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."
"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."
"This work offers a concise summary of the commands with a wealth of resources for further study."
"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."
"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."
What Is the Decalogue?
1. First of All
10. Last but Not Least
The Decalogue Today
Living as the People of God