Did the Church suppress Jesus' message of forgiveness?

Tommy Wasserman of Evangelical Textual Criticism reports on a New Dissertation in TC on the Pericope of the Adulteress, i.e. on the passage John 7:53-8:11 which is omitted or relegated to a footnote in some Bibles (including TNIV), because most scholars do not consider it to be an original part of John’s Gospel.

In this new dissertation (I have not read it) John David Punch looks in detail into the text critical issues relating to this passage. According to the author’s summary and Wasserman’s post, Punch examines five theories which could explain the textual evidence. Wasserman writes:

Although the author said in the summary that “[n]o particular theory is advocated for” it is nevertheless clear that in the end he favors #5 Ecclesiastical Suppression …

That is to say, Punch’s favoured theory is, in his own words,

Ecclesiastical Suppression, suggesting that the Church omitted the pericope out of fears that it could be misinterpreted and/or misapplied.

Now Punch also writes that “the theory is likely unproveable”. But if it is true, it raises some interesting questions. Why might the Church have chosen to suppress this particular passage of Scripture? Could it be because this is the clearest teaching in the Bible that sinners should not be condemned, but forgiven and told to “Go and sin no more”?

That message of forgiveness is implicit in the whole of New Testament teaching, but it is not one that the Church has always upheld. At some times in the early Church, perhaps including the period when this passage could have been suppressed, the false teaching was in circulation that sins committed after baptism could not be forgiven. At other times the Church has treated sexual sins as far more serious than most others, and adulterous women and prostitutes as quite beyond hope of salvation – quite against Jesus’ teaching here and elsewhere. To Christian leaders with that attitude this passage, included in most mediaeval and modern Bibles, must always have been an embarrassment.

In our broken world the Church needs to emphasise again Jesus’ teaching of unconditional forgiveness, while not forgetting the “sin no more” conclusion. If this passage can be rehabilitated as a genuine part of the Bible, which this dissertation might help to do, that would be a great help in breaking down the barriers of guilt and unforgiveness which keep so many people apart from one another and from God.

0 thoughts on “Did the Church suppress Jesus' message of forgiveness?

  1. I was slightly taken aback at how controversial Punch’s theory has become among the TC experts at Evangelical Textual Criticism. Peter Head uses rather the rather non-academic word “nonsense” when he writes concerning the theory:

    No it is not debatable, it is nonsense.

    In a follow-up comment he explains this:

    the author takes extremely idiosyncratic (or nonsensical) positions on the manuscript evidence.

    But others on the list defend Punch’s position.

    I am not qualified to judge the theory. But it is interesting to see on this matter a rather similar reaction from Peter Head to his reaction to Philip Payne’s theories about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which I discussed in a previous post here. I understand that Head wants to ensure academic rigour in his discipline, but the way he reacts to theories which seem to him less than rigorous is not likely to win him friends. Anyway the ongoing discussion on Payne’s theory by no means demonstrated that Head was entirely right and Payne entirely wrong. So I am not left with great confidence that Head is entirely right in his criticism of Punch.

  2. I’m getting a better idea now of what is going on in that Evangelical Textual Criticism comment thread.

    Certain people, perhaps KJV-onlyists or others presupposing the superiority of the Byzantine majority text, have been writing unscholarly articles in support of the Pericope of the Adulteress. Allegedly included among them is a certain “Nazaroo” who has been commenting on this thread – although his comments in fact look more scholarly than the ad hominem comments of the recognised scholars. One of those scholars has satirised such unscholarly articles as introducing “alien squids” into the discussion – I have no idea if that is even slightly fair to what Nazaroo and others have written.

    And then the “scholars” have rejected Punch’s theory on the grounds that they suspect some kind of association with people like Nazaroo. However, there is no evidence that Punch aligns himself with Nazaroo (although Nazaroo has supported Punch). So this is argument of the “scholars” is entirely one of attributing guilt by alleged association.

    Please, scholars, if you want to argue against Punch’s theory, stop the ad hominem attacks and stick to the scholarly issues.

  3. Thanks for this. If you read the comments you can see that I used the word ‘nonsense’ to describe the argument on p 265 and p. 270 (and between), not the overall thesis.

  4. Just to clarify, I have no issue with what Tommy Wasserman has written. My issues are with what Peter Head, Christian Askeland and Ulrich Schmid have written. I quoted Head in my first comment. The mention of “alien squid people” comes from a comment by Askeland. Schmid calls Punch’s theories “hilarious”. These, in context, are the kinds of ad hominem arguments I find unacceptable.

