Wolterstorff, rights, wrongs, and the bible

Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (2):209-219 (2009)
According to Wolterstorff, an accurate genealogy of rights begins, not with the late Middle Ages and the Enlightenment, but with the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The Gospel of Luke, Wolterstorff says, provides especially important witness, and he gives it considerable attention. Wolterstorff's careful analysis of Luke is both lexical and narratological. This paper argues that the lexical data of the Gospel of Luke does indeed lend some support to Wolterstorff's case. But the support is qualified since, in Luke, a critical word group—the dikaio -family—is used in a way that emphasizes relationship to God rather than obligations to neighbor. The most important narratives and teachings of the Gospel lend similarly qualified support to Wolterstorff's genealogy. The paper concludes that while nothing in the Gospel of Luke is incompatible with the observation and defense of human rights, the program Luke sketches has another focus that a comprehensive reading of that Gospel must keep in view
Keywords righteousness  justice  Gospel of Luke
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2009.00383.x
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