Catholic Church Dictionary. The Biography Of The Bible. Ernest Sutherland Bates. A New Eusebius. Ellen Gould Harmon White. The Faith of Our Fathers. James Cardinal Gibbons. James Gibbons. Did Jesus Live B. George Robert Stow Mead. II, Vol. Philip Schaff. The Sacred Writings of Theodoret. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine. A Reformation Debate. John C. Thomas a Kempis. Augustine of Hippo. Paganism Surviving in Christianity. Abram Herbert Lewis. Norman Bentwich. Interior Castle The Mansions.
Teresa of Avila. A Grief Observed. The Great I AMs. Martin DeRuyter. College Apologetics. Anthony Alexander. How to Pray. This Is the Faith. Canon Francis Ripley. The Sacred Writings of Saint Athanasius. Saint Athanasius. Christianity Unveiled. Nicolas-Antoine Boulanger. The Sacred Writings of Leo the Great. Leo the Great. Catalina Cadena Barbieri. A Treatise on Christian Liberty. The Dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Theodore Austin-Sparks. Christus Victor. A Declaration of the Sentiments on Predestination.
Jacobus Arminius. How to Succeed in the Christian Life. Archibald Alexander. Bible Maker: Jerome. Edward J. Joel Comiskey. Hugo Grotius. Spiritual Precepts. Peter Damian. A Treatise on Christian Faith. If they are made for God why do they show themselves so averse to God? In presenting this reflection on the delicate subject of the relationship between the Bible and morality the Biblical Commission premises two crucial propositions: 1 — For every believer and for every person God is the ultimate answer to this search for happiness and meaning.
In advancing this project it is not possible to overlook present conditions. In an era of globalization a rapid transformation of ethical options is visible in many areas of our society under the impact of population migrations, the increasing complexity of social relationships, and of scientific progress, particularly in the fields of psychology, genetics and communications.
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All this has a profound influence on the moral conscience of many individuals and groups to the point of fostering the development of a culture based on relativism, tolerance and on an acceptance of new ideas dependent on inadequate philosophical and theological foundations. In the present document the reader will not find either a complete biblical moral theology or recipes for ready answers to moral problems, whether old or new, currently discussed in all forums, including the mass-media.
Our undertaking makes no claim to replace the work of philosophers and moral theologians. An adequate discussion of moral problems posed by moralists would need a methodical investigation and a study of the human sciences which are completely outside our field of competence. Our purpose is more modest; it has two objectives. First of all we would like to situate Christian morality within the larger sphere of anthropology and of biblical theologies. This will bring out more clearly its specific nature and its originality both in relation to natural ethics and those moralities which are founded on human experience and reason, and to the ethical systems of other religions.
The other objective is in some ways a more practical one. While it is not easy to make proper use of the Bible to throw light on moral questions or to provide a positive answer to delicate problems or situations, the Bible does provide some methodological criteria for progress along this road. This double purpose determines and explains the twofold structure of the present document. From the point of view of method: without wishing to side-line the historico-critical method, for many reasons indispensable, we considered our research would benefit from an overall preference for the canonical approach to scripture Cf.
This is a key concept for our enquiry. To understand this concept certain common prejudices must be set aside. The reduction of morality to a code of individual or collective conduct, a sum of virtues to be practised or to the requirements of an assumed universal law, obscures the special character, the values and the permanent validity of biblical morality. At this point two basic concepts must be introduced, which will later be developed. In the biblical perspective morality is rooted in the prior gift of life, of intellect and of free will creation , and above all in the entirely unmerited offer of a privileged, intimate relationship between human beings and God covenant.
In other words, for the Bible, morality is the consequence of the experience of God, more precisely the God-given human experience of an entirely unmerited gift. From this premise, the Law itself, an integral part of the covenant process, is seen to be a gift from God. In the present context this approach is necessary in a very special way. This is something which our contemporaries often find it difficult to understand and adequately appreciate.
