At the outset of the fourth and final part of this series about why the pericope adulterae (John ) is sometimes found in locations besides after John , let’s review what was observed in the previous parts:
● In two Greek manuscripts (225 and 1128) the pericope adulterae was transferred to a location between John and , so as to render the Pentecost-lection one uninterrupted block of text. (Similarly, in a few manuscripts, the passage is transferred to a location following ; again the reason for this was to render the Pentecost-lection one continuous block of text.)
● In three Georgian manuscripts, the pericope adulterae was inserted between John 7:44 and . This is the result of a medieval Georgian editor’s attempt to add the story into the Georgian text (which, in its earliest form, did not have the passage). The person who made the insertion was guided by a note (similar to what is found in Greek manuscripts 1 and 1582) which stated that the pericope adulterae had been found in a few copies at the 86th section; the Georgian editor therefore put it at the very beginning of that section (i.e., immediately preceding John ).
● In the family-1 cluster of manuscripts, the pericope adulterae was transferred to the end of the Gospel of John, accompanied (in the flagship manuscripts of the group) by an introductory note stating that it was not present in many manuscripts, and had not been commented upon by revered patristic writers of the late 300’s and early 400’s; for that reason, according to the note, it was removed from the place where it had been found in a few copies, in the 86th section of John, following the words “Search and see that a prophet does not arise out of Galilee.” Yet this motive does not account altogether for the Palestinian Aramaic evidence, which implies that in manuscripts made prior to the creation of the Palestinian Aramaic lectionary, manuscripts existed in which John 8:3-11 (rather than ) was transferred to the end of John, leaving -8:2 in the text. (Notably, 18 Greek manuscripts similarly have in the text, but not 8:3-11.)
The evidence thus consistently supports the view that for every transplantation of the pericope adulterae, there is an explanation which shows that prior to the dislocation, the pericope adulterae followed in earlier copies of John. The more closely we look at the evidence, the more untenable the “floating anecdote” theory of Metzger, Wallace, White, etc. becomes.
But what about the small group of manuscripts in which the pericope adulterae appears at the end of Luke 21? These manuscripts (mainly minuscules 13, 69, 124, 346, 788, and 826) echo a shared ancestor; this is just one of many distinct textual features that they share, setting them apart from the rest of the Greek manuscript-evidence. Let me share the answer before I offer the evidence for it: the presence of the pericope adulterae after Luke 21:38 in these manuscripts’ ancestor was an adaptation to the Byzantine lection-cycle, and almost certainly descends from a form of the Gospels-text in which the passage had already been transplanted to the end of John.
In manuscript 13 (the namesake of the group), the Gospels-text is supplemented by symbols signifying the beginning (αρχη) and end (τελος) of the lections assigned to be read from day to day in the church-services. For example, the parameters of the Pentecost-lection are thus indicated; an αρχη-symbol accompanies the beginning of John 7:47, and a τελος-symbol accompanies the end of .
Manuscript 13 has, as a sort of appendix, an incomplete lectionary-table, stating which Scripture-portions are to be read on which days. In the portion of the lectionary-table that lists readings for the month of October, the last extant entry is for October 7. The last line on the page identifies this as the Feast-day of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (whose martyrdom is said to have occurred in the 300’s). Unfortunately the next page (which would begin by identifying the passage to be read on that day – Sections 250-251 of Luke, that is, Luke -19) has been lost. In the text of Luke 21 in minuscule 13, however, we can see the marks signifying where the lector was to begin and end this lection: an αρχη-symbol appears (between πάντων and επιβαλουσιν) in , and a τελος-symbol appears at the end of .
|John 7:53 follows Luke 21:38|
in this column from minuscule 13.
The underlined words have replaced
some of the usual words in 8:2.
Let’s take a closer look at the text of Luke 21 in minuscule 13. Verses from this chapter had more than one use in the Byzantine lectionary. Three blocks of text were extracted from it to form the lection for Carnival Saturday (before Lent). In addition, portions from this chapter were to be read during the 12th week after Easter.
