Where is the Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery really from?

This is a guest post by one of my former master’s students at Dallas Seminary, Kyle Hughes. This was his term paper in the course Advanced Greek Grammar, now published in the vaunted journal Novum Testamentum. Although he credits me with strong input and support, he went much further and worked far more closely with the primary sources than I would have. I am grateful for his endeavors.

Kyle R. Hughes, “The Lukan Special Material and the Tradition History of the Pericope Adulterae,” Novum Testamentum 55.3 (2013): 232–251.

The great majority of scholars hold that the so-called pericope adulterae or “PA” (the story of Jesus and the adulteress found in John 7.53–8.11) is not original to John’s Gospel. The first manuscript of John to include this story is Codex Bezae (D), which dates to the fifth century, and on internal grounds these verses interrupt the narrative of John’s Gospel and feature non-Johannine vocabulary and grammar. But if the PA is not from the hand of the Fourth Evangelist, where did it come from?

Many scholars have noted that these verses contain distinctively Lukan grammar, vocabulary, and themes, but the lack of early manuscript evidence associating PA with Luke’s Gospel has made this a dead-end. Bart D. Ehrman, however, made a groundbreaking contribution several years ago (“Jesus and the Adulteress,” New Testament Studies 34 [1988]: 24–44) by demonstrating the likelihood that PA as we have it in John’s Gospel is in fact a conflation of two earlier stories, one found in Papias and the Didascalia, and the other found in Didymus and the Gospel of the Hebrews. Erhman noted that all of the Lukan features of PA John are found in the former of these (what I’ve termed “PA East” = John 8.2-7a, 10-11).

My article builds on Ehrman’s contribution by arguing that PA East and the Lukan special material (the so-called “L” source, which is that material unique to Luke’s Gospel) have remarkable similarities in their style, form, and content. Citing distinctive parallels in each category, I conclude in my article that “in terms of style, form, and content, PA East so closely resembles the L material that PA East almost surely would have been part of an original L source” (p. 247). Given a shared Syro-Palestinian provenance, I contend that a single line of transmission from L to the Didascalia is in fact quite plausible.

From all this, I draw several conclusions. Perhaps the most interesting is that “we can affirm the essential historicity of the event recorded in PA to the extent that it is preserved in the Didascalia, since identifying the account with the L source places it into the middle of the first century” (p. 247). Much of this beloved story rings true to what else we know of Jesus’ life and would almost certainly not have been the kind of account the early church would have invented.

As for why Luke left this story out of his Gospel, there’s no reason to think that he included every story he heard, and the non-conflated PA East is a bit of a bore compared to the form that appears in Codex Bezae. Nevertheless, it continued to circulate (likely orally) in Palestine, made its way into the Didascalia, and was ultimately conflated with a similar story and inserted into John’s Gospel. Why? At this point, I’ll simply refer interested parties to the work of Chris Keith, whose proposal I find quite satisfying.

This article, which is now out in Novum Testamentum, would never have seen the light of day without the unflagging encouragement and support of Dr. Wallace, for which I am most grateful. All faults, however, are entirely my own doing! A post-print pdf for those wishing to read the entire article is located http://taarcheia.wordpress.com/academic-archives/.


36 thoughts on “Where is the Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery really from?

  1. Pingback: NovT 55.3 Published (L/PA Article) | Early Christian Archives (τὰ ἀρχεῖα)

  2. Pingback: New Scholarship on John 7:53 – 8:11

  3. Marvis Camat

    During the time or era when Codex Bezae was in fresh circulation (if I may say), is there a way to tell that the Christians at that time accepted the PA as legitimate part of biography of Jesus, like, it did really happen… and that the evangelists did not include in their autographs such a quite an important event in Jesus’ life which would give Christians some insights on how Jesus would handle such situation that directly challenges his understanding of where the law of Moses stands in Roman Judiciary. Will that scenario then be applicable in modern times when Death as capital punishment is executed, regardless whether the justice system of any country that has it are aware of the law of Moses, and if in case ‘yes’ then how would PA address the issue of the ‘times of being under grace and not under the Law’?

    Because for some reason I personally am having trouble reading passages like that which appeared couple or many centuries later (not in autographs presumably), as if Christians at that time would be presented a scenario and how would Jesus ‘would presumably react’ if Jesus lived in their time, (5th century A.D.). I am drawing this inference from the different views of the patristic church leaders like Papias, Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, etc. in the issue of eschatology (like premillenialism). If the church leaders residing in the area of the origin of Codex Bezae told their members of this ‘isolated’ story as true, then where did Papias got this story from (as to the location of Papias, is his location far or near the location of the origin of Codex Bezae)? Thanks for the patience reading, I have difficulty writing my inquiries.


