Recently at the blog of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, a writer presented minuscule 758 (from the 1300’s) as if it shows that a copyist expressed doubt about the legitimacy of the story of the adulteress by adding marks alongside the story in the margin of the manuscript. He wrote:
“Some scribe (either the original one or a later scribe), upon seeing that this passage was included in John’s Gospel, put markings in the margins to denote its disputed status. However, the markings only cover John 8.3-11, leaving 7.53-8.2 unmarked.”
If one turns to the pages in question (starting with image 318959, = page-view GA_758_0265b), one can see that the manuscript has a lectionary apparatus built into the text; i.e., lectionary-related notifications for the lector (the person who read selections from the manuscript aloud in worship-services) have been written in red within the text, in space reserved for them.
|Saint Pelagia, pictured before her conversion |
(with Saint Nonnus, to the left) and after.
Following John 7:52, there is an abbreviated note instructing the lector that when reading the lection for Pentecost, he should skip (up. kt. ts. N) from that point to the beginning of 8:12 (where, in the margin, there is an abbreviated note that means, resume here for Pentecost). At the beginning of 8:3 there is an Αρχη symbol (written in red and embedded in the text), which means “Start here,” and on the next page – although one cannot see this using the cropped pictures at the CSNTM blog – in the upper margin (see Image 318960, = GA_758_0266a), a rubric identifies the reading For the Penitents (i.e., Saint Pelagia and the other Penitent Women), complete with the incipit-phrase to be used at the beginning of 8:3. A Τελος (“Stop here”) symbol then appears at the end of 8:11 – to be precise, it appears after the “Again” (Παλιν) at the beginning of verse 12, because that is where a blank space had been left to add the lectionary apparatus) – to designate the end of the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day, followed immediately by the “Resume here” symbol which told the lector where he was to resume reading on Pentecost. (This is augmented by a note meaning “Resume here for Pentecost” in the side-margin beside the same line.)
I submit that the horizontal lines that accompany John 8:3-11 in manuscript 758 were most definitely not added by a scribe “to denote its disputed status,” as if the person who added these lines accepted John 7:53-8:2 but questioned 8:3-11. Instead, the horizontal lines in this manuscript (and in others) alongside 8:3-11 were intended to identify the lection for Saint Pelagia’s annual feast-day (October 8), embedded within the lection for Pentecost.