Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Internal Evidence for John 7:53-8:11 (pt 2)

In the 19th century, Textual Criticism of the Bible was in its infancy,
and it was a crude attempt at best to 'restore' or perfect the NT text.

Textual Evidence

The emphasis in those days was on the Textual evidence, i.e.,
actual manuscripts and readings found.

The Conservative trend was to disallow 'conjectural emendations'
(something commonly practised with classical author reconstructions),
and only consider 'hard evidence' like the variations that actually
could be shown to have existed, via early manuscript copies or
quotations of 'early fathers' which might vary from familiar verses.

In the early days of the Reformation, people edited and printed
a 'consensus text', i.e., chose the readings in the majority of reliable
copies available.

Later, researchers began to try to evaluate various handwritten copies
of the New Testament, using criteria such as age, quality of materials,
probable source, and the quality of execution (# of errors and corrections).

This naturally led to an emphasis on textual evidence, rather than
'internal evidence', which seemed rather vague, and subjective in comparison.

'Internal Evidence'

However, recent trends in Biblical criticism have given much more weight
to the subtle problems of 'internal evidence', and by that critics and
researchers have meant things like the probability of a reading based on
what we know about the author's ideas and habits elsewhere in the same work,
or the structure, style and format of a given document, and similar expectations.

Thus, the choice between two variations in a verse might be decided
on the basis of say John the Evangelist's style or diction, or on the
basis of what John may have written elsewhere, and how well one
reading or another agreed with what we might expect John to have said.

As researchers have continued to study these matters,
much progress has been made both in methodology and credibility
of various approaches and means of weighing the likelihood of certain
kinds of evidence.

The Pericope de Adultera - "the PA"
(John 7:53-8:11)

The new 'Internal Evidence' in favour of the authenticity of passages
like John 7:53 - 8:11 has advanced considerably, and has been given
much more serious consideration than in the past.

Here we hope to present some of the more interesting 'Internal Evidence'
for this famous passage.

A Quick Look at Some New Internal Evidence for PA

All four Gospel writers created elaborate structural patterns in their choice of quotations. These structures have deep meaning, for they collect and organise the incidents and speeches of the Gospel into great themes and logical sequences of development. If we miss these contexts and thematic associations, we also miss important clues as to the literary and didactic purpose of each Evangelist.

O.T. Quotation Structures - Meaning and Purpose
And yet for all its sophistication, the O.T. Quotation Structure embedded in each Gospel is a model of clarity and simplicity. We only need list the quotations in order, note who they are quoted by, and what they are quoted about, to see beautiful thematic patterns unfold. These patterns were not meant to be hidden, but rather discovered by those who truly seek truth and labour to discover it.
While this structural patterns serve a very important purpose in preventing or at least exposing severe tampering of the Gospels by the ignorant, we are convinced this was not their only purpose, or their main one. Instead, these structures were meant to be found and appreciated by Bible students everywhere.

O.T. Quotation Structure - John's Gospel
John's Gospel begins like all four canonical Gospels, with a standard introductory formula, Isaiah 40:3 (John 1:23). This is common to all the Synoptics, Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well. He compliments this with a quote from Psalm 69:9 (John 2:17) in the narrative/commentary.
After this, the Evangelist follows with a series of two chiastic patterns of quotations. These are like mirrors unfolding backward and forward from around a central core-point. It is a beautiful and quite common feature of John's Gospel in fact, which is virtually laced with smaller chiastic patterns throughout.
Each of these chiastic patterns centers around a critically important part of the Gospel, both in content and in evangelical/didactic theme. The first pattern centers around the Pericope de Adultera (John 8:1-11), obviously an important point in establishing its Sitz en Leben in the Gospel. The second pattern encircles the Great Commandment, which is presented in two developing forms, very close together.
Other complimentary and supplimental clues are provided by the Evangelist, such as the introduction of 'Dawn' and 'Night', symbolizing Light and Darkness, one of the many powerful themes coursing through John.

Without further ado, we present the majestic O.T. Quotation Structure for the Reader to view:
Click to Enlarge: Backbutton to return.

We encourage fellow Christians to download and print this chart, and use it for Bible study and research.

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