  5. Dear Peter, thank you for your concern. I am the one who started this “mess” with my post announcing the dissertation, so I will reply. There are two different issues here, the dissertation and its qualities/deficiencies; the character of the comments.

    Concerning the dissertation, I am really worried that what we see here are reactions of a scandal. The dissertation contains serious flaws, and it is a real pity not least for the author that it was not properly supervised or examined before its completion and presentation. I will not give any examples here (there are some in the blogcomments, but I am afraid that the list is getting longer).

    As for the blogcomments, ad hominem attacks are not okay. On the other hand, some of us have a special humour, and it is sometimes not easy to moderate and see where to draw the line. Besides, I have been away from the blog yesterday, so I haven’t been able to follow the discussion (but I will catch up).

    Thank you for your interest, and concern Peter.

  6. Peter Head, thanks for your comments, which came in while I was writing my last one. I accept that “nonsense” was not a description of the whole dissertation. But you did write the following:

    While claiming distance from PA conspiracy theorists the author claims that P44, P75, Sin and Vat all provide evidence for the existence of the PA through, you guessed it, dots.

    That is a clear attempt to associate Punch with the conspiracy theorists.

  7. Tommy, thank you for commenting here. I am not rejecting anyone’s conclusion that the dissertation is flawed, although it seems strange to me that a presumably respectable university accepted it without it being “properly supervised or examined”. As for the comments, I tried to make allowances for humour in various languages, but I think some of it was going beyond proper humour into cruelty to Punch and Nazaroo.

  8. Peter, your wrote: “it seems strange to me that a presumably respectable university accepted it without it being “properly supervised or examined””. We are in precisely the same boat as you. It is exceedingly strange. Hence the sense of consternation from those who have actually read portions of the thesis.

  9. Quote: “My issues are with what Peter Head, Christian Askeland and Ulrich Schmid have written.”

    I have to agree. For all the hysteria about “KJVonlyists” etc., it seems the worst behaved are the scholars.

    For instance, Peter Head keeps repeating how “bad” the thesis is, etc., but it would be more convincing if he simply pointed out more errors in a calm, sensible and generous and sympathetic review, instead of just attacking the author over one point that bothers him (i.e., the issue of umlauts/dots).

    For the record, I’m not a “KJVonlyist” whatever that is. Its a great translation, with a historical pedigree, but I prefer something like the NASV or YLT or just the Hebrew for the OT, and no translation at all for the NT.

    I’ve had some fun with hysterical anti-fundies, but a careful read of my articles on my website should show that I prefer the historical-critical method to supernatural theories requiring faith.

    As to the dots, I have no idea why the very subject sends some into a panic, but who cares? The issue is the Johannine elements within the PA, not the interesting and colorful but hardly germaine history of transmission of the text in the subsequent copying.

    Why not discuss all the interesting questions re: the PA, as the original author has? I presumed that was the whole reason for posting the thesis and asking for critique.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  10. PK: “I think some of it was going beyond proper humour into cruelty to Punch and Nazaroo.”

    Okay, probably I have removed those comments now. Given that we have run our blog for many years now, we have had very few heated discussions, the last one was probably the result of a post where I debated with James White, or rather he posted his reactions on his own blog, and I tried to respond in the comments on our blog (where I had hoped that he would reply and discuss the matter).

  11. PK: “And then the ‘scholars’ have rejected Punch’s theory on the grounds that they suspect some kind of association with people like Nazaroo.”

    I don’t think the theory (which is not new) itself is rejected, but some of the arguments for that certain theory, specifically concerning the external evidence, which are seriously flawed.

  12. Peter, you said: “others on the list defend Punch’s position”. That is not true with respect to the points I raised about the manuscript evidence. No one has defended Punch’s position on that, not even Punch!

  13. Thanks for the further comments, while I have been out.

    Peter, I thought Nazaroo at least had defended Punch on the dots. In this comment he certainly rejected your grounds for rejecting Punch’s explanation of them.

    Tommy, as I read Peter’s comments he was suggesting that Punch’s conclusions were seriously compromised. His words about Punch’s section “written already with a view to establishing option #5” hardly suggest that he accepts that Punch has made a good case for option #5. And then there is his cruel mockery advising us not to “attribute the baffling dots to aliens”, which I don’t think was ever in Punch’s mind.

