Is the "woman caught in adultery" story canonical?

ATLacasse's picture

I'm sure some or many have noticed the notation in the ESV version on John 7:53-8:11 which covers the woman caught in adultery. This section is taught on very often in the circles I travel in but I am unsure what to make of the ESV's note. If you do not have that version the note says: "The earliest manuscripts do not include John 7:53–8:11," and "Some manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11; others add the passage here or after 7:36 or after 21:25 or after Luke 21:38, with variations in the text." Would anyone have any knowledge on this?

stratplaya's picture


Justin, I would like some additional information if you have it. You mentioned that this section is "supplemental," I read that as added post-authorship, post original autograph.

Yet you say, "the interruption matches the author's allegorical methods and fits well thematically where it is now traditionally placed."


"The typology behind the scene is consistent with John's broad presentation of Jesus as the One redeeming an unfaithful nation from its captivity, as God the Bridegroom redeems the unfaithful Bride, Israel. As is also a persistent concern of John's Gospel, the scene portrays Jesus' authority as superseding Mosaic authority."

My question to this comment is kind of, "if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck?" Given that it fits, why consider otherwise?

This comment too, I find curious:

"I believe, on the one hand, that the text of John's Gospel should be considered complete WITHOUT the story, since the "woman caught in adultery" interrupts an otherwise continuous discourse which presents Jesus as the incarnation of prophetic expectation,"

I have used many parenthetical statements in my own writing, maybe you have too?

Lastly, you said, "historical and rhetorical evidence suggests." I'm not so much interested in rhetorical evidence, the JEDP theory sprung to life from Rhetorical evidence. I'm more interested in the historical. What is the historical evidence?

By the way, thanks for starting the discussion :)