Article Information

John David Punch1

1Research Unit for Theology, North-West University, South Africa

Correspondence to:
John David Punch

Postal address:
102 W. Irvington Pl, Denver, CO 80223, United States

Received: 04 May 2011
Accepted: 12 Apr. 2012
Published: 16 Aug. 2013

How to cite this article:
Punch, J.D., 2013, An analysis of ‘non-Johannine’ vocabulary in John 7:53–8:11, Part 2, In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi 47(1), Art #98, 6 pages.

Dr John David Punch is a research collaborator for the Research Unit for Theology at the Potchefstroom campus of the Northwest-University, South Africa. This article follows the doctoral dissertation of Dr Punch. Prof. Dr Jan G. van der Watt was the promoter.

Copyright Notice:
© 2013. The Authors. Licensee: AOSIS OpenJournals.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
An analysis of ‘non-Johannine’ vocabulary in John 7:53–8:11, Part 2
In This Original Research...
Open Access
‘Non-Johannine’ vocabulary in John 7:53–8:11
   • moixeía/moixeúw
   • aủtófwros
   • ẻpiménw
   • ảnakúptw
   • ảnamárthtos
   • presbúteros
   • Katá-prefix verbs
   • Katalambánw
   • Kathgoréw
   • Katagráfw
   • Katakúptw
   • Kataleípw
   • Katakrínw
   • Competing interests

Although scholars usually use external evidence to argue against the inclusion of John 7:53–8:11 in the Gospel of John, they frequently suggest arguments of internal evidence, mostly based on the inclusion of non-Johannine vocabulary, to support their objections. However, in contrast to the textual evidence, arguments of non-Johannine vocabulary seldom receive the necessary amount of evaluation. This article is the second of a two-part series that evaluates explanations for the appearance of various ‘non-Johannine’ terms. Both articles rebut claims of ‘non-Johannine’ vocabulary in John 7:53–8:11, thereby providing opportunities for discussing Johannine features in the passage.


’n Ontleding van die ‘Nie-Johannese’ terme in Johannes 7:53–8:11, Deel 2. Hoewel navorsers eksterne bewyse gebruik om teen die insluiting van Johannes 7:53–8:11 in die Evangelie van Johannes te argumenteer, maak hulle dikwels voorstelle van interne bewyse, meestal gebaseer op die insluiting van nie-Johannese terme, ter ondersteuning van sodanige besware. In teenstelling met die tekstuele bewyse, ontvang die voorstelle vir nie-Johannese termes egter selde die nodige evaluering. Hierdie artikel is die tweede van ’n tweeledige reeks wat verklarings vir die verskynsel van verskeie ‘nie-Johannese’ terme evalueer. Albei artikels weerlê die bewerings wat gemaak word ten opsigte van ‘nie-Johannese’ terme in Johannes 7:53–8:11 en skep daardeur geleentheid vir ’n algemene bespreking van Johannese eienskappe.


The first1 of this two-article series considered the objections to ‘non-Johannine’ style and vocabulary that scholars frequently raised against the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae (Jn 7:53–8:11). It also acknowledged the difficulties associated with analysing these objections, like the high number of variants in the Pericope, the limited vocabulary with which to work in the Pericope and the Gospel of John as a whole. Nevertheless, the article examined several of the terms scholars usually regard as non-Johannine.

This second article examines the remaining problematic terms in the Pericope.

‘Non-Johannine’ vocabulary in John 7:53–8:11

Both moixeía (Jn 8:3) and the corresponding verb moixeúw (Jn 8:4) stand out as possibly non-Johannine, because they are completely absent from the rest of the Fourth Gospel (cf. Bryant & Krause 1998:194 note 5; Dodd 1953:98). At the same time, any judgment of the matter must also consider that there is no other situation in the Gospel of John where the terms might be necessary.

Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, there are no teachings against adultery in the Fourth Gospel. Therefore, no one has broached the subject (Köstenberger 2000:246). Likewise, Jesus makes no statements in the Fourth Gospel that labels those who hear as a geneà ponrà kaì moixalìs [wicked and adulterous generation] as he does in the Synoptics (cf. Mt 12:39; Mk 16:4).

