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					The Ten Commandments:

An exploration of the possibilities
     for religious discourse
• Historically been accepted as a summary
  of the most important ten rules of behavior
  which God expects all Jews to follow.
• The Torah records that God gave the
  Decalogue to Moses on Mount Sinai,
  inscribed on stone tablets, and intended
  for the guidance of the ancient Hebrews.
• (or "Decalog“) is derived from the Middle English
  "decaloge" which comes from the Latin
  "decalogus," which in turn originates from the
  Greek "dekalogus." "Deka" in Greek means

• Depending upon how Ten Commandments are
  interpreted, the Exodus 20 version contain a
  total of 19 to 25 separate instructions. These
  have been traditionally sorted into ten groups.
           Three Versions

• There are three versions of the Decalogue
  mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a.
  Old Testament). All are different. They are
  at Exodus 20:2-17, Exodus 34:12-26, and
  Deuteronomy 5:6-21.
• The version in Exodus 20 is by far the
  most commonly cited.
                   Exodus 20:1-17
Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in
heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a
jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth
generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth
generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will
not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your
work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any
work –you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or
the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the
sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the
sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the
Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
            Alternate Accounts
• Several of the Bible accounts put the Israelites much
  more directly into the scene.
• Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 say that all of the
  Israelites present at Mt. Sinai heard God speaking the
  commandments directly to them.
• Ex 20:18 says "And all the people saw the thunderings,
  and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet and the
  mountain smoking, and when the people saw [it], they
  removed, and stood afar off." In Exodus 20:22, God tells
  Moses that he should convey to the Israelites, "You have
  seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from
• Traditional Judaism teaches that every Jew was present
  at Mt. Sinai and received the commandments from God.
                      Jewish Law
• According to Jewish tradition, G-d gave the Jewish people 613
  mitzvot (commandments). All 613 of those mitzvot are equally
  sacred, equally binding and equally the word of G-d. All of these
  mitzvot are treated as equally important, because human beings,
  with our limited understanding of the universe, have no way of
  knowing which mitzvot are more important in the eyes of G-d.

• The words recorded in Exodus 20 are never referred to as the Ten
  Commandments. In the Torah, they are called Aseret ha-D'vareem.

• In rabbinical texts, they are referred to as Aseret ha-Dibrot. The
  words d'vareem and dibrot come from the Hebrew root Dalet-Bet-
  Resh, meaning word, speak or thing; thus, the phrase is accurately
  translated as the Ten Sayings, the Ten Statements, the Ten
  Declarations, the Ten Words or even the Ten Things.
   An agreement between two parties. The agreement,
   according to Ancient Near East custom, consists of five

1. Identification of parties
2. Historical prologue where the deeds establishing the
   worthiness of the dominant party is established,
3. Conditions of the agreement,
4. Rewards and punishments in regard to keeping the
   conditions, and
5. Disposition of the documents where each party receives
   a copy of the agreement.
Aseret ha-D'vareem
 1.    Belief in G-d
 2.    Prohibition of Improper
 3.    Prohibition of Oaths
 4.    Shabbat
 5.    Respect for Parents and
 6.    Prohibition of Murder
 7.    Prohibition of Adultery
 8.    Prohibition of Theft
 9.    Prohibition of False Witness
 10.   Prohibition of Coveting
Mircea Eliade

  Eliade’s Notion of the Sacred
• Eliade's analysis of religion assumes the existence
  of "the sacred" as the object of worship of religious
  humanity. It appears as the source of power,
  significance, and value.
• Humanity apprehends "hierophanies"--physical
  manifestations or revelations of the sacred--often,
  but not only, in the form of symbols, myths, and
  ritual. Any phenomenal entity is a potential
  hierophany and can give access to non-historical
  time: what Eliade calls illud tempus (Latin for 'that
  time' ).
• The apprehension of this sacred time is a
  constitutive feature of the religious aspect of
Mt. Sinai
• The essence of a sacred place is that it puts one in contact with the
  Gods. Sacred places are sacred because they were consecrated
  (made sacred) by a "hierophany," that is, the manifestation of a
  higher being. (The manifestation of a God is a theophany; all
  theophanies are hierophanies but not the reverse, for example, the
  apparition of an angel would be a hierophany but not a theophany.)

• The place where the hierophany occurs becomes a sacred place.
  This encounter confirmed the sacredness of both Moses and the
  mountain. The sacredness of Mount Sinai and the burning bush is
  made clear by God who told Moses when he approached: Come no
  nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you
  stand is holy ground. [Exodus 3, 5].
• The Qur'an -- appears to refer to the Decalogue
  and to urge that they be followed; however it
  does not contain the actual text:

 "And We ordained laws for him in the tablets in
 all matters, both commanding and explaining all
 things, (and said): 'Take and hold these with
 firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by
 the best in the precepts'..."
• The Decalogue has traditionally been
  regarded as the foundational laws that all
  Christians are to conform to. Most
  Christians continue to hold them in high
  regard, even though they have rejected
  most of the other laws in the Mosaic Code
  as no longer applicable or binding.
• The system of numeration found in Catholic Bibles, based on the
  Hebrew text, was made by St. Augustine (fifth century) in his book of
  "Questions of Exodus" ("Quæstionum in Heptateuchum libri VII", Bk.
  II, Question lxxi), and was adopted by the Council of Trent.

• It is followed also by the German Lutherans. This arrangement
  makes the First Commandment relate to false worship and to the
  worship of false gods as to a single subject and a single class of
  sins to be guarded against. According to this manner of reckoning,
  the injunction forbidding the use of the Lord's Name in vain comes
  second in order; and the decimal number is safeguarded by making
  a division of the final precept on concupiscence (yearning)--the
  Ninth pointing to sins of the flesh and the Tenth to desires for
  unlawful possession of goods.

• Another division has been adopted by the English Protestant
  churches on the authority of Philo Judæus, Josephus, Origen, and
  others, whereby two Commandments are made to cover the matter
  of worship, and thus the numbering of the rest is advanced one
  higher; and the Tenth embraces both the Ninth and Tenth of the
  Catholic division.
                         Two Versions

           Protestant Version                              Catholic Version

1. You shall have no other gods but me.      1.    I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not
2. You shall not make unto you any graven          have other gods besides me.
    images                                   2.    You shall not take the name of the Lord
                                                   God in vain
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord
                                             3.    Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day
    your God in vain
                                             4.    Honor your father and your mother
4. You shall remember the Sabbath and
                                             5.    You shall not kill
    keep it holy
                                             6.    You shall not commit adultery
5. Honor your mother and father
                                             7.    You shall not steal
6. You shall not murder
                                             8.    You shall not bear false witness
7. You shall not commit adultery
                                             9.    You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
8. You shall not steal
                                             10.   You shall not covet your neighbor's goods
9. You shall not bear false witness
10. You shall not covet anything that
    belongs to your neighbor
• The prohibition against "any graven image, or any
  likeness of any thing...," if interpreted literally, would
  seem to forbid a wide range of objects, including a statue
  in a church, a cross, a crucifix, or even to a photograph
  of a person.
• However, many denominations do not interpret this
  passage in isolation or do not interpret it literally. This
  allows Eastern Orthodox churches to display icons,
  Roman Catholic churches to contains statues, and
  many Protestant churches to contain drawings and/or
• Reserving the Sabbath (Saturday) as a day of rest. The
  vast majority of churches have their main services on
  Sunday. Only Sabbaterian denominations, like the
  Seventh Day Adventists and Seventh Day Baptists,
  follow celebrate on Saturday.
              Jesus and the Ten
• For many Christians, one of the most important
  crystallizations of Jesus' teachings came in response to
  a question about which is the greatest commandment
  (Matthew 22:36-40). In that text, a man asked Jesus,
  "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the
  greatest?" and Jesus responded, "You shall love the
  Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and
  with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first
  commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your
  neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets
  depend on these two commandments."
Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultey
By Gustave Doré (1832-1883)

John 8:6-7
                 Book of John Chapter 8
1.    Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

2.    And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and
      taught them.

3.    And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the

4.    They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5.    Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6.    This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger
      wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7.    So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let
      him first cast a stone at her.

8.    And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9.    And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest,
      even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10.   When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine
      accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11.   She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in
    darkness, but shall have the light of life.
                Moses in America
• This myth had served centrally in the articulation of Christian/white-
  nationalism--the celebration of American history as the fulfillment of
  millennial promise (the City on the Hill) and the identification of the
  historical figures who had played the role of "American Moses."

• The iconography of the Moses myth lost some of its currency in the
  later nineteenth century, but in the 1920s, the myth experienced a
  resurgence of popular interest.

• With the "closing of the frontier" and the mounting anxiety about a
  national culture that was by many perceived to be under assault
  from within and without, the Moses myth took on added significance,
  no doubt further fuelled by the fact that two populations whose rising
  prominence in urban centers pressed especially heavily on the
  imaginations of white nationalists--Jews and African Americans--laid
  longstanding cultural claims to the same myth, albeit in terms very
  different from those of the Anglo-Saxonists.
Jonathon Winthrop

  A Model of Christian Charity
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel
of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit
together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must
be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must
uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We
must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together,
labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the
work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a
blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness
and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is
among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make
us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that
of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all
people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have
undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a
story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of
the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's
worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out
of the good land whither we are going.

                                                                Sermon aboard the Arabella, 1630
Daniel Boone
Cecil B. Demille
• He was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts on
  August 12. 1881, the second son of Henry
  Churchill de Mille and Matilda Beatrice Samuel
  de Mille.
• DeMille was one of the most successful
  filmmakers in Hollywood history. Out of the
  seventy films he claimed as his personal
  productions, all but six turned a profit, and he
  remained a leading director of "A" list features
  from his first film in 1914 to his last in 1956.
•   DeMille’s celebrity created the prototype of the director as superstar. The
    actor he had been in his youth never left him and he played to the crowds
    on his sets. Surrounded by a potentate’s entourage, he had dressed in
    puttees and open throat shirts with a flair that became the ubiquitous
    popular image of a director. He often narrated his motion pictures, appeared
    in their trailers and portrayed himself in other directors’ films – most notably
    in Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950).
    Then there was his role as host and director of Lux Radio Theatre (1936 -
    1945), where, on peak Monday nights, as many as 40,000,000 people
    heard DeMille present radio adaptations of popular films. (Compared to a
    television viewership today, DeMille drew more people than the Superbowl.)
    Picturegoer magazine (November 11, 1950) was indicative of media opinion
    when it called DeMille “the best known movie-maker of them all.” Reports of
    what DeMille said and did while making his pictures became a staple of
    Hollywood folklore. But beyond the mostly apocryphal stories that are still
    part of the lexicon – “Ready when you are, C.B.” – was the bedrock of
    DeMille’s genuine contributions.
•   DeMille was very confident of his status as cultural defender, a confidence
    that seemed to grow during the course of his final years with Paramount in
    the early 1920s.

•   In large measure this grew out of his pedigree: as Photoplay wrote in 1915,
    "For more than a generation the name of DeMille has been closely linked
    with that of Belasco, both synonymous with high altitudes of dramatic art.
    Consequently when . . . DeMille turned to the screen there was marked the
    beginning of a new epoch in film annals." (Sumiko Higashi, Cecil B. DeMille
    and American Culture: The Silent Era (Berkeley: University of California
    Press, 1994), 10-11)

•   Indeed, along with that of Griffith, it was DeMille's name and vision that did
    the work of transforming motion pictures from immigrant entertainment to a
    respectable middle-class art. But as we have seen, by the early 1920s the
    industry was under the spotlight of reform-minded nativist groups and
    politicians who worried that this Jewish-run industry was corrupting America
    with its foreign and degenerate values.
Michaelangelo’s Moses from the
Tomb of Pope Julius II c 1513

