Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review: To Cast the First Stone

            Last year, Princeton University Press released To Cast the First Stone, a book by Tommy Wasserman and Jennifer Knust about the story of the adulteress (John 7:53-8:11).  Tommy Wasserman (academic dean at Örebro Theological Seminary in Sweden, about 120 miles west of Stockholm) is perhaps best known to American scholars as the author of The Epistle of Jude:  Its Text and Transmission (2006), and as the General Editor of the online TC-Journal.  He is also involved in the International Greek New Testament Project.  Jennifer Knust is a professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, and is the author of Unprotected Texts.
            Back in 2014, Wasserman and Knust were among the participants in a symposium on the pericope adulterae (“section about the adulteress”) at Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina – a symposium which concluded with an affirmation by all of the participants that the pericope adulterae should be proclaimed in churches.  Instead of a Perspectives-style volume in which all symposium-participants present their views, we have, five years later, To Cast the First Stone:  The Transmission of a Gospel Story.
            This is not the text-critically focused volume that some readers might expect.  Nowhere in its 344 pages (440 if the bibliography and indices are counted) is there a straightforward list of Greek manuscripts in which John 7:53-8:11 follows John 7:52, and of Greek manuscripts which have nothing at all between John 7:52 and John 8:11, and of Greek manuscripts which move all twelve verses to another location (after John 21, or after Luke 21:38, for example), and of Greek manuscripts which have only part of the passage (either John 7:53-8:2, or John 8:3-11).  Readers must reach the table on pages 280-281 to find a presentation of how the passage is treated in uncial manuscripts.  In a book which Bart Ehrman has predicted to be “definitive,” this is a major shortcoming, especially when one notices how much of the book dwells upon minutiae.  The description of patristic evidence presented by Wasserman and Knust is likewise insufficient. (Prosper of Aquitaine?  Faustus?  These names do not appear.)
            Readers are sure to learn much, however, about a wide variety of peripheral subjects.  For example, Marcion (an infamous heretic of the second century) is thoroughly rehabilitated; Wasserman and Knust declare that he was actually “a modest rather than a radical redactor” (p. 113).  Several pages (pp. 185-191) address the question of the provenance of Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus – inconclusively.  Mark 16:9-20 comes up again and again, although Wasserman and Knust avoid going into much detail about the voluminous support this passage receives.  They affirm that the passage should be viewed as “unquestionably canonical” (p. 19). 
            Other subjects covered in the first half of the book include Julius Africanus’ rejection of the book of Susanna, singular omissions in early Greek manuscripts of John, the significance of asterisks and obeloi in Origen’s Hexapla, the story of Judith, the prayer of Sarah in the book of Tobit, an episode in the “Martyrdom of Peter,” the Roman story of the rape of Lucretia, the debauchery of Claudius’ wife Messalina, and even Cleopatra.  Readers may find the first half of the book rather padded.
            Things get better after the first 200 pages.  Chapter 6 begins with an account of fourth-century references to the pericope adulterae in Latin patristic writings.  Unfortunately, little care has been taken to differentiate between quotations and allusions and possible quotations and possible allusions.  A statement by Hilary of Poitiers is called an allusion although it may be a case of coincidental uses of the same common terms.  The authors describe the statement of the monk Gnositheos, including the phrase, “if anyone is without sin,” as “a brief allusion to the adulteress” (p. 203) although the similarity to John 8:7 may be entirely coincidental. 
            Wasserman and Knust go into detail about two pieces of evidence which will doubtlessly be of interest to many readers, for these important details have not been covered in popular materials such as Metzger’s Textual Commentary:  (1)  the Greek base-text of Ambrose’s quotations of the pericope adulterae, and (2) the support given to the pericope adulterae as part of the text of the Gospel of John following 7:52 and preceding 8:12, in the Old Latin capitula, or chapter-summaries.   
            Ambrose, the authors observe, “appears either to have translated directly from the Greek or to have consulted diverse Latin witnesses or, as is more likely, both options” (p. 220).   They point out that Ambrose’s term amodo, in his quotation of John 8:11, has no support in Latin manuscripts, and should be considered “a calque, that is, a new Latin word designed to match the Greek phrase ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν (or ἀπ’ ἄρτι)”  (p. 222).
