Exerpted from: Raymond E. Brown, Gospel Acc. to John,
Intro/Commentary, (Anchor Bible, 1966)
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2009
Raymond Edward Brown (May 22, 1928 - August 8, 1998), was an American Roman Catholic priest and Biblical scholar.
He was regarded as an expert on the hypothetical Johannine community connected to the Gospel of John.
Brown was also professor emeritus at the Protestant Union Theological Seminary [?] in New York where he taught for 23 years.
Brown’s legacy remains one of controversy among Catholics [and Protestants] since he stated that the Bible contains some errors, but that it is inerrant in its saving message, and he argued against the historicity of parts of the Gospels, especially the Infancy Narratives. He described himself as a centrist, opposed the literalism found among many fundamentalist Christians, and concluded that the earliest Christians did not call Jesus God. [not an orthodox positon]
(Thirty years later, Brown revisited the issue in an introductory text for the general public, writing that in "three reasonably clear instances in the NT [Hebrews 1:8-9, John 1:1, 20:28] and in five instances that have probability, Jesus is called God")
(Wikipedia online Encycl. - Art. R.E. Brown)
Ray Brown remains a bit of a paradox, especially concerning our passage. Like a large number of Christian academics, he falls somewhere in the middle on the issues surrounding the Pericope de Adultera.
Ray Brown and Authorship
Like many 'modern' critics, Brown discredits the idea of John the Evangelist as author of the passage. He bases this upon the standard interpretation of the textual evidence (the apparent treatment of the passage by ancient copyists in surviving manuscripts). He also appeals to internal evidence (in Brown's time, this meant examining the vocabulary and 'style' of the passage, and comparing it to the rest of the Gospel).
However, these arguments have been since critiqued and found ambiguous as evidence against Johannine authorship. Nowadays, a much more rigorous methodology is demanded, and a more even-handed approach to these questions is expected. If the passage is to be rejected or accepted, it must be on scientific rather than ideological or rhetorical grounds.
Ray Brown and Authenticity
Brown, like many others, appears unwilling (at least openly) to give up the passage and admit to a case of Gospel tampering (no matter how pious the intent), in spite of his own arguments. Thus Brown tries to separate the question of authorship and authenticity into two separate issues, making them independant.
Like many Christian scholars unwilling to simply abandon the passage on the grounds of authorship, Brown wishes to nonetheless establish for the passage a pedigree reaching back to the apostles. On this basis, that of an independant authentic tradition reaching back to the source, Brown attempts to make the idea of the supposed later insertion of the passage palatable, and acceptable to the modern mind of reason. He would like to have his faith in contemporary text-critical methods, and his faith in the passage too.
The Failure of Brown's Program
But those embracing the scientific approach see this program as ideologically motivated. The same situation that makes the passage look like a later insertion, namely a lack of early attestation, also prevents the establishment of the passage as an independant authentic tradition. Thus John 8:1-11 as an independant authentic tradition is no more convincing than John 8:1-11 as a part of John's Gospel, and skeptics dismiss it as wishful thinking.
So a great many of Christianity's critics simply see this passage as strong proof that the Bible has been tampered with in a deep and significant way. Brown's program only pleases the converted, meaning Christian liberals who adopt a modernist view of Christianity, and who embrace the 'enlightenment' of the 19th century academics.
Both agnostics and fundamentalists ironically agree on this point. That if the passage is not from the hand of John the Evangelist, and if it was indeed inserted 4 centuries later as textual critics claim, then the integrity of the Bible is broken. But these two groups also see that much more is at stake:
If the Bible can be tampered with so freely and drastically, the whole NT Canon is thrown into doubt and uncertainty. Nor is there any remedy: For if the Holy Church (from the Catholic view), or if the majority of Christians of all ages (from the Protestant view) have been deceived about the authorship and authenticity of John 8:1-11, then both the doctrine of Divine Preservation is practically null and void, and the testimony of the Church (the Body of Believers) is emptied of all credibility.
This is how both radical enemies and conservative defenders of the NT and Christianity see it.
