Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The 2014 Pericope Adulterae Symposium: Part 6: Panel Discussion

          In the panel-discussion and subsequent Q-&-A session (which was not attended by Keith, who had to catch a plane), all of the presenters were very cordial.  I got the sense that all the panelists were focused on Robinson’s theory.  Punch did not contribute much to this session.  Knust acknowledged that she was intrigued by Robinson’s theory, although not so much that she was ready to adopt it that very day.  Wasserman maintained that Robinson’s theory is possible but there simply is no evidence for the existence of a rudimentary lectionary-system in the 100’s. 
          Knust raised a question about how much time elapsed between the production of the Gospel of John, the use of passages from John as lections of major feast-days, and the subsequent loss of the PA.  Robinson responded by stating that he assigned a production-date for the Gospel of John prior to the year 70 (agreeing with John A. T. Robinson), so the loss of the PA could have occurred in the mid-100’s.  (I would argue that even with a production-date in the 90’s this is still entirely credible, and is more likely in a situation where the copyists are not very familiar with the contents of the Gospel of John.) 
          Knust also briefly mentioned the variety of detail in some patristic accounts (such as that of Mara of Amida) of the contents of the PA – a subject I would have liked to hear more about, since I consider it a real possibility that a story similar to the PA circulated in the early church.
          I raised a question about the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary, basically asking if its testimony implied that the PA was “floating” when the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary was made or not.  The panelists agreed that the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary echoes an ancestor-manuscript in which (part of) the PA appeared at the end of John.  They also agreed that the PA was never “floating,” and that the displacement of the PA, whether to the end of John (as in an ancestor of the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary, and in family-1), or to the end of Luke 21 (as in family-13), was an effect of lectionary-influence.  This was, in my view, a major point on which all the panelists agreed:  there is no evidence that the PA was ever floating until the 800’s, when its displacement was due to lectionary-influence.
          Each panelist, as Jacob Cerone has reported, affirmed that the PA should be preached, although for different reasons.  Punch said that he would preach the PA, provided that he made his listeners aware of the text-critical controversy about the passage.  Wasserman repeated his point that if Jude can preach from Enoch, preachers today can preach from the PA.  Knust was strangely evasive when answering a question about whether or not the PA described historical events (I was thinking:  How can one advocate that a text be preached, without affirming that it describes historical events?); nevertheless she agreed that the PA is canonical and should be proclaimed.  (I got the impression that although Knust and Wasserman do not want the PA to be turned into a footnote, they probably would not protest loudly if the PA were to be reformatted as a short 28th book of the New Testament.)  Robinson, of course, advocated the use of the PA as canonical Scripture.      
          Then Dr. David Alan Black concluded the conference, and took a quick vote from the audience:  is the passage original?  A very large majority of the audience (some might even say an overwhelming majority) said yes – a verdict which opposes the conventional academic view.  Had the question been phrased differently – “Should the passage be proclaimed, or proscribed?” – the response might have been, if not unanimously in favor of the proclamation of the PA, very nearly so.
          I look forward to the book that is planned to be co-written by the panelists at the conference.

Some other resources: 

Jeff Riddle attended most of the conference and made a report about it.

Wilbur Pickering, who recently turned 80, has made aninteresting file about the PA.   
Jacob Cerone, a research assistant for Dr. Black, made a series of live-blogs from the conference, beginning at  .  (At Jacob’s blog, just keep clicking on the blog-entry-titles to the upper-right of the main title and the live-blog entries will keep on coming.  His pictures include a shot of Dr. Robinson and me together during one of the breaks.)

Dr. David Alan Black, in the entry for April 27 at his blog , described the conference as a very cordial and positive experience, and stated, “For what it’s worth, my own view is that the PA is original,” and “I would most certainly preach/teach this passage as Scripture.”

No comments: