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  • Published: Oct 21 / 2016
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Essays

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Essays

Available essays: It is ‘of the essence… of the church to be a missionary community’ Exegesis on Genesis 12 Salvation throughout the Old Testament Evangelism – From then to now (creative presentation on the history of British evangelism and mission) Exegesis on Mark 15:33-39 Trinity (Critical essay) Three theories of Atonement Research file on Islam […]

Are Islam & Christianity Compatible?

‘The Qur’an does not accept that [Jesus] was crucified, but states that he was taken directly to heaven. This is the one irreducible “fact” separating Christianity from Islam’ (Seyyed Hossein Nasr). Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 1499 9th May 2015 Introduction Nasr’s comment is given (among other occasions) in his book in comparison of other doctrines […]

Slavery and the Bible

“How Might the Old Testament’s Concern for Justice Impact Contemporary Slavery?” Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 2468 7th May 2015 Introduction Slavery is not only a phenomenon of the past. It is estimated that 29.8 million people are forced to live in slavery around the world today. Modern slavery is present in almost every country. Wherever […]

Significance of Jesus’ Healings and Exorcisms

“How Might the Old Testament’s Concern for Justice Impact Contemporary Slavery?” Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 2468 7th May 2015 Introduction Slavery is not only a phenomenon of the past. It is estimated that 29.8 million people are forced to live in slavery around the world today. Modern slavery is present in almost every country. Wherever […]

Image of the Invisible God

“Christ is the Image of the Invisible God” Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 1242 5th May 2014 Introduction Humans are created in God’s image but Christ is the image of God. How do we approach this aspect of Christ? Can it be that it explains what human nature is supposed to be, or does the New […]

Ethics – Abortion

“The sacredness of life is in Christian eyes an absolute which should not be violated” (Lambeth Conference of Bishops, 1958) Can or Should One Apply This Statement to Abortion? Note: There is a postscript included after the bibliography.Please, read this to understand my point of view! Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 2479 20th January 2014 Introduction […]

Case Study on Ethics

Case Study on Ethics It is 3 am and you are late getting home. As you approach the intersection you notice that no one is around. Do you drive through the red light? Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 1248 20th November 2013 Introduction What to do when the traffic-lights are red but there is no time […]

Research File on Islam

Research File Consisting of three parts: PART 1: A Reflective Report on a Mosque Visit. PART 2: My Personal Reflection on Islam and Muslims. PART 3: Academic Essay on the Challenges of Communicating the Gospel among Muslims in the UK. Jurgen Hofmann Total word-count: 5299 21th June 2012 Note: Persons and institutions, who have given […]

Christian Faith in History

Development of Christian Faith in History Exploration of the Links of Atonement and Faith and Practise Today (Maximum 1000 words) Jurgen Hofmann Word count: 1087 19th June 2012 Introduction The atoning work of Christ has been a vivacious debated doctrine throughout the centuries. What is the overarching metaphor to describe Jesus’ sacrifice? In this paper […]

Critical Essay

Critical Essay Outline and comment on the development of the Trinity to the end of the Patristic era. (Maximum 2500 words) Jurgen Hofmann Word count: 2740 29th May 2012 Introduction The widespread doctrine of the Trinity is a well supported doctrine within the Christian faith. This was not always the case. The Trinity doctrine knows […]

Exegesis – Mark 15:33-39

Exegesis – Mark 15:33-39 Jurgen Hofmann Word Count: 2145 28td February 2012 Introduction Each of the four Gospels gives a portrait of Jesus Christ and his works. The writers used different styles and emphases—the message however is the same in each writing: the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. In this paper a […]

History of British Evangelism and Mission.

Creative Presentation on the History of British Evangelism and Mission Jurgen Hofmann Word Count written paper: 1031 13td February 2012 Your browser does not support the video tag. »» Please click here to watch the intro before continuing to read. Introduction Your browser does not support the video tag. »» Please click here to watch […]

Old Testament Salvation

Critical Essay on the Theme of Salvation as it Emerges in the Old Testament (Maximum 3000 words) Jurgen Hofmann Word Count: 3039 16td December 2011 Introduction In this paper the theme of salvation will be explored, and how this theme emerges throughout the Old Testament (OT). When one is asked to say what the Bible […]

Exegesis on Genesis 12

Exegesis on Genesis 12 (Maximum 2000 words) Jurgen Hofmann Word Count: 2078 14td November 2011 Introduction This paper will give an exegesis on Genesis 12. The exegesis will look in to the importance of the chapter within the Pentateuch. After this a short overview of the context will be given. The different events within the […]

Missionary Community

It is ‘of the essence…of the church to be a missionary community’ (p85 Mission-shaped Church – a Church of England Working Part Report by Church House Publishing, 2004) Assignment: Illustrate this statement from the New Testament, church history, and the contemporary church. From your examples discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in a missionary […]




Are Islam & Christianity Compatible?

‘The Qur’an does not accept that [Jesus] was crucified, but states that he was taken directly to heaven. This is the one irreducible “fact” separating Christianity from Islam’ (Seyyed Hossein Nasr).

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 1499

9th May 2015

Introduction

Nasr’s comment is given (among other occasions) in his book in comparison of other doctrines of Jesus. Nasr states that other doctrines that appear to be incompatible—the nature of Christ and even the idea of the trinity —can be interpreted from a metaphysical outlook that can serve to bring Islamic and Christian views into harmony.1 Negotiable as these points may seem to Islam, with its dismissal of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, it right away dismisses Jesus’ divine nature and as a consequence the God as revealed throughout Scripture.

Crucifixion

The only verse about the crucifixion in the Qur’an is very clear about the incident: it was not the way Jesus died! Christian scholars have tried to explain that Surah 4:157 only denies that it was the Jews who crucified Jesus, which is historically correct. By explaining that the Roman soldiers actually did the work, they hope that Muslims can accept the historicity of the crucifixion, bringing them closer to the atoning work of Christ.2 Yet, Cragg states that ‘we cannot escape the negation of crucifying by confusion as to the agent.’3 Many understand the sentence, ‘it was made to appear to them’, as substitutional—someone else, who resembled Jesus, died on the cross. Interestingly, Ali notes that this verse can only mean that it appeared to the people that Jesus died—the words only mean that Jesus did not die because of the crucifixion (he was crucified nevertheless).4

Confusion

There seems to be more confusion about Jesus’ actual death. That is to say, the Qur’an is not absolutely clear about Jesus’ death. There are verses in the Qur’an, like Surah 19:33 (…the day that I die…), that state that Jesus died and even that Jesus foretold His death and His resurrection. Muslim scholars, who believe that Jesus did not die, state that Surah 19:33 narrates about the future. Notwithstanding, in a parallel verse, Surah 19:15, one can read almost the same words, talking about John the Baptist’s (Yahya) death (… the day that he dies…). Still, Muslim scholars have no problem with the fact that Yahya died.5 Yet, following the obvious implication of the parallel verse, one should not place Jesus’ death in the future. What is more, one cannot find any reference in the Qur’an about Jesus’ death after his return.

