Theological perspectives on land restoration in Leviticus 25:8-55

Hartze, Anthony George (2006-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stllenbosch University, 2006.


Since the dismantling of Apartheid in 1994, those who were dispossessed of their land under South Africa’s previous government are being restored or compensated for land that had been taken away from them prior to 1994. Christians, through their theological pronouncements and writings on justice, peace and liberation, played an active role in helping to dismantle Apartheid. And today they continue to sustain a theological role in a number of different ways relative to reconstructing our country. One such area is land restoration. Leviticus 25:8-55 (hereinafter named ‘Leviticus 25’) has become a key text for this purpose. It is an ancient legal code on land restoration for the ancient Israelites. Since it is an ancient legal text it is understandably difficult to find consensus among modern Old Testament theologians about its prescriptions. Therefore this study will discuss the perspectives of six recent scholars in their commentaries. Three of these scholars approach their perspectives from an evangelical trend (which is essentially my position), two from a Jewish trend, and one from a critical trend. The two key questions that this study will attempt to answer are: (1) What is the theological understanding of six scholars on land restoration in their commentaries on Leviticus 25 during the past twenty-six years? (2) How do they agree or differ in their theological understanding of land restoration in Leviticus 25? The first three chapters will lay the groundwork for the discussion of ‘Theological Perspectives on Land Restoration in Leviticus 25.’ Chapter one introduces the study by defining its research problem, and formulating its hypothesis, and indicating its methodology. Thereafter, chapter two will briefly discuss five basic concepts in the book of Leviticus that impact upon land restoration in Leviticus 25. These concepts are covenant, land, holiness, atonement and Jubilee. Chapter three will be a research survey on the book of Leviticus in which the following topics will be looked at: (1) The relation of Leviticus to the Pentateuch as a whole; (2) its authorship and date; (3) its contents and structure; (4) how Leviticus is interpreted; and (5) the two theological axes upon which the book revolves. Chapter four is the heart of this study. It will discuss, chronologically, the perspectives of six recent Old Testament scholars in their commentaries on Leviticus 25. It will also compare their perspectives to show how they agree or disagree with each other. The aim of this chapter is to show how different perspectives on land restoration in Leviticus 25 aid us today in understanding this great theme. Chapter five, the final chapter, will show how this study proved its hypothesis, while also showing how the different theological trends of the six scholars studied influenced their interpretations of Leviticus 25.

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