Need Expertise on John 8:1-11

A visitor to the Moriel website wrote in an email:

Shalom Jacob.

You wrote an excellent article on Christian Cults, and my family commend you for the biblical principles applied and woven into that article.

Anyway, that is not the reason why I’m writing to you. I’m particularly concerned about the issue of John chapter 8:1-11. Apparently, every footnote of every Bible translation contend that the earliest Greek manuscripts do NOT contain it. So HOW did it manage to creep into the latter codices? The same standard applies to Mark 16:9-19.

According to the Aramaic English New Testament (AENT) Messianic scholar Andrew Gabriel Roth, he says that, “Considering the revisions, additions, adulteration and conflicts in the thousands of Greek manuscripts which surfaced since the Fourth Century, we know one thing: this segment was inserted a couple of hundred years after the time of Shlicha Yochanan (Apostle John), by the ‘paganistic’ Early Church Founders to support their ‘cunningly devised fables’ and their ‘ Heathenistic religious background'”. Elsewhere he says: “This narrative is a fundamental proof text for Christians to prove that Jesus forgives adultery with no consequences to the offender. The woman caught in adultery suffered no consequences; therefore, Christians theologize that she is saved, which also makes them feel better about the adultery in their own churches. Because of John 8, Christian leaders can now teach that adulterers are forgiven and need not make restitution. There are no consequences in many Christian circles for adultery, which is why when Pastors, Priests and Reverends commit adultery and other evil sex crimes, they can continue right along with their ‘ministries’ as if hardly nothing had happened”.

Does Moriel view John chapter 8:1-11 as part of God’s Inerrant and eternal Word, even though it certainly was a Fourth Century plus forgery?

Doesn’t this support atheists, liberal thinkers as well as Islamic missionaries’ contentions that the Christian Bible has been plaguarized and corrupted over the centuries? How do I explain to my Muslim friends that the Holy Scriptures has NOT been tampered with, but remains the eternal, immutable and inerrant Word of God?

Hope you can help with this.


Jacob replies:

Thank you for your e mail.

Unfortunately, due to the constraints of time Moriel and Jacob Prasch cannot re-echo detailed replies to questions where the issue is already addressed in recorded materials. In this case we would point you to Jacob’s recording of Simchat Torah available through the Moriel website or the Moriel Quarterly newsletter.

If someone isn’t familiar with academic theology it is difficult to give brief replies to questions about source criticism and form criticism (the branch of scholarly theology where your question is found). Nonetheless we will reply this once but we cannot take the lengthy time to explain the background of source and form criticism. It is just not possible.

Concerning the canonicity of John 8:1-11, the matter of Aramaic New Testaments is completely irrelevant as the Syriac manuscrips are themselves translated from earlier Greek manuscripts and there are no Aramaic sources in existence nor any that we can know ever existed.

Very few early manuscripts contain verses 1-11 and some manuscripts place it after Luke 21:38 or elsewhere in John’s Gospel, the major exception being the manuscript “Western Uncial D“. The issue. however. is not the historicity of the account or canonicity. but the Johannine interpolation. The language in terms of construction, syntax and vocabulary is more Synoptic than Johanine particularly akin to Luke or Acts.

The direct co-textual reference in the messianic prophecy of Jesus in Jeremiah 17:13 supports its historicity and canonicity. The contextual reference in this passage moreover matches the preceeding chapter 7 in the “living water” typology of “Simcha Beit Ha Shoyivah” on “Hag Sukkoth” (The Feast of Tabernacles) and the festal theme, which probably accounts for the interpolation by redaction.

Taken together with Western Uncial D, and the probable patristic reference to the accout by Papias as cited by Eusebius (H.E. III, xxxix, 16) there is little doubt that the event happened.

Concerning the reliability of biblical manuscripts, the reliability of textual preservation is verified by the Dead Sea Scrolls of The Old Testament (25% of which are available in the public domain and all of which are in the hands of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran Commissions composed of theologians both Jewish and Christian and both liberal and conservative scholars).

Regarding the New Testament, the body of manuscript evidence for the Gospels alone exceeds 10,000 source manuscripts, fragments, papyrus fragments, and early codexes. Nothing like this exists for the Koran. The Islamic world will not even allow source critical scholarship of the Koran. The only real Islamic scholars are in the West (and are called “Orientalists”) who admit that at least the first 500 source manuscripts of the Koran were boiled or burned. Islam is much more vulnerable to being discredited by source criticism than Judaism or Christianity. Most Moslems either do not know this or do not want others to know it. In fact, they cannot even face the reality of it. As one example, the Satanic Verses for which rioting Moslems demanded the death of Salman Rushdie is but one well-known case of this. Islamic scholars have known for centuries that the original copies of the Koran contained the infamous “Satanic Verses” which were later deleted.

Regarding the reliability of the New Testament, we would point you to as one good, easy-to-read reference book F. F. Bruce’s The Reliability of The New Testament Manuscripts.

I trust this helps. But it is not possible for us to provide individual reiterations of materials in our published or recorded materials and we cannot go into long explantions of matters of critical scholarship unless it is done through King’s Divinity School (University of Wales) with theological students. If you are interested in these fascinating and important, yet complex, subjects there are no shortcuts for learning Greek, Hebrew, etc. You may wish to prayerfully consider enrolling at King’s as an external student, but we cannot go into academic theology outside of a proper academic format. There is a hyperlink via the Moriel website, but it will require time, work and study. It would simply require too much time for us to explain the language background, manuscript histories, etc. outside of a proper seminary framework.

We would point you to our recorded and published materials, to King’s School of Divinity, and to authors such as ‘F. F. Bruce, Craig Blomberg and others who have already wriiten extensively on these subjects.

Sincerely In Christ,

Moriel and Jacob Prasch

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