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The Immoral Bible Approaches to Old Testament Ethics by Eryl Wynn Davies

The Immoral Bible Approaches to Old Testament Ethics


The Immoral Bible Approaches to Old Testament Ethics by Eryl Wynn Davies

This book discusses the ethically problematic passages of the Hebrew Bible and the way scholars have addressed aspects of the bible generally regarded as offensive and unacceptable. In this work Eryl W. Davies sums up a career's worth of in-depth reflection on the thorny issue of biblical ethics examining the bible's, at times problematic, stance upon slavery, polygamy and perhaps its most troublesome aspect, the sanctioning of violence and warfare. This is most pertinent in respect to Joshua 6-11 a text which lauds the 'holy war' of the Israelites, anihiliting the native inhabitants of Canaan, and a text which has been used to legitimise the actions of white colonists in North America, the Boers in South Africa and right-wing Zionists in modern Israel. Davies begins with an introductory chapter assessing all these aspects, he then provides five chapters, each devoted to a particular strategy aimed at mitigating the embarrassment caused by the presence of such problematic texts within the canon. In order to focus discussion each strategy is linked by to Joshua 6-11. A final chapter draws the threads of the arguments together and suggests the most promising areas for the future development of the discipline.


Normal0falsefalsefalseMicrosoftInternetExplorer4st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) }/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name: Table Normal ;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow: yes;mso-style-parent:

;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt;mso-pagination: widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman ;mso-ansi-language: #0400;mso-fareast-language: #0400;mso-bidi-language: #0400;}'It is no secret that the Old Testament containspassages and sentiments that are morally problematic, and attention has beendrawn to this fact by the recent activity of militant atheists. In this timely book Eryl Davies takes as areference point the account of the slaughter of the Canaanites by Joshua, andshows how approaches such as cultural relativism and methods such as canonicalcriticism and reader-response criticism have treated the passage. The result is both an informative introductionto the us 'Dr Davies sets out clear and well argued chapters looking at the main reasons proposed which can explain why the Christian Church has retained the Old Testament (and difficult parts of the New) in its Bible, both for private and public reading. The freshness and special value of Dr Davies's contribution lies in considering these approaches overall and subjecting each of them to criticism and appraisal. Here the inquiring reader has a first-rate guidebook to the explanations which have been, and are being, explored to account for this situation. This is a book to read and think about and it shows clearly that, like all great world literature, the Bible should be read with intelligence and care. I rate this to be a 'must read
book for the serious student, not least for those who believe they have found a sufficient explanation for evident difficulties. It deals with ways or reading ancient texts and provides the inquirer with serious and accessible guidelines to a situation that matters greatly for the upholding of spiritual and moral values in our contemporary world

.' - R.E. Clements, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies, King's College, University of London, UK.--Sanford Lakoff 'Eryl Davies not only confronts one of the major moral problems presented by the Hebrew Bible but also offers a lucid analysis of the ways in which scholars have tried to deal with it. Clear-headed and refreshing, this book will be an ideal text-book for courses on biblical ethics.' - John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, USA. --Sanford Lakoff Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name: Table Normal ; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow: yes; mso-style-parent:

; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman ; mso-ansi-language: #0400; mso-fareast-language: #0400; mso-bidi-language: #0400;} 'Eryl W. Davies is one of the keen observers of interpretive method in the contemporary study of the Hebrew Bible. In this eminently readable volume, he turns his perceptive eye to ethically problematic texts, especially those tied to holy war. This volume will help those who study these texts see the implications of their approaches and more carefully craft their interpretive efforts. The concluding chapter articulates nicely a constructive approach to the place of readers in the task of interpretation. Both scholars and students will find much in The Immoral Bible to aid their work. It is a model of how attention to method can actually assist in the task of interpretation.' - W. H. Bellinger, Jr., Chair, Department of Religion W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible, Baylor University, TX USA. --Sanford Lakoff 'The Immoral Bible is academic - though totally accessible... There is much in this book to set everyone thinking.'--Sanford Lakoff 'Davies takes all the strategies seriously and his survey will be of as much value to the general reader as to the specialist.' --Sanford Lakoff 'The beauty of the book lies in the subtlety of both structure and substance...there is much here that deserves to be aired in the pulpit... a refreshing and timely addition to any good preaching library.' --Sanford Lakoff This volume would serve as an excellent introduction not only to the Canaanite conquest narratives, but also to the broader subject of Old Testament methodology. - Nicholas R. Werse, Baylor University This volume would serve as an excellent introduction not only to the Canaanite conquest narratives, but also to the broader subject of Old Testament methodology. Nicholas R. Werse, Baylor University

About the Author

Dr Eryl W Davies is a Reader in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Bangor University. His previous publications include Prophecy and Ethics: Isaiah and the Ethical Traditions of Israel (1981); a commentary on Numbers in the New Century Bible Commentary Series, and The Dissenting Reader: Feminist Approaches to the Hebrew Bible (2003)

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Book Info

Publication date

26th August 2010


Eryl Wynn Davies

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T.& T.Clark Ltd an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


224 pages


Biblical studies & exegesis



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