Kevin J. Rice, Kevin@justanyone.com, http://JustAnyone.com
Religion Paper 6, Operative question Pick a section of the Text and explain it as (1) a way of life, (2) a system of communications, and (3) a code of law. I choose: Deuteronomy 11.
The text section basically set out a series of incentives for the Israelites to obey the laws that are about to follow in the next section of Deut. (not included in the reading). The three things that sum it up are (1) that the Israelites are going to have a really nice time as long as they remain faithful, (2) they have a divine mandate (not just a blessing, a downright ORDER) that they can and will win any battle they fight, and (3) don't piss God off by disobeying the rules or he'll get pissed back.
As a way of life this can be seen as a clear message that there is one, true way to live life and it's going to be very well spelled out by the rules that follow in Deut. 12-26. The Israelites must keep this way of life or Bad Things will happen. They must keep the faith, which means rules, but there is a further message that I found interesting, that they must Love the Lord their God. I don't know about other Roman Gods, and I am wondering about how much of a mandate there was to love those gods versus just obeying. Is the God of Israel more personal than the others available? In any case, as a way of life, this arrangement implied close divine scrutiny, and therefore to keep a law best, one gets with the spirit of it: to Love God, Love the law, and vice versa.
As a system of communications, this section has three important aspects. First, it was a set of communications between God and Man, and a close one at that. It was also a way of encouraging people to grow close together. If there were wonderous things ahead, then a common goal could serve to unite the community. It also served as a communication line between the past and the future generations, as noted by encouragement to teach the children well. More important to the time aspect, however, was the divine mandate by God that the Israelites had been chosen for the long haul, that this was not a short time arrangement, thus giving them a sense of closeness and continuity between generations.
Codes of Law have two clear parts. There must be a rule part and a punishment part. Since omnicient Gods are hard to trick, I don't see much room for evasion on the punishment end of things. As for what the rules are, the ones that follow this section are pretty unequivocal on the finer points of what one can and cannot do. To a finer point, was there incentive to do good? Yes, definitely there was: The Promised Land. Was there also incentive to not do bad? Definitely. Harper's Bible Commentary noted that the clear reference to rain in October and April as a yearly divine intervention added up to a bi-yearly report card. If there's no rain, well, maybe that pork roast passover dinner wasn't such a good idea after all...
So, is this a strict God? Yes. But some would say that in religion it is far better to have a clear specific message that you may not totally agree with than no personal guidance or assurance at all. People respect nurturing things that also force them to grow disciplined, but only if the love shows through the law. That might even apply to those lovers of crab, shrimp, and lobster out there...or not. "But, Oy Veh, who am I to judge??"
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