Friday, November 07, 2008

Burridge on Inclusivist NT Ethics

A new book on the scene is Imitating Jesus: An Inclusive Approach to New Testament Ethics by Richard A. Burridge (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 2007). This book will prompt much debate and discussion. Central for Burridge is that NT ethics revolves around: (1) NT ethics means imitation of Jesus, and (2) NT ethics calls for a radical inclusiveness in an all embracing community. Burridge seems to come close to equating non-acceptance of homosexuality with apartheid in South Africa. The closing words of the book are: "Whenever we are presented with a choice between being biblical and being inclusive, it is a false dichotomy - for to be truly biblical is to be inclusive in any community which wants to follow and imitate Jesus" (p. 409). I'd like to know (1) how the heck Burridge gets around a text like 1 Cor. 5.1-5, and (2) how would Richard Hays respond (Hays' book The Moral Vision of the New Testament is already an academic classic)?


Doug Chaplin said...

Of course, Mike, you could always take a look at my review published back when the book was new. In fact (if I recall things rightly) Richard B is quite critical of Richard H for offering two very different ways of reading the NT without either reconciling them or noting that he's changed.

Nijay K. Gupta said...

Be on the look out for my forthcoming review of this in REVIEWS IN RELIGION AND THEOLOGY; I have the same concerns. If by 'inclusive' and 'accepting', B. is referring to social status, gender, race, honor-status, and wealth, then I think he is spot-on. But, he is hardpressed to transfer this over to issues such as homosexuality. In fact, I argue that the book should have just focused on the 'historical Jesus' and the gospels - leave Paul out of it! The reason is that he builds his methodology on the fact that the Gospel-genre falls close to ancient bioi and these were focused on imitation of the 'hero'. Why bring Paul into this? B. tries to argue that Paul's letters have a narratival theological framework, but B. is out of his league trying to argue for something SO controversial in Pauline studies.
As for Hays, I think B. is right to critize Hays for discounting LOVE as a primary ethical paradigm (Hays chooses 'cross'). B., though, seems to go too far.

Ruth Harris said...

I would like to know why homosexuals have been treated like this by the church and interpretation for so long when actually the 6 clobber texts are unclear at best and do not stand up to reasonable interpretation in the light of what we now know about homosexuality. Also, why homosexuals, when so many other things and groups of people seem to be 'wrong' in the Bible. The church needs to look at its received wisdom, unpack it, and figure out why and where all this hate and persecution of gay people came from. I suspect scapegoating and prejudice mixed with patriarchy, tribalism (OT) and a lack of understanding of what is natural or innate in humans and other animals (Paul). A step too far to accept homosexuals then Mr Gupta? If I said that about race it wouldn't feel the same to you would it? Step outside of your privileged position of being in the 'right' group of heterosexuals who needn't worry about disagreeing with homosexuality and apply it to if we came back to Ham and racial superiority. Unpack your privilege within the church.