Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dan Wallace's Credo Course: More Problems

Asterisks (within yellow circles)
in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.
Today we continue to test the accuracy of some statements in Daniel Wallace’s Credo Course lecture on John 7:53-8:11

● About eight minutes into the lecture, Dr. Wallace brought up the subject of asterisks.  He stated, “What an asterisk indicates – this goes back to Alexandrian scribal habits – is, I have doubts about whether this passage is authentic.”  In some cases, that is true.  However, asterisks in Byzantine manuscripts are also capable of serving as all-purpose symbols to catch the eye of the reader.  They can also be incorporated into the lectionary-apparatus, as Maurice Robinson has described, and as I mentioned in my research-book. (Pictured here are a few examples of asterisks used in the lectionary-apparatus of Codex M.)    
            If Dr. Wallace believes that asterisks are never used in the lectionary-apparatus, then he needs to explain why, in 130 manuscripts (not just “several”), asterisks or special marks of some sort accompany John 8:3-11, and not John 7:53-8:2.  Robinson’s model explains that:  in the Byzantine lectionary, John 8:3-11 constituted a distinct lection (namely, the reading for Saint Pelagia’s Day, October 8), embedded within the lection for Pentecost.  Wallace’s approach, meanwhile, seems to require that the scribes of these manuscripts accepted John 7:53-8:2, but rejected John 8:3-11.   
● In the ninth minute of the lecture, Wallace asserts that the pericope adulterae is a “floating text.”  This is somewhat surprising, because elsewhere in the lecture he mentions the work of Dr. Chris Keith which shows that the pericope adulterae’s location (following John 7:52) was secure long before the production of the Greek witnesses which have it elsewhere.  Equally surprising is Wallace’s omission of some important details in his descriptions of the manuscripts that have the story of the adulteress displaced from its usual location.  And even more surprising is how effectively these details smash up the theory that the pericope adulterae was ever a “floating text.”
            Wallace stated, “In some manuscripts, it appears as a separate pericope at the end of all four Gospels, just tacked on at the very end.”  The important detail that Wallace fails to mention here involves a note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the flagship-manuscripts of the group of manuscripts that have it after the end of John 21 (minuscules 1 and 1582).  The note specifies that the passage was moved from where it had been found in the text, after the words “a prophet does not arise” in 7:52.  To restate:  the note specifically says that the transplantation of the passage was subsequent to its location after 7:52.  Only by avoiding this detail can Wallace use this dislocation to sustain the idea that the pericope adulterae was a “floating text.” 
            Wallace also stated:  “In some manuscripts, it stands as an independent pericope between Luke and John.”  That is just not true.  Only one manuscript comes close to fitting that description:  minuscule 1333, which does not have the entire passage between Luke and John – only John 8:3-11.  Furthermore, 1333 features a rubric that identifies the passage as an excerpt from the Gospel of John.  Only when these details go unmentioned can listeners get the impression that John 7:53-8:11 floated its way into this location as a previously freestanding text.  When the details are known, it is obvious that all that has happened in minuscule 1333 is that after this manuscript was written (without the story of the adulteress), someone wrote the lection for Saint Pelagia’s Day on what had previously been a blank page between Luke and John. 

● In the tenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentioned manuscript 115, describing it as “the only manuscript I know of” in which the pericope adulterae appears after 8:12, and is also followed by 8:12.  Wallace then proposed that the scribe of 115, after writing John 8:12, noticed that his exemplar was missing the story about the adulteress, found a different exemplar that contained it, and then added it after 8:12.    
            Digital images of 115 are online.  (By the way, 115 is not the only manuscript like this; the text is rearranged the same way in minuscules 1050, 1349, 2620, and 2751.)  A close examination of the manuscript shows that a scribe (probably the scribe of 115’s exemplar) merely simplified the lector’s job on Pentecost, so that he would not have to jump from 7:52 to 8:12 in order to find the final portion of the Pentecost-lection.  Small horizontal lines in 115 at the beginning of John 7:37 and at the end of 7:52 represent the beginning, and the end, of the main part of the lection.  In other words, what we have in 115 is not the movement of the PA, but the repetition of 8:12; the verse appears after 7:52 to complete the Pentecost-lection.    
            Regarding the other evidence that Wallace misinterprets as if it implies that the story of the adulteress was a “floating text,” see my video from last year.    

● In the fourteenth minute of the lecture, Wallace mentions manuscript 1424, which has the PA in the margin.  Wallace states that asterisks which accompany the PA in 1424 were meant by scribes to convey that the PA is “not actually authentic, or that they have doubts about it.”  He restates the same idea:  the asterisks “are the scribe telling us he has doubts about the authenticity.”         
            Viewers of the Credo Course are left uninformed about the note that accompanies the pericope adulterae in the lower margin of 1424.  The note (essentially the same as a note that is also found in Codex Λ and in minuscule 262) says:  “This is not in certain copies, and it was not in those used by Apollinaris.  In the old ones, it is all there.  And this pericope was referenced by the apostles, affirming that it is for the edification of the church.”  (The last sentence is referring to the use of material from the pericope in the composition known as Apostolic Constitutions, Book 2, chapter 24, which is sort of echoing an older work, the Didascalia, at this point.)  
            It does not do justice to the evidence when one mentions only the asterisks that accompany the PA in the margin of 1424, and describes them as if they must convey scribal doubt about the passage, while failing to mention the note that states that the passage was found in ancient copies, and which expresses confidence in the legitimacy of the passage.  (Another factor worth noticing is the use of an asterisk-like mark in 1424 alongside John 20:19.) 
Are its materials
            Several other features in the second half of Wallace’s lecture on John7:53-8:11 could be analyzed and shown to be problematic in one way or another.  For example, at one point, he refers to Dura-Europos, a site in eastern Syria, when I think he meant Tura, a site in Egypt.  At another point, Wallace commends an article by Kyle Hughes, although Hughes appears to weigh in against Wallace’s assertion that the pericope adulterae was a floating text:  Hughes affirms that the dislocations to the end of the Gospel of John, and to a position after Luke 21:38, “can then be explained by the influence of the lectionary system in combination with the confusion resulting from the many early manuscripts of John’s Gospel that did not have PA.”  And at another point, Wallace says that 20% of our Greek manuscripts of John don’t have the story of the adulteress; the actual percentage is more like 15%.
            In conclusion:  the Credo Course lecture about John 7:53-8:11 contains a problematically high amount of inaccuracies, half-truths, and misinformation, and should not be considered a reliable resource.  


Ken Ganskie said...

Thanks James for again heralding the truth. I will pray that one day you and Dr. Wallace will be given the opportunity to debate some of these matters in a public forum so the Body of Christ can discern the truth. When a person of Dr Wallaces stature and position makes these type of assertions and truth-challenged statements it sad because the Body of Christ suffers.

Thank you again for taking a stand for the Truth of the Gospel.


Ken Ganskie

JoeWallack said...

Mr. Snapp, of course the PA is not an interesting Textual Criticism question to a Skeptic but out of curiosity, is there any other Greek reading with the lack of early Greek Manuscripts that the PA has, that you think is original?