12. Law, Wisdom and Prayer
Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
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.