Problem Passages in the Gospel of John Part 9: The Woman Taken in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11): Exposition -- By: Zane C. Hodges
BSac 137:545 (Jan 80) p. 41
Problem Passages in the Gospel of John
The Woman Taken in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11): Exposition
[Zane C. Hodges, Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary]
The story of the woman taken in adultery and brought before the Lord Jesus Christ for judgment is an incident rich with meaning and spiritual significance. Despite a strong scholarly consensus that would exclude it from the text of John’s Gospel, the story’s own inherent power and its unmistakable ring of truth remain unimpaired. Like the rest of Scripture, it yields substantial spiritual benefit to those who study it with a genuine respect for its integrity and divine authority.
In the preceding article in this series,1 consideration was given to the textual data both for and against the authenticity of this narrative. In that study it was concluded that the evidence which favors its omission from John’s Gospel is far from conclusive. On the contrary, it is possible to decide that the story was deliberately omitted from a very ancient manuscript copy of the Fourth Gospel and that this manuscript’s descendants have had a very discernible impact on some of the early New Testament translations, as well as on the early Greek fathers of the Christian church. But the obviously controversial nature of the episode itself is sufficient to explain why the deletion, once made, succeeded in gaining a currency that was somewhat wider than might otherwise have been the case.
The fact remains, however, that a very large majority of the surviving Greek manuscripts of John’s Gospel contain the story precisely where it has been traditionally found in the English Bible—namely, after John 7:52. The simplest and most satisfying explanation of this phenomenon is that the narrative has had
BSac 137:545 (Jan 80) p. 42
a long transmissional history and that, indeed, it is likely to have always been found in a majority of the extant Greek texts of every period stretching back to the date of the autograph itself. In the exposition to follow, it will be pointed out from time to time that the story about the adulteress also bears significant marks of Johannine authorship. Accordingly it will be treated here as an integral and authentic portion of the Fourth Gospel.
The Setting of the Narrative
“And each one went away to his house, and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning Jesus came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and when He had sat down He proceeded to teach them” (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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