  14. Peter,

    It is really brotherly of you to try to help us find Christian ways to interact on our blog. So thanks for that.

    It might be worth having a look at this dissertation for yourself.

  15. Thank you, Peter. I wish I was properly qualified to understand the TC issues involved, but sadly I am not. Anyway I don’t have time just now to read the dissertation in detail.

  16. I wouldn’t worry about reading it in detail. Why not read the pages which I indicated contained the nonsense argument and see for yourself?

  17. Peter, I have skimmed pages 264 to 270 and beyond in Punch’s dissertation.

    I see your point that Punch’s argument on p.265 is rather sketchy. I don’t know the facts about the punctuation marks in P66, whether these obeli or whatever they are called are punctuation marks, or marks of textual variants, or perhaps have a variety of purposes. Clearly this is a matter which needs a detailed study, as I know has been given to the similar issue of the distigmai in Vaticanus. Has there been such a study published? If so, Punch does not refer to it (or is Scott, 2000 such a study?) – but neither do you. In the absence of such a study it seems premature to call Punch’s tentative conclusions on this matter “nonsense”.

    I agree with Punch that his point about the marks in 8:14 and 8:15-16 is “speculative”, perhaps to the extent that it should have been omitted. And without this argument, also without a detailed analysis of the obeli, I don’t think he has demonstrated that “it does seem to be the case that whoever prepared P66 was likely aware of the existence of the Pericope Adulterae”.

    As for p.269, I now understand more about the “conspiracy theorists” point. Punch clearly states that it is “an interesting coincidence” rather than a conspiracy that many MSS are damaged in this area. Nevertheless it would make a lot of sense that if a corrector has a NT MS including a passage they believed to be spurious, they would erase it, and potentially damage the MS in the process. No conspiracy required, just individual correctors of MSS doing their job.

  18. Peter, the reference to an “asterisk/obelisk” in P66, with reference to Scott comes here: “At the end of 7:52 just after the word egv eir, etai, there is an open space with a asterisk/obelisk in the center (Scott, 2000:55).”

    I suggest look at what Scott says (scroll to p. 55):

    http://books.google.de/books?id=5jWVxx7x25IC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Ciphers+in+the+Sand:+Interpretations&source=bl&ots=E38zTdSxhX&sig=AaHToVeVRNdLVwFiN6GflN7y6CU&hl=de&ei=oLLzS86WB431_AbGrrCXDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Here you will see what Scott says. Read the first par. on p. 55. Do you think it is possible to cite Scott in support here? Unfortunately the author has mixed up the sentences. Scott’s discussion of real asterisks/obeli has nothing to do with P66.

    I think it is these unfortunate things that lead Peter to use the word “nonsense.” My point is that this is unfortunate for the whole dissertation (which may contain many good arguments) and for the author. The flaws could have been removed by an external reader with necessary expertise. He/she would have been sensitive to strange statements about asterisks/obeli in P66 and the like. This is so unfortunate. None of us are happy about this. Unfortunately, such statements in academic publications tend to be spread around the internet among people with little knowledge, so there is a double concern here. No one wants to be “Mr Nasty” (as Peter Head expressed it, or as your own concern about the thread of comments reflects), but on the other hand there is an academic responsibility to set the record straight. This is not easy.

  19. Tommy, yes, it would seem that Punch has made an error here because Scott does not mention on p.55, or apparently anywhere else in this paper, a space and asterisk/obelisk at this point in P66. However, Punch clearly gets information about this mark and similar marks at 8:14b and 8:15-16 from somewhere. Has he taken it from a facsimile of P66? Did he find it in some other book? More importantly, is what Punch writes about these marks factually accurate? I note that Peter Head even in his “nonsense” comment, does not dispute that. So my guess would be that Punch got confused with his references while editing the dissertation and put the wrong one in this place.

    In that case the incorrect reference is not a reason to call the argument “nonsense”, although it might be a reason to suggest that the thesis has been edited badly. But if what Punch writes were not in fact true, there were no such marks in these places in P66, that would of course be a more serious matter.

    That doesn’t mean that the conclusions Punch draws from these facts are not “nonsense”. But the issues should be considered separately.

  20. Peter, perhaps Punch misunderstood Scott and then turned to the manuscript and found a raised dot after 7:52 which he thought was an asterisk/obelisk that Scott referred to in other MSS (i.e., real such marks). But in P66 there is a raised dot = normal punctuation and such dots are everywhere. If you don’t have a facsmile, maybe you can access Comfort and Barrett’s transcription of the passage. BTW, on p. 380 you can find an image with such punctuation.

    Take a look then at p. 270 where Punch makes the similar statement about Sinaiticus – he states that there is a “familiar space and subsequent asterisk.” What is there? There is a raised dot indicated a normal punctuation. Yes there is a tiny space after the dot. The amount of space after the punctuation is simply irregular. A similar space occurs, for example, in the third column on the same page, after POIEITAI (8:39).

    Westcott and Hort spoke about the necessicity “knowledge of documents”. What we see here I think is the necessity of basic knowledge of palaeography. In my opinion what Punch writes regarding P66 and Sinaiticus, as I have exemplified here (and already pointed out by Peter Head on our blog) can rightly be called nonsense. A reference to Scott is a separat issue that makes it worse (but probably explains the designation “asterisk” and the mix-up). And, again, this could have been avoided if someone with basic knowledge of MSS would have read these parts.

    Moreover, these treatements become heavy arguments for the early knowledge (and in extension possible exicions) of the passage … I am trying to say that this kind of “nonsense” affect the conclusions of the whole dissertation. I am not saying that Punch’s theory #5 is wrong but some of the evidence he has assembled is illegitimate.

  21. With “p. 380” above I mean in Comfort and Barrett’s The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts.

  22. You can in fact find an image of the page in P66 on this webpage: http://adultera.awardspace.com/TEXT/MSS-top10.html#s03

    Nazaroo, whoever that is (there is a piece of information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nazaroo), is responsible for this webpage and, incidentally Nazaroo similarly refers to the unique/special dot and space marks in P66! (some apparently questioned whether Punch independently could come to the same conclusion, but I suppose it is quite possible).

    On p. 348 Punch explains the significance of these special marks he has found in the early MSS (“asterisks” and “umlaut”):

    “Either multiple editions of the Gospel (theory #4), one with the pericope and one without, would be required to account for the omissions of the text from some manuscripts, or it would have to be proven that scribal marks such as the asterisks and umlaut present in many of the early manuscripts are in fact scribal notation of intentional omissions in the text (section 2.1a). Such scribal omissions would have to be accounted for by possible Lectionary Theories (theory #3) or what has been called
    “suppression theories” (theory #5) …”

  23. Thank you, Tommy. Sadly I don’t have easy access to Comfort and Barrett, and Google Books doesn’t offer a preview. Anyway I would quickly get out of my depth if I started looking this closely.

    I think the real question is whether everyone agrees that these raised dots, in P66 and Sinaiticus, are “normal punctuation”. Clearly this is Peter Head’s view. But is it the scholarly consensus? Even so it might not be beyond challenge. I note that Peter’s view of the distigmai in Vaticanus has been challenged and there is no consensus on the matter. That also involved Peter presupposing that all marks of a particular kind had the same purpose – in that case, despite Payne’s evidence to the contrary. Is this a similar case, where some of you presuppose that all the dots have the same purpose, without anyone having done a real study of the matter? Or has there been such a study whose results have been generally accepted?

  24. PK: “However, Punch clearly gets information about this mark and similar marks at 8:14b and 8:15-16 from somewhere. Has he taken it from a facsimile of P66? Did he find it in some other book?”

    I suspect that Nazaroo’s webpage (http://adultera.awardspace.com/TEXT/MSS-top10.html#s03) is the source. Punch refers to this website elsewhere in the immediate context (context: pp. 269, 272; and on 327).

    In the discussion of P75 Nazaroo says:

    “One of the first things you may note, since we’ve highlighted them in red, are the ‘Dot and Space’ marks sprinkled across the page.”

    Punch says on p. 268 in his discussion of P75:

    “There are yet other interesting features in P75 that must be observed. Similar to P66, there are umlaut and spaces sprinkled across the pages (Metzger, 1981:68).” [BTW Metzger does not refer to umlauts – check what Metzger is talking about for yourself (diaeresis – two dots on top of the vowels iota and ypsilon).

    Nazaroo again:

    “Yet this does seem to indicate a new use for the ‘Dot and Space’ marks. Indeed, they could be something like ‘pause’ marks for public reading in this case (P75).”

    Punch: “It is uncertain whether these markings form a set of pause or breathing marks for public reading, mark passages omitted or skipped over in this public reading, or indicate variants knowingly omitted.”

