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I was reading this Reddit thread where the comments were casting doubt on whether this picture from this tweet was legitimate:

Picture of a book

This image says:

From an account of John 8:3-11 in a law-and-ethics textbook published by the Chinese Communist Party. In the Gospel, a group of Pharisees have gatehred to stone a woman accused of adultery. Translated from the Chinese by Annie Geng.

Once upon a time, Jesus spoke to an angry crowd that wanted to kill a guilty woman. "Of all of you, he who can say he has never done anything wrong can come forward and kill her."
After they heard this, the crowd stopped.
When the crowd retreated, Jesus raised a stone and killed the woman, and said, "I am also a sinner, but if the law can only be executed by a spotless person, then the law will die."

Is it true that there is a Chinese textbook that writes this?

Of course, the actual text goes like this (NIV):

3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”


Looking more into the issue:

I was able to find this story reported by Union of Catholic Asian News on September 22, 2020, and several other Christian news sources:

A parishioner who uploaded the textbook on social media said the distortion was an insult to the Catholic Church. "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," his post said. Mathew Wang, a Christian teacher at a vocational school, confirmed the content but said the textbook content varies from place to place within China. Wang added that the controversial textbook was reviewed by the Textbook Review Committee for Moral Education in Secondary Vocational Education.

The textbook in question is apparently titled 职业道德与法律: Cover of textbook

光传媒 has this picture:

Chinese version of the page

This reads:

耶稣曾对群情激愤要打死一个犯了罪的妇女的众人说:“你们谁要是自己没有犯罪过错,就上前来打死她。”听了这话,大家都不再向前了。当众人都退去时,耶稣拿起石头打死了这个妇女,并说道:“我也同样是个罪人。但如果法律只能由毫无瑕疵的人执行的话,法律就只会死亡。”通过这个小故事,你是怎样看待法律的?
Jesus once said to an angry crowd that wanted to kill a woman who had sinned, "If any of you has not sinned, come forward and kill her." Hearing this, the crowd no longer came forward. When the crowd had withdrawn, Jesus took stones to stone the woman to death, saying, "I, too, am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by people without the least blemish, the law would die." How do you see the law through this little story?

which matches the translation above.

Apple Daily writes:

不過,有中國自媒體表示,自中國教徒作出強烈反應後,涉事出版社網站已將該書撤下,在淘寶、孔夫子二手書網站、當當網等平台亦已下架,絕大部份學校圖書館已沒有收藏該書,但仍有部份學校使用該書作教科書。
However, some Chinese media said that since the strong reaction from Chinese Christians, the publishing house in question has withdrawn the book from its website, and it has also been removed from Taobao, Confucius' second-hand book website, and Dangdang, etc. Most school libraries no longer have the book, but some schools still use it as a textbook.

It would still be good to have other images of the relevant page of the textbook, however, and corroboration from more reliable sources besides Christian news sources and democracy advocacy news sources like Radio Free Asia.

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  • I’m voting to close this question because this is all about identifying the source of a claim, not challenging a notable claim
    – Graviton
    Dec 11 '20 at 2:20
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    @Graviton This question is about identifying whether it is true that there is a Chinese textbook with this distorted story of Jesus. I don't care where the claim came from (seems to be ChinaAid by the way). If you think the sources I referenced in my question are reliable-enough sources, I can move them into an answer.
    – mic
    Dec 11 '20 at 12:23
  • Your question speaks for itself, the words have been twisted in the textbook.
    – Boolean
    Dec 11 '20 at 21:18
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    @Boolean: I think the question is more "is this a real Chinese text book or did someone just faked it to stir up controversy and make China look bad?"
    – Hilmar
    Dec 12 '20 at 14:25
  • I vaguely remember a quote from a quite recent English book where the author wrote some variants of the "throwing the first stone" story, and this is one of them. Maybe someone can find this. It was obvious that it was not a bible quote.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 14 '20 at 15:03
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There isn't enough evidence to prove either without a physical copy

I couldn't find the original book's scanned copy nor can I find any other edition of this book made by the same three people. I also can't find any other screenshot of the part of the book that alleged to contain that content. But I found a declaration from the publisher of the book.

Here is the official website of the publisher: http://www.uestcp.com.cn/org/platform

Here is the excerpt of the declaration from the publisher's website regarding this matter published on September 30th 2020:

enter image description here

Translation: (Sorry I'm not an expert, but I'm native Chinese speaker...)

==============================================================

Declaration on affairs regarding 'Professional ethics and law'

On 20th of September, we were informed by the provincial state ethnic affairs commission that a textbook claims to be 'Professional ethics and law' publish by Electronic Technology Publishing (this is the name of this publisher) contains religious content that misleads readers and offends the Christian community. As a result, it caused odious influence.

After we were informed, our company treated this case very seriously and immediately organized staff to carefully inspect our book. After inspection, we found that 'Professional Ethics and Law' (I'll just skip the ISBN and author part, they are the same as in the screenshot) published by our company has different layout and cover from this self-claimed 'textbook'. There is also no mentioning of the aforementioned religious content. Therefore, we concluded that this 'textbook' is an illegal publication that used our company name and book number.

