Monday, August 15, 2011

The Woman Taken in Adultery – Authentic or Fake?

My favourite New Testament story is the one told in John 8:1-12 of the woman taken in adultery.  The Pharisees and religious leaders dragged the woman before Jesus in an attempt to trap him. They asked if she should be stoned to death in accordance with the Law of Moses. The way Jesus handled the situation has always served as a great inspiration to me as a leader in His Church.

Satan does not like stories like this and has become quite successful in convincing many that this particular account is not authentic.  Many Bibles including the one used by Jehovah’s Witnesses no longer include it.  You see, according to many so-called reputable scholars this story was not originally part of the book of John.  Scholars claim to have no doubt about this saying that the account is not found in our oldest and best manuscripts of the gospel of John.  It was added by a scribe at a much later date. 

This is why I am thankful for the restored gospel and modern day prophets, for they add clarity where there is darkness and confusion.  As Latter-day Saints we have irrefutable evidence that this story is in fact authentic.  I have in my possession the full Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (as opposed to the partial version found in our standard works) and Joseph as a prophet of God felt inspired to make several important changes to the above mentioned verses.  I can provide all of the changes if asked but as a sample verse 11 in our Bible says (and this is the woman responding to Jesus) “11: She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”  In the Joseph Smith Translation these inspiring words are added to the verse “And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name

Now let me ask you this – would a true prophet of God make an addition or correction to the Bible on a fabricated story that does not belong there?  No. Of course he wouldn’t!

The only logical conclusion therefore is that this story which is spoken of in LDS chapels throughout the world belongs right where it is, in the Bible. 

Examples like this show that even though many very intelligent people may agree on something, that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

Brothers and Sisters let us not allow scholarship to negatively impact our discipleship.

The President


Anonymous said...


Goldarn said...

I believe the story must be fictitious. After all, Jesus did not implement the steps of repentance for the woman, nor did he have her recite all the details of transgression. Anyone who has been on a Court of Love knows that having the woman recite every and all details of the sin is vital in truly understanding the sin so that an appropriate repentance procedure can be assigned. Only then can true repentance happen.

Certainly, some women will feel uncomfortable reciting the details to a room full of men, but that is a small price to pay for repentance and to end up glorifying God! I think we all agree about that.

craig64 said...

Goldarn, thee wonderful gift of Modern Day Prophets also comes in handy where darkness and confusion pervade. Beloved President Kimball, on his outstanding classic "The Miracle of Forgiveness" said something along the lines of this: "Are we to understand that Christ simply forgave her at the moment when no fruits of repentance were performed? No! For that would violate the eternal laws of God. Christ was saying, in essence, "Go woman, and repent." The Lord waits to forgive us when we have fully and completely turned away from our sins and have endured the necessary punishment."

I too am grateful, like The President, for Modern Day Prophets who protect us from wicked and misleading scholarship.

Anonymous said...

President, perhaps I may call the attention of you and your readers to the Conservative Bible Project, which aims "to render God's word into modern English without liberal translation distortions." To give the flavor, one of many examples of liberal distortion cited is the "faulty pro-liberal term" government.

The project rejects the passage of the woman taken in adultery in part because liberals employ it for purposes such as opposition to the death penalty.

If only the participants in this project could see the error of their ways in undertaking such a translation without the proper priesthood keys! Alas, the sectarian teachings of their apostate sects have led them astray into the mists of confusion. I fear they will little heed today's words from a true Stake President, to their everlasting sorrow.

Alger's Fannie said...

In my youth, I would lay at night and try to imagine in great detail what lascivious sin she committed. That, and many more bible stories did I ponder on. Jezebel had my interest. I pondered the songs of Solomon, and I read and re-read the account of David and Bathsheba.

I ponder them to this day when I spend "sacred" moments with my wife. I am thankful god provided through scripture these accounts. I am especially grateful for the example of our own modern day Joseph Smith's marital adventures for fodder when I need help "coming to fruition" within the sacred chamber of our bedroom.

Truly god is great. Inthenameofjesuschristamen.

Joseph K. Packer said...

I do believe that the story belongs in the bible especially since the prophet through whom the full gospel was restored added words revealed by our father in heaven. As we well know Our beloved prophet Joseph was never involved in any fabrication of stories or plagiarism or fraud.
I thank thee oh God for a Prophet to guide us in these latter days. ---My heart is filled with joy in Joseph. If he were here with us today I would give my two young daughters 13 and 14 y.o. to be his polygamous wives.

In the name of JesusChrist,


Mahonri Kimball said...

My faith is strengthened by contradictions like this one!

Sometimes we are confronted with information which seems to prove that Joseph was not directed by God. It would seem that since this story is missing from the early transcripts, that it was added at a later time. When God chooses to allow contradictions like this to surface, I use it as an opportunity to increase my faith.

