Jesus and the Woman to be Stoned for Adultery
I’ve always loved this passage, along with the woman at the well, and the woman who touched the hem of his garment to be healed from a bleeding disease – Jesus was kind to women, in a time and culture where a pious man would not speak to a woman.
Hilary Mantel captures the stunning experience in Eight Months on Ghazzah Street, where she asks a man at a counter for an item and he looks right past her. She repeats her request and he acts as if she isn’t there. Her husband walks up, asks, and receives an answer. Cultural biases most often do not favor women. In this regard, Jesus – and the prophet Mohammed – changed everything, and treated women as equal people. It’s amazing to me how many of the Jesus anecdotes featuring females survived; it must have been astonishing in his time to treat females – property – with such compassion and humanity.
Footnote to this passage from The Lectionary: The most ancient authorities lack 7.53—8.11; other authorities add the passage here or after 7.36 or after 21.25 or after Luke 21.38, with variations of text; some mark the passage as doubtful.
53Then each of them went home, 81while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.* 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11She said, ‘No one, sir.’* And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’]]*
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