OT: Canonicity by denomination of John 7:53-8:11, Mark 16:9-20 (e.g.)

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Apr 19 2017 5:52 AM

Is anyone aware of any denomination or stream that has made official decisions regarding the canonicity of John 7:53-8:11, Mark 16:9-20 (and perhaps some other passages)?

Please, let's not debate the canonicity of those texts here. For this discussion, I'm interested in any official decisions by any denominations regarding these texts.

Thanks in advance, for any with specific information.

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JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 19 2017 8:15 AM

I can't answer the denomination question but I believe Dan Wallace calls John 7:53 - 8:11 his "favorite passage that isn't in the Bible".

JRS has left the building.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 19 2017 9:06 AM

The "Woman Caught in Adultery" pericope is prophetically required to be in the Bible. How it got there is immaterial.

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Dave Moser | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Apr 19 2017 9:42 AM

David Paul:
The "Woman Caught in Adultery" pericope is prophetically required to be in the Bible. How it got there is immaterial.

This answer is so completely not what the OP asked that I laughed out loud.

  • He didn't ask how it was included. 
  • He didn't ask why you think it's canonical.
  • He didn't ask what your criteria for text criticism (or, as fits your answer... lack of criteria?) are.

  • He asked if any denominational/synodal/etc body had made an official pronouncement on its canonicity.
  • He asked if there was documentation he could search for regarding such a pronouncement.

Adventures in missing the point...

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 24 2017 10:05 PM

Dave Moser:

Adventures in missing the point...

Was there a point? Frankly, I would be shocked if anyone can provide Richard an example of what he's looking for. Maybe there is a group or two that is far-out enough that they don't care about possibly alienating that segment of their congregation(s) that actually read(s) the Bible, but if such a group exists, I doubt they would care enough about such textual minutiae to render such a controversial opinion. For those who are even aware of the scholarly textual opinions, I would think that any comments delivered to congregants would be nothing more than occasional references to those opinions.

Be that as it may, my comments--related to the topic even though not specifically a response to Richard's specific request--stand as presented. Prophecy requires the presence of that pericope on at least two or three different grounds. My comments aren't "debating canonicity", a topic which concerns the opinions of man and not the intention of ':Elohhiym. I'm not sure what's driving Richard's queries, but on the off-chance my comment might be something worthy of his consideration, I said what I said.

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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 24 2017 11:46 PM

Rich DeRuiter:
Is anyone aware of any denomination or stream that has made official decisions regarding the canonicity of John 7:53-8:11, Mark 16:9-20 (and perhaps some other passages)?

Everything search for:

canonicity NEAR (<Jn7.53-8.11> OR <Mk16.9-20>)

Keep Smiling Smile

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Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 1:54 AM

Its an interesting question. I'm unaware of any denomination which has purported to make an official decision on the canonicity of particular Scripture.

Perhaps in recent history the nearest to this could be the tendency of some denominations to favour specific  Bibles to be used in their churches? These Bibles may have known omissions or additions made by their translation teams or have entries highlighting doubts about particular Scriptures (eg the longer ending of Mark). If they are relatively strict about the Bible used, it may be argued the denomination is in effect impliedly rejecting the canonicity of those Scriptures. Yet this would not necessarily amount to an official decision expressly on canonicity.

Like many others I believe no church denomination or entity possesses any authority to make a decision to accept or reject the canonicity of all or part of the Scriptures. The canon is settled and cannot be amended. Keep well Paul         

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John Kight | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 5:30 AM

Any KJV Only church would fit the bill. 

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David Stockdale | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 6:35 AM

Rich – here is an answer to your inquiry from our own CRCNA Acts of Synod 1961.


Page 255

While pointing out “difficulties” in some of these texts noted above, the report affirms the infallibility of scripture. 

I hope this helps.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 7:54 AM

David Stockdale:
I hope this helps.

Thanks, David. Although this doesn't directly answer the question, "Are these texts canonical?" and puts them in a category of "disputed," it does at least suggest that they belong in the canon, by stating "...our Bible today [is] the very Word of God."

It's not a direct answer, but it does seem to lean in the direction of accepting these disputed texts. However, the topic of study was not to answer what belongs in the canon, but whether and to what extent are the Scriptures infallible and inspired (a hot topic in 1961, and thankfully not much disputed in our day in the CRC).

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 3:56 PM

Its an interesting question. I'm unaware of any denomination which has purported to make an official decision on the canonicity of particular Scripture.

The Endings of the Marcan Gospel (16:9-20). Mark may have ended his Gospel with v. 8 ( Aspects NT Thought, 78:156) but the strange ending of that verse with the conj. gar and its abruptness indicate that the real ending of the Gospel may be lost to us today. The mss. tradition has preserved three different endings: (1) the long canonical ending (16:9-20), which is missing in mss. S and B and was declared inauthentic by Eusebius (Quaest. ad Marinum 1). Even though it is generally regarded today as non-Marcan (on the basis of different style, vocabulary, and subject matter; see Wik, NTI 171-72; R-F, INT 219-20), it is nevertheless regarded as canonical by Catholics, as a result of the Tridentine decree on the Canon (see DB 784; DS 1504); it was one of the passages explicitly discussed at the Council as an example of a “pars” (see E. Mangenot, DTC 2, 1602; DAFC 4, 1972-73). (2) the so-called shorter ending, a single verse found in mss. L, Ψ, 099, 0112, 579. It too is non-Marcan in its style and language (see V. Taylor, Mark, 614). (3) the Freer Logion, actually a gloss added to 16:14 in the 5th cent. Freer ms. of the Gospels (codex W [Washingtoniensis] is in the Freer Museum of the Smithsonian Institution). This gloss, added by some early scribe to soften the condemnation of the Eleven in v. 14, was known to Jerome (Contra Pelagianos 2.15). It too is quite non-Marcan in its style and language, and may have come from a Gnostic circle of the late 2nd or early 3rd cent.

NT New Testament

mss. Manuscripts

mss. Manuscripts

DB H. Denzinger and C. Bannwart, Enchiridion symbolorum (31st or earlier ed.; Freiburg, 1957). Cf. DS

DS H. Denzinger and A. Schönmetzer, Enchiridion symbolorum (32nd and later ed.; Freiburg, 1963). Cf. DB

DTC Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (16 vols.; Paris, 1903-65)

DAFC Dictionnaire apologétique de la foi catholique (4th ed.; Paris, 1925)

mss. Manuscripts

ms. Manuscript

 Raymond Edward Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland Edmund Murphy, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 2 (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1996), 60.

This passage is absent from many ancient codexes, but it was in the Vulgate when the Magisterium, at the Council of Trent, defined the canon of Holy Scripture. Therefore, the Church regards it as canonical and inspired, and has used it and continues to use it in the liturgy. It is also included in the New Vulgate, in the same position as it occupied before.

St Augustine said that the reason doubts were raised about the passage was that it showed Jesus to be so merciful that some rigorists thought it would lead to a relaxation of moral rules—and therefore many copyists suppressed it from their manuscripts (cf. De coniugiis adulterinis, 2, 6).

In commenting on the episode of the woman caught in adultery Fray Luis de Granada gives these general considerations on the mercy of Christ: “Your feelings, your deeds and your words should be akin to these, if you desire to be a beautiful likeness of the Lord. And therefore the Apostle is not content with telling us to be merciful; he tells us, as God’s sons, to put on ‘the bowels of mercy’ (cf. Col 3:12). Imagine, then, what the world would be like if everyone arrayed themselves in this way.

“All this is said to help us understand to some degree the great abundance of the goodness and compassion of our Saviour, which shine forth so clearly in these actions of his, for […] in this life we cannot know God in himself; we can know him only through his actions. […] But it should also be pointed out that we should never act in such a way in view of God’s mercy, that we forget about his justice; nor should we attend to his justice forgetting about his mercy; for hope should have in it an element of fear, and fear an element of hope” (Life of Jesus Christ, 13, 4).

 Saint John’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 100.

The Catholic church as pointed out above most certainly does have official if not very old opinions....

Anglicans do tacitly affirm them based on the BCP and the 39 articles (6) of faith:

All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

 The Episcopal Church, The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2007), 869.