    1. To think that the PA just popped into the text in the 5th Century ignores these facts:
      * The Didascalia (first half of the third century) refers to it.
      * Book II of the Apostolic Constitutions does as well (3rd century).
      * Eusebius cited Papias (early second century, possibly a disciple of John) as referring to a story about a woman accused before Jesus — this might have been a reference to the Pericope Adulterae.
      * Didymus the Blind (350 A.D.) referred to it directly in his commentary on Ecclesiastes.
      * Ambrose preached on it around 375 A.D., saying that it caused offence to the unskilled. (He mentioned the tradition which appears in much early art that Christ wrote in the dust, “Earth accuses earth.”)
      * Jerome, just after 400 A.D., said it was in many (in multis) Greek and Italian manuscripts (Migne, Patrologia Latina, 23), and used it as authoritative in his rebuke to the Pelagians. You don’t use a passage to refute error if its authority is in question — you use a different passage. Jerome used this one.
      * Augustine, who wasn’t exactly “best buddies” with Jerome and didn’t hesitate to call him down, said that some people eliminated it from their manuscripts because they didn’t understand it (paraphrasing roughly).
      * Vaticanus has a diacritical mark — a mark that some scribes used to show they were aware of an alternate text at a particular point. Vaticanus excludes the account, but its scribe apparently knew of it well enough to indicate its existence.
      ` from http://mindrenewers.com/2012/02/10/the-pericope-adulterae-and-the-oldest-manuscripts/


      1. Marvis

        Thank you for the reply, but I wish you would be kind enough to type the references so I could infer to it for future papers I might write (or I’ll take a look at the website you typed on the last point after this reply of mine). Anyway I thought these all lead to something like the PA narrative was not possibly jot down in the autographs but somehow elsewhere survived via tradition in the Q sources. Well unlike those who attempted to append and edit the ending of Mark’s gospel the PA took centuries before someone ‘copy and paste’ it on a manuscript. But then it gives me an idea that Q source was not in written form, and also, if Luke said ‘they, eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, handed those lectures to them’, then why would Luke miss it in writing in order for Theophilus not to be confused about which is which amongst he had heard? Augustine may be well-respected, but I believe if Luke already sorted things out for Theophilus then I have also have to make note that a contemporary of Papias in Justin Martyr and Tatian did not mention the PA in Diatessaron. I’m almost around 75% convinced with your reply but with regards to Theophilus I still have reservations with the reliability of the PA narrative as coming from Jesus himself. And also I wish to believe that each papyri and manuscripts that are in existence which contain only Luke are somehow later copies of the Q source (or L source), yet not a mention of PA as well. But still, thank you very much, I’m almost there, almost convinced and I’d like to have more!


      2. Marvis

        my 2nd reply:
        I have just read about the link you posted, and I’m surprised there are some who also thought the same about ‘rival manuscripts’ – manuscripts that are no longer surviving (as to date) but may have existed back then along with the manuscripts that ‘did not include the PA narrative’. But…the line of reasoning with regards to Jerome is weak (in my opinion). First, all the scribes had to do is to copy the autographs, then copy the copy of the autographs, and so on. If the PA is authentic, there should be no variant that does not include it. If earlier witnesses refer to it via tradition, then all that’s left for us is to determine whether the story ‘really happened’. ‘Really happened’ – 1. Jesus said those words “verbatim”, 2. The other people involved were real: the men, the adulteress (now where’s the adulterer?), 3. Real stones. 4. Real place. — I pointed these things because Jerome copied in his Latin Vulgate the long ending of Mark. If Jerome copied a script that never happened, how sure was he about the PA? He should had checked the authenticity and reliability of the long ending of Mark before putting it into writing – he must had thought that the story could be true and the future generations must know about it – that’s some strict responsibility on his part. I am not sure personally whether in the 5th century (later than Jerome) the fathers concluded in the council of Hippo that the PA was part of Holy Writ. I’m not familiar with the council of Hippo story – if someone might correct me on this I’d appreciate it. And again I would expect later manuscripts to contain the PA unanimously, since the catholic church must have embraced the story as reliable, but how is it that a certain 9th century manuscript did not include it still? These are not skeptical questions, just mushrooms that I could just not ignore. And lastly, with internal evidence: why would Stephen (stoned to death in S/Paul’s time) be in error with who bought the field? Matthew and John should be amongst the best witnesses and with greatest remembrance of the PA (if I may include Peter himself) for Jesus said to them: The Comforter…he will remind ye of all which I taught ye. I could hardly reconcile these even if Jerome referred to the PA against the Pelagians to prove a point. If Jerome and Augustine were aware of the PA existence in writing as rival manuscripts or papyri, then sourcing back to the source still invalidates the idea that there should had been rival manuscripts in their times. I’d say Jerome copied what was available in his eyes, within his range, and as a believer sure thought to believe everything passed on to him as holy writ, like a modern day believer who would believe everything written in the NIV or KJV, and that if you present them the NET bible or NRSV or ESV they would simply say King James Only.


  4. Stephen C. Carlson

    Marvis, Papias was located in ancient Hierapolis in the region of Phrygia, which now corresponds to an interior region in southwest Turkey. The place where codex Bezae was written is not known, but a good case has been made for Berytus (modern Beirut, Lebanon) on the coast of the Mediterranean. The geographical proximity of Papias and Bezae is not particularly impressive in my mind. (In addition, three centuries separate Papias and Bezae.)


    1. Marvis Camat

      Thanks Stephen! You know since I’ve been quite exploring the papyri and manuscripts of old (just being curious about Bezae recently) my approach to taking the accounts as historically reliable has changed. I look at an angle when some Christians clash with skeptics or heretics who raise issues not in the ‘autographs’, well in some ways people of modern times apply this as well — ‘what would Jesus do or say about a certain matter, like death penalty or holocaust or judaism or baptism etc’ — or what move will Jesus play in chess, will he sacrifice his pieces and still win with a single pawn — like that PA scenario, did it really happen or was it assumed to be Jesus’ action? You see they observed the grammar difference as not being John as the source, and so why not include it in Luke? Another example would be the long (even the short) ending of Mark, did Jesus really say that ‘verbatim’? Well Matthew was there first hand when the great commission was handed to them, Peter as well and the rest of the apostles, so many would refute the validity of the ‘invention’ of the Mark ending. Even a Joseph Smith would claim that the book of Mormon was from God – those ancient scribes who ‘adulterated’ the scriptures could claim that the ending of Mark was from God – and I think Bart Ehrman would agree that at some point some people created a Jesus other than the real Jesus. Paul mentioned ‘you should not go beyond what is written…’ (1Co 4:6), and Philippians 4:9, Acts 15:27, 2Co 11:4 (and some do ‘put up with it easily enough’), 2Thes 2:15. Some writings, because of age, become a source of fact, but at their time of writing those would be sitting in hot seat and are highly suspicious, like 616 instead of 666, and later transcriptions in Greek wrote 616 in numbers and words, and so if that was passed on, it was believed to have been the truth due to acceptance of scribes who transmitted them for the coming generations. Another example I could think of is when some scribes would comment on a skeptical issue like that in John 5:4. Later on it was transmitted and was received to be true and as part of John’s gospel account.

      I have deep respect for Papias and other patriarchs such as Clement, but Clement discussed about the phoenix bird which may not had existed at all.


  5. Although I certainly appreciate all the hard work that goes into research like this, nevertheless I have a hard time finding similar appreciation for the final product. I just don’t find these kinds of arguments very convincing. Actually, if I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t find them remotely convincing. Maybe it would help if I was better acquainted with the evidence. But I have to wonder, when scholars propose these ideas, are they truly convinced of them? Are they perhaps just trying to think creatively so as to stimulate discussion? For my own part, I have very little confidence at all that any of the author’s conclusions are true. Almost none, really.

    For instance, the author writes: “…we can affirm the essential historicity of the event recorded in PA to the extent that it is preserved in the Didascalia, since identifying the account with the L source places it into the middle of the first century.”

    Wow, really? Surely the author does not believe that being written in the first century is a satisfactory indicator of historicity. And indeed he continues on to mention “earmarks of historical veracity,” of which he gives an example in the form of a supposedly embarrassing detail—Jesus being “soft on sin.” But to me, that seems extremely weak.

    To be fair, these ideas originate with others, including the masterful Metzger, but the present author seems to have swallowed them whole. So perhaps he just means that first century authorship is the last straw, so to speak. But I’m sorry; I still don’t see it. I am not at all convinced that first century authorship together with a few “earmarks” is enough. It’s not even close, IMO. (And of course I’m not convinced that it was written in the first century anyway, but that’s another matter.)

    I’m willing to grant the possibility that I just don’t know enough about the evidence. Or maybe my judgment is just way off in general. But boy, it sure does seem like scholars are willing to dive head-first into their imaginings. And I’m sorry if that seems harsh. I know that lots of work goes into these things. I just can’t help my skepticism, and I want to know if others feel the same.


    1. @Ben: Thanks for taking the time to read and interact with my article. I do think “stimulating discussion” is in and of itself a worthy goal. That being said (and I can’t speak for other authors), this author is in fact “truly convinced” that this is a plausible (if not perfect, by any means) interpretation and explanation of the evidence we do have regarding the history of PA. After all, we have to account for its transmission in some manner; you’re welcome to your skepticism, of course, but remember that it is much easier to cast stones (to use a PA phrase) than it is to offer a positive hypothesis.

      I confess I’m really not clear as to what you mean by “these kinds of arguments” that you claim to find unconvincing, as you claim to find none of my conclusions the least bit convincing but then only discuss a very minor, even tangential claim that I make at the end of my paper concerning PA’s historicity. Nor do you correctly represent me on this matter; if you’re going to critique an argument in a way that you concede “seems harsh,” it’s all the more important to interact with what I’m actually saying (and note what I’m taking care not to say): First, I’m quite clear that the argument for historicity would be supported by dating this tradition to “the middle of the first century.” You’ve changed this to a more ambiguous “first century,” when it in fact makes quite a bit of difference for assessing a given tradition’s historicity whether we date it in the 50s CE or the 90s CE. True: as you’ve noted, earlier evidence is not necessarily more historically reliable, but it is one factor (among many) that scholars use in weighing a tradition’s historicity, and, thinking as any historian of Greco-Roman antiquity would on any other matter, I can’t think of a single reason why not to assume that a tradition dating to the 50s is much more historically likely than one that doesn’t originate until the second, third, or fourth centuries. Second, you’ve neglected to note the key caveat I make in this regard: I argue that these verses should be considered only “as historically reliable as anything else preserved in L” (p. 248). I’m not making an argument as to how close L gets us to the historical Jesus, just that it’s worthy of the same consideration that scholars might give to other traditions from that collection. These questions get us into broader questions about the transmission of the Gospel traditions and the historical Jesus, and at this point, seeing as you’d like to be “better acquainted with the evidence,” let me recommend a few works that have been quite helpful in developing my own thinking and broadly represent the best of modern research that is interacting with memory theory and orality: Dale C. Allison, Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History (Baker, 2010); James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered (Eerdmans, 2003); Anthony Le Donne, The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (Baylor, 2009); Robert K. McIver, Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels (SBL, 2011).


