The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 8: Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery -- By: Everett F. Harrison

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:412 (Oct 1946)
Article: The Son of God among the Sons of Men Part 8: Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery
Author: Everett F. Harrison


The Son of God among the Sons of Men
Part 8: Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery

Everett F. Harrison

VIII. Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery

It is well known that the section of the Gospel according to John from 7:53 to 8:11 must be treated differently from the remainder of the text. In the first place, the manuscript authority behind it is too weak to permit us to regard it as a part of the original text. Westcott summarizes the point by stating, “It is omitted by the oldest representatives of every kind of evidence (manuscripts, versions, fathers).” Three other problems must be faced in this connection. Was it written by John or some other, is it properly placed in the narrative as we have it, and is it a trustworthy account? The evidence of vocabulary and of connectives is opposed to Johannine authorship. Many are of the opinion that the story has come down through Papias, who was interested in gathering and setting forth illustrative material of our Lord’s life. Uncertainty as to its rightful position at this point in John’s account is created by the fact that it is found in several different places in the manuscripts, especially at the end of the Gospel, which does not help us much, and after Luke 21, which closes with a reference to the fact that Jesus was at that time spending His nights on the mount of Olives and His days teaching in the temple. If we accept this guidance, the story belongs to the closing days of our Lord’s ministry. But the matter is not sufficiently clear to permit dogmatic assertion. The material in Luke 20 relative to the efforts of various groups to ensnare Jesus, and particularly verse 40, tends to contradict the notion that the incident before us belongs to the closing days of the ministry, for it would be strange to have Jesus turn back

all His questioners, so that they were afraid to interrogate Him further, then almost immediately introduce this story of the woman taken in adultery, in which His adversaries fared no better. On the whole, the position given us in the Johannine narrative seems preferable. In endeavoring to answer the query about the truthfulness of the story set before us, one must give due weight to two items which appear decisive. It would hardly have occurred to an inventor to represent Jesus as writing on the ground, since no record of writing by Jesus is found anywhere else in the Gospel tradition. Again, the word of Jesus to the woman’s accusers has such an atmosphere of originality about it, and is so in agreement wit...

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