I find it sort of interesting how the ten commandments have been so fully absorbed by Christianity, and yet we pay so little attention–for better or for worse–to other Old Testament writings.
From Exodus 23, verses 2-9 (NRSV)
“You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to the poor in a lawsuit. When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back. When you see the donkey of the one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free. You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. You shall not oppress the resident alien; you know the heart of an alien for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Great choice here. This may be an under-noticed OT passage but there are some that get too much attention. Can you think of any examples of this? I get particularly frustrated when I have conversations with hetero Christians on queer members of the Church and Leviticus or Genesis 19 (or Adam and Eve) get cited as conclusive evidence of excluding homosexual partnerships.
Can you (and others) suggest OT passages that are cited to oppress others?
Also, if anyone has any books, articles, websites, etc. that provide Christians with useful understandings of how to approach the OT through a Jewish lens, let me know. I know Yoder’s “Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited” has been particularly helpful for me.
Devan, I’ve been reading a good bit of Jon Levenson recently–a Jewish biblical scholar/theologian. He’s an impressive interpreter, and not unaware of the different ways that the texts have been picked up by Christians. In fact, some of his most interesting work attempts to show the Jewish antecedents of central Christian doctrines. Two of his best: Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son and Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel.
Devan, if you’re looking for stuff relating to Jewish-Christian dialogue (more along the lines of Yoder’s book), I could recommend a number of sources (including Mennonites). In terms of approaching the OT through a Jewish lens, I’ve found just reading an English Tanakh to be really interesting. I also like “A Rabbi Reads the Bible” by Jonathan Magonet.
The exegesis question is a bigger matter, and one I’ll have to come back to after I’ve finished writing my Systematics mid-term…