Chris Juby

Every chapter of the Bible in 140 characters or less.

I summarised the Bible on Twitter between Aug 2010 and Nov 2013 - one tweet per chapter, one chapter per day.

The @biblesummary account peaked at over 30,000 followers, and was featured in the news all over the world.

Find out about the project here, or feel free to get in contact.

Holiness and compassion

Leviticus has a reputation for gore, repetativeness and obscure laws about shellfish and mixed fabrics. As I come to the end of my fifth time through the book I can sympathise to some degree, but we should be careful not to miss the wood for the trees.

It seems to me that there are two main concerns in the law:

  1. that the Israelites should be set apart from the practises of the nations around them
  2. that they should be just and compassionate in their dealings with neighbours and strangers

Or, holiness and compassion.

The laws that encourage love and respect for one another and generosity towards the poor and outsiders seem very contemporary. Progressive even. Those tend to be the laws that are concerned with compassion.

Many of the laws we find hardest to understand are those concerned with holiness: often to do with the Israelites not taking on the (now extinct) beliefs and practises of the religions around them.

As modern readers we may feel tensions between those two threads, but I think it's more interesting to look for the unity.

The concern for holiness and the concern for compassion were very much integrated in the worldview of the Old Testament people. How were they held together?

Perhaps we could sum it up as: "Love the LORD you God and love your neighbour as yourself."

Tags: progress themes

Post a comment

or use the form below...