Pericope adulterae

This has been referenced a few times on Jack’s and my blogs comments recently.

John 7:53–8:11

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.

My general response.

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.

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17 Responses to Pericope adulterae

  1. Lance says:

    No, it’s meant to be in Mark. Don’t get caught by secular critical text theory.

    https://www.textandtranslation.org/should-the-last-twelve-verses-of-mark-16-be-in-your-bible/

    One thing in this passage is that Christ completely followed the law, in that you need two or more witnesses for a capital crime. He showed the grace that is in the law.

  2. Oscar says:

    If you’re going to throw out a scripture because dishonest people insist on misinterpreting it for their advantage, you’re going to have to throw out the entire Bible.

  3. Sharkly says:

    I made a better researched post on this:

    Art Imitates Life: Biblical Forgery Edition

    The Pericope Adulterae is a satanic addition to God’s inspired word, that lays the groundwork for today’s lawlessness in all the churches. By apocryphally having Jesus Christ saying that only those “without sin” can legitimately enforce God’s law, the Pericope Adulterae delegitimizes all human enforcement of God’s law, leaving the church unable to enforce God’s law even within its own members, leading to its present lawlessness. And the lawless ones are the ones who are taking the apocryphal passage to its most logical conclusion, that no sinful human should serve God by enforcing His laws.

    “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.”

    That statement is completely inaccurate and deceptive. I believe I previously corrected Oscar on a similar statement on this same blog. Eusebius, sometime circa 320AD cited a now lost second century writing “Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord” by Papias, whom Eusebius also wrote was stupid, lacking spiritual insight, and a collector of fables. Eusebius said “and he (Papias) has set forth another story about a woman who was accused before the Lord of many sins, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.”

    “The Gospel according to the Hebrews” is believed to be an apocryphal Gospel no longer in existence that was rejected from the Biblical cannon early on. And the citation lists a woman accused of many sins, not accused of the singular sin of adultery. This could just as easily refer to the sinful woman who broke open the box of perfume and poured it on Jesus. The earliest certain references by the church fathers regarding the Pericope Adulterae were by fourth and fifth century fathers weighing in on whether or not they thought the passage could be legitimate. The earliest New Testament commentaries by the early church fathers that went verse by verse through the Gospel of John and the other gospels completely omitted it. It was also completely omitted from the earliest liturgies while the verses on either side were recorded as being contiguous. The evidence clearly shows It is not possible that the Pericope Adulterae could have originally been in any of the four inspired Gospels of which we have multiple early manuscripts that do not include the Pericope Adulterae.

    People who want to include this apocryphal passage where Jesus is shown helping an adulteress, who indicates neither repentance nor faith, to cuckold her husband with zero consequence, disregarding His Father’s own law, have an evil Feminist agenda to allow lawlessness. Jesus said (in real scripture) that not one jot of the law would cease while our current world exists. Jesus Himself clearly said that he did not come as a rebellious Son, to abolish His Father’s Law, but to do it.

    All those who want to keep the clearly apocryphal passage in the Bible, either have not researched it well, nor open-mindedly, or else have an overriding bias towards wanting to retain and promote its lawless doctrine.

    FWIW, The Pericope Adulterae never set right with the Spirit that is within me. When I found out that it wasn’t in any of the early Greek manuscripts, but appeared first as a marginal note in a later Latin/Greek diglot, it was a great relief to me, as it cleared up a great supposed inconsistency in the New Testament over whether Christ brought us lawlessness or demanded even closer obedience to His Father’s universal laws.(Noahic law/Church law)(as opposed to the Jewish-specific laws for the Jews who, as a nation, rejected Jesus and His new covenant)

  4. dave sora says:

    The story is evil. After all “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” becomes a metaphor that you can’t judge at all. If he just wanted to ban the death penalty generally he could have said “I ban the death penalty.” If he wanted to ban it only in this case “I ban the death penalty in this particular case only.” But by giving what looks like a general principle that only sinless can apply punishment he would make crime unpunishavle in all cases (not just adultery). Women believing he did exactly that is behind not only feminism but all the stupid stuff like not prosecuting shoplifters in California. So no there is no way this is consistent with Christianity. The Chinese CCP fix to the story where Jesus stones her and says “We can’t just let criminals go unpunished” is a forgery more in line with Christianity than the original forgery.

  5. @ Lance

    No, it’s meant to be in Mark. Don’t get caught by secular critical text theory.

    Pericope adulterae to my knowledge was never there.

    Mark 16:19 is a portion that was potentially added later about the early tomb experiences.

    Could have been what the disciples were saying about the experience, but may not have been in the earliest version of Mark at least.

  6. @ Sharkly

    By apocryphally having Jesus Christ saying that only those “without sin” can legitimately enforce God’s law, the Pericope Adulterae delegitimizes all human enforcement of God’s law, leaving the church unable to enforce God’s law even within its own members, leading to its present lawlessness. And the lawless ones are the ones who are taking the apocryphal passage to its most logical conclusion, that no sinful human should serve God by enforcing His laws.

    Nah. No one says this except liberal Churches which we already know are heretical.

    Actual Christian Churches know the Scriptures of Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, and other passages about how you can kick people from the Church/congregation if they don’t repent.

    Of course, I will agree with you that it’s one thing about knowing these Scriptures and actually enforcing them. Many Churches don’t have the leadership with the stones to enforce them. Your previous Church with your wife included.

  7. Sharkly says:

    Deep strength,
    The apocryphal ending of Mark was actually added far sooner than the Pericope Adulterae and it is more difficult to show that it doesn’t belong. Yet Feminist “scholars” would much rather give up the story of Jesus appearing first to women, than give up their favorite story of how holy Jesus made an adulteress’s husband accept another man’s sloppy-seconds.

    The extra end of Mark is also where you get the crazy idea that Spirit filled Christians should be snake handlers and be able to drink poison. You really can’t improve on God’s inspired word by letting others add to it. All those kooky venomous snake-handling churches are operating based upon an apocryphal addition to Mark, not God’s inspired word.

    And John, the disciple of Christ, told us in his book of Revelation (the last book of the New Testament to be written) not to add or subtract words from that book. He wouldn’t have needed to mention that if nobody was ever going to try it. He had probably already heard of attempts to do that sort of thing by then. What a divinely inspired irony that it was into his Gospel that misguided consensus finally jammed the Pericope Adulterae.

    Just for clarification, I never attended the easy-believe-ism seeker-friendly neo-fertility-goddess worshipping “church” where my wife now goes. She chose them because she could tell it would be the most conducive church to attend while divorcing her husband and destroying her sons’ home.

  8. @ Sharkly

    The apocryphal ending of Mark was actually added far sooner than the Pericope Adulterae and it is more difficult to show that it doesn’t belong. Yet Feminist “scholars” would much rather give up the story of Jesus appearing first to women, than give up their favorite story of how holy Jesus made an adulteress’s husband accept another man’s sloppy-seconds.

    To be fair, even though I still think it’s likely an actual story (whether canonical or not), it’s also true that a decent portion of the Church fathers did not like the passage for the same reasons you don’t.

    edit: Augustine opposed eliminating it, but did comment harshly (“persons of little faith”) that those who wanted it removed had concerns over people misinterpreting it to promote sin.

    It’s quite the very easily warped passage.

    Just for clarification, I never attended the easy-believe-ism seeker-friendly neo-fertility-goddess worshipping “church” where my wife now goes. She chose them because she could tell it would be the most conducive church to attend while divorcing her husband and destroying her sons’ home.

    Affirmative. So she jetted to a Church that would accept sin without calling it out. Shame on them.

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  10. imnobody00 says:

    You nailed it. Thank you for sharing

  11. Oscar says:

    it’s also true that a decent portion of the Church fathers did not like the passage for the same reasons you don’t. I believe Augustine was one.

    Not Augustine. Here’s what Augustine had to say on the subject.

    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 act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.

  12. @ Oscar

    Not Augustine. Here’s what Augustine had to say on the subject.

    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 act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.

    Oops. I’ll edit that.

    He at least expressed the opinion that some people were removing the passage because the same fear which is true.

  13. locustsplease says:

    If you don’t believe Jesus said this then what do you believe he would have said? This is the same guy who had a conversation with one of his desicples and he then went out and committed suicide immediately. His judgements and condemnation are what matters.

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  15. Sharkly says:

    locustsplease,

    I don’t need to try to put words into the mouth of God. Whomever the author was of the apocryphal Pericope Adulterae, has already done that, and quite poorly. As a result of this Jesus Christ is portrayed as assisting an adulteress in cuckolding her husband, and flouting Jesus’ own Father’s law for the adulteress’ benefit and at the price of outright robbing the cuckolded husband of the justice that God’s righteous law would have afforded him.

    Maybe you want to worship the god of cuckoldry, but that passage never set right with the Spirit that lives in me. When I found out that the whole passage wasn’t originally in any New testament Gospel manuscripts until around the end of the fourth century AD, and that there are numerous variations and problems with the passage that first appeared in Latin manuscripts as an addition in the margin and wasn’t added back into Greek manuscripts until hundreds of years after that even, I was relieved to find it was a fraudulent addition that wasn’t written by John the disciple of Christ.

    The whore-worshipping churches will be resistant to the removal of that silly whore-worshipping passage, where Jesus supposedly chose to give a whore His own worth-ship to be elevated above judgement according to His Father’s law, and chooses instead to help her cheat her husband out of all the justice afforded him by the law. Furthermore the asinine assertion that only those without sin should carry out enforcement of God’s law, now produces churches that are lawless and lacking any consistent effort made by sinners to ever hold other sinners to God’s commands.

    So, if a pedophile is sodomizing your son, please don’t say anything negative to him, because that would be judgmental, like casting a stone, you meanie. Perhaps you could watch and encourage your son to turn the other cheek. Maybe you could compose a poem for your son’s rapist where you tell him how you’ve forgiven him before he even sins and how you would never think to try to judge another man according to God’s standard, Because you’re so woke. /S

    Seriously! The Pericope Adulterae replaces the fear of God and fleeing from evil, with lawlessness and an entitlement to forgiveness. If an adulteress who isn’t even recorded as expressing any repentance or faith was forgiven for her capital sin without even asking for it, How then could I justly be held accountable for my lesser sins for which I am repentant and I do regularly ask forgiveness for? And If I consequently had no fear of God’s judgement, would I not be inclined to sin more for my own convenience rather than suffer for righteousness sake?

    Zacchaeus committed to giving half of his goods to the poor and to paying back fourfold anything he had gotten unjustly according to the law. Did Jesus say, “Naw bro! This ones on me.”? LOL Of course not. He said that salvation had come to Zacchaeus after having witnessed his demonstrated repentance and his commitment to bearing the law’s full earthly penalty.

    The Pericope Adulterae has continually been used to justify great lawlessness and evil within the church and in the world, and unless you’re a fool, you can tell that lawlessness is the logical result of forbidding sinful men from holding anybody else to God’s law as God’s own law requires. Is greater lawlessness not the same result our foolish churchian inspired society is now seeing from their attempts to defund the state’s law enforcement because of the perceived sins of a few cops?

    Did God’s law not demand that adulterers and adulteresses be stoned to death? Who was supposed to carry that out? Obviously God had always demanded for sin stained folks to carry out such sentences in service of God and His righteous law. But now you’re claiming that Jesus made His Father’s own justice system out to be hypocritical for the utilizing of sinners to carry out God’s will on other sinners, and that no penalty of law can ever be executed by anyone except sinless Jesus Himself? If you haven’t figured it out yet, the passage is a clever ruse to promote lawlessness by making the people carrying out the earthly punishment seem to be hypocritical for carrying out the temporal sentence of God upon other sinners as God’s servants had been commanded to carry out. The apocryphal passage is also contradictory with the rest of the Bible.

  16. locustsplease says:

    @ Sharkly I read your comment and may have missed it. But what do you actually think Jesus would have said? Do you have some version where Jesus says execute her? Also she was having sex with a willing male participant who was not going to b executed. She didn’t rape anyone. Not murder. I’m not saying it’s not a sin or perverted in modern times. Jesus called her out for her sin just like he called out many people. He didn’t say your fine nothing to worry about. His judgements on society come thousands of years. He wouldn’t even defend himself from his own executioners.

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