Does The Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) Have Canonical Authority? An Interconfessional Approach -- By: Armin D. Baum

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:2 (NA 2014)
Article: Does The Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) Have Canonical Authority? An Interconfessional Approach
Author: Armin D. Baum


Does The Pericope Adulterae
(John 7:53-8:11) Have Canonical Authority? An Interconfessional Approach

Armin D. Baum

Freien Theologischen Hochschule Gießen
Evangelische Theologische Faculteit Leuven

The historicity of the event that the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) relates has not been disproved. The orthodoxy of the words of Jesus it contains also cannot be denied. If the canonicity of the pericope is determined according to the same historical and content-related criteria that the ancient church applied during the development of the canon of Scriptures, then nothing speaks against its canonical status. This sort of assessment does not rest on an infallible and therefore binding decision of the church or its magisterium or on an internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. When the pericope adulterae is accepted into the NT, it should not be placed between chaps. 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John because it is not part of the original text of this book. Rather, it should be put after John’s Gospel, because it probably comes from the same historical root. Those who hesitate to accept the pericope adulterae as canonical can remove it from the NT without having to fear a serious loss. Everything the pericope has to say is also expressed several times in other places of the biblical canon. The additional benefit of the narrative of Jesus and the adulteress is not some singular ethical or theological statement. Its particular value lies in the fact that the pericope presents the forgiveness offered by Jesus to those who are condemned to death by the Mosaic law in a more elaborate, more colorful, and more pointed way than any other passage of the NT.

Key Words: canon criteria, Gospel of John, ecclesial infallibility, New Testament canon, pericope adulterae, testimonium spiritus sancti internum

The pericope adulterae (PA) probably should be regarded as a secondary addition to the Gospel of John.1 It may be the case that its Greek style does not deviate as clearly from the rest of the Gospel as Robert Morgenthaler

and others have asserted. And it is also true that the pericope contains several typically Johannine stylistic peculiarities.2 But all in all, internal and external evidence taken together cast doubt on the literary originality of the PA.3 In contrast to the evangelists’ narratives contained in the appendix of the book (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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