Was John 7:53-8:11 in the Original Text?

 

This famous well-beloved section, known as the Pericope Adulterae, has been the subject of not only many sermons but also many theses and dissertations. Some of the newer Bible versions try to place a footnote stating that the segment is not present in the more ancient available manuscripts. A number of commentators have tried to avoid commenting on it. Some regard the style and theme to be Johannine and opine that perhaps it was omitted in some early manuscript by a copyist and the error carried on into later manuscripts.  Some think the omission may have been deliberate in order to protect the community from becoming too lenient towards the sin of adultery. [1]

Internal evidence points out to the originality of the verses as inspired by the Holy Spirit. The theme of the light of life revealed in the grace of Jesus Christ (John 8:12) is consistent with the pronouncement in John 1:17, that the law came through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ. Also, the contrast between the condemning light of the Law of Moses and the saving light of the Grace of Jesus is obvious. To those who walk in this light, there is cleansing by the blood of Jesus (1John 1:7).

The passage is certainly there in a number of manuscripts though it fails to appear in a number of others. However, the inductive nature of research cannot draw conclusions on the basis of what is not available yet, i.e. a more ancient manuscript that has this passage intact. There is still this possibility that this passage got missed in a copying process in certain manuscripts but remained intact in others. The verses possess marks of authenticity, were accepted and quoted by the church fathers, are consistent with sound doctrine, and are spiritually edifying.

Notes


1. John David Punch, The Pericope Adulterae: Theories of Insertion & Omission, Doctoral Dissertation submitted to Radboud University Nijmegen, 19 April 2010

Is it not cruel for God to kill His Son in place of us?

The doctrine of atonement is a stumbling block for some who feel that it not only exemplifies cruelty but also does away with human responsibility. The issue abounds with various questions and attempts to solution.

Questions:
1. If God knew that man would sin and fall, why did He create man?
2. Why doesn’t God, if He exists, intervene and stop evil; why just be Judge but not be Governor with proper police security system that minimises the possibility of transgression?
3. How can the death of one particular man atone for the sins of many particular men?
4. Isn’t it not cruel to punish an innocent man for the sins of others so that they go free?

Answers that challenge the Christian doctrine:
1. God does not require sacrifice in order to forgive, He can forgive by sovereign authority.
2. Every man must bear his own guilt so that he has a sense of responsibility and possess a genuine reason to pursue good and turn from evil.

Biblical Responses:
1. God’s knowledge of human Fall is historical and not potential at par with His knowledge of the creation of man.
2. God is both Governor and Judge but humans live in a status of wilful rebellion and enmity against His rulership but with a choice to surrender or be judged.
3. The death of Jesus can atone for every man’s sins because Jesus is the Source of all creation and Head of all things.
4. God is One and the sacrifice of Christ the One God was voluntary self-giving of Love.

1. God’s sovereignty doesn’t imply the denial of injustice by arbitrary pardoning, in which case the element of injustice is allowed to subsist rather than removed from the moral world. The crucifixion put an end to all rebellion by allowing the Judge Himself to die to rise again as Author of the new Creation with the power to destroy all things that do not submit to Him. The crucifixion and resurrection portray the victory of God over all chaos wrought by evil and injustice in the moral universe.
2. This is not contradicted by the doctrine of confession, repentance, and new life.

Does Morality Make Sense Without God? or Is God Necessary for Morality?

India is distinctly the birthplace of certain atheistic or agnostic religio-philosophical systems that have upheld morality without any reference to God as the Moral Governor of the universe. The systems of Samkhya, Yoga, Jainism, and Buddhism didn’t find the concept of “God” as necessary for the validation of moral principles. Of course, popular religion as practiced by the masses cannot let go off the personal connection with a Deity or a Revered One, whatever be the theological explanation of the same. Yet, in polytheistic, atheistic, and monist traditions, God is not the source or ground of morality.

This seems to pose a pragmatic problem for the Moral Argument which some philosophers, like Kant, have considered to be the only possible argument for the existence of God. The problem, however, only relates to the nature of morality in each system. Most of the Indian systems are karmic in nature, though differing in their cosmological and ontological theories of reality–for instance, Jainism teaches a dualistic pluralism while Advaita propounds a non-dualistic cosmology. Whether these cosmologies can successfully sustain their respective karmic theologies is another issue. Philosophers in each system have tried to debate with those of others for centuries with little or no agreement.

The logical course eventually leads to a questioning of the supposedly cosmological foundations of the moral theory. However, one also needs to answer whether it is the cosmology that undergirds the moral system or is it the moral system that undergirds the cosmology. In other words, which is the first hypothesis: the moral theory or the cosmology?

Obviously, one cannot escape the fundamental nature of faith in the ultimate sense. But, faith can be questioned. One can still analyse where each of these systems is headed to; whether it be dissolution and recreation or the quest for awakening. The moral question, then, cannot succeed in not trying to address the issue of the whole picture, or worldview.

The significance of the theistic moral argument is in doing justice to the very intrinsic nature of morality.

