Textual Evidence

on John 8:1-11 (1997)

Exerpted for review purposes from: W.L. Petersen, OUDE EGW SE [KATA]KRINW , John 8:11, The Protevangelium Iacobi, and the History of the Pericope Adulterae (book:) Sayings of Jesus: Canonical & Non-Canonical, Essays in honour of Tjitze Barrda, Ed. Petersen, Vos, Jonge (1997,Brill)

Page Index

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2009

Section 1: - Introduction
Section 2: - Petersen's Overview of the Textual Evidence for the PA
Section 3: - Nazaroo's notes on the Overview

The Textual Evidences

Section 4: - (1) the manuscripts
Section 5: - (2) the versions
Section 6: - (3) the patristic evidence
Section 7: - (4) the NT apocryphal sources
Section 8: - Nazaroo's Footnotes (continued)

The Protevangelion Jacobi
Section 9: - Petersen on the Protevangelion of James
Section 10: - Nazaroo: The PJ and the Egerton Papyrus

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Metzger wrote in 1968:

"The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming."

(A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (1971), pp. 219-221)

Yet remarkably, in 1997 Petersen was able to say:

"We have exhausted the evidence available to us, and still no answer to the question of the origin of the pericope adulterae is obvious." (p 217)

"Despite the more complete picture we now have before us, we are still left with the problem of deciding which source - the Gospel of John, the Gospel Acc. to the Hebrews, or some other as yet undiscovered source ... first contained the the pericope adulterae. Solving that problem is a very difficult task, fraught with uncertainty. Indeed, it is a problem which, given our present state of knowledge of the sources, cannot be solved." (p.219)

How is it that what was 'overwhelming' in 1968 is completely undeterminable in 1997?

The answer is that scholars nowadays are less interested in defending various brands of Christianity and its canons, and more interested in a purely scientific approach to the question. Whatever side scholars choose these days, it seems to be less about ideology and more about historical realism. It is less dogmatic, and more tentative. It is more modest, and less confident.

There HAVE been big leaps in our knowledge about the textual transmission of the NT. But this new knowledge has in turn made assertive claims less convincing and more hollow than ever. The new knowledge does more to show how little we really knew only a few short years ago, than to support what we were so 'certain' of at that time.

We now know that we know very little about the true nature of the actual early textual transmission of the gospels.

Changing Winds

It is certainly true that the majority of 'scholars' still think there is something very problematic and suspicious about John 8:1-11. But the fact is, more and more serious textual critics are having second thoughts, and are even taking the opposite position of Metzger.

What started as a 'trickle' has become a significant protest, and has begun to grow far beyond the expected 'fringe groups' and extremists. The fact is, a longer, harder look at both the evidence, and the methodology of the past, has convinced many that a scientific footing is still sadly lacking in the determination of the question of the authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera.

Petersen's Evidence

But what is fascinating to us is that Petersen's own examination of the available evidence has led him to his position. So we will primarily examine Petersen's summary of the textual evidence.

Even Petersen's examination and presentation will have some serious flaws. But this is to be expected. What is remarkable is that even with Petersen's reading of the evidence, no conclusion of a simple 'insertion' into John is possible. According to Petersen, the question of the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 remains completely wide open.

What then will the result be when we correct some of Petersen's claims and assumptions, and add independant evidence to his own quite full collection? We will not be surprised to see some new light falling upon an age old puzzle.

Ground-breaking Work by Petersen

One thing Petersen should be given full credit for is his clear and convincing evidence for the existance of the Pericope de Adultera in some form, prior to the middle of the 3rd century. This comes from an apparent knowledge of and dependance upon John by the author of the Protevangelion of James.

Petersen's case for the Protevangelion of James being dependant upon John, and specifically John 8:1-11, is quite similar to our own observations regarding the dependance of the Egerton Fragments upon John 8:1-11.

But this is secondary to the question of the meaning of the main textual and internal evidence for the Pericope. So we will not examine Petersen's arguments concerning the Protevangelion of James. Rather, we will concentrate here upon his presentation of the standard textual evidence, in the light of other evidence unknown to or not considered by Petersen.

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Petersen on the
Textual Evidence for 8:1-11


We pick up from the first section, on page 192, where Petersen summarizes the basic modern argument against the authenticity of John 8:1-11 on the basis of the 'textual evidence'.

Petersen's original footnotes are in blue. Nazaroo's comments are linked using the red footnotes. Other inserted explanatory comments are also in blue.

The Basic Argument against Authenticity

"...The problem, as all scholars know, is that the entire 12 verses of the Pericope Adulterae are completely absent from all of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospel of John. 5 They first appear in a Greek manuscript of John only in the early 5th century. Thereafter, their spread in the manuscript tradition is very slow; it is not until the 13th century or so that a majority of new manuscripts include the verses. H. J. Vogels put the predicament well when he remarked:

"[a quotation in German from Vogels' NT handbook (1955)]..." 6

Scholarship has, almost universally, regarded the episode as "inseree dans l'evangeile." [i.e., "an insertion into the gospel."] 7 The reasons are massive, convincing, and obvious.

First 1 , as already noted, its utter absence from all the Greek manuscripts of John before the early 5th century - and then its only gradual penetration of the tradition - speak against it.

Second 2 , when it finally enters the gospel manuscript tradition, it intrudes in no fewer than five different places; 8 such "bouncing around" in the manuscript tradition is one of the characteristics of a "floating" logion, as scribes try to fit it in, first here, then there.

Third 3 , the literary features of the passage are not Johannine, 9 suggesting that some other writer composed it.

Fourth 4 , in its present position (viz, post John 7:52), it interrupts the flow of the narrative, which moves quite smoothly from John 7:52 to John 8:12. 10

Fifth 5 , the passage appears unknown to any church father prior to the late 4th century; no earlier father cites it.

Sixth 6 , the vast majority of scholars have found - in a report of Eusebius' Historia ecclesiastica (II.39.17) - a convenient explanation for the genesis of the story, its absence from the early manuscripts of John, and its gradual encroachment upon the gospel tradition. Writing about 300 C.E., Eusebius passes on a report which he says comes from Papias (fl c. 130): the Gospel accoring to the Hebrews contained a story about "a woman accused of many sins before the Lord." 11 According to this scenario, the origin of the passage lies in a Judaic-Christian gospel, from which it eventually passed into the Gospel of John.

This is a very convincing array of evidence and argumentation. However, new facts (or at least facts unknown to those drawing these conclusions) can alter the balance of the evidence.

original footnotes:

5. See infra, n. 12.

6. H. J. Vogels, Handbuch der Textkritik des Neuen Testaments (Bonn, 1955), p. 161

7. M. J. Lagrange, Evangile selon Saint Jean (Paris, 1948), p. 222.

8. They are: (1) after John 7:52 (the "normal" position); (2) at the end of John (i.e., post John 21:25), as an appendix of sorts; (3) after John 7:44 (in some Georgian MSS); (4) after Luke 21:38 (in the MSS of f13 ); (5) after John 7:36 (MS 225); see any of the standard handbooks or editions for further specifics.

9. On the differences of style, vocabulary, etc., between the pericope adulterae and either John or Luke, see U. Becker, Jesus und die Ehebrecherin, BZNW 28 (Berlin 1963), pp. 43-74, esp. 68-74.

10. See e.g., Becker, Ehebrecherin, p. 79.

11. Eusebe de Cesaree. Histoire ecclesiastique, Livres I-IV, ed. G. Bardy, SC 31 (Paris, 1952), p. 157: εκτεθειται [Παπιας] δε και αλλην ιστοριαν περι γυναικον επι πολλαις αμαρτιαις διαβληθεισην επι του κυριου, ην το καθ' Εβραιουν ευαγγελιον περιεχει

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Nazaroo's Footnotes to Section 1:


1. Each of these points listed by Petersen has a force to it, and that force is based upon the evidence and its evaluation in relation to the question of authenticity/authorship.

For instance, we can take point one.

This would have a force, if we could be sure that its assertion were actually true. But the history of transmission and editing of a book is a separate issue entirely from how it originally left the hands of its author.

Unless we ascribe to a doctrine of "Divine Preservation", we must be prepared to assume and indeed expect that the book be modified by subsequent editing, error, and happenstance in the process of hand-transmission through multiple copying, reading, and preservation by mere human beings.

But once this is conceded, all evidences (manuscripts) of later states of the text or 'snapshots' of the process of transmission must be recognized as wholly secondary to the issue of the original state of the book and hence the authorship of any proposed or potential section of it.

At best these evidences can be used to 'deduce' previous states of the text, or parallel states of the text in a wide stream (or multiple streams) of transmission.

All textual evidence is basically secondary, according to the agnostic and atheist position. It is manipulatable by men and arbitrary, untrustworthy.

We don't have to embrace the extreme skepticism of atheist attackers of the bible to acknowledge the fact that God has allowed mere human scribes to hand-copy the sacred texts for a thousand years. Each scribe obviously is imperfect, and so is his work. But remarkably, together the Church, the Christian community has by cooperation and diligent care protected the word of God in the Holy Scriptures.

Of course any and every single hand-copied manuscript has a few mistakes in it. But by preserving the works of all the scribes, our brothers in Christ, we can have confidence that the mistakes of any individual are not allowed to significantly distort the Holy Scriptures.

Very early on, in its battle with heretics and sabateurs, the church, the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of believers learned to guard and protect, to copy with care, to practise careful techniques of copying for preserving the text of the Holy Scriptures.

Of course no single manuscript is error-free, perhaps not even any printed bible is without a few type-setting errors. But these are the tools and means that God has given us to use for instruction and passing on the Holy Scriptures to each succeeding generation.

Thus the reliability of the Word of God is dependant, NOT upon autographed originals from Paul or John or Mark, but upon a continuous succession of tradition, a passing of the Holy Scriptures from generation to generation in an unbroken chain.

Whether or not Protestants care to acknowledge the authority of the papacy, or the weight of tradition, the simple fact is, we ALL depend upon the Holy Scriptures ultimately as the source and well-spring of our beliefs.

And this dependance upon the Holy Scripture cannot be based upon 'ancient artifacts' accidentally discovered by heretics or atheists, but must be based upon the continuous and unbroken allegence and instruction passed physically from hand to hand, generation to generation, through the living Church, the active, witnessing believers and followers of Jesus the Christ.

When a Christian is asked to choose between 'old manuscripts' differing from the those used by the living Church, and the faith of their living community of believers, there can be only one response.

Let the archaeologists cling to a few heretical documents, long abandoned by their makers, and unable to generate a loyal and faithful community of committed believers. Let the atheists wave 'edited' or mutilated documents of a bygone age.

But every believer should find his commitment and loyalty has already been freely granted to the faithful community in which he received his own salvation

There is no real alternative.

Even Protestant extremists, who seek maximum independance from ecclesiastical institutions and authorities, must ultimately recognize either the Holy Scriptures as their authority, or have nothing at all.

What kind of Protestantism could ever be built from a version of the 'truth' that says the majority of believers throughout the last 2000 years have been decieved, and the 'true' text of the bible can only be found in a couple of 4th century ecclesiastical productions?

If Protestants were to view Codex Aleph and B as the 'oldest and best manuscripts' of the Holy Scriptures, they would have fallen under the very 'ecclesiastical authority' they were running from.

A good overview of the stream of transmission will give us a better picture of how and why the tiny sample-size of P66/P75/Aleph/B (4 MSS) is inadequate to represent the state of the text for the first four centuries:

From the chart we can see that although these manuscripts occupy key positions, they are of a faulty type, sitting along the 'fracture-line' between the budding Lectionary tradition and the mainstream manuscript tradition.

Although early, these manuscripts are not really representative of the wide base of transmission streams that later became the Byzantine, Latin Vulgate, and standardized Christian NT text.

So the 'sample' of two 2nd century Egyptian MSS and the two related 4th century uncials, has two basic problems associated with it:

(1) It is not a diverse enough sample of MSS to represent the actual variants and early text-types that must have existed.

(2) It is not a big enough sample of MSS to give us a clear picture of *any* text-type(s) across 3 centuries, or even 3 decades.

2. This second statement also sounds reasonable, until we delve into the details.

(1) There is no example of any "floating logion" that bounces around in the MSS tradition, being inserted here and there, but homeless.

The only textual variant even alleged to have such a feature is the PA. Not only does this beg the question, but the scenario is entirely hypothetical. Yet it is spoken of as though it were the norm in the actual textual transmission of the NT.

Since there are no other examples to draw any parallel or experience from, we must then turn only to the PA for any insight.

(2) But the PA just doesn't really reflect the required phenomenae. It doesn't 'bounce around' looking for a place to insert itself for the majority of the time-period in question (1500 years of MSS transmission from 100 A.D. to 1600).

In fact the earliest evidence for any 'alternate positions' for the PA must be extrapolated backwards to the late 9th century from MSS which are all very late (1000 - 1500 A.D.).

Thus all of the Family 13 MSS inserting the PA in Luke are late (12th century average). Although Family 13 contains some apparently ancient readings traceable back to the 5th or 6th century versions and lectionary texts, the text-type or profile itself doesn't exist before the 10th century A.D.

The handful of other MSS inserting the PA at the 'wrong' place in John (e.g. 7:38 etc.) are for the most part accounted for by a small battle late in the MSS tradition in which the PA was re-inserted from the Lectionary stream back into a handful of MSS by Medieval scribes attempting to correct the text.

These bumbling attempts at re-inserting the passage in various places in John, or mixing up the order with verse 8:12 etc. tell us more about the state of ignorance of late Medieval scribes than they can about the actual all-important early history of the text.

The main caution against taking this late evidence very seriously is the fact that most of these misplacements occur at precisely the time when the majority of MSS (some 1,350 MSS plus 1,000 lectionaries) treat the passage as a normal part of John's Gospel.

Thus the handful of abberant MSS inserting the PA elsewhere must be contrasted with the vast majority of equally weighted evidence (95% of MSS) from the same late period.

Petersen's point two also fizzles into an anecdotal observation about the (very) late transmission process and some minor skirmishes over the passage. Ironically, at the same time, this is the most stable and well-documented part of the MSS transmission stream, and it places the PA firmly between Jn 7:53 and 8:12.

3. Again, the devil is in the details. Petersen accepts and assumes the previous work on this branch of 'internal evidence' is adequate and valid.

In fact, the case against the PA based upon internal evidence was created and compiled by S. Davidson in 1848, at a time when both knowledge of Greek, knowledge of John's style, knowledge of the textual variants, and even knowledge of scientific methodology was primitive to non-existant.

Since that time others have simply repeated the original claims of Davidson.

The details of Davidson's work are hopelessly naive and unreliable, but the biggest caution is the methodology itself. Relying upon word 'vocabulary' or short phrases from tiny sample bases, to characterise an author's style is now known to be objectively worthless.

A detailed examination of Davidson's 'internal evidence' can be found here:

Davidson's Internal Evidence Examined <-- Click Here.

Later, (1917), Cadbury tried to assemble a cautious case for 'Lukan' authorship or stylisms in the passage. But it too was based upon an inadequate methodology.

On the one hand, Cadbury again was working at a 'vocabulary'/phrase level, known to be weak and subjective in nature, while at the same time, he did not give sufficient attention to the counter-evidence of Johannine stylisms.

Cadbury on Lukanisms in the PA <-- Click Here.

A.T. Robertson's entry into the fray was also a tragicomedy, a weak attempt to justify the earlier work of Westcott/Hort.

The case for Lukan authorship of the passage was all but abandoned by textual critics, who during the 30's to 60's became acutely aware of the huge pile of missing groundwork that needed to be done.

a) Someone needed to properly and reliably collate the manuscript base, which had grown beyond the reach of one man in one lifetime to achieve. This was begun in earnest by people like von Soden and Merck.

b) Someone needed to actually independantly flesh out the living Koine Greek language, as the new papyrii discoveries revealed volumes of linguistic information affecting both interpretation and our understanding of the historical transmission of the text. Deissman and others dug in.

c) Someone needed to actually characterize and clarify in detail just what was the style and diction of the various NT authors. The first attempts in this area were those of Turner etc.

d) Someone needed to analyse the internal structure of John, and sift it for redactional and form-critical evidence.

Obviously we are only just arriving at the position where the tools and information is in place to tentatively piece together real internal evidence.

Petersen's assumption of a reliable characterization of the passage is naive. And it is based upon outdated methodologies and viewpoints about the meaning and interpretation of that evidence.

4. Again, what we find upon actual examination is that:

(1) John is about as 'sensible' with the passage as without. Many critics have taken various sides upon this issue, and the fact there is such variance in the interpretation and weight of this aspect of the problem is a danger sign signalling subjectivity.

As an example, Pink had no problem finding continuity between sections while including the passage, while Bultmann was driven to further hack off large sections of chapter 8 because he couldn't fit the ends together without the PA.

(2) John displays multiple 'seams' and incontinuities, as well as 'weak' joins and time-lapses throughout. Adding or subtracting the passage does little or nothing to alleviate these built-in features of John. No clever rearrangements, (including Bultmann's) have shown any improvement in the quantity or quality of the temporal problems and connectedness of John.

For a look at the results of Bultmann's rearrangement, you can go here:

Bultmann's Rearrangement of John <-- Click Here.

(3) The whole question of the 'flow' or continuity of the narrative of John is not only in doubt, but also its relevance is in doubt, given the heavily interpretational nature of this gospel. Critics are still debating where various portions of dialogue and narrative begin and end in John. No confidence in any particular stance about the continuity of the narrative can be achieved when there is little agreement even on the compositional pre-history or redactional pre-history of this gospel.

Petersen's Fourth point is stillborn.

5. While nominally a true statement, it is severely weakened by the fact that ALL pre-4th century evidence is fragmentary at best. We don't possess the complete works of a single early father, and for most we only have fragments.

The statement is further weakened when one tries to compile lists of NT verses that actually ARE quoted by early fathers.

The claim that "the entire NT can be reassembled from quotations of the early fathers" is a hopeless exaggeration of the case. While much of the NT can be cited in the early fathers, it is often paraphrased, misquoted, or subsequently harmonized with later texts and doctrine.

There is no a priori reason to think that our passage should be treated any better by the early writers than many other portions of scripture which find no patristic support at all.

Petersen's fifth point is not without value, but must be taken cautiously, as it is an argument from the silence of fragmentary evidence. Its fragility is obvious in the light of almost constant new discoveries in the Middle East.

6. Yet Petersen himself after examining the frailty of the connection between Eusebius' quote of Papias and the PA seems to resign himself to the fact that the Eusebius fragment is probably about another story.

Even in Ehrman's reconstruction, this piece of evidence, while 'convenient', can only fit into the history if it is admitted *not* to be a direct link to the version of the PA found in John. For Ehrman also, the Papias fragment only serves as a secondary 'source' of ideas for the final passage as he imagines it evolved.

A caveat should be issued along with a small alarm-bell, since the 'convenience' of Eusebius' dubious fragmentary story goes completely against the principle of preferring the 'harder reading' generally.

It is more likely on all accounts that even Eusebius has 'harmonized' his information with his own understanding and knowledge of the situation. His colored witness is simply too shakey to build reliably upon.

If Eusebius is talking about (or casting around for) an alternate tradition, then the whole edifice is a house of cards.

Peterson's 6th point is not a wide stable base of independant evidence, but rather a precarious balancing act dependant upon 'favourable winds'.

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Textual Evidence (Cont.)


Again, Petersen's original footnotes are in blue. Nazaroo's are in red.

