In a March 15, 2012 article on FoxNews, the Associated Press reported on a particularly disturbing story about a young Moroccan girl who was forced to marry her rapist, and commits suicide as a result.[1] The article states that, “In many parts of the Middle East, there is a tradition whereby a rapist can escape prosecution if he marries his victim, thereby restoring her honor. What sort of a sick law code would force a victim to marry her rapist? Well, the law code in Deuteronomy if you are reading carefully.

In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the text says

22:28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes her and they are discovered. 22:29 The man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.[2]

At the going exchange rate for New Israeli Shekels to US dollars, that is a rape and new wife for just under $15 dollars. That of course isn’t really a fair comparison because of inflation, but is there really any price which makes this favorable?

Undoubtedly someone will mention that the prescription in Deuteronomy is really a very kind solution because with marriage representing security for women in the Ancient Near East, a “spoiled” woman like our rape victim wouldn’t be desirable to anyone else, and so marrying her attacker is really a blessing. In the Middle Assyrian Laws which resemble this passage, the father retains the right to marry his violated daughter to someone other than the attacker.[3]  While it is possible that the Israelite father retained the right to refuse the marriage, that is not explicitly mentioned here.  And even with this possibility, one recognizes that  in ancient Israel women were seen as the property of their fathers or husbands.[4] It is with that understanding that one can comprehend the language concerning rape which depicts it as “‘the theft of sexual property’,meaning that a sexual assault violates the man who holds the rights to a woman’s sexuality, typically her father or her husband, and not the woman herself.”[5] If this causes some anxiety for the modern conscience, I say that is a positive thing! But, how can a believer be content when their moral compass points in a direction other than the Bible? I think the answer to that question lies in adopting a redemptive-movement hermeneutic.


William Webb thinks so. In fact, he believes that, “if a better ethic than the one expressed in the isolated words of the text is possible, then that is where one ultimately wants to end up.”[6] When it comes to ethics, modern believers must look at the entire Bible to discern in what direction the ethical considerations concerning a given issue are moving. While Webb’s methods have found no shortage of detractors, when it comes to approaching the laws which depict the sexual violation of women as being an infringement upon property, it seems that the modern believer must be prepared to adopt his method. As Peter Enns says, “the Bible at every turn, shows how connected it is to its own world.” The world in which the Hebrew Bible was revealed was the Ancient Near East. It was a world in which the prevailing culture shared more in common with modern Afghanistan under Taliban patriarchal rule than with American ideals. Recognizing the enculturation of the scripture allows one to make ethical decisions which move past the text itself. In some cases, women’s rights being one of them, I think the only way forward is to quit looking back.

People in Morocco are using the death of this poor young woman as a rallying cause to repeal a law which is based upon religious tradition. Though some American evangelicals are seeking to “restore Biblical morality” in this country, the case of Morocco should act as a cautionary tale. A given ethical issue may be more complicated than a simple appeal to the “isolated words” of Scripture may seem. The ultimate ethic lies in Christ and God’s redemptive purposes. If those purposes were not fully realized or outlined in the Bible’s pages, so be it. It is the job of believers to work together and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine what the best realization of that ethic can be. C.S. Lewis said, “Certain things, if not seen as lovely or detestable, are not being correctly seen at all.” The violation of another person’s humanity by treating them as merely a sexual object is detestable. Reading the bible in light of the story of Christ, I believe the scripture teaches exactly that. However, that teaching must be sought out as it develops through the pages and years which together make up the Divine revelation called the Bible.

[1] “Suicide of Moroccan girl, 16, forced to marry rapist sparks outrage,” http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/03/15/suicide-moroccan-girl-16-forced-to-marry-rapist-sparks-outrage/

[2] This translation is from The NET Bible

[3]  Middle Assyrian Law A 55, in James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, including Supplement, 1969), 185. See also Cynthia Edenburg, “Ideaology and Social Context of Deuteronomic Women’s Sex Laws (Deuteronomy 22:13-29)” JBL 128, no. 1 (2009), 56; Evans in DOT:P argues based off of Ex 22:16-17 that the father had the right to refuse the marriage, but it is likely that the Exodus passage refers to seduction and not forcible rape.  For more on the relationship between the laws in Exodus and Deuteronomy, see Sandie Gravett. 2004. “Reading ‘rape’ in the Hebrew Bible: a consideration of language.” Journal For The Study Of The Old Testament 28, no. 3: 280.

[4]  M.J. Evans “Women,” In Dictionary of the Old Testament:Pentatuech, edited by T. Desmond Alexander & David W. Baker. Downer’s Grove:InterVarsity Press, 2003. 898.

[5]  Sandie Gravett. 2004. “Reading ‘rape’ in the Hebrew Bible: a consideration of language.” Journal For The Study Of The Old Testament 28, no. 3: 280.

[6] William J. Webb. Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity 2001) 36.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. Great analysis! I think this also points to the danger of reducing any system we conform to with the word “biblical.” We might call something “biblical womanhood” (re: Rachel Held Evans), “biblical Christianity,” or “biblical ethics.” Regardless of our ridiculous attempts at reduction, scripture’s complexity in nearly every area seems to be irreducible, and your article points that out magnificently.


  2. Hey John, I loved the article and think you have some excellent ideas here. I do have a few questions for you.

    You quoted Webb saying “if a better ethic than the one expressed in the isolated words of the text is possible, then that is where one ultimately wants to end up.” First, I assume that Webb is stating that Scripture, as a whole, must be consulted in forming ethical mandates rather than using an isolated text for support. I agree with that wholeheartedly. But the quote in tandem with your article seems to suggest that we cannot only look outside of Scripture for ethics (which I ascent to, to a degree) but one can actually produce, in some way, an ethic that surpasses the ethical counsel of Scripture.

    If this is true, that one ought to consult the full counsel of Scripture when developing a Christian Ethic, in what way or in what sense can the Christian Ethic improve upon that counsel? I realize the case can be made well that the Judeo-Christian ethic has developed and has been refined over time, but the way in which we know that the ethic has actually improved is by God’s direct interaction with that progression. God comes alongside of key figures and redirects them toward a better ethic through judgment, establishing new authorities, etc.

    If we say that our ethic can move beyond what is in the text, in a “better” way, what becomes the standard by which we deem such an ethic “better”? And in what way can we know that we have achieved a better ethic apart from our previous standard of ethical evaluation (Scripture)?



  3. Chad, great questions. Let me take a stab at answering.

    It has been a while since I initially looked at Webb, so if I am misrepresenting him, it is unintentional. Also, I actually depart from Webb, so my answer to the question will not ultimately agree with where he ends up. With that disclaimer, let me give my opinion.

    While Webb would certainly agree that Scripture must be consulted as a whole and not just in an isolated text, he is actually going a bit further than that. He isn’t just saying that a bad hermeneutic will lead to a bad ethic, but that one can actually see ethical development throughout the whole of Scripture which allows one to develop a “better” ethic than the one implicitly spelled out in Scripture. For example, a completely sound hermeneutical approach to the deuteronomic law condones the institution of slavery. The NT passages relating to slavery do not abolish it outright, but seem to hint at a trajectory which erodes at the values which allow one person to own another as property. So, Webb will say that while we have no explicit scriptural mandate to abolish slavery, we are obligated to do so from the ethical trajectory (the inherent value of all men) we get from Scripture. But Webb will still say that he is ultimately using the scripture as the primary source from which ethical principles are derived. So while he will say that the implicit ethical teaching of scripture on a given topic (slavery) is incomplete or even faulty, it is a trajectory derived from scripture which he uses to pass that judgment.

