Briggs maintains the Old Testament implies a portrait (or series of portraits) of a desirable character. This character concerns how one goes about reading the Old Testament to inform one's own purposes and values. Using select narratives (Numbers 12; 1 Kings 3; 2 Kings 18; Ruth 1; Isaiah 6), he highlights humility, wisdom, trust, charity, and receptivity as ideal virtues of the implied reader. His discussion addresses hermeneutical and theoretical questions about readers, both implied and real.
Sloan provides a basic introduction to addressing Old Testament ethics for an audience unfamiliar to the subject. His approach is gentle and his perspective Evangelical. The book addresses basic methodological issues while also engaging select biblical texts to exemplify his approach. Sloan additionally addresses matters related to Christian ethics. The book provides an annotated bibliography of books on Old Testament ethics and Christian ethics. An additional bibliography discusses further sources for engaging the various topics raised in the book.
Because the Bible does not stand outside its own context, Houston argues we must seek and discern God's voice from among the conflicting human voices that can be heard in the pages of the Bible. For Houston, this means readers must be keen about the ideologies of the biblical texts. By understanding “the Bible’s ideas and language of social theology and morality and the social ends which they serve,” readers can discriminate among these and “recognize those with roots deeper than the needs of the moment and the interests of the hegemonic class.” Houston's book is an attempt to do just this.
Wright aims "to outline the broad contours of the worldview that lies behind the wealth of laws and exhortation in the Old Testament, as well as the moral values implicit or explicit in the narratives, worship and prophecy." He argues that Israel's worldview is the foundation upon that which Old Testament ethics is built. The way in which contemporary readers benefit from Old Testament ethics is by appreciating the paradigmatic role of Israel and her relationship with both God and the land. These three focal points emphasize the social, theological, and economic angles of Israel's worldview. Wrights book proceeds along topical lines of discussion.
There are two major components of Old Testament ethics according to John Rogerson. First, the texts of the Old Testament must be studied—even (if not especially) by Christians—using critical methods of study, methods that accommodate the growth that takes place in Israel’s moral thinking as reflected in the Old Testament. Second, Old Testament ethics requires the contributions of other fields of study; it is an interdisciplinary subject. Rogerson’s proposal for ethics includes three fundamental points: 1) though moral absolutes do exist, they are always historically situated. 2) moral living must be grounded in imperatives of redemption. 3) and these must inform ‘structures of grace.’
Rodd's book represents one of the few critical approaches to Old Testament ethics. He emphasizes the diversity of ethical perspectives within the Old Testament as well as its strange ethical landscape. It is this strangeness that Rodd finds so virtuous. It offers us a different way of looking at our contemporary moral issues than the dominant standards of the Western world (otherwise, "it would have nothing to offer that we could not buy elsewhere"). This strange land will, from time to time, offer us moral assistance. As a consequence of this, Rodd insists that the Old Testament can and does get moral issues wrong, and recognizing this is important for Old Testament ethics.
Birch states that his volume treats the Old Testament as a portion of the canon of the scripture of the church. His interaction with the Old Testament involves historical criticism, but he does not aim for objectivity in his interpretive methods. He operates from the canonical shape of the text, combining a chronological and topical approach as he moves through the Old Testament in part 2 of his work. His book is marked by the aim to bridge the discussion of the Bible to theology and ethics. In part 1, he writes on the role of the Old Testament in Christian Ethics and the ethical function of Old Testament narrative.
Janzen aims to provide a model for grasping the Old Testament's ethical message to the church in a way that avoids a reductionist concentration on any one genre, like law, or any one selection of texts, like the Ten Commandments or the prophetic calls for justice. He focuses on "paradigms" of the good life (like the holy life or the wise life) that he believes are welded together into a comprehensive ethic by the fact that one of theses—the familial paradigm"—represents the comprehensive end of all Old Testament ethics.
Kaiser regards the Old Testament's ethical claims and demands as governing mortals made in the image of God. Thus, he believes they are applicable to the church. He considers the ethical directions and morality of the Old Testament to be grounded, first of all, in the nature of God directly. Hence, he equates divine commands with divine being. Additionally, he locates the expression of divine character in moral (positive) law and the "creation ordinances" of God's work, the depiction of things as they were intended to be from the Creator's hand. Kaiser combines a chronological/canonical (he sees these as identical) and topical approach in surveying the ethics of the Old Testament.
