Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

From: Pete Enns <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 16:30:00 EST

Right--although that makes you a very bad Lutheran, doesn't it :-)

Just kidding. Don't want to start THAT argument again, especially

On Nov 3, 2009, at 4:12 PM, George Murphy wrote:

> Or to say it another way, the idea that the distinction between OT &
> NT is the same as the distinction between "law" (in the sense of
> demands, with rewards & punishments based on performance) and
> "gospel" (in the sense of unmerited promise & gift) is quite wrong.
> Both testaments contain both.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Cameron Wybrow
> To:
> Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 3:46 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)
> If I may jump in on this thread--
> The discussion began with a comparison of Old Testament and New
> Testament morality, but then an example was introduced involving a
> Christian and a Jew, and the example was set up in such a way that
> it was suggested that the Jew would follow "Old Testament" morality.
> I had the good fortune to be taught by several Jewish professors,
> and I have to say that there is a misconception here. Judaism is
> not a religion that simply reads off laws from the Old Testament and
> follows them "by the book". Judaism is not a static code of laws or
> morals, but a living religious tradition.
> Thus, a modern Jewish rabbi does not read his ethics directly out of
> the Old Testament laws. Even in strictly legal matters, his reading
> of the Law is shaped by many factors, including an emphasis on
> gentleness, compassion and forgiveness. And human life embraces
> more than legal relationships, so Judaism has developed teachings
> about attitudes and conduct which go beyond what is addressed by the
> laws. Jewish teaching is deeply concerned with how to live a higher
> ethical and spiritual life, and not only the Law but also the
> writings of the Prophets and the Wisdom literature have shaped that
> teaching.
> If you asked any modern rabbi whether it was permissible to return
> evil for evil in personal matters, the rabbi would offer a
> resounding "No". So if little Eli smashed little Daniel's bike, it
> would not be right for Daniel to return the "favour". Would such an
> action, in addition to being wrong, be considered "sinful"? I would
> not claim certainty on this, but I suspect that it would. Indeed, I
> suspect that many rabbis would consider even the desire for revenge
> sinful. Jesus was not the first Jew to realize that not only
> external deeds but also internal motivations corrupt the soul.
> Judaism has always been interested not merely in legal correctness
> but the development of hearts which exhibit compassion, forbearance,
> and forgiveness. And if someone here should point out that not all
> Jews live up to this notion, I would simply say that this is not
> surprising; all Christians don't live up to it either.
> In short, I don't see a huge gulf between Judaism and Christianity
> on moral questions. The impression of a gulf is created when
> Christians read the Old Testament laws out of their Jewish context.
> But just as one reading the book of Revelation, or some of the
> harsher sayings of Jesus or the writers of the Epistles, without
> having any first-hand knowledge of the actual practice of
> Christianity, might well take away the impression that Christianity
> is a narrow, vindictive and judgmental religion, so a Christian,
> reading the Laws of Moses, without any knowledge of the traditions
> within which those laws are interpreted and lived out by the Jewish
> people, might come away with the impression that Judaism is a rather
> primitive religion with a crude, tit-for-tat notion of morality and
> a very legalistic conception of spirituality. This would be a false
> impression.
> Cameron.

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Received on Tue Nov 3 16:30:12 2009

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