The Lukan Special Material and the Tradition History of the Pericope Adulterae

in Novum Testamentum
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For nearly a century, scholars have wrestled with the presence of Lukanisms in the Pericope Adulterae ( John 7:53-8:11) even as the manuscript evidence clearly indicates this account was not originally part of the Third Gospel. A comparison of the version of this pericope found in Papias and the Didascalia with the pericopae associated with the Lukan special material (or “L source”) reveals remarkable similarities in style, form, and content. In light of these discoveries, we conclude that Papias and the Didascalia preserve a primitive form of the Pericope Adulterae that was originally part of the L source behind Luke’s Gospel, shedding light on the tradition history of this pericope as well as the nature of L.

The Lukan Special Material and the Tradition History of the Pericope Adulterae

in Novum Testamentum




See B.M. MetzgerA Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2nd ed.; New York: United Bible Societies1994) 187-189. This consensus is nevertheless (unsuccessfully) challenged from time to time; see for instance J.P. Heil “The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress ( John 753-811) Reconsidered” Biblica 72 (1991) 182-191. For a response to Heil in defense of the consensus see D.B. Wallace “Reconsidering ‘The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress Reconsidered’” NTS 39 (1993) 290-296 for a response to which see J.P. Heil “A Rejoinder to ‘Reconsidering “The Story of Jesus and the Adulteress Reconsidered’ ” ( John 7.53-8.11)” EgT 25 (1994) 361-366.


B.D. Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress,” NTS 34 (1988) 24-44.


Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 37.


K. PaffenrothThe Story of Jesus according to L ( JSNTSup 147; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic1997) 143. To some degree Paffenroth’s argument is both a confirmation and a substantial expansion of an earlier effort by D.M. Parrott to demonstrate the thematic unity of the L parables (D.M. Parrott “The Dishonest Steward (Luke 16.1-8a) and Luke’s Special Parable Collection” NTS 37 (1991) 499-515). As with Ehrman’s reconstruction of PAeast we hope that those who disagree with various details of Paffenroth’s work will nevertheless find this study useful and amenable to their own research into the history of PA.


Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 35.


Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 35-36.


A. Denaux and R. CorstjensThe Vocabulary of Luke: An Alphabetical Presentation and a Survey of Characteristic and Noteworthy Words and Word Groups in Luke’s Gospel (Biblical Tools and Studies 10; Leuven: Peeters2009) 444 judge the phrase ὄρθρος to be “characteristic of Luke.”


For this detail see Salvoni“Textual Authority” 13.


R.E. BrownThe Gospel according to John (2 vols.; AB 29; New York: Doubleday1966) 1:333.


H.J. CadburyThe Style and Literary Method of Luke (HTS 6; Cambridge: Harvard University Press1920) 142-144.


Heil“Adulteress Reconsidered” 183-185.


Wallace“Reconsidering” 292. Keith “Recent Research” 382 cites Heil’s linguistic links to Johannine style to assert “PA demonstrates as strong linguistic connections with Johannine material as it does with Synoptic material” yet he seems to have been unaware of Wallace’s rebuttal of these links; Wallace’s article does not appear in the bibliography of Keith’s paper.


PaffenrothAccording to L86-88.


PaffenrothAccording to L89-90.


PaffenrothAccording to L90.


M. DibeliusFrom Tradition to Gospel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons1935) 98 165. For a pronouncement story see V. Taylor The Formation of the Gospel Tradition (2nd ed.; London: Macmillan 1935; repr. 1960) 83-84; R. Schnackenburg The Gospel According to St. John (New York: Crossroad 1982) 2:169. For a controversy story see A.T. Lincoln The Gospel According to Saint John (BNTC; London: Continuum 2005) 528; W.L. Petersen “ΟΥΔΕ ΕΓΩΣΕ [ΚΑΤΑ]ΚΡΙΝΩ: John 8:11 the Protevangelium Iacobi and the History of the Pericope Adulterae” in Sayings of Jesus: Canonical and Non-Canonical: Essays in Honor of Tjitze Baarda (ed. W.L. Petersen J.S. Vos and H.J. de Jonge; Leiden: Brill 1997) 191-221; cf. 206.


PaffenrothAccording to L98-99 115.


PaffenrothAccording to L99-100 112-116.


PaffenrothAccording to L112-113.


Parrott“The Dishonest Steward” 510. See also Paffenroth’s statement that this characteristic “transcends formal categories” (According to L 110).


PaffenrothAccording to L112-113. On Luke’s tendency to omit details cf. Cadbury Style of Luke 79-83 and Taylor Formation 208 in which Taylor concludes that Luke in his redaction tends to shorten accounts replace direct speech with indirect delete personal and place names and remove superfluous details.


PaffenrothAccording to L126.


T.W. MansonThe Sayings of Jesus: As Recorded in the Gospels According to St. Matthew and St. Luke Arranged with Introduction and Commentary (London: SCM1937) 282. Paffenroth According to L 159 uses “The Gospel of the Outcast” as the title for the entirety of the L material.


MansonSayings of Jesus282.


KeithLiteracy of Jesus1-2.


B.M. Metzger and B.D. EhrmanThe Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission Corruption and Restoration (4th ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press2005) 319-320.




Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 36.


Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 35.


Ehrman“Jesus and the Adulteress” 37.


KeithLiteracy of Jesus223.


KeithLiteracy of Jesus160.


KeithLiteracy of Jesus130-139. For a defense of the view that the lectionary system caused the displacement of PA from its “original” location in John 7:53-8:11 because it interrupts the feast lesson for Pentecost see M.A. Robinson “Preliminary Observations Regarding the Pericope Adulterae Based upon Fresh Collations of Nearly All Continuous-Text Manuscripts and All Lectionary Manuscripts Containing the Passage” FN 13 (2000) 35-59.


M.S. GoodacreGoulder and the Gospels: An Examination of a New Paradigm ( JSNTSup 133; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic1996) 366.


Petersen“ΟΥΔΕ ΕΓΩ ΣΕ [ΚΑΤΑ]ΚΡΙΝΩ” 220.


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