Nevertheless it finds its place within the orbit traced by the Second Vatican Council in the dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.
The whole of revelation — that is, the design of God, who wants to make himself known and to open to all the way of salvation — converges on Christ. The profound unity of the two Testaments is here evident; Hugh of St. We shall therefore take care to avoid oppositions between the Old and the New Testament in the moral sphere or in any other. In this regard the previous document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission offers useful pointers when it describes the unity of the two Testaments in terms of continuity, discontinuity and advance.
Our exposition is relevant primarily to believers, to whom it is primarily addressed. However, we hope to stimulate a broader dialogue among men and women of good will, from diverse cultures and religions, in search of an authentic progress beyond their daily troubles towards happiness and meaning. Beside the relationships already described, two other factors are fundamental for biblical morality. It is not characterized by a rigorous moralism. The Bible presents God as the Creator of all that exists, especially in the first chapters of Genesis and in a whole series of Psalms.
The great vision of history which unfolds from the starting-point of the Pentateuch is introduced by two accounts of the origins. Gen In the canonical arrangement the divine act of creation stands at the head of the biblical narrative. For Israel the acknowledgement of God as the Creator of all is not the beginning of the knowledge of God, it is the fruit of her experience with him and of the history of her faith. Following the order of the narrative Gen 1.
In Gen 1. We have here a outline of theological anthropology so that one cannot speak of God without speaking of humanity, nor of humanity without speaking of God. Freedom, the capacity and obligation to make decisions and to take responsibility for decisions made. The capacity to act in conformity with him of whom the human person is an image, namely by imitating God. The part of the Bible which speaks most particularly of God as Creator is a series of psalms: e. They describe the creation not in scientific but in symbolic terms. Nor do they present pre-scientific reflections on the world.
God does not belong to the world nor does he form part of it. Rather, the world exists only because God created it, and it continues to exist only because God maintains it continually in existence. The universe is not a self-maintaining whole closed in on itself. When you send forth your spirit , they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. The call to praise the Creator extends to the whole of creation: heaven and earth, sun and moon, sea-monsters and wild animals, kings and peoples, the young and the old Ps The Creator has assigned a special position to human beings.
Ps He calls human beings to govern the created world, but responsibly and in a wise and caring manner, characteristic of the sovereignty of the Creator himself. This relationship with God is not an adjunct, a secondary or transitory element added to human existence, but constitutes its permanent and irreplaceable foundation. According to this biblical view nothing that exists comes into being by itself as some kind of self-creation, nor is it caused by chance; it is basically determined by the will and creative power of God. This God is transcendent and does not form part of the world; but the world and the human beings in it are not without God; they depend radically on him.
They can never attain a true and real understanding of themselves and of the world apart from God, without acknowledging this total dependence on him. Such an initial gift is at the same time fundamental and permanent, it will never be cancelled but will be perfected by future interventions and gifts from God.
Hence human beings cannot treat it or use it arbitrarily, they have the duty to discover and respect the characteristics and the structures with which the Creator has endowed his creature. After this explanation that the whole world was created by God, that it is a gift, intimately and continually dependent on him, an attempt must now be made to discover the manner of conduct inscribed by God in humanity and in his whole creation.
Because of the freedom with which men and women are endowed, they are called to moral discernment, choice, and decision. On one hand everything points to an ironical sense of this sentence, because Adam, despite the prohibition, tried with his own strength, to seize the fruit by his own powers without waiting for God to give it to him in due time.
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As regards the moral freedom given to the human beings, it cannot simply be reduced to the liberty granted to human beings to regulate and determine themselves, for the ultimate point of reference is not a human person but God himself. The guidance entrusted to human beings implies responsibility, the commitment to govern and administer. They have also the duty to give shape in a creative way to the world made by God. They cannot shirk this responsibility since the creation is not to be preserved as it is, but undergoes continuous development.
