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Reading the Bible Day 261

Hello friends! Today we continue our journey through the Gospel of John. Today features one of the most famous (and yet, controversial - more on that later) stories of Jesus. I don't want to spoil that one but I think you'll know which one I'm talking about as we read it. I've been loving the comments and questions you've been sending as you reflect on the readings. You all have such profound thoughts! Continue to share those with me privately or leave them in the comments so you can discuss it with one another. Also, sorry this is coming later than usual. I couldn't bring myself to record on Memorial Day! haha. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and you are in my prayers if this weekend brings with it sadness and painful memories.


Scripture to Read


Audio Bible


Questions to Consider

  1. What does this teach me about Jesus?

  2. What is the universal "theme" of this section?

  3. How does this reading speak to me? What does it challenge me to do in response?

- Context -

Alright time for a little controversy. Whoop whoop. We're talking about the story of the woman caught in adultery and how "true" it is. The following excerpt comes from New Testament scholar Bart Erhman, who is arguably the best New Testament scholar alive. Erhamn says the following about this story in his book "Misquoting Truth"

"It is a brilliant story, filled with pathos and a clever twist in which Jesus uses his wits to get himself—not to mention the poor woman— off the hook. Of course, to a careful reader, the story raises numerous questions. If this woman was caught in the act of adultery, for example, where is the man she was caught with? Both of them are to be stoned, according to the Law of Moses (see Lev. 20:10). Moreover, when Jesus wrote on the ground, what exactly was he writing? (According to one ancient tradition, he was writing the sins of the accusers, who seeing that their own transgressions were known, left in embarrassment!) And even if Jesus did teach a message of love, did he really think that the Law of God given by Moses was no longer in force and should not be obeyed? Did he think sins should not be punished at all?

Despite the brilliance of the story, its captivating quality, and its inherent intrigue, there is one other enormous problem that it poses. As it turns out, it was not originally in the Gospel of John. In fact, it was not originally part of any of the Gospels. It was added by later scribes.

How do we know this? In fact, scholars who work on the manuscript tradition have no doubts about this particular case. Later in this book we will be examining in greater depth the kinds of evidence that scholars adduce for making judgments of this sort. Here I can simply point out a few basic facts that have proved convincing to nearly all scholars of every persuasion: the story is not found in our oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John; its writing style is very different from what we find in the rest of John (including the stories immediately before and after); and it includes a large number of words and phrases that are otherwise alien to the Gospel. The conclusion is unavoidable: this passage was not originally part of the Gospel.

How then did it come to be added? There are numerous theories about that. Most scholars think that it was probably a well known story circulating in the oral tradition about Jesus, which at some point was added in the margin of a manuscript. From there some scribe or other thought that the marginal note was meant to be part of the text and so inserted it immediately after the account that ends in John 7:52. It is noteworthy that other scribes inserted the account in different locations in the New Testament—some of them after John 21:25, for example, and others, interestingly enough, after Luke 21:38. In any event, whoever wrote the account, it was not John.

That naturally leaves readers with a dilemma: if this story was not originally part of John, should it be considered part of the Bible? Not everyone will respond to this question in the same way, but for most textual critics, the answer is no."

Why do you think this story was added? Do you believe that it was added? What purpose does it serve? How do you (we) reconcile with changes and revisions to the Bible?


Praying the Hymns

Ah today's prayer is one of my personal favorites - Lord of the Dance. A fun hymn thats also somewhat fitting for today's reading as one of the lines is about Jesus wit when dealing with the Pharisees. I hope you enjoy praying this lovely and fun song!

1 I danced in the morning when the world was begun, and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun, and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth. At Bethlehem I had my birth.

[Refrain:] Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

2 I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee, but they would not dance and they would not follow me; I danced for the fishermen, for James and John; they came to me and the dance went on. (Refrain)

3 I danced on the sabbath when I cured the lame, the holy people said it was a shame; they whipped and they stripped and they hung me high; and they left me there on a cross to die. (Refrain)

4 I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black; it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back; they buried my body and they thought I’d gone, but I am the dance and I still go on. (Refrain)

5 They cut me down and I leapt up high, I am the life that’ll never, never die; I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. (Refrain)

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1 Comment

Jun 02, 2021

Ah yeh, textual analysis time!! From what you've said, Nick, there's all the historical textual evidence that the story of the accusers is a late addition to the gospel. The story is alson very jarring in how different its storytelling is, with its lack of dialogue and Jesus' vague actions. However, in term of its message, it is pretty much in line with the what we've seen in the gospels. It's pretty much an embodiment of the, "don't talk about the splinter in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own." So while it may not be historical, I feel the story does point to a deeper Truth and that warrents it a place in the Bible,…

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