Sunday, August 8, 2010

John 8: Woman Caught in Adultery Authentic?

Should this story be in the Bible?

Some of you may have noticed that your Bible put a line before this story and after it and had this note:
"The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11"

There is very good grounds for believing this story to be an authentic account of Jesus even if it was not originally part of John.
What do I mean? This story has several details that are exactly how court cases would have looked in Jesus day: writing rather than speaking justification for a verdict, people leaving from oldest to youngest. In fact, even the scholars who argue against this passage being original to John also hold that it is a true account of Jesus (See Metzger, Morris, etc).

It seems as if the early Christians who knew this story cherished it so much that they didn't want it to die out. In an effort to preserve it some of them stuck it into John. Others stuck it into Luke. Of those who put it into John, three different manuscripts have it in three different places.

It should not surprise us or scare us that there are other authentic stories about Jesus outside the 4 Gospels. The gospel stories were passed on separately through oral tradition decades before they were collected, arranged thematically to preach a sermon and written down. If Paul had not mentioned that Jesus said, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" we might not have a living memory of this treasure today. But not every story about Jesus outside the Bible is accurate, so beware. The gnostic gospels frequently made up stories about Jesus to re-invent him according to their philosophy.

Tune in tomorrow to find out what Jesus may have written in the sand and what it says about capital punishment...

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