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Old Testament Law for Christians

Original Context and Enduring Application

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The Old Testament law is foundational for our understanding of the Bible, but for many it remains some of the Old Testament's most foreign and exotic material. This book by a leading evangelical expert in biblical law helps readers understand Old Testament law, how it functioned in the Old Testament, and how it is (and is not) instructive for contemporary Christians. The author explicates the often confusing legal system of ancient Israel, differentiates between time-bound cultural aspects of Israelite law and universally applicable aspects of the divine value system, and shows the ethical relevance of Old Testament law for Christians today.


Part 1: Getting into Old Testament Law
1. Is Old Testament Law Relevant for New Covenant Christians?
2. What Is Old Testament Law?
3. The Purpose of Old Testament Law
Part 2: Literature and Background of Old Testament Law
4. Navigating Old Testament Laws and Related Literature
5. How Does the Old Testament Law Genre Inculcate Values?
6. Historical Contexts Illuminating Old Testament Laws
Part 3: Applying Old Testament Laws
7. Introduction to Applying Old Testament Laws to Christian Life
8. Approaches to Applying Old Testament Law
9. Progressive Moral Wisdom
10. Case Study of Progressive Moral Wisdom: Lost and Profound in Exodus 23:4
Part 4: Values in Old Testament Law
11. Ten Commandments and Related Laws, Part One
12. Ten Commandments and Related Laws, Part Two
13. Social Justice in Old Testament Law
14. Old Testament Law and Theodicy
15. Questions about Keeping Old Testament Laws Today
16. Values Reflected in Ritual Laws
Conclusion: The Value of Obedience to God


"Of books that offer guidance for Western Christians on how to make sense of the Old Testament law, this is the finest I have read. Gane refuses to view the Old Testament as a negative foil against which to read the New Testament or as the problem that the New Testament fixes. Instead he treats the record of God's revelation as a single continuous gospel story. With his 'progressive moral wisdom' approach, he offers a liberating view of the Torah of Moses and the law of God. The law was God's gracious gift to Israel and is God's gracious gift to us, his invitation to live in a way that pleases him. Jesus treasured this law and embodied it perfectly. All who desire to live by 'the law of love' and 'the law of Christ' will find in the Old Testament law an inexhaustible resource for learning what that looks like in life. Gane's concluding summary alone is worth the price of the book."

Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Wheaton College

"Gane has given us a great introduction to the subject of Old Testament law, a thorough review of the major approaches and interpretations of this law, and a moderate but entirely appropriate application of law to the New Testament and to Christians today. More than ever, we need this guide to overturn the false dichotomy between an Old Testament God of law and a New Testament God of grace."

Richard S. Hess, distinguished professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary

"Gane's comprehensive survey of Old Testament law is rich and informative on many levels. He fills in the historical, literary, and cultural background and surveys the variety of ways Christians have tried to understand and apply this part of Scripture. Gane then offers a robust and helpful approach of his own, illustrating it with worked examples from the text. He also addresses some of the problems and questions that Old Testament law raises for Christians facing the ethical challenges of contemporary society. Without necessarily agreeing with every interpretation that Gane offers, I can warmly commend this book as an excellent guide for all who want to take the Torah as seriously as Jesus and Paul do but struggle to know how they can."

Christopher J. H. Wright, author of Old Testament Ethics for the People of God

"This much-needed work offers Christians a sure guide to developing a mature and nurturing understanding of Old Testament law. The author's 'progressive moral wisdom' approach is firmly rooted in sound hermeneutical method, following prescribed and accepted norms of biblical interpretation. Gane's proposal will demand the attention of serious readers of the Bible and will no doubt move us closer to the kind of approach we need when reading Old Testament law."

Bill T. Arnold, Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Gane adroitly explores the nature and purpose of Old Testament law in its biblical and ancient Near Eastern contexts and sets forth a biblically based, practical method for applying the values and principles of Old Testament laws to Christian life today. Combining thoroughness and rigor with clarity and the common touch, the author convincingly confirms the basic continuity between the Testaments while recognizing valid elements of discontinuity. His concluding section provides insightful and balanced responses to common Christian misconceptions about Old Testament law. I consider this book a must-read for layperson and scholar alike."

Richard M. Davidson, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University

The Author

  1. Roy E. Gane

    Roy E. Gane

    Roy E. Gane (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is professor of Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He is the author of several books, including...

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"A good resource to help answer a perpetual and essential question: 'What law(s) in the Old Testament are still binding or in force for believers today?' This question is all the more significant in a time and culture that challenges the NT (and virtually every other source of order) with similar questions. . . . Gane has provided a unique resource, especially for those who are not aware of nor sympathetic toward a high view of the value of OT law."

Michael A. Eschelbach,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"This book, which is intended to show Christians that OT laws are 'relevant, interesting, accessible, and useful,' draws on a wealth of scholarship but is presented in a way that makes not only the law but Gane's discussion of it accessible and understandable for a non-specialist audience."

John R. Barker, OFM,

The Bible Today

"A comprehensive volume on Old Testament Law that will help Christians better understand and apply such to everyday life. . . . Gane is a well-known and accomplished scholar of Biblical Law, and the scope of Old Testament Law for Christians demonstrates such with minimal effort. . . . Old Testament Law for Christians is outstanding as an introduction to OT law and equally as helpful as a hermeneutical model. . . . A timely resource. Gane has provided a comprehensive examination of OT law that will serve the New Covenant people of God for years to come. . . . While I didn't agree with Gane on every turn, I am very pleased to recommend this much-needed book."

John Kight,

Sojo Theo blog