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The fall of the prison: Biblical perspectives on prison abolition

Griffith, Lee
June 4, 2015

Source: (1993) With a foreword by Dale Brown. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Lee Griffith argues in this book that the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims good news with respect to those in prison, and this good news consists of freedom for the prisoners. The message of God’s liberating power can be found consistently throughout the Bible, but the focal point of the message as regards prisoners can be found in Jesus’ quotation from the prophet Isaiah. As recorded in Luke 4, Jesus, reading from Isaiah 61, declares that he has come to proclaim release to the prisoners. Griffith interprets Jesus’ declaration to be clear and radical – that Jesus means the literal release of prisoners. Therefore, Griffith contends that the Church, in radical obedience to the good news proclaimed and lived by Jesus, must be a witness to and agent for the abolition of prisons in our day. That is the gist of his argument in this thoughtful and provocative book. The elements of his argument are detailed and nuanced. He begins by contending for the relevance of the Gospel to prisons. This leads to examination of prisons and the social order, especially in the United States. In particular, he considers issues of rehabilitation, deterrence, and retribution. Next, he examines prisons in light of the Old and New Testaments and the life of Jesus – with emphasis on Jesus as a prisoner, arrested and executed. Following this, Griffith scrutinizes the theology and historical record of the Church in relation to prisoners and prisons. Griffith concludes with discussion of the implications of the Gospel for Christian discipleship with respect to those in prison and the prisons in which they are held.


AbstractBible Studies
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