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Re: [textualcriticism] pericope de adultera and stemmatics

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  • David Thiele
    Riesenfeld s article is available in English translation in his volume of collected essays, THE GOSPEL TRADITION (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970). Orginial
    Message 1 of 60 , Dec 11, 2004
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      Riesenfeld's article is available in English translation in his volume of collected essays, THE GOSPEL TRADITION (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970).  Orginial publication SEA 5 (1952).  At least I assume this is the article Tommy Wasserman refered to.  The English title is "The Pericope de adultera min the Early Christian Tradition".
      David Thiele
      Pacific Adventist University

      Michael Marlowe <marlow@...> wrote:

      Tommy Wasserman wrote:

      > Harald Riesenfeldt has written an article on this very
      > subject in the journal SEÅ in 1958 (I think that is the
      > correct year) and the article was later collected in: Att
      > tolka Bibeln (Stockholm : Diakonistyrelsens Bokförlag,
      > 1967).

      Do you mean, on the subject of Augustine's guess about why the pericope may
      have been deleted?

      I would like to hear more about that.

      Today I posted an essay on the subject on my website here:


      I go out on a limb a bit, in response to Augustine's theory. I welcome any
      feedback. Here is an excerpt:


      It was during the fourth century that the Church was established as the
      official religious institution of the Empire, and was promptly overwhelmed
      by masses of unregenerate "converts" under this state sponsorship. It was
      during the fourth century that the Donatist controversy raged, in which
      decisions had to be made concerning the treatment of the traditors who had
      denied the faith under persecution and who had surrendered their copies of
      the Bible to be burned. Were they to be allowed back into the fellowship of
      the saints, now that the persecutions had ended? This was a burning question
      at the time when the Story of the Adulteress was inserted into John's Gospel

      In discussions of the text-critical issue here, one often sees the opinion
      of Augustine quoted. In a treatise entitled De Adulterinis Conjugiis ("On
      Adulterous Marriages") written at the beginning of the fifth century,
      Augustine wrote, "Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the
      true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in
      sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord's act of forgiveness toward
      the adulteress," and this explanation for the absence of the passage from
      early manuscripts is apparently held to be credible by some. [note 1] But
      surely Augustine's explanation is not based upon any real knowledge of the
      matter. He says, "I suppose" (credo). How could he possibly have any
      information about the supposed motives of the scribe of Papyrus 66, which
      predates Augustine's treatise by two centuries? But in any case, Augustine's
      own motives are clear enough, because in De Adulterinis Conjugiis his
      purpose is to defend his sacramental view of marriage, in which a marriage
      bond is held to be indissoluble even after the wife has committed adultery;
      indeed even if she continues in this sin without repentance, Augustine
      maintains that the Story of the Adulteress shows that the husband must
      forgive it. The husband is eternally bound to her, Augustine says, and if he
      divorces her and marries another, he is an adulterer. The defense of this
      insane doctrine is the occasion, then, for his appeal to the Story of the
      Adulteress, and for his explanation of its absence from codices. It is yet
      another example of how the story has lent itself to abuse, in support of
      unbiblical teachings and practices.

      1. "Adulterous Marriages," translated by Charles T. Huegelmeyer, Book 2,
      para.7, in The Fathers of the Church: Saint Augustine: Treatises on Marriage
      and Other Subjects (New York: Catholic University of America Press, 1955),
      p. 107. The original Latin text of the paragraph from Migne's Patrologia
      Latina reads as follows: Sed hoc videlicet infidelium sensus exhorret, ita
      ut nonnulli modicae fidei vel potius inimici verae fidei, credo, metuentes
      peccandi impunitatem dari mulieribus suis, illud, quod de adulterae
      indulgentia Dominus fecit, auferrent de codicibus suis, quasi permissionem
      peccandi tribuerit qui dixit: Iam deinceps noli peccare, aut ideo non
      debuerit mulier a medico Deo illius peccati remissione sanari, ne
      offenderentur insani. Neque enim quibus illud factum Domini displicet, ipsi
      pudici sunt et eos severos castitas facit; sed potius ex illo sunt hominum
      numero, quibus Dominus ait: Qui sine peccato est vestrum, prior in eam
      lapidem iaciat. Nisi quod illi conscientia territi recesserant et temptare
      Christum atque adulteram persequi destiterunt; isti autem et aegroti medicum
      reprehendunt et in adulteras adulteri saeviunt: quibus si diceretur, non
      quod illi audierunt: Qui sine peccato est (quis enim sine peccato?) sed: Qui
      sine isto peccato est, prior in illam lapidem mittat; tum vero forsitan
      cogitarent, qui indignabantur, quod adulteram non occiderant i, quanta illis
      misericordia Dei parceretur, ut adulteri viverent.

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    • Daniel
      Malcomb wrote:
      Message 60 of 60 , Oct 15, 2008
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        Malcomb wrote:
        << One final note, the pericope presupposes that the Jews of Jesus'
        ministry on earth had the authority to kill. This [is refuted]
        elsewhere in the Gospel narrative.>>

        There are a couple of problems with this assertion.

        1) The text specifically says that this was a setup by the Scribes
        and/or Pharisees. It should have been a lose/lose proposition for
        Jesus: if he said "stone her," he would be in trouble with the Romans
        for instigating a lynching, as alluded to in 18:31. If he said "free
        her," he would be seen as "soft on crime" and loose popular support.
        They did not, of course, forsee the third option, which made them out
        to be the losers instead. But no authority under ROMAN law to execute
        was ever claimed; only under MOSAIC law.

        2) Lynchings by stoning did in fact occur during that era, as seen by
        the examples of Stephen in Acts 7 and James in the History of

        Daniel Buck
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