Ray Brown and Canonicity
Apparently as a Roman Catholic, Brown accepts the 'canonicity' of the passage, because for Roman Catholics, this is based upon the status of the Vulgate, the Latin translation made by Jerome in 382 A.D. and officially approved by Papal declaration. The Vulgate includes the passage, on the basis of Jerome's work and its previous place in the Old Latin (pre Vulgate version).
For most Protestants however, 'canonicity' or Divine Inspiration and authority are not based upon fallible decrees by popes, or even the rulings of historical councils. Many protestants would prefer to base Canonical Status on historical factors such as the acceptance by the majority of Christians of all ages, or the internal integrity and content of proposed books and passages.
The Rejection of Brown's Program
Thus for fundamentalists, for most Protestants, for most scholars, and for pretty much everyone else, Brown's proposition that the passage is NOT John's work, but STILL 'authentic' and 'canonical' remains completely unacceptable and wholly rejected, for lack of evidence if for no other reason.
The only group satisfied with Brown's position will naturally be 'soft-core' Roman Catholics educated in the West, who have uncritically embraced both the 'modern' viewpoint of secular society and contemporary textual critics, and also the teaching and tradition of the Roman Church.
Obviously this position appears to thinking men of all persuasions as kind of like the ostrich who puts its head in the sand.
An Alternate Solution
Of course, there is an alternate solution to the unacceptable dilemma created by contemporary textual criticism.
And that is to critically examine the textual criticism itself, and see whether any of it holds up to scientific scrutiny. Specifically, we want to check the actual evidence, the methods of textual criticism, and the results, to see if the original conclusion is valid.
For if in fact John 8:1-11 is actually an authentic part of John's Gospel, authored by the Evangelist, the entire dilemma vanishes, and is shown to be a farce.
As it turns out, contemporary textual criticism is indeed deeply flawed, unscientific, and subjective. The handling of the evidence was biased, the methodology was unreliable, and the conclusions invalid.
A reassessment of the same evidence, using a more neutral approach and a more scientifically defensible methodology shows that the passage is an authentic part of John, authored by the Evangelist and was probably present in the earliest official copies of the Gospel.
Problems of Authorship and of Canonicity (p.335f)
"These problems must be treated as a series of distinct questions.
The first question is whether the story of the adulteress was part of the original Gospel according to John or whether it was inserted at a later period. 1
The answer to this question is clearly that it was a later insertion.
This passage is not found in any of the important early Greek textual witnesses of Eastern provenance (e.g., in neither Bodmer papyrus); nor is it found in the OS or the Coptic. 2
The evidence for the passage as Scripture in the early centuries is confined to the Western Church. 5 It appears in some OL 6 texts of the Gospels. Ambrose and Augustine wanted it read as part of the Gospel, and Jerome included it in the Vulgate. 7 It appears in the 5th century Greco-Latin Codex Bezae. 8
However, a good case can be argued that the story had its origins in the East and is truly ancient (see Schilling, art. cit.). 9 Eusebius says,
"Papias relates another story of a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.."
(Hist. III 39:17; GCS 91:292)
If this is the same story as that of the adulteress, the reference would point to early Palestinian origins; but we cannot be certain that our story is the one meant. 10
The 3rd-century Didaskalia Apostolorum (II 24:6; Funk ed., I, 93) gives a clear reference to the story of the adulteress and uses it as a presumably well-known example of our Lord's gentleness; this work is of Syrian origin, and the reference means that the story was known (but not necessarily as Scripture) in 2nd-century Syria. 11
From the standpoint of internal criticism, the story is quite plausible and quite like some of the other gospel stories of attempts to trap Jesus (Luke xx 20, 27). There is nothing in the story itself or its language that would forbid us to think of it as an early story concerning Jesus. Becker argues strongly for this thesis. 12
If the story of the adulteress was an ancient story about Jesus, why did it not immediately become part of the accepted Gospels? 13
Riesenfeld has given the most plausible explanation of the delay in the acceptance of this story. The ease with which Jesus forgave the adulteress was hard to reconcile with the stern penitential discipline in vogue in the early Church. It was only when a more liberal penitential practice was firmly established that this story received wide acceptance. 14 (Riesenfeld traces its liturgical acceptance to the 5th century as a reading for the feast of St. Pelagia. ) 15
The second question is whether or not the story is of Johannine origin. 16
The fact that the story was added to the Gospel only at a later period does not rule out the possibility that we are dealing with a stray narrative composed in Johannine circles. 17
The Greek text of the story shows a number of variant readings (stemming from the fact that it was not fully accepted at first), but in general the style is not Johannine either in vocabulary or grammar. 18 Stylistically, the story is more Lucan than Johannine. 19
Nor is the manuscript evidence unanimous in associating the story with John. One important group of witnesses places the story after Luke xxi 38, a localization which would be far more appropriate than the present position of the story in John, where it breaks up the sequence of the discourses at Tabernacles. 20
If the story was not of Johannine origin and is really out of place, what prompted its localization after John vii 52? (actually, a few witnesses place it elsewhere in John: after vii 36 or at the end of the Gospel.) 21 There are several views.
