Social Justice in the Prophets (Group Prospectus)

The prophets of the Old Testament convey what many find to be an agenda for social justice. Throughout the prophetic works there are several instances of reproach on poor care of the underprivileged and maldistribution of wealth.

1) We will analyze prophecies in order to arrive at what agenda these prophets had regarding social justice and their conception of it, using excerpts to substantiate our interpretation.

2) In this project, our aim is to look at contemporary interpretations and applications of the Social Justice theology of the Prophets from the perspectives of Christian and Jewish theologians, political reformers, and social theories.

3) We also will use examples of poverty and wealth distribution (Third World Countries) as an example of what injustices the prophets reprove.

Multimedia project: We intend to create a power point slide show consisting of images of third world calamities and poverty, each of which shown with a corresponding verse of prophecy dealing with social justice. The presentation will also utilize video/audio excerpts of relevant speakers and proponents of social justice and connect them to a biblical foundation.


Olivia, Joey, Pam, Chris, Zach, Cassie

My portion of this project will focus on contemporary Jewish theologians, primarily Abraham Joshua Heschel.  I will connect modern-day social justice issues as the group will focus on such as Haiti, to a Jewish theological foundation based in the prophesy of the Old Testament.  The Hebrew pursuit of social justice is not an end in itself, but is part of spiritual practice.  One main text I will use is Heschel’s book The Prophets.



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10 Responses to Social Justice in the Prophets (Group Prospectus)

  1. zacharyruffing says:

    Zachary’s segment

    I will be explaining the role of social injustice in the third world and its real and concrete consequences in realtion to modern events the prophets would likely condemn. For example, prejudice in the third world is largely based on money and societies are even more stratified there than in the United States. Due to prejudicial treatment, the lower class who are deeply impoverished must contend with substandard housing, health care, increased exposure to harmful chemicals, violence, and parasites as well as a spiraling ecnonmic situation that keeps them poor and dependant. In addition, the global economy figures into this as well as selfish policies by the international community to use cheap labor actually deteorate conditions in the third world, particularly in Latin America, Africa, and East Asia. Isaiah and others would note of the inherrent injustice and greed that drives these systems and would most definitely condemn it. I rely heavily on sociological, economic, and historical scholarly sources for my section.

  2. joe9brown says:

    We will explore how the political orientation of how reformers and politicians like British MP Tony Benn and Civil Rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was has strong foundations in the social progressive rhetoric of Amos, Micah, Jeremiah, and other prophets of the Old Testament, thus analyzing the modern interpretation of the Prophesies in a socio-political context.

  3. cmweid2 says:

    I will be writing about poverty and wealth distribution specifically in Haiti. I plan to use this article from the New York Times:
    As we probably all know, Haiti is very much so in control of everything in Haiti. The government owns the wealth whereas the Haitian citizens are poverty stricken. And on top of the poverty, the people were struck with a massive earthquake, which definitely did not help their cause. One of the biggest problems with the earthquake was that all the buildings had very unstable structures. When the earthquake hit, these structures tumbled down, killing thousands. Why this is relevant is because the government had control of money but wouldn’t spend it in order to stabilize the architecture, which would in turn prevent death of the people BEFORE the earthquake. As the article from New York Times states, international donations totalled to $5.3 billion “But reconstruction involving better buildings and roads has barely begun.” This is a prime example of social injustice.

  4. oliviag55 says:

    I will be analyzing the text within the prophets that discuss poverty and social justice, and how they apply today. I will also look at the broader range of the Hebrew Bible’s theology on religion, as it applies to the culture and principles that the prophets would be living in and living out (possible use of the institutions of The Year of Jubilee and the concept of gleaning) . One of the greatest things about the prophetic texts is their applicability to our modern times (and seemingly, to all times). As Deutoronomy 15:11 says, “There will always be poor people in the land”, so it would seem that not much has changed since the time of the prophets, the poor are still poor, and the rich are still selfish. I will lean heavily on Isaiah and its condemnation of Israel for ignoring the cause of the widow, the fatherless, the alien, and the poor in general. Two verses that will definitely be of use are as follows:
    Isaiah 10:1-3:
    Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?
    Ezekiel 16:49-61 (ESV)
    Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride,(CH) excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50They were haughty and(CI) did an abomination before me. So(CJ) I removed them, when I saw it. 51(CK) Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they…

  5. Chris Taylor says:

    As an extension of the Judaic religious tradition, Christianity draws many of its spiritual and ethical teachings from the same scriptural foundation. Consequently, the Christian Church has absorbed much of the rhetoric of the Old Testament Prophets into its own formula of social critique. From the debates of Medieval theologians concerning the roles of charity and poverty within holy orders, to modern Liberation Theology and Protestant mission organizations, the interpretation of many tenets of the Christian social ethic is often measured against the litmus of fulfilling the spirit of the Prophets’ exhortations.

  6. lmwa223 says:

    I really enjoyed reading all of your input about this project! It seems as though you have a grasp on what you want accomplished in this paper, and how you will execute your ideas. You are approaching the topic of theodicy from multiple angels and vantage points which can ultimately strengthen your paper, but I would encourage you to really take hold of what it is you are trying to accomplish and prove with your thesis. All of the questions that Andrew is wanting us to tackle will be difficult to answer in sufficient detail if every member of your group is focusing on a different time period, region of the world, etc. I feel as though it would be to your benefit if you really zoned in on one particular place of social injustice. I noticed that some of you are focusing on Haiti, so maybe that should be your main point of reference throughout your paper. I really think you have an excellent start here, and the sources you have chosen to use are solid. I can’t wait to see the finished product during the class presentations. Good luck!

    (Ben Ward, Michael Thompson, Kevin Rooney, Jordan Barton, and Leah Watkins)

  7. Da'Keisha Jett says:

    I like your group’s idea and what you plan to do for your multi media project. I do agree with the comment above mine, you all should focus on one time frame. It will help bring your project together and give your audience and readers a good example for what you are trying to prove. Overall you all seem to be headed in the right direction and have made it clear what your project will be covering, I also see you have some very good, credible sources. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this project.

    Da’Keisha, Ashley, Brandon, Susan, Suzi

  8. Susan Donoho says:

    I think this is a great topic. You’ll be able to find a lot of information on social justice/ethics and how they are perceived in the Old Testament. Also, there should be a wide array of multimedia available to help support your ideas because social justice/injustice is prevalent all over the world and covered by all types of media. I agree with Leah about the multiple angle idea. Although your presentation will be able to cover many aspects of the topic, you may want to consider the depth in which you’ll be able to discuss them.

    Here’s a link I found where a fellow blogger discusses Social Justice in the Old testament. Although it is not a great source it may be able to help you narrow down your topic so that it is not so broad. He also includes a lot of text from the Old testament that you may want to take another look at:

    Good luck you guys! I’m looking forward to learning more during your presentation.

    -Ashley, Da’Keisha, Brandon, Suzi & Susan

  9. bethanyschuler says:

    Wow, you guys have a great idea and plan for this project. Your topic sounds extremely interesting and I think that the multimedia project you intend to do fits perfectly with your topic. The picture slide show will give us a visual representation while the audio helps explain things on a deeper and more educated level which is a great fit. I’m impressed at how organized you all are and I’m excited to see the final outcome of your project! You’ve definitely looked at all aspects of this topic and the possibilities of sources and angles. Keep up the good teamwork, I’m sure this project will turn out great!

    Bethany, Mary, Kristina, Matt, and Taylor

  10. Richard Dynes says:

    Has this work on the OT prophets and social justice been completed? And, if so, where can I get a copy? Very interesting.

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