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Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics Hardcover – 15 Mar 2012

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From the Inside Flap

"Renewed interest in the relationship between Scripture and ethics has created the need for an accessible and reliable guide to the issues and the literature. This is it."
--R. W. L. Moberly, Durham University
"Pastors, laypeople, and scholars alike will find in this exceptionally valuable resource wise guidance for Christian life and discernment about ethical issues. It offers an excellent blend of substantive engagement and methodological reflection from well-respected scholars. Highly recommended."
--L. Gregory Jones, Duke Divinity School
"Scholars in the fields of Scripture and ethics are increasingly engaged in important conversations, and this volume is an excellent contribution to that dialogue. This star-studded grouping of contributors from biblical, ethical, and theological disciplines covers a remarkable range of pertinent topics, including every biblical book and every lively ethical topic. This invaluable reference tool will serve both lay readers and scholars very well indeed and contribute to the continuing interaction among them in thoughtful and provocative ways."
--Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary
"Wide-ranging, thorough, and cautious, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics will be a helpful resource for both students and scholars. With its mix of different kinds of articles and its attention throughout to biblical materials, the dictionary meets a significant need and provides something for almost any reader."
--Gilbert Meilaender, Valparaiso University
"This is a wellspring of wisdom that will prove to be of immense value to the church. As we deal daily with questions of how Scripture relates to the vast and growing ethical challenges posed by today's society, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics will be a reliable source of insight and guidance. Its contributors are respected voices who have reflected deeply on challenges of Christian ethics, and this compilation is a treasure trove of rich and helpful perspectives."
--Wes Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary, Reformed Church in America

From the Back Cover

"The Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics is a unique reference work, drawing together topics that are intimately connected but often relegated to separate spheres. Letting both spheres identify the topics, the editors have compiled a comprehensive handbook for thinking about the realm of ethics and the moral life but with particular attention to what the Bible has to say about such matters. At the same time, new directions are opened up as biblical texts and topics not often associated with ethical issues are seen to have much to say. Scholars in both fields will want to have this volume in their library."
--Patrick D. Miller, Princeton Theological Seminary
"A book as ambitious as the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics risks being too superficial to be helpful. I am happy to report that this is not the case for this imaginatively conceived and organized book. This book will quickly become an indispensable resource for Christian reflection on the moral life."
--Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School
"The dictionary provides a wonderful tool for exploring the relationship between Scripture and ethics. Essays providing an overview of the moral concerns of Scripture and the shape of Christian ethics usefully frame an array of detailed articles. Some articles treat biblical books, others ethical topics, including virtues and vices, denominational traditions, contemporary topics such as environmental ethics, and controversial subjects such as homosexuality. The treatments are comprehensive and honest, informed by critical perspectives on the Bible and contemporary ethical reflection. They do not shy away from issues where churches, by their own admission, have misused Scripture (e.g., "apartheid"). This volume is a rich resource for biblical scholars and ethicists alike."
--Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divinity School
"The relationship of biblical studies to moral theology has not been given the attention it merits by biblical scholars. This impressive volume has pulled together important articles on a wide range of topics that will certainly be of importance to systematic and moral theologians. The selection of topics is broadly ecumenical and should appeal to the widest possible audience. Let us hope that this volume will spur a new generation of studies to reflect more carefully and systematically on the moral teachings and legacy of the Bible."
--Gary A. Anderson, University of Notre Dame
"It is rare indeed for a dictionary to be a page-turner, but this one makes the reader want to find a comfortable chair and a lot of free time to roam through it. The scope of the articles is remarkable as is the quality of the research and writing. If any single volume can help us draw well-informed connections between the thought-world of Scripture and the contemporary contexts in which we teach, preach, and seek to live as people of faith, this may be it."
--Ellen F. Davis, Duke Divinity School

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 14 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Addition to Ethical Resources 7 Dec. 2012
By Good Student - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (DSE) serves an important function for scholars, pastors, and other students of the Bible. As with the best academic reference materials, it does not tell the reader what to think. Instead, it provides brief (1-3 page) articles that identify the relationship between key scriptural passages and various ethical topics. Most articles address a specific topic (e.g., "Aliens, Immigration, and Refugees," "Bioethics," "Conscience," "Hope," "Pride," "Suicide," "Virtue Ethics") from the perspective of scripture and the community of faith, indicating where there are differences of opinion. Some articles begin with a book of the Bible or a passage of Scripture ("Ten Commandments") and explore the ethical implications therein. With few exceptions, each article is accompanied by a bibliography that provides a number of resources for further consideration. The authors of the articles represent a variety of theological traditions; the list of contributors and their credentials is available in Amazon's "look inside" feature. An index of scripture passages is provided at the end of the dictionary. The DSE also provides three helpful introductory articles regarding the relationship between scripture and ethics.

As with most dictionaries and encyclopedias, the DSE is best used as a first-line reference when beginning research on a particular topic; it will provide food for thought and guidance for further research. Another reviewer mentioned the article on "Homosexuality"; the author of that article identifies the key passages in scripture and describes the interpretive challenges of each passage, considers perspectives and understandings within 21st-century western culture, and summarizes the discussion within various church traditions surrounding the issue. This approach will raise more questions than it answers, but it will make the reader aware of the challenges in dealing with ethical topics that may appear on the surface to be cut-and-dried.It will also alert the reader to ethical challenges in scripture that might not be readily apparent.

