Pro and Con: John 7:53-8:11

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py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
What are the best treatments of the authenticity of John 7:53-8:11 and its appropriate placement within the Gospel of John? I'd prefer links to online sources, but I can also consult some books. I wish to understand the best case for and against.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Do you hear the Voice of your Good Shepherd when you encounter these lines?

That, it seems to me, is the fundamental question; more significant than any history of transmission, or questions of location (not unimportant issues).

:2cents:
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Bruce, the problem with that question you ask is that it is based on man's thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. that can err. It is a valid question, though shouldn't be the foundational question.
 

SeanAnderson

Puritan Board Freshman
Does it matter if a passage is not 'original' (if John actually did not write it) or not in the 'correct' location?

This does not necessarily mean such a passage is not inspired.

The Holy Spirit defines truth and the Church has received it.

I am not against textual criticism, but these verses are still supported by very early manuscripts, have been instrumental in preaching since the Church's beginnings and reflect the true character of Christ. Even if they were 'inserted' by an author other than John, it is not after all John's authorship which makes his gospel canonical, but the Holy Spirit himself. Is there a good reason to remove them?
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
The only reason to 'remove' them is if they are not inspired by God, which actually means they were never there and so they shouldn't be removed. That's only if they are not inspired by God.
 

SeanAnderson

Puritan Board Freshman
I know Calvin is not infallible, but he wrote these words in his commentary:

It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.
(Source)
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Bruce, the problem with that question you ask is that it is based on man's thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. that can err. It is a valid question, though shouldn't be the foundational question.
No, Andrew, I don't agree.

WCF 1:4: "The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God."

WCF 1.5: "...yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."

WCF 1.10: "...the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture."

"My sheep hear my voice, and they know me." -- The Good Shepherd
Why do we accept the Bible we have? Is it entirely on the basis of the authority and wisdom of some earlier collators, and now we simply accept what they preserved for us? Are we subtle Romanists on the question of canon?

We have not only the privilege of discerning our Lord's Voice, and that in the well-worn channels of the limits of the well-established (after 2000yrs) NT canon. We have the DUTY to listen carefully for the familiar intonations of Jesus voice conveyed to us by Holy Spirit in Scripture, to gasp with Mary Magdalene, "Rabboni!" when we recognize it.

We ultimately recognize Scripture for what it is, not because we have inherited something from the past, but because we meet the divine Son himself in his Word.

I, for one, will not abdicate my mature discernment to the opinions of "experts," many of whom are not even believers (no matter how practically reliable their overall ability, or pure their intention). Why should a group of modern scholars--them not especially cognizant of standing in a long historic line of men equally dedicated to accuracy in transmission--determine for me that I should begin with suspicion of Jn.7:53-8:11 as coming from the Spirit of Christ; when 40-50 generations of my fathers heard Him very well in those same words? Perhaps even decline to share that testimony with me?

So no, the foundational matter is not critical scholarship, history of transmission, etc. Those matters are supplemental to faith. Jn.7:53-8:11 is perhaps a "test case" for us, to see whether we are a bit more "traditional" rather than "faithful" in such things?

You and I could possibly disagree on the precise words or meaning of a passage, but still agree that it is the Word. Or, we could possibly disagree on whether some verse or verses is actually present as the Voice of the Lord; in which case, the one who dissents must avoid preaching a text where he thinks Christ does not speak. Thankfully, we should still be in agreement as to faith in the true Word as source of authority.

WCF 1.5: We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church... the heavenliness of the matter, ... the many other incomparable excellencies, ... whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion ... is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."
We know it is the Word of God "because it is the Word of God."
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Hendriksen takes a very balanced look at this passage in his commentary on John. It is well worth the read if you have access to it.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
from a review by Michael Kruger (RTS Charlotte): http://www.reltech.org/TC/v16/Keith2011rev.pdf
The weakness pointed out in this article undermines the probability of the thesis. It must be proved that there was a "motive" for the interpolation in order to give credibility to a case for interpolation. The failure to provide any example from the early Christian tradition makes the thesis one of pure conjecture. In other cases, e.g., the variant "Jesus Barabbas," there are specific statements by the fathers which show a level of concern over the variant reading.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
I found a very interesting hypothisis, by a student of Daniel Wallace, who finds evidence of a first century date to the source, perhaps oral tradition, of the pericope adulterae. Also, as is I suppose is common knowledge amongst Greek scholars, the structure and syntax resembles that of Luke quite a bit, and of John very little. Academic Archives | Early Christian Archives ( If the links are followed from the two 'layman's articles to the PDF, there is a lot of food for thought.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Thank you all. It looks like there is some very good material available for digestion.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
On the Pericope adulterae Scrivener says it is absent from too many excellent copies to have been present in some of the earliest, yet since it is consistent with the scriptural passage, it's possible John wrote this to be added later, and it was appended at the end of some of the existing copies and inserted into this place later. After enumerating problems with the inclusion of this passage, Scrivener adds:

When to all these sources of doubt, and to so many hostile authorities, is added the fact that in no portion of the N.T. do the variations of manuscripts (of D beyond all the rest) and of other documents bear any sort of proportion, whether in number or extent, to those in these twelve verses (of which statement full evidence may be seen in any collection of various readings), we cannot help admitting that if this section be indeed the composition of S. John, it has been transmitted to us under circumstances widely different from those connected with any other genuine passage of Scripture whatever.
(from "Introduction to Criticism of the New Testament")

I think this view is fair, while being reverently cautious about excising something.

Rev Winzer posted a link to Bible-researcher's posting of Hills' defense of it. Hills' defense is in the minority on that site, with the main page being here:
http://www.bible-researcher.com/adult.html
 

MichaelNZ

Puritan Board Freshman
Our pastor preached on this passage last year. He told me that he believes that the passage does belong in Scripture, but not necessarily in John.

I know that some manuscripts place the pericope adulterae after Luke 24:53. John 8:12 also seems to fit right in with John 7:52.

James White stated that if he was doing expository preaching through the Gospel of John, when he got to this passage he would preach a sermon on textual criticism and then continue from 8:12. He states that because it is found in a variety of places, that casts doubt on its authenticity.
 
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