    At this point we part ways. When it comes to epistemology (which of course then includes ethical truths as well) I do not think we have any means of certainty. So how can we “know that we have achieved a better ethic apart from our previous standard of ethical evaluation?” We can’t. We can only try to understand ethics in light of the evidence we have. Some of that evidence will be human reason, the internal (and so very subjective) witness of the Holy Spirit, tradition, scripture, etc… If I pass judgment on the ethical mandate of scripture and say that I think my ethic is better, I do so acknowledging that what I really mean is I THINK my ethic is better. I have no ultimate outside resource which acts as unfettered access to metaphysical truth to compare it to. This represents the core belief where I am different from many of my friends and acquaintances who hold to a belief that the scriptures are inerrant or infallible. They understand the scripture to provide them some certainty in the world. If only interpreted correctly, the bible allows them to bridge the gap between uncertain human knowledge and perfect divine knowledge. I don’t share the same belief. Instead, I say that it is the community of faith working together that must make a decision if an ethic is better than scripture. Is there an ultimate moral law with which that ethic must compare? I believe so. However, we have no way of knowing with absolute certainty what all of the subtleties of that law are. So we stand as imperfect people trying our best to live in an imperfect world. The authors of scripture were doing the same things. They were products of their culture, their prejudices, and their fallen humanity. We should look to them for wisdom and instruction, but we should not (in my opinion) force ourselves to stop growing just because the canon has closed.


  4. Great read John. Your good with titles too. There are many OT passages that are simply too difficult for me to resolve. We are all familiar with the “genocide command” in which God tells Israel to kill all men, women, children, and cattle of pagan nations. Another popular one is Deut 21:18-21, where a stubborn & rebellious child is to be put to death. What parent could actually put their child to death? It makes you wonder what kind of conscience were these people operating with. The scarier ? is, what kind of God would deliver such commands? It seems that your way of resolving these ?’s is to say that these passages dont teach us anything about God; they teach us about the community. The conclusion is to try to operate like a more evolved, ethically superior community. The worst thing that we could do would be to try to model our communities exactly like these communities, as that is what is going on in other parts of the world. I agree with that last sentence, and I hope that any sane person would.

    But what about the believers who still maintain that these passages do reflect upon God? If one wants to acknowledge that God was directly instrumental in delivering the Law to Moses, what conclusions could that person draw from passages such as these? Obviously for said individuals, these passages are very troubling. How can I worship a God who commanded for a ppl group to be exterminated?

    The easy response is to just ignore these passages. While others have decided to try to make sense of them and offer some sort of explanation as to how these acts could be ethical (i.e. William Lane Craig on the genocide passage). I dont like either approach. As much as I would like to pretend the passages do not exist, they do. Quite frankly, I cannot offer an explanation as to how these events were ethical. So what meaning can they provide me?

    I have to resort to the basic rule of application within the historical-grammatical method. That is to try to formulate a principle that bridges the past to the present and provides me a modern day application. In the case of the above mentioned passages, I learn to purge sin from my life (“In this way you will purge out wickedness from among you.”), and to maybe even practice an ethically responsible ways of trying purge it from the covenant community (Not America, but the Church. See my latest entry on that topic). By taking this approach, I am not changing the original meaning of the text, and I am also not promoting practices that are clearly ethical, like the example in Morroco.

    In conclusion, I do believe that God commanded Israel to committ genocide and to stone their children. I hate even thinking about such horrific acts. I have no explanation as to how a good God could command this. As much as I hate to do it, I have to punt to mystery on this one, and still believe that He is good. Finally, there is absolutely no justification for these types of commands to be literally practiced today. Yet, they still have meaning that I can learn from and apply to the modern day context.

    Do you see anything wrong or dangerous about my hermeneutical approach?


  5. Those are some great observations, and while I don’t think your hermeneutic is wrong or dangerous, I do think that there is a sense in which the way you mention applying the genocide passages to purging sin from your own life is less historical grammatical than allegorical (see how people have historically dealt with Psalm 137 for examples of people using a similar approach). I say that because in the historical context of the passage purging sin meant wiping out a people group. While all of the Canaanite villages were not condemned to complete destruction, some clearly were. Purging sin from your own life is a great goal, but the herem passages aren’t saying to do that. They are saying that the people of the land will lead you astray after other gods, therefore, destroy them utterly lest you fall into their way of life. If there is a modern application for that, it would be killing all of the Kardashians and everyone from Jersey Shore lest you be tempted to behave as they do. We won’t get into how good for society that might be, but at the least we can say it probably doesn’t represent a good moral choice. :)

