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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Photon’s (Almost) Forgotten Story

John’s story of the woman caught in adultery is a “puzzlement” as Winnie the Pooh would say—not the story itself but the question of its inclusion in the Gospel of John. Some of the oldest manuscripts don't contain the account, or, if they do include it, append it at the end of the book. Recent translations put the story in brackets, relegate it to a footnote, print it at the end of the Gospel of John, or omit it altogether.

The Church Fathers, however, attest to the authenticity of the event and it has all the marks of an authentic, first–hand account. It may have been inserted by one of John’s followers after the Gospel was written, perhaps one who stood in the gallery that day. I like to think that Photon—her traditional name—asked John to include her story lest it be forgotten

You know the story: Certain men caught this woman in the act of adultery, dragged her into the temple where Jesus was teaching and deposited her, rumpled and humiliated at his feet. “She was caught in the act,” the men said. “The Law says stone her. What do you say?” Jesus knelt and scribbled in the dust, perhaps waiting on an answer from His Father. Then looking up he said, “He who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” The crowd melted away one by one. George MacDonald muses: “The sinners went out and the woman followed Jesus—to sin no more.”

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn't matter how the story got into John's book or where it belongs. Indeed, I think it best that it flits about here and there and floats above the Gospel, for it is perennially like the one who whose kindness calls all of us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

It must be true, for it is so like Jesus through and though.

David Roper


1 comment:

Brian K said...

Yes, the account certainly has the fragrance of Christ! Those who would contest it, in my opinion, are those with calloused hands from handling rocks.