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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 22:58:08 EST

Hi Dave,

I have serious reservations about this lady's claim - at least I read the Leviticus passage as specifically refuting the idea of "special treatment" based on ethnic background (note verse 22a);

19 ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him— 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. 21 And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. 22 *You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country*; for I am the LORD your God.’”

It simply doesn't seem to me like this could be used to justify hating foreigners - but I suppose we have to allow that some Jewish exegetes, just like some Christian ones, can be adept at avoiding the obvious demands of Scripture when they want to be.

PS: I'll just drop in here an affirmation of the point which seems to be coming out in diverse ways: namely that the Jewish approach isn't always an entirely graceless or legalistic affair. I don't want simply to respond to the various posts made on this point (Cameron, George, Pete) with a series of "I agree" responses - but did want to acknowledge the validity of the point. The fact that Jews aren't always legalists nor Christians always full of grace is one of those "messy" aspects of the question we need to take seriously.


dfsiemensjr wrote:
> I talked to a Jewish lady who noted that the command in Leviticus
> applies only to fellow Israelites. Hating foreigners if OK. Jesus'
> statement makes good will universal. This makes a relevant difference.
> Dave (ASA)
> On Tue, 3 Nov 2009 12:51:13 -0700 "Ryan Rasmussen, P.E."
> < <>> writes:
> Bernie said:
> I can understand morals changing or evolving, esp. with a ‘meme’
> idea of cultural evolution. But thinking that God is the ultimate
> sense of morals, then God changes the morals, poses a logic problem
> for me. *Why didn’t God just say the morals once, and have them
> good for all time?* Was it because humans weren’t evolved enough
> culturally so they couldn’t handle it yet? Again, that feeds into
> the ‘meme’ idea. The whole progressive attitude of morals which you
> seem to suggest smacks to me of cultural evolution (and I think you
> are right in seeing it that way).
> I'm confused.
> OT: Leviticus 19:18 (New International Version)
> ^18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your
> people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
> NT: Matthew 7:12 (New International Version)
> ^12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to
> you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
> I don't see where the changing and evolving is taking place?
> Pete said : “Eye for an eye in the OT is a means of bringing
> official "legal" restitution. It is not meant for
> making /personal/ decisions. I likely agree with Murray here, in our
> previous exchange. You may not be picking a very good example to
> make your point. ”
> Bernie replied: "There’s not really that big of a difference.
> Instead of a person making a judgment, it is a court (which is
> hopefully more fair and unbiased). So I think it is still
> interesting to see exactly what “eye for eye” meant (OT law
> example), how it was applied, and how it compares/contrasts with the
> NT."
> On the personal level which you argued, I would say that Lev. 19:18
> strictly prohibits revenge. I do believe it would be wrong (sin)
> for the Jewish boy to have /acted on his own in spirit a of
> vindictiveness/ in your example. "Eye for eye", in my view, is more
> about limiting punishment/restitution by a governing body on the
> behalf of someone who was wronged to a "punishment/recompense that
> fits the crime".
> Or as Glenn highlighted in a reference: "According to the laws in
> chaps. 17–26, two qualities are the girding pillars of a holy life,
> i.e., justice and love. Justice means equity. This is stated
> fundamentally in the principle of /lex talionis/, an eye for an eye,
> a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life (24:20). This principle does
> not imply that punishment was carried out by inflicting bodily
> injury in kind, but that *punishment for harm to a person is to be
> commensurate with the harm done, not greater, as revenge dictates,
> nor less, as indulgence desires*. This principle was *a great
> advancement in law codes, for it raised personal injury from a civil
> tort to criminal law, increasing the social worth of a citizen*.
> Throughout these laws the worth of each person is affirmed. [WBC,
> <x-msg://1/bookabs.html#WBC> Leviticus, Intro]
> I think some of the confusion here is that you are looking at laws
> that were established for a culture so different from our own and
> assuming that they have the same value/societal implications as
> ours. Would we ever stone a woman who lied and posed to be a virgin
> in today's times? Does someone's virginity have the same
> implications today as it did in the ANE?
> I think the main contrast I see in the NT is that Jesus brings the
> same unchanging morals to a focus in our inner world rather than
> constraints on the outer world.
> Ryan
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This email may contain confidential and
> privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient(s).
> Any review, use, distribution or disclosure by others is strictly
> prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please
> notify the sender immediately by email and delete the message and
> any file attachments from your computer. Thank you.
> ____________________________________________________________
> Weight Loss Program
> Best Weight Loss Program - Click Here!
> <>

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Nov 3 22:58:48 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Nov 03 2009 - 22:58:48 EST