Pearls of the Word

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Our paradigm

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example [paradeigmatizo], was minded to put her away secretly" (Matthew 1:19).

The Greek verb paradeigmatizo means 'to be subject to disgrace as an example'; this verb has its origin in the word deigma meaning 'example', 'proof'. Thus Sodom and Gomorrah serve as example of what may be the punishment of an eternal fire (Jude 1:7). The Greek word deigma also gave the word paradeigma, 'paradigm' in English.

In our everyday language, paradigm is a set of examples which serves as basis to accept or reject something. Joseph who was a just man before God, had for paradigm the 'Torah of Moses' that he scrupulously observed; so he secretly wanted to break away from Mary so that she would not become another example of disgrace. As Christians, we have as paradigm the 'Torah of Christ' (the four Gospels) from which we cannot add or subtract anything.