1) Anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, often inaccurate, got this right: “It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical proof text in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition “Let him without sin cast the first stone”, when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) – the Mosaic Law prescribed death – should be read in its proper context. This passage is an entrapment story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment." Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking. (1).
2) What about the woman caught in adultery? From “Why I Support Capital Punishment”, by Andrew Tallman, sections 7-11 biblical review, sections 1-6 secular review See Part 11
"the Pharisees wanted to make Jesus a heretic for opposing capital punishment, but He evaded their trap. The tremendous irony is that now, two thousand years later, people who claim to love Jesus teach that He was precisely the heretic His enemies wanted to paint Him as."
3) Sanctity of Life & the Death Penalty: Flip sides of the same “Divine” coin, Richard Eric Gunby, Quodlibet Journal: Volume 5 Number 2-3, July 2003, ISSN: 1526-6575 John 8:2-11 (NRSV)
"Therefore their motives (to entrap Jesus) were nothing but evil. They were not seeking to follow God’s Law - Word in godly fashion; rather, they were attempting to employ surreptitiously what Moses said, towards their own evil ends of trying to trip Jesus up. What a foul thing."
"This cannot be read as an example of Jesus doing away with the law. Far from it! This is an example of Jesus, again, going by the clear unencumbered dictates of the law and not allowing it to be used towards evil ends in His presence. It is Jesus together with the Law triumphant over His enemies and their tradition. This is clearly an upholding of the law."
as of 4/24/10
4) John 8: The Woman Caught in Adultery – Dealing with Capital Offenses Lawfully
"John 8 in no way sets a precedent that would eliminate the penalties for committing capital crimes such as adultery, murder, rape, sodomy, abduction, etc. Instead, it re-establishes them and demonstrates the continuity of Theonomic Law into the New Testament era initiated by Christ. It is only the ceremonial elements of O.T. Law like instrumental music during worship, blood sacrifices, avoidance of certain meats and food/fabric mixtures, New Moon celebrations etc. that were done away with at Christ's crucifixion. These things are made clear in the Epistles of Paul (Galatians 2-3) who re-establishes the old principle that 'obedience is better than sacrifice'."
5) The biblical text could hardly be more clear, this was an entrapment story.
John 8:6 - "They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. "
6) The Pharisees made an illegal arrest, in direct contraditon to the Law. You cannot arrest a woman caught in adultery, without also catching the man in that same adultery. Where was he? Likely, the Pharisees let him go, as he was part of the scheme to entrap Jesus. The woman, while guilty, as Jesus recognized, likely did not know of this plan. It most unlikely she would have consented to be at risk of stoning, after being caught. Truly a foul scheme. In addition, it was up to the Romans to impose capital punishment, not Jesus or the Pharisees, another way to try and entrap Jesus, by Him applying the sanction, which, of course, He did not do. They never had a chance to entrap Jesus. All the Pharasees did was to entrap themselves in evil.
A thorough review here:
7) Excellent review of the challenges to the authenticity of John 8
as of 8/31/13
Start here: • John 7:53 - 8.11: The "woman taken in adultery" story: Metzger's statement. Just before page 105 and through page 201
1) Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review
Sr. Prejean has, completely, reversed her take on this passage, based only upon her anti death penalty advocacy, as opposed to the reality of the passage (1), now saying it is an unequivocal rejection of the death penalty, which is impossible, as she knows, because such an interpretation would mean that God had ordained that no man could impose any sanction, as all men have sinned. The sister would have us believe that Jesus forbid the sanction of all crimes, allowing for evildoers to run free, repeating horrible crimes over and over, again, with no worry of sanction.
The passage, itself, states it is an entrapment story, so there is no honest way for the Sister to change her original position.
Jesus and the Death Penalty
"Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars".
Christianity and the death penalty.
Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,
Pro Life: The Death Penalty
Forgiveness and Murder
"Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"
"The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"
"The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"
Is Execution Closure? Of Course.
A Refutation of the ELCA Social Statement on the Death Penalty
"The DeLuna Deception: At the Death House Door" Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted?"