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August 10, 2006

Comments

tim

Jimmy, fools may rush in where Angels fear to tread, and I am a fool to think I can stack my biblical scholarship against yours, so I won't. My profession is the law. That is the area from which I will make my appeal. I think that it is unwise to qualify the anathema from Trent and try to put a modern gloss, however reasonable, on the "intent" of the Vulgate endorsement.

Words have meanings. Latin is particularly good at presenting and preserving a specific meaning. When the Church anathematizes anyone who does not accept every book and all their parts as the canon of scripture, it means exactly that. Not even a subsequent allusion or spin by a Pope in an encyclical can overcome the obvious meaning of such a clear statement.

The Church has the supreme authority, given by Christ, to determine exactly what scripture is, and what it means.

I make this comment with respect to your view, and experience. But I can't buy it. I would be interested in your response. God bless.

Some Day

If I am not confused at the momment, but I think it is St.John who was never confirmed to have died. Therefore, could very well have written that part some time after the first part.
But whatever happend, the Gospel is accepted by the Church, therefore real and therefore I believe it.

Brother Cadfael

Pardon my naivete, but whether an argument is "mainstream" or not, I am always suspect of interpolation arguments that begin with some version of "it interrupts the flow of the story...."

Maureen

Anyway, even if it was interpolated, that doesn't mean that it wasn't a real story that really happened, and was added to the mss by someone being helpful.

(Heck, even today people write corrections and expansions in the margins of their own copies of books. If you were copying John's bio of Jesus for your own use, what would be the harm of adding in something you personally knew about?)

One of the Fathers whose works have largely been lost was a guy who went around interviewing eyewitnesses and those who'd learned from eyewitnesses. What little bits of info we have through him are pretty interesting, but all the rest was lost. As John himself wrote, there was enough stuff that Jesus did that hasn't been written down to fill the world with books.

The fact that the interpolated copy (if it was interpolated) was allowed by the Holy Spirit to be copied and copied and translated, instead of dying out, certainly suggests that the story was as inspired as the rest of the Gospel it's in.

So if we don't have it, we don't need it. And if we do, we probably do.

Anyway, my point is... I doubt it's anything to lose sleep over.

Deacon John M. Bresnahan

Sometimes I think people pay too much attention to the literary mechanics of how the Gospels were written and compiled than in the message itself. The Church, looking at the Gospel of John and finding it in complete concert with the oral Tradition passed down, has had no problem seeing in all its passages inspired writing. In addition the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit as it deliberates and decides such matters. End of story as far as I am concerned.

Brent Robbins

Does anyone know why Jimmy always uses Wikipedia as a source of information? I don't trust that site at all, it's unreliable and not trustworthy. Any moron or group of morons can edit the information for pete sakes!

Al

As I understand it, interpolation and gloss are common in the Scriptures and characteristic of the rabbinical style and a semitic notion of authorship. If academics were to remove these from the cannonical text, the Scriptures would become something of a "swiss cheese" (a hole-y Bible).

As it is, the "pericope adulterae" is fixed in liturgy and proclaimed as "Gospel of the Lord" for centuries. Lex orandi, Lex credendi ...

Mark

I too would respecfully ask for a clarification. Some time ago, there was a post (that I may have interpreted wrong) that seemed to suggest that parts of Mark may not be canonical. I've always had a hard time reconciling that with CCC 105, which quotes Dei Verbum:

105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

"For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself."

Again, I may be misunderstanding Jimmy's argument, but he seems to be saying that the books are reliable in terms of faith and morals, but may not be canonical.

Brother Cadfael

Mark,

Jimmy is NOT saying the pericope adulterae is not canonical. He is suggesting (or drawing attention to the argument) that it may not be original, i.e., penned by John.

Mark

Brother Cadfael:

Thanks for the clarification, that helps quite a bit.

A hypothetical question might make the idea firm in my mind: Say that someone were to establish, without any doubt, that a certain passage of the bible was not in the original. E.g. Mark did not actually write the last bit of his Gospel. Obviously we would still acknowledge, as Jimmy points out, that "...the passage does not contain errors of faith or morals...", but would it still be canonical? A better question: Would we still take that passage to be inspired?

DarwinCatholic

I think that the thing which alarmed me about this when I first read it (being the reader who wrote)is that much of the drift of modernist scriptural commentary seems to have prepared us to automatically equate "not original" with "fiction later added to the narrative". So when I first read about this my thought was "how could this story which we hear about so often be false?"

I think that Jimmy's getting at here is that the fact that something wasn't included in the first version of one of the books of the Bible does not necessarily present an obstacle to the faith in that is it not necessarily false.

Our image of the writing of scripture tends to be of the author sitting down with the holy spirit at his shoulder -- writing out the words as inspired by God. And yet, as we as Catholics understand, the canon was determined by the Church -- it was not necessarily a matter of a sequence of people sitting down explicitly thinking "I'm inspired by the Holy Spirit right now. I think I'll write some scripture."

So a story being added after the fact (so long as it is a true story) is no more an obstacle to a Catholic understanding of scripture than is are the various 2nd and 3rd century controversies as to which books should be included in scripture.

J.R. Stoodley

DarwinCatholic,

The fact remains that the primary author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, who worked through the human authors in such a way that they also were true authors, but in a lesser way.

Either a text is inspired or not, and if it is meant as public revelation then it was written before the death of the last apostle, though not necessarily by the person it is traditionally credited to.

DarwinCatholic

Agreed. And as such, I guess there's no reason why the Holy Spirit could not necessarily have used a very early ammendation in order to round out John's Gospel -- the Holy Spirit being the primary author rather than John.

J.R. Stoodley

I am not the biggest fan in the world of the New American Bible and its footnotes, but here is what it says about the percope adulterae

The story of the woman caught in adultery is a later insertion here, missing from all early Greek manuscripts. A Western text-type insertion, attested mainly in Old Latin translations, it is found in different places in different manuscripts: here, or after 7,36, or at the end of this gospel, or after Lk 21, 38, or at the end of that gospel. There are many non-Johannine features in the language, and there are also many doubtful readings within the passage. The style and motifs are similar to those used in Luke, and it fits better with the general situation at the end of Lk 21, but it was prabably inserted here because of the allusion to Jer 17,13 (cf the not on 8,6) and the statement, "I do not judge anyone," in 8, 15. The Catholic Church accepts this passage as canonical scripture.

About the end of Mark it says:

16, 9-20: This passage, termed the Longer Ending to the Marcan gospel by comparison with a much briefer conclusion found in some less important manuscripts, has traditionally been accepted as a canonical part of the gospel and was defined as such by the Council of Trent. Early citations of it by the Fathers indicate that it was composed by the second century, although vocabulary and style indicate that it was written by someone other than Mark. It is a general resume of the material concerning the appearances of the risen Jesus, reflecting, in particular, traditions found in Luke (24) and John (20).

The Shorter Ending: Found after v 8 before the Longer ending in four seventh-to-ninth-century Greek manuscripts as well as in one Old Latin version, where it appears alone without the Longer Ending

The Freer Logion: Found after v 14 in a fourth-fifth century manuscript preserved in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, this ending was known to Jerome in the fourth century. It reads: "And they excused themselves, saying, 'This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who does not allow the power and truth of God to prevail over the unclean things dominated by the spirits [or, does not allow the unclean things dominated by the spirits to grasp the truth and power of God]. Therefore reveal your rightious now.' They spoke to Christ, and Christ responded to them, 'The limit of the years of Satan's power is completed, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who sinned I was handed over to death, that they might return to the truth and no longer sin, in order that they might inherit the spiritual and incorruptible heavenly glory of righteousness. But....'"

dubious

hear, hear!

I, too, am very suspicious of Wikipedia. I know that it is the rave for this generation, but by it's very nature is open to editing by anyone. ANYONE!!!

what does Encyclopedia Britanica.com say about things?

I have much more confidence in this time honored reference.

Tim M.

I know that the Canon is closed, but I have always wondered, after the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, what the Church would do (and how the world Christian community) if a new archeological discovery gave us a first or early second century manuscript, a more complete copy of any NT book and it was shorter in many respects.

would it change anything?

or again, would it fall into the category of being added by one who knew someone or knew someone who knew someone who might know of those things that "if they were written in books, the whole world could not contain them?"

So would this mean that additions to the original text by early contacts with early witnesses being GOOD but additions by any later (3rd to 9th century) devout, good intentioned Monk in his scriptorium being BAD?

I guess we may never know until or if this ever happens?

Patoace

Jimmy, is it possible that this part were stripped from some manuscripts, so it doesn't appear as christian endorsing adultery?

Matt McDonald

Stephen Colbert did a piece on Wikipedia, it's hillarious. I think that John is the author, so after I post this, I'm going to go over there and change it. I suggest we all do the same, and it will no longer be a problem.

In any event. While all sorts of speculation about it's origins may be of some huge value to an atheist, or skeptic. The Church has declared the Gospel including this verse to be canonical. We read scripture it's our education, to understand what it means to us in our lives and for our salvation. If we put the focus on that, as the Church has insisted for many centuries, we'll do just fine.

J.R. Stoodley

Tim M.,

It seems the canon is not in fact definitively closed. See Jimmy's "Tritiocanonicals?" post for that.


Regarding Wikipedia, from what I hear (I think it was a news story) a study showed that Wikipedia is about as accurate as conventional encyclopedias like the Encyclopaedia Britannica, being a little more accurate on topics about popular culture and a little less accurate on other subjects.

Brother Cadfael

Mark,

Yes, the last part of Mark's Gospel would still be regarded as canonical. Nothing that is currently in the canon of Scripture as recognized by the Church will be removed.

As Jimmy has stated in previous posts, the Magisterium has arguably left open the possibility that another book could be added (although the chances are seemingly remote), but not that anything currently regarded as canonical could be taken away.

Breier

My Akin's has cast doubt on the inspiration of the adultery pericope, and is incorrectly minimizing the authority of Trent. I prefer the authority of the Catholic Encylopedia:

"The Catholic New Testament, as defined by the Council of Trent, does not differ, as regards the books contained, from that of all Christian bodies at present. Like the Old Testament, the New has its deuterocanonical books and portions of books, their canonicity having formerly been a subject of some controversy in the Church. These are for the entire books: the Epistle to the Hebrews, that of James, the Second of St. Peter, the Second and Third of John, Jude, and Apocalypse; giving seven in all as the number of the New Testament contested books. The formerly disputed passages are three: the closing section of St. Mark's Gospel, xvi, 9-20 about the apparitions of Christ after the Resurrection; the verses in Luke about the bloody sweat of Jesus, xxii, 43, 44; the Pericope Adulteræ, or narrative of the woman taken in adultery, St. John, vii, 53 to viii, 11. Since the Council of Trent it is not permitted for a Catholic to question the inspiration of these passages."

Breier

More from the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Canon. Even Homer nods.

"2. The New Testament and the Council of Trent (1546)

This ecumenical synod had to defend the integrity of the New Testament as well as the Old against the attacks of the pseudo-Reformers, Luther, basing his action on dogmatic reasons and the judgment of antiquity, had discarded Hebrews, James, Jude, and Apocalypse as altogether uncanonical. Zwingli could not see in Apocalypse a Biblical book. (OEcolampadius placed James, Jude, II Peter, II and III John in an inferior rank. Even a few Catholic scholars of the Renaissance type, notably Erasmus and Cajetan, had thrown some doubts on the canonicity of the above-mentioned Antilegomena. As to whole books, the Protestant doubts were the only ones the Fathers of Trent took cognizance of; there was not the slightest hesitation regarding the authority of any entire document. But the deuterocanonical parts gave the council some concern, viz., the last twelve verses of Mark, the passage about the Bloody Sweat in Luke, and the Pericope Adulteræ in John. Cardinal Cajetan had approvingly quoted an unfavourable comment of St. Jerome regarding Mark, xvi, 9-20; Erasmus had rejected the section on the Adulterous Woman as unauthentic. Still, even concerning these no doubt of authenticity was expressed at Trent; the only question was as to the manner of their reception. In the end these portions were received, like the deuterocanonical books, without the slightest distinction. And the clause "cum omnibus suis partibus" regards especially these portions."

Jimmy Akin

Breier,

Several points:

* The Catholic Encyclopedia has no authority (nor do I).

* The article you cite expresses the *opinion* of an individual named George J. Reid regarding how Trent's decree is to be applied.

* Reid was operating prior to (a) the clarification of Pius XII regarding how Trent's decree was to be applied and (b) prior to the codification and revision of canon law, which also has to bear on this question.

* The matter Reid was addressing was the question of whether these passages were inspired, which is a separate question from whether they were in the original. God could and did have different editions of inspired books prepared and the pericope adulterae could be inspired without being in the original edition of John.

* Pius XII made it clear that Trent's decrees do not establish a critical edition of the New Testament that tells us what was in the original documents.

* Reid's assertion that "the clause 'cum omnibus suis partibus' regards especially these [New Testament] portions" is (a) not supported by any evidence he cites and (b) is *highly* suspicious on its face because the canonicity of these passages was not under dispute at the time of the Reformation and (c) is thus highly doubtful.

* In regard to doubtful matters of whether a definition has been issued, I prefer to go with the authority of the Code of Canon Law (which *does* have authority), which states: "No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident" (Can. 749 §3).

My previous statements therefore stand. Trent does not establish that the pericope adulterae was in the originals.

J.R. Stoodley

Jimmy,

Since most of us I think consider the more important question to be whether the pericope adulterae and the other passages in question are inspired, maybe you could give us a hint as to what you think on that matter. Yes, they seem not to be origial, but are they inspired and canonical?

Some Day

Duh?
If they are in the Bible, THE Bible, not some Protestonto cut and pasting, then they must be inspired. I hope that isn't the point of dicussion here.

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

I don't see why we can't say that, even though St. John did not pen the Pericope Adulterae, the Holy Ghost inspired someone else (St. Luke?) to record it and made sure of its inclusion in the Holy Gospels. Perhaps it was part of St. Luke's notes which he compiled from eyewitnesses to Christ's life. St. Luke may have left it out for some reason, maybe it didn't fit into his scheme or (similar to a suggestion above) he feared it might seem like Our Lord was soft-pedalling adultery. Yet the Eternal Spirit of God had other ideas. Who knows?

What about the additions to Daniel and Esther in the OT? They are certainly not part of the original text, but were written later by other divinely-inspired authors. Maybe the composition of sacred books was not always as neat and tidy a process as we might imagine, yet God got what He wanted included in the canon anyway.

And what about the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7)? (I know this one is very controversial.) Though I don't think St. John himself wrote it, maybe God directed its inclusion as a further witness to the truth of the Trinity? I mean, who knows? Ultimately, it's up to the Holy See to decide these things, of course.

In Jesu et Maria,

Breier

Jimmy,

The issue is inspiration, not originality.

By doubting the inspiration of the text, you are going counter to every Catholic authority that I'm aware of. Doesn't that cause you to rethink your position in the least?

Your argument about Trent was shown to be incorrect. The new testament deutrocanonicals were also discussed there, especially the end of Mark and the pericope on adultery. I provided an authority supporting that view. What authority do you have?

Even the modernistic New American Bible and the Jerome Biblical Commentary say that the Church regards the pericope as inspired scripture.

So too the more orthodox Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. All these documents were written after Pius XII's encyclical.

So we have sources both orthodox and heterodox, pre and post Pius XII, all agreeing that the pericope is inspired canonical scripture.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, the Jerome Biblical Commentary, the New American Bible, or Mr. Akin?

I think enough evidence has been shown for the objective reader to realize that you've stumbled here. Let him determine which opinion is truly doubtful.

Some Day

Picking a fight with the owner of the house is highly untactical Breier. Who will help you?
Regardless of who is right here.

Brother Cadfael

Breier,

You are misquoting, misunderstanding and misstating Jimmy's argument, and then knocking down a creature of your own creation.

Jimmy said: "God could and did have different editions of inspired books prepared and the pericope adulterae could be inspired without being in the original edition of John."

Your response: "By doubting the inspiration of the text, you are going counter to every Catholic authority that I'm aware of. Doesn't that cause you to rethink your position in the least?"

Jimmy has not doubted the inspiration of the pericope in the least, and he has not argued that it is not canonical. His point is simply that, even so, it may not be in the original text.

Why is that so difficult for you to understand?


DarwinCatholic

I think you may be mis-reading Jimmy, Breier. I don't see that he's called into question the inspiration of the Pericope Adulteræ, but rather saying that if that section is not original (as I guess it appears not to be) that that is not in contradiction to Church doctrine.

Which, indeed, was the question that I'd had in mind when writing in: Does the idea that the Pericope Adulteræ was added later by another author contradict Church teaching.

Certianly, it's easy to jump from the one issue to the other. My concern was that if the story was not original, that it wasn't true. But now that I see it, I think Jimmy's point that Trent insisted on the inspiration but not necessarily the originality of Canon is important.

Now, indeed, if Trent does not require a belief that a disputed section is original, should we represent it as doing so. If it's true that the Pericope Adulteræ is not original, then insisting that Trent teaches that it is original only makes Trent look false.

Brother Cadfael

Some Day,

It makes even less sense to go into battle armed with nothing more than straw.

Some Day

Hey Darwin C,
Why that blog name?
Just curious.

Breier

Darwin and Brother,

I am not misunderstanding Mr. Akin.

He said, in reference to the passage in the Council of Trent.:

"This has led some to suppose that if a passage is found in the Vulgate that it must, ipso facto, be sacred and canonical and thus in the original manuscripts, but this is not what Trent was saying."

This argument can be outlined as:

1. Trent says the pericope is canonical and inspired.
2. Anything canonical and inspired is original.
3. Therefore the pericope is original.

Rather that attack premise #2, Jimmy attacks premise #1.

Jimmy's argument for non-originality is premised on the non-canonicity of the pericope.

If Mr. Akin will affirm that the Church holds the pericope to be inspired and canonical scripture, I'd be happy. But I don't think your interpretation is correct Brother. I'd be happy to be shown wrong.

Breier

Brother and Some Day,

A friend of Jimmy, but more a friend of truth. I fail to see how a vigorous constructive engagement of ideas is inhospitable.

It is my contention, and I can't see how Mr. Akin would deny it, that Mr. Akin's statements put the inspiration and canonicity of the adultery pericope as a doubtful and open matter. It could be inspired, it could not. It is of course free from errors in faith and morals, but that's not the same as inspiration.

His argument for this is based on reading of the Council of Trent which restricts its reference to the deutrocanonical passages of the Old Testament. He believes, incorrectly, that the New Testmanet deutrocanonical books and passages (such as the end of Mark or the adultery pericope) were not in question at the Council and therefore outside of Trent's intent. He butresses this argument by using Pius XII to argue that the Vulgate has not critical authority, juridicial authority.

As a result of this reading, he holds that the there is no Church authority compelling us to accept those passages as canonical scripture.

I believe that is a fair representation of his opinion.

My objection is that it first pursues a straw man. Noone is arguing that the Council of Trent settles any issues of authorship. And that is is what "originality" is referring to. The Council of Trent settles that the pericope is inspired and canonical scripture. Did St. John, St. Luke, someone else, write it? That is a free question. But its canonicity may not be called into question.

Mr. Akin, apparently, thinks that the argument for sacredness or canoncity of the pericope is based on arguing that St. John wrote it. Not so.


J.R. Stoodley

I renew my suggestion to Jimmy to tell us whether he intends to question the canonicity of these texts or whether his not conferming their canonicity wat an oversight and he only means to discuss their originality/human authorship. Please Jimmy, clear up this mess!

J.R. Stoodley

Unless, that is, if you honestly don't know whether one may licitly question the canonicity of these texts. In which case you are wise in keeping your mouth shut. "Nightmares come with many cares, and a fool's utterance with many words." (somewhere in Ecclesiastes)

How I know it!

Brother Cadfael

Breier,

In your diagram above, Jimmy would be attacking #2. He is saying that just because Trent says the Vulgate has juridical authority (ie is canonical), does NOT mean that Trent can be used to support its originality.

He is simply pointing out that it is OK to challenge the originality of the text without challenging the canonicity.

I really don't see how you can read his comments any differently.

DarwinCatholic

Some Day,

A combination of an interest in evolution with a conviction that philosophies that scorn family and childbearing (as certain strains of modernity do) are of their nature not for this world.

Breier

Brother,

As I understood, juridicial authority simply meant being free from error in faith in morals and suitable for learning from. This is not the same as being inspired and canonical.

I recognize that Mr. Akin holds the percope to be free from error, and suitable for teaching. But that's not the same as saying it's part of God's inspired Word. Inspiration is more than freedom from error.

But I'm glad to see we at least agree on the question of inspiration. I won't belabor the point any further, and will allow Mr. Akin to clarify if he wishes.

Brother Cadfael

Breier,

Now you're making an argument from silence. Jimmy doesn't SAY its canonical, so he must believe it is not, or he doesn't SAY its inspired. Nonsense.

He makes clear time after time, that the issue he is addressing is the originality of the pericope. His argument assumes that the pericope is canonical and inspired -- but (and this is the point) that doesn't make it original.

Breier

Brother,

This is growing tedious. It's the Council of Trent's decree that settles the canonicity and inspiration of the pericope. Mr. Akin denied that the decree had anything to say about the canonicity or inspiration of the pericope. He attacked the views of those who thought that Trent settled the canoncity and inspiration of the pericope.

I provided a Catholic Encyclopedia article that said flat out, Trent settled the issue of canonicity and Catholics are obliged to hold the pericope inspired.

Mr. Akin's response was not that he agreed, it was rather to attack the Catholic Encyclopedia. The inference from this? He thinks the quesiton of canonicity and inspiration an open question.

We may affirm that the pericope is free from faith and morals, and suitable for instruction, but nothing more.

Rather than get aggrieved at my pointing out the obvious, read the Catholic Encyclopedia quote I provided see if there's anything you disagree with. If you think its such a straw man, ask yourself why Mr. Akin saw fit to attack it.

This will be final post on the matter.

Puzzled

The Council of Trent was not an ecumenical council. Therefore its authority is only local and not binding upon the whole Church.

Don't people study canonics anymore? Or is that what happens when you have other mere men, and not God, tell you what to believe? Read Bruce, Metzger, Ridderbos, Vasholz, and Linneman. Pay attention to the textual commentaries. What -do- they teach them in those schools these days?

It is the original autographs of the canonical books which are inerrant and authoritative, not later translations and redactions. That is why the long ending to Mark and the pericope of the woman caught in adultry are not Scripture. Much mischief has been done based on those spurious texts, from snake-handling to "forgiveness" without repentance being taught.

The ignorant and hateful anti-Protestant comments have been noted. Along with the disregard of the proof that the deuterocanonicals are not even taken by the Roman Catholic See as having the same authority as Scripture, but rather that as of the other worthy books, such as the epistles of Clement and Barnabas.

Tim J.

Puzzled -

I'm just jumping in late, here, but I do want to point out that it is almost always a bad idea to go about telling people of other creeds what they REALLY believe.

Pardon me if stick to the Catholic understanding of Catholic teaching, rather than accept the skewed interpretations of a hostile source.

"Or is that what happens when you have other mere men, and not God, tell you what to believe?"

If this is how you feel, then WHY, pray, are YOU (a mere man) trying to tell me what to believe? Why should I accept your completely non-authoritative understanding of scripture over what I believe to be the authoritative teaching of Christ's Church?

"Much mischief has been done based on those spurious texts..."

Much mischief has been done based on ALL the biblical texts, because they are twisted by the ignorant, as St. Peter so ably pointed out. From that no argument can be made as to authenticity.

How does the fact that we don't find a particular passage in the earliest known manuscript mean that it is therefore non-canonical?

The passage in question could have been added at the behest of an inspired and Apostolic source. The earlier manuscript might have ommitted the passage, for whatever reason. The earlier copy is not - by necessity - the more accurate. In general, yes... in any specific case, not with certainty.

I don't know how likely any of these scenarios are in relation to the story of the woman caught in adultery, but given the possibility, why ASSUME that the pericope is non-canonical?

bill912

It seems to me--and I readily admit I could well be wrong--that, unless one has recourse to an Authority, one can only assume what is canonical and what is not.

Puzzled

My comments are interspersed with Tim's, and I can't figure out how to make them appear distinctly from each other.

Puzzled -

I'm just jumping in late, here, but I do want to point out that it is almost always a bad idea to go about telling people of other creeds what they REALLY believe.

Tim, did I do that? I agree, that is a bad idea, and I do apologize. What did I do?

Pardon me if stick to the Catholic understanding of Catholic teaching, rather than accept the skewed interpretations of a hostile source.

Not hostile, just frustrated.

"Or is that what happens when you have other mere men, and not God, tell you what to believe?"

If this is how you feel, then WHY, pray, are YOU (a mere man) trying to tell me what to believe? Why should I accept your completely non-authoritative understanding of scripture over what I believe to be the authoritative teaching of Christ's Church?

Well, you *shouldn't* just accept something because I say it. The question always has to be "is it true?" And that means study, logic, historiography, and textual criticism (not historical criticism, that is a whole different kettle of fish.)

"Much mischief has been done based on those spurious texts..."

Much mischief has been done based on ALL the biblical texts, because they are twisted by the ignorant, as St. Peter so ably pointed out. From that no argument can be made as to authenticity.

That wasn't meant to be an argument against their authenticity. That had already been established through careful textual work that it would appear Catholic scholars agree with.

How does the fact that we don't find a particular passage in the earliest known manuscript mean that it is therefore non-canonical?

If it wasn't written by one of the apostles, or by their scribes, then it isn't canon. That -was- the test at Nikaea. (and while you might call that tradition, it is -also- the historical part of "grammatical-historical") It is very evident that the long ending of Mark wasn't written by Mark. The pericope of the woman caught in adultery appears in more than one Gospel, and in more than one location in John. Obviously some people believed that it happened, but they didn't know where to put it. It does not appear that John wrote it.

The passage in question could have been added at the behest of an inspired and Apostolic source. The earlier manuscript might have ommitted the passage, for whatever reason. The earlier copy is not - by necessity - the more accurate. In general, yes... in any specific case, not with certainty.

The problem there is that it showed up after the Apostles had all passed on. It doesn't meet the canonical test of Nikaea.

I don't know how likely any of these scenarios are in relation to the story of the woman caught in adultery, but given the possibility, why ASSUME that the pericope is non-canonical?

For the reasons I stated above. It is very evidently spurious. And it is of questionable orthodoxy - where is the woman's repentence in the text?

J.R. Stoodley

Puzzled,

I think the main impolite thing you did is claim that the Council of Trent is not a true Ecumenical Council. We Catholics believe it is, and if you believed it is you would pretty much have to become a Catholic, so I understand your rejection to it but please don't confuse readers about what Catholicism is.

Separately, I don't care what the scholarly method you have adopted says, but from what I read authorship during the time of the Apostles (though not necessarily by an Apostle as we use the term, though you must use it of Mark, Luke, James, and Jude so why be real picky about it even if it is a requirement) is a necessary requirement for being public Revelation, and therefore for being canonical Scripture. However, some modern scholars have claimed that whole books of the NT were written after St. John must have died so I tend not to trust such claims about the time of authorship. If you could convince me that these passages were indeed written (not just inserted) after the death of the last Apostle and a Catholic like Jimmy convinces me that the Magestarium has not closed the matter, then I will believe you.

Tim J.

"Tim, did I do that? I agree, that is a bad idea, and I do apologize. What did I do?"

Indeed, it was the rejection of Trent as binding on the whole Church to which I was referring.

Who decides what is binding on the Catholic Church? The Catholic Church!

Brother Cadfael

I've got a good idea...why don't we each just take a pair of scissors and cut out the pieces of the Bible we don't like? Worked for Jefferson. That we don't have to mess with Church authority and apostolicity and canonicity and inspiration and the like. I can just choose which "scholars" put forward the best case for the parts of Scripture I like and don't like and be done with it.

Never mind that no one operates with the same Bible in that world. It's all relative.

Puzzled

Cadfael, your comment had nothing to do with the previous discussion.

As to the long endings of Mark, I would refer you to the section of Metzger's Textual Commentary starting at page 122. I wish I could just enter the text for you, but I don't htink that I can, especially not the parts in Greek. That isn't a dodge, though I understand how it might not sound like one.

As to the woman caught in adultery, pg 219.

As to Trent as an ecumenical council of the Church, where were the EO, Copt, Armenian, Chaldean, and Mar Toma bishops, not to mention the German bishops? Do I understand correctly that you consider me to be misrepresenting what you believe by making an observation which you do not agree with? Do you honestly believe that I am or could leave Catholics astray? My questions and observations do not bear either the imprimatur, nor the nihil obstat. . .?

The tone on this discussion has NOT been conducive for obedience to Ut Unam Sint.

J.R. Stoodley

Puzzled,

Your definition of what a valid Ecumenical Council is seems to have no relation to the Catholic definition.

By the way everyone, what about Vatican I? I just found this looking at Wikipedia (yes, I know, but it is such an easy resourse to use):

Vatican I: on April 24, 1870, approved the additions to Mark (v.16:9-20), Luke, (22:19b-20,43-44) and John, (7:53-8:11) which are not present in early manuscripts.

The specific page is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_canon

Anyone more knowledgeable than me know what this refers to specifically?

Brother Cadfael

Puzzled,

You are not simply misrepresenting what we believe -- you are misrepresenting what the Church teaches.

"Do you honestly believe that I am or could leave Catholics astray?" I do not know your motivations, but one would certainly be reasonable in drawing those conclusions.

Puzzled

Cadfael, do you understand the purpose of this blog?

