Exerpted from: Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on John’s Gospel (1865),
(transl. into English 1957,1980 etc.)
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2009
Godet, Frédéric Louis (1812–1900) Swiss Protestant theologian and New Testament scholar.
Born at Neuchatel, and educated there and at Bonn and Berlin, Godet served from 1838 to 1844 as tutor to Crown Prince (later King) Frederick Wilhelm III of Prussia. He served as supply preacher in the Val–de–Ruy from 1844 to 1851, and as pastor at Neuchatel from 1851 to 1866. Between 1851 and 1873 he was also professor of exegetical and critical theology in Neuchatel. [At this time he wrote his commentary on John.]
From 1873 to 1887 he was professor of New Testament exegesis at the newly established Free Evangelical Faculty, which he helped to found.
Godet did much to interpret German theological thought to French–speaking Protestants, and the English translations of his works made him influential in international NT scholarship. His conservative viewpoint in NT interpretation is clearly expressed in his critical commentaries.
(Godet published: John, 1864–1865; Luke, 1871; Romans, 1879–1880; 1 Corinthians, 1886).
- taken from Who's Who in Christian History
"Godet was a leading Swiss Protestant Reformed scholar of the 19th century. He was an able defender of the orthodox Christian faith in an age of growing liberalism." - C.H. Dyer in Bibliotheca Sacra
" Godet, in all his commentaries, shows a scholarly breadth of familiarity with the commentators who preceded him. Many of their interpretations are stated and refuted in order to present that which the author feels is the correct interpretation of the passage. One can in reading this work avail himself of a clear summary of the views of many various writers. The author was respected as a theologian, hence his work has depth, and was revered as a Greek scholar and exegete, and thus his work has accuracy." - J.D. Pentecost in Bibliotheca Sacra
We can get a glimpse of Godet's thinking from his own words:
Excerpt from the Preface to the
First Edition of Godet's Commentary on Luke:
"A Commentary on the Gospel of John remains an unfinished work so long as it is left unaccompanied by a similar work on at least one of the synoptical Gospels. Of these three writings, the Gospel of Luke appeared to me best fitted to serve as a complement to the exegetical work which I had previously published, because, as M. Sabatier has well shown in his short but substantial Essai sur les Sources de la Vie de Jesus, Luke's writing constitutes, in several important respects, a transition between the view taken by John and that which forms the basis of the synoptical literature.
The exegetical method pursued is very nearly the same as in my preceding Commentary. I have not written merely for professed theologians; nor have I aimed directly at edification. This work is addressed, in general, to those readers of culture, so numerous at the present day, who take a heart-felt interest in the religious and critical questions which are now under discussion. To meet their requirements, a translation has been given of those Greek expressions which it was necessary to quote, and technical language has as far as possible been avoided. The most advanced ideas of modern unbelief circulate at the present time in all our great centers of population. In the streets of our cities, workmen are heard talking about the conflict between St. Paul and the other apostles of Jesus Christ. We must therefore endeavor to place the results of a real and impartial Biblical science within reach of all. I repeat, respecting this Commentary, what I have already said of its predecessor; it has been written, not so much with a view to its being consulted, as read.
If I am asked with what scientific or religious assumptions I have approached this study of the third Gospel, I reply; With these two only: that the authors of our Gospels were men of good sense and good faith."
Godet is a pleasure to read, one of the last great commentators having both deep faith and massive education and insight into his subject. He really belongs to that generation just previous to the wild young pioneers who wrecklessly followed on the heels of German higher criticism.
Even so, Godet suffers from the malaise of almost everyone of his era, namely a lack of foresight into where the explosion of contemporary criticism would quickly lead. As a result, he too easily embraced German scholarship, never questioning motives or the value of their work to the needed depth.
The danger to the Faith that German criticism posed was invisible to most people enjoying the civility of the Victorian era. Few sensed any danger, and even fewer gave warning. Those who did seemed to be exaggerating and hysterical in the 19th century.
Although Godet reads as a 'conservative' today, in his own time he would have been perceived as quite modern, discussing and sharing the latest theories and claims of the German higher critics with his countrymen.
Nonetheless, his skepticism, and his insights into the weaknesses of his fellow critics are extremely valuable, and his work continues to prevent many from uncritically embracing harmful and flimsily supported ideas.
In this modern age where every flakey idea seems to be repackaged as new, only to deceive once more before being refuted all over again, Godet can save us the trouble of traveling some previously explored wrong turns.
If we take the time to try to understand Godet's often subtle reasoning, we will be rewarded with a deeper insight into the issues that continue to surround the Pericope de Adultera, even today.
Frederick Louis Godet's book: Commentary on John’s Gospel
(Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1980),
Frederic Louis Godet,
Commentary on John’s Gospel
(Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1980),
The story of
the woman taken in adultery: 7:53-8:11.
