Fundie God Dictation Bible: John 8:1-11

This one’s for the liberals. I’m straying a little from the initial concept of the FGD Bible, which assumes selective Biblical literalism, but I’ve got good reasons for taking this on. Liberals love to quote this passage, and it’s become a standard response to criticism of anyone’s actions, but they carefully miss off the end of the story (“go and sin no more”), which as selective as it gets.

And because they approve of the message (or at least the message they take from it, which isn’t necessarily the same thing), they show little interest in the fact that authorship of this passage is heavily disputed. If the story had an overwhelmingly conservative message, I have no doubt that the disputed authorship would be used to discredit this passage, marking it out as a probable later insertion and therefore unimportant.

So this is what some people appear to read in the story of the woman taken in adultery:

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he went to the temple, where the people gathered around and he sat to teach them. The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery and asked “This woman was caught in adultery. Moses commanded us to stone her. What do you say?” They asked this question as a trap.

But Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. When they asked again, he stood up and said “Whoever is without sin can throw the first stone.” And he continued to write on the ground. At this, they went away until only the woman was left. Jesus asked her “Has no one condemned you?”

“No one,” she said

“Then neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Now go back to your adultery.”

“Forgive me, sir,” the woman said, “But don’t you mean ‘go and sin no more’?”

“Oh, don’t be such a square!” laughed Jesus. “When they said you were caught in adultery, I thought you were cool.”

“But I have betrayed my husband,” she said.

“What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” said Jesus. “Anyway, it’s all free, and you look like you’ve got plenty of love to go round. Just take care, use protection, and have fun. You don’t want people to think you’re boring, do you? I’d hate to spend eternity with boring people.”

Photo by chefranden, used under Attribution License

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

10 responses to “Fundie God Dictation Bible: John 8:1-11”

  1. Karl says :

    Maybe it’s just self-identifying as a liberal (although I prefer ‘progressive’ these days) putting me on the defensive, but to be honest I think that particular man *may* be a little on the dried wheat stalky side 😉

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I’d be interested to hear why you think that. These posts are always a bit of a cheeky broad brush, and I’m not frightened of stretching a point, but I’ve experienced people trying to completely shut down discussion with this passage, even when it was detached moral argument with no hint of condemnation attached.

      If you don’t like it, just consider it a warning of the dangers of taking this one passage too far.

      • Karl says :

        Well, nothing more than I’ve never heard anyone, liberal or otherwise, argue that way. If you have, then it’s going to be a case of YMMV.

      • Recovering Agnostic says :

        I’ll acknowledge that I’ve never come across an explicit argument like that, but certainly that’s been the implication. Actually, I’m coming round to the idea (realisation might be too strong) that what I’m actually arguing against a lot of the time is my own temptation to mishandle these texts.

  2. Heretic Husband says :

    Conservative version:

    Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he went to the temple, where the people gathered around and he sat to teach them. The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery and asked “This woman was caught in adultery. Moses commanded us to stone her. What do you say?” They asked this question as a trap.

    But Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. When they asked again, he stood up and said “Whoever is without sin can throw the first stone.” And he continued to write on the ground. At this, they went away until only the woman was left. Jesus asked her “Has no one condemned you?”

    “No one,” she said

    “My turn!” said Jesus. And, picking up a huge boulder, he bashed her skull in.

    “For the record: I’m pro death penalty.” he said to the crowd before sauntering away.

  3. Heretic Husband says :

    Agnostic version:

    Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he went to the temple, where the people gathered around and he sat to teach them. The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery and asked “This woman was caught in adultery. Moses commanded us to stone her. What do you say?” They asked this question as a trap.

    But Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. When they asked again, he stood up and said “Whoever is without sin can throw the first stone.” And he continued to write on the ground. At this, they went away until only the woman was left. Jesus asked her “Has no one condemned you?”

    “No one,” she said

    “Then neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Now go back to your adultery.”

    “Forgive me, sir,” the woman said, “but why did you spare me and not the guy from the Old Testament who was executed for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? Surely my sin was greater.”

    “Umm…” said Jesus.

    “I mean, if you’re God, that means that you were the one who ordered him to be stoned to death.”

    Jesus mumbled something about sovereignity.

    “I don’t mean to be ungrateful, I’m just trying to understand.” the woman said humbly.

    “WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT!” Jesus said, pointing off in the distance.

    And when the crowd turned, he fled.

  4. Heretic Husband says :

    BTW I like your version too 🙂

  5. Neil Rickert says :

    I enjoyed your take in that post.

    That’s what many conservatives think of liberals. But I don’t think it is actually true.

    We won’t condemn adultery, because we see that as inappropriate prying into people’s private lives. But it does not follow that we condone it.

    I voted twice for Clinton as President, but I had to hold my nose both times. I could see him as a flawed character. While I thought his impeachment for Monica-gate was way over the top, I did also think that Clinton had behaved reprehensibly. As best I can tell, the other liberals that I know have a similar view of this.

    And now a quick change of subject, and the real reason for this comment. I looked at your “Fundie God Dictation Bible” page (following the link from your main page). And it seemed hollow. It did not tell me where to go to find this dictation bible. Fortunately, I stumbled on the category. So I think you need to add a clear link to the main text of that page, pointing to the category.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Good point about directions – thanks. I’ll do a little editing.

      As for this post, it’s not really meant to be about adultery, just the selective way most of this story gets a lot of attention, but the significant last line is often quietly forgotten. It’s also interesting that you seem to have read it as liberal/conservative in a political sense, rather than a theological one. Again, not sure if I need to be clearer about that.

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