The power of Old Testament Ethics for the People of God lies in its ability to make clear not only why Old Testament ethics are relevant in modernity, but how. The why is predicated on the authority of the whole cannon of Scripture, so that the whole interprets the part, and there results a balanced consideration of both the Old and New Testaments. The how is depicted in its practical, everyday application to the theological, political, economic, moral, civil, and social realms. Wright doesn’t do anything “new” by constructing any radical and innovative theories about the Old Testament simply to satisfy modern sensibilities. Rather, he meticulously shines a light on the principles and foundational ethics that have been staring us in the face all along. What the reader walks away with is a fresh, new understanding of the Old Testament that will persuade you to look back to the Law in order to look forward to Christ and grow your faith.
The basic motivation that Wright uses to analyze OT ethics is to reveal the underlying principle that animates the moral code. These principles are then extrapolated to reveal how they applied in the tribal, agrarian, ancient Israelite society, and how the same principles apply to modernity. By implication, this debunks the myth that the OT was a mere historical era that has no cotemporary relevance; it also steers us away from segregating the law into distinct categories and then choosing which ones are pertinent. Ultimately, the book leads us out of the darkness of confusion and into an embracing light of understanding that is unafraid to ask deep, probing, and critical questions. Even more, this approach clarifies how OT ethics informs our understanding of environmental stewardship, economics, “chosen-ness”, Zionism, secular law, family life and social interactions as a whole. It also successfully addresses difficult topics such as war, the death penalty for certain offenses, and slavery. In my personal opinion, the chapter on Justice and Righteousness (8) is brilliant and will forever change the way one thinks about secular law and the legal system.
Old Testament Ethics for the People of God was recommended to me by a well-respected and very well-read seminary professor, and I am tremendously grateful for the wisdom and insight provided in this marvelous book. It is my opinion that any Christian serious about Bible study or who demands a rigorous, considerate analysis of Old Testament ethics must read this book. This is a soaring beacon of theological light so important that your understanding of the Bible will be incomplete without it. Highest possible recommendation and for the works of Christopher J.H. Wright in general.
I was first tuned into Chris Wright by his The Mission of God, (c. 2006) and I've not been disappointed since. He's likely the most accessible OT scholar alive today. That's a claim by a 'lay-theologian.' I'm certainly not up on the longer list of names which are seeking to keep abreast of current theology/philosophy in the OT genres, just perusing the accessible writings on a basic OT theology. He seems aware of this greater collection of writings but his style is articulate, seems comprehensive, and certainly brings back to life a significant section of Scripture which, for the bulk of the 20th century had been--by "evangelical scholarship" relegated to heavy spiritualizing and/or Messianic prophecies--at least from an American perspective. I have found that as an Evangelical, some of my best theology mentors have come from the other side of the Atlantic, especially from the U.K., thinking of Chris, but also N.T. Wright.
This is a foundational document--as is The Mission of God--in tying the primary themes of the O.T., their relation to ethics for the people of God in any age, and to the mission of the people of God, especially in this age. Thank you, Chris, for your hard work on this another volume which brings glory to God, as any good scholarship should.