Re: Matthew 5:39

Sterling Bjorndahl,

Thanks for sharing the suggestion from secondary sources about how the 
passage might be interpreted literally, and still make sense.  I was 
merely dealing with the primary text and getting secondary source insight 
is one of the reasons I am on this list (since I have a different 
profession and am checking different secondary sources for reading 
different texts).  Still, I would say I still have my doubts 
about this particular passage.  It seems like any slapping, even on the 
left cheek with the offender's palm, would still be sinful, and turning 
the cheek would be encouraging the sin.  The "nakedness" trick in the 
agora for propaganda value... hmmm, let me think about that.  And going 
the second mile to make a Roman soldier worry about getting in trouble 
enough to talk to the Christian and learn some things... still seems 
a little strained to me.  

Some people (not you) are tending to see "turn the other cheek" as 
already figurative, but also as a not entirely logical equation of 
"resist not evil" (it is clearly a distinct point, a positive command, as 
opposed to the other's negative command).  "Turn the other cheek" has 
passed into the everyday English language as meaning "resist not evil," 
thus entirely obscuring the distinction at the literal level.

For more Biblical comparisons, I offer Acts 23:2-3 (Paul's response to 
being hit in the mouth, a condemnation and a prophetic threat) and 1 Kings 
22:24 ff (Micaiah's similar response with a prophetic threat).  Perhaps 
the expectation of physical violence is why Jesus was bound (John 18:24, 
dedemenon) before being slapped (John 18:22, rhapisma); and Jesus in this 
passage implies the slap was sinful, and says so.

More OT comparisons are Lamentations 3:30, Job 16:10, Isaiah 50:6-7, and 
Micah 5:1.

Greg Jordan