In fact, the only recorded encounter with a person in the Gospel of John, who might be guilty of this sin of moiceiva, is the Samaritan woman in chapter 4, who Jesus encounters whilst at the well in Sychar. The woman’s conversation with Jesus reveals that the woman is sexually involved with a man, who is not her husband, and that her past may include additional sexual sins. Although the woman’s sin may be adultery, Jesus does not use any terms related to moixeía. However, Jesus’ discussion of this woman’s sin in John 4 is far different from the one the Pericope Adulterae presents. In John 7:53–8:11, the scribes and Pharisees are formally charging the woman with the sin of adultery and asking for a ruling from Jesus. In John 4, Jesus is simply steering a conversation to a point where the woman realises her own sin. In John 7:53–8:11, the woman has a direct charge levied against her. She stands accused of adultery, warranting use of the term.2 Jesus’ use of the term may simply be a response to what the woman’s accusers first used.

The term aủtófwros, in 8:4, which translates to ‘(caught) in the very act’ (Balz & Schneider 1993:180; Louw & Nida 1988), emphasises the idea of being caught ‘red-handed’ (Friberg, Friberg & Miller 2000; Liddell & Scott 1961). Aủtófwros is not only hapax legomenon in the New Testament, it is also absent from the LXX.

The term is quite common in extra-biblical literature (Barrett 1978:561; Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich & Danker 2000:57). The word derives from the idea of a thief caught in the act of stealing. However, it generally came to be used for other offenses (Dods 1897:775; Hendriksen 1970:36; Morris 1995:886). Whilst aủtófwros is used for a range of offenses, it appears to be used chiefly with reference to adultery (Bauer et al. 2000). The word emphasises the woman’s role in the affair. The reader also notes the unusual absence of the guilty man, which highlights the unjust proceedings that the scribes and Pharisees have begun.

The situation of being caught ‘red-handed’ at anything occurs nowhere else in the Gospel of John. This provides the most probable explanation as to why this term appears in John 8:4. Discussion of sin in the Gospel, instead of addressing particular events, usually concerns people’s refusal to accept Jesus as the Son of God (Bauckham & Mosser 2008:366; Godet 1978:310; Loader 2002:462; Van der Watt 2007:52). Even the situation with the Samaritan woman in chapter 4 provides little for comparison. Here, the woman engages in a conversation with Jesus that eventually exposes her sin, yet she is not caught in the act of sinning. Likewise, there is a discussion about whose sin caused the man to be born blind in chapter 9. However, there is no specific sin in question, only the question of who sinned (cf. Fuglseth 2005:294; Ponessa & Manhardt 2004:82).

One may regard the fact that the Gospel highlights a specific sin as non-Johannine. However, the unique circumstances in the Pericope make this argument less forceful. Whilst the Fourth Gospel does not highlight specific sins, the scribes and Pharisees have brought a very specific case in which they hope Jesus will intervene. At the very least, the legal tenor of the passage provides probable reason for the appearance of aủtófwros.

The term ẻpiménw in 8:7 generally translates ‘to stay or remain’ (Bauer et al. 2000:586). However, the translation can vary depending on how one interprets it. Literally, it means ‘to prolong one’s time in a place or to remain on’. Figuratively, the term can mean ‘to continue, persevere, or persist’ (Balz & Schneider 1993:31; Bauer et al. 2000:296; Friberg et al. 2000; Liddell & Scott 1961).

This figurative definition is probably the best translation of the term in John 8:7, given the situation. This is the only place in the Fourth Gospel where ẻpiménw appears. However, it does appear once in the LXX (Ex 12:39), occasionally in the Book of Acts (10:48, 12:16, 21:4, 21:10, 28:12 & 28:14) as well as a few times in other New Testament books.

On the surface, this unique appearance in the Pericope Adulterae suggests non-Johannine origins. However, one must acknowledge that, by comparison, there is no other instance where this term is necessary as it is here in John 8:7.

There are certainly examples where Jesus stays or remains in place (cf. Jn 2:12, 4:40, 7:9, 10:40, 11:6 & 11:54). However, this would require the literal meaning of ẻpiménw instead of the figurative meaning we find in John 8:7. The Gospel of John consistently uses the term ménw (ẻpiménw without the prefix ẻpi) to convey the idea of ‘remaining in place’ in the other passages.

There are also a few instances where situations or actions continue. Several English translations try to convey this by adding the word continued to the story. However, in each case, there is no Greek term to state explicitly that things ‘continue’. Instead, an imperfect verb tense presents the continuous action in these cases. For example in 12:17, most English translations add ‘continued’ after the imperfect verb marturéw. Likewise, the New International Version adds continued in John 8:23 after the imperfect légw and the New American Standard Bible adds it in 11:54 after the imperfect peripatéw.

