accompanied Israel at the time of its pilgrimage in the wilderness and its dwelling in tabernacles ; therefore also an emblem of the later manifestation of the δοξα of the Lord, the idea of the Shekinah (see Is. 4:5). To this was further added, as the immediate occasion, the fact that the adulterous woman had fallen into darkness, and that the tempters of Jesus had come and gone away in spiritual darkness.

The light of the world. κοσμος is here, as in Jn. 17:11, and elsewhere, the world of humanity in its obscuration. The true light, which enlightens the human night, the antitype of the temple light and of all lamps and night lights, is the personal truth and purity, which enlightens and sanctifies, or delivers from walking in religious and moral darkness. The substance or New Testament fulfilment of the pillar of fire.

Shall in no wise walk in the darkness [ου μη περιπατηση εν τη σκοτια]. - According to the reading περιπατηση, 1 this is assuring : He shall surely not walk. A stronger expression of the assurance which is implied in the light of Christ; not to be understood as a demand, for this is precluded by the words : He that followeth Me. Darkness; the sphere of error, of delusion, of blindness. A fundamental conception of John.

Shall have the light of life. - σκοτια, the fear of death, had literally brought the adulteress to the verge of bodily death itself. Hence the light of life is here not the life as light, but the light as life, as giving, securing, and sustaining the true life. He shall have it for a sure possession of his own, for the following of Christ by faith causes an enlightenment from Him which proves itself as a living light, the life turning into light, the light turning into life, a fountain of life.; as the water which He gives becomes a fountain within.

1. [The rec. reads περιπατησει, with D E al., but περιπατηση is supported by א B F G etc. Orig., and adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford. - P. Schaff ]

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