Internal Evidence

on John 8:1-11 (1950)

Excerpt from: Richard Heard, An Introduction to the NT, (1950)

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Last Updated: Feb 21, 2009

Prologue: - Introduction to Richard Heard

Excerpt: - Heard on John 8:1-11

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Richard Heard, M.A., M.B.E., M.C., was a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge and University lecturer in Divinity at Cambridge (1950). Published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1950.

(From: material prepared for Religion-Online by Ted & Winnie Brock)

Richard Heard on John 8:1-11

Heard fully acknowledges the difficulties created by the fragmentary and contrary textual evidence available. But he goes on to point out the most fatal circumstance against not only the supposed 'internal evidence' presented against the passage, but also against the entire enterprise.

Heard shows that the methodology itself, originated by 19th century German critics, is from a scientific viewpoint utterly worthless. The point is this:

(1) The Passage could be utterly devoid of 'Johannine' style and content and still be a product of John the Evangelist. In fact, a genuine passage of this type is more likely to be "un-Johannine" than "Johannine".

(2) Looking for "Johannine" features within the passage is a worthless enterprise. A scientific approach would look instead for 'internal evidence' in the rest of the Gospel.

The logic is devilishly simple: The question cannot be, "Does the passage know anything of John?", but rather:

"Does John know anything of the existance of the passage?"

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Heard on John 8:1-11

Excerpt from:
An Introduction to the New Testament (Harper Bro. NY, 1950)
by Richard Heard

Chapter 10: The Gospel of John

The Unity of Composition

The gospel shows a remarkable unity of style and language. Many distinctive words, phrases, and constructions occur repeatedly in the gospel and nowhere else in the New Testament except in the Johannine epistles which are probably by the same author.

This unity extends to the Appendix (21) as a whole although it is disputed in the case of the last two verses (24-25).

Only in the story of The Woman taken in Adultery (7: 53-8:11) are the distinctively ‘Johannine’ characteristics altogether lacking, 1 and the textual evidence -- only one early Greek MS. contains the story -- as well as the way in which it breaks the close connection between ch. 7 and 8:12, make it clear that this story is a later insertion in the gospel.

It has been shown, however, that there are a number of passages in the gospel where the ‘Johannine’ characteristics of style, although not entirely absent, are relatively scarce. (E. Schweizer, Ego Eimi, 1939 [a German work, not yet translated into English]).

These following passages are all narratives of a synoptic type and include:

the Miracle at Cana (2:1-11),
the Cleansing of the Temple (2:14-16),
the Healing of the Nobleman’s Son (4:46-53)’
the Anointing at Bethany (12:1-8) and the
the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (12:12-15);

It is at least possible that the evangelist was here using a written source or oral tradition that had become comparatively ‘fixed’ in form.'

- Richard Heard,
Introduction to the NT, ch 10

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1. However, even on this point, both the critics and Mr. Heard are in serious error. The passage actually abounds with "Johannine" grammatical and stylistic features, as well as literary ones!

Some examples include the strong linguistic parallels to John chapter 6:

John 8:1-11 and John 6:1-21:

6:3 : ανηλθεν δε εις το ορος Ιησουν (Jesus went to the mount...)
8:1 : Ιησουν δε ανηλθεν εις το ορος (Jesus went to the mount..)

6:5 : πολυς οχλος ερχεται προς αυτον (a great crowd came to Him)
8:2 : πας ο λαος ηρχετο προς αυτον (all the people came to Him)

6:6 : τουτο δε ελεγεν πειραζων αυτον (but this He said testing him)
8:6 : τουτο δε ελεγον πειραζοντες αυτον (but this they said testing him )

6:10 αναπεσειν...αναπεσαν...οι ανδρες (sit ... they sat down)
8:6 : ο δε Ιησους κατω κυψας ...(but Jesus bent down...)
8:2: και καθισας... (and having sat down...)

8:6b κατεγραφεν εις την γην ([Jesus was] writing in the ground )
6:21 και ευθεως εγενετο το πλοιον επι της γης
(and instantly the ship was upon the ground)

The minor changes in word order and vocabulary are simply stylistic variants to avoid repetition and boredom.

Then there are the many other parallels in content and thematic connections:

5:14: μηκετι αμαρτανε... ("Go, and sin no more!..")
8:11: μηκετι αμαρτανε... ("Go, and sin no more!..")

3:2 Ραββι...διδασκαλος... ("Teacher (/Rabbi)!..")
8:4 "διδασκαλε... ("Teacher (/Rabbi)!..")

4:18 ("...and the man you have now is not your husband!")
8:3 ("...this woman was taken in adultery...")

8:15 ("...I judge no one: ...")
8:11 ("...nor do I judge thee: ...")

It is difficult to imagine how more linguistic, literary and thematic parallels could be crammed into 12 short verses, even if that were one's deliberate goal, and highest priority.

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