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What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?

 
Michelle
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11/14/2008 06:47 PM
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What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
I found this article and thought it was worth mentioning.

The full article is here, but I copied and pasted the subject thread part:
[link to www.zmag.org]

Christian Nonviolence

December 17, 2004 By Walter Wink


Walter Wink's ZSpace Page

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (attributed to Jesus in Matthew 5:38-41, Revised Standard Version)

Many who have committed their lives to working for change and justice in the world simply dismiss Jesus' teachings about nonviolence as impractical idealism. And with good reason. "Turn the other cheek" suggests the passive, Christian doormat quality that has made so many Christians cowardly and complicit in the face of injustice. "Resist not evil" seems to break the back of all opposition to evil and counsel submission. "Going the second mile" has become a platitude meaning nothing more than "extend yourself." Rather than fostering structural change, such attitudes encourage collaboration with the oppressor.

Jesus never behaved in such ways. Whatever the source of the misunderstanding, it is neither Jesus nor his teaching, which, when given a fair hearing in its original social context, is arguably one of the most revolutionary political statements ever uttered.

When the court translators working in the hire of King James chose to translate antistenai as "Resist not evil," they were doing something more than rendering Greek into English. They were translating nonviolent resistance into docility. The Greek word means more than simply to "stand against" or "resist." It means to resist violently, to revolt or rebel, to engage in an insurrection. Jesus did not tell his oppressed hearers not to resist evil. His entire ministry is at odds with such a preposterous idea. He is, rather, warning against responding to evil in kind by letting the oppressor set the terms of our opposition.

A proper translation of Jesus' teaching would then be, "Do not retaliate against violence with violence." Jesus was no less committed to opposing evil than the anti-Roman resistance fighters like Barabbas. The only difference was over the means to be used.

There are three general responses to evil: (1) violent opposition, (2) passivity, and (3) the third way of militant nonviolence articulated by Jesus. Human evolution has conditioned us for only the first two of these responses: fight or flight.

Fight had been the cry of Galileans who had abortively rebelled against Rome only two decades before Jesus spoke. Jesus and many of his hearers would have seen some of the two thousand of their countrymen crucified by the Romans along the roadsides. They would have known some of the inhabitants of Sepphoris (a mere three miles north of Nazareth) who had been sold into slavery for aiding the insurrectionists' assault on the arsenal there. Some also would live to experience the horrors of the war against Rome in 66-70 C.E., one of the ghastliest in history. If the option of fighting had no appeal to them, their only alternative was flight: passivity, submission, or, at best, a passive-aggressive recalcitrance in obeying commands. For them no third way existed.

Now we are in a better position to see why King James' servants translated antistenai as "resist not." The king would not want people concluding they had any recourse against his or any other sovereign's unjust policies. Jesus commands us, according to these king's men, to resist not. Jesus appears to say say that submission to monarchial absolutism is the will of God. Most modern translations have meekly followed the King James path.

Neither of the invidious alternatives of flight or fight is what Jesus is proposing. Jesus abhors both passivity and violence as responses to evil. His is a third alternative not even touched by these options. The Scholars Version translates Antistenai brilliantly: "Don't react violently against someone who is evil."

Jesus clarifies his meaning by three brief examples. "If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Why the right cheek? How does one strike another on the right cheek anyway? Try it. A blow by the right fist in that right-handed world would land on the left cheek of the opponent. To strike the right cheek with the fist would require using the left hand, but in that society the left hand was used only for unclean tasks. As the Dead Sea Scrolls specify, even to gesture with the left hand at Qumran carried the penalty of ten days penance. The only way one could strike the right cheek with the right hand would be with the back of the hand.

What we are dealing with here is unmistakably an insult, not a fistfight. The intention is not to injure but to humiliate, to put someone in his or her place. One normally did not strike a peer in this way, and if one did the fine was exorbitant (four zuz was the fine for a blow to a peer with a fist, 400 zuz for backhanding him; but to an underling, no penalty whatever). A backhand slap was the normal way of admonishing inferiors. Masters backhanded slaves; husbands, wives; parents, children; men, women; Romans, Jews.

We have here a set of unequal relations, in each of which retaliation would be suicidal. The only normal response would be cowering submission. It is important to ask who Jesus' audience is. In every case, Jesus' listeners are not those who strike, initiate lawsuits, or impose forced labor. Rather, Jesus is speaking to their victims, people who have been subjected to these very indignities. They have been forced to stifle their inner outrage at the dehumanizing treatment meted out to them by the hierarchical system of caste and class, race and gender, age and status, and by the guardians of imperial occupation.

Why then does Jesus counsel these already humiliated people to turn the other cheek? Because this action robs the oppressor of power to humiliate them. The person who turns the other cheek is saying, in effect, "Try again. Your first blow failed to achieve its intended effect. I deny you the power to humiliate me. I am a human being just like you. Your status (gender, race, age, wealth) does not alter that. You cannot demean me." Such a response would create enormous difficulties for the striker. Purely logistically, how can he now hit the other cheek? He cannot backhand it with his right hand. If he hits with a fist, he makes himself an equal, acknowledging the other as a peer. But the whole point of the back of the hand is to reinforce the caste system and its institutionalized inequality.
Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The Nephilim "seed" are TPTB.

yelk3@live.com
TB

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11/14/2008 06:50 PM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
hi Michelle, he means we have to forgive ignorance what it is about the hardest thing to do.
Michelle (OP)

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11/14/2008 06:54 PM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
hi Michelle, he means we have to forgive ignorance what it is about the hardest thing to do.
 Quoting: TB


Hiya. True, but I'm pointing out the hidden meaning behind Jesus' words.
Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The Nephilim "seed" are TPTB.

yelk3@live.com
Anonymous Coward
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11/14/2008 06:57 PM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He meant spread your ass cheeks. He knew what would happen to those who built a false religion around his name.
Michelle (OP)

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11/14/2008 07:04 PM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He meant spread your ass cheeks. He knew what would happen to those who built a false religion around his name.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 508587


I'm sorry what Jesus offers seems false to you. For me, it's been life-transforming and the best thing that's ever happened to me.
Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The Nephilim "seed" are TPTB.

yelk3@live.com
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 05:53 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
MOON your enemies.


Works for me.
kalamity kool

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11/15/2008 06:22 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
In Matthew 5 Jesus is speaking about the necessity of holding onto spiritual values over wordly ones, and acting according to them.
Many people expected the Saviour to save them from the oppression of the Romans - he made it clear his mission is not a political one.
So, I think he meant that if you are harmed by the world with its oppressors, the hurt cannot separate you from God, but if you retaliate in like measure, you are the same as the oppressor.
Those who love God have to transcend the way things are done in the world.
(if it seems too hard, remember He's going to kick their asses soon anyway).
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 06:34 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
Thanks Michelle, that was informative.

I asked myself that question after watching the Ghandi movie several years back. I knew he was referring to Jesus. Walking the two miles if asked to go one. I understood that you are not giving the attacker/oppressor the control of the situation, or sinking to his level... the level they expected the subject to take. So basically it does put the searing coal on his head as an opportunity to to sear their conscience to look around, as if a crowd was around and he was made to look more of an a$$. Does he want to look more of a savage and keep on or quit because he was brought to a realization that popped his expected bubble he thought the situation would take?

Anyway, your article put it in more plain words for many to see. Thanks.
tommy777

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11/15/2008 06:37 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
bump
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 06:46 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
ROFL Even Christians can't decide what their 'saviour' meant!
kalamity kool

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11/15/2008 06:55 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
ROFL Even Christians can't decide what their 'saviour' meant!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 551572



Damn, it sucks not to be a part of the world where all meanings amount to the same thing and questioning is pointless.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 06:57 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He did not mean to allow your wife to be raped. Jesus is about justice.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 06:57 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
bump

Because that was a great read - thanks alot. As a follower of ord jesus Christ, it made perfect sense.

Don't fight fire with fire, use sand.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:02 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
I don't think Jesus was the orginal person that said that. perhaps it came from, Ancient China.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:04 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
You would have to live within his culture to know exactly what he meant.

I'm still waiting for him.
Lotus Feet

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11/15/2008 07:05 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
It means to not take anything personally.

And he says it also means 'Don't rise to the bait".

Rise above it....

Lotus
i love satan
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:13 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
'Rise above it' sounds right.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:16 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
"Never wrestle with a pig because the pig enjoys it."

Proverb
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:35 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
I don't think Jesus was the orginal person that said that. perhaps it came from, Ancient China.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 530190


I don't think that you were the original person that typed that. perhaps it came from, Present-day China.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:35 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
Maybe he was saying ...

If someone insults you show them you aren't scared.

If he offers his left cheek he could be saying ... go on then ... I dares ya.

Just thinking within the context.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:36 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He doesn't say walk away ... he is saying stand up to them.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:37 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
I'll match you and raise you five.
Lotus Feet

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11/15/2008 07:39 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He doesn't say walk away ... he is saying stand up to them.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 459297


Yes, he is also saying do not resist them because he knew that what we resist persists. It is the nature of the cosmos.

Lotus
i love satan
Lotus Feet

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11/15/2008 07:40 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
'Rise above it' sounds right.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 459297


Yes, and it is easier to rise above it when we do not take anything personally.

Lotus
i love satan
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 07:41 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
I don't think Jesus was the orginal person that said that. perhaps it came from, Ancient China.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 530190


Seriously though:
Out of curiosity, what is the reasoning behind your statement?
D. SMith
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11/15/2008 08:13 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
Jesus, (as well as some others) were great ‘warriors’ their ‘spirits’ undefeatable, their minds impeccable, their positions to powerful for violence. They wielded the power of ‘turn the other cheek’ as others would wield a weapon; in the delivery of the message the immortality of the teaching reined through the ages and changed the face of the planet.

Few can rise to the challenge of non-violence; I have tried, and failed on more then one occasion. But, it is a goal worth pursuing. It is good to keep in mind that to choose non-violence is not a choice of passivity, but the ‘act’ of an ultimate warrior, one who can stand in the service of the ideal in the midst of battle, and leave no tarnish upon the standard, draw no blood upon the field, and still be proclaimed victorious.
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 08:23 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He wasn't scared of violence if he turned the other cheek. He wasn't turning away. He was offering it to be hit.

I always think of him turning the tables over when people talk of 'meek and mild.'
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 08:28 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
s226
Anonymous Coward
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11/15/2008 08:31 AM
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
It's a BDSM spanking kinda thang!

buttwhipscream
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
He doesn't say walk away ... he is saying stand up to them.


Yes, he is also saying do not resist them because he knew that what we resist persists. It is the nature of the cosmos.

Lotus
 Quoting: Lotus Feet


Bullshit. What we FAIL to resist persists.

That is why christbots get reamed by Jews on a daily basis and ask for seconds. Good for jews like you.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said "Turn the Other Cheek"?
"Never wrestle with a pig because the pig enjoys it."

Proverb
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 459297



You shoot the cunt in the head instead.

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