Aug 13, 2010
Tholuck on the PA
Excerpt from: A. Tholuck, (1836) Commentary on the Gospel of John, xlat. A. Kaufman, (London, 1842) p. 199 fwd.
John 7:53-8:11 (p. 199 fwd.)
We here find a section from 7:53 to 8:12 whose genuineness seems doubtful. With respect to the Codices, the passage is not found in A B C; where, however, it is to-be remarked, that from John 6:50 to 8:12 the Cod. A is defective, which is also the case with Cod. C from Jn. 7:3 to Jn. 8:34.
On the contrary this section is found in the superior Cod. D. But its authority in the present investigation is greatly lessened from the circumstance of its containing apocryphal additions in other places, as in Matt 28:26, Luke 6:5. In many manuscripts the passage is marked with an obelisk or an asterisk as a mark of rejection or of suspicion ; others place it at the end of the Gospel, and still others, after Luke 21.
To this result of the examination in regard to existing manuscripts, may be added an extract from Euth. on the eighth chapter ;
χρη δε γινωσκειν, οτι τα εντευθεν 7:53,
8: 12, παρα τοις ακριβεσιν αντιγραφοις η ουχ ευρηται η
ωβελισται. διο φαινονται παρεγγραπτα και προσθηκη.
'It is necessary to know that all which is found from 7:53 to 8:12 is either left out of the most accurate manuscripts, or else it is marked with an obelisk. Wherefore those verses would seem to be surreptitious or apocryphal glosses.'
But on the other hand Jerome assures us, c. Pelag. 2, 17, that this section existed in multis et graecis et lat. Codd. , "in many Greek and Latin MSS" ; and some of the scholia maintain that it was found in the αρχαιοις αντιγραφοις, "the most ancient transcripts".
Here it must be added, however, that in this very division we find innumerable variations, which is usually the case with those passages that were interpolated by a later hand.
As to the Fathers, their authority is decidedly unfavourable to the genuineness of this section, for it is wanting in Origen, Cyrill, Chrysostom, Nonnus, Theophylact, Apollinaris, Basil, Theodorus Mopsuestia. These and other Fathers of the Church never once mention it, although there was good reason why they should have quoted it in their controversies about the strict exercise of the discipline of penance, in order to commend thereby the adoption of more mild principles.
The first traces of this section are found in the Apostolic Constitutions, (which belong to the end of the 3rd century,) and in Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome. And on the other hand these writers declare that it was found in many of the Manuscripts.
In De adulterinis Conjugiis II. 7, Augustine offers the conjecture (credo), that this narrative may have been omitted lest it might give occasion to regard a vicdation of the marriage duties and covenant as a matter of Httle consequence. Ambrose had said the same before him. So also in the 13th century Nicon contended that this narrative had been arbitrarily omitted by the Armenian Church lest it might be prejudicial to the interests of morality.
In the first place, however, it is to be observed that the declaration of Augustine is nothing more than a conjecture ; and secondly, that the passage in Nicon amounts to nothing else than a polemical accusation urged in the warmth of controversy. This apprehension then did not exist until the time of Augustine, in the 4th century, and the narrative had then already been omitted from many Codices; nor was it inserted until this complaint became loud, when it was retained on that account.
Finally, in respect of the translations it is to be observed, that this section is wanting in the oldest MSS of the Syriac version, in the Coptic, in the Armenian, (where it is placed at the end of the Gospel,) and in the Gothic version.
— Whoever undertakes to establish the genuineness of the narrative must now be able to give satisfying reasons why the oldest MSS and witnesses do not recognize it, and why there is such a great discrepancy in the readings of the narration itself and in its location. The reason which Augustine assigns is by no means satisfactory, since we see what little impression it made upon subsequent times, and since that reason did not exist in the Greek Church, which is, nevertheless, very unfavourable to the genuineness of the passage. And even with Augustine himself that reason was grounded upon a mere conjecture.
Under these circumstances we must concede that external grounds render the genuineness of the narrative very suspicious.
— With respect to the internal grounds, attempts have already been made, though without success, to point out in the whole substance of the narration a variety of contradictions, improbabilities and antiquarian blunders.
Yet thus much cannot be denied, that the connexion of the narrative with the preceding section is altogether unnatural, and besides, that some forms of language may be pointed out which but illy accord with the individuality of the Evangelist.
The connexion of Jn. 7:53 with what precedes, has by some, as by Paulus, been referred to the return of the visitors at the feast to their homes. But in the context immediately antecedent the apostle is rather speaking of the members of the Sanhedrim than of the visitors at the feast; and moreover, these latter did not all immediately return home.
And besides, in Jn. 8:2 πας ο λαος 'all the people' is mentioned anew, and here the expression refers again to the visitors at the feast. If, then, the members of the Sanhedrim be meant, the addition were idle ; unless, perhaps, the author by it designed to say that they went home without determining their case, without deciding upon anything against Jesus. But if he did design to say this, his discourse is very dark.
Relatively to the language employed, we are struck with the strangeness of the expression πας ο λαος, for which John always uses and which is here inserted by some codices, οχλος ; whilst on the other hand the former idiom is frequent in the first Evangelists (Synoptists), and in the LXX, e.g. Sus. V. 47.
And farther still, we find in the first Evangelists the phrase καθισας εδιδασκεν αυτους , 'and sitting down he taught them' but it never occurs in John.
In like manner γραμματευς (νομικος) scribe, lawyer, is found in no other part of John.
It might farther be urged that the transitions and connexions here are formed by δε more frequently than is the practice with John, who prefers ουν and και for that purpose.
— Under these circumstances we must
decide, both upon internal, and especially upon external
grounds, that it is probable if not indisputable, that
this narrative was interpolated in its present position in the 3rd
If we search for the origin of it, we shall find most in favour of the supposition that it was derived from a pure evangelical tradition.
It would seem that it was also found in the Gospel καθ' Ηεβραιους. At least Eusebius says, Hist. Eccles. III. 39, when speaking of a writing of Papias:
εκτεθεσται δε και αλλην ιστοριαν περι γυναικος
επι πολλαις αμαρτιαις διαβληθεισης επι του κυριου,
ην το καθ' Εβραιους ευαγγελιον περιεχει.
'[Papias] sets forth also another history concerning a woman who was accused before the Lord of many sins ; which history is found in the Gospel According to the Hebrews.'
But even if this passage of Eusebius does not refer to the narrative in our history, and if John was not its author, still it cannot be regarded as a mere poetic invention. It is unquestionably a genuine evangelical tradition. Had it been interpolated by any one of the reigning parties it could not have remained as simple as it is. It must also be confessed that the character of Jesus is excellently apprehended and portrayed, and that the spirit of the narrative is such as to accord in the most perfect manner with the inward and peculiar essence of Christianity.
It is impossible to show which of the reigning tendencies of mind in the first centuries could have invented such a history, or for what end it could have been invented. Within and without the church the strictest principles of asceticism were spread abroad, whilst this narrative, full of the genuine spirit of the gospel, is directly opposed to them. — so much so indeed, that, as we have seen, it was by many deemed objectionable on that account.
— Among the learned of later times, after slight doubts had been expressed by Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, the genuineness of this passage has been disputed by Grotius, Wetstein, Semler, Paulus, Lucke.
It has been defended by Lampe, Bengel, Michaelis, Matthaei, Storr, Kuinoel, and especially by Staudlin, Prolusio qua pericopae de adultera Veritas et authentia defenditur, P. I. II. (Gott. 1806).
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