Schaff on John 8:1-11 (1886)

Review of: Philip Schaff, Preface to Chrysostom,
NPNF1-14 (1886)

Page Index

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2008

Prologue: - Introduction to Philip Schaff

Excerpt: - Philip Schaff on John 8:1-11 (1886) with notes
    Modern Footnotes - courtesy of Nazaroo

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Background to Philip Schaff

Philip Schaff - (1819-1893), German-American theologian and church historian Schaff was born in Chur, Switzerland and was educated at the gymnasium of Stuttgartt, and at the universities of Tubingen, Halle and Berlin, where he was successively influenced by Baur and Schmid, by Tholiuck and Julius Muller and, above all, Neander.

In 1842 he was Privatdozent in the University of Berlin, and in 1843 he was called to become professor of church history and Biblical literature in the German Reformed Theological Seminary of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, then the only seminary of that church in America.

On his journey he stayed in England and met Edward Pusey and other Tractarians. His inaugural address on The Principle of Protestantism, delivered in German at Reading Pennsylvania, in 1844, and published in German with an English version was a pioneer work in English in the field of symbolics (that is, the authoritative ecclesiastical formulations of religious doctrines in creeds or confessions).

This address and the "Mercersburg Theology" which he taught seemed too pro-Catholic to some, and he was charged with heresy. But, at the synod at York, in 1845, he was unanimously acquitted.

In consequence of the ravages of the American Civil War the theological seminary at Mercersburg was closed for a while and so in 1863 Dr. Schaff became secretary of the Sabbath Committee in New York City, and held the position till 1870.

He became a professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York City in 1870 holding first the chair of theological encyclopedia and Christian symbolism till 1873, of Hebrew and the cognate languages till 1874, of sacred literature till 1887, and finally of church history, till his death.

His History of the Christian Church resembled (his hero) Neander's work, though less biographical, and was pictorial rather than philosophical. He also wrote biographies, catechisms and hymnals for children, manuals of religious verse, lectures and essays on Dante, etc.

Schaff and the American Revised Version

Schaff was heavily involved in the production of the Revised Version of 1882, being the President of the American Committee overseeing the American edition. He was an energetic ecumenicalist, encouraging scholars on both sides of the Atlantic to work together on the new translation, which was meant to replace the King James Version in the British Empire and America.

The Traditional text, known as the Textus Receptus ("Received Text"), had been previously accepted by both Protestants and Catholics, and had been used by Christians throughout Christendom for many centuries.

Hort's Critical Edition of the Greek New Testament

Westcott and Hort, following the thinking of Griesbach, Tregelles and Samuel Davidson had drastically edited the traditional Greek text. Some 200 whole and half-verses were cut out of the NT completely or else retired to the marginal footnotes.

The Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8;11) was removed and placed at the end of John's Gospel as an appendix, surrounded by double brackets to indicate its spuriousness. In their English translations, the British and American Revisors placed the passage in smaller text, with a space around it and a terse footnote dismissing it as a later insertion.

As the leader of the American Revision team, Schaff was completely sold on the critical scholarship of Westcott and Hort:

"In the meantime (c. 1881) Hort had published, with his friend Westcott, a critical edition of the Greek New Testament in two volumes. The Revision Committee had very largely accepted this text, even before its publication, as a basis for their translation of the New Testament.

Hort's edited text created an immense sensation, and was vehemently attacked in many quarters [i.e., John Burgon, F.H.A. Scrivener, Hoskier etc.], but on the whole it was received among scholars as being much the nearest approximation yet made to the original text of the New Testament.

The Introduction [Vol II of the Greek Text] was the work of Hort, and its depth and fulness convinced all who read it that they were under the guidance of a master. ..."

Whether Schaff was technically capable of critically assessing Hort's handiwork is doubtful. Only the brilliant F.H.A. Scrivener was sufficiently immersed in the textual critical issues to independantly review the arguments and evidences then known. Scrivener's even-handed and balanced treatment of Hort's theories and premises was perhaps the last calm voice of reason in that time. But Scrivener's work was virtually ignored by those jumping on the text-critical bandwagon.

