Biblical doctrines Church History the Bible

Why are John 7:53—8:11 doubted in many modern Bible translations?

The Traditional Text of the New Testament (in original Greek or other languages, i.e. Versions) traces its continuous history back to the earliest times of the Christian Church. But since 1881 with the Revisers of the Sacred Text the verses, about the woman taken in adultery, John 7:53—8:11, are doubted to have been originally inspired and hence it is claimed by some that they did not appear in the original Greek language manuscript of the Gospel of St. John.

In the following, expert textual critic, John Burgon outlines his case in favour of the Pericope de Adultera, as the verses are called, as genuine inspired writing of the Holy Spirit in the original 4th Gospel. The case for their omission is led by a small group of the earliest extant uncial manuscripts headed up by the Codexes Vaticanus B and Sinaiticus ℵ (Aleph).

9781888328035The following text is excerpted from Dean John William Burgon’s book “The Causes of Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Gospels,” Volume II, pp. 232-265, with only some of the original footnotes (with my emphases in bold and my editorial comments in {} brackets).



I HAVE purposely reserved for the last the most difficult problem of all: viz. those twelve famous verses of St. John’s Gospel (chap. vii. 53 to viii. 11) which contain the history of ‘the woman taken in adultery,’—the pericope de adultera, as it is called. Altogether indispensable is it that the reader should approach this portion of the Gospel with the greatest amount of experience and the largest preparation. Convenient would it be, no doubt, if he could further divest himself of prejudice; but that is perhaps impossible. Let him at least endeavour to weigh the evidence which shall now be laid before him impartial scales. He must do so perforce, if he would judge rightly: for the matter to be discussed is confessedly very peculiar: in some respects, even unique. Let me convince him at once of the truth of what has been so far spoken.