William & Mary

Biblical ethics in the modern day

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Ethicist Robin McCall recently sat down with William & Mary News to discuss how biblical ethics — or Christian ethics, when interpreted from a Christian perspective — has defined morality from the Bible.

For Christians, ethics and morals can be based on their God's reputation and commands, McCall said, noting that there can be confusion.

“This is the one thing I tell my students,” said McCall. “The Bible never speaks univocally. There are multiple voices speaking, and, at times, they are in conflict with each other. You have to think about how that will impact [your] moral choices.”

{{youtube:medium|VURRFg4el_w, McCall discusses how biblical ethics define morality}}

“There is one thing that I would like to stress,” said McCall. “There seems to be a popular idea in the world that people of faith whether Christian or Jewish are going to think similarly about moral decision-making.  I do not believe that’s true. I think there is great plurality of thinking because each person is different and everyone has different points of interpretation of what they take from the Bible.”

{{youtube:medium|wOuP-YfP3Cs, McCall talks about biblical ethics and the Western society}}

"It's safe to say that most of our modern Western systems of government can trace important roots back to biblical ethics," said McCall. "The whole world of religion and government were so ubiquitously intertwined for so long that government systems and legal codes maintained their divine rights, their divine authority by looking to the Bible, and we can find biblical concepts at work in laws today."

McCall earned her Ph.D. in the Hebrew Bible from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her research interests include the grotesque in Ezekiel, divine and human bodies as sources of theological meaning in the Bible and theology of the priestly literature.