There are other verses that cause dissent among Muslim scholars. Surah 3:55 says ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself […]’ (Arabic: ‘mutawaffeeka‘). There is no unanimity among Muslim scholars on the meaning of mutawaffeeka. Some state that it narrates about a deep sleep, which is not logical as Allah does not need to put Jesus to sleep in order to raise him to himself. 6 Others explain this word in the sense of ‘removing from earth.’ 7 Still, the overall Qur’anic description of Jesus is that of a normal mortal (e.g. Surah 5:75) and he is even made to deny his divinity (Surah 5:116). In line with this it would be logical to conclude that the verse describes Jesus’ death.8 This rule urged the masters to treat their slaves well, with Israel’s enslavement in Egypt in mind.

Nasr’s statement may reflect the most common idea about the crucifixion, but Jesus’ death itself is certainly not undisputed among Muslim scholars—this disagreement is mostly unknown among average Muslim believers. Many of the Hadith volumes including the two major authentic ones, Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, are mute on the issue of the crucifixion which makes it precarious for scholars to reach solid conclusions.9 The generally accepted view however, is that Jesus did not die the usual human death, but still lives in the body in heaven. Others say that he did die (Surah 5:117), but not when he was supposed to be crucified. Thereafter, Jesus has been ‘raised up’ unto Allah, instead of being disgraced as a criminal, in order to be honoured by Allah as His Messenger: (cf. Surah 4:159).10

Chain Reaction

As mentioned, a denial of the crucifixion triggers a chain reaction which undermines the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

Love

By denying Jesus’ sacrifice, Islam denies the very essence of God’s nature, which is ‘love.’ The Bible teaches that YHWH is love (1 John 4:7-21). It is this love that urged YHWH to send the Son as the Saviour of the world (vs.14). YHWH loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (vs.9-10). This concept of God is absent in Islam as love requires a relationship. Since Allah exists as one he lacks the inherent relationship needed to love. It is only in the trinity that God can be called love.11 Al-Ghazali notes that it is impossible that Allah should love mankind because ‘when there is love there must be a sense of incompleteness in the lover, a realisation that the beloved is needed for complete realisation of self.’ Al- Ghazali concludes that this is inconceivable with Allah, since Allah is perfectly complete in himself.12 The conclusion thus is that Allah and YHWH cannot be seen as the same God.

Trinity

In addition, when God’s nature of love is denied, one does no longer need the doctrine of the trinity. As stated, Islam sees God as an absolute unity (tawhid) and does not accept distinction within the Godhead. Islamic arguments against Christianity and problems for Muslims when they consider Christianity have centred on the doctrine of Trinity.13 Accepting the Christian view of God is an unpardonable sin in Islam. While Islam has a high view of Jesus, it denies his divinity or that He was the Son of God.14

Salvation

Another problem that arises is the corruption of salvation itself. This saving act of Jesus is crucial for Christianity. It is the doctrine that sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Jesus was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification (Romans 4.25). In Islam it is believed that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the day of judgement to determine one’s eternal fate.15 THowever, good deeds are still no guarantee that one will be saved as the Qur’an teaches that Allah predestines the fate of every soul (e.g. Surah 2:284)—it is Allah’s will when one goes astray, as he will lead astray whomever he pleases (e.g. Surah 14:4).

Dialogue

Theologically

The Qur’an contains little detail about what happened and, as shown, Muslim scholars are not in agreement about Jesus’ death. What they do agree on is the concept of Jesus as a very important prophet who plays a crucial role in the end-times.16 In dialogue one can challenge a Muslim to discover more about Jesus’ life and death—a prophet is worthy to be known. Many Muslims are willing to talk about faith—although it is better to avoid hot debates about the crucifixion on the first meetings. The Qur’an can be laid next to the Bible to demonstrate the unique position of Jesus: Word of and from God (Surah 3:39,45; 4:171; John 1:1-3,14); Spirit from God (Sura 4:171; 1 Corinthians 15:45); strengthened by the Holy Spirit (sura 2:87,253; 5:113) and He performed miracles (Surah 3:49; 5:113).

Contextualisation

The certainty of salvation is absent in Islam,making it hard for Muslims to rejoice over the future. Dialogue with non-Western Muslims can be fruitful when highlighting the shameful situation of being separated from God. Jesus took upon Himself the shame of humanity—like a father who takes the shame of his son’s misbehaviour. Non-Western Muslims will recognise this metaphor as many Islamic cultures are shame based.17 Furthermore, ChristianAnswers states that the factors that hold Muslims to their religion are usually about 10% theological and 90% cultural. In other words, even though a Muslim accepts Christ’s offer, the Muslim will find difficulties leaving Islam because of the risk of losing the safety of the community. Needless to say that this should be a serious consideration while witnessing to Muslims—one should be willing to guide a Muslim into a new community.18

In Retrospect

Looking at the results of the dismissal of the crucifixion one can indeed conclude that it is an irreducible fact that not only separates Christianity and Islam but also demonstrates that the two in their profound foundations cannot be united. What is more, while talking about Allah and YHWH, one needs to recognise that they are not the same.

To have effective conversations with Muslims, it is worthwhile to examine Islam. Christ’s death, for example, is not a straightforward issue in Islam. This can, together with a strong community to welcome possible converts, be a fruitful topic in dialogue—realising that (often) contextualisation is needed.

Footnotes

  1. Nasr, Islamic, 209-210.

  2. Parrinder, Jesus, 119-121.

  3. Cragg, Jesus, 170.

  4. Ali, English, 133-135.

  5. Ali, The Glorious, 201:2469.

  6. Kathir, ‘A Compilation,’ 1510.

  7. Yahya, ‘The Prophet,’ 87.

  8. Ali, History, 55-57.

  9. SearchTruth.

  10. Ali, The Glorious, 65:664-665; cf. Med, The Shadow, 483-484.

  11. Strandness, The Director’s, 238.

  12. Al-Ghazali, cited in: Rhodes, Reasoning, 102-103.

  13. Cf. Surah 4:171, 5:76.

  14. Cf. Surah 9:30, 10:68, 19:35, 43:81-83.

  15. Mission Islam, ‘Teaching.’

  16. Smith, Muslims, 26-27.

  17. Cf. Parshall, Muslim, 97, 89.

  18. ChristianAnswers, ‘Witnessing.’

Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

All qur’anic references are taken from The Holy Quran (Koran) – English Translation of the Meanings by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1938).

Ali, A. Y., The Glorious Qur’an: The Meaning of the Glorious Quran Text, Translation & Commentary by: Abdullah Yusuf Ali, [ebook] (23 February 2015, http://www.islamicbul letin.org/services/details.aspx?id=252).

Ali, M. M., English Translation of the Holy Qur’an – with Explanatory Words, (ed.) Z. Aziz, Wembley: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Lahore Publications, 2010.

