This unit will examine how the Old Testament portrays God as just, righteous, and merciful and the criteria whereby Israel is called to be a just, righteous and merciful society. It will consist of an analysis of justice, righteousness, and mercy, and associated terminology within their literary, historical and theological contexts. It will consider how these terms and the contexts in which they occur contribute to Theodicy—the notion of God as just.

Unit code: BA9500C (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Apply advanced exegetical skills to the understanding of key theological terms in the Old Testament.


Demonstrate an ability to grasp the meaning of the relevant biblical terminology.


Critically assess the relationship between terms occurring in different contexts with a view to constructing a theology.


Demonstrate an accurate understanding of different scholarly views on justice and mercy in the Old Testament and an ability to assess them critically.


Show a critical understanding of the issues involved in constructing a Theology of Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament.


Develop a critically rigorous, sustained, and self-directed piece of research into one or more of the key theological terms employed to convey justice and mercy in the Old Testament

Unit sequence

BS8001C and BS8002C or equivalent


Lectures, seminars, tutorials, and class discussion

Indicative Bibliography

  • Birch, B. C. Let justice roll down: The Old Testament, ethics, and Christian life. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991.
  • Boda, Mark J. A Severe Mercy: Sin and Its Remedy in the Old Testament. Siphrut; Literature and Theology of the Old Testament Scriptures. Winona Lakes IN.: Eisenbrauns, 2009.
  • Botterweck, G. Johannes, and Helmer Ringgren eds. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. Translated by John T. Willis. 15 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974–2004.
  • Crenshaw, J. L. Theodicy in the Old Testament. London: SPCK, 1983.
  • Houston, Walter J. Contending for justice: Ideologies and theologies of social justice in the Old Testament. London: T & T Clark, 2006.
  • Jenni, Ernst, and Claus Westermann, eds. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated by Mark E. Biddle. 3 vols. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1997.
  • Laato, Antti, and Johannes C. de Moor, eds. Theodicy in the World of the Bible. Leiden: Brill, 2003. (EBook available.)
  • O’Brien, Mark A. Restoring the Right Relationship: The Bible on Divine Righteousness. Adelaide: ATF Press, 2014. (Set text)
  • Weinfeld, Moshe. Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995.
  • Williamson H. G. M. He Has Shown You What is Good: Old Testament Justice Then and Now. Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2012.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

5,000-word essay

5000 70.0
Seminar or Tutorial

30-minute seminar

0 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 6 Aug, 2018

Unit record last updated: 2019-09-11 10:12:05 +1000