Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rational Pharisaism?

A quick read of the New Testament will undoubtedly uncover the fact that Jesus had His enemies.  These enemies were the ones that were in power - those that prescribed the correct way to think and behave, using the Hebrew scriptures as a foundation.

On a second read, it is clear that the nature of their disagreement was the purpose of the Word.  For the Pharisees, the Word of God was the Law that was to be followed with the assistance of the commentaries available to them from their rabbinic tradition.  Sadducees, the Zealots, the Essenes and other groups each had their unique spin on the Law - but it was clear that the Law was something that had become prescriptive - a document that instructed Israel on the way that it should act.

For Jesus, however, the Law was more dynamic.  The Law was the embodiment of who God was - something like the 'nature' of God - holy, just, righteous, gracious and merciful.  In fact, the Law (for Jesus) seems to be alive.  It's intention was for Israel to draw close to Yahweh and gain the rhythm of God from its reading and the practice of God in its action.  

In the New Testament, we see over and over where the Pharisees have flattened this understanding of the Law in favor of a more rational and dissecting view of God's Law.  What was meant to give a view of God became a moral code that got more and more strange in the way that it tried to fulfill the letter and not the spirit of the Law.

And so Jesus comes and says the Law is not on a scroll - it is walking in front of them.  The Law has become flesh - the Word is now animated and full of the Spirit . . . but they could not get it because they were stuck in their two-dimensional approach to a Law code.

And this is where we are - the Pharisees are now those that argue that what we believe has to fit inside the human code of logic.  This thinking tells us that the divine mysteries can fit within the two-dimensional mind (of which sense-data and the reason that springs from it are the axes).  We long for the depth that only Jesus can bring - outside the realm of rationalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment