Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Quotations Out of Context

Quotations float from generation to generation, sometimes misquoted, but still recognizable. Most quoters do not know the origin of the quotation.

Here is one from Tennyson you might recognize.

“More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of”

It is said by King Arthur in Morte D’ Arthur right before he dies. It is preceded by, “If thou shouldst never see my face again, pray for my soul.” In other words we use the quotation outside of the context. It means what we want it to mean not what it meant when it was first written.

We see the same sort of thing with Bible quotations.

The best example is the “golden rule.” It occurs in Luke 6:31.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

It is strong, but not as strong as the context.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36

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