SL504 Toward a Messianic Jewish Communal Ethic

Instructor: Rabbi Paul Saal
Dates: January 14 – March 8
Time: Sundays 2:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern
Location: Populi (

Messianic Judaism has yet to develop and clearly articulate its own coherent ethical schema. This course will portray ethics as a conceptual framework that integrates and communicates the moral assumptions of a particular community, rooted in historical understandings and tradition, and consistent with the ongoing life of that community in all of its complexities. The future development of Messianic Judaism’s communal ethic will be considered in relation of its unique connections to two religious communities with disparate experiences and often competing identities. Students will be challenged to explore “hot button issues” such as social justice, sexual morality, and responses to political authority and reconsider their assumptions regarding these issues in light of revelation and communal identity.

This is a core course required for all students in the Rabbinic Studies and Jewish Studies programs.

To live and act as a Jew who follows Yeshua, one must develop an understanding of what it means to do so. For a religious community, an ethical system integrates theology, history and tradition to form a communal identity and conscience. This course will help students to develop spiritual and moral practices that will concretize their Messianic Jewish identity.


This is an online course. The student must have a computer, headset, and high-speed internet access. Please contact Rabbi Michael Hillel ( for assistance with Populi.

Lecture via webcast and podcast, asynchronous online discussion, and final essay.

Attend all interactive lectures via Zoom, timely completion all reading assignments, full participation in all blog discussions, and final examination.


  • Hauerwas, Stanley. The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics. Notre Dame, Ind., University of Notre Dame Press, 1983. [179 pages]
  • Jacobs, Jill. There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice Through Jewish Law & Tradition. Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights, 2009. [257 pages]
  • Rashkover, Randi and Kavka, Martin eds. Tradition in the Public Square: A David Novak Reader. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008. [365]
  • Resnik, Russell. Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus. Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books, 2010. 193 pages]
  • Saal, Paul L. No Longer Male or Female? A Case for Leadership Equality for Women in the Messianic Jewish Synagogue, Enfield, CT: Messianic Jewish Rabbinic Council, 2012. [13 pages] (will be provided)
  • Engelberg, Abba. The Ethics of Genesis. New York: Kodesh Press, 2014. [331 pages]
  • Friedmann, Daniel. To Kill and Take Possession: Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. [327 pages]
  • Freund, Richard A. Understanding Jewish Ethics. (2 Volumes) San Francisco: EmText, 1990. [ 661 pages]
  • Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996. [507 pages]
  • Hillel, Vered. A Messianic Jewish View of Divorce. Kesher; A Journal of Messianic Judaism, Issue 29. San Diego: MJTI, 2015 [26 pages]
  • Isaacs, Alick. A Prophetic Peace: Judaism, Religion, and Politic. Indianapolis, Indiana University Press. 2011. [224 pages]
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair C. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984. [286 pages]
  • Novak, David. Covenantal Rights: a Study In Jewish Political Theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000 [240 pages]
  • Peck, M. Scott. The Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace. New York: Simon& Schuster, 1988. [334 pages]
  • Saal, Paul L. Queer for Jesus: A Messianic Jewish Perspective Concerning Alternative Sexuality and the Ethics of Identity. Kesher: A Journal of Messianic Judaism, Issue 30. San Diego: MJTI, 2016. [22 pages]
  • Sacks, Jonathan. Essays on Ethics: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible. Jerusalem and New Milford, Connecticut: Maggid Books, 2016 [342]
  • Smedes, Lewis B. Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983. [282 pages]
  • Wilson, James Q. The Moral Sense. New York: Free Press, 1993. [313 pages]
  • Yoder, John. H. When War Is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996.
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