II. Known evidence for the pericope adulterae

Before plunging into the matter at hand, it is necessary to review briefly the textual evidence for the pericope adulterae. This can be broadly divided into four categories, each of which will be considered in turn:

(1) Greek NT manuscripts,
(2) the versions,
(3) the patristic [evidence], and,
(4) apocryphal sources.


(1) Greek NT manuscripts 7

In the Greek manuscript tradition of the Gospel of John, the pericope adulterae makes its first appearance 8 in the early 5th century Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis (D). 12 Although absent from all 6th and 7th century MSS, 9 it reappears in a lone 8th century MS, Codex Basiliensis (E). In the 9th century it is read by 10 MSS (F G H K M U Π Ω 565 892). In the 10th century, it is read by 3 MSS (Γ 1076 1582). While Codex Bezae belongs to the Western Text type, 10 all of the later MSS belong - broadly speaking - to the Byzantine Text type. 11 After the 10th century, the # of MSS with the passage expands, for the story is insinuating itself 12 into the Byzantine Text, the most reproduced form of the text in this later period. 13 Among the many MSS which read it are: 28 700 1006 1570 (all XI cent.) 225 1071 (both XII) as well as the MSS of the Lake Group (f1 [XII and later] 13 ) and the Ferrar Group (f13 [XIII and later] 14 ). Von Soden states that, in total, about a 1000 MSS 14 offer the passage. 15


(2) The Versions (early translations) 15

Among the versions, the passage first appears in the Old Latin half of the bilingual Codex Bezae (d, early 5th cent.), and two other 5th century codices of the Vetus Latina (b* 16 and ff2 ). Later Vetus Latina MSS with the passage are: c e r1 and [ j ]. 17 Despite the divided evidence of the Vetus Latina, Jerome included it in his Vulgate (translated c. 383); therefore, the Vulgate must be counted among the oldest Latin witnesses offering indirect evidence for the passage in the Gospel of John. 18 The story is also found in all major Western Diatessaronic witnesses, including Latin Codex Fuldensis, the Middle Dutch Leige Harmony, and the Old High German Codex Sangallensis.

As for the Syriac versions, the passage is absent from all Eastern witnesses to the Diatessaron. Baarda has correctly remarked that it "was not transmitted in the early Syriac versions. Not only Sys.c. and Syp, but even the original text of Syh are witnesses of this state of affairs." 19 Even the evidence of the 11th and 12th century MSS of the Palestinian Syriac Lectionary (Syrpal) is divided. 20

In the Armenian version, the passage is absent from the 3 oldest Armenian MSS, dating from 887 C.E. (Moscow, Inst. Lazareff), 901/902 C.E.(Venice, San Lazaro MS 1144), and 986 C.E. (Erevan, Matenadaran MS 7445). 21 The first MS with the story is a codex dating from 989 C.E. discovered in 1891 by F. C. Conybeare at Edschmiadzin. 22 Its version of the story is, however, different from the standard form found in John. 23 For example, the woman is accused of "sins" (Arm: malitiis), and the concluding dialogue with the woman is abbreviated: Jesus' final words are, "Go in peace, and present the offering for sins, as in their law is written"; it lacks the words oude egw se [kata]krinw.

The Georgian version also lacks the story in all of its oldest MSS (the codices of Adysh [dated 897 C.E.], Opiza [912 C.E.], and Tbet' [995 C.E.]). 24

Early Fathers:

(3) The Patristic Evidence 16

To the Patristic evidence, commencing with the Greek. 17

Papias/Eusebius 18

Almost all modern scholarship mentions - with varying enthusiasm - a comment attributed to Papias, which survives only because Eusebius included it in his h.e. (III.39.17). Eusebius says that Papias...

"...set forth another narrative about a woman who was accused before the Lord of many sins ( επι πολλαις αμαρτιαις ), which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews." 25

Although a majority of scholars interpret this reference as an allusion to the pericope adulterae (or some Ur-form of it), 26 there are four rather obvious reasons for not doing so.

(1) The Papias/Eusebius report contains no direct quotation or paraphrase from the story; there is, therefore, no assurance that it is the pericope adulterae which is being referenced.

(2) Papias's report is much more congruent with the Lucan version of the "Anointing at Bethany" (Luke 7:36-50, which, in v.47, informs us that αι αμαρτιαι were πολλαι [cf. also vv. 37,39,48]: note the verbal similarity with the πολλαις αμαρτιαις of Papias's report) than with the pericope adulterae.

(3) The Papias/Eusebius account - which speaks of the woman's unspecified "sins" as πολλαι ("many") - disagrees with the Johannine pericope adulterae, in which the woman is charged with only one sin, namely a single instance of adultery. 27

(4) The language used by Eusebius and the context in which he places this report in the h.e. do not make it clear whether Papias said the story was from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or whether Eusebius, - as a courtesy to his readers (or, perhaps, as a display of his erudition?) - supplied this information.

Didymus the Blind 19

If one sets aside this ambiguous Papias/Eusebius reference, then the oldest Greek patristic reference to the pericope adulterae occurs in a Commentary on Ecclesiastes by Didymus the Blind (*c. 313 - 398 C.E.). 28 But as with the Armenian MS Edschmiadzin anni 989 (see above), Didymus's story deviates considerably from what we now have in John: the woman is accused of αμαρτια ("a sin"); no attempt is made by the Jews to entrap Jesus who, instead, intervenes of his own volition; the story's most famous line becomes "He who has not sinned, let him take a stone and cast it"; the story ends there, and lacks the writing on the ground; also missing is the concluding dialogue between Jesus and the woman, which contains the saying we are investigating.

Euthymius Zigabenus 20

After Didymus, the next known Greek patristic reference occurs in the 12th century writer Euthymius Zigabenus, who states that τοις ακριβεσιν αντιγραφοις η ουχ ευρηται η ωβελισται ("in the most accurate MSS [the story] either is not to be found or has been obelized"). 29

The Latin Fathers 21

Pacien 22

Among the Latin writers, no fewer than five reference the passage at about the same date. The oldest of these appears to be Pacien of Barcelona (379-397 C.E.), whose brief comments indicate only that he knew a story in which the Lord did not condemn an "adulteress" (= John, but not Papias/Eusebius) and that it stood in a "gospel". 30

Ambrose 23

Ambrose of Milan (c. 378 C.E.) knows the passage, quotes snippets of it ("Let him who is without sin..."; the woman is an "adulteress"), but never indicates where he found the story. He provides an important insight into the reception of the episode when he remarks that some were disturbed by it, because Jesus did not condemn the adulteress. 31

Jerome 24

Jerome also knows the passage and includes it in his Vulgate (383 C.E.). In his adversus Pelagianos II.17, he observes that :

"in Evangelio secundum Joannem in multis et Graecis et Latinis codicibus invenitur de adultera muliere, quae accusata est apud Dominum"
("in the Gospel according to John, in many MSS, both Greek and Latin, is found [the story] of the adulterous woman, who is accused before the Lord"). 32


Rufinus seems to be the first to link the Papias/Eusebius report with the pericope adulterae. In 402 C.E. he translated Eusebius's h.e. into Latin, and apparently altered the indefinite Papias/Eusebius phrase "[a woman accused of] many sins" to "an adulterous woman [who is accused by the Jews before the Lord]." 33 This change is, however, of little value for discerning what Eusebius meant; it only suggests how Rufinus understood Eusebius. 25

Often overlooked is the fact that both Jerome and Rufinus were students of Didymus the Blind in Alexandria, the last head of the city's famed catechetical school. 34 This suggests that the evidence of these three men should be considered collectively, 26 rather than in isolation. 35


Ambrose's famous protege, 27 Augustine of Hippo (c. 415), remarks tellingly that "certain persons of scant faith - or better, I believe, enemies of the true faith - fearing that their wives be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord's act of kindness toward the adulteress, as if ...[the Lord] had given permission to sin." 36 This testimony, together with the remark of Ambrose about the unease caused by the passage, and the omission in many sources of the words ουδε εγω σε [κατα]κρινω , suggest a motive for the suppression of the story - which Augustine unambiguously says occurred. 28

The Syrian Fathers

In Syrian patristic sources, the story is wanting before the late 6th century. It is absent from Aphrahat's writings, 37 and it is not found anywhere in voluminous works of the other great 4th century Syrian father, Ephrem. It first appears in a late 6th or early 7th century Syriac MS (Brit.Lib., Add. 17202) wihch is a translation (or expanded version) of an anonymous Historia ecclesiastica originally composed in Greek and sometimes attributed to Zacharias Rhetor (of Mitylene; c. 550). 38 The story is prefaced with a remark that it came from "the Gospel of the holy Bishop Mara, in ...a chapter which belongs uniquely to John...and in other copies [of John's Gospel] this passage is not found." Mara ( c.527) was bishop of Amida; he is reported to have fled to Alexandria c. 525, amassed a substantial library, had a good command of Greek, and - presumably - translated this passage from a Greek manuscript 29 he came across there. 39

This "Mara" version of the pericope, which consists only of John 8:2-11, deviates considerably from the standard Johannine form. 30 There is no attempt to entrap Jesus, who voluntarily interpolates Himself into the scene; there follows a revised, less-pointed version of the challenge to the sinless one to cast the first stone; when finally alone with the woman, only Jesus speaks, and while he directs her not to commit this sin again, the words ουδε εγω σε [κατα]κρινω are once again lacking. 40

The next Syrian father to mention the story appears to be Agapius (Mahboub) of Hierapolis (Syria). In his Kitab al='Unvan (Universal History), composed about 942 in Arabic, he refers to "a sage" (usually understood to be Papias, who was Bishop of Hierapolis in the early 2nd century) 31 who came to Hierapolis and wrote five books (presumably Papias's Explanation of the Sayings of the Lord); in his book on the Gospel of John, this "sage" recounted (according to Agapius) that "in the book of John the Evangelist, there is the matter of a woman who was an adulteress," 32 and offers a precis of the story. 41 Despite the fact that this version is obviously abbreviated (there is no writing on the ground, no dialogue between Jesus and the woman), there are nevertheless differences between it and the standard form of the story. 33 These are most obvious in the (apparently) direct quotations from Papias's book: Jesus' challenge to the mob becomes, "The one among you who is certain of his innocence of the sin of which she is accused, let him witness against her with the proof that he is [innocent]."