      1. Marvis Camat

        Thank you Kyle! Ahm, since Ben has some air of skepticism about the ‘evidences’ I wish to present my doubts as well.

        1. Did Papias mention about the ‘casting of stones’? Or did he refer to a different scenario?
        2. I personally believe that Papias only had knowledge about the written gospels according to Mark and Matthew only.
        3. That since Matthew wrote his gospel in the Hebrew language, it might be that Papias referred to the story of the woman in Matthew 26:6-13 (cf Mark 14:3-9).
        4. That the woman referred to in Matthew 26:6-13 was actually Mary the sister of Lazarus.
        5. Since Matthew wrote in Hebrew, Papias referred to the gospel and not the epistle to the Hebrews. (The story of the woman is not in the epistle to the Hebrews anyway.)
        6. That they who would cast stones on the woman were there to ‘accuse’ Jesus and ‘condemn’ the woman. Jesus – kategoreo, woman – katakrino.
        7. The woman was ‘caught in the act’ and therefore they would condemn her rather than accuse her.
        8. Which leads me to think that Simon (the Leper/the Pharisee) and Judas Iscariot accused Mary (the sinful woman).
        9. That Papias did not mention adultery as the charge. Mary could had been single and was being a prostitute for a living. Judas then ‘accused’ her for wasting expensive perfumes instead of selling them to give to the poor. Both scenarios happened in the presence of the Lord.
        10. Since Papias got acquainted with the apostle John, Papias would had asked John about the PA incident.
        11. I have not yet located the PA in the didaskalia, so if someone knows please show me where. Thank you.


      2. Marvis Camat

        @number 10 — that should be the presbyter John and not the apostle John, I’m sorry, oftentimes I confuse both Johns as one 🙂


  6. We often hear discussions or arguments about the “Q” source of gospel material believed to be utilized by Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels. I accept the scholarly consensus, which believes that Mark wrote first, then Matthew and Luke wrote their gospels, using Mark and Q as sources. However, we hear much less about another significant source of gospel material which predates Matthew and Luke. That source is called, “L”, because it is the unique material found in the Gospel of Luke.


  7. Thank you so much for making the article available. This pericope has proved to be quite fun for scholars dealing with tradition-history and form-criticism. I’m interested in your thoughts on Chris Keith and his take on the pericope adulterae?



  8. Something that is overlooked is the concept of adultery in the ancient world. It was scandalous even to mention such a thing, and most in church would never speak of sexual matters. This might be hard for us to understand in a day when certain television preachers spend their who sermons talking about sex, but at one time in the not too distant past all sexual matters were considered private and to be kept between the people involved. Believing that scribes would consider this passage offensive and indelicate, deduce it unworthy of being scripture, and delete it is more reasonable than concluding that for some unknown reason it was inserted after five or six hundred years. You must ask yourself, what was to be gained by inserting an event that would offend the moral sensibilities of the readers? But if it was true and really happened, then there could be no question.


    1. Marvis

      Hi Joseph, when you said ‘…most in church would never speak of sexual matters…’ one of the things that came to my mind is how muslims view the bible, they say it’s filled with sexual themes, and quite vulgar: Ezekiel 23. And when one had affair with the wife of his father (the woman was not the man’s mother), the members were even proud of it, they did not expel him: 1 Corinthians 5. So I think having the PA censored was not the case why some scribes omitted it.

      Jesus said: ‘My words are spirit and they are life.’ I hold on to that. The PA has some sort of inconsistencies, and I find the PA dubious if it really was from Christ: 1) When in the end he said: ‘Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more’ – sounds good but is ironic, because prior to this, he gave the green light for the woman’s execution: ‘who is without sin, be first to cast the stone.’

      A lot of times I hear preachers say that ‘all are sinners, and therefore no one is qualified to throw the stone’, and, ‘…take the speck out of another’s eye when there’s a plank in your own eye…’ – but I find the way they conclude the teachings about these a mistake. We may all have sinned, but by the grace of God we may become righteous. Abraham, Lot, Noah, Enoch, Zacharias, Elisabeth, Mary, Joseph, are some examples of righteous people. And, Jesus said, ‘take the plank out of your eye’, meaning we are commanded to do so and we can, so that, ‘then you can take the speck out of another’s eye’, which is the apodosis and can be done. Jesus did not say something impossible, but he gave instructions of how one is to help another, and quite logical in sense.

