Talk:John 8-14 (Translated)
8:1-11 Adulteress Story
There are actually two issues relating to this passage, one of import to the textual scholars and translators ("Is it original to the Gospel of John?"), the other of interest to the theologians and historians ("Did this event actually happen?"). Since I am functioning primarily as a translator here, I will deal with the first question . . . uh, first.
Scholars have long accepted that the first and best source for evidence regarding the authenticity of any passage in scripture is the "combined" testimony of the "witnesses" (manuscripts and letters from early church Fathers), and that of these, the earlier the witness, the stronger the case (taking into consideration such things as the frequency of demonstrable errors, which can reflect on the reliability of the entire manuscript, and the condition of the leaves in the manuscript). Of the earliest witnesses, only P66 is seriously suspect (having as many as 5 times more demonstrable errors than P75), and discounting the "intentional corruption" theories of the "KJV only" crowd (for which there is not one single shred of actual evidence), it is reasonable and logical to place the highest degree of authority on the combined testimony of P66 (with reservations), P75, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus and Bezae Cantabrigeinsis when evaluating the Gospel of John, as these are the seven oldest complete or nearly complete copies of John in existence.
Here is their testimony concerning this passage: It appears ONLY in one of this group (Ephraemi Rescriptus), meaning that in the oldest manuscripts, 86% claim it is not original. When further taking into consideration that if you expand this search out to include all copies of John for the first 800 years of Christianity, the case becomes even stronger, rising to over 90% of all manuscripts which do not include it. With this evidence, the case against it being original to the gospel of John approaches near certainty.
Contrast this with the case for or against Mark 16:9-20, and this becomes even more glaring. Where the story of the adulteress is found in less than 10% of all manuscripts in the first 800 years of Christianity, the last 12 verses of Mark are only missing from about 10% of all manuscripts in the first 800 years of Christianity. Of the five oldest complete Bibles, it is missing from Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and is present in Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, an Bezae Cantabrigeinsis (and Vaticanus has a blank space exactly large enough to include it, where no other NT book in Vaticanus ends with a blank space). This makes the case among the oldest manuscripts FOR the inclusion either 60% or 80% (depending on how the blank space in Vaticanus is interpreted), but when the parameters are extended out to the first 800 years of Christianity, we find an almost reversal of the passage with the Adulteress, where nearly 90% of all manuscripts INCLUDE the last 12 verses of Mark.
It should be clear from this that the case against the adulteress passage being original is quite overwhelming, and thus, barring a new manuscript discovery which could cast new light on this matter, we can conclude with a high degree of certainty that John did NOT author these 11 verses.
At this point I would like to note the following: When considering the authenticity of this passage, I couldn't care less how the liberals, atheists, Buddhist, Muslims, Homosexuals, PTA members, Senators, Boy Scouts, Red Hatters, Kewanis Club Members or anyone else does or does not twist the meaning of this or any other passage of scripture. Their ignorance or insight has no bearing on Truth.
Now we come to the second question: "Did this event actually happen?"
While we know that John is not the author of this passage, that does not automatically mean the event did not occur. In fact, when examining the evidence, we discover that while the evidence for its exclusion from John is overwhelming, the opposite is true when it comes to an independent examination of whether or not this event actually happened: the evidence is overwhelming that this event, or something very close to it, actually did occur.
The forgiving of the adulteress is mentioned in passing by at least one early church father (Papias) PRIOR to the creation of the earliest existing copies of the gospel of John. That is a HUGE bit of evidence. Further, not only is it repeatedly mentioned by early church fathers in the second, third and fourth centuries, but Jerome (fifth century) goes so far as to claim those who exclude it are the ones who are distorting scripture. The key thing to note is that none of the early church fathers from the first three centuries claim that it is found in the Gospel according to John (Jerome is the first to make that claim), but nearly all of them seem to know the story.
Examining the combination of everyone in the first few centuries of Christianity seeming to know the story, yet it being absent from nearly all existing manuscripts from that same time period, has led nearly all modern Biblical scholars (both conservative and liberal) to conclude that while it is clearly NOT original to John, it appears to be the one and only example of an actual event in Jesus' life which was transmitted down through the first few centuries via oral tradition, and was later written down and added to John so that it would not be lost to future generations.
