An East Carolina University criminal justice professor examines the offenses of biblical figures in his newest book, “Criminals of the Bible: Twenty-five Case Studies of Biblical Outlaws.”
With his book, Mark Jones, professor of criminal justice at East Carolina University, blends his two loves in this book: criminal justice and the Bible.
|A new book by criminal justice professor Mark Jones examines biblical outlaws. (Contributed photo)
“I wanted to see what kind of lessons people could learn from the Bible in the area of crime,” he said. “There are good guys and bad guys throughout the Bible. And not everyone accused in the Bible of breaking the law actually did a bad thing.”
Jones cited Daniel, accused of what Jones calls civil disobedience; John the Baptist, charged with sedition; Joseph’s brothers, who sold their brother into slavery (human trafficking in Jones’ words); and Jesus, who was charged with blasphemy.
“Some of those profiled in this book are heroes of the Bible. And then we have Cain, who killed his brother Abel; and David, who sends the husband of Bathsheba to the front lines of battle so he can have her for his own wife,” he said.
Jones covers each case study using biblical text and some modern-day interpretation. Most of the chapters cover the following points: the scriptural reference for the crime; a short biography of the principle character(s); the legal, social and political definition and context of the crime for that era; the same crime viewed through a modern legal, social and political lens; and the lessons that can be learned from the crime on a societal or individual level.
Jones said he was struck by the contrast of America’s freedoms compared to the governments run by tyrants in the Bible. “As often as we mock our government and the criminal justice system, it could be a lot worse,” he said.
“The good thing about studying the Bible is that you can take away not just one thing, but a lot of things,” Jones said. “One overriding theme throughout the book is of redemption and forgiveness. No matter how bad a thing a person might do, there’s always a way of divine forgiveness.”
A former probation officer and prison recreation supervisor in Georgia, Jones has been teaching at ECU since 1993. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, his master’s degree from Georgia State University and his doctorate in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.
This is Jones’ third book. His previous works are “Community Corrections” and “Criminal Justice Pioneers in U.S. History.” He has also published numerous academic journal articles.
“Criminals of the Bible: Twenty-Five Case Studies of Biblical Crimes and Outlaws” is available locally at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, The Rock, and The Light Christian Bookstore.