    Nazaroo: “A Unique Defacement! This manuscript, and this particular page [in P75] have yet one more surprising feature. Comfort and Barrett tell us: ‘A different scribe has written two lines of large letters upside down (!) in the lower margin, probably
    tonuon wV [k]urio[n], apo thV t[ra]pez[hV].'”

    Punch: Also, in the lower margin of leaf 57, where the Pericope Adulterae would be traditionally have been found if it were included, are written two lines of upside down lettering, which is not entirely distinguishable but may read tout/ on wj` kur, ion apv o . thj/ trapez, hj (this as the Lord from the table). The significance of this phrase is uncertain, but there could be a connection to the absence of John 7:53-8:11. For some textual criticism ‘conspiracy theorists’ (cf. “The Pericope Adulterae Homepage,” 2007), such oddities further fuel discussions that someone deliberately removed the Pericope Adulterae, at times by destructive measures.”

    So you judge for yourself where you think the idea came from.

    So, it is clear that Punch has read Nazaroo’s treatment, and it is my educated guess that the “dot and space” theory derives from it … and I regard it as nonsense.

  25. PK: “I note that Peter’s view of the distigmai in Vaticanus has been challenged and there is no consensus on the matter. That also involved Peter presupposing that all marks of a particular kind had the same purpose – in that case, despite Payne’s evidence to the contrary. Is this a similar case, where some of you presuppose that all the dots have the same purpose, without anyone having done a real study of the matter? Or has there been such a study whose results have been generally accepted?”

    Peter, the distigma (was Umlaut) discussion is a very different thing! As you know I have been blogging and giving ample room for that discussion which is a scholarly discussion with scholarly argument. Those markings are not at all common in MSS. Wieland Willker has a fine webpage which I think you can easily find. I don’t know anyone denies that they relate to variant readings (including Peter Head). The matter of controversy is whether they (or a portion of them) are original to Codex Vaticanus! Peter Head along with many other scholars think they were added considerably later. The appearance of similar double dots in another codex, the Hexaplar Codex Colberto-Sarravianus (4th-5th century LXX G) is of course signficant, and I look forward to hearing what Peter Head says about that.

    BUT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PUNCTUATION DOTS AND IRREGULAR SPACES…

  26. Peter, perhaps we could put it this way: if Punch could demonstrate that the dots in P66 represent not punctuation marks (as every scholar since the discovery and original publication of the manuscript has thought), but were points where the scribe has deliberately omitted material then he would have made the most significant discovery in the field of early Christian manuscripts in the last fifty years.

  27. Well, Tommy, perhaps Punch did read Nazaroo’s article and get some ideas from it. He does give a reference, and perhaps should have done so more specifically. But does the source of an idea invalidate it? Even the most foolish people sometimes have good ideas. What I still have not seen is any substantive argument against Punch’s interpretation of these dots.

  28. “But does the source of an idea invalidate it? Even the most foolish people sometimes have good ideas.”

    Peter, you asked in your post above about the source: “… Has he taken it from a facsimile of P66? Did he find it in some other book?”

    I tried to give you a plausible answer (= Nazaroo). I am sure there are many useful things on Nazaroo’s website, but there are also absurd things, and it takes some knowledge to be able to discriminate (and this is a problem – it would have been much easier if everything was nonsense).

    Next, you ask about a substantive argument against Punch’s interpretation of these dots (in P66, P75, Sinaiticus, as I have exemplified). I am asking you again to look at Codex Sinaiticus because the images are freely available on the internet. It will not take you long to find (on the same page) similar raised dots (and also with similar amount of space). Do these represent textual variation in Sinaiticus? If you have any acquintance with manuscripts you do not need any substantive arguments that this is normal punctuation. The idea is completely absurd and to my knowledge found in two places, on one website and in one dissertation, in this case probably derived from that website.

  29. Thank you, Tommy. Indeed you offered an answer to my question, that Punch got the idea from Nazaroo’s page. Of course that explains why he did not attribute it properly – perhaps his supervisors objected to the reference to an anonymous pseudo-scholar, so Punch substituted on which looked relevant at first sight, but in fact was not.

    Maybe you (plural) have indeed falsified Punch’s hypothesis about these dots. But it would have been much easier, and more scholarly, to do so by pointing to the actual evidence, rather than by throwing around words like “nonsense” and bringing in the rather irrelevant link to the mysterious Nazaroo.

