Thursday, September 17, 2009

how to divide up the Ten Commandments (and does it matter)?

Our kids are in Catholic schools this year and we bumped into one of the differences in beliefs between Catholic and (most) Protestants.

The Catholics and Lutherans divide up the "ten words" or "Ten Commandments" by combining the two references to God (one God and no idols) into one commandment-- and taking the two covet references as two separate commandments.

Most Protestants divide the 10 by separating "one God" from "no idols" and combining the covet references into one commandment.

Both are feasible.

But it struck me this morning that perhaps the combining of two into one would diminish the attention to sins in those areas-- whether idolatry for Catholics or covetousness for Protestants. Or maybe it's no big deal...


At September 17, 2009 at 8:34 PM , Blogger PianoMom said...

I learned the Catholic version of the 10 Commandments and I still get confused trying to teach the Protestant version to my kids.

As to what the significance may be, I can only say this: I grew up in a devout Catholic family and we did in fact have statues (Mary and Jesus)in our home that we kneeled before and recited special prayers to daily -- "the Immaculate Heart of Mary" and "The ??(can't remember the adjective) Heart of Jesus. We had an enthronement ceremony utilizing the Jesus statue.

You do make a good point that the modern Protestant church seems to accept to legitimize materialism, if not covetousness.
Possibly, this can be seen most obviously in our enthusiasm/excitement over the prayer of Jabez a few years "enlarge my territory", etc.

I think the bigger question may be: Does the Bible divide them up in any recognizable way?
I'll have to go back and read Exodus 20.

At September 17, 2009 at 8:49 PM , Blogger PianoMom said...

Forgive me - you didn't say the modern Protestant Church seems to legitimize materialism - I did.

Also, it was the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" statue.

I'm planning on reading Exodus later tonight!!

At September 17, 2009 at 10:26 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Read Dt 5 as well-- the other listing, with some interesting differences.

We know from the Hebrew that it is supposed to be "ten words", but it's not clear which are the 10.

At September 19, 2009 at 1:08 PM , Blogger PianoMom said...

I see what you are saying about Ex 20 and Deut 5 as well as far
as possible ambiguity as to which are the specific 10.

I did read this directive in Dt. Ch 4. where God explains exactly what he means

Deut 4:12 "Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard
the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice."

Once Again 4:15
"You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you
at Horeb out of the fire."
Then this: "Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that
you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an
image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or
like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or
like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the
waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun,
the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed
into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God
has apportioned to all the nations under heaven"

God twice says "You saw no form of any kind"
and also -- do not form any "image" by which to worship me"

"Do not make for yourselves a graven image" in the Exodus
account is also very detailed - nothing "in the heavens above,
nor on the earth below, nor the waters beneath, etc."

Given the above verses, it does seem odd that when I look up the
Catholic version of these commands on-line

there is no mention
of the command not to make a physical/tangible representation of
God. They should have at least tacked that part on to the
end of "Have no other gods before me".

God seems very specific about what He means and it is repeated
at least three different times in these Deut verses.

From the above Catholic website:

"Here are the Catholic Ten Commandments:

1. I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and
Him only shall you serve.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods."

It doesn't seem right to leave out the graven image
directive altogether.

In an attempt to look at it from the other side, I tried to
locate a Protestant set of 10 Commandments. In its
shortest form, they state the 10th command as simply "Do not
covet". Maybe that is not sufficient, although it seems so
to me.

This year we are memorizing the entire chapter Exodus 20, in
addition to the shortened "Protestant" version.

If we all memorize the entire chapter, I guess I come to the
same conclusion you did - probably it doesn't matter too much
how you break it down.

However, sin issues may be present if people do not want to do
this in order to minimize/legitimize the behaviors that these omitted portions of the text address.
> >

At September 21, 2009 at 7:35 PM , Blogger Martina said...

so funny, because this is something that's always thrown me off kilter but I never knew why!

Glad you posted it!


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