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Posted September 29, 2004

Book: Rise Up, O Judge: A Study of Justice in the Biblical World
Author: Enrique Nardoni
Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, pp.343

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Rise Up, O Judge studies the biblical concept of social and liberating justice and traces its roots to the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The application of justice through its developing stages within the various environments and communities of the Old and New Testaments is then analyzed. Enrique Nardoni reads the ancient and biblical texts in their own historical, social, and intellectual context, but he also relates them to contemporary culture, where his readers are participants, not mere spectators.

An Excerpt from the book:

The book of Psalms contains a moving description of the unshakeable trust that the poor put in the saving and incorruptible justice of God. It also shares the prophetic hope that God has a plan of justice and peace that He will execute not only for the oppressed believers but also for Israel as a nation, giving the divine plan both an individual and a social dimension. The book of Proverbs sees poverty as a regular component of human society, urges believers to be generous toward the poor and teaches people to be active, efficient, and responsible. Although this book does not propose changes for society, it imparts a valid message for future generations by stressing the need for education, discipline, and personal and social responsibility.

Job, in the midst of his affliction, identifies himself with the poor and the pariahs and becomes their spokesman. He cries out for justice on behalf of those who suffer oppression, blames God for not listening to their prayers, and wishes to confront God to demand an explanation. Finally, God speaks to him, describing with enthusiasm and love what God has done in creation. After seeing God and listening to Godís words, Job disowns what he himself had previously said and understands that there is an important factor he failed to consider: the love of God for his creatures; a love that creates hope.

The author of Ecclesiastes introduces a skeptical note in his reflections on human life. In his understanding, poverty and injustice are evil parts of the present world, a situation that cannot be changed. He does not share the prophetic view of Godís plan on behalf of Godís people, nor does he have hope for fulfillment in an afterlife. In spite of his limitations, he has left us with ideas worth considering: the transitory nature of life and the presence of evil and destruction as recurrent elements in human history.

Sirach, like Job, describes the pathetic situation of the poor and, like Proverbs, emphasizes the need for education, discipline, and personal and social responsibility, things that are necessary for any human society, especially in underdeveloped countries and among discriminated minorities.

The Wisdom of Solomon applies the concept of the oppressed poor, found in the prophets and Psalms to Israel, and gives an answer to Job and Ecclesiastes by assuring divine vindication on behalf of the oppressed ó glorious immortality after death and dominion over the nations. While Wisdom does not consider the possibility of improving society through the knowledge of the Torah, it does encourage those who seek justice and proclaim it to a corrupted society, promising them the coming of a new world under the rule of righteous souls, glorified in heaven.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Justice in Ancient Mesopotamia

Chapter 2: Justice in Ancient Egypt

Chapter 3: Exodus as an Event of Liberating Justice

Chapter 4: Norms of Justice in the Laws of the Covenant

Chapter 5: Justice, Monarchy, and Prophecy

Chapter 6: Justice in the Psalms and Wisdom Books

Chapter 7: Justice in Apocalyptic Writings

Chapter 8: Justice in the Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth

Chapter 9: Justice in the Gospel of Mark

Chapter 10: Justice in the Gospel of Matthew and the Letter of James

Chapter 11: Justice in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 12: Justice in Paulís letters

Chapter 13: Justice in the Johannine Writings

Chapter 14: Overall Conclusion