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Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics

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2012 Reference Book of the Year Award, Academy of Parish Clergy

2012 Reference Book of the Year Award, Academy of Parish Clergy

"A comprehensive handbook for thinking about the realm of ethics and the moral life but with particular attention to what the Bible has to say about such matters. Scholars in both fields will want to have this volume in their library."--Patrick D. Miller, Princeton Theological Seminary
This one-stop reference book on the vital relationship between Scripture and ethics offers helpful orientation and perspective for students, pastors, and scholars. Written to respond to the movement among biblical scholars and ethicists to recover the Bible for moral formation, it is the best reference work available on the intersection of these two fields. The volume shows how Christian Scripture and Christian ethics are necessarily intertwined and offers up-to-date treatment of five hundred biblical, traditional, and contemporary topics, including tithing, euthanasia, the Trinity, population policy and control, healthcare systems in Scripture, the seven deadly sins, idolatry, the image of God, terrorism, the Sermon on the Mount, vegetarianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The stellar ecumenical list of contributors consists of more than two hundred leading scholars from the fields of biblical studies and ethics.

Biblical Studies Contributors Include:
A. K. M. Adam
Bill T. Arnold
Bruce C. Birch
Darrell L. Bock
Mark J. Boda
William P. Brown
Richard A. Burridge
M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas)
Stephen B. Chapman
Lynn H. Cohick
David A. deSilva
Chip Dobbs-Allsopp
John R. Donahue, SJ
Victor Paul Furnish
John Goldingay
Michael J. Gorman
Barbara Green
Daniel J. Harrington
Ralph W. Klein
Richard N. Longenecker
J. Richard Middleton
Thomas W. Ogletree
Dennis T. Olson
Leo G. Perdue
Anathea Portier-Young
Mark Allan Powell
Carolyn Pressler
Brian Rosner
Choon-Leong Seow
Willard M. Swartley

Ethics Contributors Include:
James T. Bretzke, SJ
Ellen T. Charry
Kevin Corcoran
Miguel A. De La Torre
Thomas Finger
Jeffrey P. Greenman
David P. Gushee
Amy Laura Hall
Craig Hovey
Beth Felker Jones
Brad J. Kallenberg
James Keenan, SJ
D. Brent Laytham
James W. Lewis
D. Stephen Long
Ramón Luzárraga
M. Therese Lysaught
Hugo Magallanes
David Matzko McCarthy
Mark Thiessen Nation
Christine D. Pohl
Stephen Post
Wyndy Corbin Reuschling
Joel James Shuman
Ronald J. Sider
Max L. Stackhouse
Glen H. Stassen
Paul J. Wadell
Sondra E. Wheeler
Jonathan R. Wilson


"The Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics is a unique reference work, drawing together topics that are intimately connected but often relegated to separate spheres. Letting both spheres identify the topics, the editors have compiled a comprehensive handbook for thinking about the realm of ethics and the moral life but with particular attention to what the Bible has to say about such matters. At the same time, new directions are opened up as biblical texts and topics not often associated with ethical issues are seen to have much to say. Scholars in both fields will want to have this volume in their library."

Patrick D. Miller, professor of Old Testament theology emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"A book as ambitious as the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics risks being too superficial to be helpful. I am happy to report that this is not the case for this imaginatively conceived and organized book. This book will quickly become an indispensable resource for Christian reflection on the moral life."

Stanley Hauerwas, professor emeritus of divinity and law, Duke Divinity School

"The dictionary provides a wonderful tool for exploring the relationship between Scripture and ethics. Essays providing an overview of the moral concerns of Scripture and the shape of Christian ethics usefully frame an array of detailed articles. Some articles treat biblical books, others ethical topics, including virtues and vices, denominational traditions, contemporary topics such as environmental ethics, and controversial subjects such as homosexuality. The treatments are comprehensive and honest, informed by critical perspectives on the Bible and contemporary ethical reflection. They do not shy away from issues where churches, by their own admission, have misused Scripture (e.g., 'apartheid'). This volume is a rich resource for biblical scholars and ethicists alike."

Harold W. Attridge, The Rev. Henry L. Slack Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School

"The relationship of biblical studies to moral theology has not been given the attention it merits by biblical scholars. This impressive volume has pulled together important articles on a wide range of topics that will certainly be of importance to systematic and moral theologians. The selection of topics is broadly ecumenical and should appeal to the widest possible audience. Let us hope that this volume will spur a new generation of studies to reflect more carefully and systematically on the moral teachings and legacy of the Bible."

Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

"It is rare indeed for a dictionary to be a page-turner, but this one makes the reader want to find a comfortable chair and a lot of free time to roam through it. The scope of the articles is remarkable as is the quality of the research and writing. If any single volume can help us draw well-informed connections between the thought-world of Scripture and the contemporary contexts in which we teach, preach, and seek to live as people of faith, this may be it."

Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School

"Renewed interest in the relationship between Scripture and ethics has created the need for an accessible and reliable guide to the issues and the literature. This is it."

R. W. L. Moberly, professor of theology and biblical interpretation, Durham University

"Pastors, laypeople, and scholars alike will find in this exceptionally valuable resource wise guidance for Christian life and discernment about ethical issues. It offers an excellent blend of substantive engagement and methodological reflection from well-respected scholars. Highly recommended."

L. Gregory Jones, professor of theology, Duke Divinity School

"Scholars in the fields of Scripture and ethics are increasingly engaged in important conversations, and this volume is an excellent contribution to that dialogue. This star-studded grouping of contributors from biblical, ethical, and theological disciplines covers a remarkable range of pertinent topics, including every biblical book and every lively ethical topic. This invaluable reference tool will serve both lay readers and scholars very well indeed and contribute to the continuing interaction among them in thoughtful and provocative ways."

Terence E. Fretheim, Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary

"Wide-ranging, thorough, and cautious, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics will be a helpful resource for both students and scholars. With its mix of different kinds of articles and its attention throughout to biblical materials, the dictionary meets a significant need and provides something for almost any reader."

Gilbert Meilaender, Duesenberg Professor in Christian Ethics, Valparaiso University

"This is a wellspring of wisdom that will prove to be of immense value to the church. As we deal daily with questions of how Scripture relates to the vast and growing ethical challenges posed by today's society, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics will be a reliable source of insight and guidance. Its contributors are respected voices who have reflected deeply on challenges of Christian ethics, and this compilation is a treasure trove of rich and helpful perspectives."

Wes Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary, Reformed Church in America

The Author

  1. Joel B. Green

    Joel B. Green

    Joel B. Green (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is provost, dean of the School of Theology, and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including the...

    Continue reading about Joel B. Green


"With articles on every biblical book, [this text] offers preachers a welcome guide to the ethical import of scripture. With entries on almost any issue readers might confront, it is an invitation to start with a 'hermeneutics of engagement,' rather than a 'hermeneutics of dismissal.' Three orienting essays introduce the book, guiding us into the subtle depths and multiple interrelations hidden in the conjunction of scripture and ethics."

D. Brent Laytham,

Christian Century

"Reference shelves are full of texts dedicated to the study of scripture or ethics, but Green . . . here focuses on an important but overlooked niche topic: the relationship between scripture and ethics. . . . Considerable effort has been given to providing as broad a voice as possible to the subject matter. . . . This dictionary will add to the growing conversation on what guidance the Christian Bible has to offer on modern ethical questions. It is well written, well organized, and broad in scope. . . . A scholarly work aimed at academics, seminarians, and other religious professionals. Highly recommended for academic libraries and seminaries."

Jacqueline Parascandola,

Library Journal

"This reference tool seeks to bring together a survey of the literature, issues, concepts, and challenges related to the studies of both biblical scripture and Christian ethics for students, pastors, and scholars. . . . This is a well-organized volume that surveys the relationship between these two disciplines in detail. . . . It is recommended for libraries serving students and scholars of religion, religious leaders, or laypersons with a particular interest in this topic--such as those in Bible study groups."

Blaise Dierks,


"Dictionary articles are most valuable for readers who are beginning to approach a less familiar topic to orient them to the key questions and to present initial bibliographies. Meeting these purposes very well, this ambitious and valuable work contains over twelve hundred entries related to the intersection of ethical concerns and Scripture as well as other issues . . . that are important in theological ethics. . . . This is a valuable work that well fulfills the purposes of an academic dictionary. It will be of great use to both scholars and students who study either ethics or Scripture and is essential for those who explore the relationship of these two topics."

Wendell L. Willis,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"Written for students, pastors, and scholars, this book aims to orient the conversations in the complex relationship between Scripture and ethics and so to facilitate the dialogue between disciplines. . . . Green's introduction to the project is helpful for its orientation, and the essays which follow serve to map the complexity and diversity of the methodologies at work and the task at hand. . . . The collection puts Scripture and contemporary moral debate in conversation in a variety of imaginative ways and provides resources to further the task."

