Doug Chaplin has posted about the extraordinary antitheses in Matthew’s Gospel. I disagree with his way of understanding them, and so thought I would write a post in response.
I regularly tell my students that it is unlikely that these sayings should be understood as meaning “You heard God say in the past, but I disagree with what God said and have something else to say.” Not only is that unlikely to begin with, but the relationship between the things is not one of stark contrast.
That is when I point out that Greek has different words for “but.”
The one used here is often translated as “and” – and I think that works best in this context.
For instance, “You have heard it said ‘Do not murder’…and I say, do not even get angry…”
The relationship is one of digging deeper to the root causes, getting beyond the negatives that one can legislate to underlying attitudes that can motivate positive action.
You have heard from those in the past that these are antitheses. But I say to you…