Three questions arise with regard to this section: Does it really belong to the text of our Gospel? If not, how was it introduced into it? What is to be thought of the truth of the fact itself? 1
Evidence For and Against Johannine Authorship
Evidence For Authenticity
The most ancient testimony for the presence of this passage in the NT, is the use made of it in the Apostolic Constitutions (1:2, 24) to justify the employment of gentle means in ecclesiastical discipline with reference to penitents. This apocryphal work seems to have received its definitive form about the end of the 3rd century. 2
If then this passage is not authentic in John, its interpolation must go back as far as the 3rd or the 2nd century. 3
The Fathers of the 4th century, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine , admit its authenticity and think that it was rejected in a part of the documents by men who were weak in faith and who were afraid that “their wives might draw from it immoral inferences” (so Augustine). 4
Certain MSS. of the Itala ( Codex Veronensis [b], Colbertinus [c] , etc.[ e ff 2 g j l ]), from the 4th century to the 11th, the Vulgate, the Jerusalem Syriac translation of the 5th century, the MSS. D F G K H U Γ, from the 6th century to the 9th, and more than 300 miniscule MSS. (Tischendorf), read this passage, and do not mark it with any sign of doubtfulness. 5
Evidence Against Authenticity 6
On the other hand, it is wanting in the Peschito and in two of the best [sic] MSS. of the Itala , the Vercellensis [a] , of the 4th, and the Brixianus [f], of the 6th century. 7
Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Chrysostom do not speak of it. 8 Aleph, A B C L T X Δ , from the 4th century to the 9th, and 50 miniscule MSS., omit it entirely (L and Δ leaving a vacant space); E M S L Π and forty-five MSS. mark it with signs of doubtfulness. 9
Finally, in some documents it is found transposed to another place: one MS. (225) places it after 7:36; ten others, at the end of the Gospel [Family 1]; finally, four (13, 69, etc.), in the Gospel of Luke, after chap. 21.[Family 13] 10 Euthymius regards it as a useful addition; Theophylact rejects it altogether. 11
Textual versus Internal Evidence
External (Textual) Evidence: Summary
From the point of view of external criticism, three facts prove interpolation:
1. It is impossible to regard the omission of this passage, in the numerous documents which we have just looked at, as purely accidental. If it were authentic, it must necessarily have been omitted of design, and with the motive which is supposed by some of the Fathers. 12
2. Besides, there is an extraordinary variation in the text in the documents which present this passage; 60 variants are counted in these twelve verses. 15
Griesbach has distinguished three altogether different texts: the ordinary text, that of D, and a third which results from a certain number of MSS. A true apostolic text could never have undergone such alterations. 16
3. How does it happen that this entire passage is found so differently located in the documents: after ver. 36, at the end of our Gospel, at the end of Luke 21 finally between chaps. 7 and 8 of our Gospel, as in the TR? Such hesitation is likewise without example with respect to a genuine apostolic text. 17
Internal (literary) Evidence: Summary
From the point of view of internal criticism, three reasons confirm this
1. The style does not have the Johannean stamp; it has much more the characteristics of the Synoptical tradition. 18
The ουν, the most common form of transition in John, is altogether wanting; it is replaced by δε (11 times). 19
ορθρου ('dawn'; John says πρωι, 'morn' ),
πας ο λαος, ('all the people')
καθισας, ('sitting down')
εδιδασκεν, ('he was teaching')
οι γραμματει και οι Φαρισαοι ('the scribes and Pharisees'),
are without analogy in John, and remind us of the Synoptic forms of expression. 20 Whence could this difference arise, if the passage were genuine? 21
2. The preamble 7:53 presents no precise meaning, as we shall see. It is of a suspicious amphibological character. 22
3. Finally, there is a complete want of harmony between the spirit of this story and that of the entire Johannean narrative. 23
The latter [John] presents us in this part the testimony which Jesus bears to Himself and the position of faith and unbelief which His hearers assume on this occasion. From this point of view, the story of the woman taken in adultery can only be regarded as a digression. As Reuss very well says: “Anecdotes of this kind tending to a teaching essentially moral are foreign to the fourth Gospel.” 24
As soon as this passage is rejected, the connection between the testimony which precedes and that which follows, is obvious. It is expressly marked by the παλιν , "again" , result: 8:12, which joins the new declaration, 8:12-20, to that of the great day of the feast, 7:37 ff. 25
The authenticity of this passage is also no longer admitted, except by a small number of Protestant exegetes ( Lange, Ebrard, Wieseler ), by the Catholic interpreters ( Hug, Scholz, Maier ), and by some adversaries of the authenticity of the Gospel, who make a weapon of the internal improbabilities of the story ( Bretschneider, Strauss, B. Bauer, Hilgenfeld ). 26
At the time of the Reformation it was judged to be unauthentic by Erasmus, Calvin and Beza; 27 later, it was likewise expunged by Grotius, Wetstein, Semler, Lucke , Tholuck, Olshausen, de Wette, Baur, Reuss, Luthardt, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Weiss, Keil. 28
According to Hilgenfeld (Einleit. ins. N. T.) , this passage has in its favor preponderating testimonies; it places us in the very midst of the days which followed the great day of the feast; finally, it is required by the words of Jn 8:15. These arguments have no need to be refuted. 29
How was this passage introduced into our Gospel?
Hengstenberg attributes the composition of it to a believer who was an enemy of Judaism and who wished to represent, under the figure of this degraded woman, whom Jesus had yet restored, the Gentile world pardoned by grace. In order to give more credit to this fiction, the author inserted it in the text of our Gospel with a preamble, and it found its way into a certain number of copies.
But the allegorical intention which is thus supposed does not appear from any of the details of the story; 30 besides, it is not exactly true that the woman was pardoned by Jesus. 31 We shall give attention to the objections raised by Hengstenberg against the internal truthfulness of the story.
Eusebius, Papias, and the Gospel of the Hebrews
It is more simple to find in this passage the redaction of some ancient tradition.
Eusebius relates ( H. E. , 3.40) that the work of Papias contained “the history of a woman accused before the Lord of numerous sins, a history which was contained also in the Gospel of the Hebrews.”
Meyer, Weiss and Keil call in question the existence of any relation between this story of Papias and that with which we are occupied. But they have nothing to object against the identity of the two except the expression: "of numerous sins" , used by this Father, as if this very vague term could not be applied to the woman of whom our narrative speaks. The exhortation of Jesus: “ Go, and sin no more ,” undoubtedly does not refer to a single act of sin. 32
For ourselves, it seems to us very difficult not to recognize in this story preserved by Papias that which is related in our pericope.
A reader of Papias or of the Gospel of the Hebrews undoubtedly placed it as a note, either at the end of his collection of the Gospels, consequently at the end of John (hence its place in 10 MSS.), or in a place which seemed to be suitable for it in the Gospel narrative, for example here, as an instance of the machinations of the rulers (7:45 ff.), or as an explanation of the words which are to follow 8:15 (“ I judge no man ”), 33 or indeed after Luke 21:38 (where it is found in 4 MSS.), a passage which presents a striking analogy to our narrative (comp. especially 8:1, 2 of John with this verse of Luke). It was made the close of that series of tests to which the Sanhedrim, and then the Pharisees and Sadducees had subjected Jesus on that memorable day of the last week of His life.
If it was so, we may rank this story in the number of the truly historical, but extra-Scriptural narratives, which the oral tradition of the earliest times has preserved. 34
Proto-Mark as Source?
Hitzig and Holtzmann have supposed that this passage originally formed a part of the writing which, according to them, was the source of our three Synoptics (the alleged primitive Mark), and that it was found there between the 17th and 18th verses of chap. 12 of our canonical Mark. Our three Synoptics omitted it, because of the indulgence with which adultery seemed to be treated in it. 35 On the other hand, it found entrance into the Gospel of the Hebrews and by this door entered into our Gospels, in different places.
But no explanation is given as to how in so short a time the sentiment of the Church could have completely changed, so that to a unanimous rejection there shortly succeeded so general a restoration. 36 Our explanation appears to us at once more natural and less hypothetical. Moreover, Holtzmann himself now gives up the hypothesis of the Proto-Mark. 37
The Question of it being an Authentic Tradition
The question as to whether this story is the tradition of an actual fact or a valueless legend can only be solved by the detailed study of the passage. 38
We will give the translation according to the T. R. [Textus Receptus = traditional text, as in KJV], indicating only the principal variations.
