One student writes:

Mr. Jamison,


The "Ten Commandments" law that is posted on your web-link is not correct.  You must have copied it out the  Catechism, because it looks like a Catholic version .   It is different in the Bible (Exodus 20).  The second Commandment is:  "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; ... “ The Catholic church uses pictures, sculptures, and other icons which people deem holy and worship.  Praying to saints and to statues is common practice, so the church had to get rid of that commandment.  They deleted the second commandment, and then to supplement , they divided the tenth commandment into two .  Essentially the 9 and the 10 commandment are one:  Do not covet…  Here is the Bible version from a  web site:


Exodus 20

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.


1. "You shall have no other gods before me.


2. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.


3. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.


4. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


5. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.


6. "You shall not murder.


7. "You shall not commit adultery.


8. "You shall not steal.


9 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.


10 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."


My response:

You make a very good comment concerning the TC on my web page and are absolutely correct that they represent a very vulgar, almost comedic version of the commandments following a very serious version – that of the Catholic interpretation. One reason for this is my presentation in classes where I discuss them with a follow up suggestion that some of the conflicts we have had regarding issues of Church and State might be resolved by my revision posted here:


The reason I use such vulgar slang in my description of them is because of the general attitude most people have toward them in class. Humor makes an otherwise difficult discussion much easier to manage! I also jokingly refer to the Catholic revision precisely as you do, that the Church loves icons and has them all over the place, so they got rid of that one and had to split the last to make up for it! Exactly. It is usually good for a laugh in class especially since that is the interpretation most Protestants have taken on the issue. But that really is a joke. The issue is actually much more serious and both you and I are taking the Protestant point of view in stating it that way. Have a look at this more serious description of the issue here and notice that it is incorrect to think that there are numbers associated with either Exodus or Deuteronomy – if you numbered each of the specific commandments you would end up with many more than ten, so one would have to argue how best to break them up into ten:


It also seems simply silly to ban graven images – heck, the images of the commandments on the stone tablets would break the commandments! So how does one interpret that part of the first commandment? The answer is here:


So you see, according to this view the list as they are posted on  is incorrect.


So how does one figure out which version to believe? It has been my experience that people generally follow the point of view that reflects the way they were raised. In short, Protestants think the Catholics are wrong and vice versa. That seems explainable by sociological reasons.


The Catholic point of view is very complex and has been the result of an accumulation of traditional interpretations by the most educated people through history. The Protestant Reformation begins a variety of points of view – notice the links above and the detail they give concerning all of this. Since the US was founded primarily by Protestants and our culture may be interpreted as reflecting Max Weber’s analysis of the connection of the Protestant ethic and democracy, the Protestant view tends to dominate discussions of the TC.


Thank you for reading my web pages and making such an astute comment on them! This is wonderful.




This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated July 11, 2016. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.