This morning I added a reference in my Bibliography to the above titled book. I highly recommend it. The following is a summary/review of that book.
According to Christopher Wright, in his book Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, the best way to understand Old Testament ethics is not to seize upon whatever seems relevant to our ethical agenda, but to “put ourselves in Israel’s position and understand how Israel perceived and experienced their relationship with God and how that experience affected their ethical ideals and practical living as a community.” He outlines three components of that relationship which help the reader assess how Israel experienced that relationship: the theological, the social, and the economic components of the community life.
For the theological component, citing Jeremiah 9:23-24 and Jeremiah 22:15-16, Wright observes that “to know God is to do righteousness and justice.” For the social component, Wright introduces two helpful concepts. First, he encourages the reader to look at the individual as part of the community. Second, he suggests a model or pattern that aids in the analysis of different situations by means of utilizing governing principles. Finally, for the economic component, he characterizes the component as a gauge of how things are going at the other two components. He helpfully ties this analysis to the blessings and curses of the covenant.
Having completed this basic survey, he broadens the perspective and applies the analysis beyond Israel on various particular themes, including ecology, economics, land rights, politics, law, culture and family. Where Wright’s analysis really shines is in his discussion of the legal system. His approach is very useful. His theological/hermeneutical steps as follows: the authority and relevance of the OT to Christians, the unity of Scripture, priority of grace, the mission of Israel, the function of the law in relation to that mission, and the paradigm. He then lists the ethical/social steps necessary to expand the analysis beyond Israel: distinguish types of laws, analyze the social function of the particular laws, define the objective of the law in Israel, and preserve the objective but change the context.
[W]e assume that if God gave Israel certain specific institutions and laws, they were based on principles that have universal validity. . . [This means that Christians] will work to bring their society nearer to conformity with the overall paradigmatic structure of principles underlying the concrete laws of Old Testament society, because they perceive the same God to be both the redeemer and law-giver of Israel, and also creator and ruler of all people.
I must admit that at some points there is some confusion in the implementation of the analysis. This only serves to highlight the importance of exploring the initial context of the Old Testament law. For example, in his discussion of ecological issues, at one point he claims that “we have more in common with the rest of animate creation than in distinction from it.” Indeed, we share the breath of life from God, suggesting that there is “not an ontological distinction between human and non-human animals.” Two pages later, he claims that, “The image of God is not so much something we possess, as what we are.” [Emphasis in original] There appears to me to be an apparent contradiction here which I can not resolve. I commend Wright’s discussion that God’s command to take dominion over creation causes us to take a servant attitude in our treatment of creation to the glory of God, however, I need further clarification on how what appears to be a contradiction affects his concept of an “element of reciprocity in human-animal relations.”
[Here my comments are directed exclusively at Christians and not to the civil magistrate.] Wright needs to spend more time developing the primacy of weekly corporate worship. Wright touches on worship briefly in several places and recognizes its import. However, worship is at the center of the Old Testament law. A cursory review of torah suggests that it is primarily driven by principles of worship and liturgy. Starting with Exodus, the first half of the book is devoted to “Let my