For a variety of reasons, not least a dispensational upbringing, some Lutheran law vs. gospel theology, and then a radical New Testament theology that the Torah was in use only until the era of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments have not figured prominently in my own ethical thinking. I memorized them as a kid in Sunday School class, and they are #3 in memorized portions behind the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23.
This is not to say they don’t appear, for it would be nearly impossible to avoid the Ten Commandments. When I did the Jesus Creed project I became convinced that Jesus’ love God-love others applies to the Ten Commandments in that there is a section about loving God and another section about loving others.
What role do the Ten Commandments play in your life? Have them memorized? Recite them often? What about the role they play in your catechism or your church’s liturgy?
But I have not done enough work on the Ten Commandments, and so when I saw Patrick Miller’s new book, The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church, I decided to purchase it and work through it — and I want to do this for my Introduction to Bible classes. It’s a big, complete, theologically rich book about the Ten Commandments and it is helpful to the Church and to the Christian.
So, we begin a new series, and I hope I can flank RJS’s posts each Tues and Thurs with reflections on the Ten Commandments.
1. There is tension between a universality (second table) and particularity (first table): the only way to understand the Ten Commandments is part of Israel’s Story (4).
2. They need to be interpreted, and that is what happens in both Exodus 22:1-15 (e.g.) or Deut 12-26. They are the enduring principles behind laws.
4. Each commandment has both a negative (do not) and positive (do) dimension.
5. There are different ways to numbering them (he considers the first ‘two’ two separate commands, as in the Reformed tradition, and there is only one covet commandment).
6. There is some overlap in the Commandments.