Ali, M. M., History of the prophets: As Narrated in the Holy Qur’an Compared with the Bible, Columbus: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore, Inc., 1996.

Cragg, K., Jesus and the Muslim: An Exploration, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003.

ChristianAnswers, ‘Witnessing to Muslims,’ Christian Answers Network, website (08 March 2015, http://www.christiananswers.net/evangelism/beliefs/islam.html).

Kathir I. H., ‘A Compilation of the Abridged Tafsir Ibn Kathir Volumes 1-10,’ Islamic- Invitation.com [ebook] (17 February 2015, http://www.islamic-invitation.com/book_details.php?bID=1430&dn=1).

Med, C., The Shadows of the Sword: Islam, a Religion Specifically for Arabs, Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2014.

Mission Islam, ‘Teaching the Child Islamic Rules Regarding Puberty,’ website (09 February 2015, http://www.missionislam.com/family/puberty.htm).

Nasr, S. H., Islamic Life and Thought, New York: State University of New York Press, 1981.

Parrinder, G., Jesus in the Qur’an, London: Oneworld Publications, 2014.

Parshall, P., Muslim Evangelism: Contemporary Approach to Contextualization, Waynesboro: Gabriel Publishing, 2003.

Rhodes, R., Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims, Eugene: Harvast House Publishers, 2012.

SearchTruth, website (31 March 2015, http://www.searchtruth.com/searchHadith.php).

Smith, J. I., Muslims, Christians and the Challenge of Interfaith Dialogue, Oxford: University Press, 2007.

Strandness, E. L., The Director’s Cut: Finding God’s Screenplay on the Cutting Room Floor, Bloomington: WestBow Press, 2014.

Yahya, H. (A. Oktar), ‘The Prophet Jesus (pbuh) did not die,’ [ebook] (17 February 2015, http://www.harunyahya.com/en/Books/3294/The-Prophet-Jesus-%28pbuh%29-Did-Not-Die).

 

 

External link for more information on Islam:
Answering-Islam (readable in several languages)




Slavery and the Bible

“How Might the Old Testament’s Concern for Justice Impact Contemporary Slavery?”

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 2468

7th May 2015

Introduction

Slavery is not only a phenomenon of the past. It is estimated that 29.8 million people are forced to live in slavery around the world today. Modern slavery is present in almost every country. Wherever people are sold, traded, bought or tricked into a job, one can talk of ‘slavery’.1

Sometimes the claim is made that the Bible approves of slavery since rules governing slavery can be found in the both the Old and New Testament (OT and NT).2 Throughout this paper it will become apparent that this is not as straightforward as one might think. For this a closer look will be taken at the OT’s laws on slavery with a focus on justice.

One will see, while comparing modern ideas of slavery with the OT and other ancient near east (ANE) rules, that the OT view has been and can still be of great impact on slavery.

OT’s view

OT vs Contemporary view
There is no monolithic model of slavery in Scripture. The OT demonstrates different forms of relations of what might be called ‘slavery’. Many forms are no longer treated as such in contemporary understandings of the period and area. For example: When an Israelite could not pay back a loan the person could sell himself as a ‘slave’ to the creditor until the debt was settled (Leviticus 25:39-41). Today when a bankrupt party cannot meet its obligations, the party may voluntarily assign itself into bankruptcy by a creditor. The debtor’s property passes to the trustee in bankruptcy who, in turn, tries to satisfy the creditor. Clearly one would not call this ‘slavery’.

The OT Israelite was not permitted to abduct a person in order to sell him. This was punishable with death (Exodus 21:16). Furthermore, injuring or killing a slave or making the slave work on Sabbath, was punishable.3 This in stark contrast with for example 17th century slave-trade or contemporary exploitation.

Slave or Servant
The OT words ‘slave’ or ‘servant’ both come from ‘ebed’, and denotes persons in subordinate positions. Addressing Moses and prophets, the Israelites called themselves their servants (Num 32:25; 1 Sam 12:19). The same broad use of the word was also common among other ancient near east (ANE) societies. For example, a soldier of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II was considered to be the king’s ebed (2 Kings 24:10). Another example can be seen in the Athenian silver mines (5th century BC), where the management was in the hands of a ‘slave’.4

The ANE knew two important distinctions: between debt and chattel slaves, and between native and foreign slaves. The laws mediated first and foremost to protect the debt and the native slaves—these citizens were mostly victims of debts they could not pay or severe famine. The debt or native slaves were normally under a contractual arrangement.5

Voluntary Institution?
Westbrook argues that Deuteronomy’s (23:15-16) prohibition to return an escaped slave to the owner was meant to be a cop-out for slaves who were not treated correctly.6 Craigie notes, deduced from the wording of verse 16, that this law only applies to slaves who fled to Israel from foreign countries.7 However, verse 16 does not say ‘the slave who fled from a foreign country’. Westbrook states that there was no real involuntary slavery in Israel. In other words, slavery was advantageous to the poor, and they could leave if they were not treated well. However, one cannot presume this required to shelter those who had wronged their masters, or left their duty without reason.8 This rule urged the masters to treat their slaves well, with Israel’s enslavement in Egypt in mind.9

Other ANE Societies

Comparing Israel’s law with other ANE rules reveals three differences. Israel had laws against injury and abduction. Third there was the prohibition to return runaway slaves.

Injury Hammurabi’s code allowed disciplining the slave by cutting of an ear.110 In contrast, Mosaic law treated these sanctions as an offence and consequently demanded the release of the victimised slave (Exodus 21:26-27). Moreover, if a slave died as a result of being disciplined by the master, the master was to be punished (Exodus 21:20). ANE practise was to financially compensate the master (not the slave) for any injuries inflicted to the slave.11 By contrast, the Mosaic law held masters legally accountable for the way they treated their own slaves and others.

Abduction
Hammurabi’s code had a law against abductions but it did not include slavery.12 In case of kidnapping a free Hittite, the Hittite law demanded that the abductor and his household had to become slaves of the victim’s family.13 The Hittite punishment is harsh, but less severe than that required in the Pentateuch. For stealing a human being for capital gain, the abductor had to be put to death (Exodus 21:16, cf. Deuteronomy 24:7).

Returning Runaways
ANE laws forbade harbouring runaway slaves, and international treaties required nations to hand them over. 14 Hammurabi’s code demanded the death penalty for those helping runaway slaves.15 The Hittite law only required a penalty. The slave however, was still to be returned to the master.16 Deuteronomic law does not apply to these treaties and offers a permanent asylum (Deuteronomy 23:15-16). Additionally, reading the preceding verses, ‘that he see no unclean thing in thee’ (verse 14), it looks like ‘unclean’ includes hindering fled slaves from becoming part of Israel’s society.17 With this, Israel stood apart from other societies.