This is true of humanity itself, in which nature and culture are united, no less than of the rest of creation. This responsibility must be exercised in a wise and caring manner, in imitation of the sovereignty of God himself over his creation. Human beings can conquer nature and explore the vastness of space. The extraordinary scientific and technological progress of our day can be considered as achievements of the task entrusted to human beings by the Creator. They must, however, remain within the limits appointed by the Creator; otherwise the earth will become an object of exploitation, which may destroy the delicate balance and harmony of nature.
God, humanity and the created universe are interrelated; consequently, so are theology, anthropology and ecology. The dignity which human persons possess as rational beings invites and obliges them to live out a just relationship with God, to whom they owe everything. Essential in this relationship is gratitude cf. Moreover, this implies a dynamic relationship of common responsibility between human persons, of mutual respect, and of a constant search for balance not only between the sexes but also between the individual and the community individual and social values.
The sacredness of human life demands total respect and safeguard for it. The recognition of God as Creator evokes praise and adoration of him, for creation bears witness to divine wisdom, power and faithfulness. When, together with the psalmist, we praise God for the splendour, the order and the beauty of creation, we are invited to have a profound respect for the world of which humanity forms a part. The human person is the crown of creation because human beings can enter into a personal relationship with God and can express praise in their own name or in the name of other creatures.
Through human beings and through the worship of the community the whole creation offers praise to the Creator God cf. The creation psalms also lead to a healthy and positive evaluation of the present world, because life in this world is fundamentally good. In ages past Christian tradition was perhaps so preoccupied with eternal salvation that it failed to appraise sufficiently the natural world. The cosmic dimension of faith in creation expressed in the psalms requires us to turn our attention to nature and history, to the human and non-human world, thus uniting cosmology, anthropology and theology.
The Psalter deals with the necessary themes regarding human existence within a mysterious, uncertain and menacing world as in the psalms of lament. The New Testament takes over the creation theology of the Old Testament in its entirety, endowing it with a decisive Christological dimension. John 1. This inevitably has its moral consequences. Jesus supersedes the ancient prescriptions regarding pure and impure Mk 7.
Paul goes precisely in the same direction Rom We shall have the occasion later cf. Gen 1. The creation, with its moral implications, is the initial gift and remains the basic gift of God, but it is by no means his only or final gift. Over and above creation God has show his infinite goodness, has turned towards his human creatures particularly by the choice of the people of Israel and his covenant with them; at the same time he reveals the right path of human conduct.
The presentation of the full richness of the biblical theme of covenant requires a consideration of two points of view: the deepening awareness of this reality in the history of Israel, and its narration as presented in the final redaction of the canonical Bible. The birth of Israel as a people occurred at the time of Moses; or, more precisely, in the perspective of biblical theology the historical departure from Egypt was the basic founding event. It was only later, on the basis of this founding event, that the oral traditions about the ancestors of the patriarchal period were recovered and reinterpreted, and human origins were presented in a largely theological and symbolic form.
In general, therefore, the events recounted in Genesis can be considered as belonging to the prehistory of Israel as an established people. If the exodus from Egypt made possible the appearance of Israel as an established people, this is the fruit of a theological interpretation of the event, an interpretation which was made, at least seminally, from the very beginning.
This is attested by the symbolic name by which this protector God calls and reveals himself Ex 3. A first theological reflection can be expressed in four principal features of the God of Israel: he accompanies, liberates, gives and gathers. Accompanies: this refers to the journey in the desert, thanks to a presence, indicated, according to the traditions, by a guiding angel and by the cloud, suggestive of the unfathomable mystery.
How did Israel express in its religious literature this unique relationship between itself and this God who accompanies, liberates, gives and gathers? The theme had become important enough to determine from the very beginning, at least in retrospect, the conception of the relationship between God and his privileged people.