      In greek ‘one who is without sin’ is not written in its perfect form, so therefore he is not saying ‘one who has been sinless’. But anamartetos is a present adjective (I’m not sure about Thayer’s definition), indicating that the righteous person is presently not a blatant violator of the Law, but one who fears God and obeys Him. If I have to go the other extreme, Jesus says: “If anyone among ye is righteous, be first to cast the stone, as Moses commanded ye, so that Israel would hear, and be afraid.” – similar to this is what Abraham asked about the fate of Sodom: God replied, “If I find 10 righteous people in it, I will spare it…”, which means righteous people do exist, including Abraham and Lot, but in Sodom it happened that there were no 10 righteous people, and so Sodom was not spared from destruction.

      “Has anyone condemned you?” Jesus asked, “No one, sir.”, the woman replied… Jesus could had continued like, “Then let us wait for some righteous persons to come so that they may stone you to death.” – – – I’m not sure if these kinds of wordings were talked about in the past, in order to assess whether the PA was really from Christ. Just because no one condemned her there, does not mean she was freed. Suppose there were two or three righteous people there, will they not obey Christ and stone her?

      2) Saul gave the approval for the stoning of Stephen, which sinners were pleased to do, but the righteous (disciples) did not (of course). This is the other extreme scenario. I’m speaking about giving of the go signal. Later Paul regretted doing so.

      3) There is no complete evidence about the story as is. It may had been mentioned (by Papias, Apostolic Constitutions, Didascalia, etc), but the way the story was elaborated in oral doomed the pericope in controversy. Similar to the case is when they tried to reconcile the genealogy records in Matthew and Luke, a certain church father said about one line belonged to Mary, but later another church father named Eusebius corrected this. But later Eusebius’ explanation was doubted because it contained an error in the succession, but I personally think that it is the essence that counts and I believe Eusebius. Genealogical accuracy should not stir debates, but as Jews say, if it contains errors, it is not from God. That PA narrative might had been developed overtime, just like when people question things like: John 5:1-8 (omit verse 4), ‘why do they hurry to get in the water?’ – and someone dared to answer with verse 4 – ‘because an angel comes to stir it and the first to get in gets cured.’ And so, some manuscripts did not include this verse 4, perhaps for some other reasons aside from being unauthentic as coming from the author of the gospel of John.

      4) “…go and sin no more” – a statement Jesus usually said when he finds faith in the person. But in the woman’s case, there seemed to be no sign of repentance, in fact, she was caught in the act of adultery. She did not seek forgiveness, she just stood there waiting for the outcome, and neither later did she ask. Except on the part she said, “No one, Sir.” “Oudeis, Kurie.” – when she called him Kurie, perhaps acknowledged her position – just like the woman who wiped the tears on His feet with her hair, just a gesture of seeking pardon from sins, for her sins were unspeakable, and the Lord has had mercy upon her. Which then is the part I appreciate in the PA narrative: on the way of granting mercy, and the issue of excommunication for the self-condemned, and the law of Moses being abolished, for the grace of God has appeared unto all mankind, for sinners everywhere to repent, for God set the time when he will judge the earth.

      My conclusion therefore is that the PA narrative was a fabrication, got fault in the way it was reconstructed, but prior to that the real PA scenario did exist, the story of a woman ‘accused before the presence of our Lord’ did happen, which may have survived in the Q sources. Just like the case of the story of the demoniacs, one gospel said there is one demoniac, another said there were two demoniacs. Inaccurate, but the story really happened. (Not to mention the greater inaccuracy as to where it happened: in Gergesa, Gerasa, or Gadara). Certain church fathers refer to each, and each refer to certain documents or manuscripts available to them. Jerome may have chosen Gerasa, as was available to him in greek, but Gerasa is topologically incorrect. The correct place is Gergesa, both topologically and etymologically. I’m saying Jerome may have copied/translated the PA as is for the sake of respect to his predecesors. Anyway, evidence for accuracy may not had been available to Jerome, but he believed it really happened, and the message of grace is all which is important. Perhaps, someday, if God wills, a first century document of the accurate PA account would be found. But then, let that be no reason for us to burn our bibles. Other manuscripts omitted the account for reservations, in order not to validate its supposed accuracy (imagine if all manuscripts contain it, it will be conclusive that the autographs do have it).


