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A Case Study in Search for a Methodology of Old Testament Ethics: Capital Punishment

김창대 1

1안양대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study has revolved around the task of searching for a methodology which culls out today's ethical norms from the Old Testament statements and events. For this, we have attempted a review of Old Testament ethics literature. We are led to the conclusion that study on Old Testament ethics has been conducted in the two-fold directions: deontological and teleological approaches. These two approaches have a common factor that justice and righteousness as the character of God play a key role. On the basis of these observations, this study has explored the meaning of justice and righteousness and has paid attention to their function in bringing the kingdom of God into fulfillment. The justice and righteousness are not only a principle of God's creation of the world, but also a principle of God's redemption in history, upon which human ethical actions should be modeled. In this light, the principle of justice and righteousness is suggested to be the chief basis of Old Testament ethics. At this point, a question rises: How can we make a consistent methodology for Old Testament ethics on that basis. In an effort to replying to this question, this study has focused on the cases of capital punishment for murder in the Old Testament. In doing so, this study has come up with the finding that the OT law of capital punishment has its general principle: a human is created in the image of God. This general principle, however, has been applied in several paradigms according to various times. This does not mean that those paradigms were at odds with one another. Each of those paradigms has occurred as a result of applying the general principle to specific times in order to fulfill the kingdom of God. In conclusion, this study proposes a methodology with which Old Testament ethics should be studied regarding every ethical issue: (1) First, to find out a general principle relating to each ethical issue upon the basis of justice and righteousness, (2) to pay attention to paradigms in which the general principle has been substantiated in various times and genres in the Old Testament, and then (3) to elicit a new paradigm consistent with the general principle in a way that fulfills the kingdom of God for today's situations.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.