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Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 25 2017 5:34 PM

As Dan mentions with technical detail regarding the second reference, particularily Denziger - also applies to John 7:53-8:11.  The Catholic affirmation of canonicity during Session IV, Council of Trent of Jerome's old Latin Vulgate translation of the 4th century which included those passages.

You can find those references in the documents/resources mentioned both in Logos/Verbum or publically available via internet search.

The Original Catholic Encyclopedia, sadly not in Logos/Verbum yet (yes I know it's free on the internet), has some good articles on this and other passages

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 7 2017 9:01 PM

People declaring that they accept the Bible as received isn't news. Wake me when someone (i.e. some group) "Officially Rejects" these textual anomalies.

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 8 2017 11:03 AM

Well when the RSV ejected them to footnotes in the first version they had suggesting they had no place in the text. I officially reject them*.

The Asterix is because the end of Mark is obviously not original and has been discussed for over 1900 years (that said one can piece what it has said  in totality from elsewhere in the NT and the gospels and therefore does no harm and for me I accept that it offers a fitting and ancient conclusion to what likely was lost unless Mark meant for us to go out and finished the story for ourselves (if these frightened ones will say nothing we much spread the news our Saviour is risen). The woman taken in adultery rings so true but doesn't fit linguistically or narratively in the spot it lives. I reject it from John but affirm it as a true tail of Jesus. But I do not have a better place to have it live although perhaps the REB has the best solution placing it after John's gospel is concluded.


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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 8 2017 4:52 PM

Dan Francis:
I officially reject them

I'm really interested in whether any denomination has take a stand on this.

I'm also aware of at least some of the discussion in commentaries and the like. Which is why I'm asking the question I'm asking.

It seems odd to me that individuals like you and me, even when trained in the ancient texts and textual criticism, can simply decide canonicity on our own. So, I wondered if any denominations had taken on these obviously problematic texts.

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 8 2017 6:39 PM

The catholic church has weighed in on it of course, but generally parts of books are not decided... I consider the adulterous woman canonical just not part of John. I am not even for removal of the end of Mark, just not interested in drawing any doctrine based on it alone... i.e.  they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:18 Now Paul did have a snake bite him without harm, but some unusual and sometimes harmful things have come from this. Through God's grace all things are possible, but I am not sure that it is wise to base doctrine based on this passage with little to no support elsewhere. I cannot see a great need to take a stand on these things since most training leads people to understand the nature of these with their particular issues. I know we have many Pentecostal users here who might be horrified at my attitude since for many early Penetcosttalic groups great inspiration came from Mark 16's traditional end. To quote the Fire Bible "The content of this passage certainly represents the true witness, beliefs and experience of the early church. Properly interpreted, nothing in these verses contradicts other portions of God’s Word. For these reasons, vv. 9-20 should be considered part of the inspired and authoritative Word of God." So even though I and others might see it as an addition, not really "belonging" it remains harmless for the most part and tradition has us keep it in place more or less. I would never attempt to suggest to the Anglican church these passages should be removed. Nor so I am particularly interested in them being moved to the footnotes only.


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Michael S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 9 2017 5:23 AM

John Kight:

Any KJV Only church would fit the bill. 

So true (LOL)!

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 9 2017 9:05 AM

Judging from results so far, there's sort of a theological shrug.

But a lot can be learned from the earlier theological behavior with Jeremiah and Joshua. We have to assume (don't know for sure) that the greek and hebrew were considerably different in the 3 centuries that the two ran side by side. One had big obvious chunks the other didn't. I've never seen the NT writers get excited, or the later church leaders. They got excited about 'books'.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 9 2017 10:53 AM

Judging from results so far, there's sort of a theological shrug.

I think it's that way because it is debated out these two passages have been discussed and debated since before the council of Nicaea.

[The whole section concerning the adulteress, from chap. 7:53 to 8:11, is omitted as spurious, or bracketted as doubtful by the critical editors of the Gr. Test. Hence I have italicized the E. V. to distinguish it from the undisputed text. (The same course should be pursued with Mark 16: 9 ff.) Without anticipating the very full and judicious discussion of the genuineness by Dr. Lange in the Exeg. and Chit, below, I shall only state the chief authorities for both opinions, and the conclusion to which I have attained:

1. The section is defended as genuine by Augustine (who comments on it in Tract. xxxiii., and suggests, in another place, De conj. adult., II. 7, that it was thrown out of the text by enemies or weak believers from fear that it might encourage their wives to infidelity), Mill, Whitby, Fabricius, Lampe, Maldonatus, Corn. a Lapide, Bengel, Michaelis, Storr, Kuinoel, Hug (R. C.), Scholz, Klee, Maier (R. C.), Home, Owen, Webster and Wilkinson, Wieseler, Ebrard, Stier, Lange.