Abolishing or Transforming.
Compassion for justice can be seen in the comparison above. OT rules did not abolish slavery, rather they gave directions that transformed the concept of slavery. This transformation continued in the NT (e.g. Galatians 3:28)—it did not tear down the concept of slavery but rather worked subversive like yeast: slowly but surely.18 According to Dandamayev, the OT gives the first demands in world literature to treat slaves as human beings for their own good and not just for the good of their master.19

Justice and Righteousness

Neglecting the Poor
The OT has much more to say about justice. An important rule can be found in Leviticus 19:18 ‘…thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…’ (cf. Leviticus 19:34). However, Israel neglected this rule. The prophet Amos charged Israel with major crimes: the sale into debt slavery of the innocent and poor; the oppression of the poor; the misuse of unfortunate women; and the extortion of debtors. One can see the resemblance with contemporary slavery, which includes debt bondage, the sale or exploitation of children and human trafficking. Many are victims for insignificant reasons— because the rich value money over people (cf. Amos 2:6).

Restoration
Contemporary Western societies have rules to help people with debts and those who cannot manage on their own. There are also rules for schooling, healthcare and personal development. When these rules are not in place some regard this as unjust and unrighteous and long for judgement.20 However, Amos did not use the term ‘justice’ to express judgement. In the OT, ‘justice’ communicates to the solution and not to the problem. Justice has to do with life, not judgement. Amos’ disciplinary words have a conclusion in 9:11-15. Some suggest that these verses are added later because Amos’ task was not to ensure people of a hopeful future.21 Yet, it is more reasonable to state that Amos understood the OT purpose of justice: restoration not punishment. Amos’ message thus states: ‘do justice and live—do injustice and face judgement.’

Productive
Only demanding judgement is not productive and therefore the OT laws also demand practical care for the poor.22 Timothy was warned with the words: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10). Looking at the OT one can see the writer’s concern. Justice would mean to change systems from within. To be just is to look at the heart of the problem and to endeavour change—this starts with looking after the needy instead of spending all time (and money) in chasing the guilty. Only when people venture to share their riches with the poor one will see change. People who are taken care of are less vulnerable for exploitation.23

Impact

Mercifulness
Comparing the asylum offered to runaway slaves in Deuteronomy (23:15-16), one can see the contrast with contemporary inhospitable asylum laws which are used to reduce the number of asylum seekers.24 Many asylum-seekers gave everything (often to ruthless gangs) to come to Western countries, only to hear that they have to leave again. Some disappear in the illegality, often to be abused by hustlers or dealers. Research has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the contemporary Western asylum laws. Initially fewer people tried to come into Western countries which triggered gangs to ask lower prices for their ‘smuggle’ services—consequently more people are temped to try their luck.25 Micah 6:8 states that it is God’s will ‘to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.’ Human-trafficking can only be solved by actively following and helping newcomers—not doing so can be considered as merciless and unjust as many will disappear in illegality and are therefore excluded from state protection.26 The OT law said that the newcomers could live among the Israelites in one of their gates—not somewhere hidden away, but in the middle of society.

Disguised Enslavement
MacDonald argues that Free-trade, as advocated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), makes it very hard for poor countries to compete with subsidy-supported goods from the West. This creates a situation in which people are forced to work and live under degrading situations. Forcing third world farmers to grow their crops against unsustainable prices is akin towards enslavement. The farmers are forced to work with the entire family and often have to rely on a creditor, while Western farmers can live comfortably on their subsidies.27 The OT laws entail an equality between people. To live out justice means that the West should treat third world countries as equals. Some economists argue that equality is secured as developing countries are free to compete.28 This argument only goes when countries have enough financial resources to compete. OT laws display a mutual interest for both the master and the slave. One way to establish this is to implement Fair- trade certificates on products. This way workers can sustain their families, and children are no longer forced to work alongside their parents.29

Jubilee
A Hebrew slave was to be set free in the seventh year, without paying anything (Exodus 21:2, Deuteronomy 15:12). Many third-world countries are in high financial debt to Western countries. The human costs of this debt burden are immense—an estimation in 1997 states that if these countries were relieved of their annual repayments the countries could make investments ‘that in Africa alone would save the lives of about 21 million children by 2000 and provide 90 million girls and woman with access to basic education.’30 The OT commands Israelites to avoid poverty by lending freely to the poor and not charging them interest.31 Poverty and international debt are both ingredients for high percentages of slavery.32 The principle of the seventh year can be used to help these countries in their ongoing battle against poverty. A step further can be found in Leviticus 25:8- 10. This passage was the philosophy behind the campaign ‘Jubilee 2000’. One cannot expect that this will end slavery at once but at least it will give the countries in debt a chance to invest in more sustainable frameworks.33

Justice
The Hebrew word ‘tsĕdaqah‘ can be translated with the words ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’. Justice includes accountability, transformation, and restoration—as well as bringing perpetrators to trial. The longing to see this justice in action helped to abolish slavery in the 17 th – 19th centuries.34 It is this same longing that can greatly impact contemporary slavery.35

Slavery mostly comes forth out of poverty and/or bad regulations. Implementing the OT ideas will help to prevent situations in which people are forced or lured into slavery. When Jesus cited the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4:17-20, it was not just lip-service—His whole life testified of this mission. Being a follower of Christ means to take Him as an example by trying ‘to deliver those who are crushed’ by working deeds of justice and righteousness.

Conclusion

Comparing the OT view with the severe exploitation of 17th ctentury or contemporary slavery is invalid. A slave in the OT was to be treated fair and just. Israel is constantly reminded of her own history of slavery and therefore urged to treat slaves justly. Furthermore, evidence points out that slavery in Israel, in contrast to other ANE laws, was based on a voluntary institution—beneficial for both the masters and slaves.

Equality, mercy and justice are terms that apply both to slaves and masters. These terms do not only apply to Israelites, but also to foreign slaves which is unique and demonstrates a transforming attitude. Unlike other ANE laws, the Mosaic slavery laws worked subversive and ultimately transformed the whole concept.

Justice in the OT seeks to restore. Living justly means to look for solutions and to seek restoration of that what is damaged. The golden rule to love our neighbours as ourselves is important in this. Knowing this by heart can greatly impact contemporary slavery issues.

This impact starts with individuals who are willing to pay more for their groceries by buying goods with quality-marks. Furthermore, subsidising in order to out-compete farmers from other countries contributes to even more inequality and contributes to a system where people are forced to work under disgraceful situations. People should stand up against unjust government policies concerning e.g. foreigners seeking asylum. Justice also means that the West must stop asking third world countries to pay high interests over their debts—even better, the West could embrace the philosophy of jubilee.

Amos’ message was clear: none can justly prosper at the expense of others, or even in the light of the poverty and need of others.

