Patricia Hofer

Does this NT account sound “fictional” to you?

Jesus’ encounter with the woman taken in adultery has often been questioned for its authenticity (John 8: 1-11). … My question is, by whom? Whose “agenda” would have been furthered by making up such a story? … Jesus “stooped down,” allowing the accusers to be convicted by their consciences. And as CS Lewis, a literary critic and writer, pointed out, there is no reason for a fictional account to include the odd detail that Jesus “bent down and scribbled in the dust with His finger.” Such a trivial occurrence, wrote Lewis, had to have been there only because the one recounting the story had “seen it” (God in the Dock 159). And, for me, there are two other “trivial” happenings in this Gospel that evidence eyewitness knowledge.

One is of the footrace to the tomb (John 20:3-6). There was no reason to fabricate this incident either. Peter was to become the rock of the Church. But he lost the race, to John. And then, a chapter later, there is another odd, but realistic, detail. John recognized Jesus on the shore first. But Peter, who was naked, put on his coat before jumping headlong into the water to swim to Jesus. John is the one who arrived more gracefully and responsibly—with the boat (21:7-8). … And so, again I ask, who would have made up such details? The clear answer is that this Gospel draws from the oral tradition of John’s first-hand experience. It doesn’t matter to me how these writings arrived in the scripture or whose name is on them or whether a few words were added or left out. I’m just profoundly grateful that we still have such clear narrative images—so clear that we not only see the Lord and the disciples but we hear them speak. (Drawn from Living Large, chapter 42, ©️ 2013)

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