  9. There is a good article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_and_the_woman_taken_in_adultery
    If the evidence were overwhelmingly against the inclusion of this passage, then it would be appropriate to excise it. Since it is not overwhelming, but in fact, many manuscripts and church fathers of an ancient age include it or refer to it, how can it be assumed to be false? There is an detailed article written in the first appendix of “The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels pages 232-265, which can be found here: http://books.google.com/books?id=ye1JAAAAMAAJ
    You continually speak of “my conclusion.” How many ancient manuscripts have you examined? How many years have you studied and taught the language? It is logically invalid to accept the conclusions of others who have done the work to arrive at them (supposedly) and call them your own without considering all that might disprove it. As Christians, we must be unmistakable in our conclusions in order to stand up to the pseudo-intellectuals of the mainstream materialistic society in which we find ourself. Do not accept any conclusion until you have thoroughly examined all that might refute it. I will not further argue this point,, as domination is not my goal, but I hope to stimulate your intellect to adopt a thorough and comprehensive method. Thank you for your enthusiasm.,


    1. Marvis

      I have read the article in Wikipedia and was amazed at the extensive work done there. As to date there are more than 5,200 manuscripts (probably of complete pages, papyri, and fragments) and are critically analyzed using some sort of apparatus. The way I present my ideas, I humbly present them, hoping that someone patient enough (with deeper knowledge) would improve my understanding of the subject, and that is also why I bravely say ‘my conclusion’, to show how I desire to reach a conclusion. My conclusions are irrelevant to the post, since they are mine and not of the author, and I do not impose them on others, because I am not even an authority on the subject, but I do think, and I wish not to offend if my thinking could not match the wavelengths of others. I refuse to submit myself to the ‘scholars’ conclusion, if and if they speak in terms of ‘possibly’, ‘maybe’, ‘probably’, ‘perhaps’. They stress that their findings are close to the truth, but these truths for now might be wrong in the next 100 years, who knows. Unless their conclusions are beyond reasonable doubt, I therefore submit. Religions are full of mysticisms, stories told modified and improved over time till they become facts, and I hope, in the most minutest detail I could arrive at a conclusion that what I believe are based on solid rock of facts. The character and soul of the matter is most important to me, and I always believed that the gospel is intent to changing lives and not on cognitive accuracy, for there are matters of faith that goes beyond the physical realms and I myself had seen it, I had a cracked glass of watch which I put my hand on, prayed for a miracle, hope my faith’s small as mustard seed, and upon removing my hand by God’s grace the glass cover was restored, the feeling was exhilarating as I saw it with my very eyes. Since then I took it a burden to myself to search for the truth, wish somehow I could learn Greek and Hebrew, and have access to the manuscripts. Thanks be to God some of them are available online, but I wish to see them one day.

      I am not a native English speaker, I don’t know if my wordings offend by the way I write my ideas, if only I could speak my mind you’ll know how gentle I try to convey them. As Paul said, others said his writings are strong, but in person he is weak. Now with regards to the sexual themes in the bible, one of the top muslim scholars said in a debate that the bible has many of them, and I agree. Even some ancient artifacts and sculptures prove or show how widespread immoral sexual activities happened in the early centuries. That is why God strongly warned Israel about it, for the surrounding nations practice them, including sodomy, orgies, prostitutions, and perversion/bestiality. The topic on sex was not censored, it goes out of the mouth as Jesus even told a warning about what corrupts a man. At one time the 11 tribes fought the Benjamites for raping a woman, and sinners worshiped molech and did orgies on open hills. Many thronged the ‘night clubs’, committed chambering. And down to the middle ages prostitutions continued and became ‘legal’ by payment of ‘indulgence’. The word they usually use is ‘know’ – Adam ‘knew’ his wife. It is archaic, but the thought is the same. I am sorry if I offended you because I did not agree with regards to the ‘censorship of sex topic in ancient times which may have forced some scribes to omit the PA narrative.’

      With regards to scholarship and years of training, I have none. Even a top scholar like Bart Ehrman has to struggle with the Christian texts, seriously praying and looking for the answer. But, would I believe everything he says because he is a scholar, a doctor? Whether he says yes or no for the PA narrative, I still have to consider what other scholars have to say. Unless they agree unanimously and with certainty, I still have to write on scratch what I think on the subject, lay down every possible questions to establish the protases and premises, and destroy every fallacies (if someone corrects me convincingly) so I could arrive at a not definite conclusion. My conclusions, again, are irrelevant, but I do have them. At present I am making statistics to the references of the church fathers as to which available manuscripts is close to their reference. For example, if by statistics I see that Augustine’s quotations are about 90 percent in the Sinaiticus than Codex Vaticanus, C, D, L, W, P75, P66, etc., then I could conclude (or assume) that his reference at hand was descendant of Codex Alpha. And yet for some parameters I may not agree with everything written in Sinaiticus, like Matthew 27:49, for example. Sinaiticus as to date is our oldest manuscript available, yet scholars believe and I agree that it does not fully represent the autographs.

      Now with the case of Jerome (I am not anti-Jerome), his manuscripts at hand, and his latin translation, do not represent the exact autographs, and therefore affects his understanding, although he believes what he had is true. Someone said Jerome used the PA as source for refutation, and that he would not use it if it had no authority, and that Augustine did not rebuke him for including it in the latin version. But why would I believe the long ending of Mark? I have to scrutinize the message, if it measured to the gospel Paul preached. If I have to be skeptic I still strive to look for fruit and substance, how it affects the soul. Just because a first century community of Christians accepted the long ending of Mark, does not necessarily mean I would blindly receive it. If I was there I would examine it just as Luke did, because I will not pass on a bread that the Lord did not speak about. Arius was revered by many, but later his understanding of the deity of Christ proved that reverence was not enough to have faith in a church father. Christ and the Apostles are the foundations of the Church, not the church fathers, especially those who have not seen or had been disciples of the apostles themselves.

      Many scholars, both ancient and present believe that mount Sinai where the St Catherine monastery is is the true mount Sinai. But it’s not the true mount Sinai. Ron Wyatt presented the evidences, including the 12 pillars of Moses, 12 wells along the date palm trees, altar where the golden calf was placed, the split rock which watered the Israelite community, etc. And the bible said it is in Arabia, and the authorities had placed fence around it. I respect scholars like Metzger, Aland, Nestle, MacDonald, their works are highly appreciated and helpful. But when I see that their conclusion is enclosed in a bracket with a rating A, B, C, or D, I investigate the other references or variants and which church fathers quoted them, and how they affect essential Christian doctrines, in order that my faith would not be swayed by the erroneous doctrines abounding these days. I have to have trust in my logical processes while respecting other’s works, after all, it’s my soul on the line. Actually, I’m happy if someone responds to me, it makes me feel I’m in a real world and not virtual, and that doors are being opened, so that I would continue to expand my horizons and learn new things. I do not seek replies that agree with me, I welcome most that challenges my thought processes, be it harsh maybe. It is this challenge that I perceive as love, though our knowledge are miles apart (mine on the bottom of course) :). Thank you Joseph, and I’m sorry if by some chance I do not agree with some of your points. I wish someday I could understand more.


      1. Marvis, sometimes I am not good at debating in a convivial manner, because I am sharp and abrupt, maybe even demanding immediate acceptance of propositions that have taken years or decades to arrive at. Please forgive me if I seem abrasive and authoritarian. I too am not all-knowing, but there are many topics upon which I have read extensively (though not nearly so much as an academic like Dr. Wallace.) The basic idea is that 4 manuscripts cannot represent the probable thousands that were made in the first few Centuries, thousands which have disappeared entirely because of wear and tear through the ages, and the concerted efforts of some to eradicate all evidence of Christianity. My distrust of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus as accurate representations of the autographs is because they dispute each other in over 3,000 instances, and they did not suffer the same fate as those regularly used, evincing that they were not trusted by the ancients who received them. In this understanding/opinion, I am in the decided minority in the 21st Century. I am used to debating with scholars who have discounted everything I say before I have said it or substantiated my assertions. For this reason, it has become necessary to adopt a manner of setting them on their heels until I can complete my thought. You are a young man, and years of study lay ahead of you. One should never rest on his understanding of the writings, because time and experience will deepen your comprehension and assimilation. F. H. A. Scrivener said that if the PA was not in the original text of John, it was most definitely added later by him, because the style, sentiment, and presentation of Jesus are in John’s manner. One must ask oneself, since assurance one way or the other is unlikely, what is the lesson to be gained by its inclusion? Is it there to show that those who reject Jesus have understanding of their own flawed characters?, What is to be gained by its excision at this late date? Does it undermine the legitimacy of numerous other passages, and the whole book itself? Other pages you might find interesting in your research are: http://godswordtowomen.org/lesson_83.htm
        and http://fpgm.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/pericope.pdf Once you claim to know, then you have shut yourself from further learning. Be diligent, use your reason to attain consistency, and never stop amassing information. All our conclusions must be tentative, for now at least.


  10. Marvis

    Thanks Joseph. Much when I think we are getting close to the autographs that I begin to find myself being at a lost as to when I would put confidence in a passage. For example, I wish to share this, um, when Jesus told his brothers he was not going to the feast, but later went on, did it not make him a liar? And I think Vaticanus edited that by saying that Jesus replied “I am ‘not yet’ going to the feast.” The team of Metzger voted for the Sinaiticus version over Vaticanus as close to the autograph, and I don’t know if Bart Ehrman included that in his book Misquoting Jesus. I still have much to learn. Ever since I became a Christian and someone explained Eph 2:8-9 since then I knew I know very little about faith. Then I started to study a strange language with strange letters, the Greek, in order to better understand the ideas behind the footnotes I see in my bible. Then I find that there are many variants in Greek, and I thought the early church fathers might be of help. I only used to read my bible but when I continued with the early writings of the fathers that I soon find that the church suffered attacks from within and against heretics. I’ve read church history writings by Philip Schaff and Kuiper and others like Fox’s Book of Martyrs and Sketches of Church History – these books are of tremendous help. And also The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins – the approach is very amazing, but then it gave me the burden of possessing a close to if not the autographs Greek Bible, like the Nestle-Aland 26th and UBS 4. I thank God for the UBS I bought online, what a wonderful work. Got also a copy of the NET bible and Dr. Wallace’s commentary is a wow, what scholarship. I wonder if he did not become a scholar what he could have been these days.

    I got a crash course on Textual Criticism (thank God for the internet), it helped a lot to reconstruct a passage even when the text at hand have errors because other witnesses can provide the correct letters even if they themselves contain errors. All of these I asked the Lord, and he graciously gave them. I could be doing something else, but the year 2010 was when my journey began. Even with what I have now, I have not even scratched a little with the depths of the gospel. How humbling, and I always challenge myself to never become conceited and shut other’s study. But as you all notice, I open my heart by saying what I think, I present even my doubts, yearning that somehow I could be guided to the truth. I don’t want to get lost again. I’ll be reading the links you provided. Thank you very very much.


      1. Or to put it in different words: “:Not Present” means that those MSS simply do not have text from this part of John at all. They all are fragmentary, and the portion of John immediately before 7:53 and after 8:11 have not survived.

        Whereas in P66 P75, 01 and 03, those portions of John *have* survived. Though this is not always the case regarding the end of John 21.


  11. Clark Coleman

    I think the linked article in Novum Testamentum is very interesting and quite plausible, but I am really confused by one statement that seems to be crucial:

    “In summary, this leaves us with John 8:2-7a and 8:10-11 as the basic outline
    of PAEAST.[18] When just these verses are read, the account reads as a single coherent controversy dialogue with a concluding apothegm by Jesus,
    just as we have in the Synoptics …”

    When I read just John 8:2-7a followed by 8:10-11, I sense an incoherent and disjointed story. Why on earth would Jesus suddenly find himself alone with the woman, with all of her accusers having departed? Omitting John 8:7b – 8:9 means that Jesus has said nothing to them:

    Joh 8:2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
    Joh 8:3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
    Joh 8:4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
    Joh 8:5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
    Joh 8:6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
    Joh 8:7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up ….

    Joh 8:10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
    Joh 8:11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

    If the author is still reading this blog entry, I would appreciate an explanation. Thanks.


  12. Pingback: Riverside Community Church » The Unadulterated Bible and the “Pericope of the Adulteress”

  13. Pingback: The Transmission of the Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15) | Mid Cities Presbyterian Church Library

  14. nonsupernaturalist

    The story of the woman caught in adultery is not the only story whose historicity Christians should question.

    Two of the biggest assumptions that many Christians make regarding the truth claims of Christianity is that, one, eyewitnesses wrote the four gospels. The problem is, however, that the majority of scholars today do not believe this is true. The second big assumption many Christians make is that it would have been impossible for whoever wrote these four books to have invented details in their books, especially in regards to the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection appearances, due to the fact that eyewitnesses to these events would have still been alive when the gospels were written and distributed.

    But consider this, dear Reader: Most scholars date the writing of the first gospel, Mark, as circa 70 AD. Who of the eyewitnesses to the death of Jesus and the alleged events after his death were still alive in 70 AD? That is four decades after Jesus’ death. During that time period, tens of thousands of people living in Palestine were killed in the Jewish-Roman wars of the mid and late 60’s, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem.

    How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus in circa 30 AD was still alive when the first gospel was written and distributed in circa 70 AD? How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus ever had the opportunity to read the Gospel of Mark and proof read it for accuracy?

    I challenge Christians to list the name of even ONE eyewitness to the death of Jesus who was still alive in 70 AD along with the evidence to support your claim.

    If you can’t list any names, dear Christian, how can you be sure that details such as the Empty Tomb, the detailed resurrection appearances, and the Ascension ever really occurred? How can you be sure that these details were not simply theological hyperbole…or…the exaggerations and embellishments of superstitious, first century, mostly uneducated people, who had retold these stories thousands of times, between thousands of people, from one language to another, from one country to another, over a period of many decades?


    1. Icorps 1970

      I suggest to pose these questions to Catholic Diocese you live in and discuss it with a Priest or the Bishop. I am not really qualified. However, I can tell you this. Sola Scriptura is an error if you are basing your comments entirely on Scripture then you misunderstand the Teachings of Christ and the Gospels. If we read 1 Tim 3:15 and some of Paul’s other writings you will find that the Bible is not the final word and that everything was not written down this is at John 21:25. The New Testament as used in the Roman Church is simply the teachings that are approved for use in celebration of the Mass…. Its entirely possible that MANY people who saw Jesus after he had risen were alive in 70 AD. He had long conversations where he spoke to many people and was seen by all present and was seen by HUNDREDS of people. My question to you would be, since you are apparently anti-Christian why do you care enough to spend the time to write a long post? Perhaps you should reflect on WHY you are compelled to do this and what is REALLY behind it. I could be many things. But usually it is people simply not wanting to take responsibility for the way they are living their life. I also suggest that rather than read just a verse or two that you read the whole chapter the verse is contained in to get the proper context. Then ask yourself what is WRONG with the teaching of Christ which in all about forgiveness and love for one another. Tell me, for example, what is wrong in his advice to the crowd and the woman in John 8:2-11. Or in his teaching that anger at you neighbor was a sin to be avoided?


  15. Pingback: The Didascalia and the pericope adulterae | ancientchurchorders

  16. Pingback: ‘Let Him Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone’….Not in the Bible « Islamic Archives

  17. Pingback: ‘Whoever Speaks Evil of Father or Mother Must Surely Die’, Right? (Mark 7:10) – The Book of Amos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s