Miss Guilding, pp. 110-12, 2141, accounts for the situation of the passage both in John and in Luke on the basis of her lectionary cycle theory. 22
Schilling, p. 97 ff., insisting on the parallels with the Susanna story, draws attention to echoes of Daniel in John, and thus makes the Daniel motif a guiding factor to the introduction of the story of the adulteress into John. 23
A more certain explanation for the localization of the story in the general context of John vii and viii can be found in the fact that it illustrates certain statements of Jesus in those chapters., for example, viii 15, "I pass judgement on no one."; viii 46, "Can any of you convict me of sin?" 24
Derrett, p. 13, who thinks that the key to the story lies in the unworthiness of the accusers and the witnesses, points out that the theme of admissibility of evidence comes up in the immediate context of vii 51 and viii 13. 25
Hoskyns, p. 571, hits on a truth when he says that, while the story may be textually out of place, from a theological viewpoint it fits into the theme of judgement in ch. viii. 26
The third question is whether the story is canonical or not.
For some this question will have already been answered above, since in their view the fact that the story is a later addition to the Gospel and is not of Johannine origin means that it is not canonical Scripture (even though it may be an ancient and true story). 27
For others canonicity is a question of traditional ecclesiastical acceptance and usage. Thus, in the Roman Catholic Church the criterion of canonicity is acceptance into the Vulgate, for the Church has used the Vulgate as its bible for centuries. 28
The story of the adulteress was accepted by Jerome, and so Catholics regard it as canonical. 29 It also found its way into the received text of the Byzantine Church, and ultimately into the King James Bible. And so the majority of the non-Roman Christians also accept the story as Scripture. 30
Becker, U., Jesus und die Ehebrecherin (Beihefte zur ZNW, no. 28; Berlin: Topelmann, 1963).
Derret, J.D.M., "Law in the NT: The Story of the Woman taken in Adultery", NTS 10 (1963,-64), 1-16 Abbrev. in StEv, II, pp. 170-73.
Riesenfeld, H., "Die Perikope von der Ehebrecherin in der fruhkirchlichen Tradition", Svensk Exegetisk Arsbok 17 (1952), 106-11.
Schilling, F. A., "The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress", ATR 37 (1955), 91-106.
Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:
1. "...a part of John, or inserted later"
This is an oversimplification of the options. But its more than this: The second option offered by Brown is actually a near impossibility. The passage could not be an independant story crudely inserted into the Gospel. It has many complex linkages to the Gospel, and the Gospel also is in part composed to accommodate the story.
This means that if the story was added after the original Gospel was composed, the Gospel was extensively edited. And secondly, the passage itself was deliberately composed for insertion here. That is, it would have to be a careful forgery in some significant sense, whatever the motive.
This theory itself poses great difficulties, since no version of John is known that does NOT have the apparent features of this editing process. That is, all copies of John with or without the passage are essentially the same.
Secondly, no credible explanation has been proposed that could account for both the absence of the earlier editions and the lack of protest by at least some Christians which would have arisen over such a complex 'insertion'.
Contrary to Brown's confident claim that the passage is 'a later insertion', we have the right to ask for a convincing explanation and reconstruction of the textual history, that might plausibly account for such a charge against the traditional text.
2. Brown qualifies his statement so heavily, and compactly, that it becomes obscure. In spite of the many adjectives no real details are actually given. "OS" here means Old Syriac Version (2nd-4th cent.). The Coptic is a local Egyptian translation from North Africa.
"the important early Greek textual witnesses of Eastern provenance"
What can that possibly mean? Who decides which are the important witnesses? Why are only the Greek witnesses considered? Why only textual witnesses (i.e., manuscript copies of John)? How do we know they are of "Eastern" provenance, and what exactly is meant by that? Brown's statement raises more questions than it answers.
Of course Brown would like us not to raise any of these questions.
For then we would find out there are only four manuscripts of John in existance older than about 350 A.D., out of what must have been thousands, possibly tens of thousands, used by Christians all over the Roman Empire in the first 400 years of Christianity.
Can these four manuscripts, two from the 4th century and even from the same scriptorium, and two closely related papyri (the Bodmer papyri, P 66 and P 75 ) from 2nd century Egypt, possibly be truly representative of the entire branching stream of manuscript transmission for four centuries?
How can these two groups of manuscripts ,both displaying 'Alexandrian' text-types be in any sensible way classed as 'Eastern' in provenance? What is their true connection to the East? Was this text imported into Palestine or Syria from Egypt by Origen when he fled from there around 200 A.D.?
Brown does not explain. It is likely that any attempt to explain would involve a long detailed review of complex and contradictory evidence, and leave us with the same uncertainty with which we have started.
But surely even Brown owes the reader the courtesy of telling him that these four manuscripts that supposedly omit the verses are heavily edited and sophisticated texts, created for Ecclesiastical use by early 'textual critics'.
And we are entitled also to know that all of these witnesses also betray a plain knowledge of the existance of the passage, even while omitting it!
The Top Ten Early MSS for John <--- Click Here for photos and details!
3. Brown's statement here is a carefully crafted one, but inaccurate and misleading. In the past, textual critics used stronger rhetoric. Metzger for instance tried to claim the following:
"No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (12th century) comments on the passage..."
(Metzger, A Textual Commentary... (1971) pp.219f )
Metzger's own statement here is extremely inaccurate and suspicious. Metzger certainly knew of the Commentary on Ecclesiastes written in Greek by the 4th century Didymus the Blind, discovered in 1945, and its hard to deny he perpetuated a falsehood in favour of his own position here.
Statements like this were not outright lies in 1880, before the many discoveries of papyri in the early 20th century. But their repetition nowadays is a dishonest 'convenience' for those who oppose these verses for their own reasons.
Brown carefully limits his statement to comments by Greek writers 'on John' and so cleverly avoids the charge of 'inaccuracy'. Didymus was writing 'on Ecclesiastes'. But this is a technicality that reeks of deception.
The absense of a quotation for 8:1-11 in the ancient Greek commentaries on John looks serious. Until we are told that these commentaries were meant for public reading during church services. During Pentecost the passage was skipped over in the public reading, so the commentaries could hardly comment on Scriptures that were not in fact read to the congregation.
The absense of commentary in these works hardly has the same significance, when early Greek fathers like Didymus quote the passage freely in other contexts as Holy Scripture, as he does in his commentary on Ecclesiastes.
4. This again misleads the reader. The passage does not "begin to appear" in 900 A.D. in the 'standard Greek text'. The honest facts are that we only have a handful of Greek manuscripts older than 900 A.D. that are relevant to John (copies or fragments).
Most of the manuscripts have apparently been destroyed, although there should be tens of thousands for this 600 year period. So its not the passage that begins to appear, but the manuscripts themselves which begin to appear in significant numbers. (There are about 1250 MSS of John ranging from the 6th to the 14th century, but most are later than 900 A.D.)
This absense of manuscripts is neither evidence for or against the passage. However a reasonable partial explanation for the missing manuscripts is available:
The Missing MSS for John <-- Click Here.
One thing that needs to be accounted for is the utter dominance of the text with the passage in some 95% of all surviving manuscripts.
The most sensible way to explain why most manuscripts contain the verses in 900 A.D. is to assume the verses were also in most manuscripts before that time, since the surviving manuscripts are independant witnesses coming from all over the Empire.
