Textual Evidence

The Top Ten MSS
for John 8:1-11

Principal Ancient Manuscripts for John 8:1-11

Page Index

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2009

Section 1: - Table of Top Ten Manuscripts

Section 2: - Manuscript Photos and Descriptions

MSS 01: - Papyrus 66 (P 66)
MSS 02: - Papyrus 75 (P 75)
MSS 03: - Papyrus 45 (P 45)
MSS 04: - Codex Sinaiticus ( Aleph: '' )
MSS 05: - Codex Vaticanus ( 'B' )
MSS 06: - Codex Alexandrinus ( 'A' )
MSS 07: - Codex Ephraemi ( 'C' )
MSS 08: - Codex Bezae ('D' )
MSS 09: - Codex Borgianis ('T' )
MSS 10: - Codex Washingtonus ( 'W' )

Section 3: - Conclusion: The Value of the MSS

Return to Index



The manuscript evidence actually falls into a variety of categories, none of which represent clear-cut evidence for or against authenticity. Nor should we regard the evidence as 'conflicting': Rather, the evidence is ambiguous in regard to authenticity, since this question is an indirect one. We can sum up the early manuscript evidence in a chart as follows:

Clicking on the manuscript name or symbol at the beginning of each row takes you to a description of that manuscript. You can also jump back from the header there, to the table.

Early Manuscripts relevant to John 7:53-8:11

Codex Date Details
- blue = mss contains passage with no reservations.
- green = mss contains passage but with complications.
- yellow = seems to omit passage but key evidence is missing.
- orange = mss omits passage but shows awareness of it.
- red = mss omits passage with no acknowledgement.
Codex Date Details
................ Early Period: 2nd - 3rd centuries
P66 150 A.D.marks the omission with space and dot.
P75 200 A.D.marks the omission with space and dot.
P45 225 A.D.portions missing from Jn 5:24 to 10:6
For this early period, the only surviving MSS come from a few sites in central Egypt, where the extreme dryness has preserved them. So they don't offer a wide sample that could represent the state of the text everywhere in the Roman world for this era.
................ Time of Constantine: 4th century
340 A.D.marks omission with space and dot.
B 340 A.D.marks omission with umlaut in margin.
From the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) to Chalcedon (451) is called the Golden Age. The new peace enabled Christian literature to blossom. The number of NT MSS written in the 4th century was probably between 1500 -2000 at least. Ironically, only 2 copies of John survive, and these more likely reflect the editorial opinion of their sponsors than the true state of the text.
................ Byzantine Empire Period: 5th century
A 5th cent.portions missing from 6:50 to 8:52 probably omits
C 5th cent.portions missing from 7:3 to 8:54 probably omits
D 5th cent.has passage in Greek and Latin side: no marks
T 5th cent.Greek/Sahidic Text: omits passage in both.
W 5th cent.early 'Alexandrian' Text in John: omits passage.
Although this handful of MSS reflects the diversity of witnesses for this period, they cannot be taken as representative of the relative number of MSS omitting or containing the verses. The sample size is hardly adequate.

Return to Index

Manuscript Descriptions


Here we provide photographs of the manuscripts where possible, descriptions of the content and quality, and also references for further research. In many cases we provide information specific to the problem of each manuscript as a witness regarding the state of the text and the status of the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11).

Papyrus P66 P. Bodmer II (+ fragment: Inv. Nr. 4274/4298)

P66: The Oldest nearly complete MSS of John's Gospel

Contents: John 1:1-6:11; 6:35-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, 22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. The MSS omits the Pericope de Adultera (7:53-8:11) but marks the omission with a dot and space (see below).

Date: Middle to late 2nd century, circa 180 C.E.

Origin/Provenance: Jabal Abu Mana, just North of the Dishna plain and 12 kilometers East of Jabal al-Tarif

Current Location: Cologny-Geneva, Switzerland: Bibliotheca Bodmeriana (P. Bodmer II): one leaf is in Cologne, Germany: Institut fur Altertumskunde der Universitat zu Koln (inv. nr. 4274/4298)

Description: 39 folios (=78 leaves, 156 pages); 14.2 cm x 16.2 cm; 15-25 lines per page; pagination numbers from 1 to 156. The handwriting indicates that it was probably the work of a professional scribe (see below).

Character: According to Berner and Comfort, it seems evident that P66 has preserved the work of three individuals: the original scribe, a thoroughgoing corrector (diorthotes), and a minor corrector.

(the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts,
Edit. P.W. Comfort and D.P. Barrett, 2001, pg 376-387)


In the editio princeps, Martin originally dated P66 to around A.D. 200. ....Hunger, founder of the Vienna Inst. of Papyrology redated P66 to the first half of the 2nd century (A.D. 100-150). ...Turner, disagreeing with Hunger, dated P66 to the first half of the 3rd century (A.D. 200-250). ...

With all due respect to Turner, I disagree with his date for P66. (here Comfort and Barrett cite a whole pile of paleographic evidence in the form of similar manuscripts and their scripts and characteristics..) ...Therefore, comparative paleography strongly suggests a 2nd century date for P66, and probably in the middle of that century. Indeed, two noted papyrologists, G. Cavallo and R. Seider, have each assigned the same date to P66 - "middle 2nd century".

Original Scribe:

With a practiced calligarphic hand, the original scribe of P66 wrote in larger print as he went along in order to fill out the codex. The large print throughout indicates that it was written to be read aloud to a Christian congregation. ...

The Correctors:

... 3. Another corrector, probably the same person as the 2nd paginator, made a few changes, especially in chapter 13, for the purpose of preparing the text for lectionary reading. This scribe/lector marked up (the mss) with extensive breathing marks and punctuation in preparation for oral reading.

After making a study of the corrections in P66, another scholar, Erroll Rhodes, proposed a similar yet more elaborate scenario. He said P66 was emended in three (immediate) stages:

1. The (original) scribe made some immediate corrections as he was producing his copy.

2. "After the transcription of P66 was completed, a preliminary check was made of the mss. (whether byu the scribe himself or by a more experienced colleague) by someone who was concerned with matters of orthography (even itacisms), but also with an interest in seeing that the sentences should read sensibly." This is like proofreading a text before it goes to press to be printed.

3. "A 2nd review of the mss. was then made with a greater concern for transcriptional accuracy. An exemplar [different from the first exemplar (master copy)] was employed at this stage." Corrections were made in the direction of producing a text that is quite similar to Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece, 25th ed. (i.e. an Alexandrian text was used to 'correct' the copy further)

Of all the scholars, Rhode's scenario is probably closest to the truth. ...hesitation can now be eliminated because a paleographic study of the 2nd corrector's handwriting reveals that the first paginator is the same as the 2nd corrector. ...As noted by Fee, many of these corrections bring the mss into line with an Alexandrian text-type

[Note it originally had MORE 'Byzantine/Western' readings BEFORE being 'corrected' by the 'editors' in the very scriptorium where it was originally made...]

This corrector could have been the official proofreader (the diorthotes) in the scriptorium who uses a different exemplar to make his emendations. "

(The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts, Edit. P.W. Comfort and D.P. Barrett, 2001, pg 376-387)

True Character of Papyrus P66

What does all this tell us? That the manuscript was made in a real Egyptian scriptorium, where the texts copied were done under standard procedures and instructions, and double-checked and corrected to make them conform to the Alexandrian Text type, then prepared for Public Lectionary services (i.e., for church worship).

This is no 'naive' early witness to the lack of the verses, but rather a plainly artificial production made for a specific technical purpose: public reading and church worship.

And it was made under a clear set of guidlines already in place for the purpose of supplanting 'raw' manuscripts and forcing them to conform to 'Alexandrian' standards and tastes.

These factors seem to lead to one of two conclusions: (a) the manuscript may be dated too early, and/or (b) early Christians in Egypt made use of professional standards of editing and procedures of 'commercial' manufacture far earlier and more extensively than is commonly believed.

In either case, P66 can no longer be held to be an 'early' witness to the primitive text, but rather it is a snapshot of the editing process in Egypt in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries. As such, it holds much less weight in regard to the omission of the Pericope de Adultera than has previously been held.

Papyrus P66 and the Pericope de Adultera (7:53-8:11)

P66: (John 7:53/8:12)

Note in particular the space with a dot in the center, marking the omission of John 7:53-8:11. This Egyptian scribe plainly knew of the existance of the Pericope de Adultera.

A look at the various marks on the page makes this clear:

This scribe is sloppy with contractions (as in line 6: all' ). In fact this scribe shows no concern even for the division of words, preferring to fill up each line with letters rather than end lines on a word. In Line 17 for instance, leaves half the word oudena on the previous line just before the last Space and Dot.

The special Space and Dot mark is not a breathing mark, or a grammatical or punctuation mark. In both other cases (line 12 and 17), this mark improperly divides two sentences, while the correct end of sentence is left to run on, as do sentences elsewhere on the page:

Line 12:
kan egw marturw peri emautou alhqhV estin h marturia
(dot) oti oida poqen hlqon kai pou upagw. (sentence end)
"Even though I witness of Myself my witness is true
since I know where I came from and where I go." (Jn 8:14b)

Line 17:
umeiV kata thn sarka krinetai. egw ou krinw oudena (dot)
kai ean krinw de egw h krisiV h emh alhqhV estin oti...
"You judge according to the flesh. (sentence end)
I don't judge anyone, but if I were to judge my judgement would be true,
since..." (Jn 8:15-16)

In both cases, the Space and Dot split up the compound sentences unnaturally, breaking the line of thought in each sentence. Taken along with the failure to mark the true end of the sentence this simply confuses the argument.

In these last two cases however, the connection of the Space and Dot to known textual variants is hampered. Although there are variants nearby, the mark should naturally refer to what precedes it, either the word or phrase, and here we have nothing obvious in a typical critical apparatus. The bigger problem is of course that this is the oldest and the only MS to compare to. Only searching quotations of Early fathers might turn up a match.

But a more plausible connection is right in front of us: We have the omitted Pericope de Adultera, duly marked, and two strongly related clauses, also clearly marked!

Pericope de Adultera (dot 1) = omitted

"My Witness is true!" (dot 2) = John 8:7!

"I judge no one!" (dot 3) = John 8:11!

Even if the scribe of P66 himself isn't trying to tell us something, he may have accidentally copied the partial notes of the previous scribe from his exemplar!

Even though we lack a complete explanation for the dots, they appear to be strong evidence that the scribe of P66 himself or the scribe of his exemplar had knowledge of the Pericope de Adultera.

Bibliography for P66

Philip Comfort & David Barrett,
The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts, (Tyndale 2001)

Papyrus P75 Bodmer Papyrus XIV, XV (180-220 C.E.)

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

Cologny (Geneva), Switzerland, Bodmer library. Bodmer Papyrus XIV, XV


Contains major portions of Luke and John: Luke 3:18-22, 3:33-4:2, 4:34-5:10, 5:37-6:4, 6:10-7:32, 7:35-39, 41-43, 7:46-9:2, 9:4-17:15, 17:19-18:18, 22:4-end, John 1:1-11:45, 11:48-57, 12:3-13:10, 14:8-15:10. The volume, despite loss of leaves, is in surprisingly good condition, we even have portions of the binding (which is thought to have been added later). We have all or part of 102 pages (51 leaves), out of an original total of about 144 (72 leaves). Generally speaking, the earlier leaves are in better condition; many of the pages in the latter part of John have gone to pieces and have to be reconstructed from fragments.