This volume collects essays on Old Testament ethics from throughout John Barton's career and assembles them together. Barton advocates for scholarship in Old Testament ethics "to present a descriptive, historical account of ethical beliefs and practices in ancient Israel as evidenced in the Old Testament." Barton identifies three ethical bases in the Old Testament (Obedience to God's will, natural law, imitation of God) and conducts study on four Old Testament prophetic traditions, Amos, Isaiah (1-39), Isaiah (40-66), and Daniel.
According to J. David Pleins, "reading the Bible is not enough." By this, he means to emphasize the importance of investigating various aspects of the world of ancient Israel that exist behind the text and how the text itself is understood in light of these realities. He employs social-scientific approaches that recognize social conflicts within the text. By placing these divergent "social visions" into "intelligible social constructs," one begins to understand and is able to engage the Hebrew Bible's "rich and varied contribution to the enduring challenge of creating a more just world."
This collection of essays aims to allow "the Old Testament to speak for itself regarding the ethical behaviour contained within its pages in relation to the different genres of Old Testament material." Most of the volume addresses Old Testament texts and genres. Three different essays take up the subject of divine ethics as it relates to anger, violence, and the "dark" portrayals of the divine. The last three essays provide post-biblical perspectives on the subject, focusing on the culture of the Second Temple period, Targums, and Early Judaism.
Born out of the Character Ethics and Biblical Interpretation Group at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings, this volume focuses its attention on the role that character ethics plays in shaping those committed to God's justice. The essays span the breadth of the Old Testament, and four essays specifically approach the text from the perspective of modern contexts. This volume generally explores the way in which character ethics can be informed by the character of God as God is revealed in Scripture.
Born out of the Character Ethics and Biblical Interpretation Group at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meetings, this volume focuses on the role that character, both human and divine, plays in moral formation, the shaping of community, and proper biblical interpretation. This volume contains essays on both the Old and New Testament, as well as essays that address general hermeneutical questions of theological interpretation. This volume is particularly helpful at providing constructive examples for interpreting the Bible in light of various challenges.
This volume, dedicated to the memory of J. Philip Hyatt, contains numerous essays addressing primarily the prophets and writings of the Old Testament. This collection of essays appeared at a time when little was being written under the label of "Old Testament ethics." Its contributors come from a variety of perspectives in Old Testament studies to address a matter that was of interest to the honoree, "the divine imperative."
Schlimm's book represents a methodological tour de force in assessing how emotions, particularly anger, impact how we understand and process the biblical text, particularly its ethical significance. Schlimm devotes considerable space to the cross-cultural study of emotions and demonstrates the tendency that exists in current scholarship to impose Western assumptions about emotion on to the text. He outlines how readers of the text can understand the Bible's own conceptions of emotion using anger, and he then applies this insight to reading the book of Genesis.
Wenham aims to address a lacunae in Old Testament ethics, namely the ethical significance of narrative literature in the Old Testament. He mounts an argument that narrative often communicates a higher ethical ideal than biblical law which often prescribes a minimal threshold of ethical behavior. That being said, he recognizes the ethics of narrative are often more difficult to identify without being too subjective. His chapters on Genesis and Judges provide examples for how one may go about gleaning ethical insights from biblical narrative. The book also contains chapters that address the more ethically questionable tales and the New Testament.
In this book, Wenham extends his interest in the instructional significance of story (Story as Torah) to that of the Psalter. Focusing on the final form of the text, Wenham relies on recent work in orality and literacy to argue that the Psalter was a text to be memorized. This process facilitated the reader's enculturation of the Psalter's moral values. He argues that, because the Psalter was not merely memorized but recited in worship, its values make the strongest claim on the believer. Their performance entails a commissive speech act that is not subject to passive reception, exalting the ethics of liturgy over all other ethical modes and genres in the Bible.
