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.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Erasmus' Greek NT and Latin Translation, Editions & Issues

This description of one of the later editions of Erasmus' work highlights some of the key translational issues that began racing across Europe and inspiring the Reformation:

1559. 754pp, [12]. Contemporary English blind-ruled calf, rebacked, lacking original ties. Early ink inscriptions ('Ranulphus Cantius me possidet prixe 4d' and 'Idem bonis', R. K.) to title, annotation indicating possession ('this booke is myne &.') in a contemporary English hand to leaf X1. Presentation bookplate to front pastedown, nineteenth-century institutional blind-stamp to title and final leaf. Some loss to margins of title.

Erasmus' New Testament proved a major milestone in the critical study of scripture, the pinacle of humanist biblical scholarship and a drive of the Protestant Reformation. Inspired by his 1504 discovery of Lorenzo Valla's Collatio Novi Testamenti, Erasmus acheived a feat of Biblical Scholarship with his Novum Intrumentum (Basel, 1516), later retitled Novum Testamentum.

It was not only daunting in scope, but daring its questioning of the widely accepted and officially sanctioned Vulgate version of the New Testament, translated by Saint Jerome in the 4th Century from Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

Erasmus acheived his two intentions in a humanist reevaluation of the New Testament from the original Greek manuscripts, reporting confidently in 1514 that he had improved Jerome's version in over a thousand places: eradicating erroneous corruptions and improving the sense of the often clumsy Vulgate with the use of a more classical style. First published in 1516 by Johann Froben of Basel, the combination of Erasmus's reputation for scholarship, the position of Froben's press and the official sanction of Pope Leo X, dedicatee of the work ensured the immediate sucess of this translation, with frequent reprinting throughout the C16th. A younger generation of Northern theologians who had been weened on the humanist revolution in scholarship, considered running of the sixteenth-century Catholic Church to be contrary o the doctrines outlined in early Scripture manuscripts.

Erasmus' Fresh Latin Translation:

What seemed like small textual alterations in Erasmus' re-translation were of great significance to the Reformers.  
Luke I, 28 rephrased Gabriel's greeting of Mary at the Annunciation as 'Ave gratiosa', rather than the Vulgate's 'Ave gratia plena', thus suggesting that Mary's grace was inherent, rather than having been filled with the grace of God.
Perhaps most explosive was the interpretation of the Greek metanoeite in Matthew III, 2, John the Baptist's preaching in the the wilderness. The Vulgate translation, penitentiam agite, suggests the doing of penance - the justification of the Catholic church - whilst Erasmus proposed Resipiscite: the act of being penitent, a textual source for Luther's notion of 'justification by faith alone'.  

This Lyonese edition preserves most of Erasmus' translation, including the 'Ave gratiosa' of Luke I, 28.   Matthew III, 2 has returned to the less inflammatory penitentiuam agite.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Daniel (pt 4)

The first serious Detailed prophecy of Daniel is Chapter 8:
The vision of the Ram with 2 horns and Goat with 1 and 4 horns.

These are explicitly identified as the Medio-Persian and Greek Empires respectively,
and it is remarkable that both the descriptions correspond closely to
the actual history of these two empires in regard to Palestine as we know them:

The correspondence is so good that skeptics have simply assumed that Daniel, or at least Daniel 8,
was actually written as late as 150 B.C.

However, the language and internal evidence is strongly against such a late date,
including various inexplicable features of Daniel, such as its division into Hebrew and Aramaic halves,
the early Persian language features, and most especially the prophecy itself:

(1) Had an 'interpolator' inserted this prophecy into the Daniel collection,
he would surely have made it correspond more closely to parts of the history
which are of deep interest to Jews in particular, and used features which
were easily confirmable as history (i.e., 'prophecy fulfilled').

(2) An 'interpolator' would not have included certain other features,
which, without convoluted explanations would seem to invalidate the prophecy:
For instance, the statement in verse 14 that the time between the ending of the
daily sacrifice and cleansing of the sanctuary would be "2,300 days (yom)",
a ridiculously long period if years were meant, and unfortunately working out to
6.3 years if taken as literal days, whereas the actual pollution of the temple
during the final days of the Greek empire seems to have been only 3-4 years,
i.e., from 167 to 164, when Judah Maccabee cleansed the temple and restored
the Mosaic Sacrfices as per normal temple practice.

These make the idea of a 'late insertion' almost untenable.

The prophecy ignores important and easily dated historical features,

such as the Rebuilding of the Temple, the Installation of Queen Esther,
the Rebuilding of the Jerusalem Wall, and the various edicts allowing
Jews to practice their religion and laws

A prophetic forger would certainly have used at least some of these important events
as proofs of prophetic ability and for their import to Jewish interests and concerns.

