Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation

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9780195305500: Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies: The Need for Inclusive Biblical Interpretation
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The Ten Commandments condone slavery, and Deuteronomy 22 deems the rape of an unmarried woman to injure her father rather than the woman herself. While many Christians ignore most Old Testament laws as obsolete or irrelevant-with others picking and choosing among them in support of specific political and social agendas-it remains a basic tenet of Christian doctrine that the faith is contained in both the Old and the New Testament. If the law is ignored, an important aspect of the faith tradition is denied.

In Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies, Cheryl B. Anderson tackles this problem head on, attempting to answer the question whether the laws of the Old Testament are authoritative for Christians today. The issue is crucial: some Christians actually believe that the New Testament abolishes the law, or that the Protestant reformers Luther, Calvin, and Wesley rejected the law. Acknowledging the deeply problematic nature of some Old Testament law (especially as it applies to women, the poor, and homosexuals), Anderson finds that contemporary controversies are the result of such groups now expressing their own realities and faith perspectives.

Anderson suggests that we approach biblical law in much the same way that we approach the U.S. Constitution. While the nation's founding fathers-all privileged white men-did not have the poor, women, or people of color in mind when they referred in its preamble to "We the people." Subsequently, the Constitution has evolved through amendment and interpretation to include those who were initially excluded. Although it is impossible to amend the biblical texts themselves, the way in which they are interpreted can-and should-change. With previous scholarship grounded in the Old Testament as well as critical, legal, and feminist theory, Anderson is uniquely qualified to apply insights from contemporary law to the interpretive history of biblical law, and to draw out their implications for issues of gender, class, and race/ethnicity. In so doing, she lays the groundwork for an inclusive mode of biblical interpretation.

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About the Author:


Cheryl Anderson is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

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"Cheryl Anderson's book opens up Biblical law from the perspective of women, gays, the poor, indigenous and colonized peoples and wrestles with issues of Biblical authority in that context. This is a key work for those concerned with the role of the Bible in promoting inclusive justice."

-- Rosemary Radford Ruether, Professor of Theology, Claremont Graduate University


"Cheryl Anderson has added her compelling voice to the articulation of a responsible, knowing, contextual hermeneutic. In her discussion of biblical texts, she shows how much interpretation has been the self-interested, even if self-deceiving, domain of Western 'affluent, white, heterosexual males.' Her forays into subsequent theology exhibit the same, with the important recognition that such practitioners as Luther, Calvin, and Wesley were able to go beyond their own interests by attending to 'the Word of God.' Going beyond criticism of earlier interpretive practices, the book is a testimony to the faithfulness and urgency of 'other-regarding' interpretation. The subtlety of the argument makes this an important voice in an interpretive enterprise now increasingly persuasive among us."

-- Walter Brueggemann, author of An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible


"A compelling account of the inclusive promises of the Christian message, one highly pertinent to contemporary social realities."--Christian Century


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2009. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Many Christians ignore most Old Testament laws as obsolete or irrelevant. Others claim to honor them but in fact pick and choose among them very selectively in support of specific agendas, like opposition to homosexual rights. Yet it is a basic tenet of Christian doctrine that the faith is contained in both the Old and the New Testament. If the law is ignored, an important aspect of the faith tradition is denied. In this book Cheryl Anderson tackles this problem headon, attempting to answer the question whether the laws of the Old Testament are authoritative for Christians today. This question is crucial, because some Christians actually believe that the New Testament abolishes the law, or that the major Protestant reformers (Luther, Calvin, Wesley) rejectedthe law. Anderson acknowledges the deeply problematic nature of some Old Testament law, especially as it applies to women. For example, Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 both deem the rape of an unmarried female to have injured her father rather than the female herself. Deuteronomy requires the victim to marry her rapist. Anderson argues that biblical laws nevertheless teach us foundational values. They also, however, remind us of the differences between their ancient context and ourown. She suggests that we approach biblical law in much the same way that Americans regard the Constitution. The nation's founding fathers were privileged white males who did not have the poor, women, or people of color in mind when they agreed that "all men are created equal." The Constitution hassubsequently been amended and court decisions have extended its protections to those who were previously excluded. Although the biblical documents cannot be modified, the manner in which they are interpreted in later settings can and should be altered. In addition to her work as a scholar of the Old Testament, Anderson has been a practicing attorney, and has worked extensively in critical, legal, feminist and womanist theory. This background uniquely qualifies her to apply insights fromcontemporary law and legal theory to the interpretive history of biblical law, and to draw out their implications for issues of gender, class, and ethnicity. Seller Inventory # BTE9780195305500

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Book Description Condition: New. Oxford University Press, 2009. 256p. Hardback. Cheryl Anderson's book opens up Biblical law from the perspective of women, gays, the poor, indigenous and colonized peoples and wrestles with issues of Biblical authority in that context. This is a key work for those concerned with the role of the Bible in promoting inclusive justice. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Professor of Theology, Claremont Graduate University (Publisher's information). Condition: New Print on Demand. Printed on Demand. Seller Inventory # 36807

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