Continuing the whole unsurprising and fundamental misunderstanding of scripture, I found an interesting link to positiveatheism.org. They offer a reprintable, royalty-free .pdf which they encourage you to distribute widely. It’s available here. The handbill includes commandments from Protestant Catholic, and Hebrew texts. The order is similar for the different commandments, but the description of them varies between the texts. Most notably missing is the “graven images” commandment from the Catholic text. Understandable.
The handbill also includes information about the first AND second set of tablets (remember Moses smashed the first set of tablets?). Apparently the second tablets tell a very different set of rules (from Exodus 34:1). They (positiveatheism.org) suggest it’s arguably is the oldest and most authentic version of the ten commandments. If they’re right, then this should be the version that hangs in courthouses in the U.S. It would certainly make for some interesting interpretation:
- Thou shalt worship no other god (For the Lord is a jealous god).
- Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
- The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.
- All the first-born are mine.
- Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.
- Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
- Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.
- The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.
- The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
- Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.
I can just see religious types trying to work these commandments into some kind of moral lesson: “Johnny, remember the 10th commandment: Thou shalt not seeth a kid in its mother’s milk.” Huh?
The troublemakers at atheists.org also cite the above list of commandments, and have a better proposition for the display of commandments in public spaces — hang ’em all — specifically, hang all the various, conflicting versions of the big ten:
“… it seems to me the only solution to the problem of hanging commandments is this: hang them all! Hang all three sets in full text – don’t hang just the epitomes. Make sure they are the best English translations possible, rendering the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH as “Yahweh,” not the namby-pamby “Lord” of nearly all current translations. (Political correctness would make it advisable for a Spanish-language version be mounted also, wherever Hispanic votes are a force to be reckoned with.) Then, so the probable meaning of the texts can be inferred, mount other biblical verses that seem to clarify Yahweh’s intentions on the three occasions when he asked Moses to report the “Big Ten.” We should mount all the commandments in adjacent chapters in Exodus and Deuteronomy so the full context can be understood by the average school child or visitor to a courthouse.
“Of course, very large walls will be needed for this civic purpose. If monuments are to be erected, care will have to be taken lest they take on the appearance of the Berlin Wall, since thoroughness perforce will make commandment hangers want to stretch their displays as far as necessary.”