Old Testament Ethics: A Guided Tour

InterVarsity. Apr. 2019. 275p. index. ISBN 9780830852246. pap. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780830873623. REL
If the average Christian were asked to sum up Old Testament ethics in three words, they might be "legalistic," "harsh," and "rigid." Goldingay (Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary.; An Introduction to the Old Testament) offers a far more nuanced approach. He starts by describing the time it took to compose the Old Testament, its wide geographical, literary, and cultural landscape, and how there are far fewer ethical regulations than one might assume that defy any legalistic characterization. Goldingay then turns to a positive evaluation, such as illustrating some common virtues held up by the Old Testament along with the environment and relationships advocated to foster these virtues. The author continues with expositions of several extended passages and character studies. For instance, he uses the first two chapters of Genesis to illustrate how the Old Testament views the proper relationship between humans and the world they inhabit followed by the character of Nehemiah and the ethics of leadership.
VERDICT The Old Testament is not a book of ethics, and Goldingay makes no attempt to develop a moral theory from it. Those interested in Old Testament theology will find his drawing out ethical implications from its stories and sayings engaging.

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