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Sabbath, Law, and Liberation: Beginning an Academic Year

"And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

Some of you may have heard, or may even have preached, that in this Gospel passage Jesus shows himself to be unconstrained by, or even contemptuous of, the legalism of Jewish law and custom (or just "the rules"). It’s one of a few such places in the Gospels where scripture, or at least its exposition in the mainstream of Christianity, gets leapt upon by interpreters eager to proclaim freedom from whatever forms of institution and tradition we may properly want to criticize, and present Jesus as the exemplar of such freedom. We find however, after taking our hermeneutical buckets to draw deeply from the wells of liberative prophetic proclamation, that we actually walk away slopping anti-semitism all over the floor of the Church.

When Jesus heals a woman who had suffered from an infirmity for eighteen years he encounters opposition…

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