Why then does ẻpiménw appear in the Pericope Adulterae? It may simply be a unique occurrence of a term. A probable reason for its use is the function it plays as the story builds to a climax in 8:7. The term ẻpiménw emphasises the annoying persistence of the accusers in a way that leaving a verb tense to imply the action could not (Ridderbos 1997:290). This term occurs just before Jesus breaks the tension. Therefore, it may be a literary technique used to build the tension before Jesus’ statement. Although ẻpiménw is clearly not characteristically Johannine, the appearance of the term here has too many other justifications to count as evidence that John 7:53–8:11 is non-Johannine.

The next term is ảnakúptw. We find it in John 8:7 and 8:10. The term can mean ‘to stand erect, lift up the head, raise oneself up’ (Liddell & Scott 1961) or ‘to straighten up from a bent over position’ (Louw & Nida 1988). Literally, it means ‘a body bent by disease straightening up’ (Bauer et al. 2000:56; Friberg et al. 2000). There is a question about the term ảnakúptw, because it appears only here in the Gospel of John. However, it occurs twice in the Gospel of Luke and twice in the LXX (Job 10:15, Susanna 1:35). Luke 13:11 uses ảnakúptw literally to describe a woman who could not ‘straighten up’ because of a crippling illness. Luke 21:28 uses the term figuratively where Jesus encourages his disciples to ‘raise up’ their heads, meaning that they should take courage, stand up and be strong. We find the latter appearance in the same chapter, where there are a few possible parallels with the Pericope Adulterae (Cadbury 1917:237–244), and even where one group of manuscripts (f13) locates the Pericope. This leads to the occasional suggestion that the Pericope Adulterae is Lukan (cf. McLachlan 1920:269).

Whilst this is an interesting suggestion, it is unfounded. Luke 13:11 clearly describes a different situation, where it intends the most literal meaning of ảnakúptw. The woman who was crippled by disease cannot ‘straighten up.’ Likewise, although there may be similarities between Luke 21 and the Pericope Adulterae, the term ảnakúptw is not one of them. The meanings each passage intends are different. In Luke 21, Jesus instructs the apostles to be brave and uses ảnakúptw to describe the need to ‘stand up’ in order to face the events that are unfolding. In John 8:7 and 10, Jesus simply ‘stands up’ to address his opponents. The former example is figurative, whilst the latter is literal.

Instead, the rarity of the term in the Gospel of John may simply be because of the unusual posture that we see Jesus taking. Jesus does not bend down to the ground, write on the ground and face a scene as controversial as this anywhere else in the Gospel. One can assume that Jesus must have bent down in chapter 9 when he made mud from saliva and sand in order to anoint the eyes of the blind man. However, the text does not describe the action of bending or stooping down to make the clay or the actions of raising or straightening up to apply it. The few occasions where Jesus sits or reclines do not have descriptions of Jesus standing up either (directly stated in 4:6 and 12:14 and implied by the fact that others reclined with him in 12:2 and 13:23). This may be true, because Jesus does not rise to address anyone in any of these situations. In addition, the fact that Jesus stands in John 8:7 and 10 may have much more to do with the legal undertones that permeate the passage. Jesus’ posture matches the force of his words as he pronounces his verdict. Examples of witnesses standing in the Gospel of John may strengthen this suggestion (cf. 1:35–36, 7:37 etc.; Maccini 1996:50). In this case, ảnakúptw would not detract from the text. Instead, it adds to the judicial tone that runs throughout the Tabernacles Discourse.

The term ảnamárthtos, which translates to ‘having not sinned, without sin, or guiltless’ (Bauer et al. 2000:57; Louw & Nida 1988, is hapax legomenon in the New Testament. However, it occurs in the LXX, once in Deuteronomy 29,3 twice in 2 Maccabees and once in Odes 14. I can offer a comparison of its use in John 8:7 to that in the LXX to suggest what it intended. Each of the apocryphal uses seems to indicate a ‘general sinlessness’ or ‘innocence’. When Jesus addressed the woman’s accusers, he may not be highlighting the particular sin of adultery or singling out a guilty man. Instead, he could be referring to all sin. This would include the sin that these accusers were committing by using the woman as a pawn in an attempt to entrap Jesus. There is no consensus about this.

In terms of the present discussion about Johannine vocabulary, Keck (1996:629) suggests that the use of the term is non-Johannine, because it presents ‘sin linked to actions’ unlike the rest of the Gospel of John Köstenberger (2000:246) disagrees and suggests that the context may warrant the use of the term. Perhaps the unusual situation has provided a reason for the author to use an unusual term. This term may be the most problematic ‘non-Johannine’ term in John 7:53–8:11. However, because it is hapax legomenon in the New Testament, the appearance of this word here does not strongly argue either for or against Johannine authorship.