53. And every one went away to his own house. 8:1. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2. And at the break of day, he came again into the temple; and all the people came to him;and he sat down and taught them.
3. Now the scribes and the Pharisees bring to him a woman taken in adultery;and having set her in the midst of the company , 4 they say to him ,
Master this woman has been taken in adultery, in the very act; 5 now, in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such persons; as for thee therefore , what dost thou say?
6. They said this to test him, that they might be able to accuse him;but Jesus, stooping down, wrote with his finger on the ground. 7. As they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them,
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the stone at her.
8. Then he stooped down again and wrote on the ground. 9. They having heard this and being reproved by their conscience , went out , one by one , beginning with the eldest even to the last; and Jesus was left alone with the woman who was standing in the midst of the company.
10. Then Jesus, lifting himself up and no longer seeing any one but the woman , said to her,
Woman , where are thine accusers? Did no one condemn thee?
11. She said , No one, Lord.
Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn thee; go , and sin no more.
Ver. 53.- Does the expression: "every one went away" refer, as seems natural from the context, to the members of the Sanhedrin, who return to their homes after the meeting, 7:45-52? In that case, the remark is an idle one.
Or does it refer to the whole people who, when the feast was ended, returned from the temple to their dwellings. This meaning would in itself be more acceptable. It was perhaps the meaning of this verse in the context from which the story has been detached. But in the narrative of John nothing leads us to this meaning of the word, "everyone". Herein is an indication of a foreign intercalation.
8:1, 2. - A striking analogy to the Synoptic narrative, both in the matter and the form; comp. Luke 21:38.
Vv. 3, 4. - γραμματει ,"the scribes" , is a Hapax Legomenon in John; [of] the Synoptic style. It is scarcely probable that already at that time these men, so proud of their knowledge, would have submitted to Him so grave a question and would have thus consented to concede to Him so great authority in the eyes of the whole people; comp. [Jn] 7:26.
Ver. 5. - Stoning was ordained by Moses only for the case of an unfaithful betrothed virgin (Deut. 22:23, 24); for the adulterous wife, the kind of death was not determined (Lev. 20:10). According to the Talmud, where the penalty is not specified, the law meant, not stoning, but strangling. And Meyer infers from this that this woman was an unfaithful betrothed virgin. This supposition is neither natural nor necessary. The declarations of the Talmud do not form a law for the time of Jesus.
Tholuck, Ewald and Keil , as it seems to me, rightly hold, that where the law was silent, it was rather the punishment of stoning which was inflicted. This view is confirmed by vv. 2 and 27 of the chapter cited (Lev. 20), where the penalty of death, not specified in ver. 10, is expressly designated as that by stoning. Comp. also Exod. 31:4 and 35:2, where the penalty of death is ordained for violators of the Sabbath, with Num. 5:32-34, where this punishment is inflicted, without any new determination having been given, under the form of stoning.
Ver. 6.- In what did the snare consist?
Some, Augustine, Erasmus, Luther and Calvin think that they desired to lead Jesus to pronounce a sentence whose severity would place it in contradiction to His ordinary compassion.
Others, Euthymius, Bengel, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Weiss and Keil suppose that the adversaries expected a decision in the line of clemency, which would have put Jesus in contradiction to the Mosaic statute. But, in both of these cases, there would have been no snare properly so called, no danger existing for Jesus except in case of an affirmative answer in the first explanation and of a negative answer in the second.
Hug and Meyer suppose the snare more skillfully laid, that is to say, threatening Jesus on both sides. If He replies negatively, He contradicts Moses; if He replies in conformity with Moses, He enters into conflict with the Roman law which did not punish adultery with death.
This appears to me to approach the truth. Only the Roman law has nothing to do here; for the Romans did not impose on the provinces their own legislation, and the conflict resultant from a simple contradiction between the two codes would have had nothing striking enough in the eyes of the people to seriously injure Jesus.
The solution seems to me to be simple: If Jesus answered: "Moses is right; stone her!" they would have gone to Pilate and accused Jesus of infringing upon the rights of the Roman authority, which had reserved to itself the jus gladii here, as in all conquered countries. If He answered: "Do not stone her!" they would have decried Him before the people and would even have accused Him before the Sanhedrin as a false Messiah; for the Messiah must maintain or restore the sovereignty of the law.
It is exactly the same combination as when the question was proposed to Him of paying tribute to Caesar (Luke 20 and parallels). Luthardt and Reuss also adopt this explanation. Weiss objects, it is true, that they could not reasonably expect from Jesus that He would give the order to stone her; and that, in any case, He could still reserve the confirmation of the penalty for the Roman authority.
But in the case of a sentence of condemnation it would have been in vain for Jesus to place all the limitations upon this answer that were possible - no account would have been taken of this before the Roman governor. He had been accused indeed of forbidding to pay tribute to Caesar, though He had answered in precisely the opposite way.
The act of Jesus in the face of the question which is proposed to Him is not simply, as it is frequently understood from certain examples derived either from the Greek authors or from the Rabbis, a way of isolating Himself and expressing His indifference with regard to the subject proposed. In the first place, it could not be an indifferent question for Jesus in such a situation.
Then, notwithstanding all that Weiss says, it seems to me that Hengstenberg is in the true line of thought when he sees in this act, thus understood, a sort of trick imcompatible with the moral dignity of Jesus. If He gave Himself the appearance of doing a thing, it was because He was really doing it.
He wrote , and that which He wrote must quite naturally, as it seems to me, be the words which He utters at this same moment (ver. 7). He writes the first part of it while He is stooping down the first time (ver. 6), and the second part when, after having raised Himself, He resumes the same attitude (ver. 8). Thereby Jesus takes the position of a divine judge both of the woman who is brought to Him and of the very persons themselves who present her to Him. A sentence is not only pronounced: it is written. This act has a meaning analogous to that of the saying of Jeremiah (17:13): “Those who turn aside from Me shall be written in the earth.”
Vv. 7, 8. The admirable, yet at the same time very simple, art of the answer of Jesus in ver. 7 consists in bringing back the question from the judicial domain, where His adversaries were placing it, to the moral ground, beyond which Jesus does not dream for a moment of extending His authority; comp. Luke 12:14. A judge in his official function may certainly pass judgment and condemn, though being himself a sinner. But such is not, at this moment, the position of Jesus, who is not invested with the official function of a judge.
It is also quite as little the position of those who submit the question to Him. In order to have the right to make themselves of their own motion the representatives and executors of the justice of God, it would be necessary therefore, that at least they should themselves have been exempt from every sin which was fitted to provoke a like judgment against themselves.