            The Latin capitulaa subject I have visited previously – were collected, compared, and published by Donatien De Bruyne in 1914.  Wasserman and Knust present De Bruyne’s data showing that the Latin capitula exist in multiple forms that in one way or another mention the account of the adulteress.  Two of these forms of the capitula are especially interesting:  “Form Cy” (“Cy” stands for Cyprian) was assigned by De Bruyne to the time of Cyprian or shortly thereafter, that is, to the mid-200s.  It has the phrase ub adulteram dimisit at the beginning of a chapter-summary, stating that after Jesus dismissed the adulteress, He testified that He is the light of the world, speaking at the treasury in the temple, etc.  Wasserman and Knust also point out that another form, “Form I,” uses the Greek loanword moechatione; this may confirm that the Old Latin text(s) of the pericope adulterae was translated from Greek.           
            Somewhat surprisingly – considering that Wasserman and Knust repeatedly affirm their belief that the pericope adulterae is not original – the authors grant that if De Bruyne is correct in his dating of the Old Latin capitula forms, and also correct in his view that ub adulteram dimisit is not an interpolation (and Wasserman and Knust present nothing to support any other view), then “the pericope adulterae was present in John in a Latin context by the third century” (p. 263).  This admission – basically conceding that the Old Latin capitula constitute plausible evidence that the story of the adulteress was in the Greek text of John from which Latin translations were made in the 100s (“by the third century”) – renders the earliest evidence for the inclusion of the passage practically contemporary with the earliest manuscript-evidence for its non-inclusion.  (I see no way to reconcile this with the authors’ statement on page 268 that “It seems likely that the Johannine pericope adulterae was interpolated in the early third century.”)
            Other evidence is also covered:  the treatment of John 7:53-8:11 in Codex Bezae and its marginalia, Jerome’s reference to the inclusion of the story of the adulteress in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, the assignment of a chapter-heading to the passage in some medieval manuscripts, the support for the pericope adulterae in most Old Latin manuscripts, and corrections of some misinformation that has been spread about the passage.   Regarding this last subject, some readers may be shocked by the mercifully brief critique the authors supply as they test the accuracy of a paragraph from Metzger’s Textual Commentary on page 251.  For those who have trusted D. A. Carson’s claim that “All the early church fathers omit this narrative,” or Steven Cole’s claim that no early versions include the story of the adulteress, the data provided by Wasserman and Knust should be illuminating, the way being struck with a cattle prod is illuminating.     
            Some readers may be exasperated by the amount of information in this book that does not pertain directly to the text of the story about the adulteress; it pertains instead to what may be called “ancient Christian book culture.”  The tour of ecclesiastical treatment of the New Testament text is far too scenic.  Yet this may be advantageous to readers who might appreciate being told things such as the following:
            Codex Bezae might have been copied from a third-century bilingual exemplar (p. 236).
            ● Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67)
            ● “In the case of the Gospel of John, a circle of friends added a series of postresurrection appearances to the end of the Gospel.” (p. 91, footnote, referring to John 21.)
            This last data-nugget may serve as a sort of model for the authors’ solution to the question, “What should be done with the story about the adulteress, and why?”.   It would have seemed heavy-handed if they had said, “The passage is not original, but it should be retained because the Council of Trent said so,” or, “The passage is not original, but it should be retained because it has been declared “inspired, authentic, canonical Scripture” by the Orthodox Church.”  Instead, Wasserman and Knust affirm that the pericope adulterae is not original, but offer a more nuanced basis for an argument for its inclusion:  on balance, ancient Christian book culture affirmed the passage and proclaimed its message.  Can a convincing case be made that John did not write the pericope adulterae as part of the Gospel of John?  Yes, say Wasserman and Knust – but similarly they are convinced that John, anticipating his death, did not write the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John; the embrace of the supplemented text in ancient Christian book culture may be considered a better guide, when it comes to defining the canonical text, than strict matters of authorship.

            Some readers (myself included) may be disappointed that Wasserman and Knust did not spend more time engaging Maurice Robinson’s theory (presented at the 2014 symposium) that the pericope adulterae is an original segment of the Gospel of John which fell out of the text in an early influential transmission-stream.   Robinson proposed that in an early lection-cycle, the annual reading for Pentecost was John 7:37-52 with 8:12 attached (as it is in the Byzantine lectionary).  An early copyist, either deliberately adjusting the text to make the lector’s job easier, or accidentally misinterpreting marginalia that told the lector to skip ahead to 8:12, omitted 7:53-8:11.  Thus, the theory goes, the pericope adulterae was dropped from the text – not due to anyone’s desire to suppress it, but as a conformation of the form of the text used in a rudimentary lection-cycle. 
            Wasserman and Knust attempt to refute Robinson’s theory by citing the Typikon of the Great Church – a ninth-century liturgical book in which, among other things, Gospels-segments are arranged for each day of the year.  The authors grant that in this source, the Gospels-segment for Pentecost was indeed John 7:37-52 with 8:12 attached.  They also observe that in this Pentecost-lection, there are no instructions to skip from the main segment (John 7:37-52) to the closing segment (8:12), although such skip-from-here-to-there instructions appear for other lections which consist of more than one segment of text.  “This evidence,” Wasserman and Knust state on page 298, “suggests to us that the Johannine pericope adulterae was simply missing from copies available in Constantinople when the Pentecost lection was assigned,” and (p. 299) “It seems fairly certain that the pericope adulterae did not enter Byzantine copies of John until the close of the fourth century, or even later.” 
            Explanations for the Typikon’s non-use of skip-from-here-to-there instructions for the Pentecost lection can easily be imagined, but the thing to see is that the authors’ proposal that the pericope adulterae was not in the text at Constantinople when the Pentecost lection was assigned does not really touch Robinson’s model, in which the basic Byzantine lection-cycle echoes an earlier lection-cycle in which the loss of the pericope adulterae had already occurred.    
            Wasserman and Knust do not adequate address Robinson’s point that it is difficult to picture a Byzantine scribe deciding to insert the pericope adulterae within the lection for Pentecost, when simpler options existed, such as putting it at John 7:36 (so as to immediately precede the Pentecost lection).  They simply acknowledge, “This aspect of Robinson’s argument is convincing.”  So how do they explain the presence of the pericope adulterae within the Pentecost lection in over 1,400 manuscripts of John?  Similarly they offer no explanation for the first sentence of the pericope adulterae:   as Robinson asked in 2014, what kind of freestanding story begins with “Then everyone went home.”???
            A more satisfying explanation is given for the migration of the pericope adulterae to a place after Luke 21:38 in family-13 manuscripts (et al).  As Chris Keith has already shown, the insertion of the pericope adulterae to follow Luke 21:38 is an effect of treating the passage like a lection; the movement to this location made the lector’s job easier; the lector could thus find the lection for Oct. 8 (the Feast of Pelagia) near the lection for Oct. 7 (the Feast of Sergius and Bacchus).  Everything you have read or heard to the effect that the pericope adulterae is shown to be a “floating anecdote” by its appearance after Luke 21:38 in family-13 manuscripts can be safely ignored.

            A few shortcomings of To Cast the First Stone may be covered briefly:
            ● There is no variant-by-variant treatment of the text of the pericope adulterae.  An opportunity has thus been missed to show readers the differences in the forms in which the pericope adulterae appears in various sets of witnesses.  The interesting distinctive readings in the passage in the family-1 manuscripts are never given a spotlight.  In a book that gives two full pages to the Lothair Crystal, this was neglectful. 
            ● Asterisks were discussed briefly but the authors seem to have given up any attempt to analyze their use by scribes producing Gospel-manuscripts:  “The precise meaning of asteriskoi in Byzantine Gospel manuscripts remains opaque,” they acknowledge on page 128.  But what would have been a better occasion to shine a strong light upon copyists’ use of asterisks and other marks than when investigating the pericope adulterae?
            ● Only slight attention is given to the pericope adulterae in the Armenian version; no attention is given to the Georgian version.  No explanation is offered for the treatment of the pericope adulterae in a small group of Georgian copies in which the passage appears after John 7:44.  This is unfortunate, inasmuch as the Christian Standard Bible has a footnote which mentions this dislocation; CSB-readers are bound to think (incorrectly) that the footnote describes Greek manuscripts.             
            ● Wasserman and Knust treat Jerome’s affirmation (in Against the Pelagians 2:17) that the story of the adulteress is found in many copies, both Greek and Latin, with unwarranted skepticism:   “The existence of many copies of John “in both Greek and Latin” with the pericope adulterae,” they write on p. 236, “though presupposed by Jerome, cannot easily be confirmed.”  This is certainly true once one no longer considers a statement (not a presupposition but an assertion) from the supreme scholar of his age to be confirmation.  It seems bold – not in a good way – to look back 1,600 years, squint, and say that Jerome’s claim “may have been an exaggeration.” 
            ● Too little attention is given to Codex Macedonianus; unless readers consults a detail in the footnote on pages 280-281, below the two-page table, they could get a false impression from the table.  Codex Ebnerianus should have been featured, and more attention should have been given to the Palestinian Syriac lectionary’s dislocation of John 8:3-11 to the end of the Gospel.  Also, readers could have benefited from some acknowledgement that dozens of the manuscripts in which the pericope adulterae does not appear are copies of the same medieval commentary, and thus boil down to a single relatively late source.
            ● Codex Fuldensis is erroneously assigned to 569 on page 230; the correct date (546) is stated in a footnote on page 4.  Also, it is difficult to explain the description of Codex Fuldensis as “a fifth-century Latin Gospel harmony” on page 260.
            ● No detailed analysis of the lacuna in Codex Alexandrinus was provided; this would have been helpful.
            ● Annotations found in 039 and in minuscules 34, 135, 1187, 1282, and 1424 should have been included in the discussion of critical notes on pages 279ff.
            ● The description of GA 1333’s secondary inclusion of John 8:3-11 between Luke and John is insufficient.
            ● Didymus the Blind stated in his commentary on Ecclesiastes that there had been found, “in certain Gospels” – ἔν τισιν εὐαγγελίοις – an account in which Jesus says, “Whoever has not sinned, let him take up a stone and cast it” regarding a woman the Jews had accused of sin.  The authors’ case for their view that Didymus was referring to some extra-canonical composition as “Gospels,” rather than to copies containing Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is not solid at all. 
            ● No foundation is given for the recurring claim that Eusebius “omitted the passage” (see p. 11, p. 23, 176ff. 181, 284) when preparing his Canon-tables.  However reasonable it may be to assume that Eusebius preferred a form of John that did not have the passage, Section 86 looks the same in the Eusebian Canons with or without the pericope adulterae.  
            ● The index is somewhat spotty.

            In closing:  Wasserman and Knust have provided a fascinating and valuable portrait of the ancient Christian book culture in which John 7:53-8:11 was accepted as a canonical part of the Gospel of John.  Their proposal that a non-original reading – one which, they argue, was not part of the text of the Gospel of John until a century after John’s death – should be considered canonical because of that ecclesiastical acceptance invites some problems.  For instance, if widespread ecclesiastical acceptance can veto text-critical analysis, why not simplify the text-critical enterprise by accepting all readings upon which the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and the Byzantine Text agree?  Or, even more simply, if ecclesiastical acceptance is decisive, why not accept, as a matter of course, all readings in the Byzantine Text which are supported by over 85% of the extant manuscripts?  
             To Cast the First Stone contains a lot of helpful data; nevertheless, important aspects of the evidence have been overlooked.  This is far from what a definitive book about the story of the adulteress ought to be. 

To Cast the First Stone:  The Transmission of a Gospel Story is Copyright © 2019 by Princeton University Press. 

P.S. I have written a book, A Fresh Analysis of John 7:53-8:11, maintaining that the pericope adulterae was originally part of the Gospel of John.  It is available as an e-book on Amazon.


Micah said...

Hi James,

Was there any mention in the book of Agapius of Hierapolis referencing the pericope adulterae found in the writings of Papias? Do you think the pericope adulterae reference in Papias as recrorded by Agapius is significant when considering the patristic evidence?


Matthew M. Rose said...

Marcion is now " a modest rather than a radical dedactor",--In comparison to whom? The Gospel of Luke is tore to shreds by Marcion! Romans is separated from it's final two chapters by the same unworthy hand's! What Text Critical "safe space" are they living in? -MMR

Steven Avery said...

‘“Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67).”

Please, even without Brent Nongbri this is absurd.

Steven Avery

Steven Avery said...

There are about 18 that are optimistically dated with a terminus ante quem of the 300s, not 200s. And those can easily be 400s, or later. Tommy Wasserman also made this blunder in a 2016 paper. And none of textual criticism clique reviewers and readers even note the error.

James Snapp Jr said...

Steven Avery,
Whatever the merits of that claim are or aren't, it is clearly framed as something told to the reader by the authors: readers "might appreciate being told things." It would burden readers, I think, to call "time out" from the review to consider the basis for the production-date of all 18 of these papyri.

Steven Avery said...

James, I have the details on the Textus Receptus Academy and PureBible Facebook groups. Bottom line, Wasserman is referring to 200s and 300s, and also using a 2000 source that is dated, and with unsupportable terminus ad quem after the Brent Nongbri papers.

This blunder was also in a paper in a 2016 book.

3 years uncorrected, and your disinterest in correcting a really bad blunder is itself typical.

Timothy Joseph said...

Once again I love how you cherrypicked the dating based on Nongbri’s proposed dating alone, yet disregard the dating of multiple current and former experts. Even if you wanted to use Brent, you should include his dating which can be anywhere from 300-400. The main point in his articles is the specificity of dating papyri when we have so few manuscripts with actual dates to compare.

Unknown said...

‘“Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67).”

Even with the tightest, most optimistic trrn]minus ad quem, the fates are 200s to 300s, not 100s to 200s.
A. Huge blunder. Two publications. Three years.

Now I’m thinking Casey Stenga:

“Can’t Anymody Here Play this Gae?”

James Snapp Jr said...


[Please use your real names.]

It occurs to me that this discrepancy, and several others that occur in the book, might be accounted for if one reckons that one of the authors has, throughout the book, confused "200s" with "second century" and "300s" with "third century."

Steven Avery said...


The anonymous post above was mine, done while travelling and writing on the iPad.

"One of the authors" seems to have to be Thomas Wasserman, since this blunder is on his 2016 paper as well.

Here is the detail on a Facebook post, listing the papyri and giving their footnote to a 2000 source, and a currently accessible NT papyri dating source, and the likely 18 papyri through the 300s. (Brent Nongbri style studies would push the terminus ante quem back a century or three.)


Textus Receptus Academy

"Wasserman had already made this blunder in 2016:

The Strange Case of the Missing Adulteress "


Tommy Wasserman is generally careful in his scholarship, even when his basic position is wrong. (e.g. Sinaiticus dating and authenticity.) Thus, this error is surprising, since it is so basic and fundamental. And apparently missed by ... everybody .. for years.

Steven Avery

Anonymous said...

I will eventually respond to this review on my blog. At the moment I have too many things on my plate. However, concerning this last point, about the dates, I confess that I am not a native speaker, but I have always been under the impression that 100s=2d century, 200s=3d century. This means that I am talking about any Johannine manuscript dating from 0-300.