In fact, a look at Schaff's footnote (below) on Chrysostom and the Pericope de Adultera indicates that he had very little to say to readers that was original, but deferred to the work of Tregelles and Hort, even as he had no doubt relied upon them himself.

Schaff's talent did not really lay in assessing available textual and patristic evidence. Rather his commitment was to the ecumenical movement, and his priority was keeping afloat the cooperation between British and American scholars for the Revision of 1882 and 1901.

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Schaff on John 8:1-11

The following text is taken from:
A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
of the Christian Church
Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.,
Volume XIV Saint Chrysostom:
Homilies on the Gospel of St. John [NPNF1-14]

Schaff's original footnotes are marked in BLUE LETTERS.
Nazaroo's modern footnotes/comments are in RED NUMBERS.

Clicking on the footnotes will jump back and forth on the page.

ST CHRYSOSTOM: (c. 347-407)


Excerpt from original Preface:


"...The history of the Woman Taken in Adultery is omitted in this commentary, and the Benedictine editor was not able to trace it in any of the works of St. Chrysostom (c. 347-407). It is suggested that his copies may have wanted the passage, or that he may have omitted it for fear it should be taken as an encouragement to vice. 1

But St. Chrysostom was not the man to shrink from so slight a difficulty, nor would he have failed, in commenting on it, to leave an impression on the hearer by no means calculated to lessen his dread of sin.

Such a reason may have prevailed with some copyists to suppress the passage 2 , and it is probable that it was not found in the copy which he used. It is omitted in like manner by St. Cyril of Alexandria. A

The text of Savile has been followed, except where the Benedictine edition has supplied improvements. The Benedictine sections are numbered throughout: where the division seemed to be inconvenient, the number is given in the margin. In the earlier Homilies a second series of numbers is employed to mark the sections in the translation; this was discontinued as unnecessary, and the Benedictine only retained.

In some of the references to the Psalms, where the Septuagint differs much from the Hebrew, the numbers given are those of the Greek. Care will be taken in the Index of Texts to give always the reference to the Psalm and Verse according to the Hebrew reckoning followed in our own Version.

The editors are indebted for the present translation to the Rev. G. T. Stupart, M.A., late Fellow of Exeter College. It has been kindly carried through the Press by the Rev . J. G. Hickley, B.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. The translation of the remaining Homilies is completed, and will shortly be in the Press.B

C. Marriott
Oriel College,
Feast of St. Andrew, 1848.

Added Footnotes from Philip Schaff, (Editor):

A. The pericope John vii. 53-viii. 11, is considered by the best modern critics 3 as an interpolation by a transcriber 4 , but is probably based on a genuine apostolic tradition 5 , perhaps taken from the lost work of Papias of Hierapolis, who collected from primitive disciples various discourses of our Lord, among others,

"a narrative concerning a woman maliciously accused before the Lord touching many sins." - (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. III. 39.) 6

The section is omitted in the oldest uncial and other Greek mss. (Aleph, B, etc.) 7 ; it was unknown to Chrysostom and other Greek and early Latin fathers; it interrupts the context; it departs from the style of John, and presents an unusual number of various readings. We find it first in Latin Gospel mss. of the fourth century, but in different places 8 , sometimes at the end of the Gospel of John as an appendix, sometimes at the end of Luke xxi. It was also in the Gospel according to the Hebrews 9 . The Revised Version (1882) properly retains it, but in brackets and with a marginal note. 10 The story, though no part of the Gospel of John 11 , is eminently Christlike. For details see Tischendorf (ed. viii.), Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the critical commentaries. 12

- Philip Schaff [c. 1886]

B. The second volume of the Oxford edition, containing Homilies 42-88 (John vi.-xxi.), was published in 1852 without a Preface. - Philip Schaff

[Schaff's secondary footnotes were presumably written sometime before 1886, when the Early Church Fathers (NPNF1 vols.1-14) were published, but after both Hort's 1st edition Greek NT (1881) and the Revised Version (1882) were available. Hort died in 1891, and Schaff died in 1893.]