Undoubtedly it might be objected that in former times the entire people was called to condemn such criminals by stoning them. But the time when God committed to the people the function of judges in the case of similar crimes had long since passed. Jesus takes the theocracy, not as being in its ideal form, but such as He finds it, providentially deprived of its ancient constitution and subjected to the foreign yoke.
The interpreters who, like Lucke , Meyer , and so many others, restrict the application of the term without sin to adultery or, in general, to impurity, misconstrue the thought of Jesus. In His eyes “he who has offended in the matter of one commandment, is guilty of all” (James 2:10). The skill of this answer consists in disarming the improvised judges of this woman, without however infringing in the least upon the ordinance of Moses. On one side, the words: let him cast the stone , sustain the code, but on the other, the words: without sin , disarm any one who would desire to apply it.
Ver. 9. If the Pharisees had been sincere in their indignation against the accused, it was the time to lead her to the presence of the officially constituted judge. But it was not the evil that they were set against: it was Jesus. Recognizing the fact that their design has failed, they take the only course which remains for them, that of withdrawing, and they make thus the tacit avowal of the odious intention which had brought them.
πρεσβυτεροι ["elders"] is not here an official name; it is the oldest who, as the most venerable representatives of public morality, had taken their place at the head of the company: εσκατοι, "the last" , does not mean the youngest or the last in respect to social position, but simply, as Meyer says, the last who left. The word alone implies only the departure of the accusers.
Vv. 10, 11. - By the ουδε εγω , "neither do I" , Jesus gives the woman to understand that there was nevertheless one there who, without acting in contradiction to the rule of justice laid down in ver. 7, might really have the right of taking up the stone, if He thought it fit to do so; but this one even renounced it through charitable feeling and in order to leave her the opportunity of returning to virtue: “Go, and sin no more.”
We must not see in the words of Jesus: I do not condemn thee , a declaration of pardon similar to that which He addresses to the penitent sinful woman in Luke 7:48, 50. Bengel rightly remarks that Jesus does not say: “Go in peace: thy sins are forgiven thee.” For the sinful woman who is in question here did not come to Jesus by reason of a movement of repentance and faith.
By not condemning her, Jesus simply grants her the opportunity for repenting and believing. It is a promise of forbearance, not justification; comp. Rom. 3:24, 25 ( pavresi ). And by saying to her: "Sin no more" , He indicates to her the path on which alone she can really lay hold upon salvation.
Thus vanish all the moral difficulties and all the historical improbabilities which Hengstenberg and others claim that they find in this story.
As Reuss says: “The authenticity of the fact seems to be sufficiently established.” This incident is in every point worthy of the wisdom, holiness and goodness of Him to whom it is attributed. Jesus clearly distinguished the judicial domain from the moral domain; He wakened in His adversaries the consciousness of their own sinfulness, and He made this woman understand how she must use the opportunity of grace which is accorded to her.
Finally, in the words: "Where are the accusers?" we think we hear, as it were, the prelude of that triumphant exclamation of the Apostle Paul: “Who shall accuse? Who shall condemn?” (Rom. 8:33, 34.)
The internal characteristics of this inimitable incident of the life of Jesus locate it chronologically in the same period with the other analogous facts related by the Synoptics, that is to say, immediately after the entrance into Jerusalem on Palmday (Luke 20; Matt. 22, etc.). It is, moreover, at this moment only that so explicit a recognition of the authority of Jesus on the part of the members of the Sanhedrim can be understood.'
(GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN By Frederick Louis Godet
Third Edition Of the translation from
the Third French Edition By Timothy Dwight, Yale College)
Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:
1. The answer to the first question in Godet's mind is "No, the passage doesn't belong to John's Gospel." Then the next two questions follow. Had he kept the question open or answered differently, other subsequent questions would have arisen. Unfortunately, there is little doubt where Godet is going regarding the authorship of the passage, after this introduction.
2. Much more should be said about the Apostolic Constitutions. It is a collection of teachings claimed to be collected from the Apostles while or shortly after they were living and preaching. The instructions of the Apostles, whether given by them as individuals or as a body, were supposedly gathered and handed down by the pretended compiler, St. Clement of Rome.
Because the document is composed of previous ancient sources, its final form is not as important as the age of its actual content. Most of the sources that the compiler used are now clearly recognizable.
The first six books are based on the Didascalia of the Apostles (2nd cent.). The Didascalia is a 'lost' Greek treatise (2nd-3rd cent) now known through Syriac versions.
Scriptural references and examples, intended to support the lessons given by the Apostolic Constitutions themselves, are more frequent than in the parent Didascalia.
The Second Book and John 8:1-11
The second book is concerned principally with the clergy. The qualifications, the prerogatives and duties of bishops, priests, and deacons are set forth in detail, and their dependence and support provided for. This book treats at length of the regulation of penitential practice, of the caution to be observed in regard to accused and accusers, of the disputes of the faithful and the means of adjusting differences.
And when the elders had set yet another woman which had sinned before Him, and had left the sentence to Him, and were gone out, our Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had condemned her, and being answered "No", He said unto her: “Go thy way therefore, for neither do I condemn thee.” ( John viii. 11).
(Apostolic Const. Book II, Sect. III, ¶ 24)
This portion of the Apostolic Constitutions is of special interest, as portraying the penitential discipline and the hierarchical system of the third and fourth centuries. Here are also a number of ceremonial details regarding the Christian assembly for worship which, with the liturgy of the eighth book, are of the greatest importance and interest.
The seventh book, having two parts, the first a moral instruction (i-xxxii) and the second liturgical (xxxiii-xlix), depends for the first part on the early 2nd-century Didache or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles". This has been amplified by the compiler in much the same manner as the Didascalia was in the first six books. The rediscovery of the Didache in 1873 revealed that the compiler embodied it almost word for word, in his expansion of its precepts.
The latest, final chapters (such as those based upon the Didache) appear to have been added in the 2nd or 3rd century. The earlier sections are probably much older. The early parts containing references to the Pericope de Adultera are believed to be the oldest (newer parts being appended to the end).
This means that the testimony of the Apostolic Constitutions probably reaches back into the 2nd century, establishing a very early date for its position in John's Gospel and its acceptance as Holy Scripture. Godet is certainly right in tracing the placement of Pericope de Adultera in John and its recognized authority to the 2nd century .
The compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions is believed to have been the same person responsible for the enlarging the Ignatian Epistles, and the one who adapted earlier matter (such as the Didache) for the Apostolic Constitutions.
The preface to the standard translation of the Apostolic Constitutions:
We may accept as established the following positions:
1. The Apostolic Constitutions are a compilation, the material being derived from sources differing in age.
2. The first six books are the oldest; the seventh, in its present form, somewhat later, but, from its connection with the Teaching, proven to contain matter of a very ancient date. The eighth book is of latest date.
