Biblical Justice

Document Type



Three major policy frames concerning justice are found to be reflected in the Bible: those of group justice, individual desert, and life affirmation. Because these frames are manifested and interwoven throughout the Tanakh and New Testament, they do not reveal a genesis of justice from one frame to another. It is proposed that they have their origins in a universal sense of justice that, together with the three frames, is evidenced outside of the Tanakh and may have existed prior to the time of Abraham, possibly ever since the human mind was capable of abstract thought. They have coexisted until the present time and are manifested in both inter- and intragroup relations. Passion, new knowledge and discovery, perceived desirability and necessity, and persuasive appeals can determine the choice of policy frames at particular times and in particular situations. It is argued that the desert of justice is a peaceful and just society and world and that this might most reasonably be achieved through policies stemming, at least in part, from the life-affirmation frame.


Biblical Studies | Public Policy

Publisher Citation

Pelton, L.H. (2003). Biblical justice. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 71(4), 737-765.

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