QOTD: C.H. Dodd on the Ethical Teachings of Jesus

C.H. Dodd on the ethical teachings of Jesus in The Founder of Christianity says,

It is clear that Jesus too attached importance to the concrete act; that is one reason why he cast so much of his ethical teaching in the form of vivid word picutres of action instead of abstaract general maxims. But he did so with the proviso that the act is the sincere expression of an inward disposition.

He goes on to discuss Jesus’ teaching against the Pharisees focus on the outward acts such as placing restrictions on how far one may walk on the Sabbath and says in response

Something of the kind (concrete rules) no doubt, is necessary if ethics are to be made practicable; we can hardly dispense with casuistry. But it has its dangers. Besides the obvious danger of giving the outward act an independ value apart from the disposition which makes it a moral act, there is a more subtle danger, that of quantitative conception of morality. It is as if there were a set of regualtions each of which, like the questiosn in an examination paper, earned a certain number of marks, and the total could be put to a man’s credit….The yardstick by which one measures one’s own (real or supposed) excellence also measures the other man’s defects, to one’s own great comfort. In the teaching of Jesus, goodness is not measurable by any yardstick. It is qualitative and not quantitative at all. It is the effort to reproduce the quality of the divine action.

p. 75–77

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s