This means that the fundamental and founding event includes, in its metahistorical dimension, the striking of a covenant on Sinai, in such a way that, in diachronic biblical theological perspective, the primordial event is described in terms of exodus-covenant. Moreover, this hermeneutical concept referring to the exodus from Egypt extends back into the past as an aetiology. It is found in Genesis.
The notion of covenant is used to describe the relationship between the LORD God and Abraham, the ancestor in a mysterious time long past Gen In the ancient Near East covenants between human beings existed in the form of treaties, agreements, contracts, marriages as well as pacts of friendship. Protector gods acted as witnesses and guarantors in the stipulations of such human alliances. The Bible, too, mentions alliances of this kind. However, in default of evidence to the contrary — and no archeological document so far discovered has invalidated this observation — the application of the idea of alliance is original in the Bible; nowhere else do we find the concept of a covenant between divine and human partners.
It would have been inconceivable for early Israel to define its privileged relationship with God, the wholly Other, the Transcendent, the Omnipotent in terms of horizontal equality.
As soon as the theological idea of covenant was proposed, it was only natural to think in terms of the alliances between unequal partners, familiar in diplomatic and juridical practice of the extra-biblical ancient Near East, the well-known vassal contracts. It is difficult to deny the influence of the political ideology of vassalage as a pointedrtowards understanding the biblical covenant.
The idea of a divine partner who takes and keeps the initiative throughout the alliance process forms the background of almost all the major texts regarding the Old Testament covenant. In this type of relationship between partners the sovereign pledges himself towards his vassal and exacts a pledge from his vassal towards himself. In other words he obliges himself towards his vassal in the same manner that he obliges the vassal towards himself.
In the process of stipulating an alliance he is the only one who expresses himself; the vassal, at this stage, remains silent. Within this theological context grace can be defined as the gift in some texts unconditional which God makes of himself. Within this theological context the moral freedom of human beings is not to be considered as necessary and constitutive, as a consent to the covenant, in which case it would be an alliance between equals. Human liberty enters only at a later stage, as a consequence, when the whole covenant process is complete. All the relevant biblical texts distinguish, on the one hand, the content of the covenant, and on the other the rites or the ceremonies that follow the gift of the covenant.
The least derogation of any gravity is equivalent to a refusal. This revealed morality, expressed in the context of a theological covenant, is without precedent in the ethical and cultic codes that governed the lives of neighbouring peoples. It is essentially a response; it follows grace, the gift of a God who pledges himself.
Consequently morality is much more than a code of conduct and attitudes. This leitmotif is developed in Deuteronomy, among the prophets, in the wisdom literature and in the didactic psalms. Two main factors must be considered:. This Law must be distinguished from the many laws through which it finds expression in concrete form in writing, on stone, on parchment, on papyrus or in other ways.
Such a moral path is not embarked upon without preparation. In the Bible it belongs to a historical journey of salvation and of deliverance, which can be characterized as primordial and founding. Revealed morality carries forward, so to say, the process of liberation which had its archetypical beginning in the exodus, and assures and guarantees the stability of the process. We must now study the theme of covenant as it occurs in the canonical order of the Bible.
In this tradition the gratuity of the divine initiative and its unconditional validity are strongly emphasized. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. Immediately, however, the covenantal project intervenes.
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As regards the partners the covenant is established concentrically, simultaneously with Noah himself 6. One can speak, therefore, of a cosmic covenant proportionate to the state of perversity and to the punishment. The initial impression is that the sign refers simply to the rainbow as the meteorological phenomenon which occurs after rain. From the point of view of the symbolism two details merit consideration here. First, the very shape of the bow, stretched towards heaven and no longer towards the earth, suggests the idea of peace, fruit of a purely gratuitous initiative by God; its position prevents any further arrow being aimed at the earth.
Moreover, as the bow reaches to heaven but rests on the earth as a kind of vertical bridge, it symbolizes the contact re-established between God and a reborn and saved humanity. From the point of view of ecology: human corruption and violence have great repercussions on our habitat and on the environment Gen 6.
From the viewpoint of the management of resources: a certain control over animal life is given to human beings compare 9. They must nevertheless respect every life as something mysterious 9. The broadening of the covenant to all living beings and to all the earth emphasizes the status of the human beings as companion to all created beings.
In this context the re-wording of the exhortation to Noah, a second Adam, merits special attention. The full implications of this are that animals are handed over to human beings as nourishment 9. Their role as administrators and regents of creation has been relativized. The explicit reference to Gen 1. It remains a standard of reference. The stories about Abraham-Isaac and those about Jacob are similar even in detail. Abraham and Jacob travel along the same routes, they cross the country from North to South following the same watershed.
These topographical markers frame the literary complex of Gen 12—36 cf. These literary facts are an invitation to read the narratives on Abraham in the broader context of the sequence concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The covenant given by the LORD has three corollaries: a promise, responsibility and a law. The promise is that of the land Gen This topic later receives a spiritual interpretation.
The responsibility confided to Abraham concerns not only his own clan, but more broadly, all nations. The biblical expression concerning this responsibility uses the vocabulary of blessing: Abraham must become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed brk in him Gen Thus the covenant does not lead only to inheriting the gift of God a progeny and a land , it is at the same time a task to be accomplished. This theological approach fruitfully describes the particular dimension and the universal validity of biblical morality.
The Abraham and the Jacob cycles insist on the historical dimension of moral living. Both Abraham and Jacob follow a course of conversion which the narrative carefully describes. The covenant offered by God meets with human resistance.
These biblical narratives here show the temporal dimension in which faithfulness to the covenant and obedience to God are worked out. In our description of the progressive understanding of the covenant we underlined certain essential traits. The founding experience of the covenant occurs on Sinai. It is presented as a foundational historical event. It is entirely a gift of God, fruit of his unmerited initiative, and it binds both God grace and humanity the Law.
It confers on newborn Israel the status of a people with full rights. We now present this response not in its theological and unchangeable totality the Law , but in its multiple and detailed expression, as it is applied to changing circumstances the laws. Every newly formed people must, first of all, provide itself with a constitution. Its redactional position Ex Paradoxically, the original tenor of the Decalogue reflects an ethic which is at the same time primitive and potentially very rich. Three aspects reveal the limitations of this ethic: its exteriority, its essentially communal nature and its mainly negative formulation of moral requirements.
In considering the literal sense, exegetes insist that originally every prohibition concerned external, visible and verifiable actions, including the hamad desire which introduces the last two commandments Ex Moreover, once freed from Egypt, this liberated people was in urgent need of precise rules to order its collective life in the desert. The Decalogue corresponds broadly to this demand, in such a way that in it we can see a fundamental law, a primitive national charter.
Eight of the ten commandments are formulated negatively, they are prohibitions, more or less like railings on a bridge. Only two are expressed in positive form, precepts to be fulfilled. The accent lies, therefore, on abstaining from socially harmful actions. This evidently does not exhaust all the possibilities of morality, whose purpose is broadly that of stimulating human activity to good action. Three other characteristics, however, make of the original Decalogue an irreplaceable foundation for an inspiring morality that appeal to modern sensibilities: its range is virtually universal.
It fits the theological framework of the covenant; it is rooted in a historical context of liberation. The values they promote are applicable to the whole of humanity in any region and in any period of history. Now a people that wants to be free of a suffocating external yoke and has just achieved this will be careful not to seek another enslaving and stifling internal yoke. The Decalogue, in fact, opens the way to a morality of social liberation. In Israel the appreciation of freedom is wide enough to include the earth itself, all cultivable land.
Every seven years sabbatical year and further every forty-nine years jubilee year there is an obligation to let the earth rest, free from every violence, safe from every plough and ploughshare cf. Lev The exteriority, the essentially communal nature and the mainly negative formulation of primitive Israelite ethics are features that hinder the Decalogue, presented on its own and exactly as it stands, from expressing adequately the ideal of moral life which the Church proposes to her contemporaries.
