The Liberation of the Adulteress Woman in John 8:1-11. An Interpretation


Essay, 2016

15 Pages, Grade: 90


Excerpt

Table of Contents

World 1- World of the Text
Introduction
The Situation of John 8: 1-11

World 2: The World Behind the Text: The Historical Situation
The Law of Moses
Liberation of the Woman
The Placement of John 8:1-11
Jesus in John

World 3: The World in Front of the text: Our World

Comparing John 8:1-11 to Issues in This Day

References

World 1- World of the Text

Introduction

When looking at the book of John in the Gospels, we are able to see Jesus as a person prompting decision from the people. Brodre[1], a biblical commentator, writes on how John sows Jesus as a ‘God-man’ on earth. His Gospel is simple and straightforward (15). For the most part, Brodre puts to terms understanding this Gospel properly. However, when focusing on some stories, there are more complicated interpretations of Jesus’ teachings, creating assumptions that these pieces were added to the writing later after the original writer’s death. The scripture of the woman caught in adultery is an example of a writing commonly interpreted to be brought in later, but very significant. When specifically zooming in on the passage of John 8: 1-11, we see of Jesus being presented with a difficult situation. The leaders bring before him a woman who was caught in adultery. Through studying this section, we will look closer at the first part of John 8, and how Jesus attempts at bringing women to a higher, if not equal status with men. He does this through bringing to light the fact that all people are equal in the eyes of God, for all are guilty with sin, and are capable of receiving redemption.

The Situation of John 8: 1-11

In this section of John, the problem revealed in the text is that a woman has been caught in adultery and taken by the leaders to be put before Jesus. The Pharisees say to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5). Here, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus. They present him with this woman, knowing that there is a law in place for those who commit adultery. The Law said she must be stoned, so Jesus has two options in replying. He can agree with the Law, in which case he becomes a part in her judgment and also responsible for her death. On the other hand, he can disagree with the Law, telling them to let her go free, which would partially agree with his teachings but would lose the respect of the people and possibly lead to sentencing of his death sooner. However, Jesus sees through this plot and responds in a way the Pharisees could never have predicted; “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When 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 the stone at her’” (John 8: 6-7). Not surprisingly, the men drop their stones, one by one leaving them. We interpret this part as Jesus having written each of their sins on the ground, astonishing them to the point where they leave, speechless. As Higgs[2] writes, “Only one person could have rightfully condemned her. Only one person could have thrown that first rock”. This one person is referring to Jesus, as he is the only human born without bearing sin, so therefore would have the right to judge. However, Jesus does not judge, but lets the woman decide herself, a true moment of change in the Jewish tradition of his time.

After the men leave, Jesus goes to the woman and says, “’Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again’” (John 8: 10-11). This is a turning point in Christianity. Jesus could have picked up the stone and struck the woman. However, she stays with him, boldly confronting him and realizing her wrongdoings, awaiting his judgment. However, he lets her go free, to live in a life without sin. He gives her a fresh start. It seems as if he passes no judgment here, as he releases the woman. However, this is not so, remembering the writing in the sand. Minear[3] writes, “Jesus in fact did give a judgment to both parties involved, though that judgment, as usual, surprised both parties.” Through this passage, he put into motion the idea of confession for one’s inner sin, as a personal desire to repent and receive God’s grace through being cleansed. This was different from what the people were customary to, as in the Old Testament, it was the people who sinned, and suffered as a people. Here, Jesus is calling each person, including women, to the opportunity to feel God’s love and forgiveness for themselves, to later help others and not judge them.

World 2: The World Behind the Text: The Historical Situation

The Law of Moses

When looking closer at the situation within John, the accusation brought to Jesus is adultery. Adultery takes two people, and according to the Law of Moses, both are to be condemned. Why then, do we hear no mention of the man, who was also to be Judged? Baloyi[4] writes, “The Pharisees and Scribes claimed that they found this woman having sexual intercourse with a man, as they say that she was caught committing adultery. But at the same time, no one bothers to ask about the man with whom she committed adultery.” Since the men were simply trying to catch Jesus is a trap, they could have brought both the man and the woman, or even just the man before Jesus. However, they do not; they bring him the woman. Baloyi[5] speculates that the reason for bringing only the woman could possibly be because they were men, and wanted to “protect other men at the expense of women”. Women were often neglected and put below men during this time and for generations before, as the man was head of the household. This relates back to Genesis and the Fall, as the people sought to blame Eve for the sin. It also connects to Genesis through the Creation of Eve, second to Adam, as many came to see it. They use this as an excuse to make men have greater hierarchical power in society, leadership, and in the household.

Higgs[6] writes, “Since Mosaic Law insisted ‘both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death’ (Leviticus 20:10), how come they weren’t both hauled into the Temple?” Many forget the man when looking at the passage. The focus is centralized on the woman, and Jesus. The Law[7] which the leaders refer to is: “If a man be found laying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman, so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” If adultery always accused and condemns two, then the decision for the leaders to bring only the woman is not just, and discriminates against women, as they were all men. In looking at the Mosaic Laws, for the case of adultery, the sin committed was by a man. Isshiki[8] writes, “In all cases, adultery was committed by a man. However, since woman was considered essentially a possession of her husband, the adulterer was considered to be a criminal against the husband and not a violation of the woman’s human rights.” The woman has no say in her judgment, as she is a possession of the man. I believe Jesus not only attempts to make people recognize their sins through this story, but also to make this woman, and all women more than possessions to be governed by men. Isshiki[9] goes on to talk about the reactions of the people gathered to observe this scene. He states, “ The change we see in the crowd as it disperses reflects the inner changes in the hearts of the people.” Jesus is not only making an impact on the woman and the leaders, but on all people. He does not change this Law, but merely brings in his own interpretation on how people should be judged, as all are sinners.

Liberation of the Woman

In John 8, Jesus not only protects and saves the woman from physical damage and death, he grants her inner redemption and cleansing of her soul and heart.[10]

[...]


[1] Brodie, Thomas L. The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Rrint.

[2] Higgs, Liz Curtis. A Stone's Throw from Grace: The Adulteress: (John 8:1-11). 29 Vol. Christianity Today, Inc, 2007. Web.

[3] Minear, Paul Sevier. "Writing On The Ground: The Puzzle In John 8:1-11."Horizons In Biblical Theology 13.1 (1991): 23-37. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 10 Feb. 2016.

[4] Baloyi, Elijah M. "A Re-Reading of John 8:1-11 from a Pastoral Liberative Perspective on South African Women : Original Research."HTS : Theological Studies 66.2 (2010): 1-7. Web.

[5] Baloyi, Elijah M. "A Re-Reading of John 8:1-11 from a Pastoral Liberative Perspective on South African Women : Original Research."HTS : Theological Studies 66.2 (2010): 1-7. Web.

[6] Higgs, Liz Curtis. A Stone's Throw from Grace: The Adulteress: (John 8:1-11). 29 Vol. Christianity Today, Inc, 2007. Web.

[7] Baloyi, Elijah M. "A Re-Reading of John 8:1-11 from a Pastoral Liberative Perspective on South African Women : Original Research."HTS : Theological Studies 66.2 (2010): 1-

[8] Isshiki, Yoshiko. The Woman Who was about to be Stoned: John 8:1-11. 64 Vol. Tokyo: Japan Christian Review, 1998. Web.

[9] Isshiki, Yoshiko. The Woman Who was about to be Stoned: John 8:1-11. 64 Vol. Tokyo: Japan Christian Review, 1998. Web.

[10] Baloyi, Elijah M. "A Re-Reading of John 8:1-11 from a Pastoral Liberative Perspective on South African Women : Original Research."HTS : Theological Studies 66.2 (2010): 1-7. Web.

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Details

Title
The Liberation of the Adulteress Woman in John 8:1-11. An Interpretation
College
King`s College London
Grade
90
Author
Year
2016
Pages
15
Catalog Number
V323492
ISBN (eBook)
9783668264670
ISBN (Book)
9783668264687
File size
945 KB
Language
English
Tags
liberation, adulteress, woman, john, interpretation
Quote paper
Kaitlyn Vermeeren (Author), 2016, The Liberation of the Adulteress Woman in John 8:1-11. An Interpretation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/323492

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