Footnotes

  1. Walk Free Foundation.

  2. E.g. Jacobs, Why, 27-36.

  3. Exodus 21:20, 26-27; 23:12, Leviticus 19:20.

  4. Reynolds, ‘Slavery,’ 795-796.

  5. Westbrook, et al., A History, 42.

  6. Ibid, 1007.

  7. Craigie, The New, 300-301.

  8. Jenks, The Comprehensive, 615.

  9. E.g.: Deuteronomy 5:6; 6:12, 21; 7:8; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18-19.

  10. Hammurabi, ‘Code,’ 282.

  11. E.g. Ibid., 199,252.

  12. Ibid., 14.

  13. USC, ‘Hittite,’ 19. Cf. Block, Israel, 144-145.

  14. Tigay, The JPS, 215.

  15. Hammurabi, ‘Code,’ 16.

  16. USC, ‘Hittite,’ 22-24.

  17. Thompson, Deuteronomy, 172-173.

  18. Maggay, ‘Justice,’ 129-130.

  19. Dandamayev, ‘Slavery,’ 65.

  20. E.g.: Civil Rights Movement by African Americans (mid-1950s to late 1960s).

  21. E.g.: Simundson, Abingdon, 238-239.

  22. E.g.: Deuteronomy 10:19; 14:28-29.

  23. Cf. Jones, Understanding, 131-133.

  24. Gibney, The Ethics, 107.

  25. Monheim, Human, 17-18.

  26. Ibid.

  27. MacDonald, Third, 74-76; cf. WTO, Understanding.

  28. E.g.: Ward, The Free-Trade.

  29. Provided that governments develop better control mechanisms; cf. Reed, ‘What,’ 3-26.

  30. United Nations Development Programme, Human, 93.

  31. Deuteronomy 15:4,7-8; Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36-37.

  32. Bales, Ending, 243-246.

  33. MacDonald, Third, 71-73.

  34. Cochran and Willard, ‘The Kingdom,’ 164-165.

  35. Ibid.

Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

Bales, K., Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, Berkley: University of California Press, 2007.

Block, D. I., Israel: Ancient Kingdom Or Late Invention?, Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2008.

Cochran, R. F. and Willard, D., ‘The Kingdom of God, Law, and the Heart,’ in R. F. Cochran and D. VanDrunen (eds.)Law and the Bible: Justice, Mercy and Legal Institutions, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.

Craigie, P. C., The New International Commentary on the Old testament: The Book of Deuteronomy, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1976.

Dandamayev, M. A., ‘Slavery (Old Testament),’ in D. N. Freedman (ed.), Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Gibney, M. J., The Ethics and Politics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response to Refugees, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Hammurabi, ‘Code of Laws,’ Internet Sacred Text Archive (trans.) L.W. King, website (10 June 2014, http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham.htm).

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press, website (23 July 2014, http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development- report-1997).

Jacobs, A., Why the Bible Cannot Be the Word of God, Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2011.

Jenks, W., The Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible, Boston: Fessenden and Co., 1835.

Jones, A. D., Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives from the Caribbean, New York: Palgrave Macmillam, 2013.

MacDonald, H. T., Third World Health: Hostage to First World Health, Abingdon: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, 2005.

Maggay, P. M., ‘Justice and Approaches to Social Change,’ in M. Hoek and J. Thacker (eds.), Mica’s Challenge: The Church’s Responsibility to the Global Poor, Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2008.

Monheim, J., Human Trafficking and the Effectiveness of Asylum Policies, website (21 July 2014, http://fdef.uni.lu/index.php/fdef_FR/economie/crea/discussion_papers/2008).

Reed, D., ‘What do Corporations have to do with Fair Trade? Positive and normative analysis from a value chain perspective,’ Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 86:3 (2009) 3-26.

Reynolds, B. W., ‘Slavery,’ in D. J. Atkinson and D. H. Field (eds.), The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Simundson, D. J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Tigay, J., The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996.

Thompson, D. A., Deuteronomy: A Theological Commentary on the Bible, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.

USC, ‘Hittite Laws,’ University of South California, website (12 June 2014, http://www.usc.edu/ dept/LAS/wsrp/information/REL499_2011/Hittite%20Laws.pdf).

Ward, H., The Free-trade Debate – Developmental Catch Up or Heightened Dependency, Nottingham Economic Review, website (22 July 2014, http://neronline.co.uk/2014/03/14/the-free-trade-debate-developmental-catch-up-or-heightened-dependency/).

Walk Free Foundation, The Global Slavery Index 2013, Walk Free Foundation, website (13 June 2014, http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/).

Westbrook, R., et al., A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, vol. 1, Leiden: Brill, 2003.

WTO, Understanding the WTO, Geneva: World Trade Organization Information and Media Division, website (22 July 2014, http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/understanding_e.pdf).




Significance of Jesus’ Healings and Exorcisms

“How Might the Old Testament’s Concern for Justice Impact Contemporary Slavery?”

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 2468

7th May 2015

Introduction

Slavery is not only a phenomenon of the past. It is estimated that 29.8 million people are forced to live in slavery around the world today. Modern slavery is present in almost every country. Wherever people are sold, traded, bought or tricked into a job, one can talk of ‘slavery’.1

Sometimes the claim is made that the Bible approves of slavery since rules governing slavery can be found in the both the Old and New Testament (OT and NT).2 Throughout this paper it will become apparent that this is not as straightforward as one might think. For this a closer look will be taken at the OT’s laws on slavery with a focus on justice.

One will see, while comparing modern ideas of slavery with the OT and other ancient near east (ANE) rules, that the OT view has been and can still be of great impact on slavery.

OT’s view

OT vs Contemporary view
There is no monolithic model of slavery in Scripture. The OT demonstrates different forms of relations of what might be called ‘slavery’. Many forms are no longer treated as such in contemporary understandings of the period and area. For example: When an Israelite could not pay back a loan the person could sell himself as a ‘slave’ to the creditor until the debt was settled (Leviticus 25:39-41). Today when a bankrupt party cannot meet its obligations, the party may voluntarily assign itself into bankruptcy by a creditor. The debtor’s property passes to the trustee in bankruptcy who, in turn, tries to satisfy the creditor. Clearly one would not call this ‘slavery’.

The OT Israelite was not permitted to abduct a person in order to sell him. This was punishable with death (Exodus 21:16). Furthermore, injuring or killing a slave or making the slave work on Sabbath, was punishable.3 This in stark contrast with for example 17th century slave-trade or contemporary exploitation.

Slave or Servant
The OT words ‘slave’ or ‘servant’ both come from ‘ebed’, and denotes persons in subordinate positions. Addressing Moses and prophets, the Israelites called themselves their servants (Num 32:25; 1 Sam 12:19). The same broad use of the word was also common among other ancient near east (ANE) societies. For example, a soldier of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II was considered to be the king’s ebed (2 Kings 24:10). Another example can be seen in the Athenian silver mines (5th century BC), where the management was in the hands of a ‘slave’.4

The ANE knew two important distinctions: between debt and chattel slaves, and between native and foreign slaves. The laws mediated first and foremost to protect the debt and the native slaves—these citizens were mostly victims of debts they could not pay or severe famine. The debt or native slaves were normally under a contractual arrangement.5

Voluntary Institution?
Westbrook argues that Deuteronomy’s (23:15-16) prohibition to return an escaped slave to the owner was meant to be a cop-out for slaves who were not treated correctly.6 Craigie notes, deduced from the wording of verse 16, that this law only applies to slaves who fled to Israel from foreign countries.7 However, verse 16 does not say ‘the slave who fled from a foreign country’. Westbrook states that there was no real involuntary slavery in Israel. In other words, slavery was advantageous to the poor, and they could leave if they were not treated well. However, one cannot presume this required to shelter those who had wronged their masters, or left their duty without reason.8 This rule urged the masters to treat their slaves well, with Israel’s enslavement in Egypt in mind.9

Other ANE Societies

Comparing Israel’s law with other ANE rules reveals three differences. Israel had laws against injury and abduction. Third there was the prohibition to return runaway slaves.

Injury Hammurabi’s code allowed disciplining the slave by cutting of an ear.110 In contrast, Mosaic law treated these sanctions as an offence and consequently demanded the release of the victimised slave (Exodus 21:26-27). Moreover, if a slave died as a result of being disciplined by the master, the master was to be punished (Exodus 21:20). ANE practise was to financially compensate the master (not the slave) for any injuries inflicted to the slave.11 By contrast, the Mosaic law held masters legally accountable for the way they treated their own slaves and others.

Abduction
Hammurabi’s code had a law against abductions but it did not include slavery.12 In case of kidnapping a free Hittite, the Hittite law demanded that the abductor and his household had to become slaves of the victim’s family.13 The Hittite punishment is harsh, but less severe than that required in the Pentateuch. For stealing a human being for capital gain, the abductor had to be put to death (Exodus 21:16, cf. Deuteronomy 24:7).

Returning Runaways
ANE laws forbade harbouring runaway slaves, and international treaties required nations to hand them over. 14 Hammurabi’s code demanded the death penalty for those helping runaway slaves.15 The Hittite law only required a penalty. The slave however, was still to be returned to the master.16 Deuteronomic law does not apply to these treaties and offers a permanent asylum (Deuteronomy 23:15-16). Additionally, reading the preceding verses, ‘that he see no unclean thing in thee’ (verse 14), it looks like ‘unclean’ includes hindering fled slaves from becoming part of Israel’s society.17 With this, Israel stood apart from other societies.

Abolishing or Transforming.
Compassion for justice can be seen in the comparison above. OT rules did not abolish slavery, rather they gave directions that transformed the concept of slavery. This transformation continued in the NT (e.g. Galatians 3:28)—it did not tear down the concept of slavery but rather worked subversive like yeast: slowly but surely.18 According to Dandamayev, the OT gives the first demands in world literature to treat slaves as human beings for their own good and not just for the good of their master.19

Justice and Righteousness

Neglecting the Poor
The OT has much more to say about justice. An important rule can be found in Leviticus 19:18 ‘…thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…’ (cf. Leviticus 19:34). However, Israel neglected this rule. The prophet Amos charged Israel with major crimes: the sale into debt slavery of the innocent and poor; the oppression of the poor; the misuse of unfortunate women; and the extortion of debtors. One can see the resemblance with contemporary slavery, which includes debt bondage, the sale or exploitation of children and human trafficking. Many are victims for insignificant reasons— because the rich value money over people (cf. Amos 2:6).

Restoration
Contemporary Western societies have rules to help people with debts and those who cannot manage on their own. There are also rules for schooling, healthcare and personal development. When these rules are not in place some regard this as unjust and unrighteous and long for judgement.20 However, Amos did not use the term ‘justice’ to express judgement. In the OT, ‘justice’ communicates to the solution and not to the problem. Justice has to do with life, not judgement. Amos’ disciplinary words have a conclusion in 9:11-15. Some suggest that these verses are added later because Amos’ task was not to ensure people of a hopeful future.21 Yet, it is more reasonable to state that Amos understood the OT purpose of justice: restoration not punishment. Amos’ message thus states: ‘do justice and live—do injustice and face judgement.’

Productive
Only demanding judgement is not productive and therefore the OT laws also demand practical care for the poor.22 Timothy was warned with the words: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10). Looking at the OT one can see the writer’s concern. Justice would mean to change systems from within. To be just is to look at the heart of the problem and to endeavour change—this starts with looking after the needy instead of spending all time (and money) in chasing the guilty. Only when people venture to share their riches with the poor one will see change. People who are taken care of are less vulnerable for exploitation.23

Impact

Mercifulness
Comparing the asylum offered to runaway slaves in Deuteronomy (23:15-16), one can see the contrast with contemporary inhospitable asylum laws which are used to reduce the number of asylum seekers.24 Many asylum-seekers gave everything (often to ruthless gangs) to come to Western countries, only to hear that they have to leave again. Some disappear in the illegality, often to be abused by hustlers or dealers. Research has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the contemporary Western asylum laws. Initially fewer people tried to come into Western countries which triggered gangs to ask lower prices for their ‘smuggle’ services—consequently more people are temped to try their luck.25 Micah 6:8 states that it is God’s will ‘to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.’ Human-trafficking can only be solved by actively following and helping newcomers—not doing so can be considered as merciless and unjust as many will disappear in illegality and are therefore excluded from state protection.26 The OT law said that the newcomers could live among the Israelites in one of their gates—not somewhere hidden away, but in the middle of society.

Disguised Enslavement
MacDonald argues that Free-trade, as advocated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), makes it very hard for poor countries to compete with subsidy-supported goods from the West. This creates a situation in which people are forced to work and live under degrading situations. Forcing third world farmers to grow their crops against unsustainable prices is akin towards enslavement. The farmers are forced to work with the entire family and often have to rely on a creditor, while Western farmers can live comfortably on their subsidies.27 The OT laws entail an equality between people. To live out justice means that the West should treat third world countries as equals. Some economists argue that equality is secured as developing countries are free to compete.28 This argument only goes when countries have enough financial resources to compete. OT laws display a mutual interest for both the master and the slave. One way to establish this is to implement Fair- trade certificates on products. This way workers can sustain their families, and children are no longer forced to work alongside their parents.29

Jubilee
A Hebrew slave was to be set free in the seventh year, without paying anything (Exodus 21:2, Deuteronomy 15:12). Many third-world countries are in high financial debt to Western countries. The human costs of this debt burden are immense—an estimation in 1997 states that if these countries were relieved of their annual repayments the countries could make investments ‘that in Africa alone would save the lives of about 21 million children by 2000 and provide 90 million girls and woman with access to basic education.’30 The OT commands Israelites to avoid poverty by lending freely to the poor and not charging them interest.31 Poverty and international debt are both ingredients for high percentages of slavery.32 The principle of the seventh year can be used to help these countries in their ongoing battle against poverty. A step further can be found in Leviticus 25:8- 10. This passage was the philosophy behind the campaign ‘Jubilee 2000’. One cannot expect that this will end slavery at once but at least it will give the countries in debt a chance to invest in more sustainable frameworks.33

Justice
The Hebrew word ‘tsĕdaqah‘ can be translated with the words ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’. Justice includes accountability, transformation, and restoration—as well as bringing perpetrators to trial. The longing to see this justice in action helped to abolish slavery in the 17 th – 19th centuries.34 It is this same longing that can greatly impact contemporary slavery.35

Slavery mostly comes forth out of poverty and/or bad regulations. Implementing the OT ideas will help to prevent situations in which people are forced or lured into slavery. When Jesus cited the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4:17-20, it was not just lip-service—His whole life testified of this mission. Being a follower of Christ means to take Him as an example by trying ‘to deliver those who are crushed’ by working deeds of justice and righteousness.

