A scholar and theologian examines the moral foundations of the Mosaic covenant, extracting advice for living righteously today.
While many Christians consider themselves distinctly different from Jews, that was not the case in the early days of Christianity. Risley (How To Decide What to Do Next When You’re Retired, 2016, etc.), a scholar and theologian, presents a thorough and organized look at this topic, showing that “the legacy of moral law in the Mosaic covenant was not rejected in the New Testament church and that it continues to apply in the present day.” Her first chapter is a compelling one, as she underscores the need for moral guidance in a secular world with ever-changing values and increasingly complex problems. She then delves into the Old Testament, sifting through the Mosaic covenant to separate ritual law from moral law, which contains principles applicable to modern righteousness. The author writes eloquently, making her points with precision and expertly weaving in Bible verses to support her ideas. She also consults other sources, such as the Talmud, though these sections are often much more difficult to comprehend. In Part II, Risley turns to the New Testament to dissect how Jesus related to Jewish law, what was expected of Christian converts, and what Paul taught about the law, grace, righteousness, and repentance. As Christian and Jewish ideologies split apart over time, much of this understanding was lost. But, as the author makes clear in the volume’s final part, moral law still serves many uses today—it can motivate change, direct progress, promote internal transformation, and ultimately help people live devout lives. This book is well researched, well organized, and well written. But the work is much more appropriate for the clergy than laypeople because of its thoroughness and intense, academic prose style. The volume also offers far more information than application, though reflection questions after each chapter will help readers make personal connections with the text. Even though this work isn’t necessarily a spiritual pick-me-up, it still features a deep well of knowledge and wisdom on a subject that serious Christians should consider.
An eloquent and meticulous biblical exploration that will especially appeal to intellectually inclined Christians.