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

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 20:45:58 EST

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> Murray said: "That said, however, I would want to urge that we err when we introduce the Sermon on the Mount as part of that problem. People often speak as though the Sermon on the Mount is primarily a critique or abrogation of the Law (a "new law" or "new morality") when it is, as I understand it, directed not at the Law itself, but squarely at its misuse by the religious hierarchy in first century Judaism."
> I think the glaring problem with this idea is that Jesus quoted (and corrected) the OT verse, not a teaching of a 'religious hierarchy' based on some verse.
If I may jump way back to this objection of yours, Bernie; I have a
comparison that might be of value.

We could imagine a group of young students who take sloppy notes (when
they take them at all) and have no experience recording or presenting
organized lab data from some school science project they are in. What
they do write is a scrawled mess. The teacher steps in with
requirements and tells them: "you will write neatly in just this
format, and give me at least three coherent sentences of conclusion
about your data."

A year or so later, another science teacher tells the same students:
"Did that last teacher tell you to handwrite your reports and give at
least three sentences of conclusion?" "In MY class you will type your
reports and I require fully developed paragraphs discussing the lab
objectives and your conclusion, in addition to graphs presenting your
raw data!"

Nobody should conclude that the second teacher contradicted the first
and overturned everything the earlier teacher had taught. In fact, he
was building on it ---pressing students into their new discomfort zones
so they can keep growing. Like Pete has so nicely noted, it's a
trajectory. You need to remember that Levi & Simeon premeditated a
massacre of a whole village as revenge over Dinah's rape. This is the
moral landscape into which a law is inserted which says there will be
one eye for one eye. Getting them to do much more than that (loving
their enemies, even! ---and yes there are hints at that even in the
O.T.) might have been analogous to my marching into a Kindergarten
classroom to announce my formal requirements for typed essays and lab
reports --if I may exaggerate the point. I don't pretend that we are
morally superior to the ancients --not at all. We have just been
entrusted with more; much more.


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Received on Tue Nov 3 20:46:17 2009

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