NETBIBLE on John 8:1-11 (2007)

Exerpted for review purposes from:,
Gospel of John: Text & footnotes, online (2007)

Page Index

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2009

Section 1: - NETBIBLE text for John 8:1-11
Section 2: - original NETBIBLE footnotes
Section 3: - additional footnotes from Nazaroo
Section 4: - NETBIBLE on Mark's Ending - new!
    NETBIBLE : - Footnotes on Mark's Ending
    James Snapp Jr.: - Examination of NETBIBLE notes
    James Snapp Jr.: - Additional notes on incident

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NETBIBLE on John 8:1-11



Original footnotes are in blue. Nazaroo's linked footnotes are in red.

7:53 1 [[ And each one departed to his own house.
8:1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2
8:2Early in the morning he came to the temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach3 them.
8:3 The experts in the law4 and the Pharisees5 brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them
8:4 and said to Jesus,6 “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.
8:5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone to death7 such women.8 What then do you say?”
8:6 (Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against9 him.)10 Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.11
8:7 When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight12 and replied,13 “Whoever among you is guiltless14 may be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8:8 Then15 he bent over again and wrote on the ground.
8:9 Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones,16 until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
8:10 Jesus stood up straight17 and said to her, “Woman,18 where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
8:11 She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” ]]19

NETBIBLE Footnotes:

tc = text critical note
tn = translator's note
sn = study note

1. tc This entire section, 7:53-8:11, traditionally known as the pericope adulterae, is not contained in the earliest and best mss and was almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of John. Among modern commentators and textual critics, it is a foregone conclusion that the section is not original but represents a later addition to the text of the Gospel. 1

B. M. Metzger 2 summarizes:

“the evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming” (TCGNT 187).

External evidence is as follows.

For the omission of 7:53-8:11: P66,75, א B L N T W [ X Y ]3 Δ Θ Ψ 0141 0211 33 565 1241 1424* 2768 al. In addition codices A and C are defective in this part of John, but it appears that neither contained the pericope because careful measurement shows that there would not have been enough space on the missing pages to include the pericope 7:53-8:11 along with the rest of the text. 4

Among the mss that include 7:53-8:11 are D, Maj., Lat. 5 In addition E S Λ 1424 mg al include part or all of the passage with asterisks or obeli, MS 225 places the pericope after John 7:36, Family 1 places it after John 21:25, {115} after John 8:12, Family 13 after Luke 21:38, and the corrector of 1333 includes it after Luke 24:53. 6

(For a more complete discussion of the locations where this “floating” text has ended up, as well as a minority opinion on the authenticity of the passage, see M. A. Robinson, “Preliminary Observations regarding the Pericope Adulterae Based upon Fresh Collations of nearly All Continuous-Text Manuscripts and All Lectionary Manuscripts containing the Passage,” Filologia Neotestamentaria 13 [2000]: 35-59, especially 41-42.) 7

In evaluating this ms evidence, it should be remembered that in the Gospels A is considered to be of Byzantine texttype (unlike in the epistles and Revelation, where it is Alexandrian), as are E F G (mss with the same designation are of Western texttype in the epistles). This leaves D as the only major Western uncial witness in the Gospels for the inclusion. 8

Therefore the evidence could be summarized by saying that almost all early mss of the Alexandrian text-type omit the pericope, while most mss of the Western and Byzantine text-type include it. But it must be remembered that “Western mss” here refers only to D, a single witness (as far as Greek mss are concerned). 9

Thus it can be seen that practically all of the earliest and best mss extant omit the pericope; it is found only in mss of secondary importance. 10 But before one can conclude that the passage was not originally part of the Gospel of John, internal evidence needs to be considered as well. But before one can conclude that the passage was not originally part of the Gospel of John, internal evidence needs to be considered as well.

Internal evidence in favor of the inclusion of 8:1-11 (7:53-8:11):

(1) 7:53 fits in the context. If the “last great day of the feast” (7:37) refers to the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, then the statement refers to the pilgrims and worshipers going home after living in “booths” for the week while visiting Jerusalem.

(2) There may be an allusion to Isa 9:1-2 behind this text: John 8:12 is the point when Jesus describes himself as the Light of the world. But the section in question mentions that Jesus returned to the temple at “early dawn” (῎Ορθρου, Orqrou, in 8:2). This is the “dawning” of the Light of the world (8:12) mentioned by Isa 9:2.

(3) Furthermore, note the relationship to what follows: Just prior to presenting Jesus’ statement that he is the Light of the world, John presents the reader with an example that shows Jesus as the light. Here the woman “came to the light” while her accusers shrank away into the shadows, because their deeds were evil (cf. 3:19-21).

Internal evidence against the inclusion of 8:1-11 (7:53-8:11):

(1) In reply to the claim that the introduction to the pericope, 7:53, fits the context, it should also be noted that the narrative reads well without the pericope, so that Jesus’ reply in 8:12 is directed against the charge of the Pharisees in 7:52 that no prophet comes from Galilee. 11

(2) The assumption that the author “must” somehow work Isa 9:1-2 into the narrative is simply that – an assumption. The statement by the Pharisees in 7:52 about Jesus’ Galilean origins is allowed to stand without correction by the author, although one might have expected him to mention that Jesus was really born in Bethlehem. And 8:12 does directly mention Jesus’ claim to be the Light of the world. The author may well have presumed familiarity with Isa 9:1-2 on the part of his readers because of its widespread association with Jesus among early Christians.

(3) The fact that the pericope deals with the light/darkness motif does not inherently strengthen its claim to authenticity, because the motif is so prominent in the Fourth Gospel that it may well have been the reason why someone felt that the pericope, circulating as an independent tradition, fit so well here. 12

(4) In general the style of the pericope is not Johannine either in vocabulary or grammar 13 (see D. B. Wallace, “Reconsidering ‘The Story of the Woman Taken in Adultery Reconsidered’,” NTS 39 [1993]: 290-96). According to R. E. Brown it is closer stylistically to Lukan material (John [AB], 1:336). Interestingly one important family of mss (Family 13) places the pericope after Luke 21:38.


In the final analysis, the weight of evidence in this case must go with the external evidence. The earliest and best mss do not contain the pericope. 14 It is true with regard to internal evidence that an attractive case can be made for inclusion, but this is by nature subjective (as evidenced by the fact that strong arguments can be given against such as well). 15 In terms of internal factors like vocabulary and style, the pericope does not stand up very well. 16

The question may be asked whether this incident, although not an original part of the Gospel of John, should be regarded as an authentic tradition about Jesus. It could well be that it is ancient and may indeed represent an unusual instance where such a tradition survived outside of the bounds of the canonical literature.

However, even that needs to be nuanced (see B. D. Ehrman, “Jesus and the Adulteress,” NTS 34 [1988]: 24–44). 17

1. (cont.) sn Double ( square = [ [ ...] ] ) brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of John. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation.

2. sn The Mount of Olives is a hill running north to south about 1.8 mi (3 km) long, lying east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It was named for the large number of olive trees that grew on it.

3. tn An ingressive sense for the imperfect fits well here following the aorist participle.

4. tn Or “The scribes.” The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateu") as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader.

5. sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

6. tn Grk “to him”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7. sn An allusion to Lev 20:10 and Deut 22:22-24.

8. sn The accusers themselves subtly misrepresented the law. The Mosaic law stated that in the case of adultery, both the man and woman must be put to death (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:22), but they mentioned only such women.

9. tn Grk “so that they could accuse.”

10. sn This is a parenthetical note by the author of 7:53–8:11.

11. tn Or possibly “Jesus bent down and wrote an accusation on the ground with his finger.” The Greek verb καταγράφω (katagrafw) may indicate only the action of writing on the ground by Jesus, but in the overall context (Jesus’ response to the accusation against the woman) it can also be interpreted as implying that what Jesus wrote was a counteraccusation against the accusers (although there is no clue as to the actual content of what he wrote, some scribes added “the sins of each one of them” either here or at the end of v. 8 [U 264 700 al]).

