Reredos: The ten commandments

  • Then God spoke all these words:
  • I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
  • You shall not make for yourself an idol, …
  • You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, …
  • Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. …
  • Honour your father and your mother, …
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  • You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (Exodus 20:1–17)

These ten commandments have always been at the heart of the Jewish Faith. When Jesus was asked about the Law, he quoted from elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures:

  • One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (Mark 12:28–31, NRSV, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18)

He also gave to his disciples a 

  • new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (John 13:34):

However, the ten commandments have remained important to Christians alongside Jesus’ own prescriptiona. The version printed on the reredos is the one that would have been familiar to worshippers during the seventeenth century. 

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