2. It is rejected as an interpolation (though not on that account as untrue) by Erasmus, Calvin (?), Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Semler, Paulus, Knapp, Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, Bleek, De Wette, Baur, Reuss, Luthardt, Meyer, Ewald, Hengstenberg (who regards it as an apocryphal fiction of some strongly anti-Jewish Christian of the second century), Godet, Wordsworth (?), Scrivener. So also Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, Wescott and Hort.

The prevailing critical evidence, though mostly negative (especially from the Eastern Church), is against the passage, the moral evidence for it; in other words, it seems to be no original part of John’s written Gospel, but the record of an actual event, which probably happened about the time indicated by its position in the 8th chapter. The story could not have been invented, the less so as it runs contrary to the ascetic and legalistic tendency of the ancient church which could not appreciate it.

It is eminently Christ-like and full of comfort to penitent outcasts. It breathes the Saviour’s spirit of holy mercy which condemns the sin and saves the sinner. It is a parallel to the parable of the prodigal, the story of Mary Magdalene and that of the Samaritan woman, and agrees with many express declarations of Christ that He came not to condemn, but to save the lost (John 3:17; 12:47; Luke 9:56; 19:10; comp. John 5:14; Luke 7:37 ff.). His refusal to act as judge in the case, has a parallel in a similar case related by Luke 12:13–15. The conduct of the Scribes and Pharisees in trying Jesus with ensnaring questions is characteristic and sustained by many examples of the synoptical Gospels. Calvin, who is disposed to reject it, admits that it “contains nothing contrary to the apostolic spirit.” Meyer (p. 321), while disowning its Johannean origin, says: “It entirely agrees with the tone of the Synoptical Gospels, and betrays not the least indication of a dogmatic or ecclesiastical reason which might account for its later invention.” It is moreover so manifestly original, and has so many positive witnesses in its favor, especially in the Western church, that it may be regarded as a genuine relic of the primitive evangelical tradition which was handed down in various recensions, but treated with great caution from fear of abuse in a licentious age, until in the second, certainly in the third, century it found its way into many copies of the Gospel of John. (Comp. Meyer.) Some older critics supposed that it is the same story as that which Papias (perhaps from the mouth of John) related of “a woman taken in many sins” (ἐπὶ πολλαῖς ἁμαρτίαις, not one ἁμαρτία, as in our case), and which was contained in “the Gospel of the Hebrews ”(Euseb. H. E., III. 39); but this Judaizing Gospel would hardly have given currency to a story so strongly anti-Jewish. Alford suggests that John himself may have, in this solitary case, incorporated a portion of the current oral tradition into his narrative; Wordsworth and others, that John delivered the story orally, and that another hand wrote it first on the margin from which it afterwards passed into the text. But these are mere conjectures.

The number of readings is unusually large. There are two main recensions, that of the received text (from which the E. V. is made), that of Cod. D. (Cod. Bezæ) which is somewhat abridged; both are given with the lectiones variantes by Tischendorf, ed. VIII., I. pp. 830–836, and Tregelles, p. 417. To these may be added a third and more lengthy recension of other MSS. differing from those on which the received text is founded (see Griesbach and Wordsworth, p. 309).

For the critical details, the reader is referred to Dr. Lange’s discussion below, Lücke's Com., Vol. II, pp. 243–279; Meyer, pp. 320–323; Tregelles on the Text of the Gr. Test., pp. 236–243; Tischendorf (ed. VIII.), Bloomfield’s Recensio Synoptica, Alford (ed. VI), and Wordsworth.—P. S.]

A. CHAPTER 8:1–11

[christ and the adulteress, and their accusers.]

