Old Testament Ethics

J. W. Rogerson

in Text in Context

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780198263913
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601187 | DOI:
 Old Testament Ethics

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This is the last of five chapters on the Old Testament and the reader, and is devoted to a discussion of Old Testament ethics. Begins by outlining possible reasons for people being interested in Old Testament ethics, and then discusses the strategies employed in each of these approaches. Four reasons for ethical study are advanced: first, from a confessional (religious/theological/devotional) standpoint, it could be maintained that the Old Testament in some sense contains the revealed will of God and that its ethical teaching therefore makes a claim upon Jews and Christians if not upon all humanity; a second reason springs from the conviction that the confessional position is mistaken and that it is the duty of scholarship to expose the crudities of Old Testament morality in order to prevent humankind from being subjected to its claims; a third answer might be that the study of Old Testament ethics is a valid subject in its own right, as is the study of the ethics of the Greeks or of the historical background to the Old Testament; a fourth response might go further than this and say that because the Old Testament is a classic text, what it has to say on ethical matters is of interest to ethicists. The next section starts by discussing the fact that differing agendas have shaped approaches to Old Testament ethics in earlier periods of history, and goes on to review three recent large‐scale confessional attempts to deal with Old Testament ethics: those of Walter Kaiser, Christopher Wright, and Bruce Birch. The following section attempts to illustrate how different results can follow if different approaches are made to the Old Testament, and discusses the evidence of moral and ethical sensitivity within the biblical text, discourse ethics, and the need for a plurality of methods and approaches.

Keywords: approaches; biblical studies; Birch; Bruce Birch; Christopher Wright; confessional approaches; discourse ethics; ethical sensitivity; ethical studies; ethical teaching; ethics; Kaiser; methodology; moral sensitivity; morality; Old Testament; plurality; Walter Kaiser; Wright

Chapter.  10903 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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