Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mike: Brief Response to Rami's 10/13 Post

Some time back, I think, we briefly discussed how our respective traditions may incline us to approach interpreting texts differently. In a nutshell, my tradition tends to focus on the personal and a big picture, your tradition encourages a greater focus on the corporate and particulars. To my mind, our differences enrich our conversation.

Given your focus on how an "eye for an eye" applied only to the courts, I wonder if you may underestimate the importance of "popular" interpretation and application. I suspect any number of people absorbed the concept and went on to apply it to interpersonal relationships. From spouses, to parents, to clans, to the world of commerce, I suspect individuals justified various forms of revenge on the basis of the maxim. Turning to politics, I can not help but think the Zealots embraced the phrase as part of their justification for violent resistance to the Romans. Well...you get my point. Insofar as I determine, such sayings become not only law but folklore, and their influence as folklore may or may not bear much relationship to their intended meaning.

I have no doubt that you are correct: the court system of the day was corrupt, and Jesus certainly called on his followers to take a different approach to justice. At the same time, though, I think Jesus sought to address and reform personal habits of the mind, heart and hands.

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