This proves that this particular volume by Hendriksen is liberal-traditional:
Also, regardless of whether John himself wrote it, does it belong in the Bible, or should it be removed from Scripture? [...] it is our conviction that these same facts indicate that no attempt should be made to remove this portion from Holy Writ.
The facts, then, are as follows:
1. The story contains several words which do not occur elsewhere in any of John’s writings. This, however, is not entirely decisive.
2. The oldest and best manuscripts (Aleph, A, B, L, N, W) do not have this story. It makes its first appearance in Codex Bezae. It is found in the later uncials (the so-called Koine text) and the cursives based upon them. Thus it found its way into the A.V.
has the story, but places it between brackets, and states in the margin: “Most of the ancient authorities omit John 7:53–8:11. Those which contain it vary much from each other.” Some manuscripts place it at the close of the Fourth Gospel and some (the Ferrar cursives) after Luke 21:38.
3. Some of the old Latin witnesses (a, f, g) and also the Syriac sin., Syriac cur., Peshito, as well as the Sahidic (Upper Egypt), Armenian, and Gothic translations omit this portion. Moreover, the Greek expositors Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Nonnus, and Theophylact fail to comment on it. It is found here (i.e., between 7:52 and 8:12) in some Old Latin witnesses (b, c, e, ff, j), in the Vulgate, and in the Palestinian Syriac translation.
Now, if there were no additional information with respect to this paragraph, the evidence in its favor would be very weak, indeed. We are not at all surprised that A. T. Robertson regards it as a marginal gloss which through a scribal error crept into the text.17
Lenski expresses himself in no uncertain language, regards it as spurious, and omits it completely from his exposition. E. J. Goodspeed considers it an anecdote which should be omitted.
4. However, the matter is not simple by any means. There are facts which point in the opposite direction:
The story fits very well into the present context. It can be viewed as serving to prepare for and to elucidate the discourse of the Lord in 8:12 ff. Let it be borne in mind that this woman had been walking in moral darkness. It is probable that Jesus dispelled her darkness. So, we are not surprised to read in verse 12: “I am the light of the world.”
5. The Christ as pictured here (7:53–8:11) is entirely “in character”: as he is described here so he is also pictured elsewhere. Here is the Savior who came not to condemn but to save, and who actually did save such persons as the woman of Lk. 7, the Samaritan woman, publicans, sinners. Here the One who told the touching parable of “the prodigal son” is shown in the act of revealing his tender mercy to a prodigal daughter. And the scribes and Pharisees, too, are “in character.” These men who had shown very clearly that they cared more for their own sabbath-regulations than for the total recovery of the paralytic at the pool (ch. 5) reveal their utter lack of human consideration in the case of this woman.
6. Papias, a disciple of the apostle John, seems to have known this story and to have expounded it. Says Eusebius: “The same writer (Papias) has expounded another story about a woman who was accused before the Lord of many sins, which the Gospel according to the Hebrews contains” (Ecclesiastical History III, xxxix, 17). It would seem, therefore, that Papias already knew this story, that he regarded it of sufficient importance for exposition, but that he did not find it in John’s Gospel. Was it never there, or had it been removed for certain reasons?
7. Augustine has stated definitely that certain individuals had removed from their codices the section regarding the adulteress, because they feared that women would appeal to this story as an excuse for their infidelity (De adulterinis conjugiis II, vii). Closely connected with this is the fact that asceticism played an important role in the sub-apostolic age. Hence, the suggestion that the section (7:53–8:11) was at one time actually part of John’s Gospel but had been removed from it cannot be entirely dismissed.
Our final conclusion, then, is this: though it cannot now be proved that this story formed an integral part of the Fourth Gospel, neither is it possible to establish the opposite with any degree of finality. We believe, moreover, that what is here recorded really took place, [...] Hence, instead of removing this section from the Bible it should be retained and used for our benefit.18
Ministers should not be afraid to base sermons upon it! On the other hand, all
the facts concerning the textual evidence should be made known!
Authorized Version (King James)
American Standard Revised Version
A. T. Robertson, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament
, New York, 1925, p. 154.
Cf. John Calvin, op. cit.,
p. 156; Satis constat historiam hanc olim Graecis fuisse ignotam. Itaque nonnulli coniiciunt aliunde assutam esse. Sed quia semper a Latinis Ecclesiis recepta fuit et in plurimis vetustis Graecorum codicibus reperitur, et nihil Apostolico Spiritu indignum continet, non est cur in usum nostrum accommodare recusemus. — The opposite view is defended by E. J. Goodspeed in Problems of New Testament Translation
, Chicago, 1945, pp. 105–109.
Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 1-2), S. 2:33-35
What is it like when it handles controversial passages?