09 August 2011

"The Mosaic Law in Christian Perspective"

Another article has been posted to SSRN by two authors whose work, albeit in very different fields, I have long appreciated. David Skeel, who teaches law at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tremper Longman, who teaches theology at Westmont College, have co-authored The Mosaic Law in Christian Perspective. You can find it here.

The article is only 20 pages so don't expect analytic depth. I found it generally correct because the authors largely agree with me. (All of us draw extensively on Christopher J.H. Wright's Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (IVP 2004).)

Two applications suggested by the authors stand out. First, their critique of the "Jubilee 2000" campaign, which sough to apply the biblical principle of individual debt forgiveness in ancient Israel to contemporary international debt. Dead on. Second, their tentative support for some form of domestic partnership law in lieu of gay marriage that Longman and Skeel ground in the claim that "the Mosaic law suggests that blanket condemnation of existing cultural norms is not always the appropriate response." Well sure, but ...

In short, this piece is a good starting point for those who, like most Christians, have given little or no thought to the place of the Mosaic law in the contemporary world; something that pre-law students should read. On the other hand, it won't go far toward making use of the Mosaic law acceptable in the secularist academy nor do much of the heavy lifting that is required to acutally apply the Mosaic law to contemporary legal matters. But such were not the aims of this piece so it can stand as the impetus for others to get to work.

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