We all know the scene well. We have seen it in all the Jesus movies. An angry mob, led by old, male Jewish religious leaders, drags along a half-naked, young woman, barely wrapped in a bedsheet, and toss her to the ground at Jesus’ feet. In their hands they hold the stones ready to hurl them at her at any moment. In their eyes we see fury and the joyful anticipation of bringing a sinner to justice with their very own hands. However, at the last moment, the woman is saved from death by the words that Jesus spoke: “Whoever among you is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
But did this story, as we know it, actually happen? I doubt it. My doubts are not the usual doubts of a critical scholar, however. It is true that many biblical scholars today would deny this story ever happened, but that is because they deny the historical reliability of the Gospels as a whole. But this is not the kind of skepticism I mean.
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Dr. Guido Baltes is a lecturer of New Testament Studies at MBS Bible Seminary (Marburg, Germany) and at the department of Theology at the University of Marburg. He is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Church of Germany. After finishing his theological studies at the… [Read more about author]