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Last Great Feast - John 8 #1

Woman taken in adultery


               From the Jamieson,Fausset,Brown
                      Bible Commentary

John chapter 8:

The Woman Taken in Adultery


....genuineness of this whole Section, including the last verse
of Ch.vii. - twelve verses - is by far the most perplexing
question of textual criticism pertaining to the Gospels. The
external evidence against it is immensely strong. It is wanting
in the four oldest MSS. - the newly discovered Codex Sinaiticus,
the Alexandrian, the Vatican, and the Ephraem - and in four other
valuable Uncial MSS., although two of these have a blank space,
as if something had been left out; it is wanting also in upwards
of fifty Cursive MSS. of ancient versions, it is wanting in the
venerable Peshito Syriac and its Philoxenian revision, in one and
probably both the Egyptian versions - the Thebaic and Memphitic -
the Gothic, probably the Armenian, and two or three copies of the
Old Latin: several of the fathers take no notice of it - as
Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Chrysostom: it is wanting in the
most ancient tables of the Sectional contents of the Gospels,
though afterwards inserted as an additional Section: the
variations in the MSS. which insert it exceed in number and
extent those in any other part of the New Testament: and of those
MSS. which insert it, four Uncials and upwards of fifty Cursives
have an asterisk or other critical mark attached to it as subject
to doubt or requiring investigation.

The internal evidence urged against it is, that it unnaturally
interrupts the flow of the narrative, whereas if ch.viii.12 come
immediately after ch.vii.52, all is natural - that the language
of this Section is strikingly dissimilar especially in the
particles, to that of John; and that the statement in ch.viii.1,
as to Jesus having gone to the mount of Olives, is one of the
strongest grounds of suspicion, since nowhere else in this Gospel
is "the mount of Olives" mentioned at all, nor does our Lord's
passing the night there agree with this or any stage of His
public life except the last. That we have here very strong
evidence against the genuineness of this Section, no intelligent
and impartial judge will deny. Moved by this evidence, Lachmann
and Tischendorf exclude it from their text; Tregelles prints it
in small type below the approved text, which Alford also does;
and hardly any recent critics acknowledge it as John's, except
Stier and Ebrard, to whom may be added Lange and Webster and
Wilkinson (though the latter do not, like the former, grapple
with the difficulties). 

But let us look at the other side of the question. Of the four
most ancient MSS. which want this Section, the leaves of two at
this place have been lost - of A, from ch.vi.50 to viii.52; and
of C, from ch.vii.3 to viii.33. We have, therefore, no certainty
whether those MISS. contained it or not. As to the two (L and A)
whose spaces are not long enough to make it possible that they
contained this Section, the reference is precarious, since no
more may have been intended by those spaces than simply to
indicate that there a portion of text was wanting. But it is
found in seven Uncial MSS., though the letters in that most
remarkable one, the Codex Bezae (D), are said to be very
different from the others, while in one of the others but a small
number of the verses is given, and in another one verse is
wanting; it is found in above three hundred of the Cursive MSS.
without any note of question, and above fifty more with an
asterisk or other mark of doubt. 
Of versions it is found in the Old Latin - which may be held to
neutralize the fact of its absence in the Peshito Syriac, as the
one appears to have been executed for the Western churches about
as early as the other for the Eastern; and it is found in the
Vulgate, while Jerome to whom we owe that revision of the
venerable Old Latin, states that in his time - the fourth
century, (and we have no MSS. of older date than that) this
Section was found in many MSS. both Greek and Latin.

Turning now from external to internal evidence in favour of this
Section, it appears to us to be almost overpowering. Requesting
the reader to recall the exposition of it, we confidently ask if
historical authenticity is not stamped upon the face of it, and -
admitting that some such incident as this might not be beyond
invention - whether the very peculiar and singularly delicate
details of it could be other than real. And if the question be,
whether, supposing it genuine, there were stronger motives for
its exclusion, or, if spurious, for its insertion? no one who
knows anything of the peculiarities of the early Church can well
hesitate. The notions of the early Church on such subjects were
of the most ascetic description, and to them the whole narrative
must have been most confounding. Augustin accordingly says, 'Some
of slender faith or rather enemies of the true faith, have
removed it from their MSS. fearing I believe, that an immunity to
sin might be thought to be given by it.' Nor was he alone in
ascribing the omission of it to this cause. Such a feeling in
regard to this Section is sufficient to account for the
remarkable fact that it was never publicly read along with the
preceding and following context in the early churches, but
reserved for some unimportant festivals, and in some of the
service books appears to have been left out altogether. In short,
to account for its omission, if genuine, seems easy enough; but
for its insertion, if spurious, next to impossible. 

Moved by these considerations, a middle course is taken by some. 
Meyer and Ellicott, while convinced that it is no part of the
Gospel of John, are equally convinced of its historical truth and
canonical authority; and observing how closely ch.viii. agrees
with Luke xxi.37, think that to be its proper place. Indeed, it
is a singular fact that four of the Cursive mss. actually place
it at the end of Luke xxi. Something very like this is Alford's
view. This, of course, would quite explain the mention (in ch.
viii.1) of "the mount of Olives," and our Lord's spending the
night there being His last week. But this theory - of a fragment
of authentic canonical Gospel History never known to have existed
in its proper place (with the exception of four pretty good
MSS.), and known only as part of a Gospel to which it did not
belong, and with which it was out of keeping - can never, in our
judgment, be admitted. Scrivener, while impressed with its
internal excellence, thinks the evidence against it too strong to
be resisted, except on the singular theory that the beloved
disciple himself added it in a later edition of his Gospel, and
that thus copies having it and copies wanting it ran parallel
with each other from the very first - a theory, however, for
which there is not the slightest external evidence, and attended,
it seems to us, with greater difficulty than that which it is
designed to remove. 