5. Once again, Brown's data appears to be false. Much of the early evidence, including the Didaskalia and Apostolic Constitutions appear to be from Syria (the East). This evidence stretches back to the 2nd century.
Other evidence, such as the Protoevanglion of James and Egerton Papyrus are of unknown origin, and yet provide early Greek textual evidence. These too can hardly be classified as "Western". The whole division of East/West in the sense of textual isolation is in serious doubt, since mixed readings are found in all texts.
6. OL stands for Old Latin Version, and represents a group of independant translations of the Greek NT into Latin and used throughout the Roman Empire until after 400 A.D., when Jerome's new Latin translation (the Vulgate) began to be accepted as the new standard.
As Brown admits, the Old Latin had the passage in its traditional place long before Jerome's version. Jerome himself testified concerning the Old Latin and also the ancient Greek manuscripts, that the Pericope de Adultera was found in many copies in his time (c. 380 A.D.).
This was probably the only reason Jerome included it. Had Jerome thought it was a 'minority' reading, or a later insertion, he would certainly have rejected it for his Vulgate translation.
7. The way this sentence reads makes it sound as though Ambrose and Augustine proposed it be added, and Jerome went along. This is an absurdity.
Jerome was completely independant of Augustine, and a personal secretary to the pope. He contended with Augustine on many issues, and it is unlikely that Augustine had any influence whatever over Jerome.
Ambrose was the predecessor and mentor of Augustine, and respected by Jerome. And in this case, Ambrose' testimony is important, because he represents the previous generation of fathers. He quoted the passage as Holy Scripture and wrote commentaries upon it. This shows that the passage was in place and accepted in the church long before Jerome.
Ambrose on John 8:1-11 (375-85 A.D.) <-- Click Here.
8. Brown passes over the witness of Codex Bezae (D) without comment. But some comment is necessary. Codex Bezae, although a 'Western' witness (containing both Greek and Latin versions of John), it does not present the 'Western' text-type, which would be either the Old Latin or Jerome's Vulgate (i.e., the text used by the majority of Latins in the West).
Instead, like all early uncial manuscripts, Codex Bezae appears to have preserved a very ancient text-type of unknown origin. It was not concocted in the 5th century, but probably represents an independant line of transmission reaching back at least two centuries earlier. Although it displays eccentric readings, it also bristles with important early variants in the text.
The significance of Codex Bezae is that in spite of its quirks, it shows a very early Greek text which contains the passage, and so confirms the testimony of Jerome and others that the passage was found in the ancient Greek copies.
9. Schilling's arguments aside, the story certainly does appear to have originated in East, which is consistent with the passage originating or at least being incorporated into John's Gospel from its beginning.
10. Brown is probably right to express caution here concerning Eusebius' testimony. On the one hand, Eusebius is sloppy and vague concerning the reference. On the other hand, Eusebius is hostile to Papias, whom he is quoting, and is anxious to discredit him.
But the biggest caution in using Eusebius as a reference in this specific case, is that he was a close associate of Emperor Constantine, and under Constantine's control.
Emperor Constantine, it may be noted, had his son murdered and his queen boiled alive over an alleged adultery. It is extremely likely that Constantine would be hostile to this passage, and while not originating the omission, both Constantine and Eusebius may have taken advantage of an earlier controversy over the verses to eject them from the official Ecclesiastical text they promoted throughout the Empire.
This actually seems to have been the case, for both Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph) and Codex Vaticanus (B) omit the passage, although they are apparently aware of its existance. These two manuscripts are believed to have been part of the order commissioned by Constantine of 50 'Bibles' for public service.
11. Although translated into Syriac, the Didaskalia may have its origin in the early Greek tradition, just as the Syriac translation of the NT does. If so, this early Greek tradition may have been nearly wiped out by agendas such as those of Constantine, but was preserved in languages and at relatively large distances from the center of the Empire.
12. Here Brown seems unaware, or unwilling to recognise these observations as potential evidence for the authenticity of the passage. This is ironic, as he goes on to provide yet more internal evidence in favour of its traditional location in John.
13. Brown now begs the question. He has not provided any convincing case that the passage is not a genuine part of John, and had its home there from the beginning of John's public circulation.
