John 7:53-8:11 – Preachable, but Authentic?


Reading Acts

The saying of Jesus, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is an commonly quoted text encouraging grace and forgiveness, even a kind of inclusiveness in the church.  But the authenticity of the story in 7:53-8:11 is disputed. It is hard to separate the potential “preachability” of this text from the rather academic textual questions.  It is important to realize at the outset that Jesus was in fact accepting of sinners and forgave sinners, including well-known adulterous women.  But does this text reflect an authentic episode from the life of Jesus?

This story is often dismissed as non-canonical based on its very poor manuscript evidence.   There are no major Greek manuscripts prior to the 8th century that include the story except Codex Bezae, possible the most free of all the uncials. It is known in the Old Latin versions, indicating that the story was known in the…

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