We see the effects of this in minuscule 13. Near the beginning of verse 8, an αρχη-symbol interrupts the text between ειπεν and βλέπετε. The lector was then instructed at the end of verse 9 to jump ahead (the υπερβαλε symbol appears there). An αρξου-symbol (meaning, “resume here”) appears in the margin alongside the beginning of verse 21, but this was part of the instructions for the Wednesday of the 12th week after Easter. On Carnival Saturday, the lector was to jump to the beginning of verse 25 (where we find, in minuscule 13, the abbreviated note “αρξου τ. Σα.,” that is, “Resume here on Saturday”). The lector was to continue from that point to the end of verse 27, where we find in minuscule 13 another υπερβαλε-symbol. Jumping to the next αρξου-symbol, the lector was to then read verses 32-36, at the end of which we reach a τελος-symbol. (In minuscule 13, there is also an αρχη-symbol at the beginning of verse 28 and a τελος-symbol at the end of verse 32; these were intended to signify the beginning and end of the lection for Thursday of the 12th week after Easter.)
There are two things to discern from all this: (1) there is no convenient break in Luke 21 where one could insert a narrative, and (2) bits of Luke 21 before and after the lection for the Feast-day of Sergius and Bacchus were assigned to a prominent Saturday. The lections for Saturday and Sunday are generally believed to have developed and been standardized (more or less) before the weekday-lections.
Building on those two points, let us picture a scenario in which a copy of the Gospels which has the pericope adulterae at the end of John has come into the hands of a medieval copyist who wishes to place the passage into the text. He could insert it in its usual place. But, knowing that its contents were used annually as a lection for a specific day of the year, he might decide instead that it would be convenient to insert it where it could be easily found in the lectionary-sequence. In that case, the natural place to insert the pericope adulterae would be at the end of Luke 21.
One reason for this is that the contents of Luke 21:27-28 loosely square up with the contents of John 8:1-2. Luke 21:27-28 was so similar to some of the contents of John 8:1-2 that the person who transferred the pericope adulterae to this location altered the text of John 8:2-3 to avoid what appeared to be a superfluous repetition: after “And early in the morning he came into the temple,” the text of family-13 is και προσήνεγκαν αυτω οι γραμματεις” (“And the scribes presented to him . . .”), where the typical Byzantine text of John 8:2 is significantly longer: και πας ο λαος ηρχετο και καθίσας εδίδασκεν αυτους· Αγουσιν δε οι γραμματεις (“and all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then brought the scribes . . .”). Here we have the textual equivalent of the fingerprints, or footsteps, of the editor of family-13’s ancestor-manuscript.
Another reason: as already mentioned, the lection for October 7 was Luke 21:12-19. The next feast-day in the Menologion, for October 8, was that of Saint Pelagia – and the text assigned to her feast-day was John 8:3-11. A natural desire not to interrupt either the Pentecost-lection or the lection for Carnival Saturday was all that was necessary for the copyist of family-13’s ancestor-manuscript to insert the passage that contained the lection for October 8 in close proximity to the lection for October 7 (about as close as one could place it without disrupting the narrative and dividing the lection for Carnival Saturday).
It thus becomes clear that the location of the pericope adulterae following Luke 21:28 in the family-13 cluster of manuscripts does not imply that the pericope adulterae was previously unknown to the scribe who made the ancestor-manuscript of these copies; it conveys, rather, that the passage was known as the lection for Saint Pelagia’s feast-day, October 8 – and this is why it was placed near the passage which was read on the preceding day.
Before concluding, I wish to mention one other case of the displacement of the pericope adulterae: its treatment in minuscule 1333, in which John 7:52 is followed by 8:12 but John 8:3-11 is found between the end of Luke 24 and the beginning of John 1. This piece of evidence is sometimes described imprecisely. In minuscule 1333, John 8:3-11 (not -8:2) has been written in two columns on the page that follows the page on which the Gospel of Luke ends. (Thus, no one should imagine that 1333 has the pericope adulterae as part of the text of Luke 24.) A title identifies the text as a lection from the Gospel of John (εκ του κατα Ιωαννου), and a faint note in the margin states that this lection is to be read on October 8 to honor Saint Pelagia.
Minuscule 1333’s testimony is thus similar to that of manuscripts such as minuscule 1424, in which the pericope adulterae is absent in the text of John but has been added in the margin, with the exceptions that only John 8:3-11 has been added (probably from a lectionary) in this case, and that the person who added these verses in minuscule 1333 did so on a previously blank page between Luke and John instead of in the margin alongside the text of John 7-8.