My favorite Bible passage that wasn't originally in the Bible

The Woman taken in Adultery | Dulwich Picture Gallery

I suppose this might be news to some readers, but it won't be to others. When I stop to consider what some of my favorite passages from the Bible are, specifically in the New Testament, one passage often springs to mind: the story of "the woman caught in adultery," from the eighth chapter of John's Gospel. Many people, even those who aren't particularly familiar with the Bible, know at least the basic outline of this one. Here it is, in the words of the Lexham English Bible:

3 Now the scribes and the Pharisees brought to him a womanb caught in adultery. And standing her in their midst, 4 they said to him, testing him,c “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery! 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 (Now they were saying this to test him, so that they would have an occasion* to bring charges against him.) But Jesus, bending down, began to write* with his* finger on the ground, taking no notice.d 7 And when they persisted in asking him, straightening up he saide to them, “The one of you without sin, let him throw the first stone at her!” 8 And bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Now when they* heard it,* being convicted by their conscience,f they began to depart,* one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesusg was left alone—and the woman who was in their midst. 10 So Jesus, straightening up and seeing no one except the woman,h said to her, “Where are those accusers of yours?i Does no one condemn you?” 11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” So Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, andj sin no more.”⟧k

Now many (but not all) Bible versions have a note much like note k at the end of this version, which reads: "John 7:53–8:11 is not found in the earliest and best manuscripts and was almost certainly not an original part of the Gospel of John; one significant group of Greek manuscripts places it after Luke 21:38."

So most scholars of Biblical textual criticism agree, this famous story was not in the earliest versions of John's Gospel, but was a later addition to the New Testament. Still, it's a great story, isn't it? The little details are especially great: for example, the absence of the man with whom the woman committed adultery, where is he? Her accusers make it clear that she was "caught in the very act," so surely there was someone else present, right? And then there's my favorite detail: Jesus bends down, and begins to write on the ground with his finger. This is such a specific description of Jesus' response to their accusations against the woman. He doesn't just stand there and listen, he doesn't ask for more detail, he doesn't even talk to the woman herself. He writes on the ground, almost as if he's barely listening. But it's clear from his next statement that he has been listening, and he drops that amazing bombshell: "If there's one of you who hasn't sinned, go ahead, throw the first stone" (my paraphrase). And then they begin to depart, starting with "the older ones," who presumably have the wisdom to see exactly what Jesus is getting at. Finally, Jesus doesn't proceed to "share the gospel" with the woman...or maybe he does. He simply says that he doesn't condemn her. A lot of pious folks will point out that he tells her to sin no more, as if that's the point. But he starts with the forgiveness. I can't help but find that significant.

It's a great story, very well told. A whole sermon in fewer than a dozen verses. So if it wasn't originally part of John's Gospel, it's my fervent hope that it was another true story of Jesus that just didn't make the first cut. After all, John admits towards the end of his Gospel that these haven't been all of the stories of Jesus. In the twentieth chapter, we read: "30 Now Jesus also performed many other signs in the presence of the disciplesc which are not recorded in this book, 31 but these things are recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by* believing you may have life in his name." I imagine this could easily have been one of the "many other signs" John mentions, or at least, a story that he just didn't know about, that someone else later added. In fact, many scholars believe that the Gospel of John was actually written by disciples of the apostle John, so I imagine it's possible that there could have been disagreements among them as to which stories they should include.

So that was it: my favorite Bible passage that wasn't originally in the Bible. But I think it should have been. And I intend to keep reading it as scripture. Thanks for reading.


