I have mentioned two apocryphal letters forged in the name of Jesus himself, one written to a King Abgar and the other, well, dictated to the cherubim in heaven from the cross.  Several readers have asked me about New Testament examples, one in the famous story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8, and the other the seven letters allegedly dictated by Christ in Revelation 2-3.

As to the first, yes, as many of you already know, even though there is an account of Jesus writing on the ground in John 8 (he is writing, by the way, not doodling; the Greek is fairly clear on the point) (we are not told *what* he is writing; there are about 97 theories about that, each one the favorite of one person or another….), this account was not originally in John.  It is a scribal addition to the story.   (BTW: one recent NT scholar, Chris Keith, has written an entire book arguing that the passage was inserted by scribes precisely to show that Jesus was able to write!  The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus)

Here is what I say about the account in Misquoting Jesus.



The Woman Taken in Adultery

The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery is arguably the best known story about Jesus in the Bible; it certainly has always been a favorite in Hollywood versions of his life.  It even makes it into Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, even though the movie focuses only on Jesus’ last hours (the story is treated as one of the rare flashbacks).  Despite its popularity, the account is found in only one passage of the New Testament, in John 7:59-8:12, and it appears not to have been original, even there.

The story line is …

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