Biblical Archaeology Review 36:5, September/October 2010

Strata: The Bible in the News: Turn, Turn, Turn

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Jesus’ advice, offered as part of the Sermon on the Mount, could not be more straightforward: “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matthew 5:39). This admonition, which is popular in many societies, is often adhered to—but, as we observe in the worldwide press, not everywhere and not in all circumstances.

For example, nations regularly fail to follow this procedure in their diplomacy: “As a result,” declared the Mexican ambassador to the United States, “after more than a decade of dialogue in which Mexico has asked for nothing more than U.S. compliance with its NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] trucking commitments, the Mexican government could not continue to turn the other cheek ...” (as reported in The Washington Times). A similar phrase was also used to describe the reaction of another country to the United States: “Not one to turn the other cheek these days, China issued a report yesterday on human rights violations by the U.S. ... [a] day after the State Department pointed the finger at China in its annual report on human rights abuses in 194 countries” (from The Gazette of Montreal).

Not unexpectedly, the world of sports manifests numerous instances where players (and perhaps even fans) are confronted with the eternal question: to turn or not to turn (the other cheek, that is!).

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