Monday, June 9, 2008

Rami's Reply to Mike's June 8th Post

As hesitant as we were, I do think it was worth the effort to articulate our understanding of the Ten Commandments succinctly, especially after so many pages of dialogue regarding them.

Just a quick note about the Second Commandment. We both agree that it is so dangerous to believe your own theology, to mistake our partial insights for absolute truth. I think it is this shared notion that allows us to carry on this discussion. While each of us is convinced in the rightness of our positions, neither of us is convinced that we have a right to be convinced.

There is a humility about our respective positions that arises not from tentativeness about what we believe, but from a greater knowing that no map should ever be mistaken for the territory. Religion in our time would be a very different thing if this humility were more widely held.

OK, while we shall always reserve the right to go back and add to our prior discussions on the Ten Commandments, I think we are ready to move on the Sermon on the Mount. Just as I took the lead and set up each of the Ten Commandments, it is now your task to introduce to the Sermon as a whole and each verse or teaching as it comes up.

Just be gentle with me. While we both had to study the Hebrew Bible and the Ten Commandments in our respective seminaries, only you had to learn the Greek and study the New Testament. So please don’t assume any knowledge on my part. Especially when it comes to the various understandings of the Greek terms. For example, are there nuances in the Greek that the English words “blessed,” “meek,” “poor in spirit,” etc. just fail to capture? This will be standing question of mine as we go through the text.

So think of this as “The Sermon on the Mount for Dummies.” I’m the dummy. But if we have other Jewish readers, or even some less well religiously educated Christian or secular readers, this approach will be a help to all of us.

One last suggestion: Perhaps it would be helpful if we each took some time to briefly articulate who Jesus is to us, sort of the way we each laid out our respective approaches to the Bible and the Ten Commandments.

Your call.

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