We haven’t been able to find out what Jesus wrote on the ground, but we may have discovered why he wrote on the ground in the well-known pericope involving the adulterous woman.
It is an episode that even New Testament scholars have trouble with, for many reasons. It appears at the very end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8 of the Gospel of John (John 7:53–8:11). But according to Harper’s Bible Commentary, “This famous story was not originally a part of the Gospel of John.”1 Some think it was originally part of Luke. And the oldest and best copies of the New Testament do not have it at all. That is why in the Revised Standard Version, it is placed in a footnote. (In the New Revised Standard Version, it’s in brackets.)