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Woman Taken in Adultery

jesus accusers words shown

The Gospel of *John (in certain manuscripts, 8:1-11) describes the incident when some Jewish authorities brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus in an attempt to entrap him in legal and moral matters and political issues (Jewish law required that adulterers be stoned to *death). Jesus listened, wrote (words unspecified in the text) on the ground, and eventually spoke: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” at which point the accusers, apparently “convicted by their own consciences,” gradually departed. Jesus, left alone with the woman, questioned her; none of her accusers remained, and Jesus did not accuse or condemn her but told her to depart and “sin no more.” The subject appears in early Christian art but is more frequent from the ninth century through the early Gothic period. Jesus is normally depicted seated, gesturing toward the woman; he may also point to, or be shown writing on, the ground. Sometimes the words he writes are legible, for example, a portion of his spoken reply to the accusers. The accusers are normally shown; they may be presenting the woman to Jesus, holding stones in readiness, or turning to depart. The woman may hang her head in shame, cringe, or raise her hands in acknowledgment of Jesus’ words. One or two disciples may be present.
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