The Decalogue: Living as the People of God, By David L. Baker
The Decalogue
  • Length: 222 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: March 06, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5169
  • ISBN: 9780830851690

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  • Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Top Shelf Book Cover Award 2017

The Ten Commandments, or Decalogue, have long been a pillar of Western law and culture. In more recent times they have been a point of controversy in the public square. But on closer scrutiny the commandments are particularly addressed to the people of God. In the exodus narrative, their revelation on Mount Sinai is framed in symbols of awe—fire, smoke, and blaring trumpets.

To this centerpiece of Sinai, David L. Baker brings his extensive research and reflection. Setting each commandment within its ancient Near Eastern setting, he clearly backlights their cultural profile. Then, within their covenantal framework, he illuminates their biblical-theological meaning. Finally, viewing each commandment in light of our contemporary setting, he reflects on how they cut against the cultural grain and shed light on our pathway as the people of God. The result is a focused commentary on the Decalogue.

For anyone studying the Decalogue and Old Testament ethics—students or laypeople, teachers or preachers—this book is an indispensable guide to the "ten words" God delivered at Sinai.

"I grew up in a generation of children required to memorize and recite the Ten Commandments by heart. They set the shape of accepted Christian ethics. Later, I visited many churches with the Ten Commandments inscribed on the walls but lacking the vital context of the opening affirmation of God's redeeming grace: 'I am the LORD your God who brought you up out of the house of bondage'—law without gospel. David Baker's timely book challenges us to reconsider the foundational place of the Decalogue in Christian personal and public ethics. But he is also careful to note the context—both the biblical context of God's people's obedience as a grateful response to saving grace, and the surrounding context of ancient Near Eastern cultures and laws, for helpful comparison and contrast. The result is a richly rewarding textbook, surveying the field of biblical scholarship comprehensively but with a light touch, drawing together many threads in wider biblical theology, and reflecting on the relevance of the Ten Commandments in contemporary church and society."

Christopher J. H. Wright, international ministries director, Langham Partnership, author of Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

"David Baker is someone who knows the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and the scholarly literature, and his study of the Ten Commandments is clear, thorough, wide ranging, and knowledgeable. Furthermore, if you ever want to read anything else, the footnotes and the bibliography are a treasury."

John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This work offers a concise summary of the commands with a wealth of resources for further study."

Mark W. Scarlata, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 42.5

"Baker's reliable guide can be warmly recommended as an informative and suggestive introduction to a text which remains central to the Christian imagination and, for many, to Christian ethics."

Jonathan Y. Rowe, Studies in Christian Ethics, 2018, Vol. 31(3)

"This book is a very good summary of the ethical principles given in the Decalogue and does an excellent job calling the people of God to live accordingly."

T. Timothy Chen, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, January 2018



What Is the Decalogue?

Loving God
1. First of All
2. Worship
3. Reverence
4. Rest
5. Family

Loving Neighbor
6. Life
7. Marriage
8. Property
9. Truth
10. Last but Not Least

The Decalogue Today
Living as the People of God

Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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David L. Baker

David L. Baker (PhD, University of Sheffield) is a lecturer in biblical studies at All Nations Christian College, Hertfordshire, England. Until 2014 he was senior lecturer in Old Testament at Trinity Theological College in Perth, Western Australia. Previously, he was deputy warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge, England, and a seminary lecturer in Indonesia for over twenty years. He is the author of Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments and Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law, as well as several books in Indonesian. His research interests include Deuteronomy, the Decalogue, the relationship between the Testaments, and wealth and poverty in the Old Testament.