Our table on p. 66 summarizes evidence from Chapa, "The Early Text of John," and the Kurzgefasste Liste, (+ The Willoughby Papyrus which had not yet been published).

I would like to draw your attention to the extensive footnote number 52 in the very introduction to this passage which reads the following (I have pasted here below from the proofs):

We are simply listing the dates assigned by the Kurzgefasste Liste, which can suffice for our purposes here. Some scholars, however, have called for a reassessment of the dates of a number of the most ancient copies of John. As they have pointed out, earlier editors determined these dates largely on the basis of paleography and scribal hand, two useful but imprecise measures. For our purposes, identifying these copies as "early” (second or, more likely, third century) is sufficient. For further discussion, see Brent Nongbri, “The Use and Abuse of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel,” HTR 98, no. 1 (2005): 23–48; and Roger S. Bagnall, Early Christian Books in Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009). Not every reassessment will necessarily lead to the assignment of a later rather than an earlier date, however, as Lincoln Blumell has shown in “P. Vindob. G 42417 (P116): Codex Fragment of the Epistle to the Hebrews 2:9–11 and 3:36 Reconsidered,” ZPE 171 (2009): 65–69. One recent reassessment of the dating of early NT MSS (Pasquale Orsini and Willy Clarysse, “Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates: A Critique of Theological Palaeography,” ETL 88 [2012]: 443–74) actually confirms the dating in our table 1.1, except in the case of P80, which is assigned to the second half of the sixth century (P119+120 were not included in their survey).

Anonymous said...

BTW, Steven Avery, my name is Tommy (not Thomas), and where exactly did we say:

“Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67).”

I actually cannot find this citation on p. 67.


James Snapp Jr said...

Tommy Wasserman,

The statement that Steven Avery is citing from the review -- “Eighteen papyri manuscripts from the 100s and 200s with text from the Gospel of John have been found, but only two of them (P66 and P75) contain John 7:52 and 8:12. (p. 67)” -- is not a quotation, but a restatement, encapsulating the impression conveyed on pages 65-67, especially the sentence (on p. 65), "To date, eighteen second- and third-century papyri with portions of the Gospel of John have been found, all in Egypt" and the sentence (a little further on) that says, "None of these earliest manuscripts copy the pericope adulterae, however, including the two that contain the relevant section of John (P66 and P75)."

Steven Avery said...

Tommy Wasserman recommended the Pasquale Orsini, Willy Clarysse paper.

So let's take their chart at the back and compare it to the list of Johannine papyri, and see how many have a terminus ante quem of 299 AD, his claim.

Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates. A Critique of Theological Palaeography

P5, P22, P39, P45 P52 P66, P75, P90, P95, P107, P108, P109, P119, P121

This earlier dating, which is now under a cloud, does allow fourteen Johannine papyri to be dated with an assigned terminus ante quem of 300.

The following four Johannine papyri are later dates.

P28 , P84, P105, P134 (200-400)

Tommy Wasserman can explain how the 14 became 17 or 18 in his calculations.


Now, I will grant that "blunder" should not be based on this calculation difference. Maybe Tommy Wasserman has a good explanation, and the difference is not that severe.

However, to use those dates, knowing how Brent Nongbri has essentially destroyed these ultra-early terminus ante quem assignments, on the ones he has studied (which can generally be extrapolated to any papyri that is without external attestation) is, in fact, a very poor methodology. The ones that are given as 200-300 would more accurately be c. 200-500, and perhaps even later.



Anonymous said...

There is also a complaint by Snapp in the blogpost and comments that we suggested that the “the pericope adulterae was present in John in a Latin context by the third century” (p. 263) and then, after a more detailed discussion, we concluded that, “It seems likely that the Johannine pericope adulterae was interpolated in the early third century.” It has turned out that other native speakers did not have any problem at all with these statements.

As I said before, I hope to respond in more detail to James Snapp's review, but I have many other things on my plate, too many. I am at least grateful that Snapp has read the book by now and I hope that other people who want to criticize it will make sure to read it first, and in particular read the context of isolated statements they want to pick at.

