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John 7: 3-8: 13-11 Controversy Essay

John 7:53-8:11 is one of the most controversial verses in the Bible and the reason is not even what the text says. The most controversial issue about this pericope is whether or not this verse actually belongs in the Bible or not. The reason why this is even a debate is because the writing style does not match the rest of the book. While this is the biggest controversy on this passage I will discuss no more about it, and focus more on the minor controversies that get little attention. These issues are more textual and tend to either add a lot or a little meaning to the text. To start off with I will outline the text so that you can have a deeper understanding of what I am talking about.

I.Setting (Introduction)
II.Case 8:3-8:6a
a.Claim 8:3-8:4
b.Reasoning 8:5-8:6a
III. Counter offer

To develop a clear and easy to follow essay I will focus on one section at a time. In each section a controversy will be put into place as well as other textual issue that may occur. Section 1 is very simple and has no little issues in it. This is where the story is set. This section opens the story. Helps the reader get into the right mindset to hear the rest of the story. This is what happens at the beginning of any good story. The author opens up with a detail explanation of a story to help the reader form a picture in their minds.

Here the author wants us to view Jesus teaching in a temple surrounded by people. This is a normal thing for Jesus to be doing so the reader should have no trouble forming an image in his or her head. The only issue that arises in this passage is tied to the biggest controversial issue that of the placement. The key in this figure is that the Mount of Olives is only mentioned here in John’s gospel. This leads to suspicion by many scholars. Section two of this pericope brings in the action or the plot of our story.

The plot of the story is that a woman committed adultery and was caught in the act. The Pharisees and scribes brought the woman to Jesus for him to decide if she should be stoned for the act of adultery as the Mosaic laws command. This is where are first controversy happens. This controversy is that the woman is the only one who is being brought to trial; yet it takes two to commit and act of adultery. The reason why this is a controversy is because the man was not brought to trial, or even accused of the act. It creates a possibility of why did the man get away?

The, “Mosaic Law … makes explicit that both man and woman involved [in the act of adultery] stand under the death penalty (Leviticus 20:10-Deuteronomy 22:22)” So, if the law states that both should be accused and brought under trial why do they only bring the woman? Well there are two answers to this question, one is labeled in the text, that the Pharisees and scribes only did this to test Jesus as stated in 8:6a. So because of that the woman may not have even committed adultery; they may have just picked a random woman off the street and said she committed the act of adultery.

No one would have questioned them because they were the authority of the Religious law, so if they said that she committed adultery then she must have. While, this reason may have some truth to it Martin Scott brings out a different issue. He states that, “it was common practice for the male witnesses and the man involved in the act of adultery to come to an arrangement before trial whereby he was exonerated. ” This is basically saying that he bribed the Pharisees and Scribes to not be convicted or put to death.

They got out of it, yet the woman could never have done that, because she was seen as property, and for property to bargain was not heard of. Both of these answers may solve the answer to the why the man was not trial, however, for now we do not know the answer to that question. So, we may not be able to solve the controversy, but we are able to look at it in a different light. The next section of this pericope is how Jesus handles this test. Right away he bends down and writes in the sand.

According to O’Day, “In the Mediterranean world of Jesus’ time, such an act of writing would have been recognized as an act of refusal and disengagement. ” Today the equivalent would be to pull out a cell phone and pay more attention to that, then the people who they are supposed to be in conversation with. While Jesus was writing in the sand, and he may have done it to refuse to respond to the Pharisees or Scribes, scholars still question what did Jesus write? This brings us to our second controversy of the passage.

There are at least four different ideas that scholars think the answers might be. Some say, “that Jesus was simply doodling,” while others say that Jesus, “[wrote] out [his] decision on [the] case before announcing it,” yet others say that he wrote two sentences the first being Exodus 23:1b and the second being Exodus 23:7, and still other say that, “this writing in the dust by Jesus was an example of his parabolic actions, reminding the woman’s accusers of [Jeremiah 17:13] as though to say ‘You are those of whom the scripture speaks. ” Each of these ideas are very different, but like are last controversy we cannot answer them at this time, and may never gain an answer to this question, however, no matter what Jesus wrote in the sand or why one thing is for certain it adds to the story but if it was missing it would not be missed and the meaning would still be the same. Section four is because this is when, Jesus tells them that whoever is without sin can throw the first stone.

Many people wonder why Jesus said that when, “Jesus himself would have been the only person present who was without sin. So, maybe as Jesus was being tested he tested the Pharisees and Scribes to see if they would admit to being honest. For some who believe this is what Jesus did, they feel like Jesus put this woman’s life in danger. While this is true, Jesus probably already knew that the Pharisees and Scribes would not lie in front of the crowd because they want the crowd to trust them. Therefore, Jesus knew that the Pharisees and Scribes would not throw the stone, he just phrased it that way so the Pharisees and Scribes would not have anything to catch him with.

The last section of this pericope is when Jesus tells the woman what he is going to do. As stated in the last section everyone left who wanted to throw stones at the woman left and Jesus and the woman, and possibly a crowd were the only ones left. As many could have guessed Jesus did not throw a stone at the woman or do anything but tell here to sin no more. Many people here tend to question if she could actually sin more, for she is human and humans tend sin.

Some have suggested that maybe Jesus new that she would sin again, but hoped that from this encounter with Jesus that she would sin less, and think about her actions more than she had done previously. So in conclusion, this woman went through a trial that led to many controversies that cannot be solved at this time, yet by reading this story and looking deeper into the information and the history, it is easy to see why this story gets a lot of attention in scholarly circles because it is full of mystery and wonder as well as a story that focuses on ultimate forgiveness.

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