The prophecy instead focuses upon Alexander, and the fact that
he dies early and his 'Empire' is divided in four among his generals.

This is an amazing prophecy, but of no concern to Jews, or even Middle Eastern affairs,
excepting insofar as one or two Ptolemic and Seleucid kings argued over
the jurisdiction of Palestine, which isn't even mentioned in the prophecy.

It strikes us that Daniel's perplexity and disturbed response to this vision
is authentic and perfectly understandable.
Daniel himself would have been concerned about Jewish issues,
as he shows in chapter 9:1-20.

The dream content and his reaction are precisely what we would expect
of a person struggling to interpret a real dream which was totally foreign to him.

There is little doubt that this prophecy in chapter 8 of Daniel
established the book as canonical prophetic work by 160 B.C.,

even if it was too late to include in 'The Prophets' section of
the Tanakh, which had already been fixed by the end of the Persian period.

As a result, Daniel, along with Esther, Ezra, and Chronicles
were relegated to 'The Writings' section fo the Tanakh,
which was still open to the inclusion of new works,
for historical purposes.

Daniel (pt 3)

Here is the next part of our handy timeline for Daniel and the intertestamental period:

The Period for when the Greek Empire ruled over Palestine
can be conveniently broken up into two sections,
the first in which the Ptolemies ruled it from Egypt,
and the second in which the Seleucids ruled it from Babylon and Syria.

When Antiochus III took over, he confirmed the Jewish right to self-rule
and the practice of their own religion and laws.

When Antiochus the IV pushed a program of Hellenization,
the Jewish people rebelled and under Judah Maccabee ("The Hammer"),
they won their right to practice their religion and Temple worship,
and effectively also won self-rule around 151 B.C.

The Judaean lands remained autonomous from about 150 B.C. to 64 B.C.
under the Hasmodaean Dynasty, until the invasion and occupation of the Romans.

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.

The Internal Evidence for John 7:53-8:11 (pt 1)


Chiastic Patterns at the Paragraph Level
John the Evangelist does not limit himself to simple word matches or phrase patterns. He continuously builds ever higher and larger, constructing his gospel from the bottom up as well as from the top down.
The next higher distinct class of chiastic structure in John is at the passage or paragraph level. These larger blocks of text are not coordinated by mere words or phrases, but rather by concepts and themes.
In this case also, the very structure of the Gospel can be used for textual-critical purposes, to help determine the plausibility of a given arrangement, or the integrity of a given extant text-type, manuscript or variant.
In the Part of John known as the "INFESTO SCENOPEGIAE JERUSALEM" (John 7:1-10:19), we have again a large set of sections or passages which are chiastically organized, as can be seen by their self-contained themes and content.
We call this chiastic section of John the Mount of Olives Chiasm for reasons which will become obvious when the section is examined. 

The Mount of Olives Chiasm

Nazaroo's footnotes: 
The amazing insight this chiasmic structure offers is that the earthly Temple is a mere outer gate, an interface to the world. All that is important takes place well inside the ascending ladder to ...
the Mount of Olives.  
The real Holy Place, the launching pad where Jesus literally ascends to heaven and returns is here.
On His way back from the Mount, He is confronted with the adultery test-case. There is little doubt that the author of this incident intends us to see the woman as a typology for the Southern kingdom of Judaea, an Adulteress.
The irony in their persistence should not be lost, as Jesus mercifully declines to judge her, and postpones the trial.
Instead He again preaches as the Light of the World, a last attempt to save men from the coming judgement.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Excursion into Daniel (2): Persian Period

After Daniel, Jerusalem and Judaea pass under the rule of Persia,
the Second Empire in Daniel's Vision (i.e., the Silver Torso).

Under this era, three decrees are given, to end the 70 Years of
Babylonian Captivity, and give permission to rebuild the Temple
and restore the walls of Jerusalem.

This era also sees the last of the prophets and Canonical books
accepted finally by Jews and Protestants.

Daniel leaves us with his vision of "Seventy Weeks",
i.e., 490 years, seven times as long a period as
the one prophesied by Jeremiah.

But with the ending of the Babylonian Captivity,
Jeremiah is established as a prophet,
and Daniel, who witnesses the entire Captivity,
becomes his successor.

Other minor prophets pop in for the Temple rebuild and Jerusalem,
but they do not offer the grand visions of future empires like Daniel.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Excursion into Daniel

Just a quick chart showing the timeline for Daniel and how it fits into his predecessor Jeremiah.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book of Enoch (pt 1): Preliminaries

Background of the Book of Enoch (1st Enoch)

The Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.

Western scholars currently assert that its older sections (mainly The Book of the Watchers) date from about 300 BC and the latest part (The Parables) probably was composed at the end of the 1st century BC

Enoch is a (non-canonical) text used by various Jewish sects such as the Dead Sea Scrolls community during the 2nd Temple period. It consists of 5 separate works that were later combined into one document:

(1)  The Book of the Watchers (chapters 1-36),
(2)  The Parables of Enoch (37-71),
(3)  The Astromonical Book (72-82),
(4)  The Book of Dreams (83-90), 
(5)  The Epistle of Enoch (91-107) - which includes: 
     (6)  The Apocalypse of Weeks (93:1-10; 91:11-17),
     (7)  The Book of Noah (104-107)
(8)  The Concluding Discourse (ch. 108)

 The various parts of Enoch were composed in Aramaic and translated into Greek, and from Greek into ancient Ethiopic (Ge'ez), in which version alone the entire collection has survived.

Aramaic fragments of all sections of Enoch except the Parables and the concluding discourse (chapter 108) have been found at Qumran (from at least 11 different manuscript copies), which  "render very probable the view that Aramaic was the original language of the greater part of the work. - This conclusion would not appear to be affected by the existance of the Hebrew fragments from Cave 1 that have been compared to 8:4 - 9:4 and 106:2, since these Hebrew fragments almost certainly belong to a source used in Enoch (viz. the Book of Noah), rather than to the book of Enoch itself." (Knibb, Intro. p7).

 Four copies of the Astronomical Book were found (4Q208-211).
Seven manuscripts contain fragments of the other sections of the Book of Enoch. 4QEna and 4QEnb (4Q201, 202) only contain fragments of the Book of the Watchers.
4QEnd and 4QEne (4Q205, 206) combine fragments of the Book of the Watchers, the Book of Dreams, and the end of the Epistle and the Book of Noah (104-107), 4QEnf (4Q207) contains a fragment of the Book of Dreams, and 4QEng (4Q212) consists of fragments of the Epistle.  (totalling about 1/5  of the Ethiopic version).

 There were also two fragmentary copies of the Book of Giants found in cave 1 (1Q23-24), one from cave 2 (2Q26), and five from cave 4 (4Q203, 530-33).

Thus the Qumran fragments suggest the books are very old (pre-Christian),
indeed originally circulated separately (e.g. the Astronomical book), and parts
were probably even composed in Hebrew (e.g. the Book of Noah, Watchers). 

Portions of the book in Greek are extant,

(1) The Chester Beatty-Michigan papyrus Gr-CB, (4th century MS)
(Eth. ch 97:6 to 107:3) (i.e., portions of the Epistle of Enoch, & Book of Noah).

(2) Vaticanus Gr 1809 (11th century MS) (Gr-Vat = Eth. 89:42-49)

(3) The Akhmim MS (Codex Panopolitanus) (6th century MS)
(Gr-Pan = Eth 1-32)

(4) Fragments from Syncellus
(Gr-Sync = 6:1-9:4, 8:4-10:14, 15:8 16:1, a,b,c, and d = unknown frag).

Finally there are dozens of later Ethiopic copies, many complete, ranging from the 15th to the 19th century.

Of particular interest in the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) are:

(1) the Book of the Watchers, which provides details about fallen angels taking women to themselves and fathering giants,

(2) the Parables of Enoch, which contain descriptions of 'the Son of Man',
sayings that were circulating around the time of Jesus. 

In the 19th century, Protestant theologians were skeptical of Enoch,
in part because it had been banned and out of circulation since the 5th century,
and known copies were very late (circa 17th century),
and written in Ge'ez, with only a few quotations extant in Greek.
The only Christian churches still using the book were the
Ethiopic Churches in Africa.

But prior to 400 A.D. Enoch was a very popular book,
circulated widely, and was quoted by almost every early Christian writer.

The Book of Enoch

'The earliest literature of the so-called “Church Fathers” is filled with references to this mysterious book. The early second century “Epistle of Barnabus” makes much use of the Book of Enoch. Second and Third Century “Church Fathers” like

Justin Martyr,
Clement of Alexandria all make use of the Book of Enoch.
Tertullian (160-230 C.E) even called the Book of Enoch “Holy Scripture”.

The Ethiopic Church even added the Book of Enoch to its official canon. It was widely known and read the first three centuries after Christ.'


The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.