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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
Designations
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1152  Monday, 27 June 2005

[1]     From:   Bob Lapides <
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        Date:   Friday, 24 Jun 2005 10:38:58 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1146 Designations

[2]     From:   Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Friday, 24 Jun 2005 14:46:48 GMT
        Subj:   Designations


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Lapides <
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Date:           Friday, 24 Jun 2005 10:38:58 EDT
Subject: 16.1146 Designations
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1146 Designations

Larry Weiss and Jack Kamen point out that many Jews of all persuasions
use the term "Old Testament."  I agree that this is so.  But having
given this a lot of thought for many years, I believe this is a
careless, probably unthinking accommodation to Christian usage.  If Jews
think this usage is neutral, they haven't stopped to think about what
Christians mean by it. There are also many Jews who automatically use
the terms BC and AD, without stopping to realize - or perhaps not caring
- what these abbreviations stand for. There are many Jews, too, who
think it courteous to use the majority's terminology when they are in a
public setting and who, having trained themselves to do so, continue to
use this language among themselves.

The Hebrew Scriptures are only the Old Testament to Christians, who view
these books as preliminary to the New Testament and as fulfilled and
superseded by it.  Christians cannot be expected to give up their
terminology, but atheists and people of other cultures shouldn't feel it
necessary to use Christian terms.

Bob Lapides

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Baynham <
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Date:           Friday, 24 Jun 2005 14:46:48 GMT
Subject:        Designations

I think Bob Lapides overstates the case; and it may be that we won't
ever agree about this: but I think that's rather the point.

I don't go in much for arguing from the basis of what feels important to
me as a Christian; but I do it in this instance because that is what the
discussion is about. On balance, it doesn't seem to me much less
culturally insensitive to tell the adherents of a 2000 year old faith
what to call something that's been precious to them for millennia than
it is is to use a name for it that's unacceptable to adherents of a 3500
year old faith. My view is simply that both faiths should use the name
that's precious to them, whilst making clear that they understand the
sensitivity of the issue and acknowledging what may be an ineradicable
mutual pain. Adherents of neither faith ought to be free to choose
whichever term they like, but have the same duty to acknowledge the
sensitivities.

At the moment, for understandable historical reasons, this discussion
seems to me to be skewed in favour of Jewish sensitivities - on the
basis of an historical priority which is undeniable but which it is
simplistic, after 1500 years of use of the term 'Old Testament', to
consider inevitably and unalterably decisive.

Matthew Baynham

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