Dated paleographically to the third century (with most scholars tending toward the earlier half of that century); Martin and Kasser, who edited the manuscript, would have allowed a date as early as 175. The scribe seems to have been generally careful, writing a neat and clear hand (though letter sizes vary somewhat), and (with some minor exceptions) using a fairly consistent spelling. Colwell observed that the natural writing tendencies of the scribe were strongly restrained by the text before him, indicating a copy of very high fideily. The editors of the codex argued that the copyist was a professional scribe. We do note, however, that lines are of very variable length (25 to 36 letters per line), as are the pages (38 to 45 lines per page). As P75 is a single-quire codex of (presumably) 36 folios, it has been argued that the scribe was trying to get more text on a page to hold the codex to the available space.

Description and Text-type

The fact which has struck every examiner of P75 is its extremely close resemblance to B. A number of statistical studies to this effect have been made; as far as I know, however, all have been done by textual critics with weak mathematical backgrounds and with inadequate controls. Thus, none of their figures for agreements between manuscripts can be regarded as meaning much. Still, the result is unquestionable: P75 is closer to B than to any other manuscript, and vice versa. There are enough differences that P75 cannot be the parent of B, and is unlikely to be a direct ancestor, but P75 and B certainly had a common ancestor, and this ancestor must have been older than P75. Moreover, both manuscripts have remained quite close to this ancestral text. The mere fact that the two agree does not tell us how good this ancestral text is (most scholars would regard it as very good, but this is for other reasons than the closeness of the two manuscripts). But we are able to reconstruct this text with great accuracy.

Interestingly, there has been no systematic study examining the text of P75. The Alands, of course, list it as Category I, with a strict text, but this is based simply on the date and character of the manuscript; it is not really an examination of the text. Wisse, for some reason, did not profile P75, even though it is the only papyrus of Luke substantial enough to allow such an evaluation (at least of Chapter 10).

The discovery of P75 has had a profound effect on New Testament criticism. The demonstration that the B text is older than B seems to have encouraged a much stronger belief in its originality. The UBS committee, for instance, placed the Western Non-Interpolations back in their text based largely on the evidence of P75.

The irony, as E. C. Colwell pointed out in the essay "Hort Redivivus: A Plea and a Program" (p. 156 in the reprint in Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament), is that P75 should have had no such effect. The existence of manuscripts such as P75 had never been questioned. The major Bodmer papyri (P66, P72, P74, and P75) are important and influential witnesses, but they should have little effect on our textual theory. The truly significant witnesses were the Beatty papyri -- P46, as Zuntz showed, should have completely altered our view of the text of Paul (but somehow it didn't); P47 perhaps should have a similar if less spectacular effect on our text of the Apocalypse; and P45 (as Colwell showed) allows us to see the sorts of liberties some copyists could take with the Biblical text.

This is not to deny the great value of P75. Since P66 is a notably inaccurate copy, and P45 paraphrases (see Colwell, "Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75," pp. 196-124 in Studies in Methodology), P75 is the earliest substantial and careful manuscript of the Gospels. Most would also regard it as having the best text. It does have a few limitations, however. It has been accused of omitting minor words such as personal pronouns (see page 121 in the Colwell essay).

A more detailed description of Papyrus P75 can be found in the new printed edition of its text:

(the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts,
Edit. P.W. Comfort and D.P. Barrett, 2001, pg 501-506 P75)

"I would date it late 2nd century, possibly early 3rd. ...

The copyist of P75 was a professional, Christian scribe. The professionalism shows through in his tight calligraphy and controllled copyng. ..."elegant and well crafted, of the the type represented in the Oxyrhynchus papyrii..." The handwriting in these papyrii is typically called by paleographers "the common angular type of the late 2nd to early 3rd century". THe scribe's Christianity shows in his abbreviations of the nomina sacra, as well as in his abbreviation of the word "cross" (stauros). These are telltale signs of a scribe who belonged to the Christian community. Furthermore, the large typeface indicates that the manuscript was composed to be read aloud to a Christian congregation. The scribe even added a system of sectional divisions to aid any would-be Lector. Thus, we have a mss written by a Christian for other Christians.

...It is also well-known that the text of p75 was of the sort used in formulating Codex Vaticanus: the texts of P75 and B are remarkably similar, demonstrating about 85% agreement.

...many scholars were (previously) convinced that the 2nd and 3rd century papyrii displayed a text in flux, a text characterized only by individual independence. ... Kenyon conjectured the following:

'During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, a great variety of readings came into existance throughout the Christian world (!?). In some quarters considerable license was shown in dealing with the sacred text [i.e. Egypt!]; in others more respect was shown to the tradition. ...'

Much of what Kenyon said is accurate, especially about Alexandria preserving a relatively pure tradition. But Kenyon was wrong in thinking that Codex Vaticanus was the result of a scholarly rescension, resulting from editorial selection across the various textual histories. Kenyon can't be faulted [sic] for this because p75 had not yet been discovered...it is now quite clear that Codex Vaticanus was simply a copy (with some modifications) of a mss much like p75, not a 4th century recension.

Zuntz held an opinion similar to Kenyon's ...the point behind Zuntz's conjecture of a gradual Alexandrian recension was to prove that the Alexandrian text was the process beginning in the 2nd century and culminating in the 4th century with Codex Vaticanus. In this regard, Zuntz was incorrect. The 'Alexandrian' text already existed in the late 2nd century; it was not the culmination of a recension. [...right! it was the result of a conscious and clearly defined editorial practice...]

Kurt Aland's thinking was also changed by P75. He used to speak of the 2nd and 3rd century mss as exhibiting a text in flux or even a 'mixed' text, but not after the discovery of p75. He wrote, "P75 shows such a close affinity with Codex Vaticanus that the supposition of a recension of the text in the 4th century can no longer be held."

Of course, p75 is not flawless. The scribe of p75 shows a clear tendency to make grammatical and stylistic improvements in keeping with the Alexandrian scriptorial tradition, and the scribe had a tendency to shorten his text, particularly by dropping pronouns. However, his omissions of text hardly ever extend beyond a word or two, probably because he copied letter by letter and syllable by syllable. "

(ibid, page 501-506)

The Meaning of P75

P75 is another early 'Lectionary' type text, designed for public reading, and so apparently skipping the section of the Pericope de Adultera (a very ancient practice). This seems to be just the type of manuscript John Burgon predicted would eventually be found...(now twice.)

We may pause and reflect on just how damning this evidence is for Codex Vaticanus.

While on the surface 'supporting' Codex Vaticanus, it in fact completely undermines it. Vaticanus is now shown to be a manuscript made from what is clearly an obvious Lectionary text from a known source, Egypt, and we can see the primitive forms and plain features of this same early lectionary (public reading lesson) system in the very act of its development. And lo and behold, the excision of the Pericope de Adultera is right there on the ground floor.

Vaticanus can no longer be viewed as an independent early witness to a primitive text. It turns out to be directly dependant upon an Egyptian (Alexandrian) artificial text-type, created and apparently circulating solely in this one small geographical area during the 2nd century. And we can actually watch the process of the Alexandrian text being formed right before our eyes, as the early 'professional' scribes follow their standardizing procedures and model master-copies for 'correction' purposes.

We now know pretty much exactly where the Codex Vaticanus came from (as to the text it contains): the early Egyptian Scriptoriums.

Papyrus P75 and the Pericope de Adultera (7:53-8:11)

Click on Picture for Larger View

Text of P75

Comfort and Barrett provide an accurate transcription of the text of the page in question (leaf 57b):

P75 Leaf 57 verso (back = left side: John 7:49-8:22)

Scroll left/right for photo/text

A Unique Defacement!

This manuscript, and this particular page have yet one more surprising feature. Comfort and Barrett tell us:

"A different scribe has written two lines of large letters upside down (!) in the lower margin, probably
tonuon wV [k]urio[n], apo thV t[ra]pez[hV]."

As if there weren't enough strangeness surrounding this particular page...

Space and Dot: A Familiar Phenomenon

One of the first things you may note, since we've highlighted them in red, are the "Dot and Space" marks sprinkled across the page. These are recorded without comment by Comfort and Barrett, but much needs to be said.

First of all, these are really marks on the manuscript. We can confirm that Comfort and Barrett have not merely added these on their own, by comparing an available photo of the first page of John with their collation. Indeed the marks are there, both in the photo and in C and B's text, in the same place. So we have reason to have some confidence in their collation of the important markings of the manuscript.

Second, one may notice that unlike the same marks in earlier manuscripts (like P66), these appear to be uncannily spaced almost according to modern verse numbers. This is indeed a remarkable coincidence, since verse numberings weren't invented until the Middle Ages. However, the correspondence isn't actually that accurate. Here on this page it seems high, but on other pages the match isn't so hot.

Yet this does seem to indicate a new use for the 'Dot and Space' marks. Indeed, they could be something like 'pause' marks for public reading in this case (P75). P75 is estimated to be about 50 years newer than P66, so its quite possible that the symbol was appropriated or even misunderstood and extended to meet a need in organized worship.

Again we note however, that there is at least one 'Dot and Space' at the point of interest, namely point where John 7:53-8:11 would have been inserted or deleted. Indeed the connection between chapter 7 and 8 without the passage is certainly 'abstract', if not completely mythical. Yet the previous history of P66 and its use of this mark in this place should be taken into account in any thorough evaluation of the mark here in P75.

For the moment we simply note that P75, just like all the other known manuscripts in existance, whether early or late, is not a simple or clean copy of the text minus the passage. P75 has a complicated appearance, and comes complete with some important marks, suspiciously similar to the marks found in other early manuscripts.

Unusual Page Damage:

Next we want to note the coloring of the various parts of the text. The explanation is as follows: Comfort and Barret follow the standard practice of indicating letters that have been 'restored' one of two ways.

Letters that are damaged, but not difficult to determine are marked with a dot underneath them in the apparatus. This indicates that the value of the letter is not in serious dispute, at least according to the editors. For our purposes, we have indicated these letters with a lighter gray text on the same light brown background.

Letters which are entirely missing, but have been conjectured (based upon the surrounding context) have been placed in square [ ] brackets. For our purposes, we have indicated these letters with a dark grey background and light grey text.

The missing letters are a result of either actual missing papyrus (deteriorated or broken off and lost) or of a surface completely rotted or turned to dust, or suffering from abrasion and wear to such an extent that the writing has been worn off.

Those familiar with the forensics of ancient manuscripts will recognise many easily explained areas in the chart immediately. For instance, the upper right betrays a crack in the papyrus with some lost letters along the eroded crack. The lower left, a common place where hands grab the page to turn it, has been broken off and has fallen to pieces from wear and tear.

But what is of special interest to us is the unusual hole in the middle of the page, between line 9 and line 12. Here of course is the very part of the manuscript if intense interest to us, and we find a gaping hole right at the point of the text where the passage was omitted!

Those who have pursued the story of the Pericope de Adultera will immediately sigh, "Not Again!" It seems everytime we want to examine an actual important or interesting manuscript with something to say about the passage, we come across the most bizzare and extreme acts of vandalism and inexplicable phenomenae. Sometimes a page is erased. Sometimes a page is replaced. Sometimes a page or even two or three are just torn completely out and apparently the evidence burned.

So it although perhaps frustrating, we cannot say we are really surprised to find what might be yet another case of ancient (or subsequent) sabotage or vandalism. Yet this might not really be the case.

Interpreting the Damage to this Page:

The manuscript shows the typical pattern of damage for most of the leaves: that is, the first and last, the outer edges, the least-well protected pages, these suffer the most damage. And typically, the damage is around the edges of just about every page, not in the center.