Dimensions: 7 feet 8 1/2 inches tall;
at the front is 3 feet 1 1/2 inches
width of base
      Rembrandt, 1659
Moses Smashing the Tablets of
         the Law
Charlton Heston
Samuel Goldwyn
       •   Born Schmuel Gelbfisz, at age 16
           he left his native Warsaw
           penniless and on foot. He made
           his way to Birmingham, England,
           where he remained with relatives
           for a few years using the English-
           sounding name, Samuel Goldfish.
           In 1898, he emigrated to Nova
           Scotia but, left to try his luck in the
           United States.
       •   He became a naturalized citizen of
           the United States in 1902.
           Working in the bustling garment
           business in NYC where his innate
           marketing skills made him a very
           successful salesma. Before long,
           he went into the business with
           Vaudeville performer Jesse L.
           Lasky and Louis B. Mayer, a
           theater owner.
 Not So Implicit Critique of Judaism
• Emphasizing the mob-like nature of the Jews, DeMille
  implicitly argues their inability to meet the challenge of
  freedom offered them by Moses and God. The mob
  respond to the exhortations of the envious Aaron as
  easily as they do to those of Moses, and it is only
  through miracles and spectacle that Moses is able to
  gain control, temporarily, of his people.
• If the film works to make explicit the parallels to the
  struggle of the pioneers and the struggle of American
  independence, with Moses as the Chosen leader (and
  the Pharaoh's men as alternately Indians and Red
  Coats), the film works to portray the people as far from
• The Film ends BEFORE the establishment of the Jewish
    Fraternal Order of Eagles
• During the 1950s and 1960s, the Fraternal
  Order of Eagles erected as many as 4,000
  markers, statues, and monuments
  featuring the Ten Commandments in
  public parks, government buildings, etc.
  Some were involved in the promotion of
  the 1956 film, The Ten Commandments,
  and were dedicated with Charlton Heston
  and Yul Brynner present.
             Legal Challenges
• There were occasional lawsuits filed prior to 2002 to
  force the removal of these monuments. In 2001. the U.S.
  Supreme Court let stand a lower court order that a Ten
  Commandments monument in Elkhart, IN, be removed.
  It has since refused to hear similar cases. Conflict
  escalated in 2002-NOV, when U.S. District Judge Myron
  Thompson ruled that the presence of Chief Justice
  Moore's Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama
  state courts building "constitutes government
  endorsement of religion." He ordered that it be
  removed. Since then, dozens of lawsuits have been
  launched across the U.S. Many have been launched by
  branches of the American Civil Liberties Union in
  different states, and by Americans United for Separation
  of Church and State.
           Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the government for a
redress of grievances.
          Wall of Separation
"...I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the
whole American people which declared that their
legislature should 'make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between
Church and State..."

            Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut
                                                               January 1,1802
Bishop John Hughes
         Supreme Court Decisions
      Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County v. ACLU
•   For Justice Breyer, the wide-range photo demonstrated one part of the crucial
    context. “The physical setting of the monument,” he wrote, “suggests little or nothing
    of the sacred.... The setting does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other
    religious activity. But it does provide a context of history and moral ideals.”
•   Breyer was also swayed by the fact that the monument had stood unchallenged since
    it was placed there in 1961. It took a homeless lawyer named Thomas Van Orden,
    who often passed the monument on his way to the state law library, to take offense
    and take the state to court. “Those 40 years suggest more strongly than can any set
    of formulaic tests that few individuals, whatever their system of beliefs, are likely to
    have understood the monument as amounting, in any significantly detrimental way, to
    a government effort to favor a particular religious sect,” wrote Breyer.
•   In dissent, Justice David Souter said the 40-year quiescence had no importance in
    deciding this establishment-clause case. Past potential challengers might have been
    deterred by financial and social considerations, he said. “Suing a state over religion
    puts nothing in a plaintiff’s pocket and can take a great deal out, and even with
    volunteer litigators to supply time and energy, the risk of social ostracism can be
    powerfully deterrent.”
•   Reviewing those precedents, Breyer said, “The Court has found no single mechanical
    formula that can accurately draw the constitutional line in every case.”
         The possibilities
     for religious discourse:

1.   Theological     6. Cultural
2.   Textual         7. Social
3.   Mythic          8. Political
4.   Historical      9. Legal
5.   Archeological   10. Artistic

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