The Bible for the Curious - A Brief Encounter - Philip R. Davies†

The Bible for the Curious - A Brief Encounter - Philip R. Davies†

12. Law, Wisdom and Prayer

The Bible for the Curious - A Brief Encounter - Philip R. Davies†

Philip R. Davies† [+-]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
Philip R. Davies, who died in 2018, was Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. Educated at Oxford and St Andrews, Scotland, he edited, authored or co-authored 37 books on the Dead Sea Scrolls and various aspects of interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, including In Search of Ancient Israel (1992), Whose Bible Is It Anyway? (1995), Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures (1998), The Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls (2002) and Memories of Ancient Israel: An Introduction to Biblical History (2008). He was co-founder of Sheffield Academic Press and former President of the British Society for Old Testament Study and European Association of Biblical Studies.


The Bible’s moral teaching is actually not very remarkable. For the most part, it is typical of the values of the age in which the writers lived. It does not advocate democracy, freedom of speech or equality, whether sexual, racial, or religious. Women are subordinate, unbelievers are evil, slavery is acceptable. Its god is gracious to believers and vengeful to unbelievers, demanding obedience and even love. Like all gods, he expects sacrifice. The Bible is, with a very occasional lapse, monotheistic, and accepts that God is the source of all virtue. But the problem of evil is never definitively solved, either, and God cannot easily be acquitted of compliance. Here, we explore three ways in which ethical as well as metaphysical issues are expressed and debated in the Bible. These are law, wisdom and prayer. The ethic of the New Testament operates under a new dispensation, that of the ‘spirit’, but Christian behaviour conforms very closely to conventional Jewish morality.

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Davies, Philip. 12. Law, Wisdom and Prayer. The Bible for the Curious - A Brief Encounter. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 142-153 Nov 2018. ISBN 9781781797440. Date accessed: 27 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35693. Nov 2018

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