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Justice in the Old Testament

This is an introductory unit to the Hebrew Bible, with a particular focus on reading the texts through a broad theme of justice. The unit will explore the relationship between justice and other theological themes such as righteousness, peace, liberation, law and inclusion. Notions of the justice of YHWH, and justice in the world will be examined, including issues of injustice and suffering.

Historical, cultural and literary contexts of the Hebrew Bible will be explored in the light of the theme of justice. Modern exegetical approaches to the biblical text will be incorporated and evaluated.

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. Describe the historical, cultural and literary contexts of the Hebrew Bible.
  2. Explain the intersection of the theme of justice with other themes in the Hebrew Bible.
  3. Engage different approaches to biblical interpretation by analysis of Hebrew Bible texts.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to use biblical study tools.
  5. Evaluate biblical themes and texts in connection with contemporary issues related to justice.

: none

Faculty: Angela Sawyer


  • One 500 word critical reflection on set reading        20%
  • One 1500 word tutorial paper – theological              30%
  • One 1500 word essay – exegetical                               40%
  • Online forum: Each student contributes 3 posts (100 word each) in response to a question, statement or case study and posts 3 x 50 word responses to 3 different posts  (Total 450 words)            10%

: in first semester 2019 to Catalyst students

Select Bibliography:

* = set texts recommended for purchase

* Birch, Bruce C. Let justice roll down: The Old Testament, ethics and Christian life. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991.
Carr, David M. Holy Resilience: The Bible’s Traumatic Origins. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2014.
Coomber, Matthew J. M. Bible and Justice: Ancient Texts, Modern Challenges. London: Equinox, 2011.
Fretheim, Terence E. God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of CreationNashville: Abingdon, 2005.
Houston, Walter. Contending for Justice: Ideologies and Theologies of Social Justice in the Old Testament, London: T&T Clark, 2009.
Pope-Levison, Priscilla and John R. Levison. eds. Return to Babel: Global perspectives on the Bible. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.
Malchow, Bruce V. Social Justice in the Hebrew Bible. Collegeville, MN: The Order of St. Benedict, 1996.
Newsom, Carol A., Sharon H. Ringe and Jacqueline E. Lapsley, eds. Women’s Bible Commentary. 3rd ed. Revised and updated. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.
O’Brien, Mark. Restoring Right Relationship: The Bible on Divine Righteousness. Hindmarsh: ATF Press, 2014.
Patte, Daniel. ed. Global Bible Commentary. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004.
Segovia, Fernando F., and Mary Ann Tolbert, eds. Reading From This Place: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in Global Perspective,  Vol. 2, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
Sugirtharajah, R. S. ed. Voices from the margin: Interpreting the Bible in the third world. 3rd ed. Revised and expanded. New York: Orbis Books, 2006.
Weinfeld, Moshe. Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995.
West, Gerald O. The Academy of the Poor: Towards a Dialogical Reading of the Bible. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Pr, 1999.
West, Gerald O. ed. Reading Other-Wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading With Their Local Communities. Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2007.
Wright, Christopher J. H. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Leicester: IVP, 2004.