033 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 033 The Golden Rule in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

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John Dominic Crossan

Crossan observes that sayings such as the debt petition in 120 The Lords Prayer [1/2], 027 Forgiveness for Forgiveness [1/4], 060 Measure for Measure [1/3] and 118 Judgment for Judgment [1/2] are all rather more radical than the provisions in the Golden Rule:

Those ... aphorisms suggest that we do unto others as God does unto us and that God does unto us as we do unto others. The point, however, is not sequentiality or causality, "we do in order that God does," but rather simultaneity and mutuality, "we do and God does." God forgives us our debts, that is offerings or punishments due for our sins, and we forgive our neighbors their debts, that is, the returns or penalties due for their loans. [Historical Jesus] (294)

The Jesus Seminar

The commentary in [The Five Gospels] (296) notes that while the golden rule is not inimical to the views of Jesus established on the basis of other sayings attributed to him, there are grounds to question to traditional attribution of this saying to Jesus:

The possible flaw is this: Does this injunction veil a calculating egoism? Does it suggest that one should not go beyond self-interest? Some scholars take the view that the golden rule, in both its positive and negative forms, does not really correspond to admonitions like "turn the other cheek," and "lend to those from whom you expect nothing back." It was this possible discrepancy, and the fact that the saying is widely attested in ancient sources, that led the majority of the Fellows to place it in the gray category ...

Gerd Lüdemann

Lüdemann [Jesus] (151f) notes the ancient and diverse attestation of this saying in antiquity, including its earliest occurrence in Herodotus III 142, 3:

I will not do that for which I censure my neighbors.

He notes that there may have been a positive verdict on the question of its historicity, had the saying attributed to Jesus run along the lines:

Treat people as they want to be treated!

Kurt Niederwimmer

Niederwimmer [Hermeneia] (66) notes the evidence for the Didache reflecting a non-Synoptic tradition in both its citation of the Two Commandments and in its version of the Gold Rule. Unlike the Q version (Luke 6:31//Matt 7:12), the version here follows the more common practice of expressing this injunction in a negative form.

At note 14, Niederwimmer lists the ancient Jewish and Christian texts in which this injunction occurs: Ep.Arist. 207; Tobit 4:15; Philo Hyp. 1 in Eusebius Praep. ev. 8.7.6; b. Sab. 31a; T. Naph. 1.6; Acts 15:20,29; Ep. apost. 18 (29); Theophilus Ad Autolycum 2:34; Aristides Apol. 15.5; Gos. Thom. (Coptic) 6; cf. Greek P. Oxy. 654.5; Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 3.12.14; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 2.23, 139.2; Ps.-Clem. Rec. 8.56.7; Didasc. (Syriac) 1, (Latin) 2.12-13; Ps.-Cyprian De Centes. 42; Lib. grad. 7.1, 30.26, etc.

He concludes:

In its setting here, the injunction is an interpretation of the commandment to love the neighbor, and more precisely an interpretation of that characteristic [phrase] 'as yourself' (hos seauton) with which love of self is made the model and measure of love of neighbor.

John P. Meier

Meier does not consider this saying in the first three volumes of his [Marginal Jew].