WEEK 45 | MONDAY | JOHN 8.1-11
This week’s readings are all from John chapters 8. Click here to see a full listing of each day’s reading and the full chapters for this week. Full readings of each day’s smaller segments of the readings will be posted on this site during the week.
1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came to the temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone to death such women. What then do you say?” 6 (Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against him.) Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground.
9 Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up straight and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”]]
The story of the woman accused of adultery in John 8:1-11 is one of the most beloved stories from the Gospels. However, based on the best and earliest manuscripts we have of the Gospel of John, it is fairly conclusive that it was not part of the original text of John but was added sometime later. Many other early manuscripts either mark it as being questionable, move it to other locations within or to the end of the Gospel of John as a stand-alone story, and in at least one case it appears not in John but in Luke. This is why many modern English versions mark this passage as being distinctive from the rest of John 7 and 8, and likely noted in the footnotes. In addition, internally, the passage contains 14 words that occur nowhere else in the Gospel and, if one removes John 7:53-8:12 from the text, the flow of the narrative of Jesus' conflict with the leaders continues more smoothly without it.
However, just because the story may not have been original to John's Gospel does not mean that it isn't an authentic story about Jesus. We have evidence from other sources that this story was known early among believers. Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, noted about Papias, who lived during the turn of the first and second centuries AD:
"[Papias] related another account about a woman accused of many sins before the Lord, which the Gospel according to the Hebrews contains" (Church History 3.39).
The mid-third century work Didasclae Apostularum (The Teachings of the Apostles), in the author's attempt to remind bishops of the churches to show mercy, refers to the story:
"...for you do not obey our Savior and our God, to do as He also did with her that had sinned, whom the elders set before Him, and leaving the judgment in His hands, departed. But He, the searcher of hearts, asked her and said to her, 'Have the elders condemned thee, my daughter?' She said to Him, 'No, Lord.' And He said unto her, 'Go your way; neither do I condemn thee.' In Him therefore, our Savior and King and God, be your pattern, O bishops."
So this story about Jesus and the accused woman seems to have been a part of Christian communities from very early, ultimately finding its place in the Gospel of John sometime in the third or fourth centuries.