1. Morality is inter-personal; therefore, its ground must be the infinite, inter-personal God.
2. Morality is absolute; therefore, its ground must be the transcendent and immanent, immutable, absolute God.
3. Morality implies rewards and punishment; therefore, justice must be provided by a moral God and not an amoral mechanism, which is deterministic in nature.
4. Morality is intentional; therefore, the Moral Governor must be omniscient.
5. Morality is practical; therefore, the Moral Governor must be omnipotent.
6. Morality is beneficial; therefore, the Moral Governor must be good.
7. Morality appeals to the affective; therefore, God must necessarily be Love.

If The Doctrine of Trinity Is Illogical, Then Everything Else is Illogical

If the doctrine of Trinity is illogical, then by the same logic, everything else is illogical.

Now, there are some who consider it to be an evidently foolish thing to believe in the reality of God as One and yet three persons. They say, 1+1+1=3 in every case, or else mathematics is absurd. But, let me show you by an ancient argument, once again, that mathematics can’t explain reality as it is. I will adapt only one argument from the many that a Greek philosopher of the 5th century BC, Zeno of Elea, used in order to defeat the then philosophers of mathematics, the Pythogoreans. The argument is commonly referred to as The Dichotomy.

A..A6..A5  A4     A3          A2                      A1                                              B

Suppose a runner is standing at point A and must reach point B in order to finish the race. The only way he can reach point B is by reaching the halfway point, say A1, between A and B, before reaching B. But then the only way he can reach halfway point A1 is by reaching the halfway point, say A2, between A and A1, and so on ad infinitum in order to finish the course. Thus in order for the runner to reach point B, he will have to traverse an infinite number of points in a finite time, which is impossible, because space becomes infinitely divisible and one has to keep on reaching half-ways before reaching any other point, infinitely; thus, reaching nowhere. Therefore, though empirically apparent, logically, motion is absurd.

Well, but if motion is absurd, then the entire universe, all phenomena, is absurd. If so, what is logical after all?

Conclusion: If logic can’t logically explain empirical realities such as continuity of identity in change, unity in plurality, and abstracts in concrete, how can it even begin to understand God who is Spirit? Reason is certainly not above faith. But, as far as the limits of reason exist, faith is certainly expected to not be irrational.

The Authenticity of the New Testament

The third important source of knowledge in Indian epistemology is Sabda (Word or Verbal Testimony); the first two are pratyaksha (direct perception, experience) and anumana (inference, reasoning). The role of testimony as source of knowledge is crucial since it affirms the unity of knowledge and the fact that much of what we know has come to us by means of testimonies. Historical knowledge copiously relies on written testimony. Similarly, culinary science, medicine, architecture and a host of sciences conserve and convey knowledge to us. However, not everything conveyed as information is necessarily true. However, by affirming the first two sources of knowledge to be authentic, we also affirm that testimonies of direct perception cannot be considered as unreliable sources of information; for by rejecting the reliability of testimonies, one also rejects the reliability of one’s own experience and his testimony of it.

The authenticity of Christian experience is deeply tied with the testimony of, first, Christ and, then, the Apostles. The Biblical Canon (all the books in the Bible) was sealed with the testimony of the Apostles, the last of all being John. The following facts can be noted:

  1. The testimony of the Apostles, who were with Jesus and learnt from Him, was foundational to the New Testament church. What they said and what they endorsed was doctrine. (Acts 2:42; Acts 15; Eph.2:20).
  2. The OT was affirmed by Christ and the Apostles as the divine testimony of Christ by the Spirit (John 5:39; 2Pet.1:20,21)
  3. The NT was not just the testimony of a single person, received secretly, and closed to verification. On the contrary, the NT was the testimony of the 12 Apostles of Christ, open to cross-verification as well as independent verification. The things asserted happened openly. The testimony about the event on the Mount of Transfiguration was attested by three witnesses (Peter, John, James) as required by the OT Law.
  4. Apart from the 12, there is the independent testimony of Apostle Paul (his testimony not only including the vision on the road to Damascus, but also the vision of and, later, healing by Ananias).
  5. With regard to Paul’s writings, Apostle Peter attested of these as being Scriptures (2 Pet.3:15-16).
  6. The experience of the Apostles on the Mt. of Transfiguration which included the vision of Moses and Elijah and the voice from heaven was, among other experiences, crucial in establishing the irrefutability of the identity of Christ to the Apostles (2Pet.1:17-18).
  7. Over 500 people testified of seeing Jesus after His resurrection (1Cor.15:6), thus independently verifying the claims of the Apostles regarding the resurrection of Christ.
  8. Paul himself, a persecutor of Christians, had a direct vision of Christ and became a witness of Christ.
  9. The NT is an account of the testimony of the Apostles regarding Christ; therefore, it is a proof or testimony book. As to which of the books are authentic and which are not was decided by applying the criteria of the canon by the Church Fathers, which made sure that only books written or attested by the Apostles and read as Scriptures by the local churches, having been referred to as Scriptures by the Church Fathers, could be accepted as the sealed testimony of the Apostles, the Chief Witness being the Holy Spirit.
  10. The Five-fold Ministry of the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers, Pastors, are given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:12-13), which unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God is given to us in the written testimony of Christ sealed in the witness of the Bible.