12. tn Or “he straightened up.”

13. tn Grk “and said to them.”

14. tn Or “sinless.”

15. tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “Then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. Greek style often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” but English style generally does not.

16. tn Or “beginning from the eldest.”

17. tn Or “straightened up.”

18. sn Woman was a polite form of address (see BDAG 208-9 s.v. γυνή 1), similar to “Madam” or “Ma’am” used in English in different regions.

19. tc The earliest and best mss do not contain 7:53–8:11 (see note on 7:53).

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Modern Footnotes

Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:

1. The first and largest footnote here is also the most important. However, it is also the most error-ridden. This whole footnote appears to be a near-verbatum cut-and-paste from W.H. Harris' Exegetical Commentary online at this same site ( A few additional notes have been added. The change of 'person' and 'voice' in some of the sentences doesn't seem to have any real purpose other than variety, and appears random.

For a proper appraisal of this footnote and its skewed presentation of the evidence, see our notes on Harris' commentary.

2. Metzger was a liberal scholar who was largely in charge of the United Bible Societies (UBS) critical Greek text, which in turn was used as the base for a notorious series of 'modern translations' in the 60s and 70s. This Greek text essentially reproduced the work of Westcott and Hort (WH) from their 1880's critical text, mostly based upon the two 4th century uncials, Codex Vaticanus (B), and Sinaiticus (Aleph).

The so-called 'scholarly' text of WH/UBS is popular with academics, liberal Christians with varying views of biblical inspiration and preservation, and also with smaller 'semi-Christian' sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses, and of course non-Christians.

Although undertaken in the 1960s, the UBS text reflects little change from the text of Westcott/Hort, and many other scholars have since critiqued both WH's theories and their resultant text. Of course many new discoveries have also been made, which should affect the choice of text, like the many early papyrii (ancient manuscripts made on papyrus paper).

The Traditional Christian texts, both Protestant (KJV etc.) and Catholic (Douay/Rheims, Vulgate) versions are quite different in content and rely upon an entirely different manuscript base. For instance, most bibles and handmade copies of John include this passage (John 7:53-8:11).

To put the reference to Metzger in perspective, Metzger is to textual criticism what President George Bush is to the art of international diplomacy.

3. In the NETBIBLE footnote version, codices X and Y have been dropped. This is not incorrect, but remarkable, because 'codex X' should never have been included in any such list of MSS witnesses against the passage in the first place.

Codex 'X' is in fact a 15th century commentary on portions of John which are read from the Lectionary, and so necessarily omit both the passage and any commentary on it. The passage (John 7:53-8:11) was customarily skipped over during the Pentecost reading in public worship service, and so the public commentary (exposition/lesson) could not comment upon what was never read to the congregation.

We call this remarkable, because it is the first time in our knowledge that anyone denying the authenticity of these verses has corrected their list of MSS evidence to cease quoting these MSS as witnesses. They are certainly right to remove the MSS from the list, since they are not appropriate or meaningful to the discussion.

We have included in brackets (and in blue color) what was originally in Harris' commentary.

4. What is not mentioned is the very strong likelihood that either A or C or both may have had some kind of space, mark, or other notice acknowledging the existance of the verses.

The only two 4th century uncials which omit the verses, codex B and codex Aleph, both show a knowledge of the existance of the passage in the hand of the original copyist:

It is extremely likely that both A and C may have had a similar mark or acknowledgement in the text or margin. This would explain why both manuscripts appear to have been deliberately defaced. (The key pages with the passage have been torn out or torn off of both manuscripts.)

The footnote also fails to note that the other two important uncials to omit the passage, codex L and Delta, also both leave a telltale space giving clear notice of an awareness of the passage's existance and its omission. Dean John Burgon explains the meaning of these spaces as follows:

"As for L and Delta, they exhibit a vacant space after St. John 7:52, which testified to the consciousness of the copyists that they were leaving out something. These are therefore witnesses for - not witnesses against - the passage under discussion."

