Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Recent Symposium on John 8:1-11 gives Favorable Verdict on Authenticity
A leisurely look at how opinion has drastically changed over the last 100 years,
and especially just the last 10 years is worthwhile.
Opinions on John 8:1-11 were heavily against its authenticity
by the middle to the end of the 19th century, and extending to the 1950s.
However, those opinions were based on the exaggerated importance
of textual evidence, especially 'early' evidence, such as 4th century Uncials
(i.e., Codex B and Aleph) and (later on) two 3rd century papyri (P66 and P75).
100 years later, as Biblical studies have vastly expanded into everything from
Form Criticism and Literary Crit to Sociological studies and modern Archaeology,
Textual Criticism has taken a less and less important role in determining
questions of authenticity.
In fact, questions of authenticity themselves have taken a back seat to
questions of more interest to moderns, such as the development of church
communities and theology in a community and political context.
All that having been said, just as other literary disciplines have become
more important than textual criticism per se, so has the value of
Internal Criticism and related fields.
These have been very fruitful in providing new evidence that can be
brought to bear upon the issue of the authenticity of John 8:1-11,
as we have already shown.
Last year, an actual Symposium was held on the subject of these verses,
perhaps something unheard of 100 years ago,
in which experts and researchers in various disciplines could come
together academically and share their research and new branches of
Interestingly, while some places and people in the field of Biblical Criticism
have stayed stubbornly polarized and even extremist in their position
on the authenticity of John 8:1-11 (Daniel Wallace being an example,
who recently demanded that the passage actually be struck from Bibles
and placed in footnotes),
others have approached the question from a much less ideologically informed
position and have left the question as an open scientific inquiry.
The result of the recent conference was that in spite of several talks
both in favour of and against the authenticity of John 8:1-11,
the majority of those attending the Symposium gave a tentative
view that the passage was indeed authentic and should be retained
in John's Gospel in its traditional place.
Westcott and Hort must be turning in their graves at this turn of events.
- posted in comments on Evangelical Textual Criticism Blog:
James E. Snapp, Jr.4:44 pm, April 28, 2014
I enjoyed this conference very much.
Anyone who was at the conference who didn't get a printed copy of "John 7:53-8:11 - A Tour of the External Evidence" - I'll be glad to send free digital copies; just e-mail me with a request.
I thought it was notable that as the panel-session wrapped up, Dr. Black asked those in attendance for a vote, along the lines of "Is the PA original? Yes or no?" Of those in the room who responded, by turn, the "Yes" prevailed over the "No," and it was not close.
Also: Punch said that he would preach from the PA; Wasserman indicated that he has no problem with preaching from the PA inasmuch as Jude had no problem using the Book of Enoch (twice he raised the question: should we remove Jude from the Bible to?); Knust seemed in favor of using the story for the instruction and edification of the church (though she seemed strangely reluctant to say whether or not it echoes historical events) and by the end of the conference she even seemed willing to reconsider the whole question of omission-via-lectionary-influence; Robinson favors the complete canonicity of the PA.
Keith, even though he make it clear that he regards the passage as an interpolation -- that is, he considers the PA to be a composition written by *somebody,* which was then reworked by *someone else* who wanted to show that Jesus was able to write (but who, strangely, did not take the step of stating *what* Jesus wrote), who, after making extensive John-mimicking adjustments to this already-existing story, inserted it into the text of the Gospel of John after 7:53), did not -- iirc -- make any drastic statement to the effect that the passage should be removed from the Bible.
The conference's publicity-image asked if the PA should be proscribed, or proclaimed? The consensus of the speakers, as well as the audience at the end of the conferences, was clear: the Pericope Adulterae should be proclaimed.