Presbúteros (Jn 8:9) does not appear anywhere else in the Gospel of John, although we find the term in the last two Johannine epistles (2 Jn 1:1, 3 Jn 1:1) as well as often in the Apocalypse. Therefore, the term is not strictly ‘non-Johannine’. Nevertheless, it is uncommon in the Gospel itself. Because we also find presbúteros several times in each of the Synoptic Gospels and in the Book of Acts (in addition to several times in the LXX) it could appear to be less Johannine. However, this remains debatable.

The term has a variety of meanings. However, because of its appearance in the Pericope Adulterae, one can only conclude that it denotes age, office or class. Whether age or genealogy elevates some people in status, they are clearly the ones that others look to for guidance. Either the young looked to the older men to lead them or the less prominent men looked to the higher-ranking officials for direction.

Several scholars suggest that it is the older men who leave the scene first (Godet 1978:89; Morgan 1934:149; Newman & Nida 1993:260). Moloney (1998:21) argues that it is the highest-ranking leader. It is possible that the former provides a more dramatic flair to the story and perhaps even the answer to the question as to why the term appears here in the Fourth Gospel. However, this is uncertain. If the point of emphasis is the age of those who leave first, one could assume that the older men would be the ones with the longer lists of sins, having lived longer or who are ‘older and wiser’ in admitting their sins.

At the same time, one could argue that it refers to position. This may be more consistent with other Johannine usage in 2 John 1:1 and 3 John 1:1, where the presbúteros addresses the Church. If this is the case in the John 8:9, then it retains the same emphasis. The more prominent leaders leave first, followed by those in lesser positions. Either is appropriate. In both, the point that John 7:53–8:11 highlights is that, when Jesus draws attention to the accusers’ sins, the leaders lead the procession away from Jesus’ presence.

The term presbúteros is rare in Johannine literature. Nevertheless, it seems appropriate in its usage here, because it highlights the order in which the accusers left Jesus and the woman alone. However, Köstenberger (2000:246) suggests that there are other portions of the Gospel where this term would have been appropriate, apparently in an attempt to demonstrate that presbúteros is non-Johannine. Unfortunately, he does not comment on where this might be.

Perhaps Köstenberger’s silence demonstrates the difficulty of trying to suggest what an author must and must not do. Furthermore, there may be an added reason for the appearance of the term presbúteros here, because we see a meeting between the chief priests and Pharisees in 7:45ff. Furthermore, the chief priests were associated with the scribes in the council or assembly of elders known as the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:1, Ac 5:21, Ac 6:12, etc.) and the Pharisees were associated with the Sanhedrin (Jn 11:47).

If the author was attempting to implicate the Sanhedrin in the Pericope Adulterae, he may have intended to accomplish this by suggesting that the members of the Sanhedrin were the first to leave the scene. By stating that they all departed, beginning with the presbúteros, the Pericope may be highlighting that the scribes and chief priests left first, followed by the Pharisees. In this case, the first to depart are those who were largely responsible for the precise legal issues involved in the attempted entrapment of Jesus.

Whilst the Pharisees were amongst those who plotted, it was the assembly of elders (the Sanhedrin), which comprised both scribes and chief priests, who were actually to carry out the legal procedures. This is possible, but admittedly difficult to prove.

In the end, the best argument seems to be that presbúteros is well-suited here, both for the way it adds drama to the climactic scene in the Pericope Adulterae and for the connections it makes to players in the previous chapter. Its appearance in the epistles of John confirms characteristic Johannine usage. There seem to be valid reasons for the appearance of the term in John 8:9 and there are no overwhelming questions about the absence of the term in the rest of the Fourth Gospel. At the very least, one cannot conclude that the term is non-Johannine even if it appears rarely in Johannine writings.

Katá-prefix verbs
Finally, the article addresses the high concentration of katá-prefix verbs that occur in the Pericope Adulterae (six in 12 verses). Although katav-prefix verbs are not completely absent from the Gospel of John (Burridge 1994:135), they are admittedly rarer than the basic form of these verbs without the katá prefix. Similarly, whilst we know the Fourth Gospel for a variety of terms with the same meanings, including verbs (Grant 1963:149–152), it seldom includes compound verbs of this variety (Bryant & Krause 1998:194). Nevertheless, one needs to evaluate each term individually before reaching a verdict.