  30. The link to he mysterious Nazaroo provides an explanation of where Punch got the idea from. I don’t see why it is irrelevant. I think few if any text-critics with experience would regard this idea about dots and space as a “hypothesis” which needs to be falsified in the first place. There are editio princeps and many other transcriptions by qualified palaeographers (experts on such MSS) where these dots are transcribed as punctuation.

    There was a guy at an SBL a few years ago who claimed that Codex W was from the first century. Apparently he has a website: http://www.washington-codex.org/.

    This is another example of pure nonsense which does not need falsification other than scholarly treatments of the codex which are already available for anyone.

    Note that I am not saying that Punch’s dissertation is nonsense, but that it contains some serious flaws relating to important evidence. It is a pity in a text-critical dissertation.

  31. My point about “irrelevant” was that a theory should be judged on its merits, not on the personal merits of whoever may have first thought it up. It seems you are prepared to take seriously the theory that Chrysostom knew the pericope despite it coming from Nazaroo’s page. This new theory should not be prejudged because of its source. Justice should be blind, not given selectively to people who the academic world approves of.

  32. PK: “My point about ‘irrelevant’ was that a theory should be judged on its merits,”

    I absolutely agree 100%

    However, it is also important and not irrelevant to indicate the sources of one’s theory. In this case the “theory” is an absurdity in the eyes of some scholars (I am one of them), and we ask ourselves, where do these absurd statements come from? Did Punch come up with this theory? We are checking the indicated sources connected to some of the statements (Scott … Metzger), but there we find something different (=misrepresentation of these sources), but then we find what looks as the real source as I have demonstrated (Nazaroo’s website), but this is not properly indicated, as you have recognized for yourself.

    The same problem seems to occur in relation to dependence on Chris Keith (see comments on our blog), but that is another story.

  33. I’m posting this here, in case it is missed by others, for the purpose of setting the record straight:

    RE: Alleged “sources”, “borrowing” etc.

    A comment on a comment:

    C.Keith:”Lastly, and I really do hate to say this, I feel as if Dr. Punch ripped his chart on 292–3 out of my book (pp. 120 – 21).”

    This should not be blown out of proportion: The “chart” is really just a point-form list of variants and MS support, almost identical to published lists and tabulations from Metzger and some 2 dozen other previous TC scholars.
    Little creative activity is involved, and in fact both charts (Keith’s & Punch’s) have a serious error, listing MS 1333c as having the PA “at the end of Luke”, when this manuscript does nothing of the kind. It comes really as a preface to John, with an accompanying note identifying it as belonging to John, not Luke.

    We know that Dr. Punch has not been “sourcing” us very closely, since both us and Dr. Maurice Robinson have gone out of our way to correct such errors, and this was covered in our review of Dr. Keith’s 2008 article, which he acknowledges reading above.

    The chart borrowing has the appearance of a minor quibble, and as Dr. Keith knows full well, he himself freely accessed a large amount of material at our website over the years, and acknowledged the same in a low-key fashion in various publications.

    We thank Dr. Keith for his acknowledgement, and hardly expect that any scholar would want to associate themselves directly with our website, so any acknowledgement of our existance whatever must be considered an act of bravery.

    On this very example then, Dr. Punch’s low-key acknowledgement of our resource site is typical of the best recent scholarship and as brave as any.

    Which brings to another related claim, Dr. Punch’s use of our resources (in a post to follow)

    Peace
    Nazaroo

  34. “Borrowing” from Nazaroo website?

    As the author of many of the articles and commentary posted on our website, I am uniquely qualified to comment on the spectre raised by some here, re: any alleged “borrowing” from us by Dr. Punch.

    The only area even giving any credible appearance of borrowing would be in the analysis of the Internal Vocabulary Evidence (e.g., Dr J.D. Punch:2010, ch.5,pp.153-232).

    First of all, the close similarity in vocabulary lists is completely unavoidable if one is to deal with evidence from previous investigators, and deal with it in the order it appears (verse by verse). Dr. Punch has chosen to be thorough, and the result is predictable.

    Second, the similarity in content under various headings is also unavoidable, since the basic facts of grammar and usage (based on lexical/historical research) will also be the same, although expanded, as research accumulates.

    Third, any similarity in phraseology here and there, is either unavoidable, or else a very small tip of the hat to sources, which is much appreciated. This is no different than the scores of scholars who paraphrase Metzger regularly with or without acknowledgement, and is simply the nature of things.

