I have just returned to London from having spent a week in the States, the first several days of which were in North Carolina for the pericope adulterae conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The speakers were yours truly, Tommy Wasserman, Jenny Knust, John David Punch, and Maurice Robinson. I feel confident in saying that a good time was had by all. SEBTS treated us very well. Tommy Wasserman and I were in the same house and opened each day with breakfast, coffee, and any variety of discussion topics while sitting on the front porch. I had BBQ at least three times on the trip and they even brought in Krispy Kreme donuts and Chic-Fil-A chicken biscuits. I was honored to introduce Tommy to these staples of American cuisine. He tells me he loved the Chic-Fil-A but found the Krispy Kreme too sweet for a breakfast food.
As to the actual academic issues, Tommy, Jenny, and I argued against the Johannine authenticity of the story of the adulteress while John David and Maurice argued for it. Tommy argued that the state of the manuscript tradition in the second century makes it unlikely for PA to have been interpolated then and suggested ca. 250 for its interpolation, agreeing (I'm happy to say) with the broad suggestion that I made in my 2009 book on PA, although I argued that point on other grounds. Jenny ran down a long list of how the Fathers treated passages involving sexual sin and also how Alexandrian textual scholarship, and the variant of it practiced by Origen, makes it highly unlikely that early Christians would have taken the story out of John's Gospel. In short, she showed that Christians did not shy away from stories about sexual sin and that scribes typically marked spurious passages found in their exemplar but nonetheless copied them; that is, even when bothered, they did not typically take texts out. I argued that linguistic style cannot be a decisive criterion for authorial origin and reiterated my argument about PA's insertion by an attentive interpolator. John David Punch argued that PA's linguistic style supports Johannine authenticity or, in the least, does not speak against it, and advocated a theory of ecclesiastical suppression. Punch went first, so my argument about style came after his argument, as did Knust's argument about how Christians' treated sexually explicit passages. Maurice Robinson went last and he argued that PA was most likely authentic based on linguistic style. In a nice mixture of a variety of the theories on offer, Maurice argued against the theory of ecclesiastical suppression but for a (very) early removal of the text by the lectionary system. He also argued against an argument in my book that the reading of katagrapho/grapho at John 8.6, 8 is the preferred reading. He says it was most likely grapho/grapho (so also Holmes's SBL edition), and that a scribe then later changed it to katagrapho/grapho, and bases this argument on my earlier argument about katagrapho/grapho in 8.6, 8 being an intentional allusion to Exod 32.15.
Maurice's argument deserves a little more attention, if nothing else because he made it a point to come after me, silver-haired assassin that he is. (I should add that Maurice spoke very highly of my work in general, for which I was grateful.) At John 8.6, 8, the manuscript tradition includes katagrapho/grapho, grapho/katagrapho, katagrapho/katagrapho, and grapho/grapho. In my monograph, I argued for katagrapho/grapho, agreeing with the critical editions of Nestle Aland (at least the last two; I haven't checked every one) and, e.g., von Soden. I think it's far more likely, especially in light of the synonymous actions of the verbs in the narrative of PA, that scribes harmonized the verbs so that they match (thus producing the readings of katagrapho/katagrapho and grapho/grapho) than that a scribe purposefully changed one but not the other and, under Maurice's argument (that grapho/grapho was original) in the midst of this, introduced a hapax legomenon (katagrapho). I think it more likely that an original hapax legomenon was either harmonized with (katagrapho/katagrapho) or removed (grapho/grapho) than that one was introduced. (For what it's worth, no theory on offer, to my knowledge, explains adequately the wildcard reading of grapho/katagrapho in MS 28.)
Why am I telling you all this? Well, in my original argument in my 2009 book, I described the katagrapho/grapho reading as the "majority" reading several times. I was wrong on this point (I was soon to find out), and for my life I cannot remember what made me think this was the case. For some reason along the way, I assumed that it was correct, despite my father having told me very early on what happens when you ass-u-me things. I can't account for this lapse on my part, but I can describe the consequence. During his paper, and with no small amount of goodnatured smugness, Maurice presented me personally with a full collation of all 1427 MSS including PA, showing that, contrary to what I'd said, katagrapho/grapho was not the majority reading. A full 1220 manuscripts out of 1427 read grapho at 8.6. Maurice was even kind enough to do the math for us--82.7%. So here, folks, below is photographic evidence of precisely what it looks like the moment one is handed a document in front of a full conference showing his claim to be irrefutably wrong (collation in hand under the folder). I'm so very happy that Tommy Wasserman was willing to take this picture so that I can preserve the moment.
I hope readers of the blog will understand that I write all of this with a smile on my face. That was the general tenor of the entire conference and it was absolutely wonderful. We all had agreements and disagreements with each other, but we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience as far as I could tell. I thank Maurice wholeheartedly for his hospitality, along with David Alan Black and the rest of the SEBTS crew. I also thank John David Punch, Tommy Wasserman, and Jenny Knust for allowing me to squeeze in with them and be a part of the conference. It was an honor to be involved. Publication of the proceedings is forthcoming, but I'm not sure where yet. I will put it on the blog when I know. For other write-ups of the conference, see here, here, here, here, and here.