Exegetical and Critical

Discussion of the genuineness of this section.—The difficulty of handling the question of the genuineness of this section, we have already indicated in the Introduction [p. 31]; and we have there indicated also the present state of the question. Four points are to be considered: 1. The authorities. 2. The condition of the text. 3. The historical connection of the occurrence. 4. The connection of the section with what precedes and what follows.

1. “Griesbach and Schultz give a list of more than a hundred manuscripts in which the pericope appears.* Among them are D. G. H. K. M. U. Jerome, in his day, asserts that the pericope appears in many Greek manuscripts, and some scholia appeal to ἀρχαῖα ἀντίγραφα,” etc. Lücke. On the contrary, “the majuscules B. C. L. T. do not contain the passage;§ neither do the older manuscripts of the Peshito, nor the Nestorian manuscripts; and it is certain that it was not translated into Syriac till the sixth century. Of the manuscripts of the Philoxenian version, in which it occurs, some have it only on the margin, and others have it in the text with the note that it is not everywhere found. So in most manuscripts of the Coptic version, and in the Arabic version which was based upon the Coptic, we seek it in vain. Of the manuscripts of the Armenian version, some have it not, others have it at the end of the Gospel. In the Sahidic and Gothic versions it is also wanting. Among the fathers, the Greek expositors Origen, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, Nonnus, Theophylact, entirely omit the pericope, and seem to know nothing of it. So the Catenæ, both published and unpublished. Euthymius expounds it, as a προσθήκη which is not without use.|| The current mention and use of the pericope in the Latin church begins with Ambrose and Augustine.” Ibid. “Furthermore, several manuscripts in Griesbach contain the passage, but add either the sign of rejection nor of interpolation. Others put the passage at the end of the Gospel; others again, after chap. 7:36, or 8:12; still others place it after Luke 21. It not rarely appears in the manuscripts mutilated.” Ibid.

This position of the authorities presents a great critical problem, which at best makes the section in its present place suspicious; especially when we consider that Origen has not the passage, that Tertullian and Cyprian, when they write on subjects which would bring it in, do not mention it, and that the older manuscripts of the Peshito are without it.

* [Wordsworth (p. 309) says that it to found in more than 300 cursive MSS—P. S.]

[Also E. F. S., but in N. the passage is marked with asterisks in the margin, in S. with obeli. Ten cursive copies put it at the end of John, some insert it at the end of Luke 21—P. S.]

[“In multis et Græcis et Latinis codicibus; Adv. Pelag., II. 17. It should also be added that moot of the copies of ties Itala and Vulgata contain the section—P. S.]

§ [To which must be added Cod. Sin. Tiechendorf (I., p. 826) enumerates the following uncial MSS. as witnesses against the section: א.A.B.C. L. T. X. Δ.; but A. and C. are here defective, and L. and Δ. have an empty space, though not sufficient for the whole passage.—P. S.]

|| [Euthymius remarks that the pericope from 7:53 to 8:12 παρα τοῖς ἀκιβέ σιν ἀντιγρά φοις ἠ οὐχ εὕρηται, ἥ ὠβέλισται. Διὸ φαί νονται παρέ γγραπτα καὶ προσθή κη—P. S.]

* [Also Tregelles, Alford and Wordsworth. Godet (II., 199) says: un sari text apostolique n’ a jamais été exposé à des altérations si considérable.—P. S.]

 John Peter Lange and Philip Schaff, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 267–268.

Peter Lange and Philip Schaff, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 267.


My point in sharing this was not to give a definitive answer but to show it has been well discussed in history and for the most part those who take a strong stand on say John 7:53-8:11 tend to just ignore it (the early Fathers above who ignored it likely did not have it, because it is an obvious insertion, usually argued tying in loosely to 8:12), I mean they will say not part of it and move on. I have went on more than a few occasions to a commentary for some fresh insight on this passage to find the scholar will not work with it because they feel it is not part of the gospel text, the same may be said for the ending of Mark.


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Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Nov 3 2019 9:47 AM

I know that this is an old thread, but I happened to come across it this morning.  Several years ago I heard Dan Wallace recommend this article on Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  It's by Bart Ehrman, but Wallace highly recommended it.  The article is not for free, but if you have access to a library at a college or university, they might be able to get it.


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