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
What ways of distinguishing right and wrong are encouraged within biblical writings? How did various bibical authors offer different yet complementary motivations for promoting ethical action and discouraging unethical behavior? The Ethical Vision of the Bible equips readers with an interest in deepening their understanding of biblical ethics to listen carefully to the variety of ethical emphases found within the Bible itself. Focusing especially on Torah (the Law), Proverbs, the Prophets, the Gospels and Paul, this book enables the reader to trace key ethical patterns as they develop from the flow of thought of these biblical texts in their own contexts. Frequent summary overviews, suggestions for further reading, and reflection questions at the end of every chapter make The Ethical Vision of the Bible ideal for students and others.
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
STARRED REVIEW "Gosnell has written a careful and prudent approach to biblical ethics, which, as he points out, is not 'what the Bible says' but how it fosters ethical thought. His considerate scholarship reviews the 'how' of ethics over the course of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and arrives at the conclusion that biblical ethics prioritizes microethics over macroethics and people over principles and encourages readers to allow the Bible to lead them along similar lines. Verdict: Careful, sensible, and well written, Gosnell's study deserves a wide readership among religious leaders and church groups."
"Gosnell has written this book as an introductory college textbook, including numerous biblical citations as well as questions at the end of each chapter. His level of writing suits the audience, bringing concepts into a nicely framed, college textbook format."