Two things about story of the adulterous woman

Why have I heard that this story might not have been true, that the encounter between Jesus and the woman taken in adultery might never have happened?
And, disregarding whether it is true or not, she was dragged into the Temple a shamed woman, and Jesus saved her from stoning. Did He forgive her because He saw into her heart, that she wanted to be forgiven, truly, from deep inside of her, rather than just ashamed? I always wonder if she might not have been deeply resentful at that moment, and He knew, yet was giving her a chance at His forgiveness. He asked her, “Where are they? Your accusers. Have you no one to condemn you?” She said, 'No one, Lord." He said, “Nor do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” I love this story, and certainly hope it was true.

There is always somebody, or numerous somebodies, who see fit to “demythologise” our LORD and the events of His life; but there is no reason to doubt the adulterous woman, any more than any other event of the Gospels.


You may have heard that it never happened for two reasons:

  1. Lots of people deny the historicity of the Gospels; or

  2. This story does not appear to be original to the Gospel of John but seems to have been inserted. Sometimes it is found on its own, sometimes in Luke, sometimes at the end, in various manuscripts.

As for the first, the Church teaches that the Gospels faithfully tell us what Jesus did and taught. That doesn’t mean they are the same kind of work as modern histories, but it does mean we are encountering the real teachings and deeds of our Lord when we read and hear the Gospels.

As for the second, the Church upholds the canonicity of the story of the woman caught in adultery (known as the “Pericope Adulterae”), along with the rest of the Gospels. So, whatever the history of the placement of the written account, or the question of where it’s “supposed” to be placed, it is part of the canonical Gospels and just as valid as all the other accounts therein.

I hope that helps! God bless!

There are differing manuscripts for probably every book and epistle in the scriptures. No single “autographed” copy of any scripture exists. Not even Saint Jerome in the late 300s had any originals. All are copies of copies of copies of copies. Things happened in all of that copying. We have the blessing of a Church with the Spirit-lead authority to scrutinize the available manuscripts for inclusion or exclusion from the bible.

I got into trouble once when I pointed out that Jesus said, “… go and sin no more”.

[yeah … they had stopped at “… nor do I condemn you.”]

You are right, the story is too good to be true. I would place this as one of the wonders of the Bible story. The saying, who would cast the first stone, has become universally known and quoted, like many other sayings of the Bible, used and quoted even by non-Christians. More importantly is the actual story behind the saying that’s truly awesome. And yes, they were true.

It’s possible that the story is not original to the Gospel of John. I’ve heard it said the writing style of that passage is more similar to Luke than anything else in John. That said, the Church has deemed that even if this is true, the passage is an authentic tradition in regards to Jesus’ life and ministry and is historically true.

When you use the word true, are you trying to impose the word “factual” over top of it??
The culture we live in has reduced truth to “journalisticly photographically and tape recordinally provable as factual”.

But that is not what truth is.

The passage is canonized Scripture, and as part of Scripture it is alive and active in our lives. It is the truth of God. You can do more than hope it is true, you can be confident it is true.

It is permissible in those days to have someone else write it on your behalf, such as an assistant, a disciple or even a student, admirer and attribute it to his master. As long as the master did not violently object to it, everything’s “cool”. And of course a credible master will not tolerate falsehood. I have no reason to believe that John need to make up fake stories. Afterall he did said that if everything were to be written about Jesus, the world would not be able to contain it. Jn 21:25.

If the Scriptures are like any other human endeavor, they are a community project. Mirroring the nature of the Church, individuals have unique charisms and unique experiences, but they are not acting as merely individuals.

Modern thinking has a big problem with this. We are very individualist in our thinking, and anything that detracts from that is viewed with suspicion. We have come to view the word “John” as, literally, one man named John is responsible for hearing, writing, and passing on the Word.
In reality, we will never know the mechanics to literal certainty. We know John was part of a community and the Gospel was written pretty late.
And what does this matter in the end? Inspiration is what it is. I trust the Church.

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