The biblical story of Jesus saving the woman caught in adultery has been twisted and given a new ending in a Chinese textbook, with Jesus killing the woman and telling her that He, too, is a sinner, according to a new report.
The textbook, published by the government-run University of Electronic Science and Technology Press, is used to teach “professional ethics and law” in vocational schools, according to Union of Catholic Asian News, which first reported the controversy.
In the original biblical story in John 8, Jesus goes to the temple courts, where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees bring him a woman caught in adultery and ask Christ if she should be stoned. Jesus writes on the ground and then tells them, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” After the woman’s accusers leave, Jesus tells her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
It’s a story of grace and mercy.
The Chinese textbook, though, changes the ending, according to UCA News. The textbook says, “When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death saying, ‘I, too, am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.’”
A Catholic parishioner uploaded a copy of the textbook story to social media.
“I want everyone to know that the Chinese Communist Party has always tried to distort the history of the Church, to slander our Church, and to make people hate our Church,” the person wrote.
Mathew Wang, a Christian teacher at a vocational school, confirmed the textbook’s content to UCA News.
Some Christians said China changed the story “to prove that the rule of law is supreme in China, and such respect for law is essential for a smooth transfer to socialism with Chinese characteristics,” UCA News reported.
A Catholic priest in Asia said the distortion “is against morality and the law, so how can we still teach professional ethics with this book?”
“It is a sad social phenomenon in mainland China,” the priest said.
Photo courtesy: Alejandro Luengo/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.