    In a sense I feel like people have to work too hard to get God “off the hook” for some of these passages. That is what guys like WLC and others try to do. They make appeals which in the end make God’s commandments here ok. And honestly, if they are able to make an argument which is good enough to explain it to themselves, far be it from me to take that from them. However, for myself, the God I understand to have revealed Himself ultimately in Christ simply cannot be reconciled with some of these commands. So instead, I follow more along the route of scholars like Kenton Sparks (I advise anyone interested in the Canaanite conquest problem to read his book Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture) who ultimately sees these passages as reflective of Israelite culture and understanding and not a divine model for us to follow. I love reading the Hebrew Bible. In it I find the roots of all those themes of redemption which touch my heart whether I read them in the story of Christ or in watching Hugh Jackman as Jean ValJean in Les Mis. But I believe there is a strongly enculturated element to the Bible which reflects human frailty and selfishness and fallen nature. And I think some of those traits are masked in passages that start with “thus saith the Lord.”


  6. The hist-gram requires us to ask the question, what did it mean to them? That is the level of interpretation. What did it mean to them? Kill all the pagans in the land. No allegory there.

    Then we proceed to the level of application. At that level we ask, how does it apply to us? In order to answer this ?, we have to find a universal principle that can be applied in the modern day context. What principle is contained in the original meaning? The presence of sin can corrupt, so rid yourself of its influence. Still no allegory.

    So how can we apply that principle in a modern day context? For example, try to rid the influence of sin from your life, and try to correct it in your community. At this point, you are applying the principle that you discovered in the original meaning. That is not allegory. That is contextualization.

    My point is that the hist-gram does not require us to apply a text the same way that it was applied by the original audience. It allows for contextualization. In the case of the passages we have discussed, we must contextualize them.


  7. I see better what you are saying here, and I recognize that you aren’t trying to downplay the difficult nature of the original passage, but I disagree with the premise that from all passages of scripture we “have to find a universal principle that can be applied in the modern day context.” My concern is that in trying to determine that principle (and make it palatable to our own understanding) we may ignore the parts which made the passage troubling in the first place. So while the principle derived from the story may in fact be valid (we should rid ourselves of sin’s influence), we have done nothing to address the fact that the God given solution to helping with that problem is killing swaths of men, women, and children. Because when you made the jump from original context to universal principle a significant change took place. When I read the “presence of sin” I am thinking of things like drinking, smoking, and dancing (the fundamentalist unholy trinity). But that is a far cry from “sinful people” which is what the text is about.

    While I love that you appeal to mystery (as many of us should do more often :)), it does not in the end seem helpful to me to tell someone who questions the ethics of these commands that it is simply a divine mystery.


  8. I totally agree with your sentiments. I dont llike it when ppl try to get God “off the hook” by downplaying the severity of a passage. We have to look at it for what it really is, and when I do that, I am horrified. Not only am I fearful, but I get upset and disgusted. The reason that I do not try to change or downplay the meaning of the text is bc I realize that ppl are going to look at these texts for what they are really saying and are going to experience the same reactions as me. I refuse to give them nice lil Christian cliches, or even elaborate explanations in order to relieve their discomfort or my own. I do not think that does justice to the text, and I simply do not consider such attempts to be completely honest and forthright. Ultimately, I have resolved to live with the fact that I worship a God who commanded these apparent attrocities. It isnt easy to do that.

    Not only must I accept this harsh reality, but I am obliged to find some sort of practical application of these texts. I am absolutely not going to inflict violence upon someone or encourage others to do so. So how else can I apply the text? The closest that you could get to the original application without committing a blatantly unethical act would be to practice church discipline. I think that excommunicating someone from the community would be in the same “spirit” of the text, and I think it is a practical application of the original meaning. Again, I dont think the hist-gram method requires us to apply every text exactly how it was originally applied. That isnt even possible to do.

    Church discipline is a risky practice. There have certainly been abuses of it throughout church history. A more moderate version of church discipline is to encourage, correct, and even rebuke the person who is guilty of sin in the community. Of course, even this approach is often abused. Matt. 18, 1 Cor. 5, and various other NT passages show us that the Church did not encourage the practice of inflicting violence upon unrepentant believers or unbelievers, but they did retain the principle that sin in the camp must be dealt with. I think that was their way of contextualizing Israel’s method of dealing with said individuals.

