How Bible shapes contemporary ethics topic of Harrod Lecture

(Photo courtesy of Norman K. Gottwald)

Norman K. Gottwald, a pioneer in the social-scientific study of the Hebrew Bible, will deliver the Howard L. Harrod Lecture at Vanderbilt University’s Benton Chapel on Nov. 10.

Gottwald’s talk, “The Bible as Nurturer of Passive and Active Worldviews,” will begin at 7 p.m. He will discuss those aspects of the Bible that lead Christians and Jews either to engage in social ethical thought and practice as a specifically religious task or to refrain altogether in activism for social justice.

Gottwald is the Wilbur Webster White Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at New York Theological Seminary. The ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches USA is now an adjunct professor at Pacific School of Religion.

He is the author of The Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 BCE (Orbis1979/Sheffield Academic Press 1999), a groundbreaking book that contends Israel began as a social revolutionary peasant movement. Gottwald’s most recent work is The Politics of Ancient Israel (Westminister John Knox, 2001).

Gottwald is a former president of the Society of Biblical Literature. He has lectured widely around the world on the relevance of biblical society, economics and ethics for contemporary life.  He was a visiting professor at the University of Cape Town just as South Africa was emerging from apartheid.

He is a founder and board member of the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice in Stony Point, N.Y. This institution aims to provide informed biblical resources for those committed to the study and practice of social justice in contemporary church and society.

The Vanderbilt Divinity School’s Howard L. Harrod Lecture was established to honor Harrod, the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion. He taught for more than 30 years at Vanderbilt while working extensively in environmental ethics and activism. He was an advocate for new ways of understanding the relationships of humans with the animal and natural worlds.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Video of the talk can be viewed later at For more information, call Sha’Tika Brown at 615-936-8453 or send her an email: