Moral Discourse on Economic Justice: Considerations from the Old Testament

Richard W. Nysse

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1992

Issue: Economics and Justice (Vol. 12, No 4, Fall, 1992)

To bring biblical material to bear on current considerations of justice in the economic sphere of life does not reduce the contentiousness of the matter, since value-laden terms like “justice” are essentially contestable. What constitutes justice is not stable because, if for no other reason, the specifics of the economy change. The economic location and, therefore, the interests of those involved in the debates are not the same. In addition, the biblical material itself is not monolithic. There is considerable diversity in Scripture itself both in explicit statements and implicit assumptions. We have conflicting attitudes regarding Scripture’s authority and, therefore, its role in contemporary moral deliberation and action. Which specific portions of Scripture might or should we draw upon? How does “drawing upon Scripture” actually work? What influences our decisions in each of these questions? The shape of a just economy that can lay claim to the adjective “biblical” is, to state the obvious, an ambiguous and contentious matter for a host of reasons.

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