Natural law and human dignity in the Old Testament? : a case study of Isaiah 1:2-3

Kassa, Friday Sule (2014-04)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research investigates the role of nature and cultures/traditions in the ethical and theological interpretation of the Bible. To be specific, it is concerned with the legitimacy of the knowledge of the existence and attributes of God arrived at using only the natural faculties of sense and reason and whether moral norms or evaluative principles can be derived from or grounded in nature. When the issue of moral norms and principles appears, it leads to reflection on the issue of so-called natural law, an ethical principle which claims that moral duty can be learned through nature. The research argues that the invitation of the cosmic elements and the parable of the ox and donkey in Isaiah‟s prophetic indictment (Isaiah 1: 2-3) provide evidence of the traces of natural law in the book and the entire Bible. It also argues that natural law and natural theology correspond to elements of African cultures/traditional religions. As such, incorporating natural law in the theological-ethical interpretation of the Old Testament will be relevant for interpretive communities in Africa, like the Tangale in the northern Nigeria. The research also envisages that the natural law tradition and the elements of African cultures/traditional religions can have a favourable impact on the theological ethical understanding of human dignity if appropriately incorporated into the theological-ethical interpretation of the Bible.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing ondersoek die rol van die natuur en kultuur/tradisie in die etiese en teologiese interpretasie van die Bybel. Meer spesifiek gaan dit oor die geldigheid van die kennis van God se bestaan en eienskappe, soos wat dit met behulp van slegs die natuurlike persepsie van sintuie en rede veronderstel kan word; en oor die vraag of morele norme en evaluerende beginsels vanuit die natuur afgelei kan word of gegrond kan wees. Waar die kwessie van morele norme en beginsels verskyn, gee dit aanleiding tot nadenke oor die vraagstuk van die sogenaamde “natuurlike wet”, ʼn etiese beginsel wat beweer dat morele plig aangeleer kan word deur die natuur. Die navorsing argumenteer dat die uitnodiging van die kosmiese elemente en die gelykenis van die os en die donkie in Jesaja se profetiese aanklag (Jes 1: 2 – 3) bewyse lewer van die spore van die natuurlike wet in die boek en die Bybel in geheel. Dit voer ook aan dat die natuurlike wet en natuurlike teologie met sekere elemente van Afrika-kulture/tradisionele godsdienste ooreenstem. As sulks is dit relevant vir interpretatiewe gemeenskappe in Afrika soos die Tangale in noord-Nigerië, om die natuurlike wet by die teologies-etiese interpretasie van die Ou Testament te inkorporeer. Die studie veronderstel ook dat die tradisie van die natuurlike wet en die elemente van Afrika-kulture/tradisionele godsdienste ʼn gunstige uitwerking op die teologiese, etiese begrip van menswaardigheid kan hê, indien dit op gepaste wyse in die teologies-etiese interpretasie van die Bybel geïnkorporeer word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86458
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