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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Ten Western Commandments

Jeremy Pierce posts the Veggie Tales version of The Ten Western Commandments, as they might have been given in the Old West. How about these as part of a Better Bible, for the right target audience?


At Tue Apr 10, 08:10:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Yes, Peter, I think that a colloquial version like this is helpful, for the right audience, as you say.

So many times the criticisms we hear about a Bible version do not adequately take into account its intended audience.

Different strokes for different folks!

At Tue Apr 10, 09:04:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

It is useful to remember that different religious groups (Jews, Catholics & Lutherans, Orthodox & other Protestants) number the Ten Commandments differently, a point that is often missed in popular culture portrayals.

At Tue Apr 10, 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

The creators of Veggie Tales are predominantly evangelical Protestants, so it's completely unsurprising that they stick with the traditional Protestant enumeration.

The Jewish order given by Wikipedia interestingly makes the first one not a commandment at all, but in fact the text doesn't call them commandments, from what I've read (I don't know Hebrew) but rather calls them words.

It strikes me as strange to separate coveting your neighbor's wife and coveting your neighbor's house, because they're both coveting. But it is also strange to separate worshiping one God and not having idols. I think the latter makes more sense of the two, though.

Interestingly, the standard Protestant way of numbering them is listed as "Orthodox" on Wikipedia, and the only Protestant group listing is lumped with the Catholic view (Lutherans). Very strange.

At Tue Apr 10, 03:52:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

Well Orthodox and most Protestant do follow the "Protestant" grouping and Luther preferred the "Catholic" grouping (which doesn't excuse the typically sloppy Wikipedia writing style -- but don't get me started on Wikipedia.)

By the way, when I cite to Wikipedia, I always try to get give a permanent link (look at the sidebar on the left on the Wikipedia page) because the pages often change in response to my comments (especially when I am not anonymous.)

It is true that these are called the ten utterances in the Hebrew -- but in fact, Classical Judaism regards this as one of the 613 commandments in the Bible. What is practical implication of the commandment? You may argue, that this is not in the proper form of a commandment. Well, this area has been covered extensively by medieval philosophers. Maimonides enumerates it as the first of the 613 commandments with the practical implication that one is to know that there is a God. Other philosophers interpret this differently, but all acknowledge that it is a positive commandment.


Interestingly, many commandments themselves include the words "I am the Lord." For example, Lev 19:3:

You shall each revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths; I the Lord am your God

Lev 19:18:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself; I am the Lord.

Now, what is the interpretation of the addition of "I am the Lord" to these statement? One school of thought holds that this addition is giving the reason for the commandments. Why hold them? Because God says so.

A deeper interpretation is given by the 12th century writer Jacob Bekhor-Shor. Respecting one's parents is a universal human value; but 19:3 places it it on the same level as the (more arbitrary) commandment to honor the Sabbath -- the latter is done for the sake of heaven, and so should the former. But, there is a considerable question -- how can one be commanded to love -- one could imagine a commandment of the form treat your fellow with respect (thus Hillel's famous saying What is hateful to yourself do not do to your fellow.) But that is not actually what the text says. We are not commanded to respect our fellow, but to love him.

Bekhor-Shor wrote that we can only truly fulfill the commandments by internalizing the energies of loving God.

The point is that there is a difference between a "good person" and one who is striving for the sake of Heaven -- and in such, bringing Heaven in himself.

For more, see this essay.

At Tue Apr 10, 05:33:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

I didn't know previously that Veggie Tales was a religious program -- I had thought it was just another cartoon. (I don't watch TV.) Thanks for explaining it to me!


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