"Contending for Justice" analyses texts on social justice in the Old Testament and argues that despite their ideological character they may still assist in shaping a Christian theological approach to social and global injustice. The book argues on the one hand that a class interest is involved in all texts on the subject of social justice, and on the other that, that the very interest demands that they should appeal to the broadest possible public by using generally accepted ethical and theological ideas.
Four elements are set out in a hermeneutical proposal: texts should be understood as rhetoric in real social situations, as ideology protecting a social position, as defining recognized ethical values, and theologically as having a critical and constructive potential for the interpreter's own situation. A second chapter attempts to sketch the social conditions in which such texts were formed. The hermeneutical scheme is then applied, but not rigidly, to a wide range of texts: prophetic denunciations of oppression, texts in a variety of genres defining the characteristics of the just individual, texts in the Psalms and Isaiah defining the duty of the king to protect the poor, visions of a just community in the prophets, words of Torah aimed at protecting the indebted poor and restoring an independent peasantry, and assertions of the justice of God. The book concludes with brief reflections on the value of the Old Testament as a resource in the struggle for justice.
This new paperback edition is fully revised and updated.