Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stephen at the ESV Bible Blog remembered my interest in cataloging the imperatives of Jesus, and passed on a recent post by Adrian Warnock reflecting on the 800 commands of the New Testament. Adrian's post links to a PDF file at, though i slightly prefer this one because it credits the author, one Finnis Jennings Dake, who composed Dake's Annotated Reference Bible. Reading a bit more about Dake's background and his reference Bible frankly put me off, but that's no argument against the validity of the Scriptures he assembles.

The commands are organized in a memorable way: for example,

  • Seven "Abstains" (mostly from the Jerusalem Council in Acts.15)
  • Seventy-four "Be's": be glad (Matt.5.12), be reconciled to your brother (Matt.5.24), be content with your wages (Luke.3.14), ...

as well as "Be not's", "Bewares", things to consider, one hundred "Let's", and so forth. Though it would be a mistake to consider these as a new Book of the Law for the Christian, i agree with Adrian's point that "practical preaching that tells people how to live" is worthwhile indeed. Dake's organization tends to obscure the original context of the individual items, always a danger in this list-making kind of approach: i tried to mitigate this a bit in my list from Luke by indicating, for example, when something seemed like a general command rather than specific to a particular situation. 

I've recently restarted my effort to complete the imperatives across all four Gospels, including semantic categorization. I first reflected on this notion more than two years ago, and it's daunting work: i've backed up a bit for now to get some lexical resources together first, which is partly how i got here. I'll get a post out soon about where i'm headed, though it's still even more of a work in definition than a work in progress.

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