Sarah Whittle,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"One need only glance at each week's headlines to grasp the need for thoughtful, constructive conversation between biblical studies and ethics. This dictionary provides a rich resource, both in its general articles on ethics in scripture and scripture in ethics and in its admirable range of individual topics."

Beverly Roberts Gaventa,

Christian Century

"This volume may reflect the broadest range of topics and theological perspectives in a one-volume reference work available today. Its authors include evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic scholars. . . . This is a treasure trove of information to be enthusiastically recommended. The editors and publisher deserve high praise for a landmark volume."

Craig L. Blomberg,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"[This work] is ambitiously comprehensive in scope, covering wide-ranging topics and issues. In fact, one of the strengths of this dictionary may be its intentionality to be relevant to contemporary moral discussion. The volume as a whole does a fine job of representing various perspectives and not shying away from difficult and controversial ethical topics. . . . In this single-volume work, the four editors . . . managed to invite a number of contributors, many of whom are renowned scholars in their fields. A majority of the articles appear to succeed in fulfilling the main purposes of the dictionary. . . . The editors of this dictionary deserve credit for helping to bridge biblical studies and Christian ethics and for trying to orient those who find the conversation between the two disciplines challenging. . . . As a one-stop reference book and as a scholarly resource, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics does a pretty good job."

Kevin Jung,

Review of Biblical Literature

"Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics provides a broadly evangelical perspective on the relationship between the Bible and Christian ethics. This volume compiles the expertise of more than two hundred different scholars on over five hundred topics. . . . Treatments of stated topics seem fair and consider the complexity of the issues addressed. . . . The volume is recommended either as a starting place for further research or a 'one-stop' treatment on Christian ethics for pastors and lay people."

Mark Batluck,

Expository Times

"More than 230 scholars, women and men from various religious denominations, have collaborated in this remarkable dictionary. . . . Bibliographies after each article offer opportunities for further reading. This is a wonderful resource for pastors, laypeople, and scholars alike."

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

"Several factors make DSE a fine resource and impressive accomplishment. First, articles . . . address the most contemporary of issues. The readers have serendipitous moments where they are directed to related articles in the book that they may not have considered to continue their research. Second, the DSE welcomes multiple voices as contributions to this volume, including multiple theological backgrounds, ethnicities, and both women and men, thereby exemplifying its desire for conversation. . . . The DSE is a wonderful resource for students and pastors. Students will find a wide array of articles to guide their further learning and research. Pastors will be encouraged in their ministries to provide resources to parishioners in various ethical challenges, as well as be introduced to subjects possibly not covered in their professional training from reputable scholars. Specialists will find a resource they can recommend to their students, along with bibliographies to introduce them to fields into which they may be taking initial steps."

Aaron Perry,

Wesleyan Theological Journal

"[This book] bring[s] on a cast of 234 ecumenically rich scholars writing on an astonishing, all-encompassing 439 topics. In covering such an expansive amount of ground, the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics addresses this wide array of topics and concerns about the juncture of these fields in an accessible, yet substantive manner. . . . The ecumenical dialectic between the authors, as well as the constant interplay between prescriptive and descriptive ethics, allows the entries to form an insightful, integrated whole. . . . The DSE represents an immense contribution to the field. It is noteworthy for its investigation into the nature of the marriage between Scripture and ethics, and will surely, in time, demonstrate its usefulness for diagnosing the climate of this often slippery field. This work should therefore open the door to a more explicit, sweeping union between these interdependent disciplines. As a resource, the DSE can pave the path for scholars to bridge the disciplinary gap by providing a new horizon for each respective discipline and catechizing the reader into this relationship that appears so obvious, yet proves so exceedingly voluminous."

Alexander H. Pierce,

Trinity Journal

"The entries are well-written and obviously well-researched. . . . The 'see also' listings at the end of most entries are extremely helpful and lend cohesion to the volume. . . . This work fills a void in the arena of theological reference, bringing topics of ethical importance into a single volume. It brings together a significant amount of research and deals with topics that are often excluded from other reference works."

Dennis M. Swanson,

Master's Seminary Journal

"This volume fills a niche. It is an excellent resource for preachers because it wrestles with the moral dimensions of texts that many critical commentaries bypass. In addition, the fact that it includes contributions from ethicists and theologians ensures that discussions of biblical texts and history are not confined to the intellectual environment and cultural milieu of their time, but instead are brought into conversation with current philosophical and theological reflection. This dynamic makes this volume a valuable resource for scholars, students, and ministers."

Robert J. Turner,

Stone-Campbell Journal