New article on Jerome and the story of the woman accused of adultery in the gospel of John

I have published a new article on Jerome’s role in establishing the story of Jesus and the woman accused of adultery in the gospel of John, which appears in the latest issue of Conversations with the Biblical World. The title of the article is “Jerome, Paula, and the Story of the Adulteress: Why Did Jerome Overrule His Old Greek Copies?”. The article is posted here.

An early form of the article was presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional SBL meeting on May 4, 2019 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. The article explores the possibility that the story was first introduced into the gospel of John in Jerome’s Vulgate along with those features of the story that are characteristic of its Johannine form.

The abstract follows:

In his Praefatio in evangelio, Jerome claims to have consulted only old Greek manuscripts in producing his Vulgate revision of the Old Latin gospels. If this is true, it is surprising that he included the story of Jesus and the adulteress after John 7:52 in his revision, given that our oldest surviving Greek manuscripts consistently lack this story. At the same time, the manuscript tradition of the Vulgate is unanimous in including the story, suggesting that it was present in this version from the beginning due to Jerome’s own editorial decision to include it. In this paper, I examine points of contact between the story in its Vulgate form and the circumstances of Jerome’s bitter departure from Rome in 385, concluding that Jerome may have had personal motives to include the story even if it were not present in the old copies he presumably consulted.

The Contribution of Fourth-Century Sources to Research on Codex Bezae

This Saturday I will be presenting a paper at the Pacific Northwest Regional SBL conference entitled “The Contribution of Fourth-Century Sources to Research on Codex Bezae.” The paper will discuss the potential contribution of fourth-century sources, such as Ambrosiaster and Jerome, to an understanding of the text of Codex Bezae and the context in which it was produced. As a demonstration, I will examine an important passage from Ambrosiaster’s Commentary on Romans (5:14), in which Ambrosiaster offers a thinly-veiled attack on the Vulgate for its dependence on corrupt Greek texts. In his critique, Ambrosiaster takes a special interest in the relationship between the Latin and Greek traditions, summarizing his views in three criteria for discerning the ancient text in a corrupt tradition — reason, history, and authority — each of which I will relate to specific features of Codex Bezae as a document. From the abstract:

“Research on Codex Bezae has typically focused on its distinctive text of the gospels and Acts as a second-century phenomenon. At the same time, little if any research has been dedicated to the place of Bezae’s text in the late fourth-century context which inspired its production. In this paper, I will argue that the circumstances of Bezae’s production in the fourth century warrant more attention as a source of potential insight into its unique text form.”