[Milton-L] Judaism and Christianity again

Alan Rudrum rudrum at shaw.ca
Thu Jul 27 17:57:15 EDT 2006

Thanks to those who responded to my re-posting of the question 
concerning Judaism. Peter Herman suggested that if I would consider what 
was delivered while standing on one leg, I would probably discover the 
answer. But that does not work. Rabbi Telushkin quotes Hillel on the 
Golden Rule on p. 121 and the “innovative teachings ascribed to Jesus 
[that] diametrically oppose Jewish teachings” on p. 128, adding that 
“The Torah commands that one offer the wicked man powerful resistance.”

Harold Skulsky, I think justly, remarks that it's unclear that the 
Golden Rule strictly entails forgiveness to one's enemies. Hillel had 
spoken of one’s neighbour. On the other hand, I wonder why (if he does) 
Prof. Skulsky sees Matthew 5:38-48 as ambiguous. It is certainly, as 
Jesus seems to have noticed in v. 48, a counsel of perfection! Perhaps 
the Greek is a little less daunting than the English of the AV version. 
What, I wonder, might be a literal translation of the Aramaic behind 
what comes out like a bit of Aristotelean teleology in the Greek?

I was interested to read Nancy Rosenfeld’s citation of Exodus 23:4. "If 
thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely 
bring it back to him." I had found it very striking when looking up 
“enemy” in a Concordance the night before reading her post.

Jeffrey Shoulson makes, it seems to me, a valuable distinction between 
personal enemies and enemies of Israel; it is personal vendettas that 
seem to be addressed in Matthew 5: 21-26, and probably in 5:38-48

So, it might not follow that one could generalize from those injunctions 
to pacificism? And the gap at this point between Judaism and 
Christianity may not be as wide as might appear at first sight?

Lastly, the following from p. 132 of Telushkin’s /Jewish Literacy/ might 
pique the interest of members of this list: “Finally, (the Pharisees) 
believed in the somewhat paradoxical notion that human beings have full 
freedom of moral choice even though God knows every detail of the future.”


Alan Rudrum
Professor Emeritus
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

www.sfu.ca/~rudrum <http://www.sfu.ca/%7Erudrum>

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