Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christ, lawgiver in his own right


The Holy Father made clear his desire to hear opinion on the subject discussed in the recent Synod, and five cardinals, along with several other scholars, responded to that invitation by writing articles for a collection: "Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church" edited by Robert Dodaro OSA.

The other day I decided that it was high time I read this book. On downloading it to my Kindle, I realised that the article on the biblical data was written by Fr Paul Mankowski SJ, and having enjoyed several pieces by Mankowski before, I turned to his article first. I was not disappointed: he draws on his extensive knowledge of biblical languages and culture to offer a masterly guide to the teaching of Our Lord on divorce.

In addition, I highlighted one passage for its concise and forceful statement of the significance of the "but I say to you" passages in the sermon on the mount:
The sermon (Mt 5-7) presents Jesus as a new Moses or, better, a Moses to end Moses, for he is not merely a transmitter of the law but a lawgiver in his own right—not standing in obedient alertness on Sinai but seated on the mountain and declaiming his commandments in the first person, saying, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. . . . I say to you” (5:17-18; RSV-2CE), announcing paradoxically that the Mosaic laws still have force, but that their force henceforth resides in his person, that their original function—namely, of connecting God’s chosen people to the God who did the choosing—has been accomplished and replaced by his own activity.
Here is a link for "Remaining in the Truth of Christ" at the UK Amazon:

If you want to see another article by Mankowski on an important topic of current debate, see his "Old Testament Iconology and the Nature of God" which was included in Helen Hull Hitchcock's "The Politics of Prayer" published by Ignatius in 1992 (page 151ff.) When I tried just now, the following link got me the article in Google Books. It is erudite, witty and devastating.
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