This “stating it” is all the present study tries to do; to let the Jesus story so speak that the person concerned with social ethics, as accustomed as such a person is to a set of standard ways to assume Jesus not to be relevant to social issues, or at least not relevant immediately, can hear.
I propose to read the Gospel narrative with the constantly present question, “Is there here a social ethic?”
Our interest is in the prophetic use of the jubilee vision. The place of Leviticus 25 in the Bible kept alive the vision of an age when economic life would start over from scratch; and the testimony of Isaiah 61 demonstrates its fruitfulness as a vision of the coming renewal.
The blessings are balanced with woes, after the fashion of ancient Israel’s covenant ceremonies. The blessing is for the poor, not only the poor in spirit; for the hungry, not only those who hunger for justice. The examples drawn from the sexual realm (Matt. 5:27-32) are missing; only personal and economic conflict are chosen as specimens of the New Way, in which seized property is not reclaimed and the delinquent loan is forgiven. As in the jubilee, and as in the Lord’s Prayer, debt is seen as the paradigmatic social evil. In short, the announcement of the synagogue is being repeated and...