It doesn't take much faith to believe when evidence backs up your beliefs. Great faith is required though to rise above contradictions which cannot be dealt with through evidence and reason.

I have been truly blessed with increased faith today through President Paternosters discussion of this situation.

Utahhiker801 said...

I first heard of the idea that this story was added later to the Bible from reading one of Bart Ehrman's books. I found it fascinating.

I was later teaching the 4th Sunday lesson in Elders' Quorum and I mentioned that this story is not found in the Gospel of John until about 1100 CE. One of the elders in the class had a bewildered look on his face and asked what that meant. I told him it meant that it is a later fabrication added to the bible and that it didn't happen.

This year while teaching the New Testament in Gospel Doctrine, when that section of John came up, I referred to it only as a story. However, because I didn't want to upset certain members of the class, I didn't point out that it was added later and therefore "not true" in the usual sense of the definition of the word "true."

Apparently, I was mistaken in my approach. I'll repent and change my opinion of it.

kolobian said...

What's more likely, brothers and sisters? Is it more likely that the story was added at a later date by embellishing scribes, or that this story was present in earlier manuscripts (that we have no evidence of), then lost for over 1,000 years, then re-added by an inspired scribe who was moved upon by the holy spirit but suspiciously didn't correct anything else that had been taken out of the bible or changed through translation errors?

I bear my testimony that whichever version of events helps me maintain my testimony of the prophet Joseph is the one that took place. In the name of Jesus, even the Christ. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

That's right. We must ignore the facts and go off of the Book of Mormon alone......Sounds like a plan Brother :)
-ex mo

Cindy said...

Why does when the story was added to the bible effect JS ability to alter it if he felt inspired to do so? You your self said you like the story. It teaches us a good lesson about focusing on our own faults instead of pointing out the faults of others. When we get caught up in the technicalities of who wrote what and when and use those results to pick apart or lesson the value of the stories in the bible we miss out on the great lessons that are in there. JS was concerned with the lessons one can learn from the story of the woman caught in adultery and he was given the inpiration to add what he added. What he added teaches us of the powerful give of forgiveness that Christ offers us and how we should show graditude for it.

A similar thing has happened to you President Paternoster. There are some who have been so caught up with who you really are, if you are even Mormon etc. that they are missing the messages you are offering to us.

J Peterson said...

Dear President,
I respect your opinion and will say at the outset that I do not know if the story of the woman taken in adultery was originally penned by the Apostle John or not. However, the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) being used as the basis for your argument that the story is authentic and original needs to be addressed. It is important for members of the Church to understand what the JST of the Bible IS and what it is NOT. Like many others, you do not appear to understand what it is.
I too have a copy of the full JST. Joseph Smith never claimed that in producing the JST he had restored the Bible back to an original or perfect condition. It can be easily shown that errors still remain in stories and verses the Prophet made changes to. A well-known example is found in the second chapter of Mark. In this chapter the Pharisees accuse the disciples of Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus responds by reminding them of the story found in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David and his men entered the tabernacle in the “days of Abiathar the high priest” and ate the show bread. However, a simple reading of the actual story in 1 Samuel reveals that the story of David happened when Abiathar’s father, Ahimelech, was the high priest. This is an uncontested error in the Bible. Either the book of 1 Samuel is wrong or the book of Mark is wrong.
The important thing to point out is that Joseph Smith made several changes to the story found in Mark chapter 2. However, he did not correct the obvious error outlined above. He left in there exactly as it is found in the King James Bible today. I could provide scores of other examples.
The point I wish to make is that the JST cannot and should not be used as a standard for making the kind of claims you have made. Just because Joseph Smith made changes to the story of the adulterous woman and did not remove it from the JST does not imply that the JST version of the story is perfect or in its original condition.
If you have studied this question at all, you will know that most scholars believe that the story was added sometime after the original Book of John was written, because there was a tradition in the Church that Jesus had once engaged in a dialog with the Pharisees, regarding a woman taken in adultery. The story was added to preserve the tradition and it teaches true principles, but that does not mean that the story was originally penned by John and you cannot use the JST to support that claim. If the story is based on a true event then one could argue that it belongs in the Bible just as much as any other Bible story regardless of who the actual author was or when it was added to the Book of John.

Anonymous said...

Please note that this blog is a fake. President Paternoster is not a church leader in the LDS church. This is a made-up alias with the intent to mislead which uses

a stolen photoshoped picture of Ed Madden; a journalist for the Irish Medical Times (picture is flipped and hair is added).

Isaiah Young said...

President Paternoster, I can't thank you enough for always enlightening us. All, we like sheep, shall never go astray.

Anonymous said...

I'm just so grateful to this wonderful stake pres for sharing his wisdom and compassion online. And I have a testimony of President _____'s guidance on wayward children. We should also thank our general authorities for selecting such wise men (notice I did not say "men and women") to lead us.

Thank you again President _____ !