Course

HB6/740 —Social Justice: Prophet and Reformer


Instructor(s): Rev. Dr. Patricia Dutcher-Walls

The theology and practice of social justice will be examined from two dialogical viewpoints. The first is that of the prophet as spokesperson of God’s justice and advocate for the poor who names and condemns social injustice. The second is that of the reformer who seeks to embody and institutionalize social justice. The issue of the types and uses of power in both of these viewpoints will be highlighted.

The course will start with a background study of the relevant history and sociology of ancient Israel to clarify the setting in which the dialogue occurs. Then the book of Amos will serve as our basis for defining the dialogical viewpoints. We will examine the strong critique of this prophet against the injustice of his day that ignored divinely inspired right relationships among people. The second viewpoint is contained in the re-composition of Amos’ words by later Deuteronomistic editors intent on employing the prophetic critique in a program of national reform. References to the legal and theological parallels in the law code of Deuteronomy will complement the study of Amos.

The viewpoints examined will be seen as forerunners of and metaphors for modern understandings of action for social justice. Contemporary reflections thus will center on the roles, power, and responsibilities of two types of justice-seekers: the “prophet” and the “reformer.” Particular attention will be given to the issue of how any person/class/group, both those with and those without institutional power and economic advantage, uses and incorporates the ideals of social justice. Reflections on a current social justice issue of the student’s choosing, or from a student’s social ministry site, will provide the sources for theory and praxis.

Prerequisites: HB500 and HB600

Related Courses

HB600—Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

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