Does John 7:53–8:11 belong in the Bible?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Textual critics question two particular 12-verse sections of Scripture, Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53–8:11. (For a treatment of Mark 16:9-20, see our study by that name, linked at the end of this article.) Our current discussion regards John 7:53–8:11, commonly called the “Pericope de Adultera” (Latin, “Selection of Adultery”), the passage involving the adulteress brought before the Lord Jesus Christ. Were these verses ever part of John’s original Gospel Record, or were they added later via oral tradition? In this special-edition Bible Q&A article #960, we want to examine this issue and establish a sound conclusion. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Here is the passage as found in the Authorized Version King James Bible:

“[7:53] And every man went unto his own house. [8:1] Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. [2] And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. [3] And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, [4] They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. [5] Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? [6] This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. [7] So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [8] And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. [9] And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [10] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? [11] She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

We can now proceed to outlining and understanding the various observations concerning these 12 verses.

Click here for the PDF of the 29-page study.

You may also watch me teach John 8:1-11 by clicking here.

For our Mark 16:9-20 study, click here.