Conclusion

Comparing the OT view with the severe exploitation of 17th ctentury or contemporary slavery is invalid. A slave in the OT was to be treated fair and just. Israel is constantly reminded of her own history of slavery and therefore urged to treat slaves justly. Furthermore, evidence points out that slavery in Israel, in contrast to other ANE laws, was based on a voluntary institution—beneficial for both the masters and slaves.

Equality, mercy and justice are terms that apply both to slaves and masters. These terms do not only apply to Israelites, but also to foreign slaves which is unique and demonstrates a transforming attitude. Unlike other ANE laws, the Mosaic slavery laws worked subversive and ultimately transformed the whole concept.

Justice in the OT seeks to restore. Living justly means to look for solutions and to seek restoration of that what is damaged. The golden rule to love our neighbours as ourselves is important in this. Knowing this by heart can greatly impact contemporary slavery issues.

This impact starts with individuals who are willing to pay more for their groceries by buying goods with quality-marks. Furthermore, subsidising in order to out-compete farmers from other countries contributes to even more inequality and contributes to a system where people are forced to work under disgraceful situations. People should stand up against unjust government policies concerning e.g. foreigners seeking asylum. Justice also means that the West must stop asking third world countries to pay high interests over their debts—even better, the West could embrace the philosophy of jubilee.

Amos’ message was clear: none can justly prosper at the expense of others, or even in the light of the poverty and need of others.

Footnotes

  1. Walk Free Foundation.

  2. E.g. Jacobs, Why, 27-36.

  3. Exodus 21:20, 26-27; 23:12, Leviticus 19:20.

  4. Reynolds, ‘Slavery,’ 795-796.

  5. Westbrook, et al., A History, 42.

  6. Ibid, 1007.

  7. Craigie, The New, 300-301.

  8. Jenks, The Comprehensive, 615.

  9. E.g.: Deuteronomy 5:6; 6:12, 21; 7:8; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18-19.

  10. Hammurabi, ‘Code,’ 282.

  11. E.g. Ibid., 199,252.

  12. Ibid., 14.

  13. USC, ‘Hittite,’ 19. Cf. Block, Israel, 144-145.

  14. Tigay, The JPS, 215.

  15. Hammurabi, ‘Code,’ 16.

  16. USC, ‘Hittite,’ 22-24.

  17. Thompson, Deuteronomy, 172-173.

  18. Maggay, ‘Justice,’ 129-130.

  19. Dandamayev, ‘Slavery,’ 65.

  20. E.g.: Civil Rights Movement by African Americans (mid-1950s to late 1960s).

  21. E.g.: Simundson, Abingdon, 238-239.

  22. E.g.: Deuteronomy 10:19; 14:28-29.

  23. Cf. Jones, Understanding, 131-133.

  24. Gibney, The Ethics, 107.

  25. Monheim, Human, 17-18.

  26. Ibid.

  27. MacDonald, Third, 74-76; cf. WTO, Understanding.

  28. E.g.: Ward, The Free-Trade.

  29. Provided that governments develop better control mechanisms; cf. Reed, ‘What,’ 3-26.

  30. United Nations Development Programme, Human, 93.

  31. Deuteronomy 15:4,7-8; Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36-37.

  32. Bales, Ending, 243-246.

  33. MacDonald, Third, 71-73.

  34. Cochran and Willard, ‘The Kingdom,’ 164-165.

  35. Ibid.

Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

Bales, K., Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, Berkley: University of California Press, 2007.

Block, D. I., Israel: Ancient Kingdom Or Late Invention?, Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2008.

Cochran, R. F. and Willard, D., ‘The Kingdom of God, Law, and the Heart,’ in R. F. Cochran and D. VanDrunen (eds.)Law and the Bible: Justice, Mercy and Legal Institutions, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013.

Craigie, P. C., The New International Commentary on the Old testament: The Book of Deuteronomy, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1976.

Dandamayev, M. A., ‘Slavery (Old Testament),’ in D. N. Freedman (ed.), Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Gibney, M. J., The Ethics and Politics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response to Refugees, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Hammurabi, ‘Code of Laws,’ Internet Sacred Text Archive (trans.) L.W. King, website (10 June 2014, http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/ham/ham.htm).

United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1997, Oxford: Oxford University Press, website (23 July 2014, http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development- report-1997).

Jacobs, A., Why the Bible Cannot Be the Word of God, Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2011.

Jenks, W., The Comprehensive Commentary on the Holy Bible, Boston: Fessenden and Co., 1835.

Jones, A. D., Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives from the Caribbean, New York: Palgrave Macmillam, 2013.

MacDonald, H. T., Third World Health: Hostage to First World Health, Abingdon: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, 2005.

Maggay, P. M., ‘Justice and Approaches to Social Change,’ in M. Hoek and J. Thacker (eds.), Mica’s Challenge: The Church’s Responsibility to the Global Poor, Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2008.

Monheim, J., Human Trafficking and the Effectiveness of Asylum Policies, website (21 July 2014, http://fdef.uni.lu/index.php/fdef_FR/economie/crea/discussion_papers/2008).

Reed, D., ‘What do Corporations have to do with Fair Trade? Positive and normative analysis from a value chain perspective,’ Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 86:3 (2009) 3-26.

Reynolds, B. W., ‘Slavery,’ in D. J. Atkinson and D. H. Field (eds.), The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Simundson, D. J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.

Tigay, J., The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996.

Thompson, D. A., Deuteronomy: A Theological Commentary on the Bible, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014.

USC, ‘Hittite Laws,’ University of South California, website (12 June 2014, http://www.usc.edu/ dept/LAS/wsrp/information/REL499_2011/Hittite%20Laws.pdf).

Ward, H., The Free-trade Debate – Developmental Catch Up or Heightened Dependency, Nottingham Economic Review, website (22 July 2014, http://neronline.co.uk/2014/03/14/the-free-trade-debate-developmental-catch-up-or-heightened-dependency/).

Walk Free Foundation, The Global Slavery Index 2013, Walk Free Foundation, website (13 June 2014, http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/).

Westbrook, R., et al., A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, vol. 1, Leiden: Brill, 2003.

WTO, Understanding the WTO, Geneva: World Trade Organization Information and Media Division, website (22 July 2014, http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/understanding_e.pdf).




