Thursday, 11 January 2007

Christian versus Jewish interpretations of the Old testament

I need to add a brief follow up to my previous post to make my argument simpler. I am not really interested in this subject but now I have started so I had better finish. Hopefully I won't have to revisit this again.

The onset of rabbinical judaism 2500 years ago led to a codification of what commandments there actually are in the old testament. These are the 613 biblical commandments. Judaism has no concept of sin like xianity but they have instead the concept of transgressing these commandments - doing what is prohibited or not doing what is obligatory.

Importantly, as set out in some of these commandments, only a judicial process could decide the guilt of someone and exercise a sentence. Additionally not all these commandments are applicable today and this also excludes passing a death sentence for any transgression.

Whilst xian and jewish views of what these biblical laws are is presumably similar they are not the same (compare the different versions of the Ten Commandments). The key point here is that a direct or literal reading could lead to xian taking the law into their own hands including killing others. Right now I am thinking specifically of murderous anti-abortionists in the USA, but I am sure there are other examples. However in judaism no extra-judicial killing is permitted regardless of the apparent guilt of a transgressor.

I am sure there are other differences and counter-examples to my one but really I only wanted to make the point that there are different interpretations and one cannot naively apply one to another even if, or especially if, one holds neither view.

Post script if you want to avoid reading the bible a 10 minute perusal of the 613 commandments will tell you all you need to know about discrimination and genocide and other great moral exemplars in the old testament.


beepbeepitsme said...

Come and join our atheist/agnostic blogroll

martino said...

thanks, have done so

BigHeathenMike said...

Hey there, nice blog! I found you from Hell's Handmaiden and am looking forward to getting through some of your posts.

Have a good one!