When I tried to look at the verses quoted in this question Ihttp://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/5903/what-did-jesus-write-on-the-ground/
I found that in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures John 7 ends at verse 52 and John 8 starts with verse 12 so the whole story about Jesus writing in the dust and saying let he who is without sin cast the first stone does not exist in this translation A foot note states that many consider the omitted verses to be of questionable sourcing

Why would some bibles have these verses and others leave them out?

  • Asking "which Bibles omit" may be too broad: there are thousands of Bible translations out there, and who knows how many omit it. Asking why they omit the verses is very similar to the questions I link above, so this might be a duplicate. Please take a look at the answers to the linked questions, and if you still have a question related to this, edit this question to clarify. Thanks! Feb 3, 2016 at 14:23
  • I've never seen a translation before that completely leaves it out, but they all mark it indicating that it is probably a later addition.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 3, 2016 at 14:32
  • The answer by @Jon Ericson on BH.SE is very good perhaps he could repost it here?
    – Kris
    Feb 3, 2016 at 15:00
  • Some people have difficulty accepting that Jesus could not condemn the woman and simply told her to go and sin no more. So they rooted around and found some manuscripts whose copyists also had the same opinion and who had therefore omitted the incident from their manuscripts. The reformers were not of this miserable opinion and the Reformers included the incident in the Received Text, the Textus Receptus and thus it appears in the KJV and in Young's Literal Translation.
    – Nigel J
    May 22, 2021 at 7:21

3 Answers 3


The simple answer is that there are some older manuscripts that lack the reading. If credence is placed in the older manuscript, then the reading is left out. The assumption is that the older manuscripts are closer to the source documents.

By the way, many view the New World Translation with suspicion. It is a product of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses.) From what I've heard, there isn't much known about how they created the translation.

  • 1
    Well balanced answer, avoiding the controversy and the divide yet being clear and concise. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    May 22, 2021 at 7:32

The chapter and verse divisions found in virtually all modern Bibles originated on the mid 16th century:

Robert Estienne created an alternate numbering in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament which was also used in his 1553 publication of the Bible in French. Estienne's system of division was widely adopted, and it is this system which is found in almost all modern Bibles. (Wikipedia)

However, the best Greek NT available at the time was Erasmus’ Received Text. Since that time significant older and more reliable manuscripts have been discovered. In the late 19th century two Christian scholars, Wescott and Hort, compiled a “critical Greek text” for the NT. They utilized (and in some cases pioneered) scientific methods of textual criticism to propose the most likely original text of the NT. The New World Translation (a Jehovah Witness translation of the Bible which is considered by most Christians to be heretical) is based on WH’s Greek NT to this day. WH proposed that these verses are not original to John so the Jehovah Witness translators leave the passage out entirely.
Most modern translations (the NKJV being a notable exception) are based on the Nestle-Aland Greek NT and the United Bible Society’s Greek NT (now identical texts). These critical NT compilations follow in the tradition of WH but take into account even more recent manuscript discoveries. Furthermore the NA and UBS Greek NTs list many variations of the text in footnotes and note which significant manuscripts contain what.
Most modern Bible translations retain this passage for historical and traditional reasons but place it within brackets to denote that the verses may not be original to the Gospel of John. The ESV Study Bible states:

There is considerable doubt that this story is part of John’s original Gospel, for it is absent from all of the oldest manuscripts. But there is nothing in it unworthy of sound doctrine. It seems best to view the story as something that probably happened during Jesus’ ministry but that was not originally part of what John wrote in his Gospel. Therefore it should not be considered as part of Scripture and should not be used as the basis for building any point of doctrine unless confirmed in Scripture. (ESV Study Bible on John 7:53-8:11)

