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The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics Paperback – August 30, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There are few people I would rather read for the actual exposition of the New Testament than Richard Hays. This book is filled with wonderful readings that not only inform us about how to think better about the so-called 'problem of the relation between the New Testament and ethics' but, even more, speak of how our lives should be lived in the light of Christ's cross."--Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Studies, Duke University Divinity School"Hay's passionately written book, with its bold agenda, has neither peer nor rival."--Leander E. Keck, Winkley Professor of Biblical Theology, Yale Divinity School"Richard Hays has succeeded brilliantly in bringing New Testament studies, contemporary theology, and ethics into a deeply reflective conversation....Hay's point is that the New Testament norms the Christian life, and, with the help of imagination and metaphor, can address the moral conflicts of our time."--Ellen T. Charry, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University"This is without question the best book available in the area of New Testament ethics and should transform the way this discipline is viewed by both church and academy."--William Klassen, visiting research professor, Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem, and visiting scholar, Toronto School of Theology"This book isn't just a breath of fresh air. It's a hurricane, blowing away the fog of half-understood pseudo-morality and fashionable compromise, and revealing instead the early Christian vision of true humanness and genuine holiness. If this isn't a book for our time, I don't know what is."--N. T. Wright, author of "The New Testamest and the People of God"

From the Publisher

A leading expert in New Testament ethics discovers in the biblical witness a unified ethical vision -- centered in the themes of community, cross and new creation -- that has profound relevance in today's world. Richard Hays shows how the New Testament provides moral guidance on the most troubling ethical issues of our time, including violence, divorce, homosexuality and abortion.

"Hays' passionately written book, with its bold agenda, has neither peer nor rival." --Leander E. Keck, Winkley Professor of Biblical Theology, Yale Divinity School

"There are few people I would rather read for the actual exposition of the New Testament than Richard Hays. This book is filled with wonderful readings that not only inform us about how to think better about the so-called 'problem of the relation between the New Testament and ethics' but, even more, speak of how our lives should be lived in the light of Christ's cross. -Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Studies, Duke University Divinity School

"Richard Hays has succeeded brilliantly in bringing New Testament studies, contemporary theology, and ethics into a deeply reflective conversation... Hays' point is that the New Testament norms the Christian life, and, with the help of imagination and metaphor, can address the moral conflicts of our time." --Ellen T. Charry, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

"This book isn't just a breath of fresh air. It's a hurricane, blowing away the fog of half-understood pseudo-morality and fashionable compromise, and revealing instead the early Christian vision of true humanness and genuine holiness. If this isn't a book for our time, I don't know what is." --N. T. Wright, author of The New Testament and the People of God

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (August 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006063796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060637965
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard B. Hays (Ph.D. Emory University) is Dean and George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. He is internationally recognized for his work on the letters of Paul and New Testament ethics. His books include The Moral Vision of the New Testament, The Faith of Jesus Christ, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, a commentary on 1 Corinthians, and The Conversion of the Imagination. His most recent publication is entitled Reading Backwards, a book about the interpretation of the Old Testament in the Gospels. Dean Hays is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It may well be that the success or failure of Hays' book will boil down to whether or not one agrees with him that (1) Community, (2) Cross, and (3) New Creation are appropriate lenses through which one may view NT ethics. Hays does well to suggest reasons why these lenses are more appropriate than a more traditional lense such as "love":
(1) Hays argues that any focal image needs to find a textual basis in all the canonical witness. "Love," according to Hays is not a central theme or ethical warrant in several important NT texts (Mark, Hebrews and Revelation, and Acts). According to Hays, the 3 metaphors he elevates well encapsulate essential claims in a much larger plurality of NT texts.
(2) Love is itself not as much an image as it is the "interpretation of an image." "Love," in other words, is embodied concretely in the NT by the cross. Apart from the specific narrative context of the cross, "Love" loses any meaning. Thus, love in the NT is itself subsumed under the image of cross.
(3) "Love" in contemporary ethics has become a fluid, debased concept that covers "all manners of vapid self-indulgence." From the perspective of contemporary culture, elevating love as a functional metaphor may do as much harm as it does good.
My personal observation is that "kingdom" may be a more appropriate metaphor than "community," for Hays since "community" in many ways has becomed as distorted a concept as love. The notion of "kingdom" carries with it the idea of community united under the reign of God, embodied through the cruciform life of Christ.
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Format: Paperback
Recently several important projects have emerged challenging the myth of secular reason that there is an autonomous realm of 'ethics' (eg Charles Taylor, Milbank, Oliver O'Donovan), seeking to show the constitutive moral and theological threads incorporated into the 'mainstream' narrative(s) of modernity, and so illuminating the theological forgetfulness of the secular mind. While these projects have a host of favourable outcomes, not the least of which is a new and confident engagement with modernity on Christian terms, before one becomes too enamoured of such projects, much more needs to be done biblically and theologically to show why Christian faith has a moral discourse that philosophers and social theorists etc ought to consider. Here (along with the obvious benefit such disciplined thinking can have in local churches) Richard Hays' impressive new work in NT ethics can help us.

Hays' own project is concerned principally with the Christian community and its ability to live "under the Word", to hear Scripture speaking to us today. Such an aim is only controversial depending upon where one stands in the NT Studies guild. If one adopts the approach of Jack T. Sanders, for example, any appeals to the NT can only founder due to historical distance, alien contexts and questions - and can even be downright immoral! Otherwise, Hays can be seen to be engaging in a classical and necessary Christian practice, joining the many volumes written in Christian ethics, and complementing the experience and activity of Christians and their communities worldwide.

In my 'evangelical' circles where the Bible is said to be "taken seriously", the 'Constantinian' mindset is sadly dominant (and there are too many superficial treatments mixed with the good).
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book - solid scholarship and well thought-out interpretation delivered with a sense of urgency and sincerity. If you are at all interested in Ethics or the state of New Testament scholarship, this book is an absolute necessity.
Hays sees distinct (though overlapping) tasks in the process of "doing ethics" and is able to explain and apply them clearly. His emphasis on seeing ethical questions through the "focal lenses" of Cross, Community and New Creation is a wonderful guidepost for anyone concerned with faithful, Spirit-driven scholarship. He stresses that an "integrative act of the imagination" is required to be able to apply the Scripture to our world and suggests methods for achieving it.
Hays analyzes 5 theologian/ethicists in light of his approach (including Barth, Hauerwas, and Schussler-Fiorenza) and, in doing so, further clarifies how his approach can be used by others.
The final section of the book applies Hays' approach to contemporary issues. Partly because of his obvious authority in Greek and New Testament scholarship, and partly because of his honest, passionate approach, his conclusions are bold and very persuasive.
This book will likely be very influential in both the fields of Ethics and New Testament Studies. Students, professors and church communities alike will be dealing with (and indebted to) this book for years to come.
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Format: Paperback
In this long-awaited volume, Richard Hays combines a close reading of the moral facets of multiple strands of the New Testament with hermeneutical conclusions for several pertinent issues for today. He combines this with a comparison between his approach and several other notable 20th C. theologians and ethicists, including a helpful list of diagnostic questions which readers can also apply to his own work. Though I differ with a few of his conclusions and even some of his methodological choices, there is no doubt of the incredible value of his work both on its own and as a classroom text. It is a real joy to wrestle and even, in places, to argue with a work of this scope and care.
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