Monotheism, Ethics, and the Bible

Monotheism, Ethics, and the Bible February 17, 2015

A pdf of my article on “Monotheism,” published in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics, is available on my Selected Works page. I am grateful to Oxford University Press for the permission to make the article available there.

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  • Thanks for sharing, James, I just read it! I laughed out loud when you evoked the image of a Yahweh cuckolded by other deities.

    It seemed to me that the most critical textual discussion you introduced was that of Romans 3:29-30, in which Paul argues that God justifies both the circumcised and uncircumcised through faith. The salient point for your article, I think, is that Paul

    “argues his ethical point on the basis of traditional Jewish monotheism, while at the same time using the same logic to set aside requirements found in the Torah, which was the ethical foundation for Judaism par excellence.”

    In other words, you argue that Paul gives priority to ethical principles over individual ethical rules, opening the door to more inclusive and less restrictive interpretations of scripture?

    • I do think that Paul does that on at least some occasions, and I’ve argued here on the blog before that the arguments for inclusiveness that are sometimes used by today’s liberal Christians are not without precedent in Paul’s arguments for the inclusion of Gentiles.

      • This is the side of liberal theology I can get behind. Valuing good ethical principles that can be seen in the biblical text (those that promote kindness and inclusivity), and using them to reject biblical writings that are still used to harm society.