Monday, April 20, 2009
"Eye for an Eye" as an Expression of Social Justice
I found this interpretation unique and compelling:
What is unique in the Hasidic approach to reconciliation is that it points the way to seeing justice and love as necessary complements of each other rather than as alternatives between which one must choose... The large majority of people in our culture hold the distorted view that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh and wrathful God in contrast to the loving and merciful God of the New... An "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is not the expression of a vengeful God but a primitive statement of basic social democracy in which no [one] is held of greater worth than another, because each is created in the image of God... Throughout all history, indeed, the natural inequality of man has justified razing a whole city to revenge the murder of one privileged man. Countless others have been exterminated with impunity because they were slaves or serfs or members of an "inferior race." "An eye for an eye" is a fundamental conception of social justice.

~ Maurice Friedman, "Hasidism and the love of enemies" in Peace is the Way

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posted by Mike Clawson at 9:58 AM | Permalink |


4 Comments:


At 4/20/2009 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Nathan P. Gilmour

That leads to some interesting implications for Anselmian atonement theory, which is predicated on a hierarchy of values ranging from serfs at the bottom to kings at the top of the food chain and ultimately God beyond that.

 

At 4/21/2009 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Interesting. Could you say more about that Nathan? I'm not quite following your train of thought.

 

At 4/22/2009 02:34:00 AM, Blogger Troy

What I'm hearing in Nathan's comment is:

A. If "An 'eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' is not the expression of a vengeful God but a primitive statement of basic social democracy in which no [one] is held of greater worth than another, because each is created in the image of God..."

and

B. If Anselm's theory of atonement is predicated on the idea of inequality

then

C. Anselm's theory of atonement is rendered false.

 

At 4/22/2009 03:10:00 AM, Blogger Troy

Lest your good point be lost, however, as I read this I thought:

So, Jesus' teaching is like Hasidism on crack, then. Not only do we limit ourselves to "an eye for an eye" (according to Hasidic teaching) but we do one better:

"Love your enemies."
"DO to others what you would have them do to you." (vs. "DON'T do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you").
"Bless those who curse you."

This is biblical justice: Mercy where punishment is being demanded.

See this article as I interfaced Anselm's concept of justice and mercy with the biblical concept:

http://troymarbles.blogspot.com/2005/01/how-to-create-just-society-short.html

 

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