Some 15% of the Greek manuscripts omit [John] 7:53-8:11, including most of the early ones; but that means that 85% contain it, including the Latin tradition that dates from the 2nd century. Assuming (for the sake if argument) that the passage is spurious, how could it ever have intruded here, and to such effect that it is attested by some 85% of the MSS? Let’s try to read the larger passage without these verses—we must go from 7:52 to 8:12 directly. Reviewing the context, the chief priests and Pharisees has sent officers to arrest Jesus, to no avail; a ‘discussion’ ensues; Nicodemus makes a point, to which the Pharisees answer:
“Are you from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen from Galilee.”
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world…”
What is the antecedent of “them”, and what is the meaning of “again”? By the normal rules of grammar, if 7:53-8:11 is missing then “them” must refer to the “Pharisees” and “again” means that there has already been at least one prior exchange. But, 7:45 makes clear that Jesus was not there with the Pharisees. Thus, UBS [the critical text] introduces an aberration. And yet, Meztger claims that the passage “interrupts the sequence of 7:52 and 8:12 ff.” (p.220)! To look for the antecedents of 8:12 in 7:37-39 not only does despite to the syntax but also runs afoul of 8:13—“the Pharisees” respond to Jesus’ claim in verse 12, but “the Pharisees” are somewhere else, 7:45-52 (if the Pericope is absent).
Metzger also claims that “the style and vocabulary of the pericope differ noticeably from the rest of the text”—but, wouldn’t the native speakers of Greek at that time have been in a better position than modern critics to notice something like that? So how could they allow such an “extraneous” passage to be forced into the text? I submit that the evident answer is that they did not; it was there all the time. I also protest their use of brackets here. Since the editors clearly regard the passage to be spurious they should be consistent and delete it, as do NEB and Williams. That way the full extent of their error would be open for all to see. Unfortunately, NIV, NASB, NRSV, Berkeley and TEV also use brackets to question the legitimacy of this passage.
But why was the story omitted? Leading church father and theologian, Augustine (about A.D. 430), answers:
“Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord’s acts of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.” …[I took this material on Augustine from Living Water: The Gospel of John—Logos 21 Version, Absolutely Free Incorporated, p.74)
Regarding the variants of the Pericope Adulterea, Pickering explained how he resolved them in his edition of the Greek New Testament…
There is a basic three-way split in the manuscript attestation for these twelve verses (7:53-8:11)—the three major groups represent three lines of transmission that are both ancient and independent. It follows that where two agree against one, the two presumably retain the original reading. In these verses there are 25 places where two groups agree against one, sic others where 2.5 agree against .5, and just one place where each of the three major groups has its own reading. It happens that one of the three groups is always in the majority (in the 31 places), so it is the only one that is always right in those 31 places—so in the one place where there is a three-way split I follow that group, because it has the best credibility quotient.
[His edition appears to be very close to the reading of the Textus Receptus in this place.]
(This quote was taken from Wilber Pickering’s textual notes in The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken, Objective Authority for Living, p.204, © 2013 Wilbur N. Pickering. Original work available at http://thechristiancommons.com.)