So, in the same way that the evidence for its exclusion from John is overwhelming, the evidence for it being an actual historically accurate event is also overwhelming.
Which brings us to my conclusion.
While the bible contains an accurate account of many historical events, it is much, much more than a history book. While it contains the purest and most accurate explanations of philosophical and theological doctrines, it is much more than merely a book of doctrine or philosophy. The Bible is God-breathed. It is the Word of God in a way that no other book can ever claim to be. Many books can be completely accurate when it comes to the transmission of the events recorded within their pages (I and II Maccabees comes to mind), but there is an eternity of difference between accurate history and being God-breathed. The reason it matters to me what is and is not original, the reason I have spent so many decades studying the contents of as many of the existing manuscripts as I can get my hands on, is that I want to hear and read the one and only God-breathed book in existence, and I want it to be as uncluttered as is possible to make it.
Jesus did LOTS of things that did not make it into the Bible. God knows why that is, and I will not second guess His wisdom and knowledge. In His book, God tells us what He has decided we NEED to know, but rarely does He tell us everything we WANT to know. So I can say with a very high degree of certainty that the events described in this account probably DID happen, and I can also say with a very high degree of certainty that the record of those events, while probably being very accurate, are NOT God-breathed, and thus, they do not belong in the bible.
Can we learn from them? Absolutely, but do NOT place this account on the same level as the Bible. It is better placed along side the writings of such notable authors as Jerome, Eusebius, Tertullian, and Augustine, or if this works better for you, Andy Stanley, Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Colson, and Charles Swindoll.
Again, the fact that liberals twist the meaning of this passage is of no relevance to me or to this issue. They twist every "judge not" statement in the entire Bible. That is their job, and their job has no bearing on Truth.Michael Back 8:01, 19 November 2009 (EST)
- Thanks for your superb analysis, Michael, from which I learned immensely.
- For the record, the ideological objection is not to how liberals "twist" this passage, but how the passage itself is written in such a liberal way that it renders its authenticity doubtful. It would be akin to discovering a passage that said something like this: "Jesus then said that government should take from the rich and give to the poor." Historical analysis can prove that to be non-authentic; political analysis can reach the same conclusion more efficiently and with a high degree of certitude.
- Jesus did not forgive without repentance, yet the Adulteress Story claims He did. Jesus did not comment on capital punishment, yet the Adulteress Story claims He did. Jesus was not permissive about adultery, yet the Adulteress Story He was. Older people are not always wiser than younger ones, yet the Adulteress Story claims they are. And so on.--Andy Schlafly 20:15, 19 November 2009 (EST)
- I understand your concerns completely, and yet, I would say that the liberal evaluation of the story has no bearing to what the story is actually relating. What Jesus DID do was read people's hearts, and act on that knowledge. What He DID do was show mercy to an entire planet that was condemned to death. What He DID do was forgive people of the most heinous of crimes and then charge them to "sin no more." And every now and then, the older people actually get it right, despite being senile, stuck in their ways, ruled by tradition, and stubborn as mules. So the liberal analysis of this passage is wrong? Frankly, that's not news. But either way, accurate or not, it should not be in the Bible. Michael Back 8:34, 19 November 2009 (EST)
- Fair enough, with respect to recognizing the passage as non-authentic. Debating beyond that is unnecessary for this project.
