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Biblical Justice and Restorative Justice

The Bible was a source of inspiration for many who constructed the institutions of contemporary criminal justice. It was also a resource for some of the early practitioners of restorative justice. Its influence on both groups continues. The following articles examine the relationship between biblical justice and restorative justice.

Siebels, Erika Bai. Restorative Justice, Real Justice
When a crime is committed, people are hurt-- not only physically and emotionally, but spiritually too, if they harbor unforgiveness and begin doubting humanity and the system that is supposed to bring justice. (excerpt)
Payot, Jean-Pierre. Fécondité de la violence ou quand la parole de Dieu s’en mêle
Voici la méditation proposée par Jean-Pierre Payot aux aumôniers lors de leur rencontre à Rennes les 2 et 3 octobre 2003. Elle se présente sous la forme de ces notes très riches qui constituent une base solide sur laquelle nous pouvons fonder notre méditation et poursuivre une réflexion théologique. (extrait) (excerpt)
Heft, James L. Beyond violence: religious sources of social transformation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Throughout history, religion and violence have often been linked. Numerous examples may come to mind: the entrance of the people of Israel into Canaan; Islamic conquests in the Mediterranean region; the Crusades; the religious wars of the Reformation; recent conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, between Jews and Muslims, and between various groups within Islam; and more. For many people, especially in the Enlightenment in Western culture and its heirs, the link has led to the argument that religion should be excluded from the public sphere as a force. So writes James Heft near the beginning of the introduction to this volume of essays he has edited. However, it is clear, he continues, that religion cannot be relegated to the sphere of the private; religion still affects public life and global events. Against this background, a dialogue was convened at the University of Southern California in May 2003. Representatives from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam met to discuss this theme: “Beyond Violence: Religious Sources of Social Transformation. The aim was to explore ways in which religion can and does foster peaceful social transformation through reconciliation, peace, and justice. This book consists of chapters based on major presentations by various authors at the conference. Topics include sources of violence; hope and fear in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; peace and mercy with respect to God; Judaism on violence and reconciliation; religion as a force for reconciliation and peace; and Christian resources for nonviolent peace-building.
Christiansen, Drew. Catholic Peacemaking: From Pacem in terris to Centesimus annus.
It is hard to identify the precise starting point of modern Catholic peacemaking. Official reckoning assigns credit to Pope Benedict XV for his efforts to end the First World War. To Benedict, we owe the famous phrase, 'Never again war, war never again', made famous by Pope Paul VIxe2x80x99s 1965 address before the United Nations, and repeated by Pope John Paul II on several occasions. But, Benedictxe2x80x99s overtures were dismissed by the great powers, partly because his proposals did not fit their interests, partly because they suspected his sympathies with Catholic Austria, and partly because the pope himself was still a prisoner of the Vatican with reduced political influence. Others would place the starting-point with Pope Pius XII. As a former diplomat, Pius took exceptional interest in international affairs, promoted Catholic internationalism, and played a significant role in Cold War politics. (extract)
Smith, Patrick J.. A Method for the Maddness: Restorative Justice as a Valid Mode of Punishment and an Advancement of Catholic Social Thought.
Part I of this article will discuss the traditional justifications of punishment and their comparative strengths and weaknesses. Part II will then explore a relatively new approach to punishment known as restorative justice, analyze to what extent it is justified by traditional concepts of punishment, and examine its compatibility with principles of Catholic Social Thought. (excerpt)
Winter, Bruce. Punishment as Remedy
Bruce Winter is a scholar of early Christianity in the Greek and Roman worlds. In this article he reflects on a what a Christian vision of punishment looked like at the time of the early church, in contrast to the practice of imprisonment in the Roman world. Winter begins with a sketch of the nature and use of imprisonment in the Roman world before and at the time of the early church. This leads to a discussion of principles from the apostle Paul’s letters that provide a basis to reflect on the purpose of punishment. Winter concludes from Paul’s letters that punishment is not to be an end in itself; it is meant to achieve a purpose. Specifically, punishment within the Christian community is meant to be remedial for the offender and for the community. In this perspective, the ultimate intention or aim is to restore fractured relationships
Marshall, Christopher D.. Beyond Retribution: A New Testament Vision for Justice, Crime, and Punishment
In Beyond Retribution, Christopher Marshall explores the New Testament for teaching on crime and justice. He first explores the problems involved in applying ethical teachings from the New Testament to mainstream society. He then surveys the extent to which the New Testament addresses criminal justice issues, looking in particular at the concept of the justice of God in the teachings of Paul and Jesus. He also examines the topic of punishment, reviewing the debate in social thinking over the ethics and purpose of punishment-including capital punishment-and he advocates a new concept of "restorative punishment." The result of this engaging work is a biblically based challenge to imitate the way of Christ in dealing with both victims and offenders
Hough, Katherine Lorelle. Restorative Justice and Restorative Theology: A Dialogue.
This paper explores restorative justice in criminal law and proposes a restorative theology for Christianity. It focuses on the process and practice of restorative in each discipline, noting the similarities, disparities, and where one discipline might borrow, with integrity, from the other. (author's abstract)
James Samuel Logan. Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment
"...this book will suggest that a Christian social ethics of "good punishment" focused on the contemporary United States practice of imprisonment can be developed through a re/constructive critique of the "Anabaptist Methodist" Stanley Hauerwas's theological ethics of punishment. To focus Christian social ethics on the contemporary United States practice of imprisonment, which is now employed on an unprecedented scale, is to foreground a major obstacle to the transformation and restoration of offenders in community as well as society at large. An assumption underlying the effort that follows is that incapacitating and controlling socially destructive persons is a legitimate social aim for any society wishing to preserve itself. Indeed, it would be naive to deny that in a highly complex society at least some minimum system of justice is necessary. This includes police, courts, and other institutions set up to adjudicate justice claims whenever some fair distribution of goods and/or rights has been "criminally" disrupted. In addition, society must continually secure effective ways of addressing criminal breaches of responsibility that threaten the cohesion of the nation. Central to Christian perspectives on criminal justice is the requirement of discerning the difference Jesus makes for Christian participation in society's understanding and carrying out of punishment. Christian must continually struggle with how best to embrace the praxis of criminal justice while demonstrating a politics of better hope for society. This better hope should connect the Christian worship of God to a radically reconfigured reality of justice ushered into human history by God's self-unveiled love and justice in the person of Jesus Christ." (excerpt)
Philpott, Daniel. The Politics of Past Evil: Religion, Reconciliation, and the Dilemmas of Transitional Justice
What unfolds in the following pages, then, is a conversation about how theology and politics are related in the theory and practice of reconciliation, situated in the context of transitional states. What place does reconciliation have in the politics of transition? What are the warrants for it? Four theorists, two theologians and two philosophers draw explicitly from theological perspectives in answering these questions. The answers are fresh angles in today’s debate. Our conversation, though, also recognizes that reconciliation’s credibility as an approach to politics depends not only on a theoretical foundation but also on an account of its place in the tug and haul of actual political transition. Two political scientists and a historian, all sympathetic to the theological perspectives, then chart the path of reconciliation, sometimes torturous, sometimes propitious, in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Argentina, and Germany. The divide between the two sorts of inquiry is not neat. The theorists are cognizant of contemporary political transitions; the empirically oriented scholars are theoretically conscious. Explicating theological warrants, mapping the texture of actual political transitions, echoing debates within these transitions, our conversation addresses a wide variety of interlocutors, both scholarly and generalist, both with and without theological commitments. (excerpt)
Jegen, Mary Evelyn. Just Peacemakers: An Introduction to Peace and Justice
This book offers a look at justice and peacemakers from a Christian perspective. The first two chapters look at characteristics of Jesus and at our call to discipleship. This the foundation of our action on behalf of justice and peace. Chapters 3 and 4 consider a Christian theology of active nonviolence and ways in which nonviolence is practiced. Chapters 5 and deal with effective methods of learning and with ways of personal growth in work for justice and peace. Chapters 7 and 8 deal with the multiple contexts in which we are called to ork and with some of theprofound changes in our culture that impact our efforts. The final two chapters, 9 and 10, examine personal and group ways of working for social change and look at a number of organizes peace and justice movements. These organizations and movements enable us to work effectively with otheres, doing together what we could never do alone. The questions at the end of each chapter may be useful for personal study and reflection and also for conversation and discussion. (Excerpt)
Van Ness, Daniel W. Normalisation, Reintegration and Restorative Justice
Normalisation has much in common with the criminological theories of reintegration and restorative justice. Each is concerned with easing the entry or re-entry of previously-stigmatised individuals into the community as productive members. These movements are surfacing as a reaction to more formalised, offender-oriented (or patient-oriented) interventions, but they also challenge attitudes within the community. The emphasis on community reflected in each of these movements is not new; in fact, it is expressed in Jewish and Christian traditions and in the Old and New Testaments.
Segal, Eliezer. "Jewish perspectives on restorative justice."
In discussing Jewish perspectives with respect to restorative justice, Segal points to the central importance of Torah in Jewish life. Torah, meaning "instruction", refers to a complex set of commandments from God to the people of Israel. In a strict sense, Torah consists of the first five books of the Jewish Scriptures. In a broad sense, Torah consists of those books and the subsequent tradition of commentaries on them. Adherence or obedience to divine law or Torah is in many ways more important than adherence to doctrine. At the same time, certain key doctrinal ideas in the Scriptures form the foundation for the Torah way of life: humanity created in the divine image; the common origin of all humanity; peace; liberty; love for others; the dialectical interplay of mercy and justice; and the freedom of the will (allowing us to turn from evil). With all of this as background, Segal discusses certain key ideas and practices in the Torah and in Jewish life that bear upon the nature of wrongdoing and response to it: restoration; punishment; and atonement. For example, property crimes required restoration of the stolen or damaged property, or compensation for the property. In addition to financial penalties, possible punishments included exile, corporal punishment, and capital punishment. It is noteworthy that rabbinic law re-interpreted many possible forms of corporal punishment (the "eye for an eye" of Exodus 21:22-24) into a system of compensation, and it made capital punishment very difficult to administer. Nevertheless, the Torah did not see a fundamental inconsistency between the imposition of punishment and what we might consider the more restorative aspects of adjudicating wrongdoing in the Torah.
Mackey, V. Punishment: In the Scripture and Tradition of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Traces the criminal law traditions of 3 religious traditions and argues for a theology of restoration rather than retribution.
Wray, Harmon. Restorative or Retributive Justice? Transforming the US Criminal Justice System
Building on what he sees as Jesus' linking of spirituality and political action, Wray presents a restorative justice critique of a retributive criminal justice system in the U.S. Wray calls for many changes, including a halt to increased incarceration, intermediate sanctions in juvenile justice, victim-offender engagement, changes in sentencing, community policing, and an end to capital punishment.
Marshall, Christopher. Prison, Prisoners, and the Bible
Christopher Marshall discusses the use of prison seen in scripture and draws lessons for Christian responses to the use of incarceration today.

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