Religious Studies Faculty Publications

Document Type

Encyclopedia Entry

Publication Date


Publication Source

Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics


Virtue ethics emphasizes the development of moral excellence in terms of character qualities called virtues. Virtue are (1) habituated dispositions involving both an affective desire for the good and the skill to both discern and act accordingly; (2) learned through practice within a tradition (i.e., a historical community with a rich account of the "good"); and (3) directed toward this tradition's particular conception of the good (making virtues "teleological"). From a Christian perspective, virtue ethics is an ethics of discipleship, which emphasizes the development of the habits, practices, and wisdom necessary to pursue the "good" exemplified by Christ. Reading Scripture in such a practice: disciples are formed by reading with more mature member of the church and thus gradually develop virtues and skilled judgment necessary to faithful interpretation.

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Document available for download is the authors' accepted manuscript for the following: Tousley, Nikki Coffey, and Kallenberg, Brad J. "Virtue Ethics." Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, ed. Joel Green, Jacqueline Lapsley, Rebekah Miles and Allen Verhey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2011.

Entry is made available in the repository with the publisher's permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.

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Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing

Place of Publication

Grand Rapids, MI