Monday, April 1, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 20 and The Didache 7-8

Exodus 20The Ten “Words” or Commandments:  Schocken points out that they are unusual in that no penalties are attached for breaking them as in the more detailed regulations.  They are the framework against which the more detailed infractions can be understood.  The order differs for Jews as it does for Catholics and Protestants.  The following is the Jewish division:

Tablet 1

·      I am YHWH “who brought you out from the land of Egypt. . .
·      You shall have no other gods before me. . .
·      You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
·      Remember the Sabbath. . .
·      Honor your father and mother

Tablet 2

·      You shall not murder
·      You shall not commit adultery
·      You shall not steal
·      You shall not bear false witness. . .
·      You shall not covet. . .

Catholics and Protestants take the first as an introductory passage and not a commandment.  Then Protestants divide the second; Catholics divide the covet commandment.

The passage that begins with verse 15 is very interesting, because the people here recoil from the personal encounter with YHWH whom they see in smoke and fire.  “They say to Moshe: You speak with us, and we will hearken, but let not God speak with us, lest we die!” The people do not want a “personal relationship” with this God.  He is too overwhelming, too frightening to encounter.  They want Moses to be their intermediary, and Moses tells them God has come to them in such awesome countenance to inspire “awe” or fear in them and to show the people that He cannot be contained in figures of silver or gold (20:20).

So, here is the standard entry I will post each day - five days a week. That should get us to the end of Exodus by the next time we meet. Doing a little daily will give us a chance to notice things that we should discuss in greater depth.

The Didache
Here begins the Second part of the Didache – a manual of worship and discipline in an early Christian community, according to the introduction (188).

Part 2. A Church Manual
Of Baptism
7 – The procedure for baptizing is as follows. After repeating all that has been said, immerse in running water ‘In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’. If no running water is available, immerse in ordinary water. This should be cold if possible; otherwise warm. . . . Both baptizer and baptized ought to fast before the baptism, as well as any others who can do so; but the candidate himself should be told to keep a fast for a day or two beforehand” (194).

Of Fast-Days and Prayer
8 – “Do not keep the same fast-days as the hypocrites. Mondays and Thursdays are their days for fasting, so yours should be Wednesdays and Fridays” (194).

“Your prayers, too, should be different from theirs. Pray as the Lord Enjoined in His Gospel” and make sure you pray this three times every day. Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

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