The first is katalambánw (Jn 8:3–8:4). We find this verb only here and in John 1:5 and 12:35, compared to the standard form of the verb, lambánw, which occurs 41 times in the Gospel and a few times in the Johannine Epistles.

The terms are similar, but the prefix adds a measure of intensity and presents more of the idea of ‘seizing or taking by force’ or ‘overcoming’ (Bauer et al. 2000:413). Therefore, Katalambánw is probably a better choice of terms than is lambánw because of the accusations being levied against the woman. If she was caught in ‘the very act of adultery’ (aủtofẃrw), as the scribes and Pharisees claim, it would probably have been a somewhat forceful seizure that pulled her away from the other guilty party. The compound verb katalambánw adds to the reader’s understanding of the passage. Therefore, there is some justification for its use in John 7:53–8:11. We find it and the compound form of the verb in the two other locations in the Gospel of John. This reduces the temptation to label the term as substantially non-Johannine.

The next is kathgoréw (Jn 8:6), which appears to be predominantly a legal term that means ‘to accuse or bring charges against’ (Balz & Schneider 1993:272; Bauer et al. 2000:424; Friberg et al. 2000; Trites 1974:144; 2004:105). John 5:45 shows similar legal usage. Given the legal tones that run throughout the Tabernacles Discourse and the Pericope itself, it should not be surprising that it uses a legal term like this. The Pericope is also full of additional legal terms like kataleípw, katékrinw and aủtófwros (the article discusses each below), as well as a few references, like placing the woman ‘in the midst’ (ẻv mesw), that add to the trial motif of the passage. Each provides additional support for the appearance of the term kathgoréw. In addition to this, there is further use of the term in the Gospel of John, thereby weakening arguments that this term is non-Johannine.

Verse 4 uses katagráfw. This provides a contrast to the more common gráfw, which we find nearly 200 times in the New Testament. They include numerous appearances in the Gospel of John, the Johannine Epistles and even the Pericope Adulterae itself (Jn 8:8). The term katagráfw is a hapax legomenon in the New Testament, although we find it occasionally in the LXX. Four of these LXX uses are references to God himself or to God’s instrument, Moses. They include Exodus 32:15, where God is said to have written the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone for Moses and the people of Israel; Hosea 8:12, where God refers to his writing of the Law; Job 13:26, where Job claims that God has written ‘bitter things against him in his suffering’; and Exodus 17:14, where God commands Moses to write that Amalek will be eliminated.

It is quite possible that the author of the Pericope wanted to extend the comparison of Jesus to Moses, as the Tabernacles Discourse does throughout (Baylis 1989:171–184; Coleman 1970:409–410; Hodges 1980:46, 51 note 14; Johnson 1964:221–222; Rius-Camps 1993:171–172). The LXX version of Exodus 32:15 demonstrates this further, where the terms katagráfw and gráfw appear to be synonymous, much like in the Pericope Adulterae (Keith 2009:36). The prominence of Moses in the Feast of Tabernacles and the reference to him in the Pericope Adulterae itself demonstrate probable cause for the use of the term.

There are two descriptions of Jesus ‘stooping or bending down’ to write. John 8:6 says that Jesus kúptw. However, John 8:8 describes Jesus as a katakúptw. Neither verb, with or without the prefix, is common in the New Testament.

Kuvptw appears once in Mark 1:7 and 18 times in the LXX. However, katakúptw is absent from both testaments. The presence of both terms, kúptw and katakúptw, provides little for assessment in the present discussion other than the fact that the terms are both rare in the New Testament and unique in their appearances in the Fourth Gospel. The appearance of both forms of the verb, especially that of the compound form, is admittedly odd, but the most that one could say about the possibility of non-Johannine authorship is that here we have one more word that does not tie the passage to the rest of the Gospel. Neither, of course, does it fit any other proposed author.

Kataleípw (Jn 8:9) on the other hand, may provide a little more for discussion. Either this term or the simple form of the verb would suffice in this situation. One can only speculate. However, because kataleípw is a much more common term than leípw, the author may have used a term with which he was more familiar.

It is also possible that the addition of the prefix emphasises that the scribes and Pharisees left the scene completely. However, this is also speculative. The real question is why the author chose to use kataleípw instead of a more Johannine term with a similar meaning, like ảfíhmi. This term is not a direct equivalent.

