New Research: Pericope de Adultera

Keith on Jn 8:1-11
Pt. I. Textual Evidence (2008)

Review of: Dr. Chris Keith,
Recent and Previous Research on
the Pericope Adulterae (John 7.53-8.11)
(2008), CBR vol. 6.3 :377-404

Page Index

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2009

Prologue: - Introduction to Dr. Keith's Article
    Rejoinder: - Reply from Dr. Keith on this Review NEW!

Review: - Dr. Keith on PA:
    Opening Paragraph
    Article Layout
    1. Text Criticism - of the PA
        Gregory's "Many Variants" - an urban myth
        Dr. Keith's Two Questions - improper framing
        Proper Framing - of the Textual Question

        a. Textual Evidence - some new info given
          Correction on MS 1333c - courtesy of Dr. Robinson
         Textual Evidence (cont.) - all but ignored!

        b. Is PA Johannine? (5 pages)
         I. Vocabulary Test - discredited arguments
           List Examined - case dismissed
           Other Johannine Passages - Hapax Legomenon
            Dubious 'Lukanisms' - special pleading
              'Mount of Olives' - non-Lukan
              'Dawn' - not similar
         II. Lack of 'Dichotomies' in PA - Binary Themes of John
         III. Uniqueness of Adulteress in PA - unlike other women in John?

        c. From Where Does the PA Come?

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A Welcome Entry


'This article surveys recent and previous research on the enigmatic Pericope Adulterae (PA), traditionally placed at Jn 7.53–8.11. The discussion is organized by the methodologies that scholars have applied to PA, and thus the article also demonstrates the various critical approaches in New Testament studies that have found popularity at a given time. While the following study will observe that some scholarly conclusions, such as the theory that PA did not appear in the original version of the Gospel of John, are near consensus, it will also highlight some remaining unsettled issues in PA scholarship.'

- Dr. Keith Article

Dr. Keith's publication attempts to gather together a brief history of Biblical criticism on the Pericope de Adultera, along with the most important recent lines of thought and results in this field.

He does an admirable job of collecting and presenting his findings in an organized fashion, and the article will be useful to researchers of all stripes for some time to come.

His work has a very significant added value, because he brings forward much that is either new, or has been buried in obscure papers scattered round the world over the last century.

Our review will try to balance (and highlight) the many positive aspects of his contribution with some necessary qualifications and corrections, in the interest of scientific accuracy and precision.

We may state in advance for the reader that whatever criticisms we offer as to various details that arise, our overall review intends to be favourable and appreciative of Dr. Keith's thorough and careful work, and his sincere and intelligent effort in bringing to the table many significant findings.

- Nazaroo,
Jan 25, 2009

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From Dr. Keith

A First Response:

"I appreciate the time and effort put into this review of my work, as well as both the encouraging and critical remarks. I'm honored that this website, which I have consulted several times, would include my contribution.

My overall sense, however, is that my article has here been used as a platform for asserting a Johannine-authenticity position on PA rather than appreciated on its own terms. That is, it has largely been critized for not arguing for Johannine authenticity or, alternatively, for not providing a full argument against Johannine authenticity.

As neither of these were the objectives of my article, however, I have little to offer in response. It is true that I offer some of my own opinions and reasons for them, but as the name of the article, and the journal in which it appears, indicate, this is primarily a survey of previous thoughts on PA.

My one response is perhaps that focusing on the issue of Johannine authenticity misses much of what PA otherwise has to offer its readers."

- Dr. Keith,
communication to Mr.Scrivener,
February 16, 2009

Nazaroo responds:

We also greatly appreciate Dr. Keith's generous and rapid response to our initial review. His warmth and fairness under fire from anonymous critics is rare and commendable. We fully acknowledge the great disadvantage he is placed in by anonymous review.

Dr. Keith is quite correct that our review focusses (perhaps overbearingly) on the issue of authenticity. As such it is indeed an unbalanced review, that hardly takes adequate notice of a large part of Dr. Keith's article, which provides much new and valuable material on the PA. We hope to right that in the future with a followup article on the subsequent sections.

We cannot fault Dr. Keith for not arguing for Johannine authenticity however. Instead we appreciate and laud Dr. Keith's rare and balanced approach to the question, and we do not accuse him in any way of the kind of propagandizing in favour of rejection of this passage that has gone on in the past. These are aspects of the recent history of criticism of the PA which are beyond anyone's control. But a good reporter must report these aspects.

Dr. Keith is a clear, thorough, and accurate reporter of the activities and the state of knowledge concerning the PA, and this should not be undervalued. We strongly recommend that anyone interested in the PA carefully consult Dr. Keith's article(s), and his very essential bibliography as well. He has done a great service in his efforts at clarifying the current trends in this field.

We also feel that forever concentrating on the issue of authenticity would be a failure in itself. The content and meaning of the passage must in the end be the reason for all the effort and attention granted to it. All those interested must also face the question of the interpretation and impact of the PA for contemporary issues.

In our view it is a shame that so much effort has been wasted attempting to discredit the passage, when that same effort could have been spent interpreting and applying the passage in a healing manner to a hurting world.

- Nazaroo,
Feb 18, 2009

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Dr. Keith on John 8:1-11

Exerpts & Review

We will step through the article in its natural sequence, with summaries, quotations, and commentary.

Headings have been added for clarity and navigation purposes.

Opening Paragraph

Dr. Keith begins by noting that although the PA (Pericope de Adultera) is "interesting and enigmatic", it is usually given terse treatment because its textual history has been given priority and interpreted as negative regarding the authenticity of the passage.

Article Layout

His article is then organized as follows:

1. Text Criticism
      a. Textual Evidence   (brief survey: 1 page)
      b. Is PA Johannine?   (substantial: 5 pages)
      c. From Where Does PA Come?   (2 pages)

2. Form Criticism   (1 page)

3. Tradition Criticisim   (3 pages)
      a. Excursion on Susanna   (3 more pages)

4. Sitz im Leben der Kirche - setting and 'life' in the Early Church   (1 page)
5. Sitz im Leben Jesu - the PA's value re: the historical Jesus   (1 page)
6. Critical Theory - modern analysis and interpretation   (1 page)
7. Literary Structure of PA - structural analysis   (1 page)
8. Summary   (half-page)
Bibliography -   (extensive and excellent: 8 pages!)

1. Text Criticism

Dr. Keith notes that the 'text-critical' approach is the oldest and most common one. He then moves immediately to the Textual Criticism aspect of the problem.

Gregory's "many variant readings"

He begins by quoting Gregory's unsubstantiated and dubious claim (1907) regarding the supposedly unusually large number of textual variants for this passage:

"If I am not mistaken, there are in the whole NT no other dozen verses that exhibit such a manifold variation of readings..."