3. It now seems to be generally admitted that the entire work is not later than the fourth century, although the usual allowance must be made for later textual changes, whether by accident or design.
See our article on the Apostolic Constitutions here:
Apostolic Constitutions and Jn 8:1-11 <-- Click Here.
3. Godet is certainly right that its 'insertion' must be placed very early in the history of the Gospel. For by the 2nd half of the 4th century it was firmly entrenched in the West and universally accepted as an authentic part of John's Gospel. This could hardly have happened overnight. The testimony of Ambrose (who was of the previous generation to Augustine) alone pushes its existance to the 1st half of the 4th century at least.
4. Although Augustine's account of the omission appears naive to many today, his testimony regarding the large number of manuscripts in his time that included the verses is no mere conjecture, and must be accounted for just as Jerome's testimony needs to be.
Today we know that the verses have had a complex history, with an early omission of the verses among Egyptian manuscripts. This early omission may have began as a tactic to avoid problems in public reading in Alexandria, where there was a large Jewish population which likely took offence to the passage.
Just as in the Story of Susanna, here the Jewish Religious leaders are not just challenged on interpretation of the Law, but are cast in the role of a conspiracy of murderers, attempting to trap Jesus by framing a hapless woman.
We know that from a very early time the Church avoided public reading of these verses during important festivals like Pentecost, where John 7:52 was read and then the reader skipped to 8:12.
If some manuscripts were prepared for this exact purpose (like an early Lectionary), and the verses were dropped, then naturally suspicion would fall upon them in a new way when copies were compared to others by the uninstructed.
What may have been an extreme solution for purposes of avoiding persecution or decorum, could easily have later become an excuse for another kind of prejudice that remained in Augustine's time.
5. This count can now be updated to the following impressive list: Over 1,350 surviving Greek manuscripts include the verses, and over 1,000 lectionaries, demonstrating its near universal acceptance throughout the 9th to the 15th centuries A.D. This represents the Eastern Byzantine (Greek) tradition.
The Latin tradition includes thousands of copies of the Old Latin and the Vulgate, reflecting its universal acceptance in the West from the time of Jerome (392 A.D.) forward.
The total number of manuscripts omitting the verses amounts to less than 100, and no more than 5-10% of all known manuscripts mark the verses with an asterisk or some other mark. Of these, the majority of marked manuscripts are merely copies prepared for public reading, and indicating the start and stop of each "lesson" to be read.
6. Godet divides the evidence up under four headings, (1) Evidence for Authenticity, (2) Evidence Against Authenticity, (3) External (Textual) Evidence, (4) Internal Evidence.
These categories are conveniences, but reflect the viewpoint and concerns of textual critic more than the actual evidence itself. The presentation and actual grouping of evidence also tends to reflect the critic's bias or inclination. They will have already made up their mind to some extent before presenting.
The Scope of Textual Evidence
Strictly speaking, a scientific approach would categorize all the textual evidence for what it is: evidence regarding the subsequent textual and political history of the verses. This evidence can establish the existance, demographics, and popularity of a book or passage but not its actual authenticity, which is only indirectly related to this.
The textual evidence regarding John 8:1-11 only reaches back to the late 2nd century, and this simply establishes that the omission of the passage occurred before the time of our oldest surviving textual evidence (P66, c. 200 A.D.). Unfortunately, this is not conclusive, since from other evidence the existance of the passage also reaches roughly back to this critical period.
What the textual evidence does is guide us to look for the solution to the problem in the early (pre-textual) history of the Gospel. We now have two basic choices: we can search for earlier textual evidence, or in the interim we can examine the internal evidence, which stretches back earlier than the textual evidence can.
The Scope of Internal Evidence
The issues of authenticity and authorship are subtle questions that must involve the relationship between the passage and the Gospel, and can only be addressed by internal evidences from both. This means evidence of content, style, structure, and impact. The awareness of the Gospel concerning passage and their interdependance is the key issue, and it can only be solved by internal evidence.
7. The early Italian (Old Latin) manuscripts appear slightly divided here, though still overwhelmingly in favour of inclusion of the passage. Again however, these expensive old copies must be recognised for what they are: Official Ecclesiastical productions meant for liturgical purposes and prepared for public reading in church services.
This requires that we take the omission of these two manuscripts with caution, since we already know that the passage was dropped during Pentecost services, only to be read on the days of certain saints, later in the Liturgical year.
The evidence of the early translations again require interpretation and a caution, because these were originally done on an ad hoc basis as the needs of missionaries and evangelized communities arose. Later when texts were standardized, as in the case of the Peschitto, they were centralized copies belonging to church communities, and used primarily in worship services. The tradition and format of the services were again largely borrowed from the proselytizing sponsor churches from where the missionaries came.
8. Godet here strongly overstates the case. The knowledge of the early fathers is largely not ascertainable on many obscure or difficult passages, since they did not all comment exhaustively upon scripture from beginning to end, and most of their work has not even survived.
Only a handful of early (2nd to 5th cent.) Greek commentaries on John survive, and most of these were meant for use in public worship and lectionary service. These naturally leave out John 8:1-11 since it was not read publicly at Pentecost. Some of these commentaries are not complete commentaries on the Gospel at all, but rather commentaries on popular sections that are publicly read.
Origen presents difficulties, because the key portions of his commentary on John have not survived, and guesses as to its contents are based upon 'summaries' or tables of contents possibly added later.
Tertullian is a special problem, because of his poor soterology, hostility toward adultery, low opinion of women, strict severity regarding forgiveness, and of course his longstanding apostacy. He became a Montanist heretic, and apparently never rejoined the mainline church. Tertullian nonetheless provides interesting evidence for the existance and authenticity of the verses, as well his apparent 'silence', which has been interpreted as evidence against the passage:
Tertullian on John 8:1-11 <-- Click here for insight on Tertullian.
9. The list of manuscripts omitting the verses can be updated somewhat now:
Two early papyri, P66 (late 2nd cent.) and P75 (late 2nd cent. or early 3rd) have been discovered, which both omit the passage. Both come from a small region in lower Egypt (Jabal Abu Mana, just north of the Dishna plain and 12 kilometers east of Jabal al-Tarif.). These manuscripts establish that the omission of the passage must go back at least a 150 years prior to Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (c. 340 A.D.), and bring the total number of early MSS omitting the passage to four.
However, this evidence is not as simple and clearcut as footnotes in 'modern' versions would imply. All four manuscripts, P66 P75 Codex B and Codex Aleph, show clear evidence of a 'guilty knowledge' of the existance of the passage:
For a complete list of the early manuscripts relevant to John with photos and a survey of their contents go here:
Top Ten Early MSS for John <-- Click Here.
