There are parts of the Gospel that on the surface would seem to be misleading. For example Jesus’ advice to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile would appear to advocate a very passive approach to living the Christian life. Yet we know that being too passive is to lack self-respect and elsewhere it says that if we fail to confront someone for doing wrong we take their sin upon ourselves. Also we know that if everyone adopted a passive approach no injustice would ever be righted. In this case some Biblical scholarship comes in useful and points us in a different direction. Under Roman law a master was entitled to reprimand his slave by slapping him once on the cheek. However under law to do so twice was to grant him freedom. Similarly a Roman soldier was entitled to conscript a civilian to carry his pack for a mile but no further, otherwise he could be reported and get reprimanded. Viewed in the light of Biblical scholarship such pieces of advice look very different and advocate not passivity but assertiveness.

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