Moral Perspectives in Old Testament Narratives
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Biblical Morality explores a selection of Old Testament narratives, drawing out their views on morality to offer a unique perspective on the meaning of the term 'biblical morality'. Mary Mills argues that Old Testament stories build upon a moral vision across the levels of cosmos, community and person; the author then uses these concepts as interpretative tools for reading texts, as well as literary-critical tools of characterisation, plot and time-space setting. When Old Testament stories are read by a number of different readers, diverse cultural meanings emerge; this book argues that any exploration of biblical morality must take into account plurality of meaning and not expect to settle for a single unified reading which produces a one-dimensional personal behavioural ethic. Presenting a study of biblical morality which allows Old Testament stories to stand in their own right as relevant sources, this book allows for the relevance of 'moral boundaries' without drawing these simplistically or narrowly, and offers an accessible examination of biblical morality to all those exploring biblical texts, narrative criticism and morality and ethics more widely. Mary E. Mills is a Lecturer in Theology at Heythrop College, University of London, UK, and is the author of many books including The Puzzle of the Gospels (HarperCollins); Images of God in the Old Testament (Cassell); Historical Israel, Biblical Israel (Cassell).
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; A framework for studying biblical morality; Morality and Character: Abraham; David; Esther; Morality and Plot: The story of Ruth; The story of Joseph; The story of Jonah; Morality, Time and Place: Morality and world order in Genesis chapters 1-11; Morality and world powers in Daniel chapters 1-7; Morality, suffering and evil in the Book of Job; Conclusion: The variety of moral perspectives; Bibliography.
’Mary Mills has written an excellent and many-sided guide to the questions of morality in the Old Testament. She shows it to be much more subtle and interesting than its popular image would suggest. A wide range of Old Testament literature is drawn on, and the entire treatment carries conviction.’ John Barton, University of Oxford, UK 'Mills...adopts a three dimensional approach and examines morality in relation to persons, community, and 'cosmos' (the world and God)... this is a book for those who wish to think through for themselves the variety of possible responses to situations which present challenges to personal, family or community values ...The book also provides a useful compendium of the insights of recent narrative criticism...it is a work densely packed with challenging insights and intriguing questions.' Scripture Bulletin 'Two areas of Old Testament study have received increasing attention recently: ethics and narrative. Mills brings these together in a fascinating and thought-provoking way.' Theology 'The study of the Old Testament narrative has been a growth industry for some time, and the chief value of this study is the way it introduces the reader to much of that scholarly work on Old Testament narrative interpretation, especially works that have an ethical interest.' Church Times 'It is pleasing to see the often-ignored contribution of OT stories to biblical ethics given pre-eminence in this new book by Mary Mills... I [...] found a considerable amount of material in Mills book with which to agree and welcome its restoration of narrative to the centre of biblical ethics.' Themelios '... Mary E. Mills writes on 'biblical morality' in a book that is well organized and thorough. I applaud her for discussing a topic about which scholars have written unfinished books because of the difficulties involved... This book offers many gems... a must-read for those who are studying biblical morality or narratives about notable biblical characte