(John Burgon, Pericope de Adultera, 1886)

5. The ordinary reader or bible student may not be aware that the symbol "Maj." stands for the 'Majority of MSS', in our case, some 1350 different Greek copies of John's Gospel, ranging in date from the 8th to the 15th century, and coming from all over the Byzantine and Holy Roman empires. The other symbol, "Lat." represents all the many thousands of Latin copies of the Gospel, again ranging from the 4th to the 15th centuries. Together these two little symbols represent the vast majority of MSS used throughout the Christian world for over a thousand years.

That is, the overwhelming majority (90%+) of MSS, and of the Christians who used them accepted John 7:53-8:11 as an authentic part of John's Gospel. Compressing these critically important facts about the textual transmission and preservation of the Gospels into a couple of unfamiliar symbols has all the appearance of convenient obscurantism.

6. All these MSS which place the passage somewhere other than its traditional place are very late witnesses (10th century or later). While the activities of these Medieval scribes is interesting, it is totally irrelevant to the early history of the passage (i.e. 5th century and earlier) and so it is simply anectodal.

That the passage had a colored history of omission and re-insertion later in the Middle Ages is obvious. But these shenanigans have little to tell us about what really happened nearly a thousand years earlier. This behaviour by monks ignorant of the status and authenticity of the passage cannot be used as any kind of evidence either for or against it.

7. Here a note has been inserted into Harris' original commentary. It is nice that Dr. Maurice Robinson has been at least cited as a modern textual critic who does not think the verses are an insertion.

It would have been far better however, to review Robinson's evidences rather than refer to an obscure and inaccessible journal in Europe.

8. This paragraph and the following one are at best a very incomplete discussion of text-types. The author (Harris?) has not at all explained how this evidence or his particular reconstruction of the textual history has any clear bearing on the authenticity of the passage.

9. Again we have an unsupportable assertion about the early MSS. In fact, we only have a handful of MSS for every century before the 5th century, so it cannot be established by MSS evidence what text-types were floating around, or which were approved of by whom in this period. The evidence is simply too fragmentary to make any certain claims.

10. "practically all of the earliest and best mss extant omit the pericope; it is found only in mss of secondary importance."

In passing, and without any supporting arguments or evidence, a very popular assertion is made: that the 'earliest' MSS are the 'best' MSS. But as most people familiar with the controversies of NT textual criticism know, this is one of the most important claims still awaiting convincing proofs.

The second statement packed into this statement is that all the MSS which include the passage are 'of secondary importance'. This would include 90% of all known manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, from the 5th to the 15th century. Where is the convincing evidence or argument to support such a sweeping dismissal of nearly a thousand years of Christian history and practice?

All we can say is, don't hold your breath for convincing evidence for this remarkable thesis.

11. The idea in this and the following paragraph is that 8:12 naturally falls after 7:52, and is perfectly adequate. John the Evangelist is supposed to have Jesus continue in reply to a question posed by Nicodemus. But the discussion between Nicodemus and the other Pharisees obviously took place after Jesus departed, or in another area of the Temple precincts. Jesus can hardly have replied to a question He was not even present for, nor likely to have been invited to.

We don't deny that this is the way the Lectionary system handled the texts, joining 7:52 to 8:12, and finishing the 'Lection' during Pentecost on a high note. But realistically, this can hardly be how John the Evangelist composed the section.

This would result in joining the last half of chapter 7 with most of chapter 8, resulting in the longest single day of speeches recorded in the NT.

12. The is not internal evidence against the inclusion of the passage at all. Rather it is simply a small weakness in the argument for the passage from a literary critical perspective. It should be added in a footnote on an argument regarding theme in the other section, which is missing.

So far, no internal evidence at all has been presented against the authenticity of the passage.

13. This was an assertion by S. Davidson in 1848, but has long been refuted. Even Tregelles, who was against the authenticity of the passage on textual grounds saw no merit in any arguments from vocabulary and grammar against the passge.

Wallace's article is cited, but no evidence is presented. In fact, Wallace was critiquing a previous article by Heil, and he subsequently replied to Wallace in a followup article, available on the Pericope De Adultera website.

J. P. Heil (1992) on John 8:1-11 <-- Click Here.

14. "The earliest and best mss do not contain the pericope."

Again, a completely unprovable assertion. We simply don't possess even a representative sample of MSS from the 4th century or earlier, and must rely upon patristic evidence for knowledge of the text in the early period. No one can say at this time what the earliest MSS did or did not include. And the few sample MSS available, (B, Aleph, P66, P75), show a knowledge of the verses, but don't present a convincing picture of the early text-types. They are hardly the 'best'.

15. "an attractive case can be made for inclusion"

It sure can. But that can hardly be a point against authenticity. The fact that someone claims that 'strong arguments can be made against the passage, is no substitute for actual arguments, evidence, or a convincing case against the case for authenticity.

16. "In terms of internal factors like vocabulary and style, the pericope does not stand up very well."

We are still waiting for any kind of evidence or argument made from "vocabulary and style". And we won't find one here, or published in modern text-critical journals anytime soon.

17. Bart Ehrman is of course the self-confessed 'agnostic' who denies the inspiration of the Bible, and has been travelling all over the USA and appearing on prime-time radio shows and comedy slots like the 'Daily Show' and the "Colbert Report" ridiculing Christian faith.

In these venues, Ehrman denies the historical accuracy of the NT, the trustworthiness of copyists, and uses the Pericope de Adultera as a 'test-case' to show that the Bible is unreliable and fraudulent.

It would be an understatement to say that Ehrman's expert opinion in these areas is 'unorthodox'.

Bart Ehrman on John 8:1-11 <-- Click Here.

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Mark's Ending Examined

Unanswered Post by James Snapp Jr.

Recently James Snapp Jr. posted a response to Daniel Wallace's suggestion that readers on the Parchment & Pen blogsite go to the NETBIBLE online for textual critical information regarding both the Pericope De Adultera and the Long Ending of Mark.

We reproduce this excellent and concise list of corrections to the misleading footnotes to the NETBIBLE, as a public service to help Christians assess for themselves the unreliability and bias in the NETBIBLE footnotes.

First we present the NETBIBLE footnote on Mark's Ending as posted at Parchment & Pen:


The Longer Ending of Mark (NETBIBLE Text with Brackets)

16:9 9 [[Early on the first day of the week, after he arose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had driven out seven demons. 16:10 She went out and told those who were with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 16:11 And when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 16:12 After this he appeared in a different form to two of them while they were on their way to the country. 16:13 They went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 16:14 Then he appeared to the eleven themselves, while they were eating, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him resurrected. 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16:16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 16:17 These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; 10 16:18 they will pick up snakes with their hands, and whatever poison they drink will not harm them; 11 they will place their hands on the sick and they will be well.” 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 16:20 They went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through the accompanying signs.]]


9 tc : The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusms Hierms ), including two of the most respected mss (א B). The following shorter ending is found in some mss:

“They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.”

This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 0112 579 al); k, however, ends at this point. Most mss include the longer ending (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has a different shorter ending between vv. 14 and 15] Θ f13 33 2427 M lat syc,p,h bo); however, Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses, while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious).

Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. 8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the probability that early copyists had a copy of Mark that ended at v. 8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, 16:8 is usually regarded as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8:

(1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion;

(2) the Gospel was never finished; or

(3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying.

This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states,

“It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers”

(Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere).

The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.”

sn: Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of Mark. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation.

10 tn: Grk “tongues,” though the word is used figuratively (perhaps as a metonymy of cause for effect). To “speak in tongues” meant to “speak in a foreign language,” though one that was new to the one speaking it and therefore due to supernatural causes. For a discussion concerning whether such was a human language, heavenly language, or merely ecstatic utterance, see BDAG 201-2 s.v. γλωσσα 2, 3; BDAG 399 s.v. ετερος 2; L&N 33.2-4; ExSyn 698; C. M. Robeck Jr., “Tongues,” DPL, 939-43.

11 tn: For further comment on the nature of this statement, whether it is a promise or prediction, see ExSyn 403-6.