The DSE's strengths are:
-a wide variety of topics
-theological diversity in article authorship
-scholarly quality of articles
-brevity of articles
-helpful cross-referencing and indexing
-introductory articles

The most significant weakness is that there are a few articles that contain an insufficient bibliography; this weakness applies to very few articles (I have only encountered two so far, and I have examined the book rather thoroughly).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those Christians that want to learn to think ethically 8 Dec. 2012
By tobennett0420 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
[Full disclosure: I helped proof and cross-reference this volume during production]

The DSE has the potential to initiate the interested reader into contemporary Christian ethical discourse. The reader must be warned: If you are uninterested in learning what and how your brothers and sisters from various ethical, denominational, academic, and cultural backgrounds read and reason, this book will be of no help to you. The articles in the DSE will rarely tell you what to think. Instead, they will offer you insight into how the best contemporary scholarship is presently attempting to think Scripture and theological ethics together.

There is a particular sort of joy to be had spending time with this book. You come, say, to the DSE curious about biblical and ethical perspectives on gambling. Luzarraga's article mentions not only several passages about casting lots in the OT, he mentions Roman Catholic moral teaching (he is a Catholic ethicist/theologian) and virtue ethics as well as stewardship. The cross-references point to articles like Debt, Greed, and Stewardship. Having noticed that Luzarraga mentions prudence, responsible use of money, and stewardship several times, you look up the article on Stewardship. Here, the Lutheran Mark Allan Powell derives a theology of stewardship from, among other things, covenant theology and God's sovereignty. And you've just hit paydirt. Having read only two articles, you have been exposed to two real-life examples of Christians actually reasoning ethically in conversation with the Scriptures, theological ethics, and their ecclesial traditions. The excellence of the text issues precisely from the fact that Powell and Luzarraga are dealing with related issues from completely different theological contexts. You learn not only by attending to the content of each article, but by comparing their methods and modes of argumentation. The point, of course, is that by investing in this text you are given the opportunity to witness--and, by extension, begin to practice on your own--the difficult task of located, biblically informed Christian ethical deliberation.

The DSE rewards the curious reader and the eager student with excellent scholarship, surprising turns, and the combined work of academic Bible scholars, theologians, and ethicists. In a way, reading the DSE is like being invited to a round table discussion and listening in as Wesleyan and Evangelical and Orthodox and Reformed Christian intellectuals dive deeply into the Scriptures, theory, and tradition. The DSE is for this reason a treasure and a model for future attempts at Christian academic interdisciplinary and ecumenical work.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light for the Labyrinth 10 Dec. 2012
By Tommy Givens - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Green has overseen a project aimed "to codify the issues and to identify ways in which they are being acknowledged and addressed in contemporary discussion" (2). With over 200 contributors and twice as many entries, the dictionary provides "a map that will locate and orient conversation about the relation of Scripture and ethics" (2). Instead of preempting good, patient conversation with "solutions," then, the dictionary seeks to promote it with brief, informed forays into the books of the Bible (including "apocryphal" parts of the canon), some identifiable Christian ethical traditions (e.g., "Anglican Ethics," "Teleological Theories of Ethics"), and important or high-pressure points of ethical debate among Christian communities (the usual suspects like "Homosexuality" and "War" plus some unusual ones like "Play" and "Quality of Life"). "Scripture and ethics" names something of a labyrinth, and rather than underestimate its complexity, the dictionary gives the reader light for navigating it.

Debates about Scripture and ethics sometimes get lost in "method" these days. Thankfully, the editors and contributors have kept second-order discussions of method to a minimum. Questions of method are helpfully raised and addressed briefly in Green's introduction and the introductory essays by Allen Verhey, Charles Cosgrove, and especially that of Bruce Birch. But they do not burden most of the entry articles.

The editors have not policed contributors so as to preclude overlap in the content of their articles. They have recognized that, given the tortuous recent history of the relation between Scripture and ethics, articles with distinct starting or ending points will often cover some of the same ground along the way. In allowing for this, the editors have also anticipated that readers will typically not encounter such overlapping articles together. A dictionary of Scripture and ethics today needs something of this shotgun approach.

The editors have thus drawn together many competent voices into a comprehensive, introductory resource that is at once scripturally grounded and ethically committed. When introducing students or others to wide-ranging questions on the relation between Scripture and ethics or to a particular ethical topic, one usually sends them to monographs that go too deep too fast or to elaborate hermeneutical proposals that are method-heavy and deal with particulars only as samples. Now we have competent introductory ethical material on each book of the Bible and on a host of topics in one place, including helpful bibliography at the end of each article for those who wish to go deeper. Be sure not to miss the articles on "Apartheid," "Nationalism," and "Homosexuality."
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource! 18 April 2012
By Trev - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a resource for a moral reasoning exegetical paper. This book has some of the most outstanding recommendations of any book I have ever seen. After looking through this book in my research process I realized just how much this book deserved these wonderful compliments. It has so many different perspectives from scholars that offer keen insights on today's issues in Christian ethics. It offers a wide array of knowledge in individual moral struggles as well as schools of thought.
I highly recommend this amazing dictionary to all students, pastors, and anyone who wants to have a great resource and tool for their theological library. It will probably help me, as a resource, in many of the papers I write in the coming years.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference work 8 Dec. 2012
By PJG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've been able to dip into the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics on a number of occasions since it appeared a year or so ago. Sometimes the essays begin with biblical texts and move in the direction of ethics. Sometimes the essays begin with the issue and move to the biblical texts. Either way, these two areas are brought into conversation in interesting and important ways. Sometimes, as with the article on homosexuality, an article will talk about the relevant issues (so we understand why there is ongoing debate) rather than provide a firm answer. I find this really helpful, since I understand better how to think about these questions.

I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of voices represented in this dictionary -- including evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox. Since the conversation around Scripture and ethics is important for the whole church, having this variety in one book is a real advantage.
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