I am re-posting what I will be presenting in the “Lukan Scholarship section” at the 2018 ANZATS [Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools] Conference in Brisbane on Monday, July 2. My paper will be entitled “A Source and Redaction Critical Analysis of Luke 7:36-50” and I submitted the following abstract:
The Markan pericope about a woman pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’s head to anoint him for burial at the home of Simon the leper (Mark 14:3-9; cf. Matthew 26:6-13) was relocated and heavily edited in Luke 7:36-50. In Luke’s narrative, a “woman of the city” poured perfume on Jesus’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair (cf. John 12:3), much to the chagrin of Simon the Pharisee who despised her as a “sinner.” However, the Lukan version of the anointing may be equally indebted to another pronouncement story where Jesus pardoned a woman accused of undefined sins and issued a witty retort to her accusers. This latter report appears to have been orally transmitted in Asia Minor and the bishop Papias of Hierapolis had independent knowledge of it (in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.17), along with other multiply attested traditions about Judas (Acts 1:18; Apollinarius of Laodicea fragment on Matthew 27.5), James (Acts 12:2; Philip of Side, Codex Baroccianus 142), Peter (Acts 12:12; Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15), Justus Barsabbas (Acts 1:23; Eccl. Hist. 3.39.9), and Philip (Acts 21:8-9; Eccl. Hist. 3.39.9). This oral anecdote continued to be circulated for centuries and its details were embellished with each retelling, eventually evolving into the treasured account of Jesus rescuing a woman from a public stoning and getting preserved in both John’s Gospel and the Gospel according to the Hebrews (cf. Didascalia Apostolorum 7; Didymus, Commentary on Ecclesiastes 222.6-13; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.17; John 7:53-8:11). This is the tradition history of the pericope adulterae before it was interpolated into Codex Bezae and other manuscripts of John’s Gospel.
In the next few posts, we will take a closer look comparing this account to the story of the woman who anointed Jesus in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and John (she is named Mary in John 12:3) and to the Patristic traditions about Jesus pardoning a woman accused of unspecified sins.