Jesus and the woman taken in adultery

Your daily bit of anti-apologetics here.

“Let him who is among you without sin cast the first stone”? If taken as a general maxim for jurisprudence, this is the worst. No punishments! No sanctions! Hey, you killed my dog, stole my money, kicked me in the head — I’m not without sin so what can I do? What can I allow the courts do? Let God judge and punish you, I for sure dare not.

It’s not much better as a personal rule of life — I’m not particularly sinless, but I don’t think it’s particularly wicked of me to, say, disapprove of Klaus Barbie, or to see as good and meet the results of the foolishness on the police column of the daily newspaper. I know I am faulty and a prick quite often; but even after accounting for compassion I’m not entirely without the ability to be justly wrathful. (And if you say, “but you wouldn’t stone the drunk drivers yourself, would you?”, then I say “Uh? The story’s literally not about vigilantism, but public law; the law today is a wee bit short on stoning, right? And figuratively the story seems to be saying a bit more than I can stomach. ‘If you’ve done a bad thing, you’ve no standing to criticize the bad things others have done’? Ptah!”)

And for third, Jesus could have made several pretty nice and to us obvious comments, had he wished to. Like “Stoning? For adultery? Don’t you have anything better to do?”, or “Where’s the man who was caught in the adultery? A little bit of equality, pricks!”, or “Let’s say we forget that law. And all the laws on the books are out from now on, let’s be clear about that… or next you’ll be bringing me a witch that shall not be allowed to live, what?” or even “Don’t we have divorce, guys? And don’t you have a bit of decency, throwing this poor woman around as a tool of trying to hang me by my own words? Actually you’re such pricks I’m going to strike you down, and then make sure your whole religion is portrayed in a way that causes pogroms and massacres against you for several millennia — how’s that look like to ya? Pricks!” (Okay, that wouldn’t be particularly nice.)

(Mind you, as the story is about Solving Problems With Clever One-Liners, this wouldn’t do. Good thing not one of the mob said “Are you fucking serious, man?” Or better yet, “How about you yourself? Have you sinned any lately, Jesus?”)

But don’t worry, don’t worry if these small criticisms sting. I’m not really criticising Jesus, you know. Because this story wasn’t originally in John. It’s not in the early copies we have, nor in the best ones. It’s not in John until three hundred years after Jesus; and it was most probably picked from one of the horde of gospels and writings that were too hot and heretical for the church that came to be. (Then again, who says those gospels weren’t the right ones?)

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