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Biblical Ethics


Tensions Between Justice and Mercy, Law and Love


Biblical theology is confronted with tensions between love and justice. There are sometimes attempts to avoid these tensions by dissolving one side of the opposing concept. One such attempt is to identify love and mercy as the essence of Christian theology, overcoming law and reciprocal justice. However, such a dissolution is irresponsible not only ethically, but also theologically—as the discussion in a number of the studies collected in the present volume will demonstrate.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-3945-9
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jan 30,2019
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 349
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-3945-9
$95.00
$57.00

Justice and love, especially love for the enemy, seem to be in tension with one another. Although the command to love appears as an imperative in both testaments and is related explicitly to Torah in the New Testament, it is often seen as standing in opposition to the law. Mercy, in its turn, is seen as standing close to love and in tension with justice.

Biblical theology, and theology more generally, is confronted with such tensions in many ways. Some have attempted to avoid these tensions by dissolving one side of the opposing concept, for example, by identifying love and mercy as the essence of Christian theology,  which overcomes law and reciprocal justice. However, such a dissolution is irresponsible not only ethically, but also theologically – as the discussion in the present volume demonstrates.

The volume contains a number of papers presented in the Biblical Ethics section at the SBL Annual Meetings of 2014 and 2015. The studies shed light on various aspects of the questions surrounding the relationship of law and love, justice and mercy, both in the Old and the New Testament, and across the boundary between the two testaments.

Justice and love, especially love for the enemy, seem to be in tension with one another. Although the command to love appears as an imperative in both testaments and is related explicitly to Torah in the New Testament, it is often seen as standing in opposition to the law. Mercy, in its turn, is seen as standing close to love and in tension with justice.

Biblical theology, and theology more generally, is confronted with such tensions in many ways. Some have attempted to avoid these tensions by dissolving one side of the opposing concept, for example, by identifying love and mercy as the essence of Christian theology,  which overcomes law and reciprocal justice. However, such a dissolution is irresponsible not only ethically, but also theologically – as the discussion in the present volume demonstrates.

The volume contains a number of papers presented in the Biblical Ethics section at the SBL Annual Meetings of 2014 and 2015. The studies shed light on various aspects of the questions surrounding the relationship of law and love, justice and mercy, both in the Old and the New Testament, and across the boundary between the two testaments.

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Contributor Biography

Markus Zehnder

Markus Zehnder is professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Talbot School of Theology (California), professor II at Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole (Norway), and visiting professor at the ETF Leuven (Belgium). He earned his PhD at the University of Basel, where he also got his Habilitation, and completed postdoctoral studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He has published on various topics, especially related to the fields of biblical Hebrew and biblical ethics.

Peter Wick

Peter Wick is professor of New Testament at the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany). He earned his PhD at the University of Basel, where he also got his Habilitation, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His publications focus on Paul, Matthew, early Christian services and biblical ethics.

Introduction - MARKUS ZEHNDER AND PETER WICK (1)

Love in the Bible, and Law, Justice, and Mercy: Some Observations on the Semantic Profile of the Main Hebrew and Greek terms denoting ‘Love’, with a Special View on the Intersection with Terms Denoting ‘Law’, ‘Justice’ and ‘Mercy’ - MARKUS ZEHNDER (15)

Love in both Testaments

Love: The Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets - CAROL J. DEMPSEY (67)

Why Love Matters for Justice: Political Emotions Between Narrative and Law in the Holiness Code - PAAVO N. TUCKER (83)

Love and Justice in the Old Testament

The Concept of Love as “Ethical Emotion” in Deuteronomy - DOROTHEA ERBELE-KÜSTER (105)

Justice and Mercy in Proverbs: Can It Be? - GLENN PEMBERTON (121)

Law and Love at the Intersection of the Old and New Testament

Hospitality: The Nexus between Law and Love - MARY J. MARSHALL (145)

The Unity of Law and Love in Psalm 119: A Christian Reading - REBECCA BURGESS (169)

A Marriage of Law and Love: An Exploration of a Dialogue Between Ruth and Paul - MEGHAN D. MUSY (193)page4image49973120page4image49973312

Justice and Mercy in the Connection between the Two Testaments

Forgiveness as the Image of the Merciful and Just God - LUKE BEN TALLON (215)

The Dynamic Polarity between Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament Formula of Grace (Ex 34:6) and the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18:23–35) - JENS-CHRISTIAN MASCHMEIER (235)

Paul’s Ethics and Paul’s Experience: Law and Love in Galatians - SEAN WINTER (251)

Law and Love in the New Testament

‘Revenge is Mine, I will Pay Back’– Has Mercy not the Last Word, after All? Reading Romans 12:19 as Part of an Implicit Discourse of Justice and Mercy - DOROTHEA H. BERTSCHMANN (273)

Justice and Mercy in the New Testament

Love for Enemies, Justice and the Concept of Reciprocity in Paul (Rom 12:17–21) and Matthew (Mt 5:43–48) - JENS-CHRISTIAN MASCHMEIER (301)

Mercy and Justice or Mercy without Justice? Comparing James and 1 Peter - MARTIN I. WEBBER (321)

Between Partiality and Mercy. Tensions in the Ethics of the Letter of James - PETER WICK (335)

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