Internal Evidence

Moses and John 8:1-11

Moses in John's Gospel and the Pericope De Adultera

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Last Updated: Feb 23, 2009

Introduction: - how pattern was noticed

Groups of Seven: - Signs, Glory, :
Themes in John: - Glory, Moses, and John 8:1-11:
Chart: - Moses and Glory in John

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Patterns of Seven


Once again, we have the inadvertant discovery of key structural evidence in John's Gospel which indicates the awareness and authenticity of the Pericope de Adultera, John 7:53-8:11.

The key author who turned our attention to this wonderful discovery, seems not to have noticed it himself, and we have critiqued his inadequate assessment of John 7:53-8:11 (in his appendix) elsewhere:

Harstine on John 8:1-11 <- - - Click here for details.

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Groups of Seven

The crux of the matter is this: John the Evangelist is almost obsessed with the counting and grouping in sevens, which permeates the entire Gospel on multiple levels. Even if current criticism has failed to take sufficient note of this fact, it stares at us from every page of John.

Key cases are not in any dispute, but are absolutely certain. Here are a few examples:

(1) John singles out SEVEN miracles as SIGNS.

  1. The First Sign: Turning Water into Wine at Cana
  2. The Second Sign: The Healing of the Nobleman's Son
  3. The Third Sign: The Healing of the Cripple
  4. The FourthSign: The Feeding of the Five Thousand
  5. The Fifth Sign: The Storm: Jesus Walks on the Water
  6. The Sixth Sign: The healing of the Blind Man
  7. The Seventh Sign: The Raising of Lazrus from Dead

(2) The Gospel divides into Seven Sections, + Prologue & Epilogue

Prologue: Theme Poem, and Beginning (1:1-51)

  1. The First Group of Miracles: Cana/Sam/Gal/Jerus. (2:1-5:47)
  2. The Second Group: Galilee & Jerusalem (6:1-8:1)
  3. The Third Group: Jerusalem & Bethany (8:12-12:11)
  4. The Fourth Section : Triumphal Entry, the Hour (12:12-50)
  5. The Final Intimacy: Last moments with Disciples (13:1-17:26)
  6. The Passion: Betrayal, Arrest, Crucifixion (18:1-19:42)
  7. The Resurrection: Appearances to Disciples (20:1-31)

Epilogue: Final Appearance (21:1-25)

Similarly, in John, the Prologue acts as a kind of 'theme statement', much like a musical overture, listing themes and ideas that will be developed in the Gospel proper. One such theme is the theme of 'Glory' (Greek: δοξα). Here also we find SEVEN instances where 'Glory' is mentioned and developed. (We count cases where Jesus uses the same word 'Glory' twice in the same sentence or incident as a single instance.)

Introduction of Theme in Prologue: 'We beheld His Glory' (1:14)

  1. He revealed his Glory (2:11)
  2. The Father's Glory (7:18, 2x)
  3. Not My Own Glory (8:50)
  4. The Glory of God (11:4; bracketing Lazarus)
  5. The Glory of God (11:40; bracketing Lazarus)
  6. Isaiah saw His Glory (12:41)
  7. My pre-existing Glory (17:5, 22, 24, last prayer)

One immediately notices that these are spread out fairly evenly throughout the Gospel, although the two bracketing the climactic Resurrection of Lazarus are close together, and chiastically embedded in that incident. We give the 'Glory' group for illustrative purposes, and also to show how normally John would work the theme in at an almost leisurely pace.

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Moses and John 8:1-11

Now we turn to another important theme introduced in the prologue, the contrast between Moses and Jesus:

"- For the Law ('Torah') was given through Moses;
but Mercy ('Hesed') and Truth came by Jesus the Christ ('Messiah')."

- John 1:17

John the Evangelist prepares us beforehand for conflict/tension, and contrast/comparison between Moses/the Law and Jesus/Mercy-Truth.

Now come the SEVEN references to Moses by name:

Introduction of Theme in Prologue: 'Law versus Mercy & Truth' (1:17)

  1. "the One about whom Moses wrote..." (1:45)
  2. "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent..." (3:14)
  3. "Its Moses who will accuse you, ..." (5:45-46)
  4. "Moses didn't give you bread from heaven!" (6:32)
  5. "None of you keep the Law Moses gave!" (7:19-23)
  6. "In our Law Moses commanded..." (8:4) [Jn 8:1-11]
  7. "...We are Moses' disciples.." (9:28-29)

This time however, the 'Moses' instances are spaced out only in the first nine chapters. After that the theme is finished. Moses is never mentioned by name again. Some later situations require mention of "scripture" and legal notes in the sense of Pharisee traditions (e.g. 18:28), but these don't involve the theme invoked in the prologue.