Anonymous said...

Steven Spencer ("Avery") has repeated times written something on various forums about me making blunders and errors in my publications, and then he has contacted me privately afterwards trying to discuss or suggest that I am in "panic mode" or the like but it turns out again and again that he is a bit too fast in his criticism. I don't know if he ever acknowledges this on his various forums and academies.

This is not an easy discourse. In this case, it has turned out that Spencer has not actually read our book! Spencer asked me in conversation to list the papyri we were talking about not realizing that we did that in a table in our book. Neither had he seen the response I made on this blog in the comments above. I am happy to see now that he thinks "blunder" was the wrong word.

I recommended him to read Orsini and Claryssee's excellent article on dating early papyri (which we also reference). Read more here:
Also guest post by Orsini here:

And free book by Orsini here:

Spencer writes "Brent Nongbri has essentially destroyed these ultral-early terminus ante quem assignments . . ." Well, the various intervalls for the dates of papryri can be discussed back and forth (and will continue to be discussed), but according to bood academic practice we acknowledged in that chapter in our book precisely what dates we followed (we did not do our own palaeographic analysis) and we also acknowledged Nongbri's scholarship as exemplified in the footnote above.

Matthew M. Rose said...

Tommy Wasserman,

Do you agree with the veiws of Dr. Knust on homosexuality?

I'm trying to understand how/why an Evangelical Textual critic would yoke themselves with one who believes such things. Is the praxis of NTTC to be carried out exclusively within the perimeters of secular Academia in your opinion?

James Snapp Jr said...

Tommy Wasserman,

About my complaint/quibble that I can't see how to harmonize the statements that (A) the PA was present in the text of John "by the third century" (p. 263) and (B) the PA was added into the text of John "in the early third century.” -- I suspect that the same native speakers who "did not have any problem at all with these statements" would be puzzled if they were told that someone was dead by the third century, and also told that the same person died early in the third century.

The concern behind my parenthetical remark is that future readers who read the qualified statement, "the pericope adulterae was present in John in a Latin context by the third century" might get an impression that you affirm that the PA was already in the text of John in some copies in the 100s, instead of in the 200s.

Richard Fellows said...

The book seems to minimise the evidence that the PA may have been suppressed. Here are a couple of points that were missed, I think.

1) An adulteress, Jezebel is thrown on a bed at Rev 2:22, but some manuscripts read φυλακην (prison) or κλιβανον (oven, furnace) or ασθεναιαν (weakness) or luctum (sorrow, affliction). See Metzger, who writes, "several witnesses, wishing to increase the punishment threatened to Jezebel, have introduced various glosses." They changed the text to increase this adulteress's punishment, so they may well have been reluctant to copy the PA where Jesus forgives an adulteress.

2) Since the protoevangelium of James alludes to the PA and counters the rumour that Jesus’s parents were adulterous, one can ask whether the PA was used to fuel that rumour: “Jesus’s parents were adulterers, for that explains why he was lenient towards an adulterer”. Might the PA have been omitted from some copies of the Gospel of the Hebrews because of that embarrassment? If it was omitted, for whatever reason, it might explain how it came to be added to John’s gospel. It seems that transpositions of large chunks of text often occurred when omissions were corrected by adding the missing text in the “wrong” place. If a copy of the Gospel of the Hebrews lacked the PA then this omission could have been corrected by adding the PA to a copy of John instead.

Also, I got the impression that the authors failed to ascribe weight to evidence supporting the possibility of suppression. Thus, they mention that Bezae changes "adultery" to "sin" (page 96) and they quote Augustine's view that the PA was suppressed (page 98), but they don't seem to weigh this data when they make their verdict.

Lastly, I would have liked to see more discussion of the uncertainties about the transmission process in the early period (for which we have little information).

Still, it is a pretty useful book.

Daniel Buck said...

Has Tommy Wasserman's plate cleared enough in the intervening years to get around to addressing the points raised here? If so, is there a link to it?