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Christopher J. H. Wright (Ph.D., Cambridge) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His doctorate is in Old Testament ethics. He taught Old Testament in India for five years (1983-1988) at Union Biblical Seminary, and then returned to the faculty of All Nations Christian College, a missionary training school in England, where he was principal from 1993-2001.
Wright is now the international director of the Langham Partnership International (known in the United States as John Stott Ministries), providing literature, scholarships and preaching training for pastors in Majority World churches and seminaries.
He has written several books including commentaries on Deuteronomy and Ezekiel, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God and Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. An ordained Anglican, he serves on the staff of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, England.
Christopher Wright convincingly shows how foundational a "theology of the land" was to Israel's laws, especially in how they were aimed at sustaining families by preserving their connection with their means of economic stability: their land. Wright even emphasizes the family-land unit's spiritual importance, seeing it as the primary means through which God related to the Israelites, though this is less convincing, especially when he claims orphans and landless strangers were disqualified from a spiritual relationship with God on account of their lack of family/land. Related to this is another strange contention of Wright's: that the fifth commandment to honor one's father and mother includes maintaining family lands to ensure the happiness of deceased ancestors!
Aside from that, Wright does a good job at exploring the debated status of three groups of "dependents" in the Old Testament: wives, children, and slaves. He shows how the Old Testament strongly recognizes their dignity and protects their humanity under the Law, even as persons within a patriarchal structure. Stand-outs include his interesting case for the right of slaves to initiate legal suits against their masters as well as his investigation of the divergent sets of slave release laws, namely the 7-year release plan and the 50-year Jubilee.
Wright's dialogue with the relevant scholarship is healthy, without drowning the reader, and in the final chapter, he makes a brief but articulate call for a "paradigmatic" application of Old Testament principles today, even though this work is not primarily focused on modern-day application. Due to this, readers will be curious to explore how to apply other parts of the Mosaic Law related to the topics surveyed by Wright (such as concubinage, perpetual slavery of foreigners, etc.). Still, God's People in God's Land remains a helpful corrective to modern misconceptions of Old Testament ethics.
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