What's your take on the 2nd commandment?

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Namaste Jesus, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. stranger

    stranger the divine ignorance (and friends)

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    Thomas, thanks for replying.

    Well... I think your example of the rose is a good one. I also believe that the numinous can shine through the most mundane things, or really, through any form that the senses can perceive, at any time, perhaps depending on what is needed by the one receiving it. I had my last such experience only a couple of weeks ago, through a piece of music.

    In my babbling concerning the forms, I had in mind something more akin to the dark night of the soul of St. John of the Cross (purgation of the senses), in which the consolations connected with the senses begin to be taken away, causing those faculties to, in effect, "go dark" with regard to spiritual matters. This would be similar to a weaning process, moving us away from a form of nourishment that has long sustained us to another, which, though it contains the promise of better things, we have not yet developed a taste for. The term contemplation seems a bit dry and formal for me, as this is nothing but a union of the spirit with God, experienced as a gentle inflowing of love. Infused love, if you will, for we cannot produce it or conjure it by any force of effort or merit it by works.

    This doesn't mean sensible forms are completely lost or rendered of no value, but rather that my attachment to them is being slowly suspended in favor of another faculty, that of the spirit, which is able to bypass the senses, intellect -- even the reason, I suppose. This is infused theology. It must of course filter back into the senses and understanding and reason, but it doesn't begin there. It is a "different" way of learning which begins not with the senses, but with the spirit. This is my understanding of it, anyway (for now).

    I think there is a great deal of pain associated with these things, as there often is with any spiritual change. It's like your world is ending and you are stepping on the dark precipices of the unknown. And yet, something moves you onward. It's like a conversion experience or a life-changing revelation, but deeper. You know as you move toward it that nothing will ever be the same again. And though it might not seem so, rather than moving further into selfishness (in the dark night you can by quite self-concerned), you are actually moving away from it, because the end result (love) is not selfish at all. This can be at the same time both frightening and exciting.

    With regard to the OP concerning the law as contained in the 2nd commandment, this is my opinion: No matter what my take on the law is, if I take it seriously and give it it's due; if I seek to implement it and live by it, I will fail. But this I have to try, because the law has dominion over a man "as long as he lives". But, the greater the effort, the more sure the lesson: no flesh shall be justified by the works of the law, though that law be holy and just and good. If all goes well, "Thou shalt" (the creature must produce) gives way to "I will" (God will do the work in you). In the former, you are left to your strength and devices. In the latter, strength exhausted, empty, slain by the law in a figure, you have fallen into the everlasting arms. One is a cold letter, which kills; the other is a life giving spirit. So I let the letter do its work, and the spirit do its work. It's death and resurrection -- not life instead of death, but life through death.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Stranger ...

    The man in question was Cardinal Avery Dulles (1918-2008).

    So do I.

    Music to mine ears.

    That seems good enough for me!

    Dionysius the pseudoAreopagite (St Denys in the Orthodox Traditions), a 5th century anonymous Syrian monk, considered by some to the the father of the Christian Mystical Tradition in that he drew on the apophatic and kataphatic ways, the day and night of the soul, if you will. Johannes Scottus Eriugena (one of our Catholic 'naughty boys' and a hero of mine) was a ninth century monk who further argued that both ways are equal, and valid, even necessary, as each balances the other in a dialectic method of theological speculation.

    (Not all believers are intellects or philosophers, so the assumption that the apophatic way is somehow superior or better than the kataphatic and 'tops' it, is in that sense erroneous. (The most naive image of God as Father as 'old man with a long white beard' is probably no better nor more accurate than our most sophisticated abstractions, nor in any way less effective in realising Divine Union.)

    – I have just popped that in. It's not intended as a critique of your position.

    I agree.

    Amen, and may God continue to bless your endeavours — even when we neither seek nor see the blessing ...
     
  3. Tadashi

    Tadashi Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    I’m gonna say something controversial here... something that could get me into trouble if I said it at one of my family gatherings...

    I tend to think the belief of strict Biblical inerrancy, worshiping the Bible as if it's the immediate word of God itself falls into the category of the violation of the second commandment, by making the Bible an idol.

    Tad
     
  4. stranger

    stranger the divine ignorance (and friends)

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    Thomas, I appreciate your kind spirit. Such things are too rare these days, in my opinion. After thinking about it awhile, I tend to agree with what you had to say here:

    I can see the wisdom of it. Needs no further comment on my part. Thanks again...
     
  5. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    That's a very interesting point of view. I'd not considered that before.
     
  6. LincolnSpector

    LincolnSpector Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the Torah has something like 600 commandments. The Ten are just the beginning.
     
  7. Tadashi

    Tadashi Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for not throwing stones at the blasphemer! :D

    Tad
     
  8. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I don't consider your remarks blasphemous at all. I know of quite a few 'Bible Thumpers' that fall into that catagory. Yikes... now we're both going to be dodging stones! :eek:
     
  9. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    I tend to think the belief of strict Biblical inerrancy, worshiping the Bible as if it's the immediate word of God itself, falls into the category of the violation of the second commandment, by making the Bible an idol.
    --Tadashi.

    That's a very interesting point of view. I'd not considered that before.
    --Namaste Jesus.​
    In my testier youth, I gleefully pointed out this obvious contradiction to numerous religious monotheists.

    I don't like to generalize, but from my sampling:
    Most Jews and liberal Christians "got it," and were able to smile about it.
    Most fundamentalist Christians and Muslims scowled at my "attack" upon their sacred book, but never really "got" the contradiction.

    The Bible and the Quran are not physical objects to the faithful, of any ideological stripe. Ultimately, the sacred writings are music to the ears of one's moral conscience.

    For liberal or conservative, logic doesn't much enter in.

     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    And in the Jewish culture that Jesus was raised in there were two commandments that were held high...they aren't 'new testament' they are 'old testament' nothing new, he was simply repeating what he was taught...

    he did add a new one... the one most often forgot.
     
  11. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    To clarify wil's remarks . . .
    These are the "two commandments" which Jesus quotes from Hebrew scripture:

    And you shall love Yahweh your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your might.
    --Deuteronomy 6:5

    You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people;
    but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    I am Yahweh.

    --Leviticus 19:18

    As to the "new" but "forgotten" commandment, you will have to ask wil . . . ?

    (But something certainly more original and startling than the already centuries-old Golden Rule, enumerated by Hillel, Confucius, and others . . . long before Jesus' day.)

     
  12. Tadashi

    Tadashi Well-Known Member

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    I understand many of Jesus's teachings are, naturally, the universal truths which many other sages from all over the world understood. But was there anyone who said "Love your enemies" before Jesus did? Was there anyone else who forgave his executioners at the very moment they were killing him, before Jesus? This is the reason why Jesus is 'the biggest' hero of mine...

    Tad
     
  13. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Jesus did forgive one of the thieves being executed beside him, but technically he did not forgive his executioners. He asked God, to forgive them,

    "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

    I do believe that prayer was meant for all of us though.
     
  14. Tadashi

    Tadashi Well-Known Member

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    Well... but doesn't his asking God to forgive them clearly indicate that he himself has forgiven them?? (At least that's how I took it...)
     
  15. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Perhaps. The thing that was different, the thief that Jesus forgave had asked him for forgiveness, while the executioner and the 2nd thief had not. These men he certainly had compassion for as he asked God on their behalf for forgiveness, but he himself did not forgive them as they had not asked.

    I just mention it in the interest of accuracy. I didn't mean to take anything away from the greatness of Jesus. I was just trying to lend a little insight into the way Jesus did things. :)
     
  16. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi Tad.

    I understand many of Jesus' teachings are, naturally, the universal truths which many other sages from all over the world understood. But was there anyone who said "Love your enemies" before Jesus did?
    --Tadashi.​
    Yeah, this does seem pretty radical for the year 30 CE, doesn't it?
    However, I would propose to you that this "new commandment" is not as radical as you might think, in two different ways:

    1. Jesus is suggesting that the only relevant "measure" of good behavior is . . . what God does.
    In this instance, He treats all persons equally:

    You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy."
    But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you . . .
    Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect . . .
    For He makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

    --Matthew 5:43-48.
    There is a larger context here than just "turning the other cheek."
    Do as God does, not as men do.