Godet lists "Codex X" as an uncial omitting the verses, but as Dean Burgon noted in 1882, this is no more than a late (12th cent.) commentary on some portions of John. Although written in 'uncial' script, it is not a copy of the Gospels at all, and because of its lateness it has no relevance whatever for the authenticity of the passage.
Godet at least notes that L and Δ leave a vacant space, placing them in the same category as other early witnesses, all of which show an awareness of the passage's existance and placement in this position. The witness against the passage is not of pristine early copies, but rather relatively later (2nd - 4th cent.) heavily edited ecclesiastical productions.
On the other hand, the 45 manuscripts marking the passage with asterisks or obelisks can now be extended to about 60 in number. However, the meaning of the marks is wholly in doubt. At best, in a few cases they seem to be 'critical marks' of a general kind, but most appear to be 'reader's marks' for public reading:
The Meaning of Critical Marks <-- Click Here.
10. Like most critics who cite the evidence of "Family 1" and "Family 13", Godet conveniently fails to mention the late date of this peculiar handful of manuscripts. All told, less than a dozen manuscripts, all from the 12th century or later, place the passage in Luke, and these are all closely related copies of a common exemplar or master-copy probably no earlier than the 9th century.
11. Godet here refers to some late (circa 12 century) notes in the margin of two late manuscripts. The opinion and even the identity of these unknown ecclesiastics is in reasonable doubt. The late date of these apocryphal footnotes aside, what kind of credible weight can be assigned in principle to footnotes added later to a manuscript in from an unknown and unverifiable hand?
12. Godet's observation here is valuable for both its insight and its honesty. Even though Godet is inclined to reject the verses as not from the hand of the Evangelist, he can see clearly that the textual problem can only be accounted for by active agendas and campaigns by defenders and opponents, fighting over the inclusion of the verses.
13. Now he rejects his own argument in the previous paragraph, but fails to give adequate scientific grounds. The 'spectre' of other passages possibly omitted by early authorities is no reason to reject the obvious conclusion that there was a battle over these verses.
One of the reasons critics dislike this option, is that it would mean that other omissions found in the early witnesses like Vaticanus and Sinaiticus do not mean that verses were added later, but rather that paradoxically the earliest witnesses have the worst text.
But while this is inconvenient for textual critics attempting to reconstruct the text from early sources, it can hardly be denied that these early manuscripts are heavily edited ecclesiastical productions.
Recognizing the peculiar nature of early MSS would effectively put an end to the blind appeal to the principle of "prefer the older reading (MS)". The assumption of the superiority of the early uncials and papyri is just that, an assumption that upon closer examination is not warranted by the obvious content of the manuscripts.
14. Godet asks, "would such a liberty have been allowed?" but fails to acknowledge that it obviously was.
For nothing can hide the fact that there are two sets of manuscripts: those with the passage and those without. And this, along with a glaring disappearance of almost all MSS from the 4th to the 9th century (they were destroyed) indicates not a unified opinion, but a battle over the text.
The textual evidence from all sides indicates a fierce and extended battle rising and falling over several centuries, from the 2nd to the 4th and beyond. The lack of any extended documentation or account of this battle, other than a few remarks from the 4th century fathers is disturbing, but not completely implausible. In fact all records prior to the 4th century are fragmentary at best.
It is also well known that many records and documents were banned and deliberately destroyed by various councils and purges.
15. This refers to the legendary '60 variants' found by one commentator in the 1800s. However, this is not as remarkable as it seems, given that the collator used Lectionaries, commentaries and quotations from the early fathers as well as a variety of manuscripts.
In fact, the majority of manuscripts have never been completely collated, and the variants in most printed Greek texts are only a sample of what are considered the most important manuscripts, versions, and variants. One look at the apparatus of Tischendorf's 8th edition for example, shows that the number of variants for any section of scripture is almost infinite, if one records every peculiarity of every single manuscript that can be collated.
There is no strong case that the actual number of variants is different in quality or quantity in this passage than in any other passage of scripture. The work has never been done to establish this.
16. Greisbach claimed to have found three different 'texts' or text-types, versions of the story, and this is supposed to be a unique situation. This is in fact an inaccuracy.
Codex Bezae (D) is not a 'text-type'. Although a handful of other manuscripts share some readings with it, no other manuscript in existance agrees with it closely in text throughout. Codex Bezae displays a unique and peculiar text in many places in the Gospels, not just in this passage.
The other two "texts" Greisbach identifies are simply the traditional text, and the Lectionary text. It takes no genius to see that using the same methodology, every passage of the NT has "three text-forms".
Since this is not unique to the passage, it cannot be any kind of evidence that the passage lacks "apostolic" status. Godet's argument is worthless.
17. Again, Godet appeals to the handful of late manuscripts that displace the passage. But this can be shown to be a natural result of the original battle over the verses, and some minor attempts at re-insertion late in the game. (see footnote 10.)
Godet's argument here is non-sequitous because by the nature of the case, some portions of scripture obviously were disputed and some mutilations of copies occurred. This is true for other (genuine) verses too besides John 8:1-11.
But why should we expect that ALL portions of (genuine) scripture be attacked equally? Obviously some parts of the NT are less offensive and less controversial than others are to some parties. Each attacking group would operate based upon its own interests and perceptions, which would admittedly be peculiar and flawed.
Godet's theory would require equal treatment of all parts of scripture by opponents, and this is an implausible assumption: an axiom that strains credibility to the breaking point.
18. The claim that the passage is in the style of the Synoptics rather than John was made by the 19th century German higher critics, and Godet perpetuates this claim. As can be seen by what follows, it is largely based upon vocabulary and crude generalizations about the grammar of John's Gospel.
Samuel Davidson provided a more complete list of alleged problems in the style of the passage, which however has been thoroughly examined and refuted here:
S. Davidson on John 8:1-11 Pt.II (internal evid.) <-- Click here.
Generally speaking, the argument from vocabulary is extremely weak, since the passage (and the Gospel) is so short. There are over 100 hapax legomena in John, which is unusually high for its length, and his real vocabulary is simply an unknown factor.
The argument from style and syntax is non-existant here, since NT Greek was not even properly understood until the discovery and study of the papyri in the early 1900s. It was a long time afterward before people were ready to do scientifically credible studies of individual authors' style. That work began in the 1930s, but only produced results in the late 20th century.
19. The argument regarding John's use of ουν versus δε is a statistical one, but also one that hinges upon the grammatical function of each word. A detailed discussion of this question can be found here:
ουν versus δε <-- Click Here.