According to Brown, "for every tradition in which creation is its context, the moral life of the community is a significant subtext. Succinctly put, every model of the cosmos conveys an ethos as well as a mythos." Brown aims to explore the ethos conveyed by creation texts, among which he numbers Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Genesis 2:4b-3:24, select readings from Isaiah 40-66, Proverbs 8:22-31; and Job. These texts reveal the genesis, the beginnings and foundation, of Israel's moral imagination.
Lasine aims to contribute to our understanding of how readers of the Bible can better investigate character. He argues this involves "the intricacies of human perception and social interaction, the dynamics of the reading process, and what has come to be called 'character ethics' and the ethics of reading." He addresses questions like "How different were the ancients (and the literary characters they created) from various types of people who now read the Bible?" while teasing out the methodological problems that lie behind this and similar kinds of questions. The book covers a number of Old Testament texts and the characters within (i.e., Moses, Elijah, David, Zedekiah, etc.)
Davis investigates the theology and ethics of land use in the Bible and in contemporary society. Rather than use the Bible to critique modern land use, she creates a dialogue between the ancient agrarian biblical authors and modern agrarians (principally Wendell Berry, who wrote the book's forward). These agrarian voices, together, provide the perspective from which she critiques modern industrialized agriculture. According to Davis, agrarianism emphasizes the primacy of the land and its needs and honors "informed ignorance" (otherwise known in the Bible as the fear of Yhwh) over "a culpable pride, a destructive lack of humility." Davis explores in her book "Israel's Poem of Creation," "the Wilderness Economy," "Leviticus" and its "Wholesome Materiality," "Covenantal Economics," the "Agrarian Prophets" "the Character of Sloth" in the wisdom texts, and "the Faithful City."
Violence in the Bible is not a problem, according to Jerome F. D. Creach. God did not create the world by violence, and did not intend for humankind to embrace violence as a way of life. Because humankind abandoned these divine intentions, violence becomes a necessary mode by which God carries out God's commitment to justice. That said, much of the Bible that is traditionally viewed as problematically violent, particularly because it is interpreted historically, is actually best understood as critiquing violence by interpreting it literarily. Ultimately, the Bible never condones human violence, so argues Creach.
This volume collects essays from many of the authors below who have contributed to the subject of holy war from a self-professed Christian perspective. The book engages Old and New Testament perspectives, biblical theological approaches, ethical and philosophical perspectives, and theological perspectives. The individual essays provide different ways of resolving and/or approaching the subject.
"An affirmation of basic Christian orthodoxy does not preclude theological disagreement." So argues Sparks as he attempts to navigate one of these particular areas of theological disagreement, the authority of Scripture. The disagreement concerning biblical authority that interests Sparks is of the more difficult texts, especially those involving violence. Sparks contends that Scripture was never "intended to stand alone as the criterion by which theological and ethical judgments are made." Rather, Christians "must be ready to move beyond Scripture in some cases."
Seibert aims to defend what is, in his words, a simple premise: "The Bible should never be used to inspire, promote, or justify acts of violence." What may seem straightforward, Seibert argues is not the case. There are texts in the Bible that have and do promote violence. Seibert maintains that Christians must read these texts nonviolently, to subvert their sanction and celebration of violence. To accomplish this, Christians must be willing to critique the Bible (often in light of what is revealed elsewhere in Scripture), but this critique must also be accompanied by embrace, a constructive reading that explains why these texts exist in the Bible in the first place.
Copan sets out to defend Old Testament ethics. He approaches his task with an aim to address the critiques that New Atheists have made against the Old Testament's portrayal of God. He looks at topics like God's desire for praise and sacrifice, God's jealousy, the binding of Isaac, the provisional nature of God's laws for Israel, the odd aspects of Israel's laws, the harsh punishments in Israel's laws, the place of women in Israel, non monogomous marriach in the Old Testament, slavery in Israel, and the Canaanite genocide. Copan's book defends the morality of God as we encounter it in the Old Testament and further argues for the importance of seeing the Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus.
