Is the Torah redundant?

The other day I was reminded of a conversation I had with Rabbi Zalman Kastel at the last Anabaptist peace conference. It started with a question about the Old Testament. He asked me, if I recall correctly, if I regarded the Jewish law as “superceded” or “redundant”.

After thinking this over I replied, “not exactly”. For, if I understand the apostle Paul correctly, what he was critical of was not Jewish Christians following Torah so much as the expectations of some that Gentile Christians should follow Torah.

Moreover, Paul wasn’t anti-Moses so much as Christ-centric. He still held Moses in high esteme, its just he held Jesus in higher esteme.

I would therefore prefer to speak in terms of Jesus “reframing” and the significance of Moses and the Torah, including the Ten Commandments, rather than “replacing” it.

I was however amused by this comic here, which I came across through web crawling, seemingly espousing the opposite view. Though I have no idea if the artist was Jewish or not I suspect it could prompt some interesting interfaith conversations.

3 Comments

  1. As a wise lady said over the weekend, you need to differentiate between Moses’ law and God’s law, despite the fact that Moses at times articulated God’s law fairly well (e.g. the 10 commandments). At other times I don’t think he did, which is why you get statements like this from Jesus saying: “You have heard …, BUT I say…. “; “Sabbath made for man, not man for the Sabbath” etc.
    Jesus’ intervention with the woman condemned and about to be stoned for adultery in punishment under Mosaic law revealed a much higher law – one of mercy, compassion, redemption and forgiveness, and grace. He was not condoning adultery in doing and saying what he did, but practising a better bottom line scenario which saw mercy as God’s final word on things, not an angry hail of stones coming from a angry, hating mob of self-appointed religious vigilantes.

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  2. Yes, I think Jesus was more interested in facilitating transformation than the dead end scenario of condemnation (pardon the pun)…

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