Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Did He Write on the Ground?

This will likely be the last sentence diagramming post for a while. A few days ago, I wrote a piece in which I mentioned trying to convince my grammar students that Jesus loved diagramming sentences.

One of my students made reference to the pericope adulterae, the Woman Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11). As everyon
e knows, that section is not found in the oldest manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Most evangelical scholars agree that, though it seems to be consistent with the rest of Jesus' teaching, was not a part of John's original Gospel. But assuming that this narrative did take place, commentators have long wondered just what He wrote on the ground.

Some suggest that he may have written wor
ds from the Mosaic Law, or even a list of the hidden sins of the woman's accusers. My esteemed colleague, Mark Moore, has written (Chronological Life of Christ, Volume I):

There have been many speculations as to what he wrote. One attractive suggestion is that he wrote accusations against the various Sanhedrin members. Another says he wrote a list of their names. Still another supposes that he just doodled to show his disinterest. We’re curious about what he wrote. But apparently it doesn’t matter. The emphasis is on the act of writing, not what was written. While Jesus scribbles in the sand they keep pressing him for an answer. They get more of an answer than they bargain for.
Now, a student in my 7:00 AM Analytical Grammar class has given the answer: what Jesus wrote in the dust was a sentence diagram. Though Jesus likely spoke Aramaic, the oldest text I have of this event is fro
m the Greek New Testament, so I have tried to replicate what He wrote, for your (actually, for my) enjoyment:

Peace to all those of good will!

1 comment: