He Has Shown You What is Good: Old Testament Justice Then and Now

By H.G.M. Williamson

A thoughtful examination of biblical ethics, showing how the Old Testament still has much to teach us in our contemporary pursuit of social justice.

ISBN: 9780718892982


Can the Old Testament provide relevant principles for modern concepts of social justice? In this book, the author explores the meaning of Old Testament justice to discover its significance for us today. Concentrating on social justice he unearths the value and relevance of the phrase ‘justice and righteousness’. Tracing this phrase and its context within and without the pages of Scripture Williamson elaborates an argument that passes from Abraham to Amos. He expounds a biblical ideal that he argues is not rooted in the legalistic Law of Moses, or necessarily an idealized history, but is a concept that is fluid, constructed in an organic appreciation for natural law.

Today, citing our human rights is used as a justification for anything and everything, and excessive use has corrupted a defining ideal of mankind. Williamson has written an engaging and highly articulate book that exposes the relevance of the Old Testament as a corrective for this tendency; a mode of living that developed in accordance with the existence of the ancient Israelite. The ideal maintained a form, as derived from natural law, that was applicable to all creeds and ranks, and therefore is potentially relevant for us today.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 140 mm
Pages 114

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Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

H.G.M. Williamson is Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, a Fellow of the British Academy and is on the faculty of The Oriental Institute. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on the Old Testament, including commentaries on 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as The Book Called Isaiah and Studies in Persian Period History and Historiography.



1. The Task in Hand
2. Divine Justice and Natural Justice
3. The Individual and Social Justice
4. Prophetic Justice
5. Messianic Justice
6. He Has Shown You What is Good



Endorsements and Reviews

… there is much to commend in the argument presented.
Gordon McConville, in Theology, Vol 116(1)

The book is accessible to non-experts and a judicious examination of the terms ‘justice and righteousness’, broaden the field of inquiry from books that focus on the law to include natural law. Its discussion of the similar approaches to social justice between Israel and her neighbours is significant.
Timothy J. Stone, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 20, Issue 1

Williamson’s short book has a particular prescience as he offers coordinates in his final remarks for critically reading Israelite natural law traditions alongside the more contemporary language of human rights.
Richard P. Whaite, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2

… its accessibility, clarity, and short size enable a reader to acquire a ‘sense’ of ethics in the OT and scholarship on the topic with relative ease. This is not an easy task, so this makes the book quite valuable … For those looking for a short introduction to ethics in the OT and the field, He Has Shown You What is Good is a very helpful resource. For evangelical educators training students for ministry, you could have your students read this book, identify a point of interest, and then pursue that topic further in the growing field of OT ethics.
Andrew T. Abernethy, in Trinity Journal, Spring 2013

[He Has Shown You What is Good] will prove liberating to others who desire a critical focus on the biblical text that remains sympathetic to its theological visions for justice in our world.
Joseph Ryan Kelly, in Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament, Vol 2.1