Re: Matthew 5:39

On Tue, 1 Nov 1994, MADAVIDS.US.ORACLE.COM wrote:

> Recall that in Isaiah 53, one of the passages states; 
> 	...he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before  
> 	its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 
> You wonder whether the writers of the Gospels did not write down any response 
> by Jesus to being struck because He did not, in fact, respond, or to conform 
> their accounts of the trial and crucifixion to that of the Suffering Servant. 
> (Please, no flames - I personally believe he WAS the Suffering Servant!) 

I'm sure the Suffering Servant is operative here. I agree with what has 
been said about the Passion being an example of not resisting evil.  The 
only problem is taking it as being an example of the literal meaning of 
_strepson autOi kai tEn allEn_, "turn him the other cheek" in Matt. 5:39 
- which to me would require Jesus to have masochistically offered himself 
for abuse: that is not the image built up by any of the gospels.  Indeed, 
a literal playing-out of Matt. 5:39-41 would provoke laughter or anger, 
it would seem to me.  I think people here are already reading "turn the 
other cheek" metaphorically/figuratively and are not even noticing the 
literal meaning anymore.

Matt. 5:39 - mE antistEnai tOi ponErOi - Do not resist the evil-doer - 
that could be interpreted literally, and it's backed up by the gospel 
portrayal of Jesus.

Matt 5:39 - if someone struck someone else on the cheek, it is probably 
meant as an offense, so turning the other cheek to be hit would imply no 
offense was taken, so it would anger and annoy the offender.

Matt 5:40 - if someone sued and took the chiton as pledge, what would 
they want with the himation? (it's not mentioned that they needed it - in 
fact, it is implied that they don't)

Matt 5:41 - if someone forced you to go a mile with them, it is probably 
because they only had a mile to go.  Offering to go a second mile - one 
that they didn't plan on travelling - would be absurd/surreal/comical.

As far as I can see, these last three points are impossible to interpret 
literally.  As positive commands they do seem to be supporting the negative 
command, "do not resist evil" and contradicting and/or exaggerating the 
Mosaic code "eye for an eye" like the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.  
Reading them as repetitions of "resist not evil" is not possible, since 
they are positive commands (to action).  Maybe they mean something like 
"return good for evil."  That would be my first thought - and that would 
also be backed up by the Passion stories, in which Jesus speaks 
constructively to his enemies and prays for their welfare (that is, he 
always gives them another chance to do good - a "second cheek" - 
but not to strike).

Greg Jordan