Image of the Invisible God

“Christ is the Image of the Invisible God”

Jurgen Hofmann

Total word-count: 1242

5th May 2014

Introduction

Humans are created in God’s image but Christ is the image of God. How do we approach this aspect of Christ? Can it be that it explains what human nature is supposed to be, or does the New Testament’s view on Christ entail a more radical transformation if it comes to the overall salvation story? This paper will indeed answer the latter positively. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that the history of humankind evolves around Christ, making this a valuable contribution to contemporary theological discussions.

The Word ‘Image’

Paul used this phrase for Jesus several times in his writings.1 He used the Greek word ‘eikõn’ (image) which, in New Testament Greek, has to do with a replica, a precise copy, a representation.2 The word eikõn appears several times throughout the New Testament. However, whenever humans are mentioned as the eikõn of God, it is in the sense of creation in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Conversely, Paul depicts Jesus as the image of God. Thus, Jesus is the replica of the Father, He is the ‘perfect reflection of the prototype.’3

New Testament’s Theology

Answering False Teaching
Paul’s writing (Colossians 1:15-20) to the Christians in the city Colossae was not without reason. This city was being inundated by false teachings. There are several theories about the identity of these false teachers. Several theories entail gnosticism: Gnostics saw the spirit as good and matter as evil.4 The implications thereof would have been that God could not create and He could not become a man, as that would mean that a good God created evil and by becoming a man He would dwell in an evil space (the body). If Jesus was a lesser being than God He would not be perfect and thus not able to carry the full guilt of humankind. Thus to depict Jesus as the image of the Creator, Paul reassured the Colossians that they had the perfect redeemer. In addition, writing about Christ as image of God, he is not portraying Him as the second or last man, like he did when he named Him the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49), but as ‘the firstborn of every creature’ (Colossians 1:15b) in Divine glory (Phillipians 2:6).5

Christocentric understanding
The Old Testament idea of humankind as created in the image of God seems to be replaced with the thought of Christ as being the image of God. It is primarily Paul who develops the New Testament Christocentric understanding of the image of God. He drew these conclusions from the Old Testament texts and his conviction that God’s plan from the beginning found its fulfilment in Christ. Psalm 8:5 (cf. Genesis 1:28-30) states that God ‘hast crowned’ man ‘with glory and honour.’ Paul compares and contrasts Jesus’ work of salvation to Adam’s work of rebellion.6 Satan could mislead the first Adam but was unsuccessful with the second Adam (Matthew 4:1-11).

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul, just like in Colossians 1:15, is focusing on Christ’s glory as the image of God (v.4). The glory of God radiates on the face of Jesus (v.6). Paul intentionally alludes to the creation of humankind in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). The texts have a narrative focus, which can be seen in the implied allusion to the creation of humans in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), and can now be understood through the lens of Christ as the Second Adam. However, some state that eikõn in 2 Corinthians 4:4 needs to be explained from the idea of the wisdom (Sophia) in later Judaism. Colossians 1:15 would then be a combination of wisdom and the gnostic idea of primal man. In other words, in these verses one is talking about a gnostic man, who had the name ‘image of God’ but was not yet connected with Genesis 1:27.7 Nevertheless, 2 Corinthians 4:6 clearly points to Genesis 1:3. Furthermore, Colossians 1:15-20 narrates the creation account with the ‘image of God’ implanted in Genesis 1:27, Christ as the Beginning, the First-born, and the Ruler of everything. Knowing this, it is hard to deny the link with Genesis, and one can see the Christological interpretation of Genesis 1.

The transformation can also be seen in the New Testament writings where this glory and honour is centralised in one man, which is Jesus. Hebrews 2:6-9 highlights Psalm 8, but instead of attributing the image of God to humankind, the writer places the whole idea on Christ—making Him the ultimate representative of all humanity. Additionally, Hebrews classifies the Son of God with the Son of man. In this sense God had put all things under Christ’s feet (Psalm 8:6). Hebrews 1:1–3 considers Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s image for He is the Son through whom God spoke, heir of all things (cf. Psalm 2:8), by whom God ‘made the worlds.’8 The climax of this fulfilment is when he ‘had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’.

Contemporary Discussions

The idea of Jesus as the representative of humankind, who was created in the image of God, is not a widely discussed theme in evangelical theology. Some scholars use the term ‘image of God’ more in the anthropological concept rooted in original creation.9 Likewise, the concept of Jesus, as the image of God, is viewed as example of what human nature proposed to be.10 Nevertheless, the view of man, as being in the image of God, seems to fade away compared to the revelation of God in Christ, making Him the ultimate image of God.11 In other words, Jesus was both the perfect reflection of God and by His works of salvation the perfect human in God’s image. Just like David, who was the representative of Israel in his fight with Goliath, Jesus is the representative of God’s

Post-modernity
By explaining human nature wholly on the creation account with Christ as the ultimate example, one is in danger of using the first Adam as criterion for the second. This presumes Jesus’ relation with Genesis as arbitrated through the story of the fall, which would result in a humanised creation doctrine. As explained, however, it is Christ who is Master over creation and in Him humankind will ultimately find its calling as the image of God. In post-modern theology, it is important to communicate a clear Christological doctrine on the image of God. Without, one is in danger of narrating a Liberator of mainly worldly aspects,12 and consequently loosing sight of Christ’s ultimate goal: to be the image of God and to inaugurate a new humanity of those who are transformed to that image, and finally restoring the human vocation from the beginning.

Conclusion

A merely anthropological approach of Christ as the image of God, cannot fully justify the New Testament’s concept. This anthropocentric approach undermines Christ’s real vocation—the ultimate Saviour of humankind—changing Him into a Saviour of worldly conflicts instead.

Because of the New Testament’s transformation of this view one can state: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15.

  2. Strong, The exhaustive, 1621.

  3. Porteous, ‘Image,’ 684.

  4. Puskas, The Letters, 120-123.

  5. Ridderbos, Paul, 84-85.

  6. Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

  7. Sanders, The New Testament, 75-87.

  8. Buchanan, To the Hebrews, 28. Cf. Ephesians 1:22, 1 Peter 3:22.

  9. Erickson, Christian, 513; Grudem, Systematic, 444.

  10. Erickson, Christian, 514.

  11. Porteous, ‘Image,’ 684.

  12. Inbody, The Faith, 214.

Bibliography

All biblical references are taken from The Holy Bible: King James Version (1611).

Buchanan, G. W., To the Hebrews, 2nd ed., New York: Doubleday, 1972.

Erickson, M. J., Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.

Grudem, W., Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Inbody, T., The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

Porteous, N. W., ‘Image,’ in G. A. Buttrick (ed.), The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: An Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Vol. II, New York: Abingdon Press, 1962.

Puskas, C. B., The Letters of Paul: An Introduction, Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1993.

Ridderbos, H. N., Paul: An Outline of His Theology, (trans.) J. R. de Witt, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975.

Sanders, J. T., The New Testament Christological Hymns: Their Historical Religious Background, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Strong, J., The exhaustive concordance of the Bible, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 2007.




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