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« The Bible Is Not a Game of Telephone | Main | Give Up Your Stereotypes, Not Your Christian Convictions »

January 10, 2015


I read through the article and just found it infuriating. It had direct misinformation and skewed the information terribly. To a casual observer who had no clue about any of these issues, it sounded informed, but was clearly manipulative.

For instance, the statement: John didn't write it. He has no idea whether that is true or not. It could actually have written by the author of John. It doesn't seem like it is, but there is no definitive way to know that. Although in this case I agree that is it most likely that John didn't write it, he never makes it clear that this is a point of contention among scholars. He just flatly states, "John didn't write it." He should have said, "Many scholars don't think John even wrote it due to some strong evidence: etc. etc.

That's just the tip of the iceberg in this silly argument.

Hi JBerr, I agree with you. I read through part 1 and 2 and through the comments sections of each part where in both Eichenwald responded and Kruger engaged further...along with others.

One thing that caught my attention was how often the idea that Eichenwald and some other supporters used the "I was raised in a Christian family" card as though that entitles them to evade inspection of their assertions as if they have some kind of immunity credentials protecting them from scrutiny of their factually inaccurate statements.

That statement was also put out in a kind of back handed intellectual snobbery as if their having been raised in Christian families and now having grown out of old tired Christian dogma's to see the real truth in modern eyes that this experience grants them claim to a higher illumination of what the Bible is all about and that the rest of us are stubbornly unread, simple minded....unsophisicated simpletons.

I disagree that its even likely that John didn't write it.

I think we simply don't know, but I tend to think that the story was written by John.

It is true that the earliest manuscripts that we have don't mention it. But it's possible, and even likely, that the later manuscripts that we do have that mention it had even earlier and more reliable manuscripts than we have to work with.

Now, that doesn't immediately prove that those earlier manuscripts mention the story. But it does show that being the earliest of our sources, doesn't automatically imply greater reliability.

What's more, some of the earlier manuscripts that don't mention the story put a special mark in the text that indicates that there was a known textual variant. So we kinda do know that some manuscripts mentioned it well before the earliest manuscripts we have that mention it.

What is more, there is not really a very good reason I can see why a well meaning scribe or group of scribes would have to add it in.

I won't go so far as to say that the text reads better with it left out, but it certainly reads fine with it left out. And there is no crucial doctrine that turns on the addition, though, when interpreted correctly, it reinforces standard Biblical themes.

What's more, the text is not among the clearest passages in the Bible. It can be misinterpreted to undercut at least one standard Biblical theme (more on that below).

So why add it?

The best I can think of is that the story itself was broadly circulated and known, or at least believed, to have been of apostolic origin, but no one knew which apostle said it where. Or perhaps they knew it was from John, but did not know where in John. At some point, someone might have said "Well, it needs to go in somewhere."

But there is a straightforward reason that a well meaning scribe or group of scribes might have to leave the story out: Jesus seems to, though he does not, condone adultery.

If you take the time to read the passage, it is not even clear that the woman was actually guilty of adultery. In fact, I think it goes the other way. I think she was innocent of the crime she was accused of. If she really were caught, as the priests said, in the very act, there should have been two adulterers to stone that day.

The test was whether Jesus would see through the priests' lies, and He did. We don't know what he wrote in the sand, but perhaps it was the details of how they framed the woman. If so, that would certainly explain why her accusers might not want to call Jesus' bluff and cast a stone.

The alternative explanation, that Jesus convicted them by writing their sins on the ground, seems to presuppose that those ruthless jerks had consciences...which seems unlikely to me.

In any case, if I'm right, there was no adultery for Jesus to condone.

If you take Jesus' critics at their words, then the woman was guilty of adultery, and Jesus' letting her off the hook, and even preventing the priests from executing their law, might seem to condone her actions. Though even here, you should probably read it instead in light of the forgiveness of every sin that Jesus brings to all...not as the condoning of any sin.

Still the Bible speaks forcefully against adultery elsewhere, and I could see a scribe saying "let's leave that bit about the woman accused of adultery out"

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