    Concerning the rape passage that this entry originally highlighted, I have no idea how to find a practical application of that text. I would want the purpetrator to be at least temporarily removed from the community (1 Cor. 5), and I would want him to be punished by the authorities (Rom 13), Is there a principle that bridges these applications to the original application of Deut 22: 28-29? Probably not.

    There is one method of applying the Law that categorizes the Law into moral, ceremonial, and civil. Moral laws should be retained while the ceremonial laws have been fulfilled in Christ so they are no longer applicable. Civil laws, like Deut 22: 28-29, are still enforced by the covenant community, but in a different way. What do you think about this method?


  9. The problem with the method of breaking the laws down into these categories is that there is no consistent method applied in order to determine the categories. Instead, it ends up being a convenient way of dismissing the laws we don’t like and keeping the ones we do.

    This article does an excellent job of pointing out some of the problems with the this approach, and he advocates using the same method you applied earlier of determining universal principles in light of all relevant factors to find the principle of the original laws. As such, I am going to have the same concern that in drawing universal principles we are downplaying the original material itself, but that is the conundrum a person who recognizes all scripture as equally infallible must face.



  10. I enjoyed the read. Again, I think there is difference between changing the original meaning and applying it differently. Nevertheless, can you tell me why you are so concerned with changing the original meaning in light of your proposed method? It seems this method removes any meaningful application of the text (OT Law) altogether. Would that not be less concerned with the meaning, than to contextualize the text?


  11. Brandon,
    That is a great and very fair question. :) If I am just going to dismiss the biblical teaching in the end, why should I get so caught up on preserving the original meaning? The reason I am so concerned with determining the original meaning is precisely because I want to be able to evaluate the ethical message of the scripture as it was recorded, and then assess that as being good or bad based upon other sources of authority. I feel this is more honest than reading a hard passage of scripture which would seem to indicate a bad ethical choice, but then finding a universal principle which ends up agreeing with my ethic anyway, and writing off the original meaning as mysterious or secretly good in the first place (I am not accusing you of doing that btw, I am simply making sure my straw man has plenty of stuffing). This sort of reading seems to me to be making a theological assumption and then putting that on the text rather than starting with the text and then making the evaluation. If I assume that an inspired scripture cannot contain bad ethics (or bad science, or bad history, etc. ) then I will likely read it in such a way that I confirm my own assumptions. However, if I can start with the text (imperfectly of course, as I have just as many biases as the next man or woman) and then see what it actually says, then I can make the next step of evaluating it.


  12. “I am simply making sure my straw man has plenty of stuffing.” LOL! I have never heard that. That is hilarious!

    We def share similar sentiments; we just depart on our reactions to the sentiment. I agree with you that we should interpret the text for what is really saying. Secondly, we should not develop an explanation/excuse for the text that downplays what it is saying. In other words, lets be honest about what the text is really saying. Finally, I even agree with you that any compassionate individual, who understands what these texts are saying, should be apalled by the original meaning/application of it.

    The point at which we depart is I attribute our negative reaction to our lack of understanding or fallen ability to correctly assess/attribute ethical value. Second, it has been establish that we clearly disagree on whether or not these sort texts have any practical value to them in our context.

    Nevertheless, I have enjoyed the dialogue as it has helped me to better understand where you are coming from, and the common ground that we share. Who knows, maybe we will gain some more of that ground?


  13. You hadn’t heard that because it was a Manguno original coined just for this discussion. :)

    And I also greatly appreciate the discussion. A big part of my understanding of the law codes (and all of the OT) is my strong belief in the influence of (not necessarily dependence on) comparative ANE material. So in looking at some of the other law codes, Ur-Nammu, Eshnunna, Lipit-Ishtar, etc, I see traits which also appear in the Mosaic law. That doesn’t mean I simply dismiss the Mosaic law as “just another” ANE law code with no bearing for today, but it does shape the way I understand it as being an enculturated piece in the long history of men trying to understand how to live their lives in accordance with God and the universal moral law.Because we start with a different understanding of the nature of the text, it is no wonder we end up at different places on the details of applying the texts today.