Under the influence of the discoveries of psychology, people today insist on the internal origin, even unconscious, of their external actions, in the form of thoughts, desires, obscure motives and unruly impulses. Despite awareness of the demands of community life, at the same time they react against the imperatives of an unlimited globalization and put more emphasis on the individual, on the self, on the desire for personal development.
Moreover in the last few decades in many societies there is a kind of allergy to any form of prohibition, which is seen, often erroneously, as a limitation and restriction on freedom. On the other hand the virtually universal range of biblical morality, its place in a theological covenantal framework and its roots in the historical context of liberation can have a certain attraction in our times. Who never dreams of a system of values that transcends and unites nationalities and cultures? The primary insistence on a theological approach rather than on a large number of behavioural precepts and prohibitions may arouse greater interest in the fundamentals of biblical morality among people who are allergic to laws that seem to limit personal liberty.
Awareness of the concrete circumstances in which the Decalogue took shape in history shows to what extent this basic and fundamental text, far from being restrictive or oppressive, in fact stands at the service of human freedom, both individual and collective. The Decalogue contains all the elements necessary to provide a foundation for a balanced moral reflection suitable for our times.enter site
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It is however not sufficient to translate it from the original Hebrew into a modern language. In its canonical formulation it has the form of apodictic laws detailing a morality of duties deontology. Nothing prevents us understanding the contents of the Israelite charter in a different but no less faithful manner, in terms of a morality of values axiology.
Transcribed in this way, the Decalogue acquires a greater clarity and contemporary appeal. Indeed, such an adjustment loses nothing but gains enormously in depth. Positive precepts, for their part, may go no further than some gesture or attitude to quiet the conscience; at most they may encourage a morality of minimal actions e. A commitment to values, however, represents an open-ended project, whose demands are unlimited. Translated into a terminology of values the precepts of the Decalogue point to the following values: the Absolute, religious homage, time, the family, life, the stability of the male and female couple, freedom the Hebrew verb gnb probably refers to abduction not to the theft of material objects , good reputation, the household, the house and its material belongings.
The following propositions, each introduced by a verb, illustrate the dynamic to which each of these values gives rise. The ten values seen in the Decalogue are presented in decreasing order of value, from the most to the least important, God in the first place and material goods in the last. Within human relationships family, life, and a stable marriage head the list. This analysis therefore offers humanity in search of autonomy a legal and moral support that can prove both fruitful and stable. It puts human beings before God. Indeed, material goods, economics in a certain sense, may stand at the head of the list.
When a political and social system is founded, openly or not, on false basic values or uncertainty about values , when commerce and consumerism are considered more important than personal relationships, that system is fractured from its very beginning, and doomed, sooner or later, to collapse.
The ten values underlying the Decalogue offer a clear foundation for a charter of rights and of freedom to the whole of humanity:. This divine sovereignty, as it manifests itself in the founding event of the exodus, is exercised not according to an authoritarian and despotic manner, as so often occurs in the human control of rights and liberty, but rather in view of personal and community freedom. Finally, the biblical view of divine sovereignty propounds a world vision in which not merely the Church, but the cosmos, the environment and the totality of earthly goods belong, in the last resort, to God alone.
By presenting the Decalogue as the perennial foundation of a universal morality three important purposes are achieved: we open the treasures of the Word, we show its richness, we discover a language that appeals to the sensitivities of contemporary men and women. We list some salient elements :. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus recalls certain precepts of the Decalogue, carrying them further from three points of view: a deepening, an interiority and a challenge to surpass oneself to the point of reaching a perfection that is almost divine Mt 5.
