The Ten Commandments for Jews, Christians, and Others

By Roger E. Van Harn | Go to book overview

Response

Elliot N. Dorff

Dr. Braaten has done us all a great favor in clearly articulating a Christian perspective not only on adultery, but on sex and marriage generally. Because I have written extensively on the Jewish tradition’s perception of sex and marriage in my book Love Your Neighbor and Yourself: A Jewish Approach to Personal Ethics (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2003), instead of repeating that here I will use the order of Dr. Braaten’s paper to respond to some of his points from a Jewish perspective.

I say a Jewish perspective and not the Jewish perspective because as soon as one becomes familiar with the Jewish tradition, one recognizes that it is a very feisty tradition that revels in argument. One standard Jewish joke, in fact, is that wherever there are two Jews, there are at least three opinions — but someone asked me recently whether you really need two Jews to have three opinions! Moreover, since the demise of the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) in 361 C.E., there has been no central Jewish authority to define official Jewish belief or practice. These facts do not make Judaism incoherent; in fact, I will describe below mainstream Jewish beliefs about the topics Dr. Braaten addresses, indicating where I disagree with them. This active, argumentative approach to life, though, means that on some of these issues, at least, individual Jews may well have a different opinion.


The Seventh Commandment

One can see immediately that Judaism and Christianity are indeed different religions in that Jews understand the Ten Commandments as part of a much larger structure of 613 commandments in the Torah (= the five

-148-

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The Ten Commandments for Jews, Christians, and Others
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword viii
  • Preface xi
  • The Ten Words - Exodus 20:2-17 (New Revised Standard Version) 1
  • The First Word - The Face of Ethical Encounter 3
  • Response 16
  • The Second Word - No Other Gods 23
  • Response 40
  • The Third Word - The Blessing of God’s Name 47
  • Response 62
  • The Fourth Word - The Sabbath Day 69
  • Response 80
  • The Fifth Word - Honoring Parents 87
  • Response 100
  • The Sixth Word - What Have You Done? 113
  • Response 127
  • Response 132
  • The Seventh Word - Sexuality and Marriage 135
  • Response 148
  • The Eighth Word - Calvin and the "Stewardship of Love" 157
  • Response 175
  • The Ninth Word - Bearing True Witness 179
  • Response 194
  • The Tenth Word - God or Mammon 199
  • Response 212
  • Afterword 218
  • Contributors 221
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