However, one can consider it as a more appropriate Johannine term, because it appears 14 times in the Gospel of John and twice in 1 John (1:9, 2:12). However, one must acknowledge again that no author uses formulas (Grant 1963:68). Secondly, it is quite precarious to suggest what an author must and must not do. Finally, whilst a term like ảfíhmi can mean ‘to leave behind’, it more commonly carries other meanings that do not necessarily imply that someone is left behind all alone with another person as the Pericope indicates. Ảfíhmi appears in the Fourth Gospel. It refers to departing or leaving something behind (Jn 4:3, 4:28, 4:52, 14:27 & 6:28); commanding to leave or let loose (Jn 11:44–48, 12:7 & 18:8); forgiving (Jn 20:23); and, on four occasions, leaving something or someone alone (Jn 8:29, 10:12, 14:18 & 16:32).

The term may be appropriate for John 8:9. However, given its wide range of meanings, it may not have been the primary choice for conveying the idea that Jesus was left alone with the woman. Kataleípw is clearly rare in the Gospel of John. However, on the heels of Jesus’ statement that the ‘one without sin be first to cast a stone’ in John 8:7, kataleípw may be the more appropriate term to signify that everyone except Jesus and the woman had left the scene.

Finally, the article notes the appearance of the term katakrínw instead of the more common krínw. Katakrívw is more of a technical term. We find it only in John 8:10 and 8:11, whilst krínw appears frequently in the Gospel of John and especially in the Tabernacles Discourse itself (Jn 7:24, 51, 8:15–16, 26 & 50), each time translating ‘to judge or condemn’. In contrast, katakrínw appears nowhere else in the Gospel of John, although it does appear several times in the LXX and other New Testament books. In each of these examples, katakrínw conveys a meaning of condemnation, or specifically moving from ‘giving a verdict’ to ‘passing a sentence’ (MacLaren 1904:593).

In John 7:53–8:11 the experts on the law, the scribes, have asked Jesus to make a formal ruling (Bauer et al. 2000:164–165; Keener 2003:737; Newman & Nida 1993:258). One needs to compare this to other statements about making judgments that we find in the Gospel, including the Tabernacle Discourse.

Although each of the others is situated in the middle of a potential judicial trial-like scene, none directly presents Jesus in the position of delivering a verdict or ruling on the Law as does the sequence in John 7:53–8:11. Each of the others uses the simple krínw. The use of the more formal, legal and harsher term katakrínw twice here in the Pericope is unparalleled in the Gospel of John, but then so is the occasion of giving verdicts that justifies, or perhaps even requires, its use.

In all, neither katakrínw nor any of the katá-prefix verbs alone discredits the Johannine nature of the Pericope Adulterae. Each has a probable reason for its usage in the Gospel of John. Perhaps the lone exception is katakúptw. However, given that it is not conclusive for either side of the argument, there appears to be few if any terms that can prove that John 7:53–8:11 is non-Johannine.


We can probably say the same for all of the terms the article discussed and the terms it found in the first article in this series.

Admittedly, each is unusual in the Gospel of John. However, at the same time, each has a probable explanation for its appearance. One can include several of the terms in the Pericope because of the unique situation the story presents.

The trial-like nature of the passage, its attention to the specific sin of adultery in being ‘caught in the act’ and the pointed demand for a verdict for this sin provide ample reason for the choice of certain terms and the katá-prefixes for some verbs.

There are many hurdles to overcome before one can regard the Pericope Adulterae as an authentic portion of the Gospel of John. However, one cannot use vocabulary alone to label John 7:53–8:11 as non-Johannine.


Competing interests
The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationship(s) that may have inappropriately influenced him when he wrote this article.


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1. See Punch 2013.

2. A possible case could be made that the term moixeía could have been used in the derogatory statement railed against Jesus in John 8:41. Here the Jews claim that they were not born ‘in fornication’. This is a reference to the controversy surrounding Jesus’ virgin birth. However, they do so using the term porneía rather than moixeía. First, it is speculative to assume that the author of any text must use a certain term. Secondly, it is noteworthy that these terms are not exactly synonymous, as Matthew 15:19 demonstrates best, where both are listed as separate sins that come from the heart of man. Interestingly, George Brooke (1988:107) suggests that this brief, which he calls ‘veiled,’ reference to adultery or fornication may have been the impetus for the insertion of the Pericope Adulterae into the Tabernacles Discourse.

3. The appearance in Deuteronomy 29:18 appears to be an interpretive translation (or dynamic equivalent) of the Hebrew where ‘sinner’ and ‘non-sinner’ or ‘the one without sin’ is interpreted from the original ‘moist’ or ‘watered’ and ‘dry/thirsty’.

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