07 October 2013

"Law and the Bible" Anon

 Law and the Bible

A well-put sentence:
The stories with which we are dealing [the history of biblical Israel from the time of Moses to the return from the Babylonian Exile] have been employed not only in support of revered democratic institutions such as popular sovereignty, the rule of law and separation of powers, but also in support of Marxist revolution, regicide, and the conquest of Native American tribal lands. The danger is, as Oliver O'Donovan points out, that Scripture will used after the fashion of "a commonplace book or a dictionary of quotations.

Chapter 2 by William S. Brewbaker III & V. Philips Long, "Law and Political Order: Israel's Constitutional History" at p. 51. (Emphasis added.)

As I put the same concept to my students in my material for their first-year Contracts class, "All too often well-intentioned Christians ... tend to select among the great variety of biblical material to support whatever legal or political position suits their immediate need."

Or, as a wag has tellingly put it, a text without a context is a pretext.

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