Stark's book aims to address what he believes to be a problematic way of reading the Bible, namely acknowledging the Bible to be inerrant, internally consistent, and always morally sound in its teaching. He argues on the basis of long established positions among certain non-Evangelical scholars that this understanding of the Bible is flawed, and counters that the Bible itself is much more self-critical in nature. Stark interacts heavily with the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and addresses polytheism, human sacrifice, the Canaanite genocide, and apocalypticism among other things to argue for a non-inerrantist reading of the Bible.
Earl writes in the preface, "This book has emerged out of my concern to understand what it means to read the Bible well as an evangelical Christian who wishes to take the implications of historical and ethical difficulties in the Bible with full seriousness in the context of 'faith seeking understanding.' This book provides a more accessible discussion of the matters raised in his published doctoral dissertation (below). The book includes a response by evangelical Old Testament scholar Christopher J. H. Wright, to which Earl briefly responds.
Earl begins his book by addressing the first challenge the book of Joshua presented Christians in the modern age, the questions about the historicity of the conquest. Earl explores the category of "myth" as a viable reading strategy for Joshua. He then proceeds to explore how these historical questions do not always determine how readers understand the text, particularly as an "act of discourse." Earl continues by addressing literary and thematic issues before diving into the text of Joshua. He concludes with a chapter addressing ways in which Christians can use this information to read Joshua as Scripture today.
Davies recognizes that the Hebrew Bible must contain "a far greater proportion of acceptable norms than those we might want to oppose or question" because we continue to consult it. However, this does not imply that there are not deeply troubling, even potentially immoral texts. This book looks at one text in particular, Johsua 6-11, to investigate the various approaches to mitigate its troubling aspects. His survey of approaches include "the evolutionary approach," "the cultural relativists' approach," "canonical approaches," "the paradigmatic approach," and "the reader-response approach."
Seibert acknowledges the Bible contains "problematic portrayals" or "troubling images" of God, problematic or troubling because they contain "disturbing divine behavior." In light of these difficult texts, Seibert emphasizes the importance of "thinking rightly about God." To do this, he walks his readers through these difficult texts, showing why and to whom they are difficult. He raises questions about how we read Old Testament narrative, and then proposes a way of distinguishing between "the textual God and the actual God." The book engages Christian readers by relying heavily on the God whom Jesus reveals.
The essays in this volume originated in the annual Biblical Studies conference at Denver Seminary in 2004. Written in the shadow of the invasion of Iraq, these essays from a range of systematic, biblical, and contemporary angles aims to address a topic--war and terrorism--that is familiar to both the Bible and the contemporary world. The book brings together various voices from pacifists to just war ethicists and testifies "to the earnest search for biblical and ethical approaches to the greater questions of war and the Bible."
Lamb recognizes that among atheists, agnostics, and even some Christians, God has a bad reputation. He puts that reputation to the test, first by suggesting that Jesus is no less a controversial figure than the God of the Old Testament, and second by focusing on how God is best characterized (e.g., "Angry or Loving," "Sexist or Affirming," " Racist or Hospitable," etc.). Lamb concludes that the answers are not always a matter of "either/or," but that this is not necessarily problematic. The book contains a number of discussion questions at the end of the book suitable for small group discussion.
In this volume from Zondervan's successful Counterpoints series, the four contributors share how they understand the relationship between the Canaanite genocide and the New Testament. C. S. Cowles argues for "radical discontinuity," that the New Testament has a more progressive understanding of God than what the Old Testament reveals. Eugene H. Merrill argues for "moderate discontinuity," that the genocide was unique to its time place, and circumstances, not to belong to the church age. Daniel L. Gard argues for "eschatological continuity," that the Canaanite genocide is a demonstration of God's justice to be fulfilled in the eschaton. Tremper Longman III argues for "spiritual continuity," that the Canaanite genocide is a demonstration of God's justice to be fulfilled in the final judgment.
Niditch navigates the biblical texts describing war and the divine sanction thereof by distinguishing and analyzing the various ideologies at work behind these texts. The different perspectives on war attempt to make sense of war and killing. These ideologies are neither self-contained nor are they related in a simple, chronological sequence. They suggest a complex relationship of multiplicity, overlap, and self-contradiction in Israel's own past. These ideologies continue to inform attitudes of war and peace in the contemporary world.