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Chinese textbook has Jesus throwing the first stone

01 October 2020

Book teaching ethics uses a story from the Gospels — but changes the ending

UCA News

The cover of the textbook, an image uploaded on social media in China

The cover of the textbook, an image uploaded on social media in China

A CHINESE textbook teaching ethics has used a story from the Gospels — but changed the ending.

The Roman Catholic news agency UCA News reports that the government-run University of Electronic Science and Technology Press has produced a textbook for secondary vocational schools on the subject of “professional ethics and law”.

The book uses the story of the woman caught in adultery who is presented to Christ by the crowd, from chapter 8 of St John’s Gospel. “The crowd wanted to stone the woman to death as per their law. But Jesus said, ‘Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.’ Hearing this, they slipped away one by one.”

In St John’s Gospel, the story concludes: “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.’”

The textbook version, however, states: “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 Roman Catholic layman in China has uploaded the passage on to social media, saying: “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.”

A Roman Catholic priest, who declined to be named, said that distorting the biblical text was “against morality and the law — so how can we still teach professional ethics with this book?”

UCA News quotes Mathew Wang, a Christian teacher at a vocational school, who confirmed the content, but said that the textbook’s content varied from place to place in China.

The work had been reviewed by the Textbook Review Committee for Moral Education in Secondary Vocational Education, he said, observing that it was used to justify Chinese laws.

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