Disputed passage in the Gospel of John (John 7:53-8:11)
Sinful woman forgiven by Jesus. Is this passage Scriptures?
Rare major case of a truly disputed Bible passage

 
The textual transmission of Scriptures, from the perfect original autographs to the present, has retained the message of God's word by conveying its meaning and intent to us. This accuracy has been maintained throughout copying and translation into myriad languages, living and dead End Note 13. Those skeptics who focus on the thousands of manuscript variants that exist, often fail to mention that the extreme majority of them are insignificant, changing neither meaning or intent of the passages, most relegated to spelling errors, word reversals or easily distinguished slips of the pen. Phrasing differences between translations are also common. One of the rare truly disputed passages of Scriptures, a section that appears to be missing or misplaced throughout many ancient manuscripts, is found in many Bibles today as John 7:53-8:11. It is often referred to in scholarly documents as "the pericope of the adulteress".

John 7:53-8:11 Then each went to his own home. 8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (NIV)

At the onset, it must be emphasized that no variant of Scriptures, including the aforementioned and few major ones such as this passage in John, introduce or contradict any doctrine of Scriptures. As such, with or without the passage, every doctrine of Scriptures can be taught utilizing other passages. This alone displays God's hand in preserving His word and making sure that we got the meaning and intent of all He wanted us to know. The Bible is a result of the action of a God who is sovereign over time and history, a God who could have once-for-all engraved His word on the side of Mount Everest, but instead chose to use fallible humans throughout time. In so doing, the infallible and perfect God shows that His word transcends time and fallen creation - rooted in His unchangeable self.

The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11. (Text appearing before this passage in the NIV; similar statements existing in many other modern translations)

Some modern scholars and translators easily and readily dismiss this passage in John as if it has no valid history or place in Scriptures. By some of these textual critics, you would wonder why anyone would still have this passage in their Bible. In fact, some modern translations have functionally abandoned this passage in John, at best relegating it to a footnote. This is precisely why a detailed consideration of the evidence is in order. The following charts are heavily focused on materials of the 5th century and earlier, with some additional references spanning the centuries which followed. Even more are located in the footnotes...

 

Evidence against John 7:53-8:11 (Manuscripts without)

  • Aleph (Sinaticus, without the passage, circa 4th century)

  • A (Alexandrinus, without the passage by measurement, circa 5th century) End Note 1
  • B (Vaticanus, without the passage, circa 4th century)
  • C (Ephraemi Rescriptus, without the passage by measurement, circa 5th century) End Note 1
  • P75 (Bodmer Papyrus, without the passage, circa late 2nd or early 3rd century)
  • P66 (Bodmer Papyrus, without the passage, circa mid 2nd century)
  • W (Codex Washingtonianus, without the passage, 5th century)
  • T (Codex Borgianus, without the passage, 5th century)
  • Diatessaron (harmony of the gospels by Tatian, without the passage, circa 150-160 A.D.)
  • Early church Fathers including Tertullian (early third century), Cyprian (early to mid third century), Origen (early to mid third century) who perhaps knew nothing of it (the commentary of the latter doing all the verses surrounding it!).
  • Old Armenian Manuscripts (6 of them omit it)
  • SYRc.s. & majority of SYRp (the oldest and best Syriac manuscripts omit it, translation dates from 2nd century A.D.)
  • Sahidic (Coptic dialect, without the passage, translation from late 2nd to early 3rd century)
  • Older Bohairic (Coptec dialect, without the passage, 4th century)
  • Old Georgian (without the passage, mid-fourth century translation)
  • Armenian (without the passage, fifth century translation)
  • Gothic (without the passage, fourth century translation, sixth century manuscript)
  • Several Old Latin are without the passage, including: a (Codex Vercellensis, circa 350 A.D.), l (Codex Legionensis, circa 650 A.D.), q (Codex Monacensis, circa 600 A.D.)
  • No Greek Church Father prior to the 9th century comments on the passage
  • Greek Church Father Euthymius Zigabenus (declares that accurate copies of the gospels do not contain the passage, 12th century)
  • End Note 5

Evidence for John 7:53-8:11 (Manuscripts including, or referring, to this passage)

  • Didascalia Apostolorum (Syriac quotation from the account, circa 3rd century. Does not state what gospel, if any, it was in) End Note 8

  • D (Bezae Cantabrigiensis, 5th century)
  • Papias of Hierapolis (refers to a story of Jesus and a woman "accused of many sins" circa 125 A.D.) End Note 2
  • Didymus the Blind (refers to the passage being found in "several gospels", lived circa 313-398 A.D.)
  • Pacian (370 A.D.) cites the passage. End Note 10
  • B (Vaticanus, circa 4th century, which didn't include the passage, marked the end of chapter 7 with an "umlaut" indicating that an alternative reading was known)
  • Jerome (says that the passage was found in "many Greek and Latin manuscripts" in Rome and the Latin West, late 4th century)
  • Many other Latin Fathers including Ambrose End Note 7, John Chrysostom, and Augustine (all speak of the passage as being canonical. Augustine claims that some may have excluded it earlier to avoid the idea that Christ had sanctioned adultery, 4th and 5th centuries) End Note 12
  • A majority of the Old Latin and Latin Vulgate (perhaps mostly due to Jerome's influence)
  • Apostolic Constitutions (alludes to the account, late 4th century; document partially based on the Didascalia Apostolorum)
  • End Note 6

Evidences for being unsure about John 7:53-8:11

  • S (Vaticanus 354, 949 A.D., present but marked with an obelus as a questionable text)

  • E (Codex Basiliensis, present but marked with an obelus as a questionable text)
  • Lambda (Codex Tishendorfianus, present but marked with an obelus as a questionable text)
  • Minuscule 795 (has only John 7:53-8:2, excludes 8:3-11, 9th century?)
  • Many Lectionaries (about 40 have only 8:3-11 and exclude 7:53-8:2, 11th century, a couple have 8:2-11) End Note 11
  • Many Minuscule Manuscripts (about 50 include the full passage but mark it with an asterix or obeli as being questionable, 11th-15th centuries, a few have shorter but still mark it as questionable).
  • A series of Minuscules (Family 1, include the passage yet have it after John 21:25, 12th-15th centuries)
  • Almost all old Armenian Manuscripts (except for the 6 which omit it, the others include the passage yet have it after John 21:25)
  • A series of Minuscules (Family 13, include the passage yet have it after Luke 21:38, 11th-15th centuries)
  • Other Minuscules (The corrector of Minuscule 1333 include 8:3-11 after Luke 24:53; Minuscule 225 adds the passage after John 7:36; Minuscule 129, 259, 470, 564, 831 and 1356 place 8:3-11 after John 21:25; Minuscule 826 has it after Luke 21:38. Mostly 11th-12th centuries)
  • Several Georgian Manuscripts (include the passage but have it after John 7:44)

The New King James Version, while acknowledging that some dispute this passage, tries to turn their footnote into a reason for inclusion.

The words And everyone through sin no more (8:11) are bracketed by NU-Text [by United Bible Society] as not original. They are present in over 900 manuscripts. (Footnote for John 7:53 in NKJV, square parenthesis ours for clarification)

The NKJV claim of more than 900 supporting manuscripts must be properly understood; there certainly are that many but a majority of them are not the oldest as can be seen from the evidences presented earlier. Likewise, not all of them have the passage appearing in the same location after John 7:52.

If the Roman Catholic Church had stayed the predominate church there would likely never have been a question over the inclusion of this passage in John, even though they held a number of manuscripts that did not have it, or called it into question. Why? That church for more than a thousand years had used manuscripts based on Jerome's Latin vulgate, which included the account. Ironically, it was the Protestant Reformation, with its call for people to read Scriptures, and its subsequent drive to make sure that the Bible was translated properly into common languages such as German and English that led to searching out manuscripts in the original languages.

The 16th century saw many Western European scholars, both Protestant and Catholic, working to recover the most correct Greek texts of the New Testament, rather than relying any longer solely on the Latin Vulgate translation. All quickly noticed that a number of early manuscripts lacked this portion of John's gospel and than many more manuscripts were marked to note the dubious stature of its inclusion in John. Moreover, it was also noted that in the lectionary of the Greek Church, the weekly reading for Pentecost was set for John 7:37 to 8:12 but omits the twelve disputed verses. All this evidence restarted a debate that appears to have existed many times throughout history and certainly in the minds of specific scribes and translators.

The primary question remains: is this passage true and is it to be accepted as Scriptures? Certainly the internal evidence display characteristics of being a true story; most will agree with this.

 
At the same time the account has all the earmarks of historical veracity. It is obviously a piece of oral tradition which circulated in certain parts of the Western church and which was subsequently incorporated into various manuscripts at various places. (Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 1971)

On one hand it seems clear that the weight of evidence mitigates against the originality of the story. That is, this brief account is probably not original to the Fourth Gospel. On the other hand, the story has every suggestion of historical veracity, suggesting that it was indeed an event that occurred in the life of Jesus and was a story worthy of collection and recitation. (Gary M. Burge, John, The NIV Application Commentary, 2000)

Although this narrative is included in the sequence of the outline, it can hardly have belonged to the original text of this Gospel. It is absent from most of the oldest copies of the Gospel that precede the sixth century and from the works of the earliest commentators. To say that it does not belong in the Gospel is not identical with rejecting it as unhistorical. Its coherence and spirit show that it was preserved from a very early time, and it accords well with the known character of Jesus. It may be accepted as historical truth; but based on the information we now have, it was probably not a part of the original text. (Merrill Tenney, John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, 1984)

People who make up stories tend to have way too many details or are completely vague with virtually no specifics. Here this passage has all the details that one would expect from an eye-witness. For example, someone on the sidelines would record Jesus writing on the ground, but not specifically what He was writing. Certainly this account is in harmony with how Jesus is characterized and acted throughout the gospels. It is most probable that this was an authentic episode in the life of Jesus.

If this passage was a forged or invented account, a huge question would be "why?" Unlike the Gnostic and heretical forgeries that arose in the time of the apostles and continued into the first centuries of the church, this account does not contain any new and aberrant doctrine, nor does it contradict any other teaching of Scriptures. In fact, if it was created by a heretic, it has never surfaced in any heretical or alternative gospel. There is no evidence that it is a fraud. As a true account, the next question is whether it belongs in Scriptures or not.

John 20:30-31 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (NIV)

John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (NIV)

John makes it clear that Jesus did other things that were not recorded in His gospel, indeed in any gospel. The purpose God had in having some events recorded was to give us sufficient information so that we could know about and believe in Jesus. Our passage, under consideration, does not reveal anything more about Jesus than what we can establish elsewhere in canonical Scriptures.

Church tradition is the number one appeal made by many in fierce opposition to those who would remove this passage from Scriptures. "Our Bible has had this for so many years, this tradition must stand." If we use this as a valid reason, why shouldn't apocryphal books also be accept by those who treasured them for many years? Tradition is a fallible interpreter of what is Scriptures, prone to being misused by emotion and self-serving purposes. There must be a higher standard. And there is...

The basis by which New Testament books were recognized as being God's word, part of the canon of Scriptures, was a four part measure or test:

  1. Written by an apostle or under the direct authority of an apostle.

  2. Expresses truth, always in agreement with the rest of the Canon of truth, including the Old Testament.

  3. Recognized by all of God's church, East and West, a testimony of the unity that comes from God's Holy Spirit. This recognition began from widespread use in the church east or west.

  4. Claims or exhibits authority from God. Shows its divine character, as all Scripture is God-breathed, answering the question "why is this document so different from all other documents?"

While this test was normally applied to complete books, exposing many Gnostic works and forgeries and fraudulent works to not be part of God's word, the unusual nature of this specific account requires the test to be applied separately to John 7:53-8:11. Consider, again, that historical evidence has this account being circulated apart from John, in various places within John, in Luke, and perhaps earliest of all in Matthew.

As for part one of the test, what do we know of the authorship of this passage? The earliest evidence attributes it to an apostle, specifically Papias may be referencing Matthew (see End Note 2), but unquestionably it was attributed and accepted as being apostolic. This apostolic attestation is unwavering throughout the early church fathers that knew of the passage. Though it appears that many did not know of it, theirs is an argument from silence. This cannot be considered as valid evidence against as those fathers may have merely been unfamiliar with it, as was common to many New Testament works, in some parts of the church, in the early days.

Though this fragment has been attached to the gospel of John, throughout most of church history, it does not detract from the understanding that it is apostolic. In fact, as an untitled un-autographed work, it is no different than the book of Hebrews, which is still accepted as having apostolic origin even though there are many who now question who the author was. The earlier church, until the reformation, uniformly held it to be Paul. (We consider the book of Hebrews in our seminar on the Bible!) It's the earlier evidence that became the basis for a passage's initial acceptance and must also be for this addition to John.

Part two of the canonical test easily vindicates John 7:53-8:11. It unquestionably does not contradict any earlier Scripture, indeed all other Scripture, and displays all the attributes of being a true account.

Before considering part three, part four of the test can also be easily affirmed. This account of Jesus and the sinful woman unquestionable shows itself to be different from other literature, a beautiful account, in harmony with the authoritative accounts of the apostles which revealed the person of Jesus Christ. It bespeaks of the authority of Jesus in administering God's grace and Law.

This leaves part three of the test... Was it recognized by all of God's church, east and west? Papias was in the area of modern Turkey, in the Eastern Church, yet it appears that this pericope first circulated mostly in the Western church, perhaps carried there at an early date by an influential traveler. It's acceptance in the Western Church became widespread and indeed virtually universal in the centuries which followed. In this, it deserved consideration and acceptance by the whole church within the test. Though its acceptance was fragmentary in the Eastern Church, it increased throughout the centuries, certainly taking longer than the acceptance of whole books, but it did gain that acceptance in all but some very small branches of the Eastern Church End Note 3. I believe that this qualifies as acceptance of the church, as a majority of the church, East and West, did accept and include the passage End Note 9.

Later questioning of Erasmus, Calvin End Note 4, and many post reformation Bible scholars, must not detract from the fact that this passage met the test of being canonical Scriptures. If a passage is Scriptures, it is always Scriptures. Some will always arise, for various reasons, who will dispute portions and books of Scriptures. Unlike the longer form of 1 John 5:7, which does not have valid history or meet the canon test, this passage is Scriptures.

It is regrettable that this account has been moved about in its position within Scriptures, but book order or positioning was never part of the Canon or inspiration. Book order and division has changed repeatedly throughout history and it does not detract from the message of God's word. Perhaps it would have been far better that this account had been held as a separate document from the very beginning. It may have been so small that it was added to gospels to keep it from being lost, and there was early knowledge that it had come from a gospel author. Regardless, its present traditional position within the gospel of John does not alter the message of the passage, or the passages prior and following.

I believe that is safe for Bible publishers to specially mark the passage, as it has been in many manuscripts throughout history, if for no other reason that to show that it likely was not part of John's gospel at this location in the original. Unfortunately, most readers lack understanding of the issues behind this passage, and therefore do not understand what the marking or comments mean. Notations that state "no early manuscripts", or "the best manuscripts", to not have this passage cause a majority of readers to doubt that it should be included at all. Perhaps a better system of noting this passage must be developed or, in the least, a more comprehensive write-up should be given.

At one seminar I was publicly asked, "Would you preach from this passage in John?" My answer is unquestionably "yes!" It's God's word - I stand by the evidence and the canonical test.


End Notes

1. The physical manuscripts of A and C are damaged in regards to this piece of the Gospel of John; but it is certain, from the precision with which the quantity of text in each page of these manuscripts can be calculated, that they could not have contained these twelve verses.

2. According to Eusebius, we are told that Papias transmitted a similar account; "Papias also put forth another history concerning a woman accused of many sins before the Lord; and this history is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews." (Ecclesiastical History 3.39). This was not an obscure reference to some pseudo or Gnostic gospel, rather it may have been a general references to the gospels as a whole beginning with Matthew (as the primary one), or, perhaps, to the gospel of Matthew in specific.

Eusebius, who didn't care for the unlearned format of Papias' writings, does note that Papias used the gospels written under the authority of the Apostles: "The same writer used quotations from the first Epistle of John, and likewise also from that of Peter, and has expounded another story about a woman who was accused before the Lord of many sins, which the Gospel according to the Hebrews contains." He also elsewhere recorded that Papias stated "Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language". This makes it probable that Papias was attributing the account of Jesus and sinful woman specifically to the gospel of Matthew.

Irenaeus in his work, Against Heresies (circa 180 A.D.), likewise says "Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the church." Modern scholars lightly dismiss these early claims, to the gospel of Matthew having been written in Hebrew, because it "was written in Greek." This assertion is based on their best calculations and observations. Some have gone so far as to say that the present gospel of Matthew could not have been by Matthew, since they accept that his was written in Hebrew and this one, in Greek, could not be a translation of that one.

The evidence of the early church is that Matthew's gospel was an early one, written in Hebrew and later circulated in a Greek edition. Beyond Papias and Irenaeus, as mentioned above, others testified to the same:

Origen (lived 185-254 A.D.) wrote in his commentary on Matthew that he accepted "the traditional view of the four gospels which alone are undeniably authentic in the church of God on earth. First to be written was that of the one-time excise-man who became an apostle of Jesus Christ - Matthew; it was published for believers of Jewish origin, and was composed in Hebrew letters/language. Next came that of Mark, who followed Peter's instructions in writing it ... Next came that of Luke, who wrote for Gentile converts ... Last of all came John's." (Cited in Ecclesiastical History 6.25).

Jerome (circa 392 A.D.), in chapter three of his De Viris Illustribus says "Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered, a city of Syria, who use it."

Jerome also mentions that he made translations of the Hebrew gospel of Matthew into Greek and Latin. Some have speculated that this was a completely different gospel than the one we have today, yet, if this was true, Jerome would have been diligent to note this and list it either among the canonical books or the multitudes of non-canonical books that he was aware of. Indeed, the second chapter of Jerome's commentary on the canonical book of Matthew states that the Hebrew copy of Matthew and the Greek edition were of the same subject, something that modern scholars, with an absence of the texts to examine, presumptuously assure us to be in error.

Other church fathers, such as Athanasius (lived circa 293-373) in his Synopsis of Sacred Scriptures and Epiphanius (lived circa 310 or 320-403) in his Panarion (also called Against Heresies), also speak of Matthew first being composed in Hebrew. Significantly, some of the earliest fragments of this gospel in Greek show a Jewish influence. The name of name of Jesus was written in an abbreviated form, as Jews commonly did with God's name in Hebrew. Certainly this implies that the author of Matthew was Jewish and the gospel was of a very early date (as this was not common practice in the gentile church).

Internal evidences also show a close affinity to Hebrew thought. For example, Deuteronomy 6:5 divides man into "heart, soul and might". Matthew alone retains this Hebraic three-fold imagery (Matthew 22:37), with later writers Luke (Luke 10:27) and Mark (Mark 12:30) utilizing a Greek four-fold imagery to full translate the sense and meaning for Gentile readers. As an apostle of Jesus, Matthew had no need to copy from Mark, as many scholars now widely speculate; he wrote with more and very specific Hebrew detail as one who was there. Others have written of this in more detail so I will end by merely listing a few of the passages where a more Jewish emphasis exists in Matthew's gospel: Matthew 24:20 versus Mark 13:18; Matthew 5:18 versus Luke 16:17; Matthew 10:5; Matthew 15:24; Luke 20:46 and Mark 12:38-39 versus Matthew 23:2 onward).

3. The Eastern Orthodox Church uses a New Testament based upon the Byzantine type text, meaning it includes John 7:53-8:11. The Syrian Orthodox and Maronite Churches, have never included John 7:53-8:11; their translation is based on Peshitta manuscripts that did not have it from antiquity.

4. Calvin, while questioning the passage, ends up encouraging the acceptance of this passage:

"It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage." (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John)

5. Other manuscripts which exclude the pericope.

Codex Regius (L) from the 8th century, Codex Athous Laurae (Psi, circa 800 A.D.), Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus (N), Codex Macedoniensis (Y), Codex Sangallensis (Delta) and Koridethi (Theta, from the 9th century) and Codex Monacensis (X, from the 10th century); Uncials 0141 and 0211; Minuscules 3, 12, 15, 21, 22, 32, 33, 39, 63, 96, 124, 134, 151, 157, 169, 209, 228, 297, 388, 391, 401, 416, 431 (added by a later corrector), 445, 470 (added by a later corrector), 565, 578, 584, 703, 723, 730, 731, 741, 742, 768, 770, 772, 776, 777, 788, 799, 800, 827, 828, 843, 896, 1100, 1178, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, 1333, 1424 (added by a later corrector), 2193 and 2768; a majority of lectionaries

6. Other manuscripts which include the pericope.

9th century Codices Boreelianus (F), Seidelianus I (G), Seidelianus II (H), Cyprius (K), Campianus (M) and Nanianus (U); Codex Tischendorfianus (Lambda) from the 9th century; Minuscule 28, 318, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1344, 1365, 1424 (as corrected), 1546, 1646, 2148, 2174; the Byzantine majority text; lectionaries 79, 100 (John 8:1-11), 118, 130 (8:1-11), 221, 274, 281, 411, 421, 429 (8:1-11), 442 (8:1-11), 445 (8:1-11), 459; some ancient Syriac manuscripts, most Bohairic Coptic manuscripts, some Armenian manuscripts, and ancient Ethiopian manuscripts.

7. Ambrose (circa 374), in a sermon on David's sin, said: "In the same way also the Gospel lesson which has been read, may have caused no small offense to the unskilled, in which you have noticed that an adulteress was brought to Christ and dismissed without condemnation . . . Did Christ err that He did not judge righteously? It is not right that such a thought should come to our minds..."

8. In the Didascalia (Teaching) of the Apostles and in the Apostolic Constitutions, which are based on the Didascalia, it says:

... 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 saith to Him, 'Nay, Lord.' And He said unto her, 'Go thy way: Neither do I condemn thee.'

9. The Eastern Church selected nine of the twelve verses from this passage in John to be publicly read on St. Pelagia's day each year, October 8. This practice dates back to the earliest written records of the practices of this church. Obviously the Byzantine type text that included this passage was known to the people from quite an early period, regardless of the general silence of most early Greek scholars on this passage or lack of use at Pentecost.

10. Spanish father Pacian (c. 370) appealed to this pericope when protesting against excessive severity in discipline. "Are you not willing," he asked, "to read in the Gospel that the Lord also spared the adulteress who confessed, whom no man had condemned?"

11. That some Lectionaries have the passage in part, in full, or not at all, cannot be taken as definitive proof that the passage was known or not known. Many churches read the passage surrounding this, in John, at Pentecost. Obviously the account of Jesus and the sinful woman did not fit into the theme of Pentecost. In many Lectionaries, it is probable that there was an intentional omission of this passage to suit the theme for that Sunday. This may also explain why some of the Greek fathers did not comment on the passage, as they commenting primarily on the surrounding passage in light of Pentecost, as practiced in their churches.

12. Augustine, after citing the phrase of Christ, "Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more," wrote: "This proceeding, however, shocks the minds of some weak believers, or rather unbelievers and enemies of the Christian faith: inasmuch that, after (I suppose) of its giving their wives impunity of sinning, they struck out from their copies of the Gospel this that our Lord did in pardoning the woman taken in adultery: as if He granted leave of sinning, Who said, Go and sin no more!" (Augustine, De Adulterinis Conjugiis) Another has translated part of this foregoing statement as: "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."

13. A living language is one that is still in use and spoken by a diverse group of people. A dead language is one that no longer is spoken as a day-to-day language. Living languages continue to evolve and change over time, even as the English language has changed dramatically over the past 500 years. A dead language no longer changes and all words are defined by their original or former usage.


Article by Brent MacDonald
(c) 2009/2015 (updated manuscript references)
Discipleship Training Institue / Lion Tracks Ministries
As posted on www.NotJustAnotherBook.com
Non-profit duplication permitted - a courtesy email is appreciated