- By the way, John 8:35 presents an entirely different issue: should the words of Jesus be translated with the term "slave"? By its context, He's not talking about English-style slavery.--Andy Schlafly 20:46, 19 November 2009 (EST)
- By western word definitions, "doulos" is more of a "bond-servant" than a slave. They were usually in slavery due to debts owed, and could often work their way out of that debt, and thus gain their freedom. We think of a slave in terms of the American version, where people were born into it, lived their life in it, and died slaves, with no realistic hope of ever gaining freedom. That is not what a doulos was, so my translation preference would be "servant" or "bond-servant." Michael Back 12:39, 20 November 2009 (EST)
I have decided, for now, to leave 8:1-11 untranslated, as I feel the evidence is overwhelming that it should not be included in the text. If there is a compelling reason as to why it should be translated, let me know and I may reconsider. --Michael Back 15:21, 21 November 2009 (EST)
- Had an interesting conversation with a professor from Liberty University the other day about this passage, and he made an interesting point about the nature of inspiration. Anyway, I think I'm going to go ahead and translate the adulterous passage, but keep the entire thing in bracketed italics, meaning, based on the evidence, I don't believe it is original. If I were making this translation, I would put it in a footnote, saying that the evidence is pretty strong that it was added later (in fact, it is found in Luke in one manuscript), although the evidence from the early church Father's suggests that it may have actually occurred.--Michael Back 12:46, 2 January 2010 (EST)
- That sounds best. Just add in a footnote saying that the story is true, but it was not originally part of the Bible. CharlieT 13:29, 2 January 2010 (EST)
- Just a little note. In the same way that it is unprofessional to conclude, with no qualifications, that Mark ended his gospel at 16:8, it would be equally unprofessional to state, with no qualifications, that the adulteress story "is true." The more professional and responsible statement would be to state that, "the combined evidence of early church fathers and hundreds of the oldest Greek manuscripts suggest both that the story MAY be true, and that it was most likely NOT originally part of the Bible (missing from 90% of all Greek manuscripts prior to 900 AD)." Likewise, the more professional and responsible comment for Mark 16:8 would be, "Although Mark's gospel ends at verse 8 in two of the oldest manuscripts, the combined evidence of early church fathers and hundreds of the oldest Greek manuscripts suggests that the longer ending is 'more likely' the original ending (found in 90% of all Greek manuscripts prior to 900 AD." --Michael Back 15:35, 9 February 2010 (EST)
- Thanks for your insights, Michael!--Andy Schlafly 15:55, 10 February 2010 (EST)
I would appreciate some input and ideas on a better way to translate this idiom. I have used the "truly, truly" formula, but am rather unhappy with that. However, I'm having a little bit of a brain malfunction on being able to come up with a better one that doesn't just sound hokey. Essentially, "amen amen" means "Pay very close attention to this," "this is especially important," or "if you don't hear anything else I say, hear this" . . . all of which are too long and unwieldy. So I would greatly appreciate some creative input on this phrase. One suggestion is "listen up!" or "Hear me!" Any ideas, comments, whatever? Thanks. --Michael Back 15:26, 31 December 2009 (EST)
John 12:32 - Calvinist vs. Arminian
In the clause, "I shall draw everyone to me," the Greek word πᾶς (everyone, all) is the first word of the clause, giving it extra emphasis, meaning in modern vernacular, it would be roughly equivalent to this, "I shall draw EVERYONE to me." By giving it the extra emphasis, John is emphasizing that this is not a "figure of speech." Jesus really does mean EVERYONE. In addition, the word translated "draw" is a very strong word, often implying "compel, drive, lead, push." So what does this verse really mean?
This verse is a perfect example of how the Greek constructions, even though they contain detail and subtleties far surpassing English, do not always provide enough information to answer fundamental doctrinal questions. This verse is a perfect case study of the single biggest division within the Protestant ranks: Calvinist vs. Arminian. How so?
A simple look around one's neighborhood will be sufficient to make it clear that this verse does NOT mean that every single person on the planet will be saved, so what does it mean?
The Calvinist believes that ἑλκύω (to draw, to lead, to compel) is an absolute reference to irresistible grace, and thus, to salvation, and that the "all, everyone" in this verse references "all those whom Jesus has chosen, all of the elect," not "all people in the world."
The Arminian believes that ἑλκύω is NOT an absolute reference to salvation, but to the fact that everyone will be faced with, and forced to either accept or reject Jesus, thus it is a reference to the choice (free will) of following or not following Jesus, and thus, the "all, everyone" in this verse references "all people, every person on the planet."
The purpose of this comment is NOT to support either Calvinism or Armianism (so PLEASE, do NOT respond to it with scriptural evidence for one or the other positions), but to show that, in this case, as with most verses in this debate, BOTH sides have valid arguments from this passage, as BOTH sides require INTERPRETATION of the verse. So which is correct? The honest answer is that we don't know for sure. I lean toward the Arminian interpretation, but I am honest enough to admit there are scriptures that are difficult to explain from the Arminian perspective. I have a lifelong friend who leans toward the Calvinist interpretation, and is also honest enough to admit there are scriptures that are difficult to explain from the Calvinist perspective.
Bottom line: there are sincere and honest believers doing the work of the Lord who hold to BOTH perspectives, so let's not make this a point for division, but rather, simply a point where we can say that we disagree, but we will serve the Lord together, side by side anyway, continuing to show love and respect for those who hold to a different position from our own. Let us learn to disagree without being disagreeable. If we can't do that with each other, how will we EVER learn to love the unbelievers, with whom we disagree about almost everything? --Michael Back 12:30, 18 February 2010 (EST)
Command vs. Promise
I was gone for a few weeks (due to the many demands of real life), and someone translated this passage while I was gone (which is fine, this is not MY translation project). For reasons I cannot fathom, they translated ἐντολή as "promise" instead of "command" in John 12:49-50. There are several Greek words that can be translated "promise" (such as noun = ἐπαγγελία, verb = ἐπαγγέλλω), but ἐντολή simply does not mean promise. It is a command, order, demand, precept, injunction or rule. It appears 71 times in the NT, and as far as I can tell, it is NEVER used in the sense of a promise. Can anyone shed some light on this for me? Is there something that I was missing about the meaning of ἐντολή or is there something in the context here that I missed?--Michael Back 13:10, 13 March 2010 (EST)
- I was talking to my wife today about how the words "commandment," "command" and "rule" are understood in modern American culture. All of them seem to carry the idea that if you need to make a "rule" or a "command," it is only because the one who you are giving it to is disinclined to obey. The problem is that this is NOT the case with Jesus and the Father, and it is often not the case with believers. Jesus WANTED to obey His Father, and we often (or maybe sometimes) WANT to obey Jesus. Anyway, we were tossing around words that might have a more neutral, or even positive meaning for modern audiences, and she suggested "directive." I really like that, so as of this moment, I intend to go back and substitute "directive" for "rule" or "command" in places where the ones involved are Jesus, the Father, and believers.--Michael Back 19:59, 18 March 2010 (EDT)
a challenging verse to translate, as English has no term for several Greek terms here; χείρ means anything that helps, including hand and/or wrist, and should be translated as "wrist" here because modern anatomy (and the Shroud of Turin) demonstrates the nails must have through the wrists to hold the weight of the body and prevent the victim from escaping.
On the other hand, there was a Greek word for wrist - καρπός (other meaning: fruit). So it seems that John intentionally used χείρ at two places in this verse: first as see my hands (ἴδε τὰς χεῖρας μου), then in bring your hands (φέρε τὴν χεῖρα σου). I think the translation should reflect this symmetry. AugustO 10:05, 14 November 2011 (EST)
- καρπός is not a common ancient Greek word for "wrist". Strong's does not even list "wrist" as its meaning, and it unreasonable to expect John to have used it for that meaning.--Andy Schlafly 20:02, 14 November 2011 (EST)
- Aristotle and Homer use καρπός for that meaning.
- That (the usage of) a word isn't mentioned in Strong's concordance with its less than 6,000 root words doesn't mean that it was unusual: you won't find an entry for γάτα in Strong's, but everyone with some knowledge of Greek did know it!
- It's not unreasonable to expect that John chose χείρ intentionally at the two places in the verse.
- AugustO 16:23, 15 November 2011 (EST)
- Aristotle and Homer were Greek writers. John was not even Greek. It's unreasonable to expect John to make use of all the obscure meanings of Greek terms that can be found in Aristotle's and Homer's works.--Andy Schlafly 21:45, 15 November 2011 (EST)
- The idea of a wrist is not an obscure concept, neither in antiquity nor today. So, if John sticked to another term twice, shouldn't we do so, too? I don't argue against the translation of a single Greek word by different English words, if they occur in different verses, but in a single verse, and if it is not used as a homonym, then, I think, we should try to mirror the original.
- AugustO 02:48, 17 November 2011 (EST)