- Gregory (1907)

Unfortunately, Gregory is mistaken: the claim is meaningless. The inconsistent and fatally flawed methodology for counting variants couples with the glaring fact that the majority of NT MSS have never been collated in detail for most passages.

For example, including the wild text of Codex D triples the variant readings, whereas the detailed minor peculiarities of most MSS are ignored in the apparatus for all other NT passages.

Secondly, this passage has been "over-collated" due to its special interest, while the majority of MSS have never even been collated in detail for most other passages (Only this one passage was thoroughly collated by von Soden, and later exhaustively by M. Robinson. Typically, some 2,000 uncollated witnesses exist for most NT passages).

Gregory's 'observation' remains utterly valueless due to these continuing conditions, and has no scientific basis in fact. It needs to be filed under "ever-perpetuated urban myths of NT Textual Criticism".

Dr. Keith has inadvertantly become what Prof. Jan Harold Brunvand would label a sociological "vector" in passing this legend forward and giving it new life.

Dr. Keith's Two Questions

Dr. Keith promises to devote the "bulk of attention" to text-critical work, but in fact grants this aspect only about 40% of the article-space. He limits the focus to what he views as two key questions:

"However, I will limit the discussion to two text-critical questions concerning PA:

(1) Is PA Johannine?; and (if not)

(2) From where does PA come?

His choice of language in framing these questions is problematic, especially since he spends no time explaining terms.

The historical fact is that technical terms like "Johannine" have been given loaded meanings by critics, in part one may legitimately suspect to obscure meaning from non-experts, and so avoid problems with congregations of believers.

For example, contrary to what most laypersons would naturally think, "Johannine" in the literature does not mean "authored by John". Rather, as coined and used by such scholars as R. Brown it means something quite different:

"belonging to or used by the 'Johannine Community'"

So when Brown suggests the passage is or is not "Johannine", he is not discussing authorship by John the Evangelist at all, but rather circulation in a hypothetical community of believers, supposedly somewhat isolated from early mainstream Christianity.

Similarly, "authentic" also is given a technical meaning much wider in scope than what Christian readers would assume: It does not mean "authored by John" either, but rather :

"a historical tradition about Jesus (from a possibly unknown source)"

This conveniently allows scholars to talk in a friendly non-alarming jargon to non-specialists, like this:

"The passage has many Johannine features, appears genuine, and is undoubtably an authentic tradition about Jesus."

The ordinary reader or listener naturally assumes that the critic is asserting the authorship by John in the strongest possible terms, - when they really mean this:

"The textual evidence confirms what a literary study suggests: The passage is an insertion. On the other hand, scholarly criticism points to the antiquity and authenticity of the text."

- G. Burge, "...Adultery", JETS 27/2 (June 84) pp.141

" John vii. 53-viii. 11 is considered by the best modern critics as an interpolation by a transcriber, but is probably based on a genuine apostolic tradition."

- P. Schaff, Preface to Chrysostom (1886)

The 'realtime' examples show that a habit of talking has developed and is firmly entrenched, that is more like Orwellian Newspeak than a clear and open scientific explanation.

Proper Framing of the Textual Question

Dr. Keith's first question probably assumes that the passage is an insertion, but leaves open whether it was a 'legitimate' insertion by the Johannine Community or a later one by outsiders. Johannineness interpreted this way leaves no place for investigation of the question of John's authorship at all.

If Dr. Keith had framed his two questions more accurately and scientifically, he would have had a much better chance of seeing through the Text-Critical mistakes of the past, and getting into the real discoveries of modern analysis.

For instance, if Dr. Keith was really interested in investigating the question rather than affirming past opinions, he might have chosen two different questions, which are more directly relevant:

(1) Does the Passage know anything of John? (a necessary but not sufficient condition for authorship, since a forger could be clever enough to provide links to John within the passage), and if so,

(2) Does John's Gospel know anything of the Passage? (the final and clinching step in establishing John's authorship).

Asking the right questions allows us to focus on selecting the right methods and focussing on the right evidence.

This approach requires us to take seriously the fact that the Textual History of the passage is only a secondary question at best, since that evidence can strictly only tell us what happened after the Gospel was written, not tell us directly about its original form or content.

When the Textual evidence is relegated to its proper (secondary) status, and other evidence is given its due, entirely different results can be expected.

Textual evidence has to be evaluated neutrally and scientifically, and a plausible Textual History should be provided to explain it. But there is no reason for the later textual evidence of succeeding centuries to dominate the investigation of the early history of the text.

Textual Evidence

Rather than just quote Metzger, or rehash the same old lists of manuscripts "for and against", Dr. Keith offers us some actual reports of the newest investigations concerning the textual evidence.

He first reports the new knowledge about Codex Vaticanus and its text-critical markings, called "Umlauts". These were previously unnoticed or unmentioned and their importance went unrecognized for centuries.

Then, although reporting some caution in the interpretation of these marks in regard to Jn 8:1-11, Dr. Keith also reports the new insight from Maurice Robinson regarding the evidence from Codex W (Washingtonianus):

Umlauts in Vaticanus

Concerning Vaticanus (B), PA itself does not appear but Robinson suggests that the presence of a marginal umlaut at Jn 7.52 ‘appear[s] to indicate that the original scribe of that MS had some knowledge of the pericope variant’ (2000: 40). Here Robinson follows Payne’s assessment of umlauts in Vaticanus generally and PA specifically (1995:250-62) , and Knust (2005:61; 2006: 489), similarly following a study of Payne and Canart (2000: 105-13), also suggests the umlaut reflects knowledge of PA at Jn 7.52-8.11. However, in a 2006 paper given at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, which he kindly provided to me, Robinson disregards Payne’s suggestion and claims the umlaut more likely attests a textual variant at 7.52 (2006: 18 n. 53).

Space in Washingtonianus

In this same paper he proposes (very tentatively) that the lined but blank leaf between the end of the Gospel of John and the beginning of the Gospel of Luke in Washingtonianus (W) may attest to knowledge of PA following Jn 21.25 as it does in some f 1 [Family 1] manuscripts.

This is the kind of well-documented news that is needed by other researchers in this field, and Dr. Keith should be thanked for bringing this to a more general audience and giving accurate and very useful references.

Dr. Keith also provides updated evidence regarding later manuscripts which misplace the passage. This is alot less useful for the question of authenticity, however, since all these errors arose in attempts to replace the passage back into new copies made from copies that had omitted the passage, during the Middle Ages. Although the later history of the passage (a minor comedy of errors by Medieval scribes) is interesting, it has essentially no substantiated bearing on the early history of the passage:

Medieval Misplacements

Robinson (2000: 41-42) provides valuable information, claiming to have found no less than seven alternative locations (from the traditional location of Jn 7.53–8.11) in the approximately 1350 continuous gospel manuscripts attesting PA (26 MSS at end of the Gospel of John; 1 MS at beginning of the Gospel of John [and 1 MS after Jn 7.52 and beginning of the Gospel of John]; 9 MSS after Lk. 21.38; 2 MSS after Jn 7.36; 1 MS after Jn 8.20; 1 MS after Jn 8.14a; 17 MSS after Jn 8.13). Robinson omits eighth and ninth alternative locations—the corrector of MS 1333 places PA at the end of Luke’s Gospel (Parker 1997: 96); and one can find PA after Jn 7:44 in the Georgian manuscript tradition (see Birdsall 2006: 188-89). A total of ten different locations amongst around 1350 manuscripts demonstrate a complex textual history for PA.

We can again thank Dr. Keith for completing the list of boo boos by Medieval copyists, for what its worth. No one has yet shown however, what possible application these observations can be put to. They are certainly not evidence of early alternate locations for the PA.

Correction from Dr. Robinson

Addendum / Correction: Dr. Maurice Robinson, in a private communication to Mr. Scrivener, informs us of a reporting error concerning MS 1333:

'Just as a correction to a misstatement by Dr. Keith (and many others, including most critical apparatuses) regarding MS 1333c and its supposed placement of the PA "at the end of Lk"....

Contra Dr. Keith, I did address MS 1333c in my article ("Preliminary Observations"). I clearly pointed out that in MS 1333c the PA is not "added to the end of Luke," but in fact stands on a separate page between the end page of Luke and the beginning page of John. In addition, the pericope is specifically introduced with the lectionary-style phrase:

It is misleading when writers or apparatuses claim that in MS 1333c the PA appears "at the end of Luke" or "post Lk 24,53" (which makes it appear as though it were a portion of the Lukan text). Such a claim is clearly negated both by its placement location as well as the introductory phrase that identifies the pericope as coming "from that according to John."

Correction of data to the contrary in "Nazaroo's" posting would therefore be welcome.'

- Dr. Maurice A. Robinson
January 30, 2009
(private communication to Mr.Scrivener)

Textual Evidence Practically Ignored

If we were expecting any adequate discussion of the textual evidence however, we will be disappointed:

Only six Uncials are briefly mentioned, and the reader is given no clue as to the vast number of the Cursives or Miniscules which include the passage. F. N. Jones (1999) tells us:

"Dr. Maurice Robinson's recent 1998 preliminary report based upon 1,665 "fresh collations of nearly all continuous-text" Greek New Testament manuscripts revealed that around 1,350 manuscripts (81%) included the Pericope.'

original footnotes from Jones:

1. Maurice A. Robinson, "Preliminary Observations regarding the Pericope Adulterae based upon Fresh Collations of nearly all Continuous-Text Manuscripts and over One Hundred Lectionaries".

Dr. Robinson is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, North Carolina. This paper reflects his nine-month study conducted at the Münster, Germany Institut which was founded by Kurt Aland. The Institut serves as the official registry center for all known Greek N.T. manuscripts and also possesses microfilm copies of nearly all those MSS. Dr. Robinson's paper was presented at the 50th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society held 19-21 November 1998 in Orlando, Florida.

- F. N. Jones, Which Version is the Bible? (1999)

A few MSS which omit or asterisk the passage with marginal notes (scholia) are mentioned, but no quotes, details, discussion, or dates are given.

Dr. Keith devotes a whole paragraph to Medieval misplacements of the passage, the least important textual evidence of all.

Finally, all mention of the evidence of the Early Fathers is postponed and attached to the tail end of the section b. Is PA Johannine?, after all conclusions have already been arrived at. Usually the Early Fathers, even when ignored, are considered a part of the textual evidence, being intimately bound up with its transmission.

Even there, only Jerome, Ambrose, & Augustine are mentioned, and dismissed in 8 lines. Mention of Eusebius/Papias is left till section c. From Where Does PA Come?, and Didymus the Blind is also dismissed here in passing. The Venerable Bede (a 7th cent. witness), is mentioned briefly, but only in the final section on "3. Tradition Criticism"; but at least a reference is given.

No other early Fathers are mentioned.

The Versions (except the Georgian, because of a MS with a misplacement) are not even mentioned.

b. Is the PA Johannine? (5 pages)

Dr. Keith briefly refers to the current balance of opinion:

"...a clear and overwhelming majority of scholars conclude that the PA is not original to the Gospel of John."

The list is so large, he suggests, that "it is not necessary or possible to list them all here." The short sampling offered begs the question however:

Who qualifies as an "expert" or "scholar", and who does not?

- since that will obviously change the 'score'.

Equally relevant categories would certainly be who qualifies as an "honest" scholar, and who is acting as a "propagandist". Who has an active self-interest (like an authoritative publication), and who is clear of any motivation regarding monetary gain or prestige/reputation.

Another even more practical question is:

Who is relying upon their own original work and conclusions, and who is merely assenting to or adopting the status quo of opinion in the field?

If we are going to count textual critics like we might count text-types or MSS, then we ought to have some criteria in place to weight their votes.

Dr. Keith does make the following concession:

'...however, one should resist describing this as a ‘consensus’, ‘unanimous’, or ‘universal agreement’ due to frequent attempts to prove or support the Johannine authenticity of the material:
(A. Johnson 1964; 1966: 91-96; Trites 1974: 137-46; Hodges 1979: 318-32; 1980: 41-53; Baylis 1989: 172; Heil 1991: 182-91; see also Bengel 1873: II, 348, 352; Heil 1994: 361-66).

Strauss represents a mediating position by stating that ‘a decision on the subject cannot be hazarded’ (1972: 410; also Hendricksen 1954: 35).'

This is a real breakthrough from the usual overblown claims that too often begin with:
"All scholars agree that..."

Again we must thank Dr. Keith for providing reasonably thorough references for opponents of his own tentative view. This is a courtesy discouragingly rare in most modern articles.

Vocabulary Test

Dr. Keith says that "a non-Johannine origin is suggested by more than the PA's textual history alone."