Brother Cadfael

Puzzled,

I do not know what you think the purpose of this blog is. I'm pretty sure it's not meant to be a forum for misrepresenting what the Church teaches, however.

Matt McDonald

In the interest of obedience to "Ut Unam Sint", I will charitably tell you why the Council of Trent was an Ecumenical Council despite the absence of the separated brethren and orthodox. An ecumenical council of the Catholic Church is a council of the bishops in communion with the Catholic Church and the See of Peter, and under his authority.

While we're on the subject of "Ut Unam Sint", I'd recommend you read at the very least, "Dominus Iesus", as well. Catholic teaching can not be determined from a single document with a particular focus, especially one meant to be an invitation, couched in diplomatic terms.

We do welcome you to "come home to Rome", with open arms and sincere affection.

J.R. Stoodley

Matt McDonald,

Perhaps it is nit-picking, but that "orthodox" realy should have the "o" capitalized, and I would certainly say they also qualify as "separated brethren."

Some Day

Puzzled is really "puzzled"
It is so horrible the Sin of Revolution and Self-Love, that instead of appreciating the grace it is to have an unerrant Supreme Pontiff, that they are blinded and critizize and in the end revolt against God because He put that hierarchical order. Thank God for the Papacy. Even if you have a heretical, evil Pope, he is still the Pope, and our fidelity is to him, the Vicar of Christ. Even the Eccumenical Councils would be null if it wasn't because the Pope gave them authority to be.
God Bless the Pope!
Viva il Papa!
Viva Benedetto XVI!

Matt McDonald

"Perhaps it is nit-picking, but that "orthodox" realy should have the "o" capitalized, and I would certainly say they also qualify as "separated brethren.""

Not at all, as I should think ALL of the bishops would be orthodox, but certainly not Orthodox. I guess the Orthodox are mostly orthodox too.

The Orthodox are not referred to as "separated brethren. They could be called separated churches, but they are valid churches. the protestants are simply adherents to heretical sects, which have no formal recognition, while they have been more recently referred to as "ecclesial communities", diplomacy speak I think.

Louie

Pardon my ignorance as I've just began to study bible scholarship, but the phrase "not in the original", what exactly does that mean? Does it refer to the actual document penned by the author of a book in the Bible (or the first author, if more than one was inspired by the Lord Holy Spirit in the penning)?

You see, I always thought that we have lost the original documents, that all we have are copies of copies (exactly how many, I don't know) of the originals. So I am a bit surprised of a statement like "This passage is not in the original."

Thank you for those who would generously answer my question.

Pax.

J.R. Stoodley

Louie,

My understanding of Catholic teaching is that it is only the original inspired documents that are inspired. Subsequent changes in later transcriptions are not.

Part of the debate here has been whether "original" can include parts added to a book while the aposltles were still living, or maybe even things added later but that were first written down somewhere else during the time of the apostles. I for one believe that as long as the original version of and piece of text was written during the time of the apostles it could be inspired.

The reason why it is important the text was written at the time of the apostles is because after the death of the last apostle there is no public revelation. I suppose it is possible for something written afterward to be inspired, but it would only be private revelation, not intended for the whole world and not binding on anyone to believe.

The fact that the actual original documents have been lost means that we must attept by the copies we do have to reconstruct as best we can what the originals said.

Then again a certain interpretation of Trent would suggest that anything in the Latin Vulgate common at the time is cannonical, but that as you see above is also debated.

Brother Cadfael

J.R.,

My understanding of Catholic teaching is that it is only the original inspired documents that are inspired. Subsequent changes in later transcriptions are not.

Can you provide some support for this understanding?

In my understanding, the Church is more concerned with what is canonical, than with what is original (although the two are obviously closely related). It is that which is regarded as canonical which the Church regards as inspired, not necessarily that which is original.

In other words, certain texts may have been edited after the composition of the original. It is the edited form which is held by the Church to be canonical, and therefore inspired. The same Holy Spirit, of course, that inspires the writing can also inspire the editing.

Louie

Bro. Cadfael,

"In my understanding, the Church is more concerned with what is canonical, than with what is original (although the two are obviously closely related). It is that which is regarded as canonical which the Church regards as inspired, not necessarily that which is original."

Um, does this mean that what is in the original is not necessarily canonical, and thus not regarded by the Church as inspired?

Pax.

Brother Cadfael

Louie,

First, to make clear, this is only my best (somewhat educated but probably more uneducated) guess on the matter without looking anything up -- I would readily defer to others more informed than I on this matter. And maybe this matter is dealt with directly somewhere; I'm not sure.

does this mean that what is in the original is not necessarily canonical, and thus not regarded by the Church as inspired?

Perhaps, at least by negative inference. Because there may be cases where we do not have the originals, it is the edited version that is regarded as canonical, and thus inspired.

I do not know how the Church would handle the situation where a previously lost original is suddenly discovered. I suspect that the Church does not know how it would handle such a situation, because that decision would be dependent on many variables. For example, what degree of certainty do we have that the recovered "original" is, in fact, the original? What if the author is also the editor, such that the "original" is really just a draft, and the "edited" version was really meant to be the final version by the original author? In what respect is the recovered original different from the edited version? Are the differences material? Does the recovered "original" teach anything different or contrary to what the Church has believed for two millenia?

