Monday, October 15, 2007

The Prince of Peace

Did our Prince of Peace really say that he came to "send" a sword?:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
-Matthew 10:34

Contrary to this, Matthew later states:

"Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
-Matthew 26:52

Moreso than any of the other Gospels, Matthew's is one of non- violence:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
-Matthew 5:38-39

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
 -Matthew 5:43-47

Therefore the line about the "Prince of Peace" bringing a sword seems out of place in Matthew.

Uncharacteristically, Dr. Steiner agrees and tells us that this scriptural verse has been completely misquoted; implying the reverse of what was meant:

"I have not come to send peace away from this Earth but to send away the sword" is Dr. Steiner's rendering of the verse. He then continues:
"Christ entered into the spiritual sphere of Earth-existence in order gradually to rescue it from elements that bring about discord and disharmony in mankind. Spiritual Science will establish peace when it is truly Christian, in the sense of bringing about the unity of religions. It can unite not only those in regions immediately around us but can establish peace over the whole Earth, because it understands the nature of the deed wrought by the greatest Bringer of peace."

See: The Gospel of Matthew, Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 12

  • Matthew 10:34 reads “I came not to send peace, but the sword”. However rather than “gladius” which means “sword”, The Book of Kells has “gaudium” meaning “joy”. Rendering the verse: “I came not [only] to send peace, but [also] joy”.[1]


Francis said...

The Book of Kells has an incorrect translation of this verse, so Steiner is incorrect here as well.

The explanation offered by tradition contains the commentary below (from the Navarre Bible):

Matthew 34-37. Our Lord has not come to bring a false and earthly peace--the sort of tranquility the self-seeking person yearns for; He wants us to struggle against our own passions and against sin and its effects. The sword He equips us with for this struggle is, in the words of Scripture, "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), "lively and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The word of God in fact leads to these divisions mentioned here. It can lead, even within families, to those who embrace the faith being regarded as enemies by relatives who resist the word of truth. This is why our Lord goes on (verse 37) to say that nothing should come between Him and His disciple--not even father, mother, son or daughter: any and every obstacle (cf. Matthew 5:29-30) must be avoided.

Obviously these words of Jesus do not set up any opposition between the first and fourth commandments (love for God above all things and love for one's parents): He is simply indicating the order of priorities.
We should love God with all our strength (cf. Matthew 22:37), and make a serious effort to be saints; and we should also love and respect--in theory and in practice--the parents God has given us; they have generously cooperated with the creative power of God in bringing us into the world and there is so much that we owe them. But love for our parents should not come before love of God; usually there is no reason why these two loves should clash, but if that should happen, we should be quite clear in our mind and in heart about what Jesus says here. He has in fact given us an example to follow on this point: "How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father's house?" (Luke 2:49)--His reply when, as a youth, Mary and Joseph found Him in the Temple of Jerusalem after a long search. This event in our Lord's life is a guideline for every Christian--parent or child.
Children should learn from it that their affection for their parents should never come before their love for God, particularly when our Creator asks us to follow Him in a way which implies special self-giving on our part; parents should take the lesson that their children belong to God in the first place, and therefore He has a right to do with them what He wishes, even if this involves sacrifice, even heroic sacrifice. This teaching of our Lord asks us to be generous and to let God have His way. In fact, however, God never lets Himself be outdone in generosity. Jesus has promised a hundredfold gain, even in this life, and later on eternal life (cf. Matthew 19:29), to those who readily respond to His will.

888 said...

"Did Jesus incarnate to disrupt
peace and bring a sword (a weapon) as Matthew 10:34 states? None of the above Greek references in the 4 gospels upholds this idea. When we look at Lamsa’s translation from the Aramaic—the language spoken by Jesus—we find a footnote relating to Matthew 10:34. This footnote states the Aramaic word translated as “sword” is an Aramaic idiom meaning “division.” Read in Jesus’ own language, the verse states: “I have not come to bring peace but division.”

888 said...

A reader writes: in the literal French translation from Aramaic and Hebrew I can read the same : "Je ne viens pas jeter la paix, mais l'épée." I come not to throw away peace, but sword

888 said...

Matthew 10:34-36, the Syriac translation of Eusebius' Theophania contains: 'He (Christ) himself taught the reason for the separations of souls that take place in houses, as we have found somewhere in the Gospel that is spread abroad among the Jews in the Hebrew tongue, in which it is said, "I choose for myself the most worthy; the most worthy are those whom my Father in heaven has given me."' (Eusebius, Theophania, Syriac translation 4.12)