P75 in fact is not even a complete manuscript. it consists of some passages from Luke and some passages from John. Many pages are completely missing. Notably those at one end or the other, but also a few pages from the inside, as though they had fallen out.

The only thing that can be called 'random' about wear and tear is the bookworms. They actually have random tunnelling patterns which aren't predictable (except as to range or extent) other than a certain 'fractal' sizing and change of direction.

Other types of wear and tear, such as that caused by handling and usage conforms to simple and straightforward laws of physics and laws of probability.

For instance, the front and back, the outside pages, the exposed edges of an ancient papyrus book will suffer the most damage, due to exposure to air (oxidizing agents like oxygen, causing a slow deterioration from the outside in).

Next comes factors like 'wear and tear', that is actual usage. In this respect our manuscript (P75) is no different than any others. The frontal edges (the vertical edge of a page which faces outward toward the reader) suffer the most damage, being buffeted and subjected to human touch by far the most.

As a matter of fact, the pattern of damage for the page under examination above is quite easy to interpret generally:

(1) At the upper-right, a crack in the papyrus has caused the loss of a column of letters along the crack-line. These can nonetheless be restored with near-certainty.

(2) At the lower-left, the outer corner of the page (its the verso or left-hand page we are looking at) has been broken off, due to it being the the most common point by which a page is grabbed and turned.

(3) On the right near the lower middle, there is another crack, caused by flexing, and an imbalance or imperfection in the binding and sewing, resulting in another fault-line of lost letters, this time on an angle upward to the left across the page. It is actually in our interest, to identify as much as possible of the damage that can be accounted for by accidental or expected causes. This leaves us with a much smaller residue of damage to account for in other ways.

So a lot can be ascertained from a basic knowledge of manuscript forensics, and some accurately collated data, even without a photograph of the page in hand. The collation itself acts like a 'fingerprint', describing unique features of wear and tear, however in this case, all the wear and tear has rational explanations and physical causes. Nothing is random here; its all Newtonian mechanics after all.

We have quite reasonably and successfully accounted for the 'normal' and expected damage to the manuscript, around the exposed edges and in regions of heavy contact and use, like the bottom left corner. To this we can add the 'theta' in line 17 as another example of edge-wear.

The 'Normal' Condition for an Internal Page in the Book

Next we can accept small random examples of damage, such as the lost 'omicron' (short 'o') in line 06 and the faded 'zeta' in line 14 and the 'tau' in line 38, as well as the 'eta' in line 42.

This group of minor imperfections and faded letters is a combination of surface deterioration and perhaps copying variations.

But what it does provide us is a base in conjunction with the undamaged background surface area, to give an overall expected state of preservation for the areas of the page which have not suffered special wear, and which have been protected by being pressed inside the outer pages of the book. This is the 'best case' state of the page.

The 'epsilon' in line 32 and 'omicron' in line 33 might also fall into this category. We can take those faded/damaged letters and get a rough estimate of the damaged/undamaged area ratio.

Taking the left half of the page from line 30 to 34 as a sample, we have 14 letters by 5 lines = 70 characters versus 3 damaged, i.e. less than 3% of the textual surface. Similar estimates come from the lower right section from line 37 to 44.

These are large sections of the surface area of the page, and are therefore good samples of 'best' condition of the page.

The Remaining Sections

Now we need to account for why there is a huge 'hole' in the upper center of the manuscript. thankfully there is a very typical and common cause for such deteriorations, and its mechanisms are well known.

Its called erasure. In an erasing procedure, a scribe essentially uses an abrasive (like sand, or a rubbing stick), with or without a liquid (water or vinegar or some vegetable-based cleaner) to remove a word, or a line or two, to start again.

But what is important for forensics, is that the physical treatment of the surface flexes and weakens the fibres a significant amount, as well as embedding fragments of papyrus and grit into the surface.

The result is that although the manuscript appears to be 'normal', and often shows no signs of erasure, the area of the surface that has been weakened and pulverized loses particles more quickly, and the fibres holding it together break more frequently. Eventually, writing over this area begins to fade and fall apart at a much quicker rate than the rest of the page.

Not only can areas of a page which have suffered erasure or similar treatment become easier to detect with time, due to uneven aging and deterioration, but also other accompanying side-effects are well known and easy to spot also.

Tentative Conclusions

For instance, in our manuscript, there is obviously a large area that has apparently suffered erasure and re-writing (between line 09 and line 13).

But re-enforcing and confirming this diagnosis is the naturally accompanying wear-mark below this area, between line 18 and 22, where the heel of the hand rested heavily during the erasure, and where the copyist's hand rested again for the second copying session. This area, although undergoing less contact and abuse than the erased area, still suffers some damage, by absorption of moisture, natural oils and dead skin from the hand of the workman.

The result after a thousand years, is that each of the two remaining areas of the manuscript undergo accelerated deterioration through Ph imbalance (acidic substances in the papyrus, like sweat and bacteria) and oxidation, in spite of this page being protected by being sandwiched in the center and covered over from the elements.

In summary then, the forensic evidence also indicates that the page was probably tampered with to some extent, and it cannot now be ascertained exactly what went on at this critical point in the manuscript.

Bibliography for P75

Collations & Plates:
Rudolf Kasser and Victor Martin, Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV. Two volumes; Volume I contains the Lukan material, Volume II the Johannine. Supplementary portions of the text are found in Kurt Aland, "Neue neutestamentliche Papyri III," New Testament Studies #22.

Philip Comfort & David Barrett, The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts, (Tyndale 2001)

Papyrus P45 Papyrus Chester Beatty I (3rd cent.)

For the Gospel of John, P45 consists of only two badly deteriorated pages (4 sides) and one fragment holding bits of four verses (Jn 4:51, 54, 5:21, 24).

(Click on tabs below to see all four surviving pages of John:)

Claiming this papyrus as a 'witness against the passage' is probably best described as unscientific. So much is missing (the entire first 9 chapters, except a fragment of ch.5) that any attempt at reconstruction, or of contents of pages, or even rough estimates of the length of missing text, is all but hopeless.

The guess that P45 did not contain our passage is based upon a rough similarity of its text to other Egyptian papyrii which omit it. But this too is near-worthless, because there isn't enough surviving text to establish a text-type or grouping. And even the oldest papyrus that omits the passage (P66) also shows a plain awareness of its existance.

P45 is rendered useless in the same way that Codex A and Codex C are, since we cannot say whether any of these MSS also did not have a short space or some mark or marginal note indicating that they knew they were omitting the passage, or on what grounds they may have done so, if they did.

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, P. Chester Beatty I; Vienna, Austrian National Library, Pap. Vindob. G. 31974 (one leaf, containing Matt. 25:41-26:39)


P45 is surely in the worst condition of any of the substantial Biblical papyri. Even the surviving leaves (a small fraction of the original contents, estimated at 30 of 220 original leaves) are damaged; the most substantial pages are perhaps 80-90% complete, but many others are just small fragments. There are relatively few complete lines; many of the surviving leaves represent only about 20% of the width of the original manuscript. Therefore any list of verses included in the manuscript will make it seem more substantial than it really is; very many of these verses survive only in part (often very small part).

With that said, the verses represented at least partly in P45 are:

Matt. 20:24-32, 21:13-19, 25:41-26:39;

Mark 4:36-40, 5:15-26, 5:38-6:3, 6:16-25, 36-50, 7:3-15, 7:25-8:1, 8:10-26, 8:34-9:8, 9:18-31, 11:27-12:1, 12:5-8, 13-19, 24-28;

Luke 6:31-41, 6:45-7:7, 9:26-41, 9:45-10:1, 10:6-22, 10:26-11:1, 11:6-25, 28-46, 11:50-12:12, 12:18-37, 12:42-13:1, 13:6-24, 13:29-14:10, 14:17-33;

John ....4:51, 54, 5:21, 24, ....10:7-25, 10:31-11:10, 11:18-36, 43-57;

Acts 4:27-36, 5:10-20, 30-39, 6:7-7:2, 7:10-21, 32-41, 7:52-8:1, 8:14-25, 8:34-9:6, 9:16-27, 9:35-10:2, 10:10-23, 31-41, 11:2-14, 11:24-12:5, 12:13-22, 13:6-16, 25-36, 13:46-14:3, 14:15-23, 15:2-7, 19-26, 15:38-16:4, 16:15-21, 16:32-40, 17:9-17.

It is possible that the codex originally contained other books (e.g. the Catholic Epistles); unlike many of the major papyri, it is not a single-quire codex, but rather uses gatherings of two leaves, meaning that it could have had many more leaves at the end.

All told, we have two leaves of Matthew, six of Mark, seven of Luke, two of John, and thirteen of Acts, with the leaves of Matthew being only the smallest fragments. The leaves of Mark and Acts are rather more substantial, but still badly damaged; those of Luke and John are relatively complete. The leaves are broad enough, and the single column of text wide enough, that these thirty leaves contain substantial amounts of text, but still only about 5% of the original contents.

Kenyon was of the opinion that the gospels were originally in the "Western" order Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, with Acts (and conceivably other material) following. Given the state of the manuscript, the fact that it used multiple quires, and the fact that it was brought to the west in pieces, this cannot be proved -- but Mark and Acts were discovered together, so it seems likely.


Dated paleographically to the third century.

Description and Text-type

It appears that P45 was originally the most extensive of all papyrus manuscripts -- the only one to include more than one NT section. It has, however, been very badly damaged, meaning that relatively little text survives. This makes an accurate assessment of the manuscript's type rather difficult. Wisse, for instance, did not even attempt a profile.

When Kenyon first published the manuscript, however, he attempted to classify it, stating that in Mark it seemed to be Cæsarean; in Luke and John, neither purely Alexandrian nor Western; in Acts, primarily Alexandrian (although it has some of the smaller "Western" variants, it has few if any of the greater).

Kenyon, however, was probably led astray by Streeter's bad definition of the "Cæsarean" text and by all the bad work which followed from this. Two more recent works have re-examined the ground and produce a very different conclusion.

The first and, in the long term, probably more important is E. C. Colwell, "Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75" (1965; now available as pages 106-124 in Colwell's Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament). This showed that P45 is the result of a freely paraphrased copy; the scribe of P45 or one of its immediate ancestors felt free to expand, paraphrase, and shorten the text. (Though Colwell noted that deletions were much more common than additions -- "The dispensable word is dispensed with.")

The noteworthy point here is that this sort of editing is typical of at least two other Gospel text-types, the "Western" and the "Cæsarean." (Though both of these add and harmonize more than they delete.) Observe what this means: To a scholar who simply studied the types of readings in P45 (as opposed to the pattern of readings, which is the true definition of a text-type), P45 would appear to belong to one of the periphrastic text-types. Of the two, the "Cæsarean" is, of course, the more restrained, and also has more Alexandrian readings; P45, as an Egyptian manuscript, probably started with an Alexandrian text.

Thus, Colwell established that P45 needed to be examined more closely before it could be labelled "Cæsarean." Kenyon's "Cæsarean" classification was not rigorous, and was just what one would expect from a non-rigorous examination of a manuscript like P45.

Colwell's implicit call for a more detailed study was supplied by Larry W. Hurtado in Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark. This study suffers from major methodological flaws, but it pretty definitely establishes its main conclusion: That P45 and W do not belong with the so-called "Cæsarean" text. (Hurtado has also been interpreted to mean that the "Cæsarean" text does not exist. This conclusion, however, is premature, given his methodology; see the discussion of the "Cæsarean" text in the article on text-types.)

So where does this leave P45? The truth is, very little controlled analysis has been done of the manuscript. It was discovered too late for Von Soden. Wisse did not profile it. The Alands list it as Category I with a free text, but it seems likely that this assessment is based simply on what they think of the manuscript. The manuscript needs a re-evaluation before we can really state firm conclusions. My own analysis indicates that the manuscript is in fact closer to B than to any other uncial. On the face of it, it would appear that P45 comes from the Alexandrian tradition, but has been so heavily edited that it begins to appear "Westernized."

Bibliography for P45


The basic publication remains Frederic G. Kenyon, Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri (Part II, The Gospels and Acts, in two fascicles). Various authors (Gerstinger, Merk, Zuntz) have published supplements or additional analysis.

Most recent collation of the Text:
Philip Comfort & David Barrett, The Text of the Earliest NT Greek Manuscripts, (Tyndale 2001)

Sample Plates:

Aland & Aland, The Text of the New Testament (1 plate) Sir Frederick Kenyon & A. W. Adams, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts (1 plate)

Other Works:

The two most important works are probably those already cited: E. C. Colwell, "Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits: A Study of P45, P66, P75" (1965; pp. 106-124 in Colwell's Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament). Larry W. Hurtado in Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark.

Codex Sinaiticus / Manuscript (01) / Codex "Aleph"

Other Symbols Used: - Von Soden uses the symbol δ2 for this manuscript. Some others (e.g., Merk & Bover) use "S" for Sinaiticus.

This is the famous MS found by Constantine von Tischendorf. Its the only surviving complete copy of the NT older than the 9th century.

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

The entire New Testament portion, plus part of the Old and the non-Biblical books, are in London, British Museum Add. 43725. A handful of Old Testament leaves are at Leipzig. Originally found at Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, hence the name "Codex Sinaiticus." A few stray leaves of the codex apparently remain at Sinai.


It presumably originally contained the complete Greek Bible plus at least two NT works now regarded as non-canonical: Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. As it stands now, we have the NT complete (all in London; 148 leaves or 196 pages total), plus Barnabas and Hermas (to Mandate iv.3.6).

Of the Old Testament, we have about 250 leaves out of an original total of some 550. Apart from the portions still at Sinai (which are too newly-found to have been included in most scholarly works), the OT portion consists of portions of Gen. 23, 24, Numbers 5-7 (these first portions being cut-up fragments found in the bindings of other books), plus, more or less complete, 1 Ch. 9:27-19:17, 2 Esdras (=Ezra+Nehemiah) 9:9-end, Esther, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees (it appears that 2 and 3 Maccabees never formed part of the text), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lament. 1:1-2:20, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Job.


Dated paleographically to the fourth century. It can hardly be earlier, as the manuscript contains the Eusebian Canons from the first hand. But the simplicity of the writing style makes a later dating effectively impossible.

Tischendorf was of the opinion that four scribes wrote the manuscript; he labelled them A, B, C, and D. It is now agreed that Tischendorf was wrong. The astonishing thing about these scribes is how similar their writing styles were (they almost certainly were trained in the same school), making it difficult to distinguish them. Tischendorf's mistake is based on the format of the book: The poetic books of the Old Testament are written in a different format (in two columns rather than four), so he thought that they were written by scribe C. But in fact the difference is simply one of page layout; scribe C never existed. For consistency, though, the three remaining scribes are still identified by their Tischendorf letters, A, B, and D.

Of the three, scribe D was clearly the best, having almost faultless spelling. A, despite having a hand similar to D's, was a very poor scribe; the only good thing to be said about him was that he was better than B, whose incompetence is a source of almost continual astonishment to those who examine his work.

The New Testament is almost entirely the work of scribe A; B did not contribute at all, and D supplied only a very few leaves, scattered about. It is speculated (though it is no more than speculation) that these few leaves were "cancels" -- places where the original copies were so bad that it was easier to replace than correct them. (One of these cancels, interestingly, is the ending of Mark.)

It has been speculated that Sinaiticus was copied from dictation. This is because a number of its errors seem to be errors of hearing rather than of sight (including an amusing case in 1 Macc. 5:20, where the reader seems to have stumbled over the text and the copyist took it all down mechanically). Of course, the possibility cannot be absolutely ruled out that it was not Sinaiticus's exemplar, but one of its ancestors, which was taken down from dictation. In the case of the New Testament, at least, it seems likely that it was not taken from dictation but actually copied from another manuscript.

Sinaiticus is one of the most-corrected manuscripts of all time. Tischendorf counted 14,800 corrections in what was then the Saint Petersburg portion alone!

The correctors were numerous and varied. Tischendorf groups them into five sets, denoted a, b, c, d, e, but there were actually more than this. Milne and Skeat believe "a" and "b" to have been the original scribes (though others have dated them as late as the sixth century); their corrections were relatively few, but those of "a" in particular are considered to have nearly as much value as the original text.

The busiest correctors are those collectively described as "c," though in fact there were at least three of them, seemingly active in the seventh century. When they are distinguished, it is as "c.a," "c.b," and "c.pamph." Corrector c.a was the busiest of all, making thousands of changes throughout the volume. Many of these -- though by no means all -- were in the direction of the Byzantine text. The other two correctors did rather less; c.pamph seems to have worked on only two books (2 Esdras and Esther) -- but his corrections were against a copy said to have been corrected by Pamphilius working from the Hexapla. This, if true, is very interesting -- but colophons can be faked, or transmitted from copy to copy. And in any case, the corrections apply only to two books, neither in the New Testament. There may have been as many as two others among the "c" correctors; all told, Tischendorf at one time or another refers to correctors c, ca, cb, cc, and cc*.

Correctors d and e were much later (e is dated to the twelfth century), and neither added particularly many changes. Indeed, no work of d's is known in the New Testament.

It is unfortunate that the Nestle-Aland edition has completely befuddled this system of corrections. In Nestle-Aland 26 and beyond, a and b are combined as 1; the correctors c are conflated as 2, and (most confusing of all) e becomes c.

The key page of Codex Sinaiticus above, shows the place-holder technique of space and dot, marking the omission of John 7:53-8:11. Normally, no spaces are left between words, or even sentences, and sometimes a word will be split in half and continued on the next line without any notice.

This practice of using dots to signify variants (along with other markings) was carried on by Alexandrian scribes for at least two centuries (150-350 A.D.). At this early time, the complex accenting system of the Middle Ages was virtually non-existant, and single dots were not used as often for other purposes, like accenting, breathing notes or punctuation.

(See notes on the papyrus P66 for earlier examples of this technique.)

A single dot appears in other places on the page as well, however in some cases, like the one in the middle of line 11 column 2, they were added later by the corrector or another hand. The important observation for the dot of interest (line 11, column 1) is that it is definitely by the original hand. The necessary space was provided for the dot by the scribe writing the letters. This special dot then, was combined into the text, and was probably in the master-copy the scribe was working from.

Tischendorf was well aware of this feature of Sinaiticus, and he included the mark in his facsimile edition, for which he had prepared a special type-face to handle the many peculiarities of the manuscript:

Bibliography and Resources for Codex Sinaiticus

Online Photos of Sinaiticus: - from CSNTM.ORG
Codex B and its Allies: Part I Hoskier (1914), free download from CCEL
Codex B and its Allies: Part II Hoskier (1914)
Codex Sinaiticus: Scrivener's Collation (1852) (.pdf) from Mr. Palmer (size: 9 meg., 150pgs)
THE ESSENTIAL SCRIVENER - 5 key chapters from Plain Introduction, including a description of the UNCIALS

B Codex Vaticanus: Vatican MS Gk 1209 / Uncial MS 03 / "Codex B"

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

Vatican Library, Greek 1209. The manuscript has been there for its entire known history; hence the title "Codex Vaticanus."


B originally contained the entire Old and New Testaments, except that it never included the books of Maccabees or the Prayer of Manasseh. The manuscript now has slight defects; in the Old Testament, it omits most of Genesis (to 46:28) and portions of Psalms (lacking Psalms 105-137). In the New Testament, it is defective from Hebrews 9:14 onward (ending KATA), omitting the end of Hebrews, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and the Apocalypse. It is possible that additional books might have been included at the end -- although it is also possible that the Apocalypse was not included. Indeed, it is barely possible (though this is rarely mentioned) that B originally omitted the Pastorals; this would accord with the contents of its relative P46.


Codex B is universally believed to be a 4th century MS, probably to the early part. It is in many ways very primitive, having very short book titles and lacking the Eusebian apparatus. It has its own unique system of chapter identifications; that in the gospels is found elsewhere only in Codex Xi (, XIII cent.). It uses a continuous system of numbers in Paul, showing that (in one or another of its ancestors), Hebrews stood between Galatians and Ephesians, even though Hebrews stands after Thessalonians in B itself. There is a second system in Paul as well; this doubling of chapter enumerations, in fact, is found also in Acts and the Catholic Epistles, save that 2 Peter is not numbered (perhaps because it was not considered canonical by the unknown person who created this chapter system).

A single scribe seems to have been responsible for the New Testament, though two scribes worked on the Old. There were two primary correctors, though the dates of both are rather uncertain. The first is tentatively dated to the sixth century; the second comes from the tenth or eleventh. The second of these is much the more important, though more for damage done than for the actual readings supplied. This scribe, finding the manuscript somewhat faded, proceeded to re-ink the entire text (except for a few passages which he considered inauthentic). This scribe also added accents and breathings. This re-inking had several side effects, all of them (from our standpoint) bad. First, it defaced the appearance of the letters, making it much harder to do paleographic work. Second, it rendered some of the readings of the original text impossible to reconstruct. And third (though related to the preceding), it makes it very difficult to tell if there are any original accents, breathings, punctuation, etc. Such marks will generally disappear under the re-inking. Only when such a mark has not been re-inked can we be sure it came from the original hand.

It is not absolutely certain when B was damaged, but it certainly happened in the manuscript era, because a supplement with the missing material was later added to the volume. This supplement is late, in a minuscule hand (manuscript 1957, dated paleographically to the fifteenth century; it is believed that the Apocalypse was copied from a manuscript belonging to Cardinal Bessarion. It has been conjectured that Bessarion supplied the manuscript to the Vatican library, but this is pure conjecture; all that is known is that the manuscript has been in the library since the compiling of the first catalog in 1475.)

In order to properly assess the value of Codex Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (א), we need to know about what they are, and who made them. Just after the last Great Persecution of Christians by Diocletus (311 A.D.), Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and legalized it (313 A.D.). Edward Miller has offered a good background description of what happened next:

"Constantine...gave the celebrated order to Eusebius, probably between 330-340 A.D., to send him 50 magnificent copies of the Holy Scriptures. They were to be written on the best vellum (calfskin) by skillful penmen,and in a form well fitted for [church] use. Orders were also issued to the provincial Governor to supply the working materials, and the work was to proceed with all possible speed. Two carriages were given to Eusebius for transport to Constantinople, and they were sent under charge of a deacon. 1

There are several reasons for supposing that B and (א) were among the 50 MSS. They are dated by experts to about the period of Constantine's letter. Tischendof and Scrivener believe the scribe of B wrote six consecutive pages in (א) . Both manuscripts are unrivalled for quality of vellum and calligraphy, as we would expect from MSS made to Imperial Order out of Imperial resources. They are also 'sister MSS' according to their significant agreement in variants. They abound in omissions and show carelessness typical of a 'rush job'. Even the corrector (the 'Diothotess') shows similar carelessness.

