Deuteronomy 4.1,5-9; Ps 147; Matthew 5.17-19
’Not one little stroke shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.’ Both the Douay-Rheims Bible and the King James Version translate this verse with the familiar ‘not one jot or tittle’. The jot is really iota, the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, equivalent to our letter i. The tittle is from the Latin word meaning superscript—a diacritical (accent) mark, even the dot that tops the i. In hyperbolic language, the words of the Law (the Torah) are so sacrosanct that the smallest pen-stroke cannot be obliterated without endangering the whole edifice.
But what is the purpose of that Torah? In positive terms Torah is a picture of the indescribable God; a lifestyle by which we may come to resemble God himself. [Psalm 118(119).1] It is a manifestation of the presence of God in the midst of his people. The New Testament writers are univocal in asserting that the Law never succeeded in accomplishing that goal.[cf Hebrews 7.19] Yet Jesus himself, at once the sign and the substance of the life of God on earth, God’s continual concern for the earth and its inhabitants created by him, is the Law’s fulfilment, and in imitating his lifestyle we also may come to know a Life that is worthy of the name.
[cf John 10.10]