Dr. Keith's first piece of alternate evidence is a simple vocabulary list of 15 words that apparently don't occur elsewhere in John:

Words in PA: Johannine Hapax Legomena
versewordmeaning notes
(1) 7:53ελαια olive (tree)(common noun)
(2) 8:2ορθρος * dawn (morn)LXX:Jer. 7x, Ps. 2x, Jg.19:26f, Sus.12f
(3) 8:3γραμματευςscribe(common noun)
(4) 8:3μοιχεια adultery(Ten Commandments: Duh)
(5) 8:4αυτοφωρος *caught (in act)NT hapax legomen. (Classical/papyri)
(6) 8:4μοιχευωcommit adultery(Ten Commandments: Duh)
(7) 8:6κυπτωbend (over)
(8) 8:6καταγραφω *write (down)NT hapax legomen.
(9) 8:7επιμενωpersist
(10) 8:7ανακυπτωstraighten up
(11) 8:7αναμαρτητος *sinless oneLXX:Dt.29:19 2Mac.2x En. &c, see BAG
(12) 8:8κατακυπτω *bend downNT hapax legomen.
(13) 8:9πρεσβυτεροςelder(common noun)
(14) 8:9καταλειπωremain (pass.)
(15) 8:10κατακρινωcondemn
* NT hapax legomen.

Old Stuff from 19th century German Skeptics

Dr. Keith calls upon Morgenthaler (1958), A. Johnson (1964), Kubo (1975), Kostenberger (2004), for support. But in fact this list was originally compiled in Germany in the 1800's.

So we find a similar (but more complete and intelligently discussed) list in S. Davidson (1848) for example. There Davidson himself confesses that most of the unusual vocabulary is well accounted for by the unique subject matter itself.

Such arguments were dismissed as worthless a century ago, even by those who were against the authenticity of the passage on textual grounds. So for instance, Tregelles (1854) tells us:

"...[regarding] the internal difficulties connected with this passage, ... if it had been sufficiently attested, they would not present anything insurmountable."

- Tregelles, Printed Text...

Nicolson (1878) tells us:

"I feel bound to admit that the force of the internal evidence has been greatly overrated. ... The internal evidence, [is] insufficient of itself to establish the conclusion [that the passage is inauthentic]."

- E. B. Nicolson, Gospel Acc. Hebrews

A Worthless List Examined in Detail

Dr. Keith lists them in a dense paragraph and chants "NT hapax legomenon" five times, but the list doesn't amount to anything at all.

We can see why when we do the right thing and translate them for the reader, along with some notes (above).

For starters, three of them are common nouns: "olive (tree)", "scribe", "elder". To even suggest John the Evangelist did not possess them in his vocabulary is completely absurd. (We might add that John would also obviously know a famous landmark beside Jerusalem like the Mount of Olives, where the Apostles congregated with Jesus.)

Similarly, "condemn", "bend", "bend down", "straighten up" are hardly rare verbs even for an illiterate fisherman who can't read or write. They are rare in the NT because they would require a need to use them in an appropriate context.

Also, "persist/pester", "remain/be left behind" are only slightly more unusual, but near impossible for a native speaker in any language over the age of 15 not to have heard in common usage.

It would be absurd to suggest that the author of John, who recorded expressions like "It is written"/"I have written" repeatedly, and who after all was in the very act of writing a Gospel, would be unskilled in the usage of the verb "to write", "write down".

Here is a Jew who quotes Isaiah, Zechariah, Jeremiah, and Psalms from the LXX or translates them afresh himself from the Hebrew as needed at whim. Can we seriously entertain the notion that John had never heard of the Ten Commandments and was unfamiliar with the verb "commit adultery"? Before answering, keep in mind that "adultery" in its various forms occurs at least 40 times in the LXX.

The admittedly rare "caught (in the act)" may be 'NT hapax legomenon', but it also abounds in the classical literature, as well as the papyri (just look in BAG). But honestly, how often do you expect to see such special technical phrases in a Gospel?

The verb "to condemn" is a common legal term for both Jews, Romans, and Greeks. It would be impossible to live in an occupied state and not need to know this term in more than one language. Jesus might prefer the more general "to judge" in His theological discussions, but it can hardly be called an 'unlikely expression' for any NT writer.

So much for the idea of a List of NT Hapax Legomenon. But what about the remaining cases? How many are left? Essentially just two: But the fact is, the Gospel of John has over 110 'hapax legomena' in it, even though it has a vocabulary of barely a thousand words. With 20 chapters, we would expect five or six 'hapax legomena' per chapter, all things being roughly equal.

(2) 8:2 ορθρος, (LXX: Jer. 7x, Ps. 2x, Jg.19:26f, Sus.12f)
(11) 8:7 αναμαρτητος (LXX: Dt.29:19 2Mac.2x En. &c, see BAG.)

And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what is going on here. John the Evangelist is engaging in his usual tricks: pulling in some key-words from the LXX to jog the reader's mind and make him look up the allusion. This is precisely what John does elsewhere, and is almost a trademark (see e.g., Cana Wedding, Jn 2:4 - "What to Me and to you?" = LXX key phrase, and LXX vocab. υδριαι "water-jars" Jn 2:6,7 = 1st Kings 17:18 [3Kg LXX] )

Another nail in the coffin lid for this list is the fact that Dr. Keith and others provide no alleged "Johannine" alternatives for the vocabulary they are objecting to. But if there were to be some stylistic case, then another, more John-like expression must be supplied.

But we have already pointed out why no list like this can furnish any kind of evidence for or against the passage. The kind of 'Internal Evidence' relevant to authenticity must come, not from the passage, but from John. The question isn't "How John-like is the passage?", but rather,

"Does the Gospel of John know anything about this passage?"

Other Passages in John Examined

You'd think we'd have covered everything that is wrong with this kind of 'vocabulary' argument, but the other shoe has yet to drop:

'It has been shown, however, that there are a number of passages in the gospel where the ‘Johannine’ characteristics of style, although not entirely absent, are relatively scarce. (E. Schweizer, Ego Eimi, 1939 [a German work, not yet translated into English]).

These following passages are all narratives of a synoptic type and include:

the Miracle at Cana (2:1-11),
the Cleansing of the Temple (2:14-16),
the Healing of the Nobleman’s Son (4:46-53)’
the Anointing at Bethany (12:1-8) and the
the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (12:12-15);

It is at least possible that the evangelist was here using a written source or oral tradition that had become comparatively ‘fixed’ in form.'

- Richard Heard,
Introduction to the NT (1950), ch 10

Prof. Heard (1950) shows that there are in fact many passages already in John which don't have John-like features. Which means that even if it could be shown that the Pericope de Adultera did not have John-like features, this fact would be meaningless. Its no indication at all as to whether John the Evangelist may or may not have included the passage in his Gospel.

No Control Group

But what has Dr. Keith's word list shown? A few control tests, such as two or three other passages from John's Gospel might have enabled us to judge whether the PA is in fact more similar or less similar to the rest of John in some significant way.

In fact, studies of alternate passage vocabularies are readily available, as for instance found in A. W. Wilson's excellent section on the PA (published online):

'However, by performing the simple experiment of counting some other similar passages in John's Gospel, we can quickly prove that this argument lacks any real validity. An examination of four other comparable passages, over which there is no textual uncertainty, shows that they also have many words that are nowhere else found in John's Gospel.

We shall start our survey with John 6, verses 3 to 14 - the incident concerning the feeding of the five thousand. Any guesses how many 'non-Johannine' words occur in this comparable passage? The answer is that there are ten Greek words that are nowhere else found in John's Gospel:

John 6:3-14

to go up (v3)
little boy (v9) - only time in NT
barley (v9, 13) - only time in NT
grass (v10)
number (v10)
distributed (v11)
filled (v12)
broken pieces (vs 12, 13)
baskets (v13)
to eat (v13) - an unusual word, only found here in NT

Thus, in a passage of equal length (12 verses) to our AI, we find as many so-called non-Johannine words as we do in the incident of the adulteress. Notice, of course, that all the words in John 6 are Johannine - even though John only uses these words once in his entire Gospel.

Secondly, a list of seven Greek words found in the first 12 verses of John 9, in the incident of the healing of the man blind from birth, can be compiled that are nowhere else found in John's Gospel:

John 9:1-12

passed by (v1)
birth (v1 - only here in NT)
spit (v6)
anointed (v6 and v11 - only here in NT)
Siloam (v7 and 11)
beggar (v8 - a different word from the usual, nowhere else found in John)
neighbours (v8 - again, a different word from the usual Greek word, nowhere else found in John)

If we include the words that are repeated in the many retellings of the story later in Chapter 9, we may add the further two words

parents (vs 2, 3, 18, 20, 22, 23)
clay (vs 6, 11, 14, 15)

Thirdly, in John 4:5-16, there are ten words nowhere else found in John's Gospel:

John 4:5-16

land (v5)
fountain (v6)
journey (v6)
food (v8)
associate with (v9 - only time in NT)
well (v11)
deep (v11)
cattle (v12 - only time in NT)
springing up (v14)
here (v15, 16)

Lastly, a study of John 21:1-12, likewise yields 9 words nowhere else found in John's Gospel:

John 21:1-12

to fish (v3 - only time verb form is found in NT)
shore (v4)
food (v5 - only time in NT)
net (v6, 8, 11)
outer coat (v7 - only time in NT that the noun form is used)
naked (v7)
cubit (v8)
dragging (v8)
examine (v12)

In the light of these other passages we conclude that the presence of ten words nowhere else found in John's Gospel in the AI is hardly impressive evidence against its authenticity. Other passages in John have just as many so-called 'non-Johannine' words as the incident concerning the woman caught in adultery.

The reason why all these different passages (and others that we have not listed) have so many unique words is that they are unusual paragraphs in John's Gospel. The action incidents in John's Gospel (as opposed to dialogues) are so few in number and so varied in content that it is easy to find at least half a dozen unique words in each one.'

- A. W. Wilson,
A Study in Intrinsic Probability (2004-7)

Dr. Keith should have known this, and avoided trotting out a naive Vocabulary List as evidence pertaining to the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11.

Non-Lukan Nature of 'Hapax' Word List

Just in case there might be any kind of "pseudo-life" left in this avenue of investigation in anyone's mind, we may note in passing the following remarkable - no, incredible, circumstance:

Ben C. Smith has published online an exhaustive list of Lukan words and phrases, comprising over 160 entries. It is an update of John S. Hawkins' Horae Synopticae, using Chi-Squared statistical methods. It can be found here:

Known Lukanisms < - - Click Here for list.


It seems incredible, but 200 years of critical guesswork has failed to correctly identify a single Lukanism.

(Regarding the critics listed by Dr. Keith: Morgenthaler (1958), A. Johnson (1964), Kubo (1975), Kostenberger (2004), the reader may be excused for muttering under his breath: " - what ... idiots!")

Dubious 'Lukanisms'

Next Dr. Keith tries to connect the Pericope de Adultera with Luke/Acts (a popular idea among critics).

But he doesn't see the all-too-apparent methodological flaw in this process, namely that it is quite possible that Luke wrote after John composed his Gospel. If so, then any linguistic coincidences may simply reflect Lukan copying of Johannine ideas and phraseology (something for which there is copious evidence).

Before any Lukan evidence can be applied, the Synoptic Problem must be convincingly solved in favour of Lukan Priority relative to John, something that has no current scholarly consensus at all.

Jesus spending nights on the Mount of Olives, and arriving at 'dawn' to teach in the temple daily, (cf. Luke 21:37-38) and the response in Acts 5:21 are just the sort of motifs that look like mini-epitomes, borrowed by Luke in tribute to John's Gospel.

Usage of "Mount of Olives"

The author of Jn 7:53-8:11 uses the LXX expression for "Mount of Olives" (Ορος των Ελαιων, Jn 7:53. See Zech 14:4, 2nd Sam 15:30).

But the Lukan form of "Mount of Olives" is an entirely different entity, described by Luke with a unique formula for his Gentile readers:

(1) Luke 19:29, & Luke 21:37, & Acts 1:12

the mount called "Of Olives"
το ορος το καλουμενον Ελαιων.

Only when copying Mark does Luke once adopt the LXX expression,
"Mount of Olives" (Ορος των Ελαιων Luke 19:37 = Mk 11:8 / Mt. 21:8). Such usage is not Lukan: it is foreign to Luke's own style.

And the Pericope de Adultera knows nothing of Luke's stylistic way of naming the mountain.

Usage of "Dawn" (ορθρος)

The Lukan usage of ορθρος ('dawn/early morn', Luke 24:1, Acts 5:21) is also problematic. For openers, John's usage is again based on the LXX (ορθρου, "at dawn" = a simple temporal adverb, found in the LXX a dozen or more times).

Luke's flourishes are far more advanced than the LXX norm found in the Pericope de Adultera:

(2) Luke 21:38

'And all the people were dawning to Him (rising to Him) in the temple to hear Him.'
και πας ο λαος ωρθριζε προς αυτον εν τω ιερω ακουειν αυτον

Its not entirely clear what Luke is intending here, by using "dawn" as a verb!

The commentators pass over this incredible bit of linguistic calesthetics as though it were somehow 'normal' Greek. The difficulty in a literal rendering is exposed by the number of 'assisting words' usually inserted into an English translation. Perhaps Luke means to suggest a double-meaning here, i.e., "they were enlightened by" or "drawn toward" Jesus, in some kind of figurative sense.

The surest thing we can say is that Luke is waxing poetic, but he did not coin this usage himself. This rare usage appears in the LXX in Exod. 24:4, and perhaps Luke wants us to find that reference.

The verb form appears to have a second meaning, "to seek someone diligently" (BAG, 1956). It seems to occur in this sense in the later literature, (Job 8:5, Ps.77[78]:34, Sir 4:12, Wis 6:14, Test.Jos. 3:6).

In any case, the author of John 8:1-11 cannot have copied his expression from Luke here, since he knows nothing of this, but follows the (normal) LXX adverbial usage ("at dawn").

(3) Luke 24:1

' deep dawn they came upon the tomb...'
...ορθρου βαθεως ηλθον επι το μνημα...

Once again Luke can't resist a literary flourish. Neither John the Evangelist (Jn 20:1), nor the author of the Pericope de Adultera chooses to follow: again they seem to have had no contact, and in this they are alike. Even when Luke dances modestly, he dances alone.

(4) Acts 5:21

"And hearing (obeying),
they entered under the Dawn (i.e., in the dawning light) into the temple and were teaching."
Ακοθσαντες δε,
υπο τον ορθρον εις το ιερον και εδιδασκον.

Here again Luke typically waxes eloquent, never it seems, choosing the plain LXX expression favoured by the author of the Pericope de Adultera. Our Johannine author knows him not.

The Ferrar Group (10th cent.) mentioned in support of a Lukan setting for the passage is irrelevant here: the paltry evidence is too late by a millenium!

Next Dr. Keith adduces that Luke 6:7 shows the desired affinity or connection between Luke and the Pericope de Adultera.
But again he fails to note that here Luke is copying Mark, and has inserted an explanatory gloss:

(5) Mark 3:2

'And they were watching Him,
if on the Sabbath He will heal him,
so they might accuse Him.'
και παρετηρουν αυτον,
ει τοις σαββασι θεραπευσει αυτον,

ινα κατηγορησωσιν αυτου.

Luke 6:7

'But the scribes and Pharisees were watching,
if in the Sabbath He will heal,
so they might have found an accusation of (on) Him.'
παρετηρουν δε οι γραμματεις και οι Φαρισαιοι,
ει εν τω σαββατω θεραπευσει,
ινα ευρωσι(ν) κατηγοριαν αυτου.
(ευρισκω "to find" - verb 3rd pers. aorist active subjunctive plural )

John 8:3, 8:6

'the scribes and Pharisees'...
'that they might have an accusation upon Him.'
οι γραμματεις και οι Φαρισαιοι,...
ινα εχωσι κατηγοριαν κατ' αυτου.
(εχω "to have" - verb 3rd pers. present active subjunctive plural )

Here Luke has inserted "scribes and Pharisees", in order to identify the party Mark has left ambiguous. But where did Luke (or a later copyist) get the explanatory gloss from? It seems obvious that it was copied from John, called to mind by the following clause in Luke and Mark.

Luke has all the earmarks of a conflation of Mark and John. Dr. Keith misses all this.

He also here misses the fact that the Byzantine text (TR) has remained unharmonized, while the critical text (following Hort & Vaticanus) has been harmonized, making the final clause in each look more similar than they actually are. Of course, none of these variants are even found in the deficient apparatus of the WH, Nestle/Aland, and UBS texts that academics seem unjustifiably addicted to.

All of this suggests far more strongly that Luke wrote after John and drew upon him in tribute, than it suggests that the Pericope de Adultera was somehow composed by Luke. In spite of this poor presentation of the 'Lukan' evidence, Dr. Keith comes to the right conclusion:

'PA’s similarities to Lukan tradition lead several scholars to suggest a Lukan origin for the story...
This is unlikely for reasons discussed below, but these studies demonstrate PA's affinities with Synoptic material.'

Dr. Keith's reasonable skepticism regarding the 'Lukan' origin of the PA protects him from serious error here, in spite of the skewed interpretation of the evidence.

No Control Group

But what has Dr. Keith's collection of examples really shown? A few control tests, such as two or three other passages from John's Gospel might have enabled us to judge whether the PA is in fact more similar or less similar to the Synoptics than the rest of John in a significant way.

As it stands, we are left to hazard a guess that this passage is about as similar to the Synoptics as any other passage of the Gospel is. Nothing unusual has been demonstrated.

But in fact, studies of alternate passage vocabularies are readily available, as for instance found in A. W. Wilson's excellent section on the PA (published online):

A. W. Wilson, A Study in Intrinsic Probability (2004-7)

No Matches to Lukan List (again)

In passing, we may note again that none of the words/phrases discussed by Dr. Keith managed to make it to the Lukanism List previously mentioned, and that list allowed for very easy qualification!

Contrary to Dr. Keith's assertion, the passage has not been shown to be 'Synoptic' in any significant or remarkable sense. Any similarity observed essentially comes from it being a "Gospel story" about Jesus.

But the bottom line is that so far not a shred of evidence has been produced against authorship of the Pericope de Adultera by John the Evangelist.

II. Lack of Binary Themes

Dr. Keith offers two more 'arguments' against authorship by John the Evangelist, but only devotes a single sentence to each. He presumes (we suppose,) that they are self-evident:

'A second argument against the Johannine authenticity of PA is the complete absence of the dichotomies ( light/dark, heavenly/earthly, above/below, spirit/flesh) that play such a prominent role not only in PA’s immediately preceding and succeeding contexts but also the Gospel of John as a whole.'

- Dr. Keith, p. 381

Dr. Keith appears not to have fully grasped what is to actually be expected in this area from either John's Gospel or the Pericope de Adultera.

In fact this aspect of John has been intensely studied in the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As a result the nature of John has been well mapped. W. S. LaSor, an acknowledged expert in this area, explains:

Alleged Dualism in John Exaggerated

'In John the expressions "light" and "truth" occur often.

However, the contrasts are not presented as often as we might be led to believe by the published discussions. 1

I find the light-darkness contrast only three times in the Gospel (1:4, 3:19, 12:35).and four times in 1st John ( 1:5, 2:8, 9, 11).

the truth-error contrast is not in John. (I find it only once in 1st Jn 4:6;),

and the truth-lie contrast only once in John: 8:44; (3x with 1st Jn 2:21, 27.)

In the Johannine writings, God is light (1st Jn 1:5) and Christ is light (8:12, 9:5), but there is no "spirit of light" [e.g. as in Qumran].

John mentions "the prince of this world" (12:31, 14:30, 16:11), but no "prince (or spirit) of darkness".

..."Spirit of truth" is peculiar to John in the NT. Three times it refers to the Holy Spirit and has personal significance (Jn 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13).

In 1st John however, the term "the spirit of truth" is used in what appears to be a somewhat lower sense:

'Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God... Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.'

(1st John 4:1-6)

This usage [i.e., that in 1st John] seems remarkably similar to that of Qumran.

- William S. LaSor, (1972)
Dead Sea Scrolls & the NT, p. 197-8

1. The word "light" occurs 25 times in John, and "truth" 40 times. "Darkness" occurs [only] 12 times (skotia 10 x and skotos twice); "falsehood" once, and "lie" 3 times. The heaviest concentrations are in John 12 and 1st John 2; with John 1, 3, and 8 also containing significant sections.

Reasonable Expectations

LaSor gives us a much needed caution. Its easy to be led away from reality by over-reading the literature, which only gives scholarly impressions. But real knowledge requires constantly returning to the actual document, John's Gospel.

What does LaSor's practical list of instances tell us?

(1) Even key Dualistic Contrasts may only show up once or twice.

The Light/Darkness Contrast for instance, appears only three times in the entire Gospel, and cannot be expected to show up in our short passage of 12 verses without special circumstances.

(2) Key Dualistic Vocabulary is limited to the Johannine Discourses.

Otherwise, it is limited to explanatory glosses by the narrator (e.g., the Prologue: Jn 1:1-9, John 3:16-21 etc.) If Jesus doesn't give a speech, and John doesn't need to explain some spiritual theme, the vocabulary has no reason to appear.

In particular, three of the Dualistic Contrasts named by Dr. Keith, heavenly/earthly, above/below, spirit/flesh, only appear in specific speeches/arguments and contexts, other than when they are introduced in the Prologue or recapped in the Final Farewell.

(3) Dualistic Vocabulary frequently appears independantly from its compliment.

Light occurring 25 times with Darkness appearing only 12 times is just one example of frequent independance of terms. There is no fixed habit or requirement that contrasting elements pair off in close physical proximity in the text.

(4) Many Key Dualistic Themes are only developed in the Epistles.

The Evangelist has no interest in multiplying or elaborating Dualistic Themes in the Gospel. This has been left to the Epistles.

We may summarize the situation as follows:

(1) Each of Dr. Keith's Dualistic Themes has its own natural home in John, and we cannot expect them to be sprinkled randomly throughout the Gospel.

heavenly/earthly, above/below, spirit/flesh find their home in the Nicodemus Discourse, the Feeding of the 5000, and the theological disputes with the Pharisees.

(2) Some passages already have a thematic purpose, such as the Wine at Cana, the Samaritan Woman etc.

Our passage, The Adulteress and the Law is quite clearly part of the Jesus/Moses Theme already. A look at its position and function in the Thematic Structure for Jesus/Moses makes its integral connection with John quite evident:

John's Gospel

Two Themes of Seven
Theme I: MosesSectionTheme II: Glory
1:17 Moses (intro)Prologue (1:1-18)1:14 Glory (intro)
John Baptist on himself (1:19-28)
Day 1: John on Jesus (1:29-31)
(1) Moses: 1:45Day 2: Call of Philip, Nathaniel (1:42-47)
Testimony of Nathaniel, Jesus
Day 3: 1st Sign - Water to Wine (2:1-11)   (1) Glory: 2:11
Cleansing of the Temple
(2) Moses: 3:14Born of Spirit discourse
ministry in Samaria
Healing of Nobleman's son
Healing of Cripple
(3) Moses: 5:45-46Son of God discourse
Feeding the 5000
Escaping Crowds
Walking on Water
(4)Moses: 6:32Bread from Heaven discourse
People divided, and turn back
Testimony of Peter
Father's Glory discourse (7:16-18)   (2) Glory: 7:18
(5) Moses: 7:19-23True Judgment discourse (7:19-24)
People talk (7:40-44)
Officers don't arrest Him (7:45-49)
Pharisees prejudge Jesus (7:50-52)
(6) Moses: 8:4Pericope de Adultera (7:53-8:11)
Light of the World discourse (8:12-32)   (3) Glory: 8:50
Dispute over Abraham (8:33-59)
Blind Man Healed (9:1-12)
(7) Moses: 9:28-29Blind Man Rejected (9:13-34)
(After this,
Moses is no longer mentioned)
Blind Man glorifies Jesus
Door of Sheep discourse
Judeans divided
Messiah is for Believers Only (10:22-30)
Lazarus dies (11:1-16)   (4) Glory: 11:4
The 7th Sign: Jesus Resurrection Discourse
Lazarus Raised from Dead (11:38-46)   (5) Glory: 11:40
High Priest predicts death
Chief priests plot murder
Jesus annointed at Bethany
Triumphal Entry
Greeks seek Jesus
Hour/Judgment has come
People Blinded (12:37-43)   (6) Glory: 12:41
Footwashing, Betrayal
Love:The Great Commandment
Persecution foretold
Jesus' Final Prayer (17:1-26)   (7) Glory: 17:5-24

Its really too much to expect that this passage should also do duty in support of various other Gospel themes.

It is powerfully embedded into the structure of John already, and more than justifies its existance in the development of a major theme in John:

'For the Law (Torah) was given via Moses:
but Mercy (Hesed) and Truth came by Jesus the Christ.'

(John 1:17)

III. Uniqueness of Adulteress Character

Dr. Keith's third argument against 'Johannine authenticity' (his phrase) is as follows:

'Third, there is a stark difference between the presentation of the adulteress in PA and the presentation of other women in the Gospel of John who appear as paradigmatic followers.
(M. Scott 1992: 239; 2000: 73; Kitzberger 1998: 26 n. 17).'

- Dr. Keith, p. 381

Here at least, he offers three references (two authors).

Without undue prejudice, Ingrid Rosa Kitzberger's article, entitled, "How Can This Be?" (John 3:9): A Feminist-Theological Re-reading of the Gospel of John gives us fair warning of the content and slant we can expect to find there.

We have reviewed M. Scott's second article elsewhere ( M. Scott on Jn 8:1-11 <- - click here for review), and found that as a textual critic he leaves much to be desired.

Its notable though, that Scott actually finds more evidence for Johannine authorship than for a Synoptic origin:

The Pharisees appear to approach Jesus with a measure of respect when they address him as ‘Teacher’ (διδασκαλος, 8.4). ...

Brown sees this as another link with Synoptic style (1966: 333), but it is in fact the most common way of addressing Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, and a title which the Johannine Jesus himself later acknowledges as an accurate description (Jn 13.13, 14) (Scott 1992: 152).