    Many of the big debates, within and between sects of Jewish Monotheism in the 1st century CE, are about correct moral behavior. Jesus' contribution to this debate is to make God the measure. High standard, sure. But consistent with much of Jesus' teachings.
    "Love your enemy" is, thus, just one of many sayings that has this "do like God" aim.

    2. If you remember your Bible, "Love your enemies" appears within a long "to do" list aimed at Godly conduct (Matthew 5 and Luke 6), collections of sayings ascribed to Jesus which both Matthew and Luke had access to.
    You find similar concerns in Essene writings (for instance Qumran Manual of Discipline Ix, 21-26) and in Rabbinic remembrances of Pharisaic thought (for instance, selections of Hillel's thought from Pirkei Avoth).
    So, whether Jesus literally said it first or not, such ideas were in the wind in the year 30 CE.
    Jesus very effectively utilized these ideas as a trenchant social criticism - criticism again Jewish moral hypocrisy during his era.
    The "you've heard it said . . . but I tell you" refrain is not that different than the rhetorical structures utilized by the prophets 700-800 years earlier. And Jesus' rhetorical structures sometimes look like the fiery ones in Qumran writings and sometimes look like the bookish ones used in Pharisaic discourse. And many sayings also look like biblical Proverbs (and similar wisdom literature across many cultures).
    Jesus pragmatically employed a range of rhetorical styles to get his message across.

    If you could time-travel back to 30 CE Galilee and Judea, you would hear a lot of "teachers" sounding very much like Jesus in the content and style of their speech. Jesus might be a tad edgier and smarter, more passionate and compelling as a speaker, than most. But in the style and content of his teaching, he was not a radical innovator.

    I would propose that what makes Jesus so radical, and why his followers were so convinced he needed to be remembered, arises from an aspect of Jesus personality entirely detached from the inspirational quality of his teachings.

    Time-travel again to 30 CE. When you are face to face with Jesus, he can get inside your head, almost instantly.
    With a friend or lover - then or now - this process normally takes days or weeks. Tearing down the defense-mechanisms, the masks. Getting beyond all the social BS.
    Jesus cares about a person (any person he meets) so deeply, that he just cuts through all the BS.
    He can read the muscles of the person's face, read their heart. And he knows what to say to them to change this tension, to refocus these muscles, in order to reorient this person's sense of self. To alter their soul.

    Face to face, person to person - Jesus changes lives.
    When he dies, the changes he wrought in people's lives and within their character . . . does not die with him.
    Whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead, the impact he has on the life of each person he has encountered . . . lives on, virtually undiminished.
    And some of that face-to-face impact, is then passed on - nonverbally - to others. And from them, to still others.

    Jesus changed lives.
    And continues to do so today.

    Jesus' collected sayings are, at best, verbal memory tools - to help us explain to ourselves and to each other why Jesus is significant.
    But where Jesus continues to live within us . . . is in the uniqueness and power of how he transacts with another person. A nonverbal transaction which still resonates (if a bit watered-down after so many centuries). It endures as a kind of generation to generation to generation "muscle memory" which contagiously and compellingly moves from person to person to person, even today.
    (Or, Tad, so I believe.)
    Jesus changes lives.

    One radical saying of Jesus can't quite explain it.
    What Jesus does for each of us . . . is something deep down.
    Something which each of us knows about - not in our brain, but in our muscles.

    Jane.

     
  17. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Two Thieves:

    Namaste Jesus, hi.
    Tadashi, hi.

    This story in Luke 23 of the two thieves is a really appealing story, isn't it? Something about it cries out for discussion. The kind of back-and-forth discussion you two have been having, here.

    I cannot help but wonder if this might be the reason that Luke concocts this story. Concocts . . . or perhaps records what some other storyteller tells him.
    The tale is appealing because, despite Jesus suffering physical and emotional agonies up on his cross, he is nonetheless concerned for those around him.
    "It is the sort of thing Jesus would do," so the story is believed as fact.

    40-80 years after Jesus has died, there must have been hundreds of stories floating around about Jesus' ministry and death, being passed from one Christian community to another. Some based in fact, no doubt, but most of them quite fanciful. Mark, the writer of the first Gospel to circulate (circa 70 CE), is a careful editor. He is a Jewish-Christian, and knows how Jews live and eat and talk, knows the politics of Roman Palestine:
    --How Pharisees proselytize their message about "new laws" in places like Galilee.
    --How Scribes rely on a narrow reading of Scripture in interpreting "the will of God."
    --How Sadducees protect their power and wealth by controlling the rites performed at the Jerusalem Temple, limiting the scope of piety of the faithful to the mere act of making sacrifices there, thus mollifying any Roman worries about Monotheism ("Look Pilate, it's just another cultic rite to a deity, housed in a nice big temple, just as every other national culture in the Roman Empire has").
    Mark knows this world well enough, even decades after Jesus' time, to know what is credible versus what has to be fanciful or spectacular nonsense within this historical context. So in Mark's story of Jesus, Mark leaves-in only what "makes sense" within this milieu. He rejects most of the tales he hears.
    Mark is trying to reconstruct the actual Good News which Jesus was actually preaching, not all the fantasies spread by people who can tell a good tale but who are not Jewish-raised and who were never there in Roman Palestine.
    The anecdotes Mark includes in his Gospel may or may not have actually happened - God only knows - but at least they have a real-world credibility to them (they could have taken place).

    Matthew and Luke and John also try to avoid the more fanciful and spectacular stories about Jesus (the kind which Gnostic texts preserve) as well as avoid the Hellenistic penchant for blatant mythologizing of its heroes. But these three later gospel-writers each are not so much reconstructing Jesus' physical and psychological environment like Mark is attempting, but are instead utilizing Mark's realism in order to build each their own subtle but still relatively credible mythos.
    Jesus as a larger than life mythic figure, Roman Palestine as a mythic environment, and Jewish practices and politics as mythically (melodramatically) simplified. The Cecil B. DeMille version of events: a Hollywoodized version of a biographically-real life, a Hollywoodized version of a real historical place, and a Hollywoodized version of a real body of cultural practices.

    Frankly, I personally doubt the factuality of any of the Golgotha stories. (Even Mark's.)
    Nasty place, Golgotha. Unclaimed bodies thrown in a pit, scavenger birds nibbling on human bones. Not a place you take women, if you are a Jewish man. Not a place you go yourself, unless you want to spend the rest of the day ritually cleansing yourself then making some sacrifice at the Temple (as is prescribed by Jewish law) to remove the evil stain of the place, the sin of contact with "corruption".
    But let's push my general doubts aside, for a minute . . .

    You've seen the Medieval and Renaissance paintings depicting John 19:25-27:

    Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister Mary (the wife of Cleophas) and Mary Magdalene.
    When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother,
    “Woman, behold your son!”
    Then he said to the disciple,
    “Behold, your mother!”
    From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

    Dramatic scene.
    The good Jewish son, the sole support of his mother, making sure she is cared for.
    (This assumes Jesus is her only son, and sole support. Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-56 claim that Jesus' mom has four other sons, also that it is her name which is "Mary," not that of her sister.)
    Contradictions aside, the incident never happened. Not at Golgotha, anyway. Aside from Roman soldiers, witnesses can watch down upon the scene from Jerusalem's city-walls or up from the side of a nearby main thoroughfare entering the city. But only "at a distance":

    There were also women watching from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome; who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and served him; and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
    --Mark 15:40-41.

    Many women were there watching from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee [i.e. the mom of fishermen/disciples James the older and John].
    --Matthew 27:55-56.

    All his acquaintances, and the women who followed with him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
    --Luke 23:49.​

    If women camp-followers of Jesus are in fact there, Mark and Matthew and Luke get this right. John doesn't. Yeah, it's a good story. It's something "Jesus might have done." But . . . could never have happened.

    Same with the case, Namaste Jesus and Tadashi, of the "two thieves" tale:
    (Sure. Must have been plenty of thieves caught at crowded festival-times like Passover.)