Finally, commencing with a MS of Dionysius bar Salibi's Commentary on the gospels dating from 1197 (Dublin, Trinity College, B.2.9), we find the standard Johannine version of the story; 34 it is introduced by a statement asserting that "[it] is not found in all the copies; but that Abbot Mar Paul found it [in one of the Alexandrian copies], and translated it from Greek into Syriac...from the Gospel of John." 42 "Abbot Paul" is often presumed to be Paul of Tella or his contemporary, Abbot Paul. 43

NT Apocrypha:

(4) The NT Apocrypha

In the [NT] Apocrypha, we are told that the oldest evidence for the pericope adulterae is the Didascalia apostolorum. Originally composed in Greek, it survives today only in translations into Syriac (complete, very early) and Latin (partially preserved in a palimpsest in Verona). 44 In Didascalia 7 we find portions of the story quoted (including John 8:11), as a cautionary example directed at bishops: when dealing with sinners, they should be as indulgent, merciful, instructive, and reticent as Jesus was with the adulteress. Since the Didascalia is usually dated to the 1st half of the 3rd century, 45 it is, in absolute terms, the oldest reference - or so we are told - to the story.

Summary of the Textual evidence

We have reached the end of our tour d'horizon. The various forms in which the story is found suggest that it changed over time, either evolving (with the addition of v. 11, for example) or, alternatively, "shrinking" (through the suppression of v. 11 [recall the testimony of Augustine]). Citing such differences as (a) the transgression of the woman (adultery, or an unstipulated sin), (b) the manner in which Jesus is brought into the matter (by the Jews to entrap him, or of his own volition), (c) the presence or absence of Jesus writing on the ground, and (d) the presence or absence of Jesus' concluding dialogue with the woman (including our text in v. 11), B. D. Ehrman has suggested that there were originally two distinct stories, one known to Papias and Didymus (and found in the Gospel according to the Hebrews), and another known to the author of the Didascalia apostolorum; the present pericope adulterae is the result of the combination of these two originally independent stories. 46 D. Luhrmann criticized this reconstruction, arguing that the present Johannine account is simply a more developed form of the story which stood in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which was known to Papias and Eusebius and Didymus in a primitive form, and which gradually evolved into the story which now stands in John and the Didascalia apostolorum. 47

Tracing the history of the story would be facilitated if the full range of the evidence were considered 35 (for example, both of the reconstructions just outlined ignore the evidence of the Armenian codex Edschmiadzin anni 989 as well as Agapius of Hierapolis). But all of these reconstructions have proceeded on the assumption that the oldest evidence for the story (excluding the ambiguous Papias/Eusebius report) is the 3rd century Didascalia apostolorum ; in doing so, they have ignored or dismissed the most ancient evidence for the pericope adulterae. 36

original footnotes

Section 1: Manuscripts

12. The passage is absent from P 66 (which dates from about 200), P 75 (3rd cent.), and from the 4th century MSS א B and the 5th cent. MSS A C T W. As for Codex Bezae, D. C. Parker, Codex Bezae, an Early Christian Manuscript and its text (Camb. 1992), dates the MS to "about 400" (p. 281), and places its origin in Berytus (pp. 267-278).

13. These MSS place the passage post John 21:25.

14. These MSS place the passage post Luke (!) 21:38.

15. Von Soden, Die Shriften, Teil I, Abt. 1, p. 487.

Section 2: Versions

16. For some inexplicable reason, Eb. Nestle, Intro to the Textual Criticism of the Greek NT, transl. from the 2nd German ed. (London 1901), p. 142 (italics added), when commenting on the Georgian version, states in an aside that "in Old Latin Codex b , the passage from vii.44 onwards has been erased" (cp. p. 283, where the assertion is repeated.) B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Intro. to the NT in the Original Greek (Cambridge 1896 [2nd ed.rev.]; reprinted Peabody (Mass.) 1988), p. 85, leave a similar impression when they speak of the "obliteration" of the passage in MS b . U. Becker, Ehebrecherin, p. 31, speaks - ambiguously - of a "Lucke" [lacuna] at this point in MS b .

In contrast to these assertions, consider the words of the manuscript's editor, E. S. Buchanan, The Four Gospels from the Codex Veronensis..., OLBT 6 (Oxford 1911), pp. viii-ix (italics added):

"The two centre leaves of Q.[uire] xiii which contained the pericope de adultera have vanished and left no trace behind. The passage has not been erased. The text of b must have been closely akin to that of ff; for the two lost leaves in b would be exactly filled by the text of ff."

[It should be noted that - in what may be only a striking coincidence - some MSS of the Georgian version place the pericope adulterae after John 7:44, that is, exactly at the point at which MS b breaks off (see B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT [corrected edition; Stuttgart 1975], p. 221, n. 4)].

17. MS j contains only vv. 6-7.

18. "Indirect" because we have no Vulgate MSS of the gospels before the 5th century, the date of Sankt Gallen MS 1395 ( Σ ); yet, because of Jerome's comments (see infra, n. 32), we can be quite certain it stood in the Vulgate of 383 C.E.

19. Tj. Baarda, The Gospel Quotations of Aphrahat, Vol. I, p. 125. Baarda's statement is correct for all the ancient witnesses to these versions; J. Gwynn, Remnants of the Later Syriac Versions of the Bible, part I [NT] (London/Oxford 1909), pp. 2, 3, and 46 notes that several very late (15th cent. and later) Peshitta MSS give the passage.

20. Of the three known MSS, the passage is found in MS "A" (which gives John 8:1, 3-11; dated 1030 C.E.); MSS "B" (1104 C.E.) and "C" (1118 C.E.) lack the full passage (all thre give John 7:37-8:2, as do fragments of an unknown lectionary, found in the binding of MS "B"). See A. S. Lewis and M. D. Gibson, The Palestinian Syriac Lectionary of the Gospels (London 1899), pp. xii (dating), lv (variants in the Syriac against the Greek), 242-243 (text of MS "A"), 48-60 (text of John 7:37-8:2 in all three MSS), p. 320 (fragments from the binding of MS "B"); cp. esp. the remarks of Lewis on p. xv, wher she suggests that the original pericope adulterae consisted of only John 8:2-11. (Cp. her suggestion with Gwynn, Remnants, pp. 46-49, where he presents the "Mara" form of the passage, which commences with John 8:2 [cp. infra, n. 40]).

21. Metzger, A Textual Commentary, p. 220, n. 2, quotes a note in J. Zohrab's edition (1805) as reporting that only "five of the 30 MSS we used preserve [the pericope adulterae in its usual position in John]... The remainder usually... placing it as a separate section at the end of the Gospel... But in six of the older MSS the passage is completely omitted in both places. " Tracking these six MSS is difficult: F. G. Kenyon, The Text of the Greek Bible, revised by A. W. Adams (London 1975), pp. 132-133, gives the dates of four MSS which omit the pericope, three of which can be identified from the list of Armenian MSS in B. M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the NT (Oxford 1977), pp. 158-161.

22. Now housed in the Matenadaran in Erevan, catalogue no. MS 2374; formerly it had been catalogued (and was sometimes referenced) as Edschmiadzin MS 229.

23. These differences led Conybeare, "The Last 12 Verses of St. Mark's Gospel," Exp, 5th series, Vol. 2 (1895), pp. 401-421, to argue that the form of the story found in the Armenian codex was older than any other:

"I have nowhere met with it in the more archaic form in which the Edschmiadzin codex gives it" (p. 406); "The shorter text of the Edschmiadzin codex represents the form in which Papias and the Hebrew Gospel gave the episode" (p. 408).

24. See Metzger, A Textual Commentary, p. 220, n. 3 (cp. also supra, nn. 8 and 16).

Section 3: Early Fathers

25. See supra, n. 11.

26. So, for example, Becker, Ehebrecherin, pp. 105-116, B. D. Ehrman, "Jesus and the Adulteress," NTS 34 (1988), pp. 29-30, and D. Luhrmann, "Die Geschichte von einer Sunderin und andere apokryphe Jesusuberlieferungen bei Didymos von Alexandrien," NovT 32 (1990), pp. 304-307. The report is viewed ambiguously by J. H. Bernard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. John, ed. A. H. McNeile, ICC (Edinburgh 1928; repr. 1963), Vol. 2 p. 716. A. F. J. Klijn, Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition, VigChr.S 17 (Leiden, 1992), pp. 116-119 (Frag. XXXVII), regards the report as untrustworthy, however, for he categorizes it as "Spurious and Doubtful."

27. This remains so even if a much-discussed variant in verse 3 in Codex Bezae were accepted as the text (D and 1071 read epi amartia instead of epi moiceia ): first, this substitution still leaves the disjunction between the plural and the singular unresolved (Papias/Eusebius = plural ["many sins"]; John = singular ["in sin" or "in adultery"]); second, that the issue is "adultery" (and not some unstipulated "sin[s]") is made explicit in all MSS of John - including D and 1071 - in v. 4.

28. Didymos der Blinde. Kommentar zum Ecclesiastes (Tura-Papyrus). Teil IV (Komm. zu Eccl. Kap. 7-8,8), edd. J. Kramer and B. Krebber, PTA 16 (Bonn 1972), p. 88 (fol. 223, lines 7-13); the editors remark on the parallel with John on p. 89, n. 1.

29. Comm. Io., Migne, PG 129, col. 1280D.

30. See his Contra Tractatus Novatianorum XX.2 (cited here after Pacien de Barcelone. Ecrits, ed. C. Granado, et al., SC 410 [Paris 1995], p. 254 [the text is also available in Migne, PL 13, col. 1077A]): "Nolite in Euangelio legere quod pepercerit Dominus etiam adulterae confitenti, quam nemo damnarat,..."

31. Ambrose, Apologia David altera I.1.1-3 (S. Ambrosii opera, pars 2, ed. C. Schenkl, CSEL 32 [Pragae/Vindobonae/Lipsiae 1897], pp. 359-360); cp. idem, Ep. I.25 (ed. Migne, PL 16, col. 1041A), and Apologia David X.51 (Ambroise de Milan. Apologie de David, ed. P. Hadot and M. Cordier, SC 239 [Paris 1977], p. 142).

32. Jerome, adv. Pelag. II.17 (ed. Migne, PL 23, col. 579AB).

33. Rufinus substituted "muliere adultera" for Eusebius's gunaikoV epi pollaiV amartiaiV. See Th. Mommsen's edition of the Latin translation (Die lateinische UUbersetzung des Rufinus), published in Eusebius Werke II. Die Kirchengeschichte I, ed. E. Schwartz, GCS 9:1 (Leipzig 1903), p. 293: "...de muliere adultera, quae accusata est a Judeis apud dominum..." ("...concerning the adulterous woman who is accused by the Jews before the Lord"). One cannot (pace Klijn, Jewish-Christian, p. 117, n. 149) categorically rule out the possibility that Rufinus was translating from (older? more reliable?) Greek MSS of Eusebius accessable to him at that early date, which read epi moiceia.

34. See J. Quasten, Patrology (Utrecht 1950; repr. Westminster [Maryland] 1983), Vol. III, p. 85. Only Luhrmann, "Die Geschichte," p. 292, n. 16, remarks on the teacher-student relationship between Didymus and Jerome - but even Luhrmann ignores Rufinus's link with Didymus.

35. Jerome's strong endorsement of the passage as Johannine suggests that Didymus might have known it as part of John as well; Rufinus's apparent alteration of the h.e. (which brings it closer to the version of the story now found in the Johannine text) may well point in the same direction.

36. Augustine, De adulterinis coniugiis, VII.6 (Sancti Avreli Augustini, Sec. V. Pars III, ed. I. Zycha, CSEL 41 [Prague/Vindobonae/Lipsiae 1900], pp. 387-388). It is ironic that those (see, e.g., infra, n. 98) who would defend the originality of the pericope adulterae as part of the Gospel of John because of its presence in the Byzantine Text (or Textus Receptus) enthusiastically cite Augustine on this matter; they fail to note the absurdity, however, of arguing that such a theologically motivated excision occurred here, but nowhere else in the entire NT. This is indeed cutting the evidence to fit your theories. 37

37. See supra,, n. 19.

38. Bk. 8.7 (Historia ecclesiastica. Zachariae Rhetori vulgo adscrita, II, ed. E. W. Brooks, Syriac text in CSCO 84 [Syri 39] [Parisiis 1921; repr. Louvian n.d. (probably 1974)], pp. 86 [line 24]-87 [line 20], and Latin translation in CSCO 88 [Syri 42] [Lovanii 1924; repr. Louvain 1965], pp. 59-60 [Becker's reference (Ehebrecherin, p. 16, n. 29) is incorrect]). See also J. Gwynn, Remnants, pp. 3 (Gwynn's MS h), 46-47 (the "Mara" introduction), 48-49 (Syriac text), 91-92 (Greek reverse translation). On (Ps.-)Zacharias Rhetor, see B. Altaner, Patrology (London 1961), p. 276, or the Introduction of E. W. Brook's English translation (The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene [London 1899], pp. 1-10, esp. 1-5). A. Baumstark's brief reference, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn 1922), pp. 183-184, is so short as to be useless.

39. On Mara, see (Ps.-)Zacharias Rhetor, Hist. Eccl., 8.5 and 8.7 (CSCO 88, pp.54 and 57-60, resp.); his command of Greek is also mentioned in a MS (Dublin, Trinity College, B.2.9; dated 1197) of Dionysius bar Salibi's Commentary on the gospels (cp. Gwynn, Remnants, pp. 47 and 3 [Gwynn's MS f]).

40. Hist. eccl. 8.7 (CSCO 88, pp. 59-60 [supra, n. 38]); cp. Gwynn, Remnants, pp. 43-49.

41. Kitab al-'unvan. Histoire universelle ecrite par Agapius (Mahboub) de Menbidj, ed. A. Vasiliev, PO tome 7. pars 4 (Paris 1909), pp. 504-505 (Arabic text and French transl.). See also J. Linder, "Papias und die Perikope von der Ehebrecherin (Jon [sic] 7,53-8,11) bei Agapius von Mambig," ZKTh 40 (1916), pp. 191-199. Note that this description of what Papias (presumably) wrote - which explicitly describes the woman as "an adulteress" - is at odds with Eusebius's account of what Papias reported ("a woman accused of many sins"). Might Papias's text have been correctly preserved by Agapius, and erroneously transmitted by Eusebius (whose error Rufinus attempted to correct)?

42. Gwynn, Remnants, p. 41 (text); the MS is Gwynn's f (p. 3: Dionysius bar Salibi's Commentary on the gospels, which also contains the older "Mara" tradition and its version of the story [cp. supra, nn. 38-40]).

43. Both Pauls flourished in Alexandria from 615 to 617 [C.E.]), see Baumstark, Geschichte, pp. 186-188; "Abbot Paul" is reported to have translated the works of Gregory Nazianzus into Syriac in 624.

Section 4: NT Apocrypha

44. The Syriac text was first published by P. de Lagarde, Didascalia apostolorum syriace (Leipzig 1854); only 100 copies were printed; one resides in the Oriental Reading Room of the Library of the University of Leiden. The passage in question is found on p. 31. It is perhaps more readily available in The Didascalia apostolorum in Syriac, ed. M. D. Gibson, HSem 1 (London 1903), p. [syriac number symbo] (= p. 63), with an accompanying English translation in her The Didascalia apostolorum in English, HSem 2 (London 1903), pp. 39-40. A German translation of the Syriac is found in H. Achelis and J. Flemming, Die altesten Quellen des Orientalischen Kirchenrechts. Zweites Buch. Die Syrische Didaskalia, TU 25 (N.S. 10.2) (Leipzig 1904), p. 39. The Latin palimpsest was edited by E. Hauler, Didascaliae apostolorum fragmenta Veronensia latina (Leipzig 1900). F. X. Funk, Didascalia et Constitutiones apostolorum (Paderbornae 1905; repr. Torino 1962), presents a Latin text, reconstructed from the Syriac and the Verona palimpsest, on facing pages with the related but later work, the Apostolic Constitutions. Another English translation is found in R. H. Connolly, Didascalia Apostolorum. The Syriac version translated and accompanyied by the Verona fragments (Oxford 1929).

45. On the the date, see esp. P. Galtier, "La date de la Didascalie des Apotres," RHE 424 (1947), pp. 315-351, who would place it in the 1st half of the 3rd century (esp. p. 351: "le premiere moitie du IIIe siecle"). See also Gibson (The Didascalia apostolorum in Syriac, p. v ["third century"]), and Achelis and Flemming (Die altesten Quellen, p. 377 [third century, with a weak preference for the latter half]). As for its provenance, Achelis and Flemming, p. 366, opt for Coele-Syria; Conolly, Didascalia Apostolorum, p. lxxxix, specifies the Antioch-Edessa region, but would not exclude southern Syria or Palestine.

46. B. D. Ehrman, "Jesus and the Adulteress," pp. 24-44, esp. 32, 37-38.

47. D. Luhrmann, "Die Geschichte" (supra, n.26), pp. 289-316, esp. 310-312.

Return to Index

Nazaroo's Footnotes (Cont.)

Section 1: Manuscripts

7. Petersen's section on the manuscript evidence is brief. One thing that can be appreciated is the frankness and accuracy of the lists. Unlike others, such as Metzger (1971) and Willker (2007), Petersen at least provides dates for the MS witnesses he cites, so that they can be evaluated intelligently.

Ironically, there is more packed into Petersen's brief paragraph with footnotes than can be found in other treatments four times as verbose. For this we can be grateful on more than one level.

We can be grateful for instance that Petersen rightfully excludes mention of Codex X, which is a late commentary that never should have been included in any lists of Greek NT MSS. Incredibly, others such as Metzger and Willker are still listing it as an 'uncial' that omits the Pericope de Adultera, even though this is an absurd claim, only used to make the list of MSS omitting the PA look larger.

8. By 'makes its first appearance', what Petersen means is that this is the earliest extant Greek MS that contains the verses in their traditional place. This assessment must be qualified by the observation that we only have a handful of MSS from the 4th and 5th centuries, when we know that literally thousands must have been produced. This was the Church's greatest and most positive and productive period, enjoying a huge burst of prosperity, industry and evangelization, in both the East and West.

The fact that only a handful of MSS has survived is not just an alarm bell, signalling something very very strange has taken place, but an announcement that a great ongoing battle has been raging over the NT manuscripts and their content throughout the succeeding centuries.

From this rather obvious evidence, it is precarious to draw hard conclusions from the virtual crumbs left behind.

We have provided a useful chart showing all the extant early MSS relevant to John 8:1-11, color-coded to indicate how they can be classified, here:

Davidson on John 8:1-11 - Textual Evidence <-- Click Here.

9. - That is, all extant 6th and 7th century MSS. See our previous note.

What is important to note here, is that it is not that the passage is missing from the 6th and 7th century MSS, but rather that the MSS themselves are completely missing.

There are only TWO extant MSS from the 6th century: one omits the passage and the other has the portions missing entirely.

There are NO surviving Greek MSS from the 7th century at all, that contain the Gospel of John and would have a bearing on the question of the inclusion or omission of the Pericope de Adultera.

10. Codex Bezae has such a unique text that its 'text-type' only really includes itself as the only existing MS (Greek and Latin) having that text! It can only be called "Western" by apparent origin. However, it does not have the kind of text that Jerome identified as the Old Latin or even one popular in either East or West in his time. It appears to be a copy of an ancient text-type of unknown origin.

It defies grouping with any other text-types or MSS known to be popular anywhere in the ancient world at any time.

11. We must speak very "broadly", to call all the later MSS 'Byzantine'. But once we do this, we are better off renaming this group as the 'traditional' or 'common' text.

12. "insinuating itself" is a very loaded expression, obviously, and more importantly, a conjectural and rather subjective judgement. The truth is, we don't know anything about the early history of the passage, and so we can know very little about the later history of the passage, in the sense implied here.

13. ...and possibly the most reproduced form of the text in any period. It remains for those claiming otherwise to produce stronger evidence that a handful of 4th century ecclesiastical MSS, artificially edited to conform to an Egyptian text type from a century earlier.

14. The current count is now actually at about 1,350 continuous-text Greek MSS which contain the passage, as well as about a thousand lectionaries, according to Maurice Robinson. Petersen should be more up-to-date on this. 350 more MSS from all over the Holy Roman empire is a significant quantity of new witnesses to the inclusion of the verses.

Section 2: The Early Versions (translations)

15. Petersen's section on the versions is among the best and most informative descriptions of the evidence we have ever seen. It is so good, we can only add a few minor comments:

(1) The versional (early translational) evidence is necessarily secondary, not just because of translational issues, but because it seems evident that most of the early translations were either based upon or influenced by early lectionary (or ecclesiastical) texts prepared for public use.

This means that their significant and sometimes strange omissions and readings have less to do with 'competing' texts or 'theological editing', than they have to do with church practices and ad hoc methods of securing copies for new underground churches or 'house-groups'.

(2) Most early translations were done independantly by untrained individuals or volunteers, often unsupervised and left to 'make the best of it'. This naturally left the door open for alot more personal interpretation and 'editing' than would happen among the mainstream Greek MSS.

The fact that most of the early versions leave out the Pericope de Adultera may have less to do with 'text-critical' concerns and more to do with 'cultural acceptance' issues, particularly in the East. Or it may simply point to early lectionary traditions which left out the passage in public worship services.

Section 3: The Early Fathers (patristic evidences)


17. Splitting the patristic evidence into two groups, "Greek" and "Latin", has been a longstanding practice among those rejecting the verses as an interpolation, ever since the colored expression of Hort:

"Not only is it passed over in silence in every Greek commentary of which we have any knowledge, down to that of Theophylact inclusive (Cent. XI-XII); but with the exception of a reference in the Apostolic Constitutions (? Cent. IV), and a statement by an obscure Nicon (Cent. X or later) that it was expunged by the Armenians, not the slightest allusion to it has yet been discovered in the whole of Greek theology before the 12th century. "

(Hort, The NT in the Original Greek, Vol. I, Intro., (Macmillan, 1896) pp.299f)

Its a 'divide and conquer' tactic. There are fewer Greek writers than Latin who comment on the verses: critics appoint the Latins a 'secondary' status, significantly reducing the number that must be 'accounted for'. The importance of the 'silence' of the Greeks is then melodramatically over-emphasized. Just look at Hort's emotive language.

But even Hort had to acknowledge a few 'exceptions' to the rule, as does Petersen.

The statement has been all but stripped of its force, since the all-important discovery in 1942 of the commentaries of Didymus the Blind (c. 340 C.E.) who wrote at some length on John 8:1-11.

This moved the date of the "earliest Greek writer to comment on the verses" back about 800 years!

From a scientific point of view, the division is arbitrary and unproductive. The early fathers are spread all over the empire, and many of them were at least moderately bilingual, since Greek remained the lingua franca of commerce even into the 5th century. In fact, the Greek language received an added boost in prestige when Constantine (c. 320 C.E.) moved his capitol East, renaming the city Constantinople.

There was no 'barrier' between East and West of language or otherwise, and the Church enjoyed the freedom of almost continual intercommunication between all major Christian centers throughout the early centuries, especially after Constantine.

Whatever the Latin fathers said and did was well known to the Greek fathers, and vice versa. Important disputes regarding canon and interpretation were hashed out quite publicly at councils. It is inconceivable that the Latin fathers could stand united in certainty of the authenticity of John 8:1-11 without the Greeks' knowledge or assent. Had there been any serious question on this point, the Greek fathers would have certainly spoken loudly in protest.

18. The evidence of Papias through Eusebius is problematic, both for its ambiguity and its almost inexplicable strangeness.

Petersen's solution is to suggest two different stories were involved, with Papias referring either to Luke or some other now lost anecdote, possibly from the Gospel Acc. to the Hebrews. This is not entirely implausible, and Petersen makes a good case for his own position.

But an equally possible scenario should not be overlooked, namely that Eusebius himself has distorted the testimony. He is openly hostile to Papias, mocking him as an idiot.

This appears to be an unjustified bias, brought on by the difference between Eusebius and Papias in their approach to the interpretation of Scripture. Papias would be called something of a 'fundamentalist' or literalist, whereas Eusebius is a strong proponent of 'allegorical' interpretation of scripture.

The question of who is 'right' is moot. While most evangelicals would probably side with Papias, and liberals with Eusebius, the real issue is that Eusebius' bias cannot be easily discounted in his disparaging reportage of Papias. This could easily extend to some serious distortion of the facts, especially since an investigation of the background of Eusebius shows a propensity for 'coloring' stories and some serious motivational questions regarding the very passage under investigation (John 7:53-8:11).

It is already reasonably well established that Eusebius' text lacked the verses (see codex B, Aleph). This is not an excision of his own invention, since early MSS (P66, P75) already show a practice of omission. However, the power and influence of Constantine cannot be discounted in the apparent 'resurgence' of the omission in the early 4th century.

Emperor Constantine, significantly, had his own queen boiled to death for the crime of ... adultery.

19. If indeed Didymus the Blind is now the oldest extant early Greek father to witness to the verses, then Petersen needs to devote more than a dismissive paragraph to this witness.

At the very least, the text of Didymus needs to be presented (as Willker for instance has done) so that it can be examined carefully for its support of important claims made here, such as its differences in detail from the Johannine version.

Petersen gives no attention to important factors regarding Didymus' testimony, like his obvious blindness, which in spite of care, must have been a huge handicap to 'word-for-word' accuracy, or even for basic investigations.

For instance, Didymus' commentaries must have been dictated orally, and composed mentally from the start, with alot of interpretational influences imposing themselves upon his recollection of the texts. Surely factors like this must account for at least some of the peculiarities of Didymus' testimony to the text.

The fact that Didymus is actually commenting upon Ecclesiastes, not John, is not being taken into account. Didymus only mentions the story of the Adulteress in passing, obviously from memory, and his choice of expression and selection is clearly a function of the task at hand.

Petersen inexplicably offers no text or analysis, of the most important patristic witness to the Pericope de Adultera. Here is a case where it actually would have been useful to quote Ehrman for once, since he at least has attempted an analysis.

20. Euthymius is an important witness for those rejecting the authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera (PA). He actually comments on the state of the MSS as he has found them in his time and location. Again, Petersen simply ignores the remarkable statement he reports, passing by without a comment.

But this cannot do at all. For Euthymius is strangely ambiguous, as if unsure what he is saying: The passage "is either marked with obelisks, or not found, in the most accurate copies". But what does he mean 'either/or'? How many of one, and how many of the other?

Remarkably, since Euthymius is writing in the 12th century, this is something we can actually check for a change with no effort at all. In fact, the majority of MSS from the 9th to 14th century (some 1,350) don't have any markings: only about 300 are marked with obelisks or asterisks. By contrast, only about 60 extant continuous MSS from this same period lack the verses. That is, only 20% of these "most accurate copies" omit the verses, and at least some rather significant number of the 'obelitized' MSS do not mark the verses as an 'insertion' or 'interpolation' at all.

Secondly, Euthymius clearly seems to imply something about the meaning of the obelisks generally, at least in this passage. But a careful examination of them is quite revealing. In fact, a large number of these markings turn out to be 'Lection' markings, or simply reader's marks, to assist ecclesiastical readers in worship service. Thus Euthymius is at the very least inaccurate in his understanding of the purpose of these marginal markings.

Thus the actual evidence we have shows that Euthymius is either confused or inaccurate on both points. He is wrong about the meaning of the 'obelisking' (or asterisking), and he is most probably wrong about to identify 'the most accurate copies' (i.e., the omission or obelisking of the passage).

Petersen's failure to check and clarify the most trivial of facts is disappointing. Why bother to report Euthymius at all in this case?

Hort's frank assessment of late witnesses like Euthymius is striking by contrast:

"...their varying accounts of the relative number and quality of the copies cannot of course be trusted."

(Hort, The NT in the Original Greek, Notes on Select Readings, p. 83 (MacMillan 1896))

21. Just as the early Greek fathers have been artificially and falsely categorized as an isolated, independant group, so likewise the 'Latin' fathers. Instead while obviously many of these early writers wrote fluently and primarily in Latin, they came from every nation and tribe, and are spread all over the Holy Roman empire. Pacien for instance is found in Barcelona Spain, while Jerome resided in Palestine during his most productive years of writing.

22. "[Pacien's brief comments indicate only that he knew a story in which the Lord did not condemn an "adulteress" (= John, but not Papias/Eusebius) and that it stood in a "gospel". '

We can admire Petersen's skeptical methodology when dealing with seriously ambiguous evidence. But no textual critic in their right mind today would propose that Pacien can mean anything other than that the PA is Holy Scripture, belonging to accepted and venerated copies of John's Gospel in his time and place.

23. Ambrose is of a generation earlier than Jerome, Rufinius, and Augustine. While his active writing took place early enough, he represents a tradition extending back at least a generation earlier than himself.

Ambrose would not have embraced any 'novel' contemporary additions to John's Gospel. By this point in time, the canon and content of Scripture seems to have been pretty much settled for nearly a hundred years.

Petersen rightly identifies Ambrose's testimony as of the highest importance. But as with Pacien, Petersen is again overly cautious to the point of absurdity. There is no ambiguity as to Ambrose's view that the passage is Holy Scripture belonging to John's Gospel.

Had there been any other possible interpretation of Ambrose's testimony, his three greatest pupils, Jerome, Rufinius, and Augustine, would have obviously known about it and their own actual testimony would be inexplicable.

24. Jerome is a good example of the 'ecumenical' cooperation between various dioceses, as he first spent years studying in Constantinople, but also traveled to Alexandria to learn under Didymus at the famous catechetical school there, before settling in the Holy land.

As personal secretary to one pope, with a mandate to update and restore the Latin NT to reflect the original Greek, Jerome was one of the greatest textual critics and linguistic scholars of his day (c. 370-410 C.E.). To treat him as a 'secondary witness' because he wrote primarily in Latin borders on dishonesty.

Obviously fathers like Jerome were well acquanted with the state of the MSS transmission in their time, this being one of their major concerns. When Jerome makes a statement to the effect that 'many MSS both Greek and Latin contain the verses' in John, it must be remembered that every one of the MSS judged by him to be 'oldest and best' were 100-200 years older than codices like B and Aleph. The MSS produced in Constantine's time would be 'modern bibles' from Jerome's point of view.

25. "[Rufinius's action] only suggests how Rufinus understood Eusebius."

If this is the only 'use' Petersen can find for Rufinius' testimony, we are disappointed. The fact is, Rufinius, by the very facts of the case, is clearly a competent master of both Greek and Latin. This alone prevents him from being simply dismissed as a secondary 'Latin' father. He is a scholar of serious reputation engaged in actively keeping the Latin church educated and on a par with its Greek counterpart.

As one with the skills and the task of transferring the work of the Greek writers into Latin, he is intimately familiar with the Greek text and Greek scholarship from the other parts of the empire.

His opinion on a point of interpretation of Eusebius reaches beyond the question of simple familiarity with the Latin text(s). It probably extends to some concern for preserving or correcting his copy of Eusebius, and of course trying to make sense of the text, possibly via access to other materials now lost to us.

One of those obvious tools at his disposal would be the Greek text of John. And here Rufinius shows a clear familiarity and acceptance of the PA as authoritative Holy Scripture.

26. Obviously the testimony of all these fathers is somewhat related, since they were contemporaries, and in frequent communication with one another on multiple occasions. Following this logic, we might as well throw in Ambrose and Augustine as well.

But what Petersen is really suggesting here is probably in the nature of reducing their 'collective' witness to the text down to a 'single witness'.

This methodology is not only unsound however, but ridiculous. For here we are not simply talking about 'copyists using a single master-copy', and inadvertantly multiplying the MSS count or dominance of a text-type.

Here we are talking about a group of leaders of the church, discussing and supporting a widespread reading or passage, and unanimously confirming that it is ancient, an authentic part of John's Gospel, and has the status of Holy Scripture.

To suggest they are all mindless puppets of a secret movement, or naive dolts and victims of some kind of 'bible fraud', or co-conspirators in what would be the greatest hoax in the NT is a difficult, if not wholly implausible proposal.

The attempted omission of the passage, which at some point the early fathers took notice of, and took steps to prevent, is a far more plausible scenario on its face:

That the early fathers stepped up in protest rather late is sadly explicable. That they imputed vague or oversimplified motives to their opponents is utterly expected. That they inefficiently and lamely met the threat, leaving the MSS base severely damaged in many places and times, is wholly believable.

On the other hand, That the 'excisors' only had a limited range and influence is predictable. That the real conspirators lacked the multi-generational reach required to ultimately succeed in removing the passage is typical. That those hostile to the passage were unpopular with Christians who accepted it, is understandable.

But to try to reduce the near-unanimous testimony of the fathers of the 4th century to that of a single mistaken witness, is a methodology of the desperate.

27. The important thing about the relationship between Ambrose and Augustine is that it is a generational passing on of tradition and history. As such, Ambrose's testimony too, must reach back to earlier generations, and cannot be a novel innovation.

28. The witness of Augustine is important, not because it is independant, or because of its relative lateness. In some cases, we want witnesses to be independant and isolated, preventing them from tainting their testimony.

But actually in the case of a historical investigation like this, we want the opposite. We want the witnesses to be colluding and dependant, relying upon previous witnesses of others that went before. This is the whole ethos of 'unbroken tradition' and the preservation of a stream of information, reaching from the ancient to the more recent.

Augustine's dependance upon earlier witnesses like Ambrose is exactly the kind of connection that makes his testimony valuable, because it reaches back in time. Just as good copies of MSS are not those who are 'independant', but tediously enslaved to their predecessors, so we want our witnesses, when it comes to our attempt to trace historical facts and texts, back in time.

29. "...and ... translated this passage from a Greek manuscript he came across there"

The important point to be noted here is that Syrian fathers, in a position to know both the direction of dependance (i.e., the dependance of the Syrian text upon the original Greek), and the value of early Greek copies containing the passage, here speak by their actions. The Syrians both knew that the Syrian text was dependant upon the Greek, and that it was faulty in some important respects. In their efforts to correct and improve their texts, and enrich their church, they were clearly willing to go to reliable sources and make serious changes.

Modern advocates of theories of 'Syrian primacy' or superiority to the Greek textual traditions should make note of the clearly opposing attitudes of the early Syrian fathers on these issues. And they if any were in a better position to know than modern theorists.

30. Although a sincere desire to bring the text into the Syrian tradition is evident, we should not assume that limits and cultural pressures were all eliminated. It is not surprising that especially in this case (the Pericope de Adultera) there should be factors at work beyond simple paraphrasing, or the dynamic transfer of ideas from one culture and language to the next. Clearly the translators/innovators were conscious, aware, and concerned about both the content of the passage, and its reception into the Syrian community.

It is quite plausible that key details, either which would only cause confusion or mystery, or would raise difficult moral questions for the community, would be left out or modified appropriately. These forces were clearly at work in the Lectionary tradition and versions elsewhere, and we should realistically expect them here also.

It is unreasonable to expect that all problematic or obtuse details would unerringly find their way into the new milleu via a slavishly literal translation.

31. Here we should note the similarity between this testimony and that of Eusebius/Papias, in the historical time gap between the recorder of the tradition and its probable origin. We should not discredit this testimony because of its late attestation anymore than we would that of Eusebius. In both cases, it is unlikely that the recorders are simply inventing stories. They are more than likely relying upon relatively reliable early traditions no longer available to us.

Thus without some compelling reason to discredit the testimony, which is hardly important or remarkable enough to invent, we can tentatively receive the witness, based upon its banality and accidental nature.

32. Note especially the specific mention of "adulteress", which should be considered in the light of our previous footnote.

33. Petersen emphasizes the (alleged) differences between the 2nd century account and the Johannine version of the PA. But a careful scientific approach should also document the similarities, and consider a number of plausible causes for the 'discrepancies', before pronouncing the stories 'unalike'.

34. Here again we find Petersen equivocating between the date of the recorder of a tradition and the probable date of the origin of that tradition. This is a methodological error involving an arbitrary inconsistency.

35. We wholeheartedly agree here, but don't understand why Petersen hasn't followed through and examined the internal evidence from John's Gospel itself for the question of authenticity.

36. And a brief list of the earliest evidence yet to be considered is as follows: (1) the early evidence from sources like the Egerton Papyrus. (2) the early evidence from the book of Revelation. (3) the earliest evidence, from the Gospel of John itself.

37. Its hard to let this just slide by. The fact is, there is nothing really 'ironic' or absurd in citing Augustine on the possible motivations for the omission of the passage. He was there, in continuous debate with those within and without the church, including Montanists like Tertullian, and he must be given some slack regarding his potential to have a bit more understanding of opponents of the verses than we do, looking backward 1600 years.

Petersen makes much of the uniqueness of this passage as a target of 'deletors'. Why no other targets? Well, defenders of the passage can hardly be held accountable for the actions of their opponents! It is indeed a good question, but it hardly makes the possibility of the authenticity of the passage 'absurd'.

Petersen himself relies upon similar ideas in his rating of Ambrose's testimony (above). Charges of 'cutting the evidence to fit your theories' are best not thrown about without strong evidence: stronger than that offered here.

I think Petersen mis-identifies the motives of his modern opponents as badly as he says Augustine did.

Defenders of the Byzantine text don't defend its readings 'because they are Byzantine'. They defend them because they believe the 'Byzantine' text isn't Byzantine at all, but represents a much wider and more primitive text than other text-types. Others defend it on a different basis, and when they do, they are not defending the 'Byzantine' text alone, but the whole traditional text used by Christians for a thousand years. This naturally includes the Old Greek (LXX) as still used by the Greek Orthodox church today, and the Latin Vulgate. Together these traditions (including the Byzantine) support the inclusion of the Pericope de Adultera. There is no serious competition between the Byzantine text and say, the Vulgate.

Finally, the 'absurdity' of the idea that the PA was uniquely singled out is all in the eye of the beholder. If one can observe that the PA actually IS unique in its content and its impact, one can understand why it was uniquely targeted.

Petersen fails to see the uniqueness of the PA and so fails to see why it is uniquely targeted. But this is not just a matter of opinion. Its a matter of how others perceive the PA as well.

For instance, Anti-Christian internet sites sponsored by Muslims target this passage specifically with an almost irrational zeal, because it is clearly against the stoning of women, a practice that is still going on to this day in Muslim-dominated countries. Whatever Petersen thinks, others clearly think the passage IS unique.

But there's more. By analogy, many modern Jewish apologists attack the 'virgin' prophecy in Isaiah and its Christian interpretation, but care little about other Christianized passages. Why? Because this is perceived as more important to Jews than other prophetic questions. Only Jews can decide this (i.e., what is important to their own interests), not outsiders.

When we turn to the handling of the LXX, we see an exactly parallel case: The story of Suzanna. According to Origen, it was excised from the (Greek) book of Daniel by 2nd century C.E. Jewish authorities because it was derogatory to Jewish authorities, and was being used in anti-semitic attacks.

It makes perfect sense why Jews deleted Susanna, but not other stories that seem equally silly to us, like Jonah or Ruth.

Similarly, the PA is the only passage in the NT which directly and blatantly presents the Jewish authorities as willing to murder a possibly innocent woman just to trap their opponent Jesus. This is a slander that understandably Jews, even Jewish Christians would single out as dangerous and inciting irrational hatred from Gentiles.

It may be that Augustine has mis-identified those responsible for the omission, and their motives. But that hardly makes the passage inauthentic, or absurd to use Augustine as proof that parties existed who were mutilating MSS, or as a witness to the state of the MSS tradition in his time as part of a wider case examining authenticity.

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Protevangelion Jacobi:

While Petersen is weak in regard to parts of the textual evidence as we have shown, his main purpose in his article is to bring to our attention the surprising evidence found in the Protevangelion of James (PJ).

Petersen has a soft, but postive case that the author that book (Protevangelion of James) knew and used John's Gospel as and inspirational source for his own work.

While the evidence concerning John 7:53-8:11 is obviously very weak and fragmentary, the fact is that it becomes stronger when taken together with other evidence that the Protevangelion of James (PJ) knew of and used John's Gospel.

III. John 8:11 and the Protevangelium Iacobi

Ει Κυριος ο Θεος ουκ εφανερωσεν το αμαρτημα υμων,
ουδε εγω κρινω υμας. και απελυσεν αυτους
"If the Lord God has not made your [pl.] sin manifest,
neither do I condemn you [pl.]." And he let them go.

- Protev. Iac. XVI.3 [Priest addressing Mary and Joseph]

"The Protevangelion Jacobi [ or "protevangelion of James", PJ ] is an apocryphal Christian romance, dating from the 2nd half of the 2nd century. 49 ...

The plot of the PJ is well-known; it is sufficient to say that Mary, a young girl pledged to the Temple, must leave when her first menses occurs. By lot she is placed in the care of an older widower, Joseph.

When Mary is later discovered to be pregnant, a crowd of Jews brings her and Joseph before the Priest to be tried by ordeal [numbers 5]: he drinks a poison, and is sent into the wilderness. When he returns alive - a sign of his innocence - Mary is put to the same test.

When she too returns alive, the Priest pronounces the words given above - which, allowing for the plural (umaV that is Mary and Joseph) in place of the singular, and transposition of the last two words, are an exact parallel for the text of John 8:11:

(PJ): ουδε εγω [κατα] κρινω υμας.

(8:11): ουδε εγω σε [κατα] κρινω

The question poses itself: Is this parallelism the result of chance, or does the [PJ] betray knowledge of the story which now stands in the Gospel of John?"

(Petersen, p. 204-205)

Peterson's original footnotes:

48. E. de Strycker, La forme la plus ancienne du Protevangile de Jacques, SH 33 (Bruxelles 1961), p. 140.

49. De Strycker, La forme.., p. 417, sets the terminus post quem as "le deuxieme quart du IIe siecle" (because of its knowledge of II Peter), and gives his dating ("la seconde moitei du IIe siecle") on p. 418.

Petersen goes on to show other evidence that the PJ knew about John:

"...form criticism comes to our aid, revealing a wealth of parallels between the PJ and the PA:

(1) In both, the words are part of a "confrontation story". 57

(2) In both, the accusation is one of sexual misconduct, and

(3) in both the accused is female.

(4) in both , the accusation is made by the same group: the Jews, especially religiously scrupulous Jews.

(5) In both, the accused is presented to the judge for a ruling; in nether story does the judge interpolate himself into the situation.

(6) In both, the scene is the same, in that the accused woman is brought by a crowd to stand before a male religious figure.

(7) In both, the words are spoken as the dramatic climax to a tension-filled scene.

(8) In both, the woman is acquitted, despite overwhelming evidence of her 'guilt' (according to John 8:4, the woman is 'caught' in the act of adutery; in the PJ it is visually self-evident that Mary is pregnant [XV.1: "Annas (the scribe who alerts the authorities concerning Mary)...saw Mary with child"]).

Because of the form-critical congruity of these features and because of the virtually verbatum literary agreement, we are driven to conclude that some sort of dependance exists between the PJ and the PA.

Furthermore, we may stipulate that the form of the PA (John 8:1-11) from which the PJ borrowed these words must have been similar to the form the episode now has in the Gospel of John, in that the transgression was

(1) explicitly sexual in nature,

(2) the accused was presented by a mob to the authority figure for judgement, and

(3) the story contained the words "Neither do I judge you".

All of these features, - while present in the PJ and in the Gospel of John's version of the story - are not only absent from Papias/Eusebius and Didymus the Blind, but specifically contradict their information; 58 therefore, we may reject them as possible sources of the words.

The words "Neither do I judge you" are, then textual evidence that three constitutive elements of the PA, as it is now known to us from the Gospel of John, were known in the 2nd half of the 2nd century, the date assigned to the PJ. 59

The evidence of the PJ is important for three reasons.

(1) It establishes the presence of these three distinctive elements in the story as far back as we can find evidence for it. Working without the evidence of the PJ, Ehrman and Luhrmann 60 presumed that these elements were later accretions, absent from its earliest form of the story (for, indeed, they are absent from Didymus and Papias/Eusebius). Such a position is no longer tenable.

(2) In absolute terms, it moves back the date for the first reference to the story from the 3rd century (the date of the Didascalia apostolorum) to the 2nd half of the 2nd century - or between 50 and 100 years earlier. And this earliest evidence for the story shares recognizable, distinctive elements with the Johannine version of the story.

(3) As we will see, it provides additional information for determining the provenance of the story. "

(Petersen, 206,207)

Peterson's original footnotes:

57. V. Taylor, The Formation of the Gospel Tradition (London 1957 [= 2nd ed. of 1935 repr.]), pp. 83-84, perversely (in your author's opinion) classifies the pericope adulterae as a "pronouncement story"; Becker, Ehebrecherin, p. 83 correctly classifies it as a "confrontation" story.

58. Papias/Eusebius, for example, speaks of "many sins", and says nothing of their nature; in Didymus's account, rather than a mob bringing the woman to Jesus for judgement, Jesus interpolates himself into the scene to defend her.

59. See supra, n. 49.

60. Luhrmann was aware of the Proevangelium's evidence, but dismissed it (see infra, n. 68).

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Nazaroo's Footnotes (continued):


We have little contention with Petersen's findings in regard to the Protevangelion of James (PJ) and its relationship with the Pericope de Adultera (PA). Petersen has shown that there is a dependancy between them, and that dependancy is rather obviously specifically that of a dependance of the Protevangelion upon the ancient text of John.

As a result, Petersen is able to date the essential version of the PA found in John back to the late 2nd century.

What we find remarkable however, is the great similarity between this relationship, and the one between the Egerton Papyrus (EP) and the Pericope de Adultera (PA).

It would be very difficult to judge the relative strength of the case between the PA and PJ, and the PA and the EP.

The Egerton Papyrus

We draw the reader's attention now to the remarkable parallel phrases between the PA and the EP.

After nearly a century of intense study of the Egerton 'Gospel' fragments, the dust has pretty much settled about the actual nature of the document.

It is probably not an unknown '5th gospel', but rather an interesting piece of creative writing, a 'harmony' of sorts of at least three canonical gospels (possibly by a student, or practicing writer/preacher).

It is now fairly widely recognized that the 'author' of EP used canonical John among other documents (and not vice versa for instance), based upon the nature of the internal evidence in the document.

This has made the Egerton papyrus perhaps one of the earliest significant textual witnesses to the existance and circulation of the Gospel of John.

However, the use of John being reasonably settled, little thought has apparently been spent upon its possible importance as a witness to the early existance (and location in John) of the Pericope de Adultera.

Admittedly, the evidence is very slender and tentative. But it is a remarkable coincidence, that two phrases are placed in close proximity, in the correct order (the same as in the Pericope), namely,

"rulers...the crowd..."

"Teacher! (didaskale)" ...

"Go...and sin no more!"

In particular, the combination of "Teacher"...(cf. Jn 8:4) and "Sin no more" (Jn 8:11) are eerily reminiscent of the Pericope de Adultera.

But if we admit that the Egerton author had John in front of him already, the next question might be, not that he himself connected the conversation of Nicodemus ("Rabbi" Jn 3:2) with that of the cripple in Judea ("Sin no more" Jn 5:14), but rather,

"Did the Egerton author use the Pericope de Adultera as an enclosing template for his Leper story?"

Note especially that in John's Gospel Nicodemus uses 'Rabbi', not 'Didaskale', and so Jn 3:2 is less plausible as the source for the 1st statement in the Egerton fragment.

This 2nd century 'harmonizer' uses 'Didaskale' elsewhere as well, making it a kind of trademark for the Egerton work, so this is perhaps not so unusual in itself. Yet...

Whatever may be said of the 'softness' of the connection, it must be admitted that the only place in the Entire New Testament, and even among the hundreds of non-canonical 'gospels', where these two phrases come together in this order in close proximity, is the Pericope de Adultera, John 8:1-11.

What we would like to see, is that Mr. Petersen look into the Egerton Papyrus connection with the same meticulous scholarship that he has used in connection with the Protevangelion of James.