Now consider carefully that once again the brilliant John the Evangelist has built into the Gospel yet another structure that unmistakably and intimately involves the Pericope de Adultera. And if the passage were removed, the pattern of Sevens would be clearly broken.

But why does the sixth appearance rather than the seventh appear in John 8:1-11? (8:4). Because in harmony with the Moses (Genesis, Sabbath) theme, Jesus finishes His work on the sixth day, while the Pharisees, hopelessly out of sync with the Messiah whom they have rejected, still cling to Moses, while refusing to listen to Moses, the scriptures, and even a live witness healed of blindness from birth! The irony is so John-like it cries out "I John the Evangelist did this for you the reader!"

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John's Gospel

Two Themes of Seven
Theme I: MosesSectionTheme II: Glory
1:17 Moses (intro)Prologue (1:1-18)1:14 Glory (intro)
John Baptist on himself (1:19-28)
Day 1: John on Jesus (1:29-31)
(1) Moses: 1:45Day 2: Call of Philip, Nathaniel (1:42-47)
Testimony of Nathaniel, Jesus
Day 3: 1st Sign - Water to Wine (2:1-11)   (1) Glory: 2:11
Cleansing of the Temple
(2) Moses: 3:14Born of Spirit discourse
ministry in Samaria
Healing of Nobleman's son
Healing of Cripple
(3) Moses: 5:45-46Son of God discourse
Feeding the 5000
Escaping Crowds
Walking on Water
(4)Moses: 6:32Bread from Heaven discourse
People divided, and turn back
Testimony of Peter
Father's Glory discourse (7:16-18)   (2) Glory: 7:18
(5) Moses: 7:19-23True Judgment discourse (7:19-24)
People talk (7:40-44)
Officers don't arrest Him (7:45-49)
Pharisees prejudge Jesus (7:50-52)
(6) Moses: 8:4Pericope de Adultera (7:53-8:11)
Light of the World discourse (8:12-32)   (3) Glory: 8:50
Dispute over Abraham (8:33-59)
Blind Man Healed (9:1-12)
(7) Moses: 9:28-29Blind Man Rejected (9:13-34)
(After this,
Moses is no longer mentioned)
Blind Man glorifies Jesus
Door of Sheep discourse
Judeans divided
Messiah is for Believers Only (10:22-30)
Lazarus dies (11:1-16)   (4) Glory: 11:4
The 7th Sign: Jesus Resurrection Discourse
Lazarus Raised from Dead (11:38-46)   (5) Glory: 11:40
High Priest predicts death
Chief priests plot murder
Jesus annointed at Bethany
Triumphal Entry
Greeks seek Jesus
Hour/Judgment has come
People Blinded (12:37-43)   (6) Glory: 12:41
Footwashing, Betrayal
Love:The Great Commandment
Persecution foretold
Jesus' Final Prayer (17:1-26)   (7) Glory: 17:5-24

Pairing Off and Bracketing of 'Glory' References

Its worth noting that John uses the 'Glory' references differently, pairing off the last six. Each pair brackets an important section, incident or teaching of Jesus.

(1) The first Pairing surrounds the 'Taken in Adultery' incident and the events leading up to it, nicely beginning with Jesus' teaching on "true judgment", and ending with Jesus' teaching about Himself as the Light of the World.

(2) The second Pairing encloses the climactic Seventh Sign, the raising of Lazarus. In the center is a discussion concerning the Resurrection doctrines.

(3) The Final Pairing surrounds the Last intimate speech and teaching of Jesus, namely The Great Commandment beginning with the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the blinding of the people, and ending appropriately with the final prayer and assurance of Jesus to His Own.

Its evident that these structural frameworks are meant to highlight the most important parts of John's Gospel, and do so very effectively. We may contrast these independant structural signals with other structural components in John:

Chiasm in John <- - Click Here, or
OT Quotation Structure in John <- - Click Here

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