14. The problem of Riesenfeld's explanation, and also its ironic beauty, is that it would apply equally well to a scenario where the passage was genuine, but caused problems and was downplayed (by avoidance in public reading) and then omitted by convenience or confusion. All the same constraints would apply, and the same scenario would unfold, with the passage eventually being restored to its lawful position, when the issue was examined by cooler and wiser heads.
15. Again this restoration into the Lectionary System is consistent with the authenticity of the passage, and its early rejection and restoration. These later adventures concerning the flexible system of worship and changing popularity of various religious and political issues are not really germaine to the question of authenticity.
16. Here we need to underline that by "Johannine Origin" Brown does not mean that John is the author. He means whether or not the passage was created or accepted into the Johannine Community.
This could cause some confusion to those who are not familiar with this technical jargon.
The reason this is the second question for Brown is that he has already rejected John the Evangelist as the author of the passage, and firmly asserts that it was a later insertion. Had he not taken this dogmatic position, we might have expected the second question to be:
Was this passage authored by John?
17. Although Brown considers this possibility briefly, he quickly dismisses it. But we should not expect a formal argument from him. We have yet to see any convincing evidence for any of Brown's adopted positions. We are supposed to simply accept his statements on their face.
18. Brown fires two more quick volleys against the passage.
The 'Many Variants' Claim
One is a handwaving claim about the textual 'variants' in the passage being caused by its non-acceptance. The reader can be excused for not knowing what Brown is talking about.
Briefly, in the 19th century, one of the reasons put forward for the passage being spurious was its 'unusual number of variants'. That is, the witnesses appeared confused as to what the text of the passage should actually be. This was largely an illusory claim however.
At that time, the majority of passages and manuscripts had not been thoroughly or completely collated. This passage was subjected to more scrutiny because it was missing from the two oldest manuscripts at that time, Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.
When von Soden had the majority of extant manuscripts carefully collated, he found that although he could distinguish seven basic groups (text-types) for this passage, there were really only two dominant texts, the traditional text and the Lectionary version. The other major texts were 'mixed' texts (made by recombining the two popular texts).
The ancient Codex Bezae had an idiosyncratic text all of its own, in part because the copyist was probably trying to have the Greek and Latin sides conform to each other. But this 'third' text cannot really be counted as a 'text-type', since it is only found in one lone manuscript, known to be quirky. When included in a textual apparatus, Codex Bezae alone is the cause of almost a third of the significant variations in the text!
But this is 'bloated' textual apparatus is not really indicative of any uniqueness for this passage. If all the quirks of Codex Bezae and other odd manuscripts were included everywhere, probably almost every part of the New Testament would be packed with variants, and look pretty unstable.
Grammar and Vocabulary
When Brown says the passage isn't "Johannine" in vocabulary or grammar, he is here relying upon previous work, over a hundred years old. And in this case, the reader needs to be warned that the old meaning of "Johannine" is meant.
The argument against the authorship by John the Evangelist using vocabulary and grammar was first assembled in full form by Samuel Davidson in 1848. We have examined that case in detail here:
S. Davidson on John 8:1-11 <-- Click Here.
Later on, Cadbury attempted to put a case together for Lukan authorship in 1917.
Cadbury on John 8:1-11 <-- Click Here.
Here we only remark that the necessary work had not been done, and still hasn't been done. What was needed was a proper understanding of NT Greek which had to await the discovery of the papyri 50 years later, and their analysis by people like Deissman.
Then a proper assessment of NT authors' style needed doing. This didn't get properly started until Nigel Turner's work in the 1970s. Finally, a complete collation of all the surviving manuscripts needed doing, along with the fleshing out of the textual history of the passage and a reconstruction of its text.
Only when this fieldwork is done, will it be possible to mount a reasonably scientific and credible assessment of the style of John, and perhaps also the passage. But the very shortness of the sample passage makes any assessment very weak in any case.
19. In fact, what Cadbury discovered was that there is more evidence for scribal activity in the form of general stylistic improvements and the evolving of written Greek than there is for any connection to Luke's stylistic habits.
Its essentially an expected coincidence that Luke's good Greek and the Greek imposed upon the text by copyists is highly similar, and this clouds over the attempt to identify individual authors' styles.
20. Again, without giving any useful details, Brown tries to suggest that the passage belongs elsewhere, for instance in Luke.
The reason details are lacking is because if they were presented, the reader would see the absurdity of the case. Brown is referring to a small group of very late manuscripts, all closely related (copied from one another) called Family 13.
This group of manuscripts, following its archtype or near ancestor (master-copy), hides the passage in Luke. All of these manuscripts are 12th century or later, and being less than a dozen, represent a 'blip' on the screen in the long and large history of the manuscript transmission.
What is the significance of this 'blip' on the radar screen? It means this. At some point, probably in the 10th century or even later, a scribe was ordered to leave out the verses. This may have been because someone found an ancient copy from the 4th century or even earlier that left them out.
It also may have happened in some remote monastery where a small group fell under the influence of Montanists (known to have left out the passage, cf. Augustine) or some rediscovered treatese that rejected the verses. Some Overseer or Abbot may have felt it his duty to re-establish the "true" text by expunging the verses.
Yet not only did this little local movement fail, by failing to catch on, and being overwhelmed by the vast independant manuscript traditon, he was actually defeated right at the starting-gate by the copyist, who secretly preserved the verses by embedding them in Luke.
More copies were ordered, and it wasn't until a few dozen were made and sold or distributed that the fiasco was discovered and stopped.
The action of the copyist(s) is understandable, since they knew and believed in the dire warning found at the end of every copy of the Book of Revelation:
"And if any man shall take away words from this book,...
God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life..."
21. Again, a handful of late manuscripts place the passage at the wrong point in John. How could this have happened? The obvious answer is that some scribes, in attempting to restore the passage from manuscripts which omitted it (probably taken from or made from the Lectionary tradition which omits the passage for public reading), put it in the wrong place.
Von Soden observed long ago that there were a few late skirmishes over the verses, and some attempts to restore the damage to some copies in a variety of ways. All the peculiar displacements and mis-copying is accountable by an ancient omission of the verses. This error was in the main corrected but was inadvertantly repeated from time to time. Yet it never got 'out of hand' in the way that variants could in ancient times.
These little anomalies in the textual transmission have no bearing upon the important question of the origin and authenticity of John 8:1-11. They would have occurred regardless of the source of the passage, and are wholly independant of it.
22. The reference, although not documented by Brown, is to:
Aileen Guilding, Jewish Worship and the Fourth Gospel: A Study of the Relation of St. John's Gospel to the Ancient Jewish Lectionary System (Oxford: Clarendon, 1960).
Brown passes over it without comment, probably because he is unsure of how to handle the material.
"Aileen Guilding's major contribution to the study of the triennial cycle of the reading of the Law and Prophets related to her study of the arrangement of the gospel of John against the backdrop of the synagogue reading schedule. She showed that John's gospel was organized according to the major Jewish feasts and preserved many of the long discourses of Jesus which the synoptics do not mention. According to this view, John's gospel was written to show Jewish readers that Jesus fulfilled prophecy, particularly as it related to each successive feast. Guilding showed that not only did Jesus comment upon the very scriptures that were being studied at the particular feast, but also the customs and practices associated with them. In her words, "These [John's] discourses are nearly all given on the successive feasts of the Jewish year, and in each case the text is taken from the lection read at the feast in question, whilst the purpose of the sermon is to set forth Jesus himself as the fulfillment of the things typified by that feast."
Jesus' announcement of visiting other sheep while in Jerusalem came during the time of the Feast of Dedication. This Jewish festival, sometimes called Hanukkah, was an annual eight-day festival commencing on the 25th of Kislev (usually in December). Jewish tradition says that Judah Maccabee and his followers instituted the feast after their recapture of Jerusalem in 164 B.C. Another name for the feast is actually the "dedication of the altar."7 The celebration was to be observed with joy and gladness (1 Maccabees 4:59). The book of Maccabees tells us that Judah Maccabee defeated Lysias, entered Jerusalem, and purified the temple by demolishing the altar that had been built there by Antiochus Epiphanes. Judah and his brothers next deliberated concerning what to do about the altar of burnt offerings. They decided to rebuild the sanctuary and interior of the temple. After this was completed, Judah and his brothers chose blameless priests to offer sacrifices again upon the consecrated altar. This feast is closely related to Solomon's consecration of the temple and the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, the Feast of Dedication is called Tabernacles in 2 Maccabees 1:9, 18. Josephus said that the feast from his time onward was called the Festival of Lights because the right to serve God came to the people unexpectedly, like a sudden light.8
7. Moshe David Herr, "Hanukkah," in Encyclopedia Judaica, 7:1280.
8. Ibid., 7:1283.
According to Guilding's reconstruction of the triennial cycle, the sedarim during the Feast of Dedication came from Genesis 46:28–47:31, which spoke of the reuniting of Joseph and Judah. The accompanying haphtorah for the first year was Ezekiel 37:15–28 regarding the reuniting of Judah and Joseph, including their records. John tells us in his gospel that the time of the year when Jesus uttered the famous "other sheep" prophecy was at the time of the "feast of dedication, and it was winter" (John 10:22).
Guilding's research on the triennial cycle, including the possibility of Ezekiel 37 being the background to Jesus' sermon of other sheep, is impressive.9 Therefore, Christ promised to visit his other sheep at the same time themes of shepherding, gathering, and Ezekiel's prediction of the Nephites' record being joined with the record of Judah were being studied and read in the synagogue. In a profound but subtle way, Jesus was expounding upon the Law and prophetic readings associated with the Feast of Dedication when he said he would visit his other sheep.10
One scholar, Leon Morris, has written that Guilding's thesis is flawed because there is not an extant list of the triennial cycle at the time of Jesus. However, others have posited that there was not an exact list because different communities had different haphtorahs at the time; see H. L. Strack and G. Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Edinburgh: Clark, 1991), 262, for a bibliography on this subject."
Taken from: The Jewish Lectionary and Book of Mormon Prophecy John L. Fowles Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1994. Pp. 118–22 http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.php?table=jbms&id=66#ref9
23. Its a shame Brown offers no details here either. I have nothing to offer on Schilling, but the reference is:
Schilling, F. A., "The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress", ATR 37 (1955), 91-106.
24. Here Brown continues to provide more internal evidence for the authenticity of the verses, and the mutual knowledge and purpose of the gospel and passage authors. He should be asking the obvious: are the authors identical?
25. Again more strong links between the two texts, John and the passage. But here it is even more 'in sync', because of the strong irony at both ends of these linkages, acting like glue. Irony is one of the main techniques of the Evangelist.
26. Somebody should be asking,
"How likely is it that the theological viewpoint and purpose of the 'two different authors' would be the same?"
27. This would be the reasonable position of a normal believer, catholic or protestant. If someone can add 12 verses to the Book of John (allegedly) four centuries after its publication, and nobody notices or cares, by what process or method, or at what point in time can such a thing be stopped? Should we embrace the Books of Mormon?
28. The two ideas are not synonymous. "traditional ecclesiastical acceptance and usage" doesn't simply mean the Vulgate. For protestants it might mean the text used before the 4th century. This may be the Roman Catholic position, but it can never be the Greek Orthodox one. Nor can such a vague statement really act as a guiding rule for specific textual variants.
29. Here again Brown makes an oversimplified, almost absurd statement. Jerome may be recognized as an important 'father' of the early church, even special in his role as translator and revisor of the Latin text. But he could never be given the role of adjudicator for textual variants. He is only one of many important witnesses, some much older and of greater authority. Brown is just talking through his hat here.
30. The problem with Brown's simple 'history' here is that it has no historical basis. The only real home of the passage is the 'Byzantine' text, which may go back to the 2nd century or earlier. It has never been shown to have been an addition to this traditional Greek text, let alone a 'late insertion'.
Nor is this passage accepted "because it is found in the King James Bible". The majority of Christians who defend the KJV do so because they are informed about important issues like the variants in the texts, and the divergence of the supposedly "oldest and best manuscripts".
The KJV holds its place still among English speaking people of God, because they are convinced that God only wrote one Bible, and that variants in the texts of 'modern' versions indicate instability in their promoters.