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God, Justice, and SocietyAspects of Law and Legality in the Bible$
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Jonathan Burnside

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.001.0001

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Justice As A Calling

Justice As A Calling

Chapter:
(p.103) 4 Justice As A Calling
Source:
God, Justice, and Society
Author(s):

Jonathan Burnside

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.003.0004

This chapter sets out the ideology and practice of biblical justice and adjudication. Case studies drawn from the biblical texts explore some of the practical problems that might be thought to arise from the interrelationship of divine justice and human justice. How were judges expected to reach the “right decision”, especially in “hard cases”? How do the biblical texts hold together the biblical claim to divine involvement in adjudication with the reality of human failure? The chapter argues that there is a relationship between divine adjudication and growth in wisdom. All of biblical Israel's most famous judges (including Abraham, Moses, and King David) are presented as being on a learning curve. The quest for divine justice allowed room for creativity, diversity, and experimentation. In fact, legal thought and legal structures are plural in the Bible because there are thought to be different ways of accessing divine knowledge.

Keywords:   Abraham, adjudication, biblical justice, divine justice, hard cases, King David, Moses, wisdom

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