It is expressly stated in (א) that it was collated with an ancient MSS corrected by Pamphilus after Origen's Hexapla. And Caesaria was where the MSS of Origen and Pamphilus would be found.

There is then good cause for the opinion that these two MSS were executed by order of Constantine, and they show throughout the influence of Eusebius and Origen, whose work was housed at the library of Pamphilus in Caesarea, where they were most likely made."

(E. Miller, A Guide to the Textual Criticism of the NT, p 81-83)

1. Eusebius sent them "trissa kai tetrassa". (Vit. Const., IV.37). There are several interpretations possible here: (1)"in triple or quadruple sheets" - but in that case it would have been probably "triploa kai tetraploa". (2) "written in 3 or 4 vertical columns"(so Canon Cook), which would exactly describe B and (א), only a preposition is missing to turn the adjectival into adverbial expression. (3) combined with "penthkonta swmatia en dijqeraiV egkataskeuoiV (c. 36), "..we sent abroad the collections [of writings] in richly adorned cases, three or four in a case" (So Archdeacon Palmer, quoted by Scrivener). After examining the letters, I am convinced that Palmer is right. (see Cook, Revised Version p.162-163, & Scrivener p.513 footnote).

Codex Vaticanus and the Umlauts

While many bible footnotes and brief discussions in handbooks mention the omission of the Pericope de Adultera by Codex Aleph and Codex B, few mention that these two 4th century manuscripts show clear signs that the scribes who made them knew all about the existance of the passage. This is important, for it changes entirely the meaning, value and authority of the omission.

In Codex Vaticanus (B) for instance, a series of special critical marks, called 'umlauts' (horizontal pairs of dots) in the margin indicate textual variations, and in particular, make a note of the omission of John 7:53-8:11:

Bibliography and Resources for Codex Vaticanus (B)

Photos of Vaticanus: John (other Gospels coming soon)
Codex Vaticanus B/03 - W. Willker's Research Page
Vaticanus: the Umlauts - W. Willker's page on the Text-critical markings in Codex B
Codex B and its Allies: Part I Hoskier (1914), free download from CCEL
Codex B and its Allies: Part II Hoskier (1914)
THE ESSENTIAL SCRIVENER - 5 key chapters from Plain Introduction, including a description of the UNCIALS

Photo below is the 10th page of John's Gospel (John 6:22b - 6:50a) - the page just prior to the missing four pages that would have contained the Pericope de Adultera. The words (i.e., the surviving pages) continue from John 8:52b and forward (see further below).

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location: British Museum


A originally contained the entire Old and New Testaments, plus I and II Clement and (if the table of contents is to be believed) the Psalms of Solomon. As the manuscript stands, small portions of the Old Testament have been lost, as have Matthew 1:1-25:6, John 6:50-8:52 (though the size and number of missing leaves implies that John 7:53-8:11 were not part of the manuscript), 2 Cor. 4:13-14:6. The final leaves of the manuscript have been lost, meaning that 2 Clement ends at 12:4. Like the New Testament, the Old contains some non-canonical or marginally canonical material: 3 and 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, Odes.


There is some slight disagreement about the date of A. A colophon attributes it to Thecla, working in the time of Saint Paul (!), but this is clearly a later forgery. Although most experts believe the manuscript is of the 5th century, a few have held out for the late 4th. The number of scribes has also been disputed; Kenyon thought there were five, but Milne and Skeat (who had better tools for comparison) suggest that there are only two, possibly three. (The uncertainty lies in the fact that part of the NT, beginning with Luke and ending with 1 Cor. 10:8, present a rather different appearance from the rest of the NT -- but when compared in detail, the hand appears extremely similar to the scribe who did the rest of the NT.) Occasional letterforms are said to resemble Coptic letters, perhaps hinting at Egyptian origin, but this is not universally conceded.

A contains a significant number of corrections, both from the original scribe and by later hands, but it has not undergone the sort of major overhaul we see in or D or even B (which was retraced by a later hand). Nor do the corrections appear to belong to a particular type of text.


Codex A is somewhat confounding to both the friends and enemies of the Byzantine text, as it gives some evidence to the arguments of both sides.

A is Byzantine in the gospels; there can be no question of this. It is, in fact, the oldest Byzantine manuscript in Greek. (The Peshitta Syriac is older, and is Byzantine, but it obviously is not Greek.) But it is not a "normal" Byzantine witness -- that is, it is not directly related to the Kx type which eventually became dominant. The text of A in the Gospels is, in fact, related to Family P (Von Soden's Ik ). Yet even those who documented this connection (Silva Lake and others) note that A is not a particularly pure member of Family Π. Nor, in their opinions, was it an ancestor of Family Π; rather, it was a slightly mixed descendent. The mixture seems to have been Alexandrian -- the obvious example being the omission of John 7:53-8:11, but A also omits, e.g., Luke 22:43-44 and (in the first hand) John 5:3. Westcott and Hort felt the combination of B and A to be strong and significant.

We are nonetheless left with the question of the relationship between A and the rest of the Byzantine text. The best explanation appears to me to be that A is derived from a Byzantine text very poorly and sporadically corrected against an Alexandrian document (most likely not systematically corrected, but with occasional Byzantine readings eliminated as they were noticed in an environment where the Alexandrian text dominated). But other explanations are certainly possible.

The situation in the rest of the New Testament is simpler: A is Alexandrian throughout. It is not quite as pure as or B or the majority of the papyri; it has a few Byzantine readings. But the basic text is as clearly Alexandrian as the gospels are Byzantine. The Alands, for instance, list A as Category I in the entire NT except for the Gospels (where they list it as Category III for historical reasons). Von Soden calls it H (but Ika in the Gospels).

In Acts, there seems to be no reason to think A is to be associated particularly with or B. It seems to be somewhat closer to P 74.

In Paul, the situation changes. A clearly belongs with (and C, 33 etc.) against P 46 and B. This was first observed by Zuntz, and has been confirmed by others since then.

The case in the Catholic Epistles is complicated. The vast majority of the so-called Alexandrian witnesses seem to be weaker texts of a type associated with A and 33. (Manuscripts such as Ψ, 81, and 436 seem to follow these two, with Byzantine mixture.) The complication is that neither B nor seems to be part of this type. The simplest explanation is that the Alexandrian text breaks down into subtypes, but this has not been proved.

In the Apocalypse, A and once again part company. According to Schmid, forms a small group with P 47, while A is the earliest and generally best of a much larger group of witnesses including C, the vulgate, and most of the non-Byzantine minuscules. In this book, the A/C text is considered much the best witness. Based on its number of supporters relative to the P47/ text, one must suspect the A/C text of being the mainstream Alexandrian text, but this cannot really be considered proved -- there simply aren't enough early patristic writings to classify the witnesses with certainty.


A Battle over the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11)

It seems obvious that the missing pages (John 6:50-8:52) that would have contained the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11) are not a mere coincidence but rather the aftermath of an ongoing battle over these verses.

The apparent act of vandalism however appears to be later (post 5th century) and not contemporary with the original omissions and subsequent disputes over the verses. The original omission seems to have taken place in the 2nd century at the latest. (See P 66 and P 75 above.)

On the one hand, the early corrector who may have attempted to preserve the last few words from a remnant of the torn out pages by copying it into the top of the following surviving page, appears to be a near-contemporary with the original scribe. This then seems to have been a relatively early casualty in this war over the text. On the other hand, various textual critics have attempted to reconstruct the missing pages and come to the conclusion that the manuscript originally omitted the verses, regardless of whether or not their existance was acknowledged by a mark or a marginal note in the now missing margin.

The Possible Gap or Redundant Material in Codex A

It seems true that Codex A (Alexandrinus) likely omitted the verses, yet it could be equally true that Alexandrinus had at least some strange extra space or gap in this place:

"I proceed to offer a few words containing Codex A.

Woide, the learned and accurate editor of the Codex Alexandrinus, remarked (in 1785) "Historia adulterae videtur in hoc codice defuisse." But this modest inference of his has been represented as an ascertained fact by subsequent critics. Tischendorf announces it as "certissimum."

Let me be allowed to investigate the problem for myself. Woide's calculation (which has passed unchallenged for nearly a hundred years, and on the strength of which it is nowadays assumed that Codex A must have exactly resembled Codices and B in omitting the Pericope de Adultera) was far too roughly made to be of any critical use.

Two leaves of Codex A have been here lost, namely, from the word katabainon in 6:50 to the word legeiV in 8:52: a lacuna (as I find by counting the letters in a copy of the ordinary text) of as nearly as possible 8,805 letters, allowing for contractions and of course not reckoning St. John 7:53-8:11.

Now in order to estimate fairly how many letters the two lost leaves actually contained, I have inquired for the sums of the letters on the leaves immediately preceding and succeeding the hiatus; and I find them to be respectively, 4,337 and 4,303: a total of 8,640 letters. But this, it will be seen is insufficient by 165 letters, or eight lines, for the assumed contents of these two missing leaves.

Are we then to suppose that one leaf exhibited somewhere a blank space equivalent to eight lines? Impossible, I answer. There existed, on the contrary, a considerable redundancy of matter in at least the second of those two lost leaves. This is proved by the circumstance that the first column on the next ensuing leaf exhibits the unique phenomenon of being encumbered, at its summit, by two very long lines (containing together fifty-eight letters), for which evidently no room could be found on the page which immediately preceded!

But why should there have been any redundancy of matter at all? Something extraordinary must have produced it. What if the Pericope de Adultera, without being actually inserted in full, was recognized by Codex A? What if the scribe had proceeded as far as the fourth word of St. John 8:3 and then had suddenly checked himself? We cannot tell what appearance St. John 7:53-8:11 presented in Codex A, simply because the entire leaf which should have contained it is lost. Enough however has been said already to prove that it is incorrect and unfair to throw , A, B into one and the same category, with a 'certissimum' as Tischendorf does.

As for L and Delta, they exhibit a vacant space after St. John 7:52, which testified to the consciousness of the copyists that they were leaving out something. These are therefore witnesses for - not witnesses against - passage under discussion. X being a commentary on the Gospel as it was read in church, of course leaves the passage out. The only uncial MSS therefore which simply leave out the Pericope are the three following: , B, T. The degree of attention to which such an amount of evidence is entitled has already been proved to be wondrous small."

(Burgon, The Pericope de Adultera, Ed. Fuller, pg 142-144)

W. Willker (2005) has dismissed Burgon's careful calculations with the following counter-argument:

"A has a lacuna 6:50-8:52a (Tregelles noted the omission). It is certain that A did not contain the PA. I have made a reconstruction of this from Robinson's Byz text with nomina sacra [the common contractions]. It fits the space exactly (+ 1,5 lines) taking into account the following phenomenon: Some people noted 1 that at the beginning of the first existing folio two extra lines in slightly smaller letters have been added and speculated about its implications for the contents of the lost folios. But there is a simple explanation: A* omitted Jo 8:52 due to homoioteleuton: eiV ton aiwna - eiV ton aiwna. A scribe added the missing verse in part at the bottom of the last missing page and in part on top of the first existing page."

(W.Willker, Textual Commentary, Vol 4b The Pericope de Adultera, 3rd ed. 2005)

1. [ - credit or reference to Burgon is carefully avoided...]

Willker has made a counter-claim to Burgon, but does not provide evidence in the form of calculations or reconstructed pages. Yet it would seem that to settle the issue, accurate reproductions of the pages should be produced.

The important thing with relatively late 4th or 5th century manuscripts is not whether they contained or omitted the verses. This is secondary. What matters is if they show evidence of any knowledge of their existance, whether they include it or not.

The missing pages in Alexandrinus are important, not because they cloud the issue of whether or not the verses were included, but because important evidence regarding knowledge of the verses, such as a space, a dot, or a critical mark or note, has probably been lost forever.

A Possible Explanation for Extra Material

Below is the page following the missing pages, showing the strange addition of two lines, apparently from the previous page (or copied from a fragment of it). Although the hand appears contemporary with the original scribe (possibly the same scribe), this seems to have been added after the manuscript was damaged by a third party.

It may have been an attempt to preserve whatever was left after an early act of vandalism of some kind, such as a violent tearing out of the pages.

Codex Alexandrinus: Bibliography:

Originally published as facsimile edition by British Museum Trustees, 1979.

A photographic edition (at reduced size) was published by Kenyon in 1909.

Codex Alexandrinus: John - online photos for easy browsing.

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

Paris, National Library Greek 9.


C originally contained the entire Old and New Testaments, but was erased in the 12th century and overwritten with Syriac works of Ephraem. The first to more or less completely read the manuscript was Tischendorf, but it is likely that it will never be fully deciphered (for example, the first lines of every book were written in red or some other colour of ink, and have completely vanished). In addition, very many leaves were lost when the book was rewritten; while it is barely possible that some may yet be rediscovered, there is no serious hope of recovering the whole book.

As it now stands, C lacks the following NT verses in their entirety:


Matt. 1:1-2, 5:15-7:5, 17:26-18:28, 22:21-23:17, 24:10-45, 25:30-26:22, 27:11-46, 28:15-end
Mark 1:1-17, 6:32-8:5, 12:30-13:19
Luke 1:1-2, 2:5-42, 3:21-4:5, 6:4-36, 7:17-8:28, 12:4-19:42, 20:28-21:20, 22:19-23:25, 24:7-45

John 1:1-3, 1:41-3:33, 5:17-6:38,
7:3-8:34 (does not have space for 7:53-8:11?),
9:11-11:7, 11:47-13:8, 14:8-16:21, 18:36-20:25

Acts 1:1-2, 4:3-5:34, 6:8, 10:43-13:1, 16:37-20:10, 21:31-22:20, 23:18-24:15, 26:19-27:16, 28:5-end
Romans 1:1-2, 2:5-3:21, 9:6-10:15, 11:31-13:10
1 Corinthians 1:1-2, 7:18-9:16, 13:8-15:40
2 Corinthians 1:1-2, 10:8-end
Galatians 1:1-20
Ephesians 1:1-2:18, 4:17-end
Philippians 1:1-22, 3:5-end
Colossians 1:1-2
1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:9-end
2 Thessalonians (entire book)
1 Timothy 1:1-3:9, 5:20-end
2 Timothy 1:1-2
Titus 1:1-2
Philemon 1-2
Hebrews 1:1-2:4, 7:26-9:15, 10:24-12:15
James 1:1-2, 4:2-end
1 Peter 1:1-2, 4:5-end
2 Peter 1:1
1 John 1:1-2, 4:3-end
2 John (entire book)
3 John 1-2
Jude 1-2
Revelation 1:1-2, 3:20-5:14, 7:14-17, 8:5-9:16, 10:10-11:3, 16:13-18:2, 19:5-end
(and, of course, C may be illegible even on the pages which survive). We might note that we are fortunate to have even this much of the NT; we have significantly more than half of the NT, but much less than half of the OT.


The original writing of C is dated paleographically to the 5th century (C.E.), and is quite fine and clear (fortunately, given what has happened to the manuscript since). Before being erased, it was worked over by two significant correctors, C2 (Cb) and C3 (Cc). (The corrector C1 was the original corrector, but made very few changes. C1 is not once cited in NA27.) Corrector C2 is thought to have worked in the 6th century or thereabouts; C3 performed his task around the 9th century. (For more information about the correctors of C , see the article on Correctors.)

It was probably in the 12th century that the manuscript was erased and overwritten; the upper writing is a Greek translation of 38 Syriac sermons by Ephraem.

Description and Text-type

It is usually stated that C is a mixed manuscript, or an Alexandrian manuscript with much Byzantine mixture. The Alands, for instance, list it as Category II; given their classification scheme, that amounts to a statement that it is Alexandrian with Byzantine influence. Von Soden lists it among the H (Alexandrian) witnesses, but not as a leading witness of the type.

The actual situation is much more complex than that, as even the Alands' own figures reveal (they show a manuscript with a far higher percentage of Byzantine readings in the gospels than elsewhere). The above description is broadly accurate in the Gospels; it is not true at all elsewhere.

In the Gospels, the Alands' figures show a manuscript which is slightly more Byzantine than not, while Wisse lists C as mixed in his three chapters of Luke. But these are overall assessments; a detailed examination shows C to waver significantly in its adherence to the Alexandrian and Byzantine texts. While at no point entirely pure, it will in some sections be primarily Alexandrian, in others mostly Byzantine.

Gerben Kollenstaart brings to my attention the work of Mark R. Dunn in An Examination of the Textual Character of Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus (C, 04) in the Four Gospels (unpublished Dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 1990). Neither of us has seen this document, but we find the summary, "C is a weak Byzantine witness in Matthew, a weak Alexandrian in Mark, and a strong Alexandrian in John. In Luke C's textual relationships are unclear" (Summarized in Brooks, The New Testament Text of Gregory of Nyssa, p. 60, footnote 1). I dislike the terminology used, as it looks much too formulaic and appears to assume that C's textual affinities change precisely at the boundaries between books. (Given C's fragmentary state, this is even more unprovable than usual.) But the general conclusion seems fair enough: Matthew is the most Byzantine, John the least. In all cases, however, one suspects Byzantine and Alexandrian mixture -- probably of Byzantine readings atop an Alexandrian base. This would explain the larger number of Byzantine readings in Matthew: As is often the case, the corrector was most diligent at the beginning.

Outside the Gospels, C seems to show the same sort of shift shown by its near-contemporary, A -- though, because C possessed Alexandrian elements in the gospels, the shift is less noticeable. But it is not unfair to say that C is mixed in the Gospels and almost purely non-Byzantine elsewhere.

In short works such as Acts and the Catholic Epistles, the limited amount of text available makes precise determinations difficult. In the Acts, we can at least state definitively that C is less Byzantine than it is in the Gospels, but any conclusion beyond that is somewhat tentative. The usual statement is that C is Alexandrian, and I know of no counter-evidence. Nonetheless, given the situation in the Catholic Epistles, I believe this statement must be taken with caution.

The situation in the Catholic Epistles is purely and simply confused. The published evaluations do not agree. W. L. Richards, in his dissertation on the Johannine Epistles using the Claremont Profile Method, does a fine job of muddling the issue. He lists C as a member of the A2 text, which appears to be the mainstream Alexandrian text (it also contains , A, and B). But something funny happens when one examines C's affinities. C has a 74% agreement with A, and a 77% agreement with B, but also a 73% agreement with 1739, and a 72% agreement with 1243. This is hardly a large enough difference to classify C with the Alexandrians as against the members of Family 1739. And, indeed, Amphoux and Outtier link C with Family 1739, considering their common material possible "Cæsarean."

My personal results seem to split the difference. If one assumes C is Alexandrian, it can be made to look Alexandrian. But if one starts with no such assumptions, then it appears that C does incline toward Family 1739. It is not a pure member of the family, in the sense that (say) 323 is; 323, after all, may be suspected of being descended (with mixture) from 1739 itself. But C must be suspected of belonging to the type from which the later Family 1739 descended. (Presumably the surviving witnesses of Family 1739 are descended from a common ancestor more recent than C , i.e. Family 1739 is a sub-text-type of the broader C/1241/1739 type.) It is possible (perhaps even likely) that C has some Alexandrian mixture, but proving this (given the very limited amount of text available) will require a very detailed examination of C .

In Paul, the situation is simpler: C is a very good witness, of the Alexandrian type as found in A 33 81 1175 etc. (This as opposed to the type(s) found in P46 or B or 1739). So far as I know, this has never been disputed.

In the Apocalypse, C is linked with A in what is usually called the Alexandrian text. No matter what it is called, this type (which also includes the Vulgate and most of the better minuscules) is considered the best type. Note that this is not the sort of text found in P47 and (Aleph?).

Codex C and the Pericope de Adultera

As noted above, the actual pages which would have contained the Pericope de Adultera are physically missing. Again, this is an odd coincidence, although in this case more explicable since many other pages are also missing. Guesstimates as to how many pages are actually missing, and from this a 'prediction' that the manuscript did or did not contain the passage are notoriously precarious.

It is very difficult to assess the true meaning and significance of the lack of John 7:53-8:11 in this manuscript. As noted above, so many leaves (pages) of the original manuscript were lost in the process of its erasure and re-use to copy another book, that we are not convinced that its apparent lack of John 8:1-11 has even been established with the required certainty. Reconstructions or conjectures regarding Codex C seem at best difficult both to verify and interpret.

As a document testifying to the state of the text or the status of the Pericope de Adultera, it appears rather nebulous and unreliable. It has largely lost its significance except as a curiosity, now that far earlier papyri have been discovered, which are of more interest and importance. As a 5th century document, it will always remain a relatively late witness and seems to have been made just a bit too late to be of serious critical importance concerning the important battles over John 8:1-11 in previous centuries.

Codex C: Bibliography

Tischendorf, working by eye alone, naturally did a less than perfect job. Robert W. Lyon, in 1958-1959, published a series of corrections in New Testament Studies (v). But this, too, is reported to be imperfect. The best current source is the information published in the Das Neue Testament auf Papyrus series. But there is no single source which fully describes C.

Sample Plates:

Sir Frederick Kenyon & A. W. Adams, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts

Codex Bezae showing the Pericope de Adultera:

Pages below show John 7:53-8:11 in the main text written in the original hand, and with no sign of doubt or censure, in both the Greek and Latin sides (face to face) of the book.

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Location/Catalog Number

Cambridge, University Library Nn. 2. 41. The well-known Codex Bezae, so-called because it was once the possession of Theodore Beza.


Greek/Latin diglot, with the Greek on the left page. The Greek currently contains the Gospels and Acts with lacunae; the manuscript lacks Matt. 1:1-20, 6:20-9:20, 27:2-12, John 1:16-3:26, Acts 8:29-10:14, 21:2-10, 16-18, 22:10-20, 29-end. In addition, Matt. 3:7-16, Mark 16:15-end, John 18:14-20:13 are supplements from a later hand. The Gospels are in the "Western" order Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, though Chapman offered evidence that an ancestor had the books in the order Matthew, Mark, John, Luke.

Since the Greek and Latin are on facing pages, the contents of the Latin side is not precisely parallel; d (the symbol for the Latin of D; Beuron #5) lacks Matt. 1:1-11, 2:20-3:7, 6:8-8:27, 26:65-27:2, Mark 16:6-20, John 1:1-3:16, 18:2-20:1, Acts 8:21-10:3, 20:32-21:1, 21:8-9, 22:3-9, 22:21-end. In addition, the Latin includes 3 John 11-15.

The original contents of D are somewhat controversial. Obviously it must have contained the Gospels, Acts, and 3 John. This would seem to imply that the manuscript originally contained the Gospels, Catholic Epistles, and Acts (in that order). This, however, does not fit well with the pagination of the manuscript; Chapman theorized that the manuscript actually originally contained the Gospels, Apocalypse, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Acts (in that order).


The manuscript has been variously dated, generally from the fourth to the sixth centuries. In the middle of the twentieth century, the tendency seemed to be to date it to the sixth century; currently the consensus seems to be swinging back toward the fifth. It is very difficult to achieve certainty, however, as the handwriting is quite unique. The Greek and Latin are written in parallel sense lines, and the scribe uses a very similar hand for both languages -- so much so that a casual glance cannot tell the one language from the other; one must look at the actual letters and what they spell.

The unusual writing style is only one of the curiosities surrounding the scribe of D. It is not clear whether his native language was Greek or Latin; both sides of the manuscript contain many improbable errors. (Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the scribe's native language was something other than Greek or Latin.)

D's text, as will be discussed below, was far removed from the Byzantine standard (or, perhaps, from any other standard). As a result, it was corrected many times by many different scribes. Scrivener believed that no fewer than nine correctors worked on the manuscript, the first being nearly contemporary with the original scribe and the last working in the eleventh or twelfth century. In general, these correctors brought the manuscript closer to the Byzantine text (as well as adding occasional marginal comments and even what appear to be magical formulae at the bottom of the pages of Mark). For more recent views on these correctors, see D. C. Parker's work on Codex Bezae; Parker redates some of the correctors (moving them back some centuries), and believes that one had an Alexandrian text.

Description and Text-type

The text of D can only be described as mysterious. We don't have answers about it; we have questions. There is nothing like it in the rest of the New Testament tradition. It is, by far the earliest Greek manuscript to contain John 7:53-8:11 (though it has a form of the text quite different from that found in most Byzantine witnesses). It is the only Greek manuscript to contain (or rather, to omit) the so-called Western Non-Interpolations. In Luke 3, rather than the Lucan genealogy of Jesus, it has an inverted form of Matthew's genealogy (this is unique among Greek manuscripts). In Luke 6:5 it has a unique reading about a man working on the Sabbath. D and F are the only Greek manuscripts to insert a loose paraphrase of Luke 14:8-10 after Matt. 20:28. And the list could easily be multiplied; while these are among the most noteworthy of the manuscript's readings, it has a rich supply of other singular variants.

In the Acts, if anything, the manuscript is even more extreme than in the Gospels. F. G. Kenyon, in The Western Text of the Gospels and Acts, describes a comparison of the text of Westcott & Hort with that of A. C. Clark. The former is essentially the text of B, the latter approximates the text of D so far as it is extant. Kenyon lists the WH text of Acts at 18,401 words, that of Clark at 19,983 words; this makes Clark's text 8.6 percent longer -- and implies that, if D were complete, the Bezan text of Acts might well be 10% longer than the Alexandrian, and 7% to 8% longer than the Byzantine text.

This leaves us with two initial questions: What is this text, and how much authority does it have?

Nineteenth century scholars inclined to give the text great weight. Yes, D was unique, but in that era, with the number of known manuscripts relatively small, that objection must have seemed less important. D was made the core witness -- indeed, the key and only Greek witness -- of what was called the "Western" text.

More recently, Von Soden listed D as the first and chief witness of his Ia text; the other witnesses he includes in the type are generally those identified by Streeter as "Cæsarean" (Q 28 565 700 etc.) The Alands list it as Category IV -- a fascinating classification, as D is the only substantial witness of the type. Wisse listed it as a divergent manuscript of Group B -- but this says more about the Claremont Profile Method than about D; the CPM is designed to split Byzantine strands, and given a sufficiently non-Byzantine manuscript, it is helpless. (Biologists have a term for this phenomenon: It's known as "long branch assimiliation." If you have a large mass of closely related entities, and two entities not related to the large mass, the two distant entities may look related just because they are way out in the middle of nowhere.)

The problem is, Bezae remains unique among Greek witnesses. Yes, there is a clear "Western" family in Paul (D F G 629 and the Latin versions.) But this cannot be identified with certainty with the Bezan text; there is no "missing link" to prove the identity. Not one manuscript contains a "Western" text of both the Gospels and Paul! There are Greek witnesses which have some kinship with Bezae -- in the early chapters of John; the fragmentary papyri P29 and P38 and P48 in Acts. But none of these witnesses are complete, and none are as extreme as Bezae.

D's closest kinship is with the Latin versions, but none of them are as extreme as it is. D is, for instance, the only manuscript to substitute Matthew's genealogy of Jesus for Luke's. On the face of it, this is not a "Western" reading; it is simply a Bezan reading.

Then there is the problem of D and d. The one witness to consistently agree with Dgreek is its Latin side, d. Like D, it uses Matthew's genealogy in Luke. It has all the "Western Non-Interpolations." And, perhaps most notably, it has a number of readings which appear to be assimilations to the Greek.

Yet so, too, does D seem to have assimilations to the Latin.

We are almost forced to the conclusion that D and d have, to some extent, been conformed to each other. The great question is, to what extent, and what did the respective Greek and Latin texts look like before this work was done?

On this point there can be no clear conclusion. Hort thought that D arose more or less naturally; while he considered its text bad, he was willing to allow it special value at some points where its text is shorter than the Alexandrian. (This is the whole point of the "Western Non-Interpolations.") More recently, however, Aland has argued that D is the result of deliberate editorial work. This is unquestionably true in at least one place: The genealogy of Jesus. Is it true elsewhere? This is the great question, and one for which there is still no answer.

As noted, Bezae's closest relatives are Latin witnesses. And these exist in abundance. If we assume that these correspond to an actual Greek text-type, then Bezae is clearly a witness to this type. And we do have evidence of a Greek type corresponding to the Latins, in Paul. The witnesses D F G indicate the existence of a "Western" type. So Bezae does seem to be a witness of an actual type, both in the Gospels (where its text is relatively conservative) and in the Acts (where it is far more extravagant). (This is in opposition to the Alands, who have tended to deny the existence of the "Western" text.)

So the final question is, is Bezae a proper witness to this text which underlies the Latin versions? Here it seems to me the correct answer is probably no. To this extent, the Alands are right. Bezae has too many singular readings, too many variants which are not found in a plurality of the Latin witnesses. It probably has been edited (at least in Luke and Acts; this is where the most extreme readings occur). If this is true (and it must be admitted that the question is still open), then it has important logical consequences: It means that the Greek text of Bezae (with all its assimilations to the Latin) is not reliable as a source of readings. If D has a reading not supported by another Greek witness, the possibility cannot be excluded that it is an assimilation to the Latin, or the result of editorial work.

Codex D and the Pericope de Adultera

Codex D is obviously a unique and fascinating early textual witness. We cannot hope to untangle its mystery here. However, we can sum up a few salient points:

(1) Although D is a late 4th or early 5th century manuscript, it certainly represents a much older text. This is evident from its many early and primitive readings throughout. Whether some textual variations were 'blended' in or found in the master-copy from which it was made, these readings came from even older manuscripts. It cannot be dismissed as simply a 5th century 'creation' out of free literary or editing activity. Almost all of its significant readings, even the unique ones, demand serious attention from scholars, and many can be independantly confirmed as ancient.

(2) Regardless of its character, and even the character of the passage (John 7:53-8:11) under consideration, Codex D remains a powerful witness to the popularity of the Pericope de Adultera among both Latin and Greek readers prior to the 5th century. One critic has tried to dismiss this singular survivor as a mere 'blip' on the radar. But it appears to be the tip of a long lost iceberg.

(3) Although dated slightly after Jerome's time (circa 380 A.D.), it is clearly not a copy of Jerome's Vulgate. This is significant, because it confirms Jerome's statement that there were many copies "both Greek and Latin containing the Pericope de Adultera in his own time". Jerome obviously believed it was an ancient reading even then, for he explicitly states he bypassed the 'editions' of his contemporaries and sought out the most ancient manuscripts he could find to produce his Latin Translation. And here Jerome leaves no doubt as to his assessment of the passage, since he includes it in his Latin Vulgate, and it has stood there ever since.

This having been said, it must be admitted that the version of the story in Codex D has suffered a few minor omissions and the dislocation of a verse, in comparison to the common version of the story found in the traditional Byzantine text.

But the value of Codex D is not so much in the word for word accuracy of its text (it may have been conformed to the Latin in places by its own scribe/editor). Rather it is in the undeniable testimony of the existance of the Pericope de Adultera in its standard place in John earlier than the 5th century.

And this is no real surprise after all. We have at least five early fathers testifying of its existance and authenticity at the turn of the 4th century: Ambrose, Didymus, Jerome, Augustine, etc., and many later fathers.

At least one critic has tried to get some mileage out of the fact that Codex D is the only 4th/5th century MS containing the verses. If Codex D didn't exist, it is noted, the earliest surviving manuscript with the passage would be from the 7th or 8th century.

But this is a really a mistatement of the significance of the evidence. If pigs could fly, then yes, the Pericope de Adultera could be said to have flown into the stream of transmission in the 8th or 9th century. But pigs don't fly, and the testimony of codex D alongside that of a dozen early fathers, some of whom were brilliant scholars and multilingual masters, makes it clear that our passage existed where it is today from times of the earliest surviving manuscripts.

What has been sidestepped in various attempts to dismiss the evidence of both Codex D and the early Christian writers, is this: Virtually ALL the early manuscripts from the 4th to 9th centuries are completely missing. All we have is less than a few dozen manuscripts and fragments.

And those few surviving fragments cannot in any reasonable manner be expected to offer an accurate sample of the main streams of transmission for nearly five centuries. The sample is too small by several orders of magnitude. The surviving manuscripts simply cannot adequately represent the thousands that must have existed but are now lost.

Codex D: Bibliography

The standard reference is probably still F. H. A. Scrivener, Bezae Codex Canatabrigiensis, simply because of Scrivener's detailed and careful analysis. J. Rendel Harris published a photographic reproduction in 1899. See also J. H. Ropes, The Text of Acts and A. C. Clark, The Acts of the Apostles, both of which devote considerable attention to the text of Bezae in Acts.

Other Works:
The most useful work is probably James D. Yoder's Concordance to the Distinctive Greek Text of Codex Bezae. There are dozens of specialized studies of one or another aspect of the codex, though few firm conclusions can be reached (perhaps the most significant is the conclusion of Holmes and others that Bezae has been more thoroughly reworked in Luke than in Matthew or Mark). See also the recent work by D. C. Parker, Codex Bezae.

Location/Catalog Number

Codex Borgianis. Catalog Number: Rome, Vatican Library Borg. Copt. 109, Borg Copt. 109; New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M. 664A; Paris, National Library Copt. 129.7, 129.8, 129.9, 129.10. The various fragments, when discovered, were designated T (029), 0113, 0125, 0139. von Soden: e5 (=T), e50 (=0113), e99 (=0125), e1002 (=0139).