In order to protect the benefits of readers and our legal rights, we have already reported this case to the local police. We also reported this case to the local 扫黄打非 (扫黄打非办公室 is basically an office which is responsible for confiscating pornography and other illegal material) office. We will be pressing charges against any individual and organization that prints, publishes or illegally possesses (I think 无法说明图书正当来源 'can't explain a legitimate source of the book' implies pirated copy) our publication without our explicit authorization. We will reward anyone who provide evidence for IP infringement if they are proven to be true.

Here is our contact number for reporting IP infringement case: (I'll skip the number)

Chendu Electronic Technology University Publishing Limited

==============================================================

This is the book cover as shown on the publisher's website: enter image description here

This aligns with the cover in this online digital library of Zun Yi (However the book can't be read online as of now)

http://119.1.159.164:82/Book/Detail?ruid=23a544e600096eXXXX&pinst=v8GRIJn9fH4yOVehoVx

This book was apparently approved for publication in 2018 (http://www.998book.com/hubeicb/wap_doc/7053961.html) according to 中国教育期刊网 (a site about chinese education publication)

I can't find where I can buy this book either. But there seems to be physical copies in some libraries. (http://libm.wyu.edu.cn/bookinfo.aspx?ctrlno=728477)

In the claim, it says Most school libraries no longer have the book, but some schools still use it as a textbook. Given that I can't even get where I can buy this book after about 30 minutes of search on both Chinese and non-Chinese search engine, I personally don't think many schools would be using it as a textbook.

The report from Apple Daily also claims However, some Chinese media said that since the strong reaction from Chinese Christians, the publishing house in question has withdrawn the book from its website, but I can't find any existing report from mainland Chinese media regarding this topic, nor can I find any existing proof of overwhelming reaction from Chinese Christians within China.

Interestingly, when I inspect the cover image of the book on the publisher's website, I saw this in the URL of the image: enter image description here

which may or may not suggest that this image is uploaded on the 28th of September 2020, after the allegations come in. But when I check the book cover images of the other books on their website, there are also a few containing 20200706 (6th of July 2020).

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It seems to be a quote from Orson Scott Card's famous 1986 book "The Speaker For The Dead", one of the sequels to "Ender's Game", which was turned into a movie in 2013. I don't have the book at hand, so I can only quote from other websites.

In the book, there is a quote from a (fictional?) "San Angelo's Letters to an Incipient Heretic", telling about one Rabbi in the well-known story and about two others. The first one goes like this:

The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. 'Is there any man here,' he says to them, 'who has not desired another man's wife, another woman's husband?' They murmur and say, 'We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.' The Rabbi says, 'Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.' He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, 'Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he'll know I am his loyal servant.' So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

And the other story:

Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, 'Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.'

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

And then back to the original story:

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

So of course, we killed him.

So this book is copying a fictional story from a book by Orson Scott Card. The original is a comment not only on the bible, but also on our lives and behaviours. The copy is just nauseous.

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  • That's a very interesting observation, and it's good to know about this uncanny resemblance, although I fear that someone will flag this as "not an answer" or something
    – mic
    Dec 21 '20 at 19:05
  • Actually the "famous version of this story" is neither of the two stories. It says "There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine, a Speaker for the Dead, has told me of two other rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I'm going to tell you."
    – mic
    Dec 21 '20 at 19:55
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    Kudos for finding this out! Here is the Chinese version: 另一位拉比,另一个城市。和刚才的故事一样,他走到她身边,制止群众的行为,说:“你们中谁没有罪过,就让他掷出第一块石头吧。” 大家局促不安,他们想起了各自的罪过,不再抱成一团急于惩罚这个妇人了。他们想,也许有一天。我也会像这个妇人一样,我也会希望得到众人的宽宥,希望大家再给我一次机会。我想他人如此待我,我也应该如此待她才是。 他们松开手,石头掉到地上。拉比弯下腰去,捡起一块,高高举在妇人头上,用尽力气砸下去。石头砸碎了她的头骨,她的脑浆溅在卵石铺成的地面上。 “我也同样是个罪人。”他对群众说,“但是如果我们只允许没有丝毫瑕疵的人执行法律,法律便会死亡,我们的城市也会随之死亡。” Dec 21 '20 at 23:11
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    Note the similarity in the text book and the Speaker of the Dead translation: In the text book: 你们谁要是自己没有犯罪过错,就上前来打死她 In Speaker of the Dead: 你们中谁没有罪过,就让他掷出第一块石头吧。 (If anyone of you have not sinned, come up and kill her/throw the first stone) In the textbook: 我也同样是个罪人。但如果法律只能由毫无瑕疵的人执行的话,法律就只会死亡。 In Speaker of the dead: 我也同样是个罪人。但是如果我们只允许没有丝毫瑕疵的人执行法律,法律便会死亡 (I too am a sinner, but if we only permit sinless people to execute the law, the law would die) They are the same, just with paraphrase. Dec 21 '20 at 23:18
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    In the Chinese version of the book there is a specific explanation that the most famous version is supposed to be the biblical one about Jesus. 'Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation. so of course, we killed him' Basically reveals the third Rabbi who was not mentioned in either case is Jesus. Dec 21 '20 at 23:29

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