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Why is John 8:2-11 not found in earlier manuscripts? Does this mean it is a fabricated story?


John 8:2 - 11

ESV - 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst

Clarify (3) Share Report Asked December 31 2014 Mini larry price

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Data Pastor Shafer
Notes For Verse 11
a [Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more] 
This statement caused early Christians to avoid reading this story in public when lessons were read from the gospels.

It was not in any list of scriptures to be read in churches, and as it was probably marked in the MSS as a portion not to be read in public, it came, after some time, to be left out of some copies of Scriptures, though in the greater number it still remains as an original part of this gospel.

Early Christians thought Jesus was not condemning adultery here, but the idea is that He was not a magistrate and since no man of her accusers stayed to condemn, He was not going to pass sentence on the woman, taking it upon Himself to execute the law of Moses. 

He had to avoid the Jews accusing Him of taking magisterial authority in His own hands. Then, too, Christ came to save men, not to destroy them, so forgiveness of her sin was as much His obligation then as it still is when anyone repents and turns from sin (Mt. 12:31-32; 1Jn. 1:9). 

Jesus did not say He did not condemn adultery as a sin. He simply forgave the woman, as He had done others who were sinful (Mt. 9:1-8; Lk. 7:37-50). He frankly told her to sin no more, proving He did condemn adultery as sin. He did so elsewhere (Mt. 5:27-32; 19:9,18-19).

December 31 2014 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Image Thomas K M A retired Defence Scientist from Indian Defence R&D Orgn.
Some information that I gathered from various sources on the subject is reproduced below:

Although in line with many stories in the Gospels and probably primitive, certain critics argue that it was "certainly not part of the original text of John's Gospel.” On the other hand, the Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563, declared that the Latin Vulgate (which contains the passage) was authentic and authoritative, despite the fact that the Vulgate is mainly a translation produced by the end of 4th century A.D. (Wikipedia).

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.]. If you would read John 8:2-11 in one of the translations of the Bible other than the King James, you would discover that this passage is included in brackets or parenthesis with a note on the bottom that this passage does not really belong in the Holy Scriptures because it is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts. 

I am not going to get into that question this morning. The fact is that it belongs in Scripture, and it is wrong to take it out. This is the only place in the entire gospel of John where one of the great truths, emphasized so strongly in the other gospels, is set forth. That truth is put in different ways in the other gospel narratives. Sometimes it is put like this: "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Or, as the Lord explains in connection with the incident of Zacchaeus, the publican, "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." 

When Moses descended from the Mountain at Sinai with the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments, he read to the people the seventh commandment which simply says, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). Was Jesus playing loose with the Law? Not at all. Are we permitted, by His example, to play loose with the law under which we serve God? In no way. 

The Mosaic Law was very specific in how the execution of a sinner was to take place, especially in the case of adultery. Jesus is showing the utmost of respect for the law of God in doing what He did. The accusers of the adulteress had failed to prove their case. Their motives were wrong. They neither followed the letter nor the spirit of the law. They were sinners in this regard. How could a sinner condemn a sinner in the sin in which they were both a party? By this, I certainly do not mean that the accusers were involved in the sexual sin, though some have surmised that, given the absence of the adulterer. The issue here is respect for the Law of God. How do we handle it (2 Timothy 2:15)? (Larry Fain).

The Pharisees wanted everyone to see how zealous they were in maintaining God's law. You and I never talk about the sin of anyone else, except we do so in order to imply, "But I would never do anything like this. Shame is on such a person. I'm not guilty of that sin." That is why our tongues wag. And that is self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is a terrible sin and is rooted in the idea that we can earn heaven by our own works. That is what the Pharisees literally taught. It was their theology you see that there was a reserved seat in heaven for them and that they Jesus wanted to solve the case differently.

December 31 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
Actually, the passage, sometimes called the ‘Pericope Adulterae’ which means “the extract (literally, ‘cutting out’) of the adulteress,” goes from John 7:53 to 8:11. The claim is made that it is not in the earliest manuscripts. It is also asserted that it has been put in many different places, so that some scholars say it does not even belong in John but in Luke.

However, the evidence is contrary. It is found in one of the earliest manuscript, Codex Bezae, and in a large majority of Greek manuscripts, now figured to be 1,476, as well as most early church fathers’ writings and always in its place. Only 268 manuscripts do not contain it.

Some lectionaries, scheduled readings for church services during the year, often skipped it or moved it before or after the passage, or to the end of the Gospel of John for the reading on Pentecost. In some Byzantine text-type manuscripts this passage is marked with an obeli, i.e., asterisk. It is not because the passage was suspected as being doubtful or spurious, but these marks were intended as a reminder that these verses were to be skipped over. 

Scholars claim that this passage disrupts the flow, but there are problems in the flow of the narrative without it. In John 8:12, it says, “Jesus spoke to them again.” If the passage is not there, then ‘them’ must refer to the Pharisees, who Jesus was not with in John 7:45. If He was not with them, then He could not speak with them ‘again.’ The proper antecedent has to be ‘them’ in 8:7. There is a natural connection between 8:7 and 8:12. 

The oft-omitted passage starts with, “And everyone went to his own house,” which is a very strange way to begin the account. However, this very point of going home fits in the narrative of the feast of Tabernacles, John 7:2. After the people lived in booths for seven days, the eighth day was the last day, John 7:37, after which they would go home.

In John 8:12, Jesus announced for the first time that He was ‘the light of the world,’ Isaiah 9:12. It appropriately fits in the account. He had come in very early in the ‘deep dawn’ and entered in the temple sitting as a teaching Rabbi. It contrasts with the darkness of the scribes and Pharisees who had scorned Nicodemus, 7:52. Now they disrupted His teaching by bringing in a woman caught in adultery for which death was the penalty. The particular phrase ‘this they said tempting Him’ is uniquely John’s, used also in 6:6.

The One who gave the Law that was broken, rewrote on the ground and called for the woman to sin no more. The leaders could not stay but left as if the light was too bright. 

So, this is not a fabricated story, but a real event that fits in the narrative. It is a genuine part of the Scriptures from the beginning.

February 10 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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