Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, By Christopher J. H. Wright
Old Testament Ethics for the People of God
  • Length: 520 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: October 04, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 3961
  • ISBN: 9780830839612

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Nothing confuses Christian ethics quite like the Old Testament. Some faithful readers struggle through its pages and conclude that they must obey its moral laws but may disregard its ceremonial and civil laws. Others abandon its teaching altogether in favor of a strictly New Testament ethic. Neither option, argues Chris Wright, gives the Old Testament its due.

In this innovative approach to Old Testament ethics--fully revised, updated and expanded since its first appearance in 1983 as Living as the People of God (An Eye for an Eye in North America) and including material from Walking in the Ways of the Lord--Wright examines a theological, social and economic framework for Old Testament ethics. Then he explores a variety of themes in relation to contemporary issues: economics, the land and the poor; politics and a world of nations; law and justice; society and culture; and the way of the individual.

This fresh, illuminating study provides a clear basis for a biblical ethic that is faithful to the God of both Testaments.

"After thirty years' research and writing on Old Testament ethics, Chris Wright has brought his conclusions together in this comprehensive and readable textbook. It is truly a magnum opus and should be at the top of the reading list for any student, teacher, minister or layperson interested in the relevance of the first part of the Bible to modern ethical issues."

David L. Baker, Tyndale House, Cambridge

"Chris Wright has been one of the most significant writers on Old Testament ethics over recent decades. In a unique way he combines commitment to listening openly to the Old Testament as Scripture, reflectiveness over questions of method, and clarity as a writer. It is excellent that he has been able to stand back and rework so much of his important work into this definitive volume."

John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Whether Wright's conclusions become the consensus opinion of the next generation obviously remains to bge seen, but I can't imagine future discussion of the issue ignoring the well-thought out arguments laid out in this book."

Phil Sumpter, Chrisendom, August 22, 2008

"This is a wonderful book by an impressive scholar of the 1st Testament. In a culture that often cares little about social justice, the poor, and/or personal financial ethics, this book gives us a sobering look into the social requirements that God expected his people live by in the Old Testament. It is always a treat to find an author who has a great combination of scholarship and writing skill. I believe Christopher Wright is one such author, who has found a way to make his wonderful scholarship both informative and a joy to read. I would highly recommend this book."

On Thoughts From a Young, Slightly Cantankerous, Aspiring Theologian blog, February 3, 2008

?Wright has fully revised and updated his two earlier books on Old Testament ethics, and has integrated them into one edition. The result is his fullest expression of the fruit of many years of reflection and study on the authority and relevance of Old Testament Scripture to Christian ethics."

Evangelical Review of Theology, July 2007

"Remarkably balanced, sensitive, and thorough . . . A fine resource not only for the educator, but also for the pastor."

Missiology, January 2006


Preface to Living as the People of God

1. The theological angle
God's identity
God's action
God's words
God's purpose
God's way
God's goodness
Further reading
2. The social angle
The social dimension of redemption
The distinctiveness of Israel
Israel as God's paradigm
Further reading
3. The economic angle
The land in Israel's story
The land as divine gift
The land under divine ownership
The land as covenantal measuring gauge
Further reading

4. Ecology and the earth
God's earth: divine ownership
Our earth: divine gift and human responsibility
Cursed earth: human sin and ecological destruction
New creation: ecology and eschatology
Further reading
5. Economics and the poor
Economic ethics in creation perspective
Economics in a fallen world
Economic dimensions to Israel's story of redemption
Creation values restored in Israel's economic system
Responding to poverty
Further reading
6. The land and Christian ethics
Paradigmatic interpretation
Eschatological interpretation
Typological interpretation
The jubilee: a case study
Further reading
7. Politics and the nations
Perspectives from creation and the fall
God's people and the state: perspectives from Israel's history
God and the nations: Israel's universal vision
Further reading
8. Justice and righteousness
Justice as God displays it
Justice as God demands it
Justice as God will deliver it
Further reading
9. Law and the legal system
The main legal blocks
The different kinds of law
The administration of justice
Israel's scale of values
Theological reflections
Further reading
10. Culture and family
Rejection and prohibition
Qualified toleration
Critical affirmation: the family in the Old Testament
Christians and culture
Christians and the family
Further reading
11. The way of the individual
The individual in community
Personal responsibility
Models of morals
Failure and forgiveness
Further reading

12. A survey of historical approaches
The early church
The reformation era
Some contemporary confessional approaches
Further reading
13. Contemporary scholarship: A bibliographical essay
14. Hermeneutics and authority in Old Testament ethics
Getting there from here: methodological problems
Getting back here from there: ideological problems
The question of authority
Further reading

Appendix: What about the Canaanites?
Index of Scripture References
Index of Names
Index of Subjects


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Christopher J. H. Wright

Christopher J. H. Wright (PhD, Cambridge) is international ministries director of the Langham Partnership. He has written many books including The Mission of God, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, and Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament. He was chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group from 2005-2011 and the chief architect of The Cape Town Commitment from the Third Lausanne Congress, 2010.