    If Dr. Punch shows any detailed awareness of our work at all, it would be it seems from our longstanding public critique of Samuel Davidson’s 1848 vocabulary list. We wrote that back in the 1980s, and it has been in the public domain ever since, in pamphlets, articles, letters, and emails, and forums.

    One version with a long history of rewrites, is found here:
    http://adultera.awardspace.com/INT-EV/Davidson2.html

    But a fair comparison shows that we only spent an average of about a half-page on each proposed word/phrase, and left it to others to flesh out details.

    On average, Dr. Punch’s work presents 3-5 pages on each variant, with a wealth of new material presented, and a far more adequate discussion than we ever offered on Davidson’s original case.

    In additions, Dr. Punch’s work is stamped with a scholarly even-handedness and reserve that we don’t even pretend to desire emulating. His work is an entirely different category and order of scholarship than ours.

    I might also add there are frequent differences in our view of the meaning, significance, and weight of various linguistic evidence and arguments. Researchers here wishing to avoid extremism would do well to prefer Dr. Punch’s approach to mine.

    I would not make any special claim in this area re: linguistic discovery. I am not anything but one of the more recent of many, many pioneers here in PA studies, going back to the 1700s.

    I do not know Dr. Punch in any way, nor have I previously communicated with him on any level prior to reading about his article.

    I am utterly convinced, and completely satisfied that Dr. Punch, while he may have been aware of our site and may have noted a few of our webpages, has not plagarized our work, or inappropriately used our researches in way whatsoever.

    We have been publishing under the Commons Copyright Free Distribution licence for many years, and the whole point of publishing on the net is to make scientific and historical data freely available to the public.

    We are pleased that at least some textual critics think that the most important textual variant in the history of the NT is worth writing about.

    Peace
    Nazaroo

  35. Nazaroo, thank you for your helpful comments. It seems to me that Punch has indeed done as much as he could reasonably do to acknowledge his awareness of your anonymous material.

    Are you suggesting that Punch came independently of you to the conclusion that the dots in P66 indicate awareness of the PA? Or is there some other source that you both got this idea from?

  36. Nazaroo: “His [Punch’s] work is an entirely different category and order of scholarship than ours.”

    I agree, but you could always revise and improve the website.

    Nazaroo: ” Researchers here wishing to avoid extremism would do well to prefer Dr. Punch’s approach to mine.”

    If you are actually acknowledging that your website represent “extremism” perhaps it is time for such a revision?

  37. Obviously people aren’t thinking very deep.

    If you had reason to believe the website needs revising/improving it would mean you had actually spent a lot of time reading its contents. It has over 20,000 pages of materials there, about 20 encyclopedia volumes’ worth.

    But in that case, you’d know by simply clicking on “What’s New” on the main menu, that in the last year alone we’ve added over 200 articles, totalling some 5,000 pages, as well as the less obvious work, namely the complete revamping of whole sections of the site by the maintenance crew.

    All that material and labour represents some dozen or more volunteer programmers, data-entry people, writers and editors, schedulers, and other support people to sustain.

    I don’t control the site, nor do I provide most of the material, or set the schedules. All that is done by others, such as mr.scrivener, and many other Christian volunteers, students etc. Its probably accurate to say that mr. scrivener contributes as much as I do, and there must be a half dozen others who also contribute substantial amounts of research material and time. I do write a lot of articles, but that is only a portion of what runs that site.

    As it happens, mr.scrivener is not an extremist at all, and has a rather agnostic approach to TC, although though being opinionated at times.

    The world if full of many different kinds of people, each suited to different tasks. Some people are good at decision and commitment, others are able to reserve judgment almost indefinitely in order to acquire deeper understanding.

    I am somewhere in the middle, having found myself after about 35 years committing finally to the probability of the authenticity of the PA. Others make up their mind faster, although not with better grounding in the facts or certainty.

    Oh well. If you just look at 2009 in the “Whats New” you’ll see a lot of revision has been achieved at the site over the last three years or so. If one man had done all that, he would have to have been not eating or sleeping, and working at a breakneck speed like fastforwarding a video. As it happens, my life is pretty full of many other worldly matters as it is.

    Mr. Scrivener and the boys are doing fine without my extra help, although I enjoy contributing.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  38. Dear Peter K: I am posting my final reply here, also, in case it is deleted by Mr. Wasserman and/or P.Head on the ETC blog.

    …”Yes. The last thing we want is to expose the dishonesty in the way the “evidence” is being handled. [/sarcasm]

    The text of John in Codex X is *NOT* continuous, if by that we mean what any reasonable person would assume by such an expression.