The last vestiges of my old Posterous blog

Posterous closed
I've just been digging through a bunch of old posts here on this Qoheleth blog, which is kind of the "red-headed stepchild" of all my blogs. I rarely even remember that this blog exists, but every once in awhile, I stumble on it again. Anyway, looking at a lot of the oldest posts here, I have just realized what makes this blog worth keeping: it contains some of the last vestiges of one of my oldest blogs, one that doesn't exist anymore. I'm talking about Corybanter II, my old blog on the now-defunct blogging platform, Posterous. I believe my very first blog was over on Tumblr, and I gave it the name I've recycled many times since then..."Corybanter." But then my brother Toby introduced me to Posterous, a blogging platform that made everything so easy; all you had to do was send an email and attach whatever pictures or graphics you wanted to include, and bingo! Instant blog post.

Sadly, is was not to last. You can read a brief description of the rise and fall of Posterous on this Wikipedia article. Suffice it to say, that Posterous shut down after just a few years, and I had to find new digs for my blogging. Somewhere along the way, though, I had set up a system whereby my Corybanter II posts were being shared on other platforms. Apparently one of those other platforms was here at Typepad. Looking through a lot of the older posts here on my Qoheleth blog, I noticed that a lot of the older posts have a little label at the bottom which reads, "Posted via email from CORYBANTER: babble and banter, bypassing banality." Any pictures that I posted along with those old posts disappeared when Posterous shut down, but all the text seems to be intact.

So the Qoheleth blog contains a record of blog posts that I thought were lost forever. For that reason alone, it's worth keeping this blog alive, even if it never becomes a regular home for my personal blogging. I'll have to dig through more of the old posts, and see what's here. Meanwhile, let's have a moment of silence for Posterous. It was fun while it lasted.


A little blog update

Now that I've tidied up around the Qoheleth blog a bit, I thought I would list my various blogs, and what they're all about.

I still have never quite managed to streamline my blogging as much as I probably should, but for right now, this is what I've got...

  • Corybanter.com - This is my "main" personal blog, located on Medium.com
  • Baker Street Babble - My Sherlock Holmes blog, where I've been doing reviews of the Granada TV adaptations.
  • Willy Wigglestick - My Shakespeare blog, which I've been working on quite a bit just lately. (UPDATE: the original version of this blog was located on Tumblr.)
  • Bible Bookshelf Blog - A Bible-themed blog, where I review various versions of the Bible, and share other thoughts on Scripture. (UPDATE: this is a new version of the Bible Bookshelf blog on Tumblr. Older Bible Bookshelf posts can be found on the previous version of the site on Weebly.
  • Bites of Bard - A Shakespeare "mini-blog," a place to share some of my favorite passages from the Bard, with little to no commentary.
  • Bible and Prayer Book - Sharing my quest to read the Bible with help from the Book of Common Prayer's Daily Office Lectionary.
  • Corybanter Archives - This used to be my main personal blog, but Weebly isn't what it used to be, so it now serves as an archive for all my old Corybanter blog posts on Weebly.
  • The Great Corythosaurus - I don't even know what this is. It's a blog at postach.io, which I can sync with my Evernote account.
  • Corybantic Musings - A journal at dreamwidth.org, the remains of a blog I used to keep off and on at LiveJournal.
  • Random Musings - The aforementioned LiveJournal blog, which I only just found out still exists!
  • Qoheleth - My Typepad blog, where you are right now.

I may revisit this blog at some point

I often forget about this blog. Looking back through the Archives, it looks like I set it up sometime around the same time as I was using Posterous for most of my blogging. (Boy, do I miss that platform!) I don't exactly remember why I didn't stick with Typepad. For at least a little while, it looks like I was forwarding all my Posterous posts to this blog. As a result, there are a whole bunch of posts in the Archives that were originally on my Posterous blog.

Meanwhile, it looks like Typepad is fairly easy to use. I don't know if it suits my needs quite as well as Weebly. But it seems just as easy as Tumblr.

I will try sharing a video from YouTube, and see how that looks when I finish the post.

I've been watching a lot of Shakespeare lately, particularly Much Ado About Nothing. So, without further "ado" (see what I did there?), here's the Globe Theatre's production of Much Ado About Nothing...


Did not even remember having this blog...

I had completely forgotten I started this blog...I merely stumbled upon it by Googling myself (or is it "googling," with a lower case g?). At the time, I seem to recall thinking that Qoheleth was a pretty bitchin' name for a blog.  After all, "Qoheleth" is the name of the narrator of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. And Ecclesiastes is possibly my favorite book of the Bible, if I had to choose one.  I think it appeals to the skeptical side of my nature.

I mean, how many Biblical books start out this way?

1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
3 What does a man gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?
4 A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to its place
where it rises.
6 Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.
7 All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
The streams are flowing to the place,
and they flow there again.
8 All things[b] are wearisome;
man is unable to speak.
The eye is not satisfied by seeing
or the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 1:1-9)

You just gotta love that.  Dark stuff, not at all the "warm fuzzies" a lot of people associate with the Bible.  Then again, there's an awful lot of stuff in the Bible that doesn't make it into the average Sunday School lesson.  Look at Chapter 23 of Ezekiel some time...it'll curl your hair.  ("Their breasts were fondled there, and their virgin nipples caressed." Get the picture?)

That's part of why the contemporary Christian slogan about BIBLE standing for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" absolutely rubs me the wrong way.  The Bible is NOT a handy little instruction booklet.  I'm reminded of a great moment in The Simpsons Movie, when Homer frantically skims through a pew Bible and says, "This book doesn't have any answers!!!"  Indeed.

If that's my view on the Bible, then why do I keep coming back to it, over and over?  I think part of it is realizing, as Qoheleth did, that everything I think is a new problem is anything but.  All the things I deal with, good and bad, other people have dealt with thousands of years ago.  That connection to human history, religious or otherwise, is very important to me.  One of the things that is most distressing to me, as I continue to work in the church, is that so many modern Christians have not the slightest interest in church history.  They act as if Christianity were simply one more self-help program, and the Bible just a handy little user's manual for their lives.  "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."  Seriously?  That's it?  Just read the magic, and everything will be cool?  Nope, I don't think so.

The Bible isn't just a bunch of cutesy Sunday School stories: Noah's Ark, David and Goliath, the Beatitudes. Hell, even those stories aren't just cutesy Sunday School stories, even though the vast majority of Christians seem to treat them that way.  No, the Bible is far more complex than that. Poetry, myth, legend, history, prose, parable, metaphor, apocalypse, genealogies--it's all that, and more.  We do it a grave disservice if we read it in the same way as the owner's manual for our DVD player.  May we always remember that...

Can one say about anything,
“Look, this is new”?
It has already existed in the ages before us.  (Ecclesiastes 1:10, HCSB)


I'm back!

I'm trying to reestablish my presence on the "blogosphere" (whatever that is).  A little while back, I used to blog quite regularly, but several months ago, I kinda ran out of steam.  Anyhoo...

I really have to organize my Bible collection.  I won't post a picture of our office/library, but suffice it to say that there are stacks of books (including Bibles) all over the place.  I'm not sure how up to date my Bible collection spreadsheet is, as I decided to get rid of a few volumes to make some more space.  I'm pretty sure I still have well over 200 in my collection, but said collection is a MESS.  So, first item on my to-do list: tame the beast!

Meanwhile, some time this year the CEB Study Bible is supposed to be released, so I'll be curious to see how that turns out.  We'll see if they can give the NIV, ESV, NLT and HCSB folks a run for their money.

Just to kick things off again on this blog, I'm including the most recent Bible Bestsellers chart from Christian Booksellers Association below:

Bible_Translations.pdf Download this file

Sadly, I see that the above mentioned CEB has dropped off the list completely!  And they had been doing so well last time I checked (over four months ago...).  I don't think any translation in the near future is going to knock the NIV out of its #1 spot.  And I'll be darned if that KJV doesn't keep on selling like hotcakes!

So if anyone's still reading this blog, thanks. If not...well, there's got to be some way to promote it.  Feel free to comment.

Posted via email from CORYBANTER: babble and banter, bypassing banality