David Horrell talks to the AHRC about, among other things, the Bible’s role in helping to underpin our cultural assumptions about the environment and our place within it.
“The biblical view of marriage is part of the larger whole of new creation, and it symbolizes and points to that divine plan….Marriage is a sign of all things in heaven and on earth coming together in Christ. That’s why it is a tough calling. But that is why, also, it is central and non-negotiable. That, for me, is what it’s all about”.
The story of Sodom, the “Holiness Code” of Leviticus, the lists of dark behaviours in the epistles, and the more extensive illustration of Romans 1 all register disapproval. The biblical teaching is not unconsciously coloured by cultural norms; rather, it adopts a decisive counter-cultural stand for its time.
In summary, the Bible presents sexuality as a divinely-prescribed mode of being for human beings, valuable in itself and in its iconic representation of divine-human relations. From the beginning, sexuality entailed interdependence, companionship and procreation; the distortion and strained fulfilment of these good things, subsequent to the Fall, has not completely thwarted the original intent (the celebration of human love in the Song of Solomon, and the explicit blessing of marriage in the New Testament).
The contemporary rediscovery of ancient sources of biblical exegesis makes an important contribution to the renewal of Christian ethics. This rediscovery is motivated by a dissatisfaction with modern critical commentaries on Scripture and by a desire to re-engage with the biblical text itself, allowing it to speak to our contemporary ethical challenges in fresh and surprising ways. The article sets out the key objectives and contributions of this new approach to biblical ethics. The heart of the challenge it brings is to encourage us to move beyond a preoccupation with questions of hermeneutical methodology and towards a properly theological appreciation of the role of ʹtraditionʹ in our ethical reading of Scripture.