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This is the original 'reply' that prompted an examination of the footnotes for the NETBIBLE:

Reply #24: from C Michael Patton on 08 Aug 2007 at 12:26 am

From the NET Bible Notes (my magisterial authority ):

[See above for the most recent (and properly formatted) version of NETBIBLE's footnotes for Mark's Ending online: C. M. Patton's quotation from NETBIBLE footnotes has been omitted due to its poor formatting, preventing anyone from properly understanding the abbreviations. ]


Concerning both Mark and John, one must explain both why it is virtually absent from the earliest Greek manuscripts and why the vocabulary and style of both are so different from the rest of the book. While we have the same vocabulary and style problem between 1 Peter and 2 Peter, it is easier to resolve due to the external evidence and the explaination of an amanuensis. Both Mark 16 and John 8 seem to be beyond any plausible explaination for continued inclusion other than emotional attachment and the plausibility of their basic historicity (esp with John 8). Yet we must be careful since historicity does not determine inspiration or canonicity. (BTW: I find no problem believing the John 8 is historical).


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Here follows the Examination of the NETBIBLE footnotes by James Snapp Jr.:

Reply #63 From: James Snapp Jr on 27 Aug 2007 at 12:16 pm

Dear Dr. Wallace,

You wrote, "I am taking the risk of talking openly about these passages. If you want to see the arguments against their authenticity, simply check out the NET Bible's notes on them (at"

Okay, let's take a closer look at the note in the NET Bible at the end of Mk. 16:8. Let's consider not only what those notes say, but what they do NOT say, and let's consider how this affects the impression given to the readers. In the interest of brevity I will only hit some highlights.

NET: "The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B 304 sys sams armmss Eus Eusmss Hiermss), including two of the most respected mss (א B)."

Aleph has a cancel-sheet on which is the text of Mk. 14:54-Lk. 1:56. We don't have the original pages of Aleph where Mk. 15:54-Lk. 1:1-56 are concerned. Also, Aleph has a blank page after the Gospels — which could be merely a filler-sheet, or which could be the copyist's way of leaving the option of adding absent passages (such as Mk. 16:9-20) open to the eventual owner of the manuscript. Why doesn't the NET mention that Aleph has a cancel-sheet here?

B has a prolonged blank space after Mk. 16:8, which is only four lines too short to include the entire text of Mk. 16:9-20 if one begins writing, in the copyist's normal lettering, at the end of 16:8. A copyist who compressed his lettering and slightly extended the margin of the final column of the page could fit the text of Mk. 16:9-20 into the blank space. Why doesn't the NET mention that B has a prolonged blank space here? — The ONLY such deliberate blank space (unlike a few blank spaces in the OT-portion which are merely the "seams" where different copyists finished and began their work) in the entire manuscript?

304 is a medieval manuscript which contains the text of Mark interspersed with commentary. When it ends, not only is the text of Mark truncated (at the end of 16:8), but the text of the commentary is truncated as well. (Part of Maurice Robinson's comments about this are readily available online at R. Waltz's "Encyclopedia of NT Textual Criticism.) Plus, the text of 304 is Byzantine. It seems clear to me that this is an accidental quirk-reading. Why doesn't the NET mention these important features of MS 304?

The citation of Jerome's mss (Hier-mss) gives readers no indication that Jerome was parroting Eusebius, which he clearly was doing! Jerome includes Mk. 16:9-20 in the Vulgate, and in "Against the Pelagians" II:14, Jerome quoted Mk. 16:14 when mentioning the Freer Logion to his readers, without any indication that they might not find it in their copies. Why doesn't the NET mention that Jerome's statements in "Ad Hedybiam" are heavily dependent upon an earlier writing by Eusebius?

NET: "This shorter ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 0112 579 al); k, however, ends at this point."

Error! 083 and 0112 are THE SAME MANUSCRIPT!

Plus, it's a little misleading to write "al" when by simply adding 274 to the list, we would have an *exhaustive* list of all the Greek MSS known to contain the Short Ending.

NET: "Jerome and Eusebius knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending."

