Thoughts on John 7:53-8:11??

by BarelyThere 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • BarelyThere
    I always accepted that the NWT said that these verses in John were not in the most reliable manuscripts. I thought it was strange that while the "old" NWT at least included the verses, the "revised" NWT completely omits them. Now I'm trying to do research on my own, but my head is still spinning from all of the information I've taken in the past week. It's overwhelming because I've never questioned or really tried to understand the history of the Bible before. Any thoughts? Or suggestions for places to do research??

    Try reading the bible without the aid of other's influence or opinions. You need not know the deeper things until you know the basics. slowly so that you lessen the chances of missing important points that may have been overlooked in the past.

    Biblehub or other online bibles sources will give scholarly explanations of books and verses as opposed to Jim's bible which may not be very reliable.

    Sources that have professors with PHDs and are affiliated with universities are much more reliable then sources without......very obviously

    sorry, I didn't even give thoughts on John 7;53-8;11

    The Truth Will Set You Free

  • menrov

    Hi, here is the footnote from the NET bible:

    139 tc This entire section, 7:53-8:11, traditionally known as 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. Among modern commentators and textual critics, it is a foregone conclusion that the section is not original but represents a later addition to the text of the Gospel. B. M. Metzger summarizes: “the evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming” (TCGNT 187). External evidence is as follows. For the omission of 7:53-8:11: Ì66,75 א B L N T W Δ Θ Ψ 0141 0211 33 565 1241 1424* 2768 al. In addition codices A and C are defective in this part of John, but it appears that neither contained the pericope because careful measurement shows that there would not have been enough space on the missing pages to include the pericope 7:53-8:11 along with the rest of the text. Among the mss that include 7:53-8:11 are D Ï lat. In addition E S Λ 1424mg al include part or all of the passage with asterisks or obeli, 225 places the pericope after John 7:36, Ë1 places it after John 21:25, {115} after John 8:12, Ë13 after Luke 21:38, and the corrector of 1333 includes it after Luke 24:53. (For a more complete discussion of the locations where this “floating” text has ended up, as well as a minority opinion on the authenticity of the passage, see M. A. Robinson, “Preliminary Observations regarding the Pericope Adulterae Based upon Fresh Collations of nearly All Continuous-Text Manuscripts and All Lectionary Manuscripts containing the Passage,” Filologia Neotestamentaria 13 [2000]: 35-59, especially 41-42.) In evaluating this ms evidence, it should be remembered that in the Gospels A is considered to be of Byzantine texttype (unlike in the epistles and Revelation, where it is Alexandrian), as are E F G (mss with the same designation are of Western texttype in the epistles). This leaves D as the only major Western uncial witness in the Gospels for the inclusion. Therefore the evidence could be summarized by saying that almost all early mss of the Alexandrian texttype omit the pericope, while most mss of the Western and Byzantine texttype include it. But it must be remembered that “Western mss” here refers only to D, a single witness (as far as Greek mss are concerned). Thus it can be seen that practically all of the earliest and best mss extant omit the pericope; it is found only in mss of secondary importance. But before one can conclude that the passage was not originally part of the Gospel of John, internal evidence needs to be considered as well. Internal evidence in favor of the inclusion of 8:1-11 (7:53-8:11): (1) 7:53 fits in the context. If the “last great day of the feast” (7:37) refers to the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, then the statement refers to the pilgrims and worshipers going home after living in “booths” for the week while visiting Jerusalem. (2) There may be an allusion to Isa 9:1-2 behind this text: John 8:12 is the point when Jesus describes himself as the Light of the world. But the section in question mentions that Jesus returned to the temple at “early dawn” (῎Ορθρου, Orqrou, in 8:2). This is the “dawning” of the Light of the world (8:12) mentioned by Isa 9:2. (3) Furthermore, note the relationship to what follows: Just prior to presenting Jesus’ statement that he is the Light of the world, John presents the reader with an example that shows Jesus as the light. Here the woman “came to the light” while her accusers shrank away into the shadows, because their deeds were evil (cf. 3:19-21). Internal evidence against the inclusion of 8:1-11 (7:53-8:11): (1) In reply to the claim that the introduction to the pericope, 7:53, fits the context, it should also be noted that the narrative reads well without the pericope, so that Jesus’ reply in 8:12 is directed against the charge of the Pharisees in 7:52 that no prophet comes from Galilee. (2) The assumption that the author “must” somehow work Isa 9:1-2 into the narrative is simply that – an assumption. The statement by the Pharisees in 7:52 about Jesus’ Galilean origins is allowed to stand without correction by the author, although one might have expected him to mention that Jesus was really born in Bethlehem. And 8:12 does directly mention Jesus’ claim to be the Light of the world. The author may well have presumed familiarity with Isa 9:1-2 on the part of his readers because of its widespread association with Jesus among early Christians. (3) The fact that the pericope deals with the light/darkness motif does not inherently strengthen its claim to authenticity, because the motif is so prominent in the Fourth Gospel that it may well have been the reason why someone felt that the pericope, circulating as an independent tradition, fit so well here. (4) In general the style of the pericope is not Johannine either in vocabulary or grammar (see D. B. Wallace, “Reconsidering ‘The Story of the Woman Taken in Adultery Reconsidered’,” NTS 39 [1993]: 290-96). According to R. E. Brown it is closer stylistically to Lukan material (John [AB], 1:336). Interestingly one important family of mss (Ë13) places the pericope after Luke 21:38. Conclusion: In the final analysis, the weight of evidence in this case must go with the external evidence. The earliest and best mss do not contain the pericope. It is true with regard to internal evidence that an attractive case can be made for inclusion, but this is by nature subjective (as evidenced by the fact that strong arguments can be given against such as well). In terms of internal factors like vocabulary and style, the pericope does not stand up very well. The question may be asked whether this incident, although not an original part of the Gospel of John, should be regarded as an authentic tradition about Jesus. It could well be that it is ancient and may indeed represent an unusual instance where such a tradition survived outside of the bounds of the canonical literature. However, even that needs to be nuanced (see B. D. Ehrman, “Jesus and the Adulteress,” NTS 34 [1988]: 24–44).

    sn Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of John. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation.

  • punkofnice

    A sincere question here; Doesn't any of this bother believers that god really isn't communicating very well here? I mean, if he can't get his chosen ones to know which bits he wrote and didn't, what hope is there?

    Can anyone explain, so I understand?

  • The Searcher
    The Searcher

    In truth, these verses shouldn't affect anyone's faith, one way or the other.

    Witnesses would do better to examine the internal & external evidence regarding the "accepted" wording of Matthew 28:19. (see

    Also, they may wish to check out John 3:16 etc. and discover that "exercising faith" is a NWT corruption of the Greek word pisteo, which means "believe", "have confidence in", or "be persuaded." (

  • ResearcherNY
    The earliest reference to that passage appears to have been made in Papias, a church father who wrote in the early 2nd century and claims to have known disciples of the apostles. A few later commentators like Didymos the Blind quote his version of the story or quote similar versions that don't exactly fit with the text to John. Supposedly it came originally from the Gospel of the Hebrews, a 2nd century text which unfortunately has not been preserved.
  • Perry

    Perhaps footnotes should read, “the earliest surviving manuscripts do not include John 7:53-8:11.”

    It is clear that very early on a textual issue arose regarding this passage, which likely explains its exclusion from some manuscripts. The 2nd-3rd century church writer Origen claimed that by his time, “much disagreement of manuscripts” had already arisen “either from the laziness of some scribes, the boldness of some wretched persons, from the thoughtlessness of the corrector of the things written, or even from those determining things for themselves by either making additions or taking things away” (Commentary on Matthew 15.14, Pope). The 4th-5th century commentator Augustine claimed that this had been done to the account of Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery. Addressing the Lord’s willingness to forgive the woman, he wrote:

    But this apparently frightens the unbelieving senses, so that some of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, (I believe, fearing that by the forgiveness of the adulteress the Lord has given immunity to their wives to sin), remove it out of their manuscripts, as if He gives permission to sin who said: “From now on, sin no more...” (On Adulterous Marriages2.7, Pope).

    Is there evidence to support Augustine’s claim that some had removed John 7:53-8:11 out of biblical manuscripts for fear that it might encourage sin?

    Codex Bezae

    The oldest surviving Greek manuscript to preserve this text is the late 4thcentury bilingual parchment known as Codex Bezae, which has been housed at Cambridge University since 1581. The text has Greek and Latin on facing pages, and contains versions of this passage in both the Greek and a pre-Vulgate version of the Latin. Although this is the earliest surviving copy that preserves this text, that does not indicate, as Philip Comfort has conjectured that it was “first inserted by the scribe of Codex Bezae” (Commentary 286). This is true because of additional manuscript evidence, and external testimony about this passage, which pre-date Codex Bezae. For example, while the 4th century parchment housed in the Vatican known as Codex Vaticanus does not include this text, it does place a horizontal divided bar (or “bar umlaut”) between 7:52 and 8:12 written in the original hand of the scribe who penned the text.

    John 8:12 from Codex Vaticanus

    Philip Payne, in a study on the use of such markings in this manuscript, argues that in Vaticanus such markers usually “indicate scribal awareness of a textual problem” (257). If that is correct it would indicate that a century before Bezae the scribe who penned Vaticanus was aware that a textual issue involved this section of John’s gospel.

    The earliest reference to this account outside of Scripture comes from the writings of the 1st-2nd century writer Papias. Although none of his works are preserved in complete form he is quoted by a number of ancient writers. The 3rd-4th century church historian Eusebius claims that Papias told a “story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord” but he does not speak of this as part of the gospel of John (Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16). The 10thcentury historian Agapius of Heirapolis, however, in a reference to Papias known as fragment 23, writes:

    At this time there lived in Heirapolis a prominent teacher and author of many treatises; he wrote five treatises about the gospel. In one of these treatises, which he wrote concerning the gospel of John, he relates that in the book of John the evangelist there is a report about a woman who was an adulteress. When the people led her before Christ our Lord, he spoke to the Jews who had brought her to him: Whoever among you is himself certain that he is innocent of that of which she is accused, let him now bear witness against her. After he had said this, they gave him no answer and went away (History of the World).

    If Agapius accurately represents Papias’ original text, it demonstrates a 2nd century witness to the presence of this passage in the gospel of John! The next reference comes in a 3rd century Syriac work known as the Didascalia Apostolorum which paraphrases part of this passage to teach bishops to follow the Lord’s example in showing mercy to those who repent. It warns, “But if you do not receive one who repents because you do not show mercy, you shall sin against the Lord God, for you do not obey our Savior and our God, to do as He also did with her that had sinned...” going on to paraphrase the text (7). This same admonition is echoed and the account is also paraphrased in a collection known as the Apostolic Constitutions written around 380, which claims that Jesus’ mercy “ought to be set before you as your pattern” (24).

    Pacian, the bishop of Barcelona who wrote in the mid-4th century, in his Third Epistle to Sympronian against the Treatise of the Novatians writes sarcastically to those who show no mercy, that they should, “Stone the petulant. Choose not to read in the Gospel that the Lord spared even the adulteress who confessed, when none had condemned her” (39). This charges the reader to “read in the Gospel” about this account. This demonstrates that well before Codex Bezae one could read a gospel record of this account? This is further supported by other writers also. Around 370 Ambrosiaster in his Quaestiones ex Utroque Mixtim 102: Contra Novatianum speaks of Jesus having “spared her who had been apprehended in adultery.” Ambrose of Milan, around 386 in Epistle 26 written to Irenaeus claimed, “The acquittal of the woman who, in the Gospel of John, was brought to Christ accused of adultery, is very famous” (2). He quotes from the passage latter in the same epistle and in Epistle 74 affirms its position before John 8:12. Near the end of the 4th century, the Alexandrian teacher known as Didymus the Blind, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes speaks of the presence of this passage “in some gospels” (223:7)—a clear elusion to its presence in some manuscripts of the gospels.

    Perhaps the most significant witness to the presence of this text in early manuscripts of the gospel of John is found in the claims of Jerome. In 383 Jerome presented to Damasus I, the bishop of Rome, a Latin translation of the gospels that he had been commissioned to produce. In a letter to Damasus offered as a preface to the four gospels he claimed that:

    ...They have been revised by a comparison of the Greek manuscripts. Only early ones have been used. To avoid any great divergences from the Latin which we are accustomed to read, I have used my pen with some restraint, and while I have corrected only such passages as seemed to convey a different meaning, I have allowed the rest to remain as they are (Preface to the Vulgate Gospels).

    Jerome’s translation included John 7:53-8:11 and provided what essentially became the “authorized” and scholarly researched version of the biblical text accepted by the Western world for centuries. Over thirty year later, in 417, in a text arguing Against the Pelagians, Jerome wrote, “In the gospel according to John, there is found in many manuscripts of both Greek and Latin, about the adulterous woman accused before the Lord” (2:17, Pope). Jerome, who includes this passage in the Vulgate, here claims that it was present in “many” Greek and Latin manuscripts. This makes it highly unlikely, as Philip Comfort claims that this is “a passage not written by John but inserted later” (Encountering the Manuscripts 387). Writers of Jerome’s time and following him confirm this same fact. Among these are Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, who cites this text frequently (Tractate 33 on John 2, 4-8; Contra Faustus22.25), his Manichean opponent Faustus, whom Augustine records as also citing this passage (Contra Foustus 33), Peter Chrysologus, the archbishop of Ravenna from 433-450 (Sermon 115), and Leo the Great, the bishop of Rome from 440-461 (Sermon 62, 4).

    All of this makes it clear that although the text of John 7:53-8:11 suffered from attempts to expunge it from the biblical record in the past (as we see recurring once again in the present) there is significant evidence to recognize its place in the inspired biblical record from the very beginning. Even the manuscript evidence itself must not be overstated. A footnote in the New King James Version claims that this text is present in “over 900 manuscripts.” According to James Snapp from research provided to him by Dr. James Robinson, that number must now be raised to 1476, with the number of Greek manuscripts that contain this section...

    [Those manuscripts that] do not include the passage [are] only 267. .... Before we allow the witness of these 267 manuscripts to lead us to reject a biblical text, scholars must give us sufficient reason to question the claims of ancient writers who attest to the presence of this text from the very beginning.


  • Phizzy

    To say this story is not in the "earliest and the best MSS" as claimed above, and copied by the WT/JWs in their explanation is accurate, but not the end of the matter.

    What is the date of the earliest complete copy of the Gospel of John ? 3rd Century ?

    We know that such copies of copies have been redacted, and as this bit of teaching is the most problematic for a misogynistic Church, it is no surprise that by that time these words have disappeared.

    I feel that they may well have been some of the original teaching of Jesus, and would have really stirred the pot in his day, being as it was a two pronged attack, against injustice and hypocrisy.

    Some very early Lectionaries, perhaps earlier than the Uncials, have these verses marked as not to be read on certain days in Church, the words not being applicable for that day, Pentecost for example, but why mark them to be skipped if they never existed in the earlier copies ?

    On the matter of hypocrisy, or false scholarship, the WT will claim to use the "earliest and best MSS" but most of these contain writings like The Shepherd of Hermas, which the WT rejects, so how much authority do the WT really put on these MSS ?

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot

    BarelyThere, different Bibles treat those verses differently. They might have the scripture with a footnote explaining the issue or they may not. One Catholic Bible that I had actually had that scripture at the end of the book of John with an explanation as to why it was considered spurious.

    If you go to you'll find nearly 50 different translations some of which explain why this was considered spurious scripture. The New International Version says:

    "[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]"

    The fact that this scripture is found in many different locations is as telling as its not being found at all in other manuscripts. It indicates that this "add on" account took a while before it settled its position in the text of the New Testament. To make an analogy the evolution of this spurious text was like adding a foreign gene to DNA.

  • Diogenesister
    But this apparently frightens the unbelieving senses, so that some of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, (I believe, fearing that by the forgiveness of the adulteress the Lord has given immunity to their wives to sin), remove it out of their manuscripts, as if He gives permission to sin who said: “From now on, sin no more...” (On Adulterous Marriages2.7, Pope).
    Is there evidence to support Augustine’s claim that some had removed John 7:53-8:11 out of biblical manuscripts for fear that it might encourage sin?

    Now THIS is the REAL reason the JW's have removed it from the revised NWT. They cannot bear the idea that someone could be utterly and UNCONDITIONALLY FORGIVEN. No shunning, no labeling, no marking, no hating no back room...just ' I forgive you.." There are many contested parts or even gospels..including, BTW, the bit in Tim that states women should be silent in the Cong...why remove one of THE most beautiful things EVER written in human history?

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