    I look forward to chatting abut other topics as this blog community develops. :)


  14. Just had a convo about doc the hypo. Id loved to read ur 2 cents about that. U should post on that sometime…


  15. I always believed this passage wasn’t talking about rape but pre marital sex and that verses 25-27 had to do with the case of rape. I have been reading through the Bible and have encountered many ethically challenging text so I really do appreciate this discussion. I have always found it difficult to question the Bible’s moral standards and this article has me thinking. For example I know most of the Law’s written in Deuteronomy were civil (for keeping Israel’s society running) so my thinking has been, ” I don’t know what laws will keep a society running best but God does so these laws must be good.” I think it’s hard to make moral judgments about the text because the Bible is where I get my moral standards from. So i appreciate the discussion and hope you can speak to some of my concerns.


  16. I have heard some people who maintain that this isn’t referring to rape, but the Hebrew text explicitly mentions that the attacker “seizes her.” Here is some info on the Hebrew word http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8610&t=KJV . So the most wooden translation of the sentence would be “if a man finds a young virgin who is not engaged, and he seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered.” I think it makes the most sense to understand this as being a violent sexual act. That is something different from what happens in Exodus 22:16 where there is no context of violence.

    Here is a comparison of a number of English translations to show you that the NET Bible isn’t alone in reading rape here.
    DARBY | Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel, a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found,
    1901 ASV | Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
    AV 1873 | Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
    D-R | Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, who is not espoused, and taking her, lie with her, and the matter come to judgment:
    ESV | Dt 22:28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found,
    GW | Dt 22:28 This is what you must do when a man rapes a virgin who isn’t engaged. When the crime is discovered,
    HCSB | Dt 22:28 If a man encounters a young woman, a virgin who is not engaged, takes hold of her and rapes her, and they are discovered,
    KJV 1900 | Dt 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
    LEB | Dt 22:28 “If a man finds a young woman, a virgin who is not engaged, and he seizes her and he has sex with her and they are caught,
    The Message | Dt 22:28 When a man comes upon a virgin who has never been engaged and grabs and rapes her and they are found out,
    NET | Dt 22:28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes her and they are discovered.
    NASB95 | Dt 22:28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered,
    NCV | Dt 22:28 If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged to be married and forces her to have sexual relations with him and people find out about it,
    NIrV | Dt 22:28 Suppose a man happens to see a virgin who hasn’t promised to marry another man. And the man who happens to see her rapes her. But someone discovers them.
    NIV | Dt 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
    NIV84 | Dt 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
    NKJV | Dt 22:28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out,
    NLT | Dt 22:28 “Suppose a man has intercourse with a young woman who is a virgin but is not engaged to be married. If they are discovered,
    NRSV | Dt 22:28 If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act,
    RSV | Dt 22:28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found,
    Brenton LXX En | Dt 22:28 And if any one should find a young virgin who has not been betrothed, and should force her and lie with her, and be found,
    TNIV | Dt 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
    YLT | Dt 22:28 ‘When a man findeth a damsel, a virgin who is not betrothed, and hath caught her, and lain with her, and they have been found

    And don’t feel alone trying to understand how to make moral judgments about the text. How to understand the scripture is something men and women far smarter and righteous than you or I struggle with as well.  But what I must do is try to understand the best way that I can. When I am confronted by civil laws (or even divine mandates) which seem to me to be out of keeping with the larger moral laws of God, especially as revealed in Christ, than I cannot help but think those laws are worth evaluating and if necessary, discarding. It also has to be said that while I value the scripture as inspired, I do not hold to innerency as it is taught in most evangelical churches. So, to say that a portion of scripture was completely a product of its culture is something I am ok doing, where others may not be. I am happy to dialogue with you on this, but if you are really interested in the subject of trajectory based ethics I would recommend you read William Webb’s book I reference in footnote 6. Webb is more conservative than I am, but I value very highly his approach to addressing some of the tough moral challenges which the OT law presents us with. Also of value for a look at passages outside of the law which are ethically troubling, you can look at Kenton Sparks, “Sacred Word, Broken Word.”



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Culture, Old Testament Studies


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