    If you guys know your Bible, then you know that this good-thief/bad-thief episode happens only in Luke's gospel.
    In John, the two individuals executed beside Jesus are left undescribed (John 19:18).
    In Mark and Matthew, they are described as "bandits" (Mark 15:27, Matthew 27:38), not as common criminals ("thieves") as in Luke (Luke 23:32).
    The difference is important. The Romans did not crucify common criminals. If captured thieves are in fact adjudged to deserve capital punishment, they are "stoned to death" or are executed by whatever local method is stipulated.
    Never by crucifixion. This is reserved - solely for political criminals. Nationalist revolutionaries or bandits in the hills (whose leader frequently claims to be "the Messiah"), persons who break the "Roman Peace." And, by doing so, who economically cut into food-production or into free-flowing trade, and thus (most pertinently) cut into Roman tax revenues by stealing from bigtime taxpayers.
    So, if in fact there are two individuals who do die upon Golgotha, either side of Jesus, they are bandits or revolutionaries. Not common thieves.
    Jesus is not only physically suffering upon the cross. He is also psychologically suffering mockery directed at himself and his ministry via the tongues of Jerusalem citizens and Roman soldiers. And from the point-of-view of Mark and Matthew, these two hardcases crucified alongside Jesus are irredeemable:

    The bandits who are crucified with him also taunt him in the same way.
    --Mark 15:32, Matthew 27:44.​

    Either Luke is unaware of how Roman law works in Palestine before 66 CE.
    Or Luke is unwilling to "let the facts get in the way of a good story."

    Much of the mythos of the Gospels and Acts is built upon just this kind of ignorance and/or literary license. People like a good story!
    But try to imagine all the even more over-the-top stories floating around about Jesus in the late 1st century CE which the four Gospel writers wisely choose to ignore!
    So despite many logical problems within each Gospel and factual contradictions between Gospels, it is easy to see why these four books become canonical (accepted scripture), while so much else never makes the cut.

    Still. People do like a good story, don't they?
    Gets people (like you two) talking.
    And writers need this ego-hit. Being read, being paid attention to . . . as long as the recorded anecdote "sounds like something Jesus might have done."

    Jane.

     
  18. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi again, Namaste Jesus.

    Jesus did forgive one of the thieves being executed beside him, but technically he did not forgive his executioners. He asked God, to forgive them,
    "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" . . .

    You are quoting Luke 23:34.
    What is interesting about this quote is . . . that half of the oldest of our manuscripts of Luke's gospel do not contain this sentence.

    Either some monk, coping it, forgot to include this line.
    Or (more likely) the line is originally a margin note by some monk, commenting on the text. Then the next person coping it . . . thought this note is part of the text (it sounded right), and so includes it. And Luke's text continues to be copied with this added inclusion.
    So . . . instead of this line being written by the anonymous author of Luke in the late 1st century, it is written by some (even more anonymous) monk some centuries later.

    Why is this one sentence thought to be part of the original Gospel text?

    It sounds like the sort of thing Jesus might say, under the circumstances.

    (Food for thought.)

    Jane.

     
  19. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Hi Jane,

    it's hard to say what was in the original text and what wasn't. What was there, but mistranslated, omitted or embellished. That's one of the reasons I try to avoid directly quoting the scripture.

    See what happens when I do....:eek:
     
  20. Tadashi

    Tadashi Well-Known Member

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    I beg to differ. But our difference in opinions may be due to how we interpret 'forgive'. To me, 'to forgive' means that you would not hold grudges against those who harmed you and you'd even wish them well, and to me, that's what Jesus was doing by praying for them, showing his concerns for their salvation.

    If by any chance your understanding is that anyone forgiven by Jesus will enter into heaven, that's different from mine. To me, 'being forgiven' and 'being saved' are not the same thing, for the latter, one has to voluntarily admit one's guilt and yes, 'repent' and 'ask' for God's forgiveness. So, I am not suggesting those executioners went to heaven by saying "Jesus forgave them", in case that's how you took it...

    I still maintain that Jesus forgave his executioners, because to me, he contradicts himself otherwise. He wouldn't tell us to do something he wouldn't do himself, would he?

    Matthew 6:14-15
    For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    Mark 11:25
    And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

    Luke 11:4
    Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.


    He says 'everyone', not only the people who asked. I just can't imagine Jesus saying "we don't forgive those who don't ask to be forgiven"... I think he'll say "forgive them anyway..." and that's 'my interpretation' of who Jesus is. (and you know, I'm a heretic, so my interpretation may not be aligned with the majority of the Christians, but many of my protestant friends actually agreed with me on this one for a change.)


    Tad
     

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