Guest / Limited Access /

When Dallas Theological Seminary professor Daniel Wallace examined New Testament manuscripts stored in the National Archive in Albania last June, he was amazed by what he did not find.

The story of the woman caught in adultery, usually found in John 7:53-8:11, was missing from three of the texts, and was out of place in a fourth, tacked on to the end of John's Gospel.

"This is way out of proportion for manuscripts from the 9th century and following," Wallace said. "Once we get into that era, the manuscripts start conforming much more to each other. Thus, to find some that didn't have the story is remarkable."

Wallace called modern translations' inclusion of the famous narrative, in which Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" and told the woman to "go and sin no more," the result of "a tradition of timidity."

The Roman Catholic Church requires this story to be considered Scripture, and Protestants have not broken with that tradition, even though it is missing from the earliest and most reliable manuscripts. During the 5th century, the church was sorting out what, exactly, should be in the canon of inspired Scripture. Pericope adulterae, as it is known, first appears in a Greek text during this period, although it is alluded to by Greek writers as early as the 2nd century.

Many scholars agree that the verses are not original to John's Gospel, pointing out that the story interrupts the flow of the verses that come before and after. The style is also noticeably different from that of John's usual writing.

But that doesn't mean that all Bible scholars want the story removed. Many of them disagree with Wallace and believe it relays an historical event and that it belongs in our Bible.

"There is no reason to pull ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow to Date Jesus' Wife
How to Date Jesus' Wife
New tests suggest a manuscript fragment is ancient after all. Is it important? We asked noncanonical gospels expert Nicholas Perrin.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickYou Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
You Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
It's not a travel guide. And Colton Burpo isn't the first Christian to have an ecstatic experience.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.