In discussing cultic purity Jesus points out that a person becomes truly impure through that which emerges from the heart. It is this that impels an individual to act against the Decalogue Mt The episode of the rich young man Mt From a minimal morality, essentially communitarian and negatively formulated vv. Rom Again citing the Decalogue Rom 2. This category usually comprises the Covenant Code Ex We shall present three moral themes that appear to be specially relevant in these codes.
The apodictic laws of the Covenant Code, the Deuteronomic Code and the Law of Holiness agree in establishing measures destined to avoid the enslaving of the poor, as well as taking into consideration the periodical remission of their debts. These dispositions have at times an utopian dimension, as, for example, the sabbatical year Ex However, by imposing upon Israelite society the objective of combating and overcoming poverty, these laws recognize the difficulty of such a struggle Deut The battle against poverty presupposes the practice of an honest and impartial justice Ex This is applied in the name of God himself.
Various theological approaches are employed to establish it. Deuteronomy, on its part, insists on the particular statute about the land entrusted by God to the Israelites: Israel, beneficiary of the divine blessing, has the use but not the ownership of the land cf. Deut 6. The Hebrew Bible uses different words to indicate strangers: ger denotes the stranger residing permanently among the Israelites; the term nokri applies to a foreigner in transit, while toshab and sakir indicate, in the Law of Holiness, paid foreign labourers.
The solicitude for the ger appears constantly in the legislative texts of the Torah, either out of natural generosity as in Ex The Holiness Code then legislates for the integration of strangers, or at least of gerim , into the community of the children of Israel. The preaching of Amos 5. The Deuteronomic Code juxtaposes cultic laws and prescriptions for social justice. The laws concerning the single sanctuary and the prohibition of idolatry cf. Deut 12—13 precede the social injunctions in Deut In this manner the triennial tithes, originally a cultic prescription, serve a new purpose given by the centralization of the cult in Jerusalem, that of providing for the sustenance of widows, strangers, orphans and Levites cf.
Deut Lastly, the pilgrimage feasts require the participation of the poor Deut The laws of the Torah, therefore, draw attention to the ethical implications of every religious celebration as well as to the theological dimension of social ethics. Justice is a basic theme in all the prophets. This looks to both past and future. Since God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt and led her into her land, Israelites should live according to the commandments God gave Moses on Mount Sinai cf.
However, as they failed to follow this path and adopted the practices of the nations, God decided to raise up foreign invaders against them to devastate their land and take them into exile Hos 2; Jer 2. With regard to the future, God will save a remnant of the people from their diaspora among the nations and will lead them back to their land where they will at last live as a faithful community around the Temple in obedience to the old commandments Is 4; This basic connection between ethics and history, both present and future, is developed in Ezek 20, which constitutes the Magna Carta of a reborn Israel.
The moral preaching of the prophets places its accent on the concept of social justice mishpath , tsedaqah : Isa 1. The prophets brought Israelite society face to face with this human and divine model in all its demands: the various roles in a law-court from king to judge, from witness to defendant Isa Lastly, to understand adequately the ethics of the prophetic writings we must bear in mind the fact that morality, both social and personal, ultimately derives from God himself, from his righteousness Isa This covenant is, in a special way, a pure gift of God.
It had its origin when the people asked God for a king, without realizing that God himself was their true king. God granted the institution of the monarchy 1 Sam 8; Deut It is a strong promise. Therefore the reign of this elect of God will last for ever 2 Sam 7. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors But this is the covenant I will make I will put my law within them, No longer shall they teach one another Israel itself will simply do nothing, no confession or expiation of sins, no initiative to return to God. Two other characteristics of this new covenant are relevant.
Ezek Jer Two antitheses underline the specific character of the new covenant in comparison with that made with the ancestors in the desert. The latter, written on stone, was violated by that and succeeding generations; the former is absolutely new because it will be inscribed upon the heart. Moreover, the teacher will be the LORD himself, no longer human mediators. In the middle of our text the covenant formula stands out, affirming that the LORD and his people belong to each other. This formula has not changed, it is still valid and constitutes the heart of the passage.