Sunday, February 27, 2011

An Eye for an Eye

Today's sermon was on part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you...'" It seems such a straight-forward reading, and I've known it all my life, but I had no idea how much my cultural understanding has skewed my interpretation of this verse.

I no longer live in a period or culture, such as that of the Kanun, where blood feuds could be triggered over dinner arrangements. An eye for an eye--which is today a model of cruel and draconian punishment--was at the time a revolutionary idea of justice. That one should not, as Lamech said, "Kill a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me." but rather fit the punishment to the crime was a startling idea.

I have completely misunderstood that verse my entire life.


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