Thursday, January 19, 2017

John 7:53-8:11: Why It Was Moved - Part 2

          In the previous post, I addressed the first question raised by a question-raising note about John 7:53-8:11 in the newly released Christian Standard Bible:  “Other mss include all or some of the passage after Jn 7:36,44,52; 21:25; or Lk 21:38.”  We saw that the CSB’s footnote raises basically four questions, the first of which is, Why is the pericope adulterae found in some manuscripts after John 7:36?  We saw that by “Other mss” (i.e., manuscripts), the note-writer was referring to only two manuscripts when he mentioned manuscripts in which the passage is located after John 7:36.  We also saw that the passage was moved to that location so that the text which was to be read annually on Pentecost (John 7:37-52 + 8:12) would be one continuous block of text.  And we saw that this done to simplify things for the lector, not because the passage was “floating” around.
Georgia and the nations around it.
         The situation was far different for the copyists who made the witnesses involved in the next question:  Why is the story of the adulteress found in some witnesses after John 7:44?  I use the term“witnesses” here instead of “manuscripts” because the manuscripts involved are not Greek manuscripts – they are medieval copies written in the Georgian language.  To emphasize:  no Greek manuscripts have John 7:53-8:11 after John 7:44.  The footnote-writer is using three copies of a secondary form of a translation (Georgian) of a translation (Armenian) to cast doubts upon the passage.
          The Georgian evidence is rather elusive, and to obtain details about this, I consulted an article by the late J. Neville Birdsall, The Pericope Adulterae in Georgian, which was published in 2006 in the scholarly journal Studia Patristica.  (Birdsall was Metzger’s source of information about the presence of the pericope adulterae in a Georgian manuscript at Saint Catherine’s monastery (Georgian MS 16) on Mount Sinai, as stated in a footnote in Metzger’s Textual Commentary.)
          The Old Georgian version of the Gospels, as initially produced in the 400’s or 500’s, (based on the Armenian version, which itself originated in the first half of the 400’s in two different forms), did not include John 7:53-8:11 after John 7:52.  Centuries later, in the 900’s, when a monastery was founded at Mount Athos (an isolated monastery-cluster on a peninsula in northeastern Greece) for Georgian monks, the Gospels-text was revised, so as to conform with manuscripts at that location, once by an influential monk named Euthymius the Athonite and again by a monk named George the Athonite.  
          Birdsall names three Georgian manuscripts in which the pericope adulterae follows John 7:44:  (1)  MS H 1741 in TbilisiGeorgia at the National Centre of Manuscripts, (2)  Sinai Georgian MS 16 at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, and (3)  Iberian (Georgian) MS 1 at the Vatican Library.
          Birdsall observed that in these three manuscripts, not only is the pericope adulterae’s location unusual but so is its text, which roughly confirms to the Greek form known as μ5.  Notably, in 8:3, the Georgian text conforms to the reading ἀρχιερεις (“priests”) instead of the usual reading γραμματεις (“scribes”) and at the end of 8:9 the Georgian text conforms to the reading εστωσα (“standing”) rather than the majority reading ουσα (“was”).  In both cases, the Georgian text agrees with the reading found in f1.  Although the Georgian text also disagrees with f1 at some points, there seems to be a sound basis to conclude that the text used by the revisors of the Georgian text used a Greek exemplar with a text similar to that of f1
          The flagship manuscripts of the f1 group (minuscules 1 and 1582) are among those which contain the pericope adulterae at the end of the Gospel of John.  Preceding the text, there is a note:  “The chapter about the adulteress:  in the Gospel of John, this does not appear in the majority of copies; nor is it commented upon by the holy fathers whose commentaries have been preserved – specifically, by John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria.  Nor is it taken up by Theodore of Mopsuestia and the others.  For this reason, it was not kept at the place where it was found in a few copies, at the beginning of the 86th chapter, following, ‘Search and see that a prophet does not arise out of Galilee.’”
          So here we see an explanation of how the pericope adulterae was moved from where it was found after John 7:52 in a few copies, to the end of the Gospel-account, i.e., after John 21:25:  the note’s author specifically says that the passage was removed from its place after John 7:52 and transplanted to the end of the Gospel in light of its absence in many copies and in consideration of venerable commentators’ non-use of it. 
          The note that is found in minuscules 1 and 1582 is not the only such note.  In minuscule 565 (a manuscript which has a text of the Gospel of John which shares many textual variants with 1 and 1582) after the end of John 21, a note appears which says, “The chapter about the adulteress, not being present in the current copies, was omitted; it was located right after ‘does not arise.’” Unfortunately, damage has claimed the page or pages which followed, so there is no way to reconstruct the text of the pericope adulterae itself from minuscule 565; the note is sufficient evidence, however, that it followed the introductory note when the manuscript was in pristine condition. 
          A consideration of the notes in minuscules 1, 1582, and 565 points the way to a resolution of the mystery of why three Georgian manuscripts contain the pericope adulterae between John 7:44 and 7:45:  a medieval revisor of the Georgian Gospels (whether Euthymius, George, or someone else) was unfamiliar with the pericope adulterae, saw it at the end of the Gospel of John in a Greek manuscript, and attempted to put it back into the text of John 7-8.  However, he inserted it at the wrong place.  He read a note like what is found in minuscules 1 and 1582, but misunderstood the reference to “at the beginning of the 86th chapter” as if it meant the very beginning of the chapter (i.e., Eusebian Section 86).  And so that is where he inserted it – at the beginning of Eusebian Section 86, which begins at the beginning of John 7:45.   And that is all there is to that.


1 comment:

BallBounces said...

Thank you for this analysis.