On the whole, though we admit the difficulties with which this
question is encompassed, as the narrative itself bears that stamp
of originality, truth, purity, and grandeur which accord so well
with its place in the Gospel History, so the fact that wherever
it is found it is as part of the Fourth Gospel, and among the
transactions of the Feast of Tabernacles, is to us the best proof
that this is, after all, its true place in the Gospel History;
nor does it appear to us to interrupt the flow of the narrative,
but entirely to harmonize with it - if we except ch.viii.1, which
must be allowed to remain among the difficulties that we, at
least, find it not easy to solve.] But see POST SCRIPT 

P.S.- In discussing the genuineness of the much disputed passage
regarding the woman taken it adultery, John vii.53 to viii.11
(pp. 400, 401), we came to the conclusion that it rested on
evidence, external and internal, sufficient to satisfy the
reasonable enquirer, and that its place - supposing its
historical truth and canonical authority admitted - could be no
other than that in which it stands in the received text. But
there was one difficulty which we candidly acknowledged we were
there unable to remove - as to Jesus having gone, on the evening
before, to the mount of Olives (ch.viii.1). The argument against
the passage from this verse that 'nowhere else in this Gospel is
"the mount Olives" mentioned at all, nor does our Lord's passing
the night there agree with this or any stage of His public life
except the last.' Of this objection we said, at the close of the
discussion, that it 'must be allowed to remain among the
difficulties that we, at least, find it not easy to solve.'But
since that paragraph was written, it has occurred to us that the
following explanation sufficiently meets it. 
The first three Gospels record no visit of our Lord to Jerusalem
except the last; nor should we have known for certain that He was
there at all until He went thither to die, but for the fourth
Gospel (see page 21, first column). It cannot then be proved,
from the first three Gospels at least, that His retiring to the
mount of Olives, instead of remaining in the city or going to
Bethany, was inconsistent with any earlier stage of His life than
the last. The utmost that could be fairly alleged would be, that
the circumstances which led to His going to the mount of Olives
at the time of His last visit had no parallel at any earlier
stage. But the contrary of this may be plainly gathered from what
is recorded immediately before the disputed passage. The
Pharisees, having sent officers to apprehend Jesus, were galled
at their returning not only without Him but with a confession of
their impotence to lay hands on so a comparable a Teacher.  
Scarcely had they given vent to their rage, when one of
themselves hinted at the illegality of condemning a man unheard.
And though this division in their own camp had the effect of
paralysing their efforts to arrest the Saviour at that time, it
was so critical a juncture that He whose hour was not yet come
might well decline to sleep that night in Jerusalem. In that
case, whether He retired to the mount of Olives, only to spend
some quiet hours alone, and then retired to asleep at Bethany, or
whether He spent the whole night there - as at that season He
could safely enough do - is of little moment. Enough that, either
way, the only objection to the genuineness of this passage, from
internal evidence, which has any plausibility, admits of
sufficient explanation.

 
Remark:

While a sanctimonious hypocrisy is not infrequently found among
unprincipled professors of religion, a compassionate purity which
wins the fallen is one of the most beautiful characteristics of
real religion. But till Christ appeared this feature of religion
was but dimly realized, and in the Old Testament but faintly held
forth. It was reserved for the Lord Jesus to exhibit it in all
its loveliness. In this incident, of the Woman Taken in Adultery,
we have it in its perfection, while the spirit of the men that
brought her to Jesus, appearing in such vivid contrast to it,
acts but as a foil to set it off.

                              ...............

End of quotes from JFB Bible Commentary


Keith Hunt:

Agreeing with what JAMIESON - FAUSSET - BROWN - have to say in
the final conclusion, it is indeed fitting that this passage of
Scripture should have occurred on the LAST GREAT FEAST DAY. 
That Feast represents those who will be resurrected to life once
more, with all their sins, that many a human man would have
little mercy upon and condemn to death. But which Jesus and God
the Father will not condemn. These will be people who were not
called in their first physical life time, they will be some of
the greatest "sinners" the world have ever known, as to sin
against other human beings. Some will be babies and children who
died being but babies and children. Some will be the mentally
handicapped, or those who lived in remote parts of the world who
never even heard the name of Jesus, never mind given the Bible to
read and live by.

For all these the books will be opened (Greek "biblos" from
where the word "bible" comes) the tree of life available to
partake of, if they will now repent of their sins and acknowledge
Jesus as their personal Savior, and be willing to live by every
word of God, as Jesus taught that we should (Mat.4:4; Rev.20).

It will indeed be a time of the Great White Throne Judgment (see
my study by that name, for an understanding of the plan of God's
calling and saving (Rev.20).
When all is said and done, MOST who have ever lived will be
saved. God wishes for NONE to PERISH, but that all should come to
repentance and salvation (2 Peter 3:9).

Praise the Lord for His LOVING KINDNESS AND BOUNTIFUL MERCY!!

TO BE CONTINUED WITH PART TWO


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