John 8: The Adulterous Woman


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Excerpt from my 2004 translation of John’s gospel, which begins at Start With John, along with a brief explanation of my interpretive approach.

My 2012 translation of John’s first epistle begins at John A.

My 2015 translation of John’s second epistle begins at John B.

My 2015 translation of John’s third epistle begins at John Γ.

My 2015 and 2017 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians begins at To The Thessalonians A.

My 2015 translation of Paul’s letter to The Romans begins at To the Romans.

My 2004 translation of Paul’s first letter to the Korinthians begins at And Now For Something Completely Different….

My 2004 translation of Mark’s gospel begins at Mark 1.

[[The earliest manuscripts, p66, 75, and א omit vv 7:53-8:11; a few later mss include this story with asterisks and some even have the story in Luke rather than John. This indicates some possible doubt about its authenticity or perhaps, its relevance. It seems that the story floats, as does the story of the Anointing at Bethany, which Luke has relocated from its Markan position just before the final ministry in Jerusalem to a much earlier position among the stories of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Perhaps later copyists noticed this in Luke and replaced the Anointing with this other story about Jesus and a woman. Thematically, it is a story in search of a home. The adulterous woman possibly symbolizes, for John, the adulterous, idolatrous generation which does not seem to be able to recognize God, the focus of the controversy in this chapter. The tension is built in the lead-up to John’s quotation of Isa 6:10 in chapter 12.]]

8 1 but Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives. 2 He woke up early and went again into the temple, and all the people came to him, so he sat them down and was teaching them. 3 The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and standing her in their midst, 4 they said to him, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery; 5 now in our legal tradition Moses would command us to stone her to death. What do you say?” 6 They said this trying to trick him so that they could bring legal charges against him.

But Jesus knelt down and with his finger wrote upon the earth. 7 But they continued asking him, so he stood up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin let him throw the first stone upon her.” 8 And again he knelt and wrote upon the earth. 9 Then those listening went away one by one, starting from the oldest, and left them alone and the woman remained standing there. 10 And looking up Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Does no one accuse you?” 11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” So Jesus said, “Neither do I accuse you; go, and from now on do not sin.”

12 Again Jesus was speaking to them saying, “I am the light of the universe; he who follows me does not go about in the dark, rather he will have light eternally [literally, ‘light of life,’ φως της ζωης].” 13 The Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying concerning yourself; therefore, your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered and said to them, “If I testify concerning myself, my testimony is true because I know where I came from and where I am going; you on the other hand don’t know where I came from or where I’m going. 15 You judge based on superficial (or ‘circumstantial’) evidence [κατα την σαρκα, ‘according to the flesh’]; I, however, do not judge anyone. 16 But if I do judge, my judgement is appropriate, because it is not only mine but mine and the one who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two men is true. 18 Now I testify concerning myself and the one who sent me testifies concerning me.”

19 Then they said to him, “How is he your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; for if you knew me you would also know my father.”

20 These (little) words he spoke while in the treasury teaching in the temple; and no one apprehended him, for his hour had not yet come.

21 He said again to them, “I am going (up) [‘ascending’] and you will seek me but you will die in your sin; where I am going you will not be able to come.” 22 Then the Judeans said, “He’s not going to kill himself (is he), since he said, ‘Where I’m going you cannot come.'” 23 And he said to them, “You are from ‘below,’ I am from ‘above;’ you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 Therefore, I said that you will die in your sins; for you do not believe who I am [or, ‘that I am he’], and so you will die in your sins.” [As opposed to being ‘reborn anew,’ as he had taught Nicodemos.]

25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Haven’t I told you from the beginning? 26 Many things have I said about you and figured you out; but [‘as opposed to you’ – implied by the stronger αλλα, rather than και] the one who sent me is [a] true [testifier] and what I heard from him I spoke into the world.” [He’s saying they’re angry at him because of the things he said about them but that these things came from the father, so the ‘conviction’ they feel in their hearts which makes them angry is the conviction, or charge, brought against them by the father, for] 27 They did not know that he was speaking to them about the father.

28 So then Jesus said to them,

“When you see the son of man lifted up
then you will know who I am [or, ‘that I am he’]
and that of myself I do nothing, rather,
just as the father gifted me I spoke.
29 The one who sent me is with me,
he has not left me alone
because I only do what pleases him.”

[He foretells that his crucifixion, ‘lifting up,’ is evidence of his obedience to the father, not of his disobedience to the law.]

30 When he said these things many believed in him. 31 Then Jesus said to the Judeans who had believed him, “If you live by my words you are truly my disciples 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will release you from bondage.” 33 They answered him, “We are the children [‘seed’] of Abraam and no one has ever enslaved us; why do you say to us, ‘You will be released from bondage?'”

34 Jesus answered them, “Listen carefully, everyone who does (or ‘makes’) sin is a slave to sin. 35 Now the slave does not live in the house forever, but the son stays forever. 36 Therefore, if the son releases you, you are thus, indeed, released from bondage. 37 I know that you are the children of Abraam; however, since you are seeking to kill me [it is obvious that] my word has not settled in you [χωρω, ‘to settle’- he is making a word play on Abraam being a ‘settler’ in the land]. 38 What I have seen concerning my father I have spoken about; but you, on the other hand, what you heard from your father you are doing.” 39 They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraam.” Jesus says to them, “If you were children of Abraam, you would perform great miracles [‘works,’ εργα] like Abraam did; 40 but you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which he heard from God; Abraam would not do this. 41 You will do the deeds of your father.” [Implying they have a different father – who?]

They said to him, “We were not born of wickedness; we have one father – God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God was your father you would love me [unconditionally], for I came out of God and I am here; for I have not spoken of myself but rather of that one, who sent me. 43 Why do you not know my word [or ‘what I’m talking about’]? Because you are not able to hear my word. 44 You are ‘of’ the father of the diabolou [‘false accuser,’ or ‘liar’] and it is your burning desire to do the will of your father. That one was a murderer from the beginning and in the truth he did not stand [ref. to Eden, the snake] because the truth was not in him. Whatever he says [is] a lie [for] of his own account [‘of himselves’] he speaks, because he is a liar and his father [is a liar].

45 But when I, on the other hand, speak the truth, you will not believe me. 46 Who among you will reproach me as sinful? If I speak truthfully, why will you not believe me? 47 [I’ll tell you why, because] one who is of God hears the (little) words of God; this is why you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

48 The Judeans answered and said to him, “Is it not just as we said that you are a ‘Samaritan’ and you are possessed by a demon? 49 Jesus answered back, “I am not possessed by a demon, rather, I respect my father, but you disrespect me. 50 I do not seek my own glory; the one who seeks [this] is also judged. 51 Listen carefully, if someone should preserve my word he will never ever see death forever.”

52 Then the Judeans said to him, “Now we know that you are possessed by a demon. Abraam died and the prophets [died], but you say ‘If someone should preserve my teaching [‘word’] he will not taste death forever.’ 53 You are not greater than our father Abraam, who died, are you? And the prophets [who] died? Who do you think you are? [literally, ‘Who do you make yourself?”]”

54 Jesus answered back, “If I glorify myself it is no credit to me; it is the father who glorifies [‘ascribes credit to’] me, the one whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you do not know him, but I know him. And if I said, “I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar; however, I do know him and I preserve his teaching. 56 Abraam your father bore a message which would be revealed in my day, and he knew it and he rejoiced.”

57 Then the Judeans said to him, “You are not yet fifty years [old] and Abraam saw you? [p75, א* have ‘you,’ σε]” 58 Jesus said to them, “Listen carefully, before Abraam was born, I am.”

59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.


@gamiliel on Instagram

This translation was taken from The Greek New Testament, Kurt Aland, et. al. eds., Third Edition (corrected), United Bible Societies, (in cooperation with the Institute for New Testament Textual Research, Münster/Westphalia, Printed in West Germany by Biblia-Druck GmbH Stuttgart),1983.

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