The Story of the Woman Caught in Adultery (Pericope Adulterae)

The text of the story is below: here’s why it wasn’t included in the main text of the BOS Bible.

  1. A large number of scholars don’t consider the story of the woman caught in adultery to be original to John, but rather added later.  The manuscript evidence leans toward it being added later for several reason, including the fact that it “floats” around the manuscripts, being found in many different places.  It doesn’t solidify in the textual tradition until the 8th or 9th century, hundreds of years after our earliest manuscripts.
  2. Further, the words of the story themselves prove that it doesn’t belong in scripture:
    1. First, the story records Jesus as “writing into the earth/ground/dirt” (Greek word “γῆ” ().  This is simply not possible because the entire temple – including the court of the gentiles and the court of the women – had stone floors (with tile in some places).
    2. Second and even more importantly, including the story introduces an error into the Bible.  In verse 9 of the story, Jesus and the woman are clearly stated to be alone.  However, the first verse after the story begins with: “Therefore, Jesus spoke to them again”.  The word “them” is masculine and plural, and Jesus spoke to ‘them’ “again”.  It’s not possible for Jesus to speak to “them again” since they had just left.  Without the story, this problem disappears.

Thus the story of the woman caught in adultery has not been included in the main text of the BOS Bible.  If you would like a more thorough treatment of why this story doesn’t belong, you can find that here.

The story is translated below.

(Notice the high number of textual variants, indicated with [bracketed words], especially at the end of this story.)


John Chapter 7
  1. And each went to his home,


John Chapter 8
The woman caught in adultery
  1. but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
  2. And at dawn He came again into the temple and all the people were coming to Him.  And having sat down, He was teaching them.
  3. And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman *caught in adultery [to Him].  And having set her in their midst,
  4. they tell Him: “Teacher, this woman has been caught committing adultery;1“adultery” The Greek word (and Hebrew too) word typically translated “adultery” is more limited in scope than our English word adultery. In English, “adultery” means illicit sex between a married person – man or woman – and someone who isn’t their spouse. In Greek (and Hebrew also), it meant “a man having sex with another man’s wife”. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was typically called fornication. in the very act.”
  5. “And in the Law of Moses, he commanded us to stone such women.2quotation/allusion to Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10  Therefore, what do you say?”
  6. And they were saying this; testing Him so they might have a reason to accuse Him.  But having knelt down, Jesus was writing in the earth3“earth” A proof that this story wasn’t penned by John, since the Temple had tile or stone floors depending on the area, which Josephus attests and archeology has confirmed.  Jesus couldn’t have written in (literally “into”) the earth because there was no earth to write in. with His finger.
  7. And as they were persisting in asking Him.  [He looked up and told them:] “Let the sinless man among you throw the first stone at her.”
  8. And having knelt down again, He was writing in the earth.
  9. And having heard this, [and being convicted by their conscience], they were leaving one by one, beginning with the elders [until the last].  And [Jesus] was left alone, and the woman, being in the center of that place.
  10. And having stood up, [and having seen no one but the woman,] Jesus told her: “Woman, where are they [those men who were your accusers]? Did no one condemn you?”
  11. And she said “No one sir.”  And Jesus said [to her]: “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and [from now on,] sin no more.”