That is not a valid statement as far as Jerome is concerned. Anyone who reads Jerome's Ad Hedybiam (Epistle 120) and Eusebius' Ad Marinus can see that Jerome was leaning very heavily on an earlier source.

NET: "Most mss include the longer ending (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has a different shorter ending between vv. 14 and 15]"

Error! The Freer Logion is not a "different shorter ending." Such a description, frankly, makes no sense.

NET: "Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses."

Error! No Greek manuscript has a note that says "The early Greek MSS lack these verses." The most that can be said is that the notes imply that mss earlier than the mss in which the note is written lack the verses. If one actually views the contents of the notes in f-1 and related copies, one will see that they typically say something like, "Some MSS lack these verses but most MSS contain them," or, "Some MSS lack these copies but the early ones contain them."

NET: "while others mark the text with asterisks or obeli (symbols that scribes used to indicate that the portion of text being copied was spurious)."

I'm curious. What exactly are these "others" which do not have a marginal note about Mk. 16:9-20, but which *do* mark them with asterisks or obeli?

NET: "Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the short and the long endings. Their vocabulary and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6)."

Waitasecond: first, you say to see the NET's notes for details. Then the NET's notes tell us to read Metzger for details. I've read Metzger, and his comments, however well-spun, are not persuasive. Why doesn't the NET share the other side of the internal evidence — for instance, by providing a link to Dr. Bruce Terry's analysis of the internal evidence involved?

NET: "All of this evidence strongly suggests that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material" –

(Hmm; "richness of material," "richness of material;" where have I read something like that before? Oh I remember: p. 126 of Metzger's Textual Commentary: Mk. 16:9-20 is described as "so rich in interesting material" — where Metzger was adjusting Hort's description (in Notes, p. 44, column 2), "rich in interesting matter.")

Is Mk. 16:9-20 truly full of rich material? Compared to the abrupt ending and the Short Ending, yes. But would anyone with access to Matthew, Luke, and John in the second century consider the Long Ending of Mark to have a "richness of material" considering that it relates Jerusalem-appearances instead of Galilean ones, and considering how it adds to the difficulty of harmonization, and considering its prominent mention of serpent-handling and poison-drinking?

NET: "All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8."

Error! This reference to "alternative endings" is misleading. There is one and only one alternative ending to vv. 9-20: the Short Ending.

NET: "This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors"

How can relative probability be gauged without exploring the likelihood of the other possibilities? Why doesn't the NET consider how likely or unlikely it is that the Gospel-account was never finished (by Mark)?

Okay; thus concludes my exploration of the NET notes.

Clearly, the NET — which fails to mention the support for the inclusion of Mk. 16:9-20 from Justin, Tatian, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Macarius Magnes, De Rebaptismate, Aphrahat, Ambrose, Augustine, Doctrine of Addai, etc — is, as you said, the place to go "If you want to see the arguments against their authenticity."

If you want a thorough, balanced presentation of evidence, though, you need to go somewhere else.

- James Snapp Jr.

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Additional Notes

Courtesy of James Snapp Jr.

I wish to add a few things to my comments:

(1) note: I was banned from Parchment and Pen, [unfairly - ed.] on the grounds that I had not kept the rules of the site. (The bloggers at P&P do not keep their own vague rules. The rules there aren't so much rules as panic buttons).

(2) Note: as of March 30, 2009, well over a year after the discussion, the online NET-Bible (at ) still has the text-related footnote about Mark 16:9-20 that I described. Nothing has been corrected. Nothing at all. The same error-heavy footnote is in the NEXT-Bible.

(3) Note: I am willing to join Dr. Wallace in a friendly debate, defending the legitimacy of Mark 16:9-20 as Scripture, against his declaration (in one of his follow-up comments to the "My Favorite Passage" entry) that these 12 verses only deserve to be presented as a footnote, at any time.

(Wallace's exact [original] statement:
"I'm encouraged, too, by the general response that you would want these passages relegated to the footnotes. Since they have had such a long history in the text, and since they are well known, I think they should be in footnotes rather than not being printed at all.")

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