Contains fragments of the gospels of Luke and John, in Greek and Sahidic (Sahidic on the verso), with the Greek containing Luke 6:18-26, 18:2-9, 10-16, 18:32-19:8, 21:33-22:3, 22:20-23:20, 24:25-27, 29-31; John 1:24-32, 3:10-17, 4:52-5:7, 6:28-67, 7:6-8:31 (with some of these leaves being fragmentary). The following list shows how the various portions are designated:

Luke 6:18-26 (0139, Paris; 6:11-18 in Sahidic)
18:2-9 (0139, Paris; 17:29-18:2 in Sahidic)
18:10-16 (T, New York; 18:2-9 in Sahidic)
18:32-41 (T, New York; 18:?-32 in Sahidic)
18:42-19:8 (0139, Paris; 18:32-42 in Sahidic)
21:33-38 (0139, Paris; 21:25-32 in Sahidic) (except for 21:36, 0113, Paris; 21:26-28 in Sahidic)
22:1-3 (0113, Paris, 21:31-32 in Sahidic)
22:20-23:20 (T, Rome; 22:12-23:11 in Sahidic)
24:25-27 (0139, Paris; 24:18-19 in Sahidic)
24:29-31 (0139, Paris; 24:21-23 in Sahidic)

1:24-32 (0113, Paris; 1:16-23 in Sahidic)
3:10-17 (0113, Paris; 3:2-10 in Sahidic)
4:52-5:7 (0125, Paris; 4:45-52 in Sahidic; fragmentary)
6:28-67 (T, Rome; 6:21-58 in Sahidic)
7:6-8:31 (T, Rome; 6:58-8:23 in Sahidic)


Dated paleographically to the 5th century, though Giorgi, who first published portions of it, prefers the 4th century. T is written on parchment, two columns per page -- but, curiously, the Greek and Sahidic are not in facing columns but on facing pages. Tischendorf thought the scribe was a Copt, as the letters often show Coptic forms. It has a handful of breathings, but they are not supplied consistently. As far as the punctuation goes, Scrivener notes that "a single point indicates a break in the sense, but there are no other divisions."

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Description and Text-type

"That T stands close to B has been widely observed -- e.g. by Hort; von Soden classified all four parts as H, and the Alands place it in Category II. (Wisse was unable to classify it, as no text exists in his sample chapters.) But few seem to have realized how close the two are. The following tables show the relations between T and thirteen other witnesses in Luke and John. The readings are the variants in NA27 which are supported by at least two of the witnesses cited.

(for tables of agreement in readings see R. Waltz's Uncials List)...

"...Examining the numbers, however, tells us that T is not simply close to B in Luke; it is immediate kin -- as close to B as is P75. Indeed, T agrees with these two more than they agree with each other. The difference is not statistically significant given the size of the sample, but if this were true, it would imply that T is actually closer to the group archetype than either P75 or B. In any case, it deserves to be on a footing equal to theirs.

The matter is not quite as clear in John. T is still very close to P75 B, but not as close as in Luke. In first examining the data, it appeared to me that T had acquired some Byzantine mixture. Full examination of the data, however, makes it appear that instead it had been infected with late Alexandrian readings -- of the sort we find, e.g., in L. Thus in Luke T is a manuscript of the first magnitude, though in John its value is slightly less. "

Bibliography: Codex Borgianis (T)

As this manuscript was recovered in sections, there has been no comprehensive publication. The first edition, by Giorgi in 1789, includes only the portions of John then known.

Editions which cite:
Cited by Tischendorf as far as known.
Cited by von Soden, Merk, and Bover as far as known.
Cited in NA26 and UBS3 (under four sigla) and in NA27 and UBS4 under the combined symbol T.

Other Works:

Note: The symbol T was used by Tischendorf and Scrivener for certain other manuscripts: Tb = 083; Tc = 084; Tg = 061; Tk = 085; Twoi = 070.

Location/Catalog Number

Washington, D.C., Freer Gallery of Art 06.274 (Smithsonian Institution). Called Codex Washingtonensis for its location, or the Freer Gospels for its purchaser.


Originally contained the four gospels complete; now lacks Mark 15:13-38, John 14:27-16:7. In addition, John 1:1-5:11 are a supplement from a later hand, probably to replace a quire that was lost. Gospels are in the "Western" order: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark.


Generally dated to the 5th century (C.E.), though some have preferred a date in the late 4th century. The supplemental leaves are probably from about the 7th century.

...the following has been exerpted/paraphrased from:
Skypoint- R. Waltz's Uncials List

Description and Text-type

W is textually a curiosity, as the nature of the text varies wildly. The usual statement (found, e.g., in Kenyon/Adams, p. 215) is that Matthew is Byzantine, Mark chapters 1-5 (possibly 1:1-5:30) are "Western," Mark chapters 6-16 are "Cæsarean," Luke 1:1-8:12 are Alexandrian, Luke 8:13-end are Byzantine, John 5:13-end are Alexandrian. (The supplement in John 1:1-5:12 is variously assessed; in my experience, it is Alexandrian, though perhaps not quite as pure as the original text. Based simply on the text, it is not impossible that the replacement quire was actually copied, at least in part, from the quire that it replaced.) These boundaries are, of course, impossibly precise; one cannot determine a text-type boundary to the nearest sentence. But that there are shifts at about these points seems true enough.

The nature of the text-types is, however, open to question. So far as I know, no one has questioned the Byzantine designation in Matthew or the Alexandrian designation in John. My own experience, moreover, indicates that both assessments are correct.

Things are a not quite as clear in Luke. Here, Wisse assesses W as Group B (Alexandrian) in Luke 1, as expected. In Luke 10, he lists it as Kx, while in Luke 20 it is mixed. The classification in Luke 10 is, in a sense, what we expect: W is Byzantine. But the finding that it is Kx is extraordinary; this makes W the earliest Kx manuscript by at least three centuries. The "Mixed" assessment is also somewhat surprising. It's worth noting, though, that all these assessments are based on single chapters; assessments of larger sections of text might produce a slightly different view. The assessment that Luke is Alexandrian in the early chapters and Byzantine in the final two-thirds is probably essentially accurate.

The question of Mark is much more complicated. Sanders, who first edited the manuscript, linked 1:1 to 5:30 to the Old Latin (claiming even to see Latin influence in the text). The rest of Mark he recognized as non-Byzantine and non-Alexandrian, but he thought it was not "Western" either; he linked it to manuscripts such as 1 and 28.

At this point Streeter entered the picture. Streeter claimed the last ten chapters of Mark as "Cæsarean," basing this mostly on a comparison against the Textus Receptus. Unfortunately for Streeter's case, this method is now known to be completely faulty (as he should have known himself). Streeter's "proof" in fact proved nothing (though we must remember that his method was merely faulty, not necessarily producing inaccurate results; his contention may be true; he simply didn't prove it.)

There things sat for half a century, while the "Cæsarean" text was sliced, diced, added to, subdivided, and finally slowly dissolved under scrutiny. Finally Larry W. Hurtado published Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark (1981). This study compared W, chapter by chapter, against some of the leading witnesses of the various text-types.

Unfortunately, Hurtado's study has its own defects. The analysis is rather rigidly defined by chapters, and several vital witnesses are ignored. The key defect, however, is the fact that it simply counts readings without weighing them. This is fine for detecting immediate kinship, but less effective for dealing with mixed manuscripts -- and even Streeter admitted that all "Cæsarean" witnesses, except W itself, are mixed.

Hurtado found about what one would expect: W, in Mark 1-4, is indeed "Western" (note that he moved the dividing line toward the beginning of the book somewhat). Starting with chapter 5, it is something else, and that something does not match any of the other witnesses precisely. It is assuredly not Byzantine or Alexandrian. But neither does it agree particularly closely with the so-called "Cæsarean" witnesses.

Hurtado's study has been viewed, quite inaccurately, as dissolving the "Cæsarean" text. In fact it does no such thing, in that Hurtado nowhere so much as addresses Streeter's definition (which finds the "Cæsarean" text in the non-Byzantine readings of the "Cæsarean" witnesses. Since Hurtado did not classify readings, he could not study the type as defined by Streeter). Nonetheless, Hurtado did a reasonable job of demolishing Streeter's claim that W is a pure "Cæsarean" witness in the latter portions of Mark. The fact that the "Cæsarean" witnesses do not agree with each other is not relevant (the effect of random mixture is to make the mixed witnesses diverge very rapidly). The fact that they do not agree with W, however, is significant. W can hardly be part of the type from which the surviving "Cæsarean" witnesses descended. This does not, however, prove that it is not "Cæsarean" -- merely that it does not spring from the sources which gave rise to Q, 565, and Family 13. Further conclusions must be left for a study which addresses Streeter's text-type according to Streeter's definitions. (For what it is worth, my statistical analysis does seem to imply that the "Cæsarean" type exists -- but the sample size is not enough to allow certainty about W's relationship to it.) Hurtado found that W had a special relationship with P45, and this is by no means improbable. Hurtado also theorized that W in the final chapters of Mark was still "Western," but with mixture. This too is possible, and given Streeter's sloppy methods, it might explain why Streeter associated W with the "Cæsarean" type. But Hurtado's method cannot prove the matter.

There has been much discussion of why W is so strongly block mixed. Sanders thought that it was compiled from bits and pieces of other manuscripts. Streeter counter-argued that an exemplar was heavily corrected from several different manuscripts, each manuscript being used to correct only part of the exemplar. Neither theory can be proved; they have different strengths and weaknesses (Sanders's theory explains the abrupt textual shifts, but is it really probable that any church would have so many fragments and no complete books? Streeter's theory eliminates this objection, but does very little to explain why the text does not show more mixture. W is block mixed, but the text is generally pure in each part.)

The most noteworthy reading of W is the so-called "Freer Logion" (so-called because it occurs only in W; Jerome quotes a portion of it). This passage, inserted after Mark 16:14, is quoted in most textual criticism manuals and will not be repeated here.

There is little else to say about the text of W. The Alands list it as Category III, but of course this is an overall assessment; they do not assess it part by part (if they did, the assessment would probably range from Category II in the Alexandrian portions to Category V in the Byzantine). Von Soden's classification is more complex (Ia -- i.e. mainstream "Western"/"Cæsarean" -- in Mark, H in Luke and John), but this tells us little that we did not already know.

Codex W and the Pericope de Adultera

The peculiar slanted script of Codex W gives us a cue to both its relative lateness (its almost a cursive rather than an uncial), and its strangeness. Its affinity to other oddball texts is also a red flag of sorts.

Again, a large part of the Gospel of John (the first 5 chapters) appear to be from a clearly later hand. And this could be an indicator that the entire manuscript has been dated too early, since the handwriting styles are similar.

There is little doubt that the makers of this manuscript preferred a text best characterized as 'ecclesiastical', or suited to church use. As such, its no surprise that however ancient its text, it has been consciously edited for the purposes of public reading. The result is that its testimony regarding passages like the Pericope de Adultera must always be suspect.

It is likely that like so many other early texts omitting the verses, the intent was not to destroy so much as to conceal. The passage could remain without problems in continuous text manuscripts meant only for private reading by the 'mature'. But it would remain unsuitable for public reading, especially for the popular Easter and Lent festivals and celebrations. It is understandable that some would continue to prefer edited ecclesiastical texts to accurate copies for public worship services. The church continues that practice today in the form of popular translations and prayerbooks for public worship.

Other Symbols Used for this Manuscript: von Soden: e014

Bibliography: Codex W

The basic edition is still Henry A. Sanders, Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels in the Freer Collection, plus (again by Sanders) The New Testament Manuscripts in the Freer Collection, Part I: The Washington Manuscript of the Four Gospels

Other Works:
See most recently and most notably Larry W. Hurtado, Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark. This is largely a reaction to Streeter; for Streeter's opinions concerning W, see Appendix V to The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins.

We've had a good hard look at the most popular and most ancient surviving copies of the New Testament. The result is a picture rich in detail, but far more complex than the naive and oversimplified idea of 'counting manuscripts' which omit versus those which include the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11).

In a way, the survey has been disappointing, because none of the witnesses turn out to be 'pristine' or primitive. In fact most of our surviving manuscripts and sources are naturally quite consciously 'prepared' and edited for us for the purposes of ecclesiastical use and apologetic concerns.

So we should not be surprised that even a careful examination of the textual evidence cannot ultimately solve the question of the authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera.