n HTS : Theological Studies - The Bible, culture and ethics : trickery in the narrative of Judah and Tamar : original research

Volume 71, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0259-9422
  • E-ISSN: 2072-8050



Using the Bible in Christian ethics is often not as simple as many would expect it to be. This is particularly the case for the use of the Old Testament. Part of the challenge is the complexity of grasping the customs and norms that are reflected in the Old Testament. They are often at odds with what is acceptable in contemporary thinking. In this article, we examine the difficulty of using the Old Testament in Christian ethics by using the narrative of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 as case study. We show that this particular text alerts us to the complex relationship between ethics and culture, not only in the world of the text, but also the world of the interpreter. Based on our analysis of the text we argue for its meta-ethical contribution to the practice of Christian ethics. We do not endeavour to resolve the perceived tension between the implied ethics of the text and that of contemporary interpreters, but view the unresolved tension as one of the text's key contributions to the practice of Christian ethics.

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