Sermon on the Plain Luke 6:17-49 “But I say to you that listen.... If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also....” Taken on its own, what do you think Jesus is telling his followers to do?
Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:38-41 You have heard it said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also ; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Why did Matthew add “RIGHT”?
Does “Turn The Other Cheek” mean Passive acceptance of injustice?
What does it mean to “Turn the Other Cheek”? Do not resist “Nonresistance” Turn the other cheek “Don’t fight back” Submit Be a victim
Results in “Doormat Theology Passive acceptance of Violence
“Do not resist an evil-doer.” Evil-Doer = Greek Word Antistenai
Antistenai in the NT Found 71 times 44 times it refers specifically to the moment two armies collide, steel on steel, until one side breaks and flees Taken in all its contexts, it generally refers to a potentially lethal disturbance or armed revolution
Antistenai-- Greek “Do not resist an evil-doer” “anti” -- “Against” “Histemi” -- a verb in its noun form “Stasis” --- “Violent rebellion, Armed - revolt, Sharp dissension”
A more appropriate translation: Not “Do not resist the evil doers” but instead... “Do not react violently against the one who is evil” or... “Do not return violence with violence”
How did we end up with “Resist not the evil-doer?”
King James Bible Court Translators Didn’t want commoners to believe they had any recourse to unjust royal policies. “Submission is the will of God” The history of interpretation...
Two Choices: Fight or Flight The KJV reinforces the notion that we have
Understanding Historical Context of the New Testament/ Jesus’ Audience Roman Occupation 2000 insurrections crucified during Jesus’ childhood Dramatically asymmetric distribution of power Jesus’ audience= oppressed and outcaste http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkGi9-Mb-r0
Retaliation= Suicide Powerful > Powerless Retaliation =suicide Submission the only NORMAL response
Jesus offers a third option... Figure it out-- imagine new possibilities
Thinking outside the Box Gives three separate nonviolent tactics by which his audience (Jews) can resist Turn the right cheek Give your cloak as well Go the extra mile Jesus
Nonviolent Tactic? How is turning the right cheek an act of nonviolent resistance?
Left hand= TABOO Illegal to to hit anyone with one’s left hand Even gesturing with the left hand carried heavy penalties (Fines/ 10 Days of penance) Why Not hit with LEFT hand?
Hitting with the back of the hand= humiliation Reinforces Unjust Social Roles Powerful Romans Masters Males Parents Powerless Jews Slaves Females Children
The ONLY way to strike the right cheek with the right hand would be with the BACK of the right hand
Was Jesus Reinforcing Oppression? NO Turning the other cheek is an act of defiance Look your oppressor in the eye
What will the Oppressor Do? Can use the right hand to punch or slap their inferior BUT, the right hand was used ONLY between social equals If the oppressor hits with his right hand, he is acknowledging his inferior as his equal
Active Nonviolence Arises from confidence in one’s inherent value Courageous: Repression Empowers the “victim” while disempowering the oppressor’s ability to dehumanize his subordinate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft4eTzhaUAc
Second Nonviolent Tactic “...if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well...”
Jean Val Jean stole silver from the Priest, was apprehended, but the priest says “You forgot your candlesticks” instead of turning him in Les Miserables Traditional Interpretation: ‘Give to those who steal from you’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-KRbQFtQ0w
If anyone would sue you... Coat= Outer Garment Cloak= Inner Garment Only poorest of poor gave their cloak as collateral
Roman Imperial Tax Policy and High interest rates drove Jews into debt, forcing them to sell their land (God-given) Absentee Roman Landlords & Impoverished Jewish laborers Institutionalized oppression Institutionalized Violence
Legal Tradition Judaic law required the cloak be returned each evening “You shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.” Deut. 24:17
“Give your cloak as well” No chance of winning the trial Refuse to be humiliated Protest the injustice Strip Naked! “You have taken everything... will you take me next?”
Nakedness = A Taboo in Judaism Gen. 9:20-27, After seeing his father naked, Canaan is cursed Shame falls on the person VIEWING the nakedness, not the naked person Exposes systemic injustice Educates the oppressors
if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Atrocities by soldiers Prevent revolt Roman law= 1 mile rule Jesus: Go more than 1
Why this tactic is effective The rules are Caesar’s, but not how one responds to them Asserts dignity & freedom Emphasizes the injustice of occupation through irony, highlighting it.
Throws the Soldier off-balance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQEmyQwRdUo
Elements of Jesus’ Nonviolence Seize the moral initiative Actively resist injustice Expose the injustice A creative alternative to violence Assert self-worth, dignity, and humanity Break the cycle of humiliation
Jesus’ Nonviolence Take control of the power dynamic Shame the oppressor into repentance Stand your ground Force a decision the oppressor is not prepared to make Recognize your own power Be willing to suffer rather than retaliate
Jesus’ Nonviolence Cause the oppressor to see you in a new light Deprive the oppressor of a situation where violence is effective Be willing to accept the penalty for breaking unjust laws Die to your fear of the old order and its rules
Historical Examples In 26 CE, Pontius Pilate displayed imperial standards and displayed them in front of the Temple (idolatry) Jewish leaders requested they be removed Pilate refused A large crowd of Jews lay on the ground around his house for 5 days and nights, remaining motionless. On the 6th day, Pilate’s soldiers surrounded the Jews Pilate threatened to cut down the Jews if they refused to accept Caeser’s images At his signal, his soldiers drew their swords The Jews flung themselves down again, extending their necks, and declaring their willingness to die rather than transgress the law Astonished, Pilate has the standards removed from Jerusalem
Confronting a Bully A small boy with chronic sinusitis A schoolyard bully who terrorizes the kids on the bus One day, the boy blows his nose into his right hand, extends his hand to the bully, and says “I’ve always wanted to shake the hand of a real bully.” The bully backed away as the boy advanced Never bothered anyone on the bus again
Nonviolence Cannot read Jesus’ instructions literally Not avoidance Not possible as long as one is afraid to confront injustice
For Discussion: What is ‘new’ about this discussion of Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence? Were you taught to be passive by the ‘doormat for Jesus’ interpretation of this text? How might you creatively confront a bully?
Jesus and the Bible Christian claim: God’s nature and will is revealed to the world through the words and life (deeds) of Jesus So what does the New Testament tell us about Jesus’ teachings and example concerning nonviolence
Textual Evidence Matthew 5:38-48 Sermon on the Mount Luke 10: 3
Paul 2 Corinthians 10:3 I Thessalonians 5:15 2 Timothy 2:24