Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Interesting Observation from a Jewish Expert on Ancient Law

The fact is that Jesus is not, in form, presenting another Sinaitic revelation. Admittedly, it is conceivable that a centuries-old reverential instinct would prevent the use of the pattern even after his recognition as the Messiah, a second Moses, Godlike. But even on this basis, there remains something in 'you shall', 'you shall not', too mighty, too awesome, to be transferred. Once we are aware of this absence, it is in fact particularly striking in the sermon. After 'you have heard thou shalt not kill, but I say unto you', the natural continuation would be 'thou shalt not be angry with thy brother.' Instead, there is almost — from the formal angle — an anticlimax: 'that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment', reminiscent — as to form — of a statement like Eleazar of Modiim's (he was Bar Kokhba's uncle): 'He who. ..puts his fellow to shame in public has no share in the world to come'. This structure, too, would be worth exploring; here it suffices to observe that, compared with 'you shall' or 'you shall not', it is sober, grading, classifying. In the same way, 'thou shalt not commit adultery' is followed not by 'thou shalt not lust ... but by 'whosoever looks to lust has already committed adultery in his heart': in form, mere exegesis determining the scope of the statute, the act furthest from the central one still falling under it [David Daube, Ancient Jewish Law p. 90]

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