April 8, 2006

"The Ten Commandments and Their Appropriations in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."

Today is the second day of a conference on the Ten Commandments with that title, here at the University of Wisconsin. I'm chairing a 2-hour panel that begins at 11:15 this morning, "The Ten Commandments in the Public Square." Here's the lineup:
Jerome Copulsky, “The Ten Commandments and American Civil Religion”

Lesleigh Cushing, “Contemporary American Appropriations of the Ten Commandments”

David Smolin, “The Capacity of the Ten Commandments to Serve as a Unifying Symbol”

John Thatamanil, “Against Heteronomy: Some Tillichian Reflections on The Ten Commandments in Public Life”
Yesterday evening, His Eminence, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, gave the plenary address, “The Ten Commandments as a Basis for a Meaningful Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue."

More on the conference later.

UPDATE: A key theme was that the Ten Commandments provide a beneficial common ground for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Counterthemes: 1. Lots of people fall outside of those three groups, 2. Jews, Christians, and Muslims disagree with each other despite the shared tradition. At dinner tonight, I had a long discussion with a philosopher in which I took the position that the Ten Commandments are not interesting as ideas. It's a rather bland text to concentrate on. Whether God commanded these things or not, people would have figured out most of these rules on their own. There's nothing especially surprising or challenging -- as there is in the Sermon on the Mount.

12 comments:

CB said...

Am I the only one who is baffled by how people can want carved images of the Ten Commandments displayed when one of those commandments is not to make any carved images?

ShadyCharacter said...

I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't think anyone has argued that "graven images" includes "text"?

Dave said...

"Heteronomy"?

Run for the hills.

Eli Blake said...

CB:

Why should that bother some of these people? The've been willing to break most of the other nine if it is politically or personally expedient to do so?

MadisonMan said...

Ann, I'm sure it was interesting and that you had a good time. I'm sorry, however, that you missed a delightful Spring day. BOY! Was it nice today!

Alan Kellogg said...

I follow this bit of advice:

Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, behave in a manner that keeps you on good terms with your neighbors.

Alan Kellogg said...

Then again, there is Bob Heinlein's 11th Commandment, "Don't get caught." :)

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan: Yeah, and then I went home and worked on my taxes until I nearly cried.

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan: Yeah, and then I went home and worked on my taxes until I nearly cried.

Troy said...

Thou shalt have no other gods before me was highly revolutionary at the time. And besides the 10 Commandments are just a short hand for the rest of Deuteronomy anyway. In an age before widespread literacy, printing, etc. where priests rqead the law once a year to the people the 10 COmmandments were perfect. They still are the perfect distillation of the Law. Just because people would've figured them out anyway is irrelevant. People would've figured out many things that are initially written down or "discovered". That's why it's called "revelation" -- not invention.

Timothy K. Morris said...

It always seemed to me that you needed the 10 Commandments (and all the rabbinical/Talmudic gloss, of course) to get to the sermon on the mount.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Troy brings up an interesting point about the 10 Commandments being a shorthand for Deuteronomy. Since the 10 are part of the Law, I find it odd that my fellow Christians (including several members of my family) would consider the 10 to be in any way binding upon a Christian. There are some mentions of the 10 Commandments in the New Testament, but always as a contrast to what is expected of a Christian.