    Just as the text of the commentary is not continuous, that is not physically contiguous, but interspersed in blocks with the text of John, so equally is the text of John not physically contiguous, but interspersed in blocks with the text of the commentary.

    Each text is physically chopped up into sections and placed alternately in blocks, A/B/A/B throughout the manuscript.

    Just where we would like to know if the text of JOHN actually was contiguous in the original exemplar, (i.e., running continuously from 7:52 to 8:12), the text has been physically chopped up and placed in separate blocks.

    Thus we can never know whether the Gospel used by the compiler had the PA or not.

    regards,
    Nazaroo

  39. Nazaroo: “The text of John in Codex X is *NOT* continuous, if by that we mean what any reasonable person would assume by such an expression.”

    Reasonable or not, Wieland used the standard definition in the field of textual criticism. Things get very complicated indeed when individuals come up with their own reasonble definitions of whatever terms, otherwise properly defined in standard handbooks, e.g., “continuous text MSS” (as opposed to e.g., lectionaries) or “text-types …”

    Having said that, not all commentary MSS have a continuous text of the NT. Some commentary MSS in fact just have excerpts of the NT, and therefore many of them are not registered as continuous text MSS in the official registry of NT MSS – some have been registered but then deleted. (But that is of course not the case with Codex X, as Wieland pointed out – it has the complete text and is registered as a continuous text MS in the official registry.)

  40. “Oh Ace, you make me laugh!” – girl in Ace Ventura When Nature Calls

    Dear Mr. Wasserman:

    The issue was never about how the manuscript has been classified by a bunch of self-appointed German critics, or any minor quibble about what the definition of a “continuous-text” MS is. Your appeal to authority is misplaced, and you have misunderstood the topic of the debate.

    But for what its worth, its not *us* who have misunderstood the meaning or significance of the classification of X as a ‘continuous-text MS’. We have understood it perfectly well and uphold the ‘standard’ definition, which is this:

    This designation means simply that a manuscript contains a text which has not been edited or modified so that the sections can be used as “stand-alone” lections.

    *non*-“continuous-text” MSS divide the text into sections which are then modified at the beginning and end of each section, so that each can function as an independant story unit, and be read in isolation publicly in church.

    The purpose of the classification is *not* to indicate how complete the MS is as a copy, nor even to indicate whether the text has been divided up into sections physically, or marked off. Nor is the designation intended to indicate the quality of the text-type, other than whether or not it exhibits this special editing feature.

    The reason for the interest in alterations at the beginning and end of each section is that the presumption is that the gospels were originally “continuous-text” in this sense, and that the ‘pericopizing features’ are in fact secondary.

    The classifcation of Codex X as “continuous-text” implies nothing more or less than the absence of these specialized features at the beginning and ending of each standard section (well-known from the Lectionary tradition). It does not indicate (as the language of W. Willker, P. Head, and T. Wasserman wrongly suggests) anything else about the quality or text-type contained in the manuscript.

    This (distracting) side-issue being finally dealt with once and for all, lets move back to the real topic at hand.

    regards,
    Nazaroo

  41. Nazaroo: “The classifcation of Codex X as ‘continuous-text’ implies nothing more or less than the absence of these specialized features at the beginning and ending of each standard section (well-known from the Lectionary tradition).”

    Thank you, Codex X is, as you say (and Wieland said), a “continuous-text MS.”

    Nazaroo: “It does not indicate (as the language of W. Willker, P. Head, and T. Wasserman wrongly suggests) anything else about the quality or text-type contained in the manuscript.”

    I wonder who and where someone said that the fact that Codex X is a “continuous-text MS” has anything to do with “the quality or text-type contained in the manuscript” – I certainly did not. However, I did point out that Nazaroo, apart from “continuous-text” also used “text-type” in an idiosyncratic way. It is very difficult, or impossible to discuss any text-critical matters when there is no agreement about basic definitions and nomenclatura to be used in the discussion. I am reminded again why I do not subscribe to the several various texual criticism discussion groups available. One ends up in futile and time-consuming discussions.

    The attitude reflected in this statement is something that speaks of itself:

    “The issue was never about how the manuscript has been classified by a bunch of self-appointed German critics, or any minor quibble about what the definition of a ‘continuous-text’ MS is. Your appeal to authority is misplaced, and you have misunderstood the topic of the debate.”

    And that’s it for me.

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