I sincerely doubt the edited version would suddenly be regarded as non-canonical or non-inspired, but the status of the so-called original would, I suspect, be in limbo for some time. It seems possible that under some circumstance they could both be regarded as canonical, but it also seems possible to me (in light of some of the above questions that may be extremely difficult to answer with any degree of confidence) that the "original" would, in the final tally, not be regarded as inspired.


Brother Cadfael

Louie,

I would also point out that J.R. has raised a contrary point, and he is generally well-informed on such matters as well. It is quite possible that I am mistaken in this regard and that he is correct, so don't blindly take my word for any of this.

J.R. Stoodley

In my understanding, the Church is more concerned with what is canonical, than with what is original (although the two are obviously closely related). It is that which is regarded as canonical which the Church regards as inspired, not necessarily that which is original.

In other words, certain texts may have been edited after the composition of the original. It is the edited form which is held by the Church to be canonical, and therefore inspired. The same Holy Spirit, of course, that inspires the writing can also inspire the editing.

Perhaps our seeming disagreement is only a matter of language. Do you accept that all biblical texts must predate the death of the last Apostle? If so I don't think we disagree. As I said above, I would accept as possible the idea of a text (like perhaps the pericope adulterae) were added later but are still inspired, haveing therefore been written in the time of the Apostles though not inserted into any Gospel until later. It seems in fact to be the case (from the New American Bible commentary I quoted above) that this was first written and then inserted in different places in one Gospel or another.

So a text does not have to be in the first draft of a book of a bible to be cannonical and thus inspired. However, it must be original in the sence of having been first written down in the time of the apostles, not the result for instance of a later transcription error. A worthy persute in Scripture study therefore is trying to discover what was original (in the first sense mentioned) to the inspired texts, as opposed to transcriptional or translational error.

I suppose being of later date may not neccessarily mean the text is not inspired, but it certainly is not public revelation. I imagine there could be inspired private revelation. If the Magisterium declares a book and all the parts of that book to be cannonical, that means that the original of each part of that text is inspired (the Latin translation currently circulating is not directly inspired but is a translation of a copy of inspired scripture).

Agreed?

J.R. Stoodley

To clarify, I'm sure if a book is cannonical it is not only inspired but public revelation.

Brother Cadfael

J.R.,

Do you accept that all biblical texts must predate the death of the last Apostle?

Yes, that has always been my understanding. In other words, both the "writing" and the "editing" (if and to the extent such occurred) would have taken place before the death of the last apostle.

If the Magisterium declares a book and all the parts of that book to be cannonical, that means that the original of each part of that text is inspired

Yes, I think we agree, if by "original of each part" you mean (as I think you do) to include the edits, and if by "inspired" you mean in the sense of public revelation, not private.

J.R. Stoodley

Yes, I mean including the edits, and by clarifying post was to point out that when speaking of inspired cannonical text I was assuming it is also public revelation. The idea of the possibilty of (non-canonical) inspired texts that are private revelation is just an obscure speculization of mine.

jdal

My main question is, if it was inserted later, as it seems to have been, why? What was the motive of the persons inserting it? First of all, it makes sense that the story was true. It seems an odd story for someone to just make up. What would be the theological motivation? That God loves even sinners? That is a theme well-gone-over in the gospels, and a fictional story involving a woman forgiven for adultery seems far-fetched. That the Jews were all about trying to trap him with legalistic conundrums (i.e., the Mosaic law says to stone her, but to say so would be to go against Roman law)? Again, there are plenty of examples in the gospels where Jesus out-smarted these types of attempts.

Almost every society in the past, and most, in some form or another even today, practices and espouses a sexual double standard.

It's hard to believe that writers in a far less enlightened age than ours would make up an event about Jesus that involved something shocking and unheard of--that of showing mercy to a sexually-transgressive woman. If they had wanted to emphasize Christ's mercy or to emphasize the Jewish attempts to outsmart him, there are many other events that would have come to their minds to "make up" and insert, I would think.

It seems logical to me that the gist of the story is true, and that for reasons unkown to us, it was left out and later added. Maybe it came from another Gospel writer and was supressed and later on put back in.

I just think that if anything from Christ's ministry would be questioned by the Church as it was deciding what was canonical and what was not, it would be this story. The fact that it was put in and accepted means that there had to be good reason.

Let's say that it wasn't "made up" but was part of a tradition that had existed; for whatever reason, it hadn't been put in writing. Whoever decided to include it in the gospels thought that something about its message needed to be said. Again, the question is why? In a world where misogyny was the rule, especially in Jesus' time and for centuries after, what could be gained?

I can only come to the conclusion that it was divine inspiration.

I think that the verse shows that Jesus did not believe in a sexual double standard. Either the Gospel writers didn't think that that aspect of his ministry was important enough to record or it was supressed.

I don't what the truth is, but it seems to me that either way, the story appears to conform to the general tenor of the gospels to be true.

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