Monday, 21 July 2008

Love fulfills the law

This morning my friend and colleague Theo Gill, or as he is officially known, Theodore A. Gill, Jr, preached a bravura sermon on love being the fulfillment of the law. When we asked for a text afterwards he laughed but he has provided a pretty good trace of what he said. Next time I really must record him.

Here is just a small extract, he ranged from Gamaliel to Emil Brunner, between love and law:

‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

This was not a notion original to the early Christians.
Listen to this story from the early rabbinic writings (T.J. Ta’an, 1, 4, 64b, line 54):

“[In a time of drought] it was revealed to Rabbi Abbahu in a dream that Pentekaka [i.e., ‘the man of five sins’] should pray for rain. Abbahu sent and had this sinner fetched to him. He asked him what his trade was. Pentekaka replied, ‘Every day I commit five sins. I hire myself out to harlots; I deck their theatres; I take the harlots’ garments to the baths; I clap and dance before them; and I beat the tympanum for their orgies.’ Rabbi Abbahu said to him, ‘Have you ever done one good deed?’ He said, ‘Once I was decking out the theatre when a woman came and wept behind one of the pillars. When I asked her why she was weeping, she told me that her husband was in prison and that she was going to sell her honour to obtain his ransom. So I sold my bed and coverlet, and gave her the price, and said, “Go, redeem your husband, and sin not.”’ And the rabbi said to him: ‘Worthy art thou to pray, and to be answered.’”

Or as Paul writes, "love is the fulfilling of the law."

You can read the full - or should that be the incomplete - text here. As the Germans say -"Es gilt das gesprochene Wort", after all this text was only established after the word had been spoken and preached.