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  • The Bible and Social Justice: Old Testament and New Testament Foundations for the Church's Urgent Call ed. by Cynthia Long Westhall and Bryan R. Dyer
  • Dianne Bergant
cynthia long westhall and bryan r. dyer (eds.), The Bible and Social Justice: Old Testament and New Testament Foundations for the Church's Urgent Call ( McMaster New Testament Studies; Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2015. Pp. xxiv + 216. Paper $27.

The eight essays in this volume originated as papers delivered as part of a colloquium held at McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 2012. While they all provide evidence of the exegetical skill of the authors, they also underscore implications for believers today. In "Imagining Justice for the Marginalized," Paul S. Evans shows how the Covenant Code (Exod 21:1–23:33) demonstrates sweeping concern for social classes such as widows, orphans, aliens, and slaves—all those whose marginality leaves them most vulnerable. He believes that the Covenant Code can serve as a model for the task of [End Page 368] approaching issues of social justice today. This is followed by "Wisdom's Cry," by Mark J. Boda and Shannon E. Baines, a survey of the wisdom tradition that examines the relationship of wealth and poverty to issues of justice and injustice. Although this tradition developed out of a privileged social milieu, the concern for justice is striking. M. Daniel Carroll R. treats Amos 5:1-17 in his essay "Seek Yahweh, Establish Justice." From the teaching of this prophetic book, he draws up a list of some of the major ethical concerns of prophetic material.

In "Social Justice or Personal Responsibility," Craig A. Evans analyzes the meaning of the Greek words for "justice" and "righteousness" as found in Matthew and Mark, and in their respective sources. He believes that Jesus did call for a sense of personal righteousness. In "Good News to the Poor," Bryan R. Dyer relates the teaching found in Luke-Acts to that of the prophets. His analysis of several passages leads him to conclude that the author of Luke-Acts did indeed appeal to the prophetic view of justice. In "Reframing Social Justice in the Letters of Paul," Stanley E. Porter corrects the notion that Paul was not particularly interested in matters of social justice. He maintains that Paul was quite attentive to the demands and biases of the Roman economy within which he lived. Issues of social justice are a major concern of the General Epistles as shown in Cynthia Long Westfall's "Continue to Remember the Poor." These letters were addressed to various Jewish-Christian communities that experienced a higher degree of marginalization than did other communities. Finally, in "Social Justice in the Book of Revelation," David L. Mathewson argues that the concern for issues of social justice in this book might be subtle but this concern is present. According to him, violence and oppression flow from Rome's arrogance in setting itself up as divine and punishing whatever threatened this claim.

The scope of biblical material covered by these essays belies the insinuation that the writings of the prophets and the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels are the only biblical books that concentrate on issues of social justice. Certainly the law as found in Exodus laid the foundation for issues of justice. Furthermore, the themes of the reign of God and the body of Christ presume some notion of social harmony. These essays help us to see this more clearly. They also make clear connections between the aspect of justice that is under discussion in the essay and other passages or themes that underscore similar social concerns. Though each essay examines different texts, together they seem to weave a comprehensive tapestry with common social justice themes. The intertextual referencing results in a fine intertextual study of the theme of social justice. It also provides examples of how biblical authors reinterpreted earlier material, thus providing new insights for a later believing community.

The scholarship here is unquestionable. Besides informative footnotes, each essay includes an extensive bibliography for further reference, should the reader be so inclined. The book will serve well as a supplementary text for a graduate course. The essays themselves are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2163-2529
Print ISSN
0008-7912
Pages
pp. 368-369
Launched on MUSE
2019-03-05
Open Access
No
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