In The Ethical Vision of the Bible
, Peter Gosnell equips the reader with an interest in deepening their understanding of biblical ethics to listen carefully to the variety of ethical emphases found within the Bible itself. Gosnell takes a descriptive rather than prescriptive approach to the subject, focusing especially on Torah, Proverbs, the Prophets, the Gospels and Paul. Instead of focusing on what
the Bible says about various ethical issues, it emphasizes how
the different parts of the Bible encourage its readers to think ethically about every issue.
Gosnell's text is ideal for classroom use because it includes summary overviews, suggestions for further reading, and reflection questions at the end of every chapter.
Additionally, The Ethical Vision of the Bible
- offers unique, sustained ethical readings of a range of biblical writings in their final form, supported by mainstream scholarly research
- introduces the concept of "micro-ethics" into the discussion of biblical ethics
This introduction to the world of biblical ethics walks readers through the ethical teachings of key people and texts within the Bible. Instead of focusing on what the Bible says about various ethical issues, it emphasizes how the different parts of the Bible encourage its readers to think ethically about every issue.
Peter W. Gosnell (Ph.D., University of Sheffield) is associate professor of religion at Muskingum University. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Do not bother with this book if you are hoping for neat answers to your favorite burning moral issues, along the lines of 'What does the Bible say about...?' Not only does Peter Gosnell not set out to give simple answers to a range of ethical questions, he also challenges that whole approach to using the Bible. Wanting a rule for every situation, to keep or not to keep - preferably with suitable penalties for the latter - is the way of the lazy, the legalist and the fundamentalist. Rather, Paul urges us to 'be transformed in the renewing of our minds,' which means that we actually have to do some thinking. What Gosnell offers is to guide our feet and our brains on a wonderfully illuminating journey through the Bible. All along the way he points out how different major sections of the Old and New Testaments address the question of what it means to live well in this broken world - to advance what is good and resist what is evil and harmful - and why we should do so. As you follow his lead through the rich panorama of texts he surveys, you will undoubtedly begin to 'get answers' to that difficult ethical issue you are concerned about, not because you found one verse that solved it but rather because you have thought it through in the light of the whole biblical witness to God and the purposes of God in creation, redemption and new creation. The book is delightfully easy to read, but its simplicity floats on reassuringly deep waters of thorough biblical scholarship. It is reliable, readable, well resourced and relevant.
-Christopher J. H. Wright
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