The Ten Commandments are controversial these days with court cases to remove them from public places. The notion is that by posting the ten commandments it is somehow establishing a religion.  Among the many things that are wrong with that argument is the perceived notion that the ten commandments are somehow fundamental to Judaism or Christianity.  Both religions are much more than commandments as one can see from the rest of this site.  

There is actually no place in the Bible where God says "here are the Ten Commandments that you must live by."  The notion of the ten commandments is more a teaching tool than the final word on all aspects of living.  For the Jew there are 613 commands in the Torah, this is inclusive of the ten given on Sinai. The Torah was given to the Hebrew people only as a covenant between that nation and God, for the rest of humanity the Jews say there are the Noahide laws. For the Christian Jesus says:

12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.  (John 15.12-17 ESV)

It is probably expecting too much to think that an atheist could understand being friends with the God of the Universe as they do not believe in God to start with.  For many inside and outside of the Church the commands eclipse the relationship but that does not altogether miss the point.  In Galatians 3.24 we read: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (KJV)." We may well learn right living from the law, but that does not mean that we are walking with God. I really do not expect many atheists to read this but I did get the table below from the atheist site cited. The original purpose of this article was to contrast the presentation of Ten Commandments in various traditions so I shall get on with that.

What we call the Ten Commandments is give twice in the Bible and it is slightly different in each instance. They can be found in Exodus 20.1-17 and Deuteronomy 5.1-21. Different groups edit the Bible differently and assign different numbers to the commandments but with a quick scan of the following table is clear that we are talking about the same list.  The Roman Catholic list in the table is from the Catechism which is a teaching tool primarily for children and is a summary of what the Bible and tradition teach. We note that the Catholics generally play down the graven image bit probably because they use icons and are, perhaps, still wounded from the Iconoclast controversy of the 700s. The Jews start one verse earlier in the Exodus passage. At first that does not sound like a command but it is important to remember and that remembering has the force of a command. 

 

  Protestant
(Exodus 20.3-17 KJV)
Roman Catholic Jewish
(Exodus 20.2-17)
1 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
2 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
3 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
4 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honor thy Father and thy Mother. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath in honour of the Lord thy God; on it thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Honour thy father and thy mother; in order that thy days may be prolonged upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
6 Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill.
7 Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8 Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not steal.
9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
 
King James Bible, issued by the American Bible Society.
Catholic Catechism
by Peter Cardinal Gasparri, "published with Ecclesiastical approval" and bearing the imprimatur of Patrick Cardinal Hayes, Archbishop, New York. P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1932. 
Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1922.

 

http://www.positiveatheism.org/crt/whichcom.htm 1/3/14