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Modern Footnotes

Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:

1. Marriott first gives the opinion of the original Benedictine editor, which he then follows with his own alternate explanation. The Benedictines are probably guided by the famous statement of St. Augustine:

"...some men of slight faith, or rather, some hostile to the true faith, fearing, as I believe, that liberty to sin with impunity is granted their wives, remove from their Scriptural texts the account of our Lord's pardon of the adulteress: - as though He who said,

"From now on, sin no more." (Jn 8:11)

granted permission to sin, ..."

- St. Augustine, De Adulterinis Conjugiis (c.400 A.D.)

Augustine on Jn 8:1-11 <-- Click Here for Augustine

Marriott then reasons that it is more likely that copyists dropped the verses, and that both Chrysostom (350-400 A.D.) and Cyril simply did not have it in their copy of John.

Dean John Burgon's explanation is far more convincing: Both Chrysostom and Cyril are following the Lectionary texts that are publicly read in church, which omit the verses here (during Easter services) and place them to be read on other feast days (e.g. St Pelagia's Day, Oct 8 etc.).

Burgon on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here for Burgon's view.

The commentaries of Chrysostom and Cyril are not private books, but public service books, and so they cannot comment on portions of Holy Scripture that are not actually read to the congregation publicly during the Easter services.

It seems very unlikely that Chrysostom and Cyril, contemporaries with Ambrose, would not have heard of or have known the Pericope de Adultera as Holy Scripture, a mere 30-40 years before Jerome and Augustine.

Ambrose on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here for Ambrose.

2. Here Marriott, the actual textual editor for Chrysostom makes it clear that he believes John 8:1-11 was an original and authentic part of John's Gospel, and that it must have been omitted earlier (in some MSS), rather than added later to John after the time of Chrysostom and Cyril. The English translators, Rev. G. T. Stupart and Rev . J. G. Hickley also apparently held the same view.

But Marriott is not naive about the textual problem. He is clearly aware of the possibility of an early omission, and this seems almost prescient given later MSS discoveries.

His view coincides nicely with current textual evidence from Egypt (e.g. P66, P75) from the 2nd century, where the passage is actually omitted but with signs of apparent knowledge of the existance of the verses.

10 Earliest MSS of John <-- Click here for early MSS evidence.

3. By 'best modern critics' Schaff means Westcott and Hort, and the Revision committee. This is however a serious and uncalled for slight against experts such as F.H.A. Scrivener, Dean John Burgon, and a long list of earlier textual critics, such as Mill, Matthaei, Alder, Scholz, Vercollone and Ceriani, all able scholars and intimately familiar with the manuscript evidence, and all of whom judged the Pericope de Adultera to be an authentic part of John.

4. The idea that the passage was a simple "interpolation by a transcriber" is now impossible to sustain. Recent analysis reveals that the passage itself shows an intimate familiarity and connection with John's gospel. It could not be an independant 'floating tradition' in its current form.

The passage was deliberately composed with John's Gospel in hand (especially John chapter 6), and must either be a clever and deliberate forgery written specifically for its current placement in John, or else (more plausibly) it was from the hand of John the Evangelist, the composer of the rest of the gospel. For strong literary evidence linking the passage to John, see Culpepper's work here:

Culpepper on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here for evidence of literary dependance.

However, equally important is the recently discovered structural evidence from John's Gospel which appears to betray a knowledge of the passage. This two-way relationship strongly implies authenticity, rather than even the cleverest forgery. How could the inserter also tamper with all copies of John that omit the passage?

Chiasms in John and Jn 8:1-11 <-- Click here for Structural Evidence.

5. Whether or not the passage is "probably based on a genuine apostolic tradition" has no bearing at all on the question of 'authenticity' in the sense of whether the final composer/editor of John's Gospel knew of and used the story. The only key question, since it is raised by the existance of some manuscripts without the passage, is was it omitted or added?

Current evidence in its totality favours the view that the passage is authentic, and was simply omitted by some hostile parties for political or religious reasons.

6. There are at least two reservations concerning the supposed evidence of Papias (c. 150 A.D.) found in Eusebius (c. 330 A.D.).

(1) The 'semi-quotation' is too vague to establish the identity of the story from Papias, and

(2) Eusebius, as Emperor Constantine's near-puppet, lacks the credibility that a demonstrably independant and honest witness could provide.

On Papias, the evidence such as it is, has been looked at by us before:

Papias on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.

And on Constantine and Eusebius, cautionary evidence as to Eusebius' trustworthiness is provided by

Philostorgius on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.

Schaff uses the Papias reference to imply that this was the source of our passage, rather than the Gospel of John. But there is no clear evidence that Papias was even referring to the same story. The incident in Luke 7:35-50 could just as easily have been meant, or even some other tradition.

7. From the point of view of science, the omission of the passage by the early Uncials, Aleph, and B (c. 300-350 A.D.) is completely irrelevant. Even in the 19th century the logical fallacy should have been apparent. Later generation copies don't testify directly concerning the original form and content, but strictly speaking only give a record of the subsequent transmission of the text.

Both Protestant divines and liberal scholars insisted on treating the NT text as an ordinary book, transmitted by ordinary (non-supernatural) copying processes. If their thesis were correct, then God (or whomever) simply released the Holy Scriptures into the world, and left them wholly subject to 'random' and natural forces, as well as the caprice and whim of men.

If this is so, then no trust can be put in copies made generations and centuries after the fact. The first three centuries are obscure and unknown. 4th century manuscripts can only tell us about 4th century texts.

But if doctrines of Divine Inspiration, Divine Provenance, Divine Preservation and Guidance, and Sacred Trust and Responsibility are to have any significant meaning and solemn weight, then the Church (however defined) must have been successfully entrusted to protect and preserve the letter and Spirit of the Gospel message in a credible form and unbroken chain of transmission.

And the Lord, and Holy Spirit must have responsibly handled their half of the bargain, namely in overseeing and protecting the Church in her solemn duty regarding the message (and text) of the Gospel.

8. Schaff words things to imply that even the early Latin MSS of the 4th century place the passage in different places. This is patently false. The only time the passage appears in some other location, such as at the end of a copy of John or tucked into Luke, is in manuscripts made AFTER the 9th or 10th centuries!

All earlier manuscripts that contain the passage (with or without notes or marks) place it in its usual place. Schaff wants to imply that the story was a 'floating' or 'moveable' story. But there is no early evidence of such a situation.

9. There is no evidence that the Pericope de Adultera (John 8:1-11) was present in the (near mythical) Gospel of the Hebrews. In fact, there is no surviving copy of any such gospel. What may have been called by that name could simply be the Syriac Diatessaron of Tatian, which was itself probably not written by Tatian, but may just have been an early Synoptic Harmony which later incorporated the Gospel of John, and then circulated in Palestine in the 2nd - 3rd centuries.

10. The original Revised Version placed 7:53-8:11 in single brackets separated from preceding and succeeding parts of John, with the following footnote:

"Most of the ancient authorities omit John vii.53-viii.11. Those which contain it vary much from each other."

Any perceptive reader will note that on the one hand,

(1) the Revisors provide a note so terse that it fails to provide any accurate information at all concerning the textual problem, and on the other,

(2) the note is phrased in such a biased manner as to suggest the text is unstable and indeterminate, which is blatantly false. The Traditional text is found in several thousand manuscripts (Greek and Latin), with few significant variations in content, spanning a period of nearly 1000 years.

Revised Version: John <-- Click Here for fascimile. (.PDF)

11. No clear evidence has ever been provided to this very day to demonstrate the claim that the story is not part of the Gospel of John.

12. For the reader, we have provided annotated copies of the relevant arguments made by these critics here:

Tregelles on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.

Hort on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here.

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