The theme of justice pervades the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And all Christians agree that justice is important. We often disagree, however, about what justice means, both in Scripture and for us today. Many turn to Old Testament laws, the prophets, and the life of Jesus to find biblical guidance on justice, but few think of searching the letters of Paul. Readers frequently miss a key source, a writing in which justice is actually the central concern: the book of Romans.
In Resurrecting Justice, theologian Douglas Harink invites readers to rediscover Romans as a treatise on justice. He traces Paul's thinking on this theme through a sequential reading of the book, finding in each passage facets of the gospel's primary claim—that God accomplishes justice in the death and resurrection of Jesus Messiah. By rendering forms of the Greek word dikaiosynē as "just" or "justice," Harink emphasizes the inseparability of personal, social, and political uprightness that was clear to Paul but is obscured in modern translations' use of the words "righteous" and "righteousness" instead.
Throughout this book, Harink includes personal reflection questions and contemporary implications, helping readers connect Paul's teaching to issues in their world such as church life, politics, power, criminal justice, and violence. Romans demands nothing less than a fundamental rethinking of all things in the light of the gospel. And in Romans the life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus makes all the difference in how we think about justice. Resurrecting Justice makes clear that the good news of a justice that can come only from God is crucial not only for individual lives but for all peoples and nations of the world.
"What is Romans about? We know the traditional answers: justification by faith, forgiveness of sins, personal salvation. Harink doesn't throw these out the window but puts the spotlight on the thematic thread of justice that runs all through Romans. I admit that I had my initial hesitations and doubts about reading Romans as a treatise on justice, but by the end I was a believer! Harink joins together what has often been torn asunder today—the relationships between personal and corporate, individual and communal, and personal justification and social justice in Christian thought and theology—with the resurrection of Christ at the center of it all."
"Paul's letters are often ignored in calls for justice. All who do not naturally gravitate toward the apostle as a champion of justice will be challenged to rethink Paul's gospel as the power of God's justice to rectify the whole world. Harink's rereading of Romans is a welcome, timely, and accessible study for the classroom and the church."
"Romans is a rich document encompassing multiple important themes, but the one Douglas Harink traces—justice—is often overlooked. This provocative book will therefore surprise many readers, but they will find it to be an engaging treatment of a neglected yet significant theme, punctuated with stimulating reflection questions. (The section on Romans 13:1-7 is alone worth the price of the book.) Resurrecting Justice is especially important for Christians today, who need to understand, proclaim, and participate in the peculiar messianic justice of God."
"Douglas Harink takes readers to school with Paul's letter to the Romans in order to learn (and learn again) that justification has everything to do with justice because the God of the gospel has designs—at once gracious and righteous—upon our persons, our societies, and our nations. The fruit of long wrestling with Paul, Resurrecting Justice provides an accessible, instructive, and edifying study of the very heart of the gospel: namely, God's powerful setting things to rights in Christ Jesus."
"I recommend this book in the strongest possible terms. Douglas Harink is a biblical theologian precisely positioned to expound the way in which the letters of Paul the Apostle speak to our present global moment. As the postwar consensus in the West seems to be breaking down on a hundred different fronts and bitter battles in search of justice erupt throughout American society, the great questions about what justice might actually mean in reality become ever more urgent. Paul's radical understanding of the Christ event has been expounded by important voices before but has not yet been fully appropriated. Now is the time of need, and this is a book that can help us."
1. Terms of Justice
Part 1: Apocalyptic Justice
2. Apocalypse of Justice
3. Justice Beyond Systems
4. Being Just
5. The Just One
6. Becoming Just
7. Justice and Law
8. The Spirit of Justice
9. Justice Among the Nations: Israel
Part 2: Messianic Life
10. Messianic Public Service
11. Messianic Freedom
12. Messianic Solidarity
13. Messianic Spreading
Suggestions for Further Reading
Glossary and Translations