Thursday, December 15, 2016

Early Latin Evidence for John 7:53-8:11

          Many commentators reject John 7:53-8:11, echoing Bruce Metzger’s well-known comments.  The NET, for example, states that this passage (the passage about the adulteress, also called the pericope adulterae) “is not contained in the earliest and best MSS and was almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of John.”  Yet all major English Bible translations include it.  It may seem difficult to account for this friction as a result of any factors other than ecumenical or financial priorities, but there is another consideration:  recognition of the possibility that the vast consensus of commentators are wrong, and that the 1,495 Greek manuscripts which contain the passage are right. 
          But in that case, how does one account for the early manuscripts which do not have these 12 verses between John 7:52 and 8:12?  My basic answer is that very early in church history, John 7:37-52 was read in some churches as the annual Scripture-passage for Pentecost-day, and that 8:12 was used as the conclusion of the reading, skipping the 12 verses in between.  A lector marked his manuscript to signify that those 12 verses were to be skipped during the Pentecost-reading – but when his manuscript was later used as an exemplar, the copyist misunderstood the marks as if they meant that he, the copyist, was to skip those 12 verses, and that is what he dutifully did, and thus they disappeared in all subsequent copies descended from manuscripts of John made by that particular copyist.       
          Another possibility is that instead of merely skipping the passage, a copyist simplified the Pentecost-lection by transplanting these 12 verses to the end of the Gospel of John – where indeed the passage is found in the best representatives of the Caesarean text of the Gospels (minuscules 1 and 1582 among others).  (Via this step, the Pentecost-lection became one uninterrupted block of text.)  Although these manuscripts are medieval, their line of descent is traceable to an ancestor-manuscript made in the late 400’s, the text of which has some affinities with a form of text used by Origen in the 200’s.  (For instance, Origen mentioned that he had manuscripts which called Barabbas “Jesus” in Matthew 27:16-17, and this rare reading tends to be supported by the leading members of this group of manuscripts.)
          If, in earlier manuscripts, John 7:53-8:11 was transplanted to the end of the book, we would have no way to know it from the earliest Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John.  Due to damage, the text of Papyrus 66 cannot be confidently reconstructed after 21:17.  Papyrus 75 is in even worse shape; incidental damage has caused its extant text of John to end in 15:10.  Due to damage, the Lycopolitan Codex of John (an early Coptic manuscript) has no more text after 20:27.  Codex N, too, is damaged, and its last extant text of John is in 21:21, leaving it an open question if anything followed after 21:25.  As for Codex L and Codex Δ, their copyists testified to the presence, as well as to the absence, of the passage, as I have shown previously
          These six Greek manuscripts – P66, P75, N, L, and Δ – constitute five of the first ten Greek manuscripts that are typically listed as evidence against John 7:53-8:11; however, on the question of whether or not they retained the passage after John 21:25, they appear to be silent.  Similarly, we cannot discern with certainty that the blank spaces after the end of John in Codex Sinaiticus, Codex A, and Codex W are merely examples of filler-space, or of space reserved for the pericope adulterae by copyists whose exemplars lacked the passage but who revertheless recollected it. 
          But I want to give you more today than just a reminder of the tentative and incomplete nature of the testimony of most of the major Greek uncials which are often described or listed by commentators as if they speak uniformly and without qualification against the inclusion of the pericope adulterae.  Regarding the often-asked question about why the account appears in different locations within John 7-8, and even at the end of Luke 21, I will simply refer you to my book, A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, so that we may focus today on something else which I am confident you will find interesting.
          It is not unusual to find, in ancient Gospels-manuscripts, book-divisions, often marked by chapter-numbers, chapter-titles, and sometimes brief chapter-summaries.  (These divisions are different than the Eusebian Canons and Sections, which I have described elsewhere.)  Latin copies contain a variety of chapter-lists, or capitula, and chapter-summaries, or breves.  (The terms are practically interchangeable.)  One of the earliest examples of Latin capitula is in Codex Fuldensis (produced c. 546), in which the Vulgate Gospels-text was formatted to correspond to an exemplar which bishop Victor of Capua thought might have been a Latin version of the Diatessaron made by Tatian around 172.  The chapter-numbers and list from Victor’s lost exemplar were preserved in Codex Fuldensis – and they include a chapter-summary which covers the pericope adulterae – #120:  “De muliere a Iudaeis in adulterio deprehensa.”
          As old as Codex Fuldensis is – and its exemplar must have been older yet – another form of Latin chapter-summaries is assigned to the 200’s – the Cy form, so-called to signify that it was created by a contemporary of Cyprian.  This is one of several forms of Latin chapter-summaries which were collected in 1914 by a researcher named Donatien De Bruyne.  His book, Sommaires, Divisions et Rubriques de la Bible Latine, written in French, is helpfully available online at the Gallica website as a free download.  When one turns to page 320, one can find the relevant chapter-summary, #30, that is, in Roman numerals, XXX: 

“Ubi adulteram dimisit et se dixit lumen saeculi et de testimonio suo et patris; ibi ait :  si me nossetis, et patrem meum nossetis, loquens in gazofilatio et quod non eum inuenientes in peccatis suis morituri essent, et quod illi essent de isto saeculo, ipse non esset et quod quaerentibus quis esset respondit : initium, et de patre locutus est non cognoscentibus quia cum illo est qui eum misit.” 

Click here to see the full-color page-view of this chapter-summary.
          As far as the pericope adulterae is concerned, the opening words of this chapter-summary are very significant, because they refer to the dismissal of the adulteress before summarizing the other contents in the thirtieth portion of John.  The beginning of this chapter-summary runs something like this in English:  “Wherein he dismissed the adulteress, and said that he was the light of the world, and described his testimony and the testimony borne by his Father.  He said, If you knew me, you would have known my Father also.  And he was saying in the temple-treasury that those who did not find him would die in their sins, and that they were of this world, but he was not.”
          The Cy form of the chapter-summaries, though initially created to accompany an ancient Old Latin text, has survived – barely – by being grafted onto a standard Latin text.  The Cy chapter-summaries are extant primarily in only two known manuscripts:  Vatican Barberini 637, and Munich BSB Clm. 6212.  (They are partly preserved in the British Library in Harley 1775. 
          Happily, digital images of both of these two manuscripts are accessible online.  The Vatican’s page-views are under strict copyright, but once you arrive at the Vatican Library’s website, it is easy to find Barberini 627, and to turn to page 99r, looking for chapter-summary #30 in the left column of the page.  Similarly, to view the full-color page-view of the same chapter-summary at the top of page 131v of the other manuscript, visit this embedded linkHugh Houghton has noted that the Munich manuscript was thought by McGurk, who studied it, to have been copied from a much earlier exemplar produced in the 500’s.  
          You may be asking, why is this form of Latin chapter-divisions, extant in just two manuscripts from the 800’s and 900’s, associated with Cyprian?  Basically this is a conclusion drawn from cumulative evidence in the form of special repeated points of correspondence between the text that is used in the chapter-summaries (especially where rare terms are used, and when quotations are included) and Cyprian’s Gospels-quotations.  Hugh Houghton, in a 2011 article in Revue Benedictine, noted that the text embedded in this form of chapter-summaries has affinities “to the citations of both Cyprian and Tertullian.”    
          As Hugh Houghton has reported, De Bruyne also noted the antiquity of the chapter-summaries known as Type I; Houghton has placed this form in the 300’s.  In John, Type I’s chapter-summary #16 says, “Adducunt ad eum mulierem ‘in adulterio deprehensam,’ and in one form of this chapter-summary, found in six manuscripts, the text continues, “in moechatione ut eam iudicaret.”    The form of the chapter-summaries which De Bruyne lists as Type D also has these words, followed by “quod nemo miserit super illam manus.”  (See page 264 of his book.)  An interesting feature of this particular chapter-summary is that it contains the loan-word moechatione, suggesting that this chapter-summary was based on an Old Latin text which someone had translated from Greek rather literally, at least at this point.
          Type I of the chapter-summaries tends to accompany a distinct form of the Old Latin text which is basically a form of the Gospels-text which was used by Ambrose of Milan in the 370’s-390’s.  According to Houghton, this was also, in general, the form of the Latin text used by Zeno of Verona (c. 300-371).  
          So, to sum up:  various forms of Old Latin chapter-summaries, the earliest of which has been deduced via the detection of shared readings to have been based on a form of the Latin text of the Gospels used by, or at approximately the same time as, Cyprian in the 200’s, are a cluster of significant witnesses for the pericope adulterae.   To those who may want to locate where the pericope adulterae is summarized in the forms of chapter-summaries of the Gospel of John which are presented by De Bruyne, here they are:

A:  (none)
B:  (none; this is a shorter form of Type A.)
BrVII:  Iesus supra mare ambulat . . . . [and after several sentences] De muliere adultera.  Iesus lumen mundi se esse non credentibus Iudaeis in gazophilacio docens praedicat.
Ben:  XXI:  De muliere in adulterio deprehensa.
C:  XX:  Mulierem in adulterio deprehensam atque ad se adductam nec ab accusatoribus condemnatam ipse sub condicione qua ulterius non peccaret absoluit.
D:  XVIII:  De muliere in adulterio depraehensa. [in moechatione u team iudicaret, quod nemo miserit super illam manus].  
I:  XVI:  Adducunt ad eum mulierem in adulterio deprehensam.  (See above for expanded form.)
W:  XVI:  De muliere in adulterio deprehensa.
Cat:  XVI:  Adducunt ad Iesum mulierem deprehensam [in adulterio], et ego sum lux mundi, et uos secundum carnem iudicatis, et neque me scitis neque patrem meum, et si non credideritis quia ego sum moriemini.        
Ifor:  (none) 
Pi:  XVI:  De muliere in adulterio deprehensa.       
Cy:  XXX:  Ubi adulteram dimisit et se dixit lumen saeculi . . .  (See above)
In:  No mention of the adulteress, but XVI:  Iesus autem ascendit in montem Oliueti.
VichVII:  (at the end of the summary) Mulierem adulteram liberans lucem mundi se dicit.
Z:  XVIII:  De muliere in adulterio deprehensa.
          The pericope adulterae is not supported by forms A and B (which are the same in John), or by form Ifor; however, even this is conceivably an effect of the conciseness of these summaries rather than evidence that the passage was absent in the texts accompanied by the chapter-summaries.  In any event, we have here twelve witnesses (much more, of course, if we were to count each manuscript individually instead of the chapter-lists themselves, but less if we were to group together four similar forms) for the inclusion of the pericope adulterae.  
          Furthermore, none of them show any signs of deviation regarding the sequence in which the episode occurs in the text of the Gospel of John.  This is quite strong evidence that the passage was in its usual location following John 7:52 before it was moved to the back of the book.  This should motivate those who treat the pericope adulterae’s dislocations as anything other than the effects of lection-cycles and special formatting of the Pentecost-lection to reconsider their position.  In addition, claims that convey that no early versions included John 7:53-8:11 should be withdrawn.


James Snapp Jr said...

P.S. - If anyone is wondering about how the Cy chapter-lists treat Mark 16:9-20: the final two chapters in the Cy form are #LXXIII and LXXIIII, and they refer to the contents of Mark 16:9-20: “Ubi resurrexit, et nuntiatum est discipulis eius” and “Ubi apparuit post resurrectionem eius apostolis omnibus.” That is, “73: Wherein He arose, and it was told to His disciples,” and, “74: Wherein He appeared to all the apostles after His resurrection.”

Unknown said...

Very helpful, but as a non latin reader, I wish scholarly articles would include English translation of the quoted texts. At least partially. But I love anything that defends the veracity of scripture like this article