New Testament Notes 242-245

New Testament Notes 242-245 April 22, 2019


Polenov on John 7:53-8:11
Wassilij Dimitriewitsch Polenov, “Jesus Christ and the Woman Take in Adultery” (1887)
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Asknaziy image of Jesus and adulterous woman
“Jesus and the Adulteress,” by Isaak Asknaziy (d. 1902)   (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


John 7:53-8:11 


This is one of the most famous stories from the life of Christ.


It’s also absent from the most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.  (In some other early manuscripts, it appears after John 7:36, or after John 21:25, or even after Luke 21:38, with some textual variations.)


Does that mean that it’s not authentic?


Not necessarily.  But the situation is . . . well, a bit curious.


The story remains a great one, though.


And, beyond dispute, it’s very old.


Niche of Lights cover
One of the more accessible books in the Islamic Translation Series that I founded at BYU is this one, which is a meditation on the way in which God can be understood as “light.” I’ve known Latter-day Saint readers, by no means specialists in Islam, who have found it very meaningful in their own spiritual understanding.


John 8:12-20


If you know Jesus, in some significant sense, you know the Father — of whom Jesus is a perfectly faithful representation.


J'lem Mt. Olives
The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel    (Wikimedia Commons public domain)


John 8:21-29


Jesus speaks very enigmatically here, and “the Jews” predictably fail to understand him.


One of the central points to take away from the passage, though, is entirely clear: “You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.”


That applied to them then, and it applies to us now.


Victoria College entrance
Understandably, more than a few schools have adopted this as their motto.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


John 8:30-36


I’ll note two ideas in this passage:


First is the concept that knowing the truth makes one free — and that, by implication, ignorance of the truth is a kind of bondage.  That’s remarkable, actually.


And the more important the truth in question, the richer the freedom (or the deeper and more oppressive the bondage).


Second is the apparent confidence among the Jews to whom Jesus was speaking that there was particular merit in their lineage — merit that would save them, or that would redeem them from their personal faults and follies.  They felt that they couldn’t be slaves because they came from good stock.  But virtues aren’t automatically inherited, and having fabulous parents, while it can obviously be an asset, can also, if we fail to take advantage of that asset, merely emphasize the contrast between their goodness and achievements and our own failures.


Ultimately, we make ourselves.  Or break ourselves.



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