20. Unfortunately the Synoptic question cuts both ways. Since Luke is clearly secondary, and admits to using sources, the question arises as to whether Luke had access to John, for which there is a significant case. That is, it is quite plausible that Luke wrote after John.
If this is the case, then any similarities found in the Synoptic tradition, particularly in Luke are immediately suspect, as the influence could be occurring in the other direction, from John to Luke, and not vice versa.
21. Godet raises a valid question here, but fails to see the full range of possible answers.
For instance, there is ample evidence in the rest of John's Gospel for John's use of previous sources and traditions. (e.g., the cleansing of the temple is a common tradition, as is the feeding of the 5000.) In many places John's narrative and dialogue has features that indicate he is collecting previous eyewitness accounts, which contain grammatical and stylistic features foreign to John.
In these instances, we don't accuse John of plagarism or try to remove the passages. We naturally allow John to use the eyewitness accounts of others in telling his story. It need not be any different in the case of John 8:1-11, and we have no reason to insist that the passage be 100% in the 'style of John', whatever that may be.
22. Godet has trouble with the meaning and purpose of the 'preamble', where the day ends, and Jesus departs to the Mount of Olives.
If we were dealing with a wholly fictional work, it could be asked what the purpose was. But if we assume there is a reasonable historical element in the account before us, then it may simply be that John feels compelled to tell us what he knows, whether or not it is 'elegant' in design or style. His integrity may require notice that the incident before us took place on a different day.
The fact is, there are many unusual 'seams' in John, and therefore the existance of one more can hardly be seriously proposed as evidence of an insertion. The other difficulties in John are well known, such as John 14:30-31, and chapter 21.
23. Again the demand Godet makes from John is remarkable not only in its insensitivity to the constraints imposed by a Gospel, but to the actual facts of John as we find it.
What spirit does Godet find lacking in the story but present throughout the rest of the Gospel? Presumably it is the grand themes of Jesus as the Preexistant Word, or as Revealer of the Father. Perhaps it is the recurring question of faith and belief.
It is legitimate to note the apparent lack of some Johannine features here. But Godet oversteps common sense and fact by insisting that every passage of John have the same 'high and noble' air or kind of spiritual gravity that is found for instance in the prologue or the Last Supper.
The problem is this: The Gospel of John is actually a whole series of interruptions, surprises and ironic contrasts between grand themes and shockingly earthly failures. To miss this is to misread John in its entirety.
John hits us in the face with 'disharmony' and shocking contrasts right from the starting gate. Starting with John the Baptist's jarring denials, moving to a Wedding Feast with gallons of booze, John the Evangelist jumps to the disruption of the Temple. From here we are thrown straight into the mysteries with Nicodemus.
Next the whole Gospel is seemingly sidetracked while Jesus flirts shockingly with a Samaritan woman and discusses her dubious sexual relations, only to stay in Samaria two more days before the main story can proceed again.
No sooner are we over the bumpy opening road when we are thrown into the confrontations with the authorities in Jerusalem, provoked by a healing on the sabbath. This quickly devolves into fierce debate about the Scriptures and Jesus' self-testimony.
The Feeding of the 5000 is immediately followed by an incredible miracle on the sea, followed by a caustic dispute with the Galilean crowds over the "manna", and one of the most difficult 'teachings' ever recorded as coming from the mouth of Jesus.
Then follows abandonment and murder plots, to be pressed further by risky appearances in the temple and more public preaching and disputes.
By the time we reach the scene of the Woman Taken in Adultery, we are literally sea-sick from the waves that seem to nearly capsize the boat repeatedly. Only the strange voice of Jesus compels us to read on, on the edge of our seats.
In this wild world of shocking contrast, of lightning and thunder, light and darkness, Godet wants to find the story of the Woman Taken in Adultery surprising. But the reader has long since lost all bearings with which to measure 'incongruencies'.
And even if a case were made that John had made use of a previous document with a remarkable unity or singleness of purpose, how and why should that affect the place of John 8:1-11 as we actually find it in the version of John we have now?
Everything we know about this version of John says that the Pericope de Adultera (8:1-11) is as at home here as every other part of John is. The Gospel of John is a book of extremes, of diversity, contrast and irony, of great heights and shocking lows. What story could be out of place in a gospel like John?
24. Are "moral anecdotes" really "foreign to the Fourth Gospel", as Reuss and Godet think?
The Gospel opens with the grand theme of "truth". With this moral foundation, we find John unrelenting in his portrayal of the confrontations with the Judaean authorities. The healing of the cripple is used to raise the issue of the sabbath and provoke discussion of "right judgment".
The cripple is later warned "Do not sin again, lest a worse thing befall thee." Even though high themes are constantly brought forward, the details of sin are never neglected.
The confrontation between the blind man and the council is a classic example, not just of the irony running through John like a vein of gold ore, but also the moral and ethical questions constantly pressed into everyone's face. The blind man didn't sin, nor his parents. Every episode seems to raise as many ethical and moral questions as it does Spiritual and revelatory ones.
The Gospel of John is never just about Jesus the Word, or Revealer of the Father, but also about the content of the revelation itself, the nature of God the Father, the ethical standard God sets forth.
Just as the Samaritan girl raises the question of "Gentiles", and the cripple raises the "sabbath", and the blind man raises the question of "sin", so the woman in adultery raises the question of "judgment" and in a way that is plainly Johannine in form.
One has to question the very ability of Godet and Reuss to read a Gospel like John and actually get at its crux.
25. Others have seen the opposite problem. When the passage is removed (as per the textual boundaries) the passage is more disconnected and awkward than before. Although it makes a superficially smoother read for Pentecostal services, it hardly makes plain sense as it stands without John 7:53-8:11.
Just as importantly, it does nothing to solve the most difficult problems inherent in the text before and afterward. In John 7:52 we have the arresting officers and NO JESUS standing before the Rulers of the Pharisee party, clearly in their private enclave or central temple area.
Suddenly, the arresting officers are gone, Nicodemus and the Rulers are gone, the entire scene has switched to "the treasury" without notice (Jn 8:20), Jesus is back, along with His audience of friendly listeners (8:30), and we don't know what day it is. All this is very poorly glued together by "Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying..." (8:12).
As Arthur Pink has observed;
"...if we omit the first eleven verses of John 8, and start the chapter with verse 12, several questions will rise unavoidably and prove very difficult to answer satisfactorily. For example: "Then spake Jesus" - when? What simple and satisfactory answer can be found in the second part of John 7?
But give John 8:1-11 its proper place, and the answer is, Immediately after the interruption recorded in verse 3. "Then spake Jesus again unto them" (verse 12) - unto whom? Go back to the second half of John 7 and see if it furnishes any decisive answer.
