The following essays — the first on driving of the moneychangers from the Temple, the second on Jesus’ refusal to condemn the woman caught in adultery — were written by Dr. Jean-Marie Muller, a French philosopher and writer who was one of the participants in the April 2016 Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome.
Ces essais – le premier sur la conduite des changeurs d’argent du Temple, le deuxième sur le refus de Jésus de condamner la femme prise en adultère – ont été écrits par Jean-Marie Muller, un philosophe et écrivain français qui était l’un des participants à la conférence de nonviolence et paix de avril 2016 à Rome.
When Jesus frees the animals from the Temple
It is generally asserted that by “chasing the merchants of the Temple” (Mark 11: 15) Jesus himself did not hesitate personally to resort to violence and that, in consequence, Christians can also legitimately resort to violence to fight against injustice. Such an interpretation radically distorts the meaning of the Gospel text. This mis-reading and mis-understanding of the text has had a huge pernicious effect on Christian thought.
What is the truth of the matter? On several occasions, Jesus denounced the sacrificial practices involving the immolation of animals. Taking up as his own the ancient word of Hosea (Hosea 6: 6), he says: “It is mercy that I want, not sacrifice.” (Matthew, 9, 13 and 12,7). The prophet Amos (5: 22-24) had also rejected these practices: “When you offer me burnt-offerings, I do not approve of your oblations, I set no store by the sacrifice of your fat beasts. (…) But let the law flow as water, and righteousness as a torrent that never dries up.” However, the word of Jesus was not heeded by the merchants of the Temple who had taken over the esplanade to sell oxen, sheep and doves to the pilgrims so that they might be offered as sacrifices and who were willing to continue their trade.
Jesus then decided to have recourse to direct action in order to force them to cease their activity. Mark says that the previous day, he had entered the Temple and had “looked around at everything” (Mark 11:11), as if he had come to take stock of the place. One may therefore think that his action was premeditated and that it was therefore not decided on in the heat of anger. Continue reading The nonviolent resistance of Jesus/La résistance nonviolente de Jésus