  • 1
    Hi! A couple quibbles: 1) The characterization "heretical" is generally not good form here, 2) Since UBS3 / NA26 (1975 /1 979), the texts are not virtually identical but identical, a very big decision at the time. 3) Neither "list[s ] all variations of the text in footnotes". The UBS in particular aims to be very selective in the variants included. For something like comprehensive, see the Editio Critica Majora, to be completed 2030.
    – Susan
    Feb 3, 2016 at 21:36
  • Thank you for the clarifications, Susan. Most of this I was recalling from memory of research I did almost a decade ago. I will edit the answer to reflect a couple of your “quibbles”
    – JRystedt
    Feb 3, 2016 at 22:45
  • Kris, I don't use a 17th century Bible translation either (note the use of the ESV Study Bible in the answer). Like all translations the NWT is the Word of God when it is faithful to the original texts and I don't doubt it has blessed you greatly. Furthermore, I did not label you, your mother, or any other individual a heretic. The adjective "heretical" is an opinionated part of my answer (in accord with universally confessed and historic Christian doctrine) to reflect the translation's biases.
    – JRystedt
    Feb 4, 2016 at 2:06
  • I am not. As stated in my answer, most Bible translators reject the authenticity of this text on the grounds of the current manuscript evidence (traditional Christians included).
    – JRystedt
    Feb 4, 2016 at 15:42
  • 1
    Good answer, but I wish to point out a few items. The statement that "significant older and more reliable manuscripts” presupposes that older manuscripts are always more reliable. The statement "Wescott and Hort ...utilized ... scientific methods of textual criticism to propose the most likely original text of the NT” assumes that the original text of the NT has been lost. It also errs by calling their critical techniques “scientific." They systematized their presumptions, but how is does their techniques follow the scientific method? Feb 5, 2016 at 21:36

The passage in question was (most likely) not part of the Gospel According to John, instead of being added later. It is the most significant text theologically that might have been added.

The Codex Vaticanus, either the oldest or second oldest full New Testament manuscript we have, omits this passage.

The Codex has been around with Western Catholic and possibly Eastern Orthodox churches since it was written.

The Codex was not paid attention to much (Catholics are not Sola Scriptura believers so they care less about the bible) until a scholar "found" it in the Vatican library. That codex as well as all other ancient manuscripts omit it.

In my opinion, the oldest manuscript we have with 100% of the New Testament in Greek (yes, Revelation is there too, just not written by the same copyist at the same period) is what God would use to preserve the accurate form of scripture.

Other reasons to think the passage is not original exist too

  • it cuts the flow of the narrative in John.
  • it has been added in other parts of that area in John as well as into Luke with the same text.
  • the story makes little sense (what is Jesus writing in the ground?

Also, until Jesus died on the cross, the Law that Jesus goes against WAS IN EFFECT IN ISRAEL, as seen in the rest of scripture where Jesus says that all the Torah should be kept and teaches the most extreme way to understand it in the sermon on the mount. Only after he died, is the law not applying (it was given because of transgressions until the seed comes according to Galatians).

One thing I do need to stress, to mainline Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics, the New World translation is considered one of the worst ones out there. It is used and written by Jehovah's Witnesses to deny that Jesus is YHWH, and uses YHWH name in vain.

  • 2
    The final paragraph detracts from this answer.
    – Kris
    May 21, 2021 at 12:10
  • 1
    Since your answer affirms that the verses should be left out it is incongruous to launch a charge that NWT is a horrible translation since it leaves out the verses. The stuff about JWs denying that Jesus is YHWH and why JWs feel using the Devine name is so important you could search for questions on that topic or ask a new question.
    – Kris
    May 21, 2021 at 14:21
  • You have omitted to inform of the matter of the Coptic/Egyptian reversion which was a corruption of the originals and causes Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus to be woefully flawed and to disagree with one another in over 3,000 places. in just the gospels. See Dean John Burgon Revision Revised 1881 and Herman Hoskier Codex B and its Allies 1914. Also see Scrivener's Greek Text 1881, which details the 9,000 alterations, omissions and additions (amounting to 9%of the text) to the Textus Receptus.
    – Nigel J
    May 22, 2021 at 7:27

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