-M. Scott,
On the Trail of a Good Story (2000)

But the real question is not the quality of the critics, but the validity of the premise, which demands some investigation.

Characterization in John

Part of the reason why many of John's characters seem like stick-figures or cameos, is simply that John isn't interested in character development (Jn 20:31).

The characters who do get detailed treatment (sometimes too much attention) seem to be the same ones who are supplying the eye-witness accounts that John the Evangelist is using! (e.g. Nicodemus, Samaritan woman, Blind man) This is quite understandable.

Contrary to critics, the women in John aren't just invented props or role-models for readers. They are public figures with previous backgrounds and independant futures. Many are already known by other Gospels.

John has little control over characters like Martha and Mary. He assumes the reader has previous Gospel knowledge. Without it, much of John remains confusing and his skillful irony is lost (cf. Jn 5:44-45, 7:41-42, 11:2 etc.)

The Adulteress and the Samaritan Woman

The only close parallels are the Jerusalem Adulteress (Jn 8:1-11) and the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:5-30, also an adulteress!), but their comparison is deliberately invited by the author of Jn 8:1-11, and is certainly apt.

The Samaritan Woman, staying in (lawless) Samaria and facing no danger from the Jerusalem authorities or mobs of Jews (Jn 12:9-11) could naturally be given an open treatment.

The Jerusalem Adulteress although apparently supplying the story behind Jn 7:53-8:11, naturally retains anonymity for reasons of circumstance, decorum and safety.

There is one other obvious difference in circumstance.

The Restoration of the Northern Tribes

The Samaritan woman has long been living in sin, outside the Covenant (Samaritans, although descendants of Jacob [Jn 4:12] are rejected by Jews; see Ezra 4:1-6, for the start of this quarrel): certainly at least one (current) adultery is implied (Jn 4:17-18).

Yet Jesus obviously doesn't call for a stoning. We are primed for Jesus' leniency (or at least amnesty) regarding adultery by John the Evangelist himself (Jn 4:5-30). Regarding the Samaritans, the Jews and Jesus are in agreement. They are outside the Covenant and naturally the only way back is an authorized Amnesty Program (Matt. 15:24).

"I was not sent but unto
the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel."
(Mt. 15:24)
(i.e., the 10 Northern Tribes in Samaria & the Diasporia, see Jn 7:35b, 12:20)

The Jerusalem Jews have no real problem with this part of Jesus' program. It appears to be an awkward but necessary 'evil'. The ministry to Samaria invokes some feelings of jealousy, but as long as the Jews retain their superior status as the Covenant authorities, and mediate the return of the apostate Samaritans through strict Torah observance, all will be well.

The Status of the Jews

Just as the Samaritan Woman represents the Samaritans, the Jerusalem Adulteress represents the Judaeans:

The Jerusalem Adulteress has been caught red-handed in an adultery. The presumption is that previously she (and her partner) were living in obedience the Law (torah) or pretending to. The Covenant appears freshly broken.

The question then is put in stark relief:

Do the Jews continue under the Old Covenant, and enforce stoning, or does Jesus' coming change things? How far is Jesus going to go?

The answer provided by Jn 8:1-11 is obvious. The righteousness of the Pharisees and the Jews is a sham. The Covenant was broken irretrievably at the time of the Babylonian Captivity. Ezra's rebuilding of the Temple was on a foundation of sand. (Jn 4:21-24) The Jews are in the same position as the Samaritans. Only the sinless person may carry on safely in the Old Covenant.

The interpretation of the Pericope de Adultera is immediately given in the following exchange:

"If you don't believe not that I AM, You will die in your sins."

"If you continue in MY word, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

They answered,
"We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to anyone. ..."
"Amen Amen I say to you:
Whoever commits sin is the slave of sin."

(Jn 8:24, 31-34)

The Covenant of Moses restarted by Ezra was worthless.

Dead, because it was never properly restored, it could not remove Judah's original adultery: And now finally, 'the One' Moses prophesied had come.

One, the Samaritan Adulteress, represents the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) - Northern Israel, who had squandered their inheritance and special status. (Luke 14:15-16:18, esp. 16:16!)

The other, the Jerusalem Adulteress, represents the Obedient Son, who, nonetheless hates and begrudges the forgiveness offered to his brother(s). Nor will he come to the celebration (Wedding in Cana: Jn 2:1-11).

Understood properly, both Adulteresses are closely parallel in circumstance and nature:

Both are Adulteresses, 'caught in the act' (4:17, 8:3).
Both are confronted privately by Jesus (4:7, 8:9),
supernaturally known to be guilty by Jesus (Jn 4:17, 8:11),
and both stand condemned under the Law (Lk 16:17-18).
Both are granted Amnesty, and set free (4:16, 8:11).
Both give a positive response of sorts. (4:19, 8:11).
Both parallel the response of their people (4:39-42, 8:4=3:2)

If the response of the Jerusalem Adulteress seems less enthusiastic, and more humbled and shamed, This is easily accounted for by their respective types and cultures. Not every person in the Gospel of John is meant to be an ideal role-model.

The Blind man greatly outperforms the Cripple (Jn 9:30-33).
The The Beloved Disciple outperforms Peter (Jn 18:27).
Even Martha outperforms Mary (Jn 11:20).

The minor differences between the Samaritan Adulteress and Jerusalem Adulteress are well within the range of performances found elsewhere in John. The differences can be simply accounted for by them being different people. But if they are indeed 'types' intended by John, then each remains in harmony with the portrayals of the people they typify, whom John describes elsewhere.

There is simply nothing here to indicate that the Pericope de Adultera was not written by John the Evangelist, author of the rest.

From Where Does the PA Come?

Since Dr. Keith hasn't in fact come up with a scrap of evidence negating authorship by John, his section here is a futile exercise. It depended upon a clear "non-Johannine" answer from his first section.

This section is plainly non-productive, as Dr. Keith's own conclusion states:

From whence PA came before an interpolator placed it into John’s Gospel is clearly an unsettled issue in PA research.

PA, or a version of it, circulated in the early Church from at least the second century CE.

Important to note here, however, is that the earliest interpreters of PA (Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome) all read the story in John’s Gospel, and there is no manuscript evidence of PA in Luke until the eleventh century CE ( f 13 and MS 1333’s corrector).

We could hardly ask for a clearer statement of the current confusion and complete lack of consensus, caused by barking up the wrong tree.

A review of the second half of Dr. Dr. Keith's survey is planned in the near future. In the meantime we congratulate him on this article, which represents a significant step in the right direction, toward a more modern and balanced view of this important textual question.

- Nazaroo
Jan 31, 2009