But give John 8:2 a place, and all is simple and plain. Again in verse 13 we read, "The Pharisees therefore said unto him": this was in the temple (verse 20). But how came the Pharisees there? John 7:45 shows them elsewhere. But bring in John 8:1-11 and this difficulty vanishes, for John 8:2 shows that this was the day following.
(Arthur Pink, The Exposition of the Gospel of John, (circa 1940) )
26. Godet observes that a minority of Protestant and [Roman] Catholic exegetes, and some adversaries of the Gospel, defend the authenticity of the passage.
This may be a remarkable anecdote, comforting Godet perhaps more than his readers, but it has little scientific value.
On the one hand, the scientific knowledge and acumen of the 'exegetes' was severely lacking in the early 1800s. And on the other, the question of authorship must remain scientifically independant from the question of the historical reliability and religious value of the Gospel and/or passage.
27. Again the opinion of Erasmus, Calvin and Beza must be given dubious weight here, regardless of the respect we grant these men. As noted previously, the NT language was inadequately understood, no scientific study of authors' style had been accomplished, little textual evidence had yet been collected and collated, and not plausible history of the details of textual transmission had been composed.
The opinions of early scholars and critics can only function as an interesting part of the history of criticism, not as an aid to textual criticism itself.
28. The value of later 19th century German "higher critics" is even mor dubious. Since that time, much of the early hyper-critical scholarship has been shown to have been uncontrolled, unscientific, and implausible.
While such pioneers did much to raise important questions of history and text, they did little to answer them.
29. Regardless of the weakness of Hilgenfeld's original arguments, he was pointing in the right direction. The key questions concerning the authenicity of John 8:1-11 can only be solved by internal evidence, of a special kind.
30. A case of not seeing the forest for the trees must be suspected here. While the woman does not function in a plausible way as representing "the Gentile world", she certainly makes an excellent symbol for Israel, with all the natural Johannine irony that would bring to the table.
None of the arguments against the allegorical intent claimed by Hengstenberg will hold up against the natural function of the Adulteress as Israel, which is one of the major motifs of all the O.T. prophets!
31. This is a surprisingly astute observation by Godet, proving that there is some value in his efforts worth salvaging here.
In fact, the ambiguity (a Johannine trademark) of the pronouncement by Jesus over the woman is classic, and may have unfortunately worked against its acceptance in some circles, in spite of its obvious indication of authenticity.
32. Godet's observation is again valuable. "Sin no more" indeed seems to imply many sins, to Greek readers as well as modern ones. But the basic problem with Eusebius/Papias' testimony remains. It is of poor quality and ambiguous, and scholars remain equally divided as to whether it refers to the Pericope de Adultera or another unrelated incident.
33. Godet's proposed explanation and reconstructed textual history here is pure fantasy in hindsight. He jumps from Papias to a placement of the story at the end of John, to its insertion in John or Luke.
But a careful study of the links of this passage to the Gospel of John show that both the passage and John were composed with the story in mind, and it could never be a simple 'insertion' by the mechanisms proposed by Godet and others.
Either the Gospel was rewritten to include the passage, or else it was always there in the finished version of the Gospel. There can be no 'accidental' or simple mechanical addition of the story. It is too deeply embedded in John. For some of the internal evidence concerning this, see:
34. And if not, it may simply be an original part of the Gospel of John.
There is no evidence of any oral tradition of this kind being transmitted outside the canon for any length of time, to be later incorporated into a Gospel. This is remarkable, but wholly conjectural hypothesis.
35. The theory of Hitzig and Holtzmann is wonderful, in the sense of instilling a sense of wonder.
To talk of Mark omitting the passage because of its content is strongly anachronistic and implausible, since it is almost certain that Mark wrote before John at least. That John may have had a side purpose in being supplimental is plausible, but only supports authenticity.
John 8:1-11 and Luke
There is no reason to believe that Luke, who championed the cause of women repeatedly and emphasized their value and function, would find John 8:1-11 difficult to include because of a seeming indulgence toward adultery. This contradicts entirely the sentiment and implication of Luke 7:36-50, which emphasizes "many sins", plainly sexual. Since other sections of Luke indicate a familiarity with Johannine traditions (e.g. Luke 10:1-24, esp. 21-22), it is possible that Luke was inspired by both John 8:1-11 and John 12:1-8.
Others have underlined the difference between John 8:1-11 and Luke 7:36f because here in Luke the woman is clearly repentant, and plainly forgiven. This may quite plausibly account for why someone else would reject John 8:1-11 and not reject Luke 7:36f. But it would never account for why Luke himself would have dropped the story and yet have included 7:36f.
The difference between the two incidents is being asked to bear too much weight in any theory about Luke's editorial choices. What is applicable to a Tertullian or someone of lesser insight is hardly appropriate in the case of Luke, a brilliant linguist who would have no trouble understanding the meaning and depth of the Johannine passage.
36. Godet's Rebuttal Implausible
Nor is Godet's argument worthy of consideration here. The problem isn't how the sentiment of the Church could change so rapidly, so that rejection was followed by restoration or vice versa. Plainly church opinion did fluctuate with its leaders, and caused real splits, as in the case of Tertullian. And this could happen rapidly with the rise and fall of individual leaders.
The real point is that opinion would never be unanimous, and so naturally the story would be omitted in some quarters, and retained in others, due to a conflict and tension between sentiment or perceived morality, and awe and honour of Holy Scripture and authors like John.
What we see in the textual record can't be denied: the passage was rejected in some places, and received in others. That such actions would be the result of leaders like Tertullian or Marcion is a natural assumption, along with limited geographic influence and time-span for such omissions.
37. That Holtzmann gave up the theory of proto-Mark hasn't effected its attractiveness to others working on the Synoptic Problem. So this is not an effective refutation of Holtzmann's basic position that the story (John 8:1-11) was part of an early written (or oral) source of traditions about Jesus.
But the key point here is that the origin of the story is almost irrelevant to the issue of whether or not it was included in the official or final draft of John's gospel, since John plainly used previous common traditions elsewhere, as in the cleansing of the temple, and the feeding of the 5000.
The correct question to ask is not "What were John's sources?" but rather, "Did John the Evangelist include the passage in his (final) Gospel or not?"
38. It is hard to argue against the basic sentiment here, or the necessity of a careful study of the passage.
However it is plain that the question of whether the passage was an original part of John cannot be answered by merely discovering that the passage is an authentic tradition concerning Jesus. The question still remains, "Was this particular story a part of John or not?"
And this question can only be answered by studying the connections between the passage and the Gospel, and how the story was integrated into the Gospel structure. For this we need to turn to advanced methods of Form Criticism.