This has been referenced a few times on Jack’s and my blogs comments recently.
53 Then each of them went home, 8:1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Figured I’d throw it up real quick. Apparently Scott just found out about it recently though:
“Wow man. I went to look that up and you are right. Depending on where you line you line up on the text criticism spectrum, it really doesn’t belong in the Bible. And the implications are pretty far reaching. A major (and really bizarre) passage is found in there that we base a big part of our understanding of what it means to be a hypocrite is in that section.”
Here’s the general manuscript evidence for those wondering. It’s all over the place for John.
I’m of the other opinion. Even though it’s not in John 7-8 in the majority of the oldest texts, it consistently in a few different places in the various gospels (namely, Luke as one). This means it’s likely a legitimate story about Jesus, but the scribes didn’t know where to put it and eventually it settled in John 7-8. Other Church fathers reference it as early as around mid 100s AD, and that’s before most of the early manuscripts which are usually 200s or later.
The major point issue is not the story itself which is consistent with Jesus’ character but modern interpretations of the story.
For instance, we know that the modern interpretations of various verses are warped:
- Eph 5:21 “Submit yourselves to one another in reverence of Christ” – Egalitarian drama
- Eph 5 “Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the Church” while leaving out the purpose is sanctification and not about not making her feel bad.
- Matthew 7 “Don’t judge lest you be judged” … and ignoring the context of hypocrisy and other passages which state Christians are supposed to call each other out.
- Matthew 5 “…anyone who looks at a woman/wife with lust (actually covetousness) commits adultery in his heart” while 1 Cor 7 says that if a single man and single woman want to do things with each other they should marry and it’s not sin. It’s only coveting something that is another man’s that is adultery in the heart.
For pericope adulterae — “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is clearly aimed at the hypocrisy of the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus in his words. If they truly cared about the adultery in the Law, they would have brought the woman AND the man caught to be stoned. But here they only brought the woman, so it’s clear they’re targeting Jesus on purpose.
Modern interpreters treat this passage much like Matthew 7 “Don’t judge lest you be judged”, but the full context is don’t be a hypocrite and remove the plank from your own eye before you judge. Not that you shouldn’t judge at all. They also ignore Matthew 18, 1 Cor 5, and other places in the Scriptures where it says explicitly to call out other Christians who are caught in sin to repent. Jesus is consistent by telling her to “go and sin no more” or in other words repent and change your ways.
I don’t see a problem as long as it’s interpreted correctly, but it is an easily warped verse.
As an aside, most Pharisee traps against Jesus pitted Jewish Law against Roman Law such as “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” In this case, only the Romans had the ability to execute people. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus to say to stone her (e.g. “stone her” – break Roman law and accuse him to the Romans) or break Jewish law (“don’t stone her” and then they can call Him a blasphemer and not listen to Him anymore).
Overall, like I said I think this story is consistent with Jesus’ character, but it’s easily warped into an unintended meaning by modern “Christians.” However, I don’t mind not using it as an example if people think it’s questionable, especially because Jesus character can be established through other passages of the Bible just the same.
I also do not believe that this verse is any major determining factor in women being painted as angels that can do no wrong much like the culture suggests. If someone (“Christian” or not) already has that position, it’s because they believe it despite what the Bible says. Those in the ‘sphere, on my blog, or Jack’s, or any others suggesting that it has caused any havoc in Churches are probably wrong.
What is true, however, is that the Ephesians 5 passage is easily warped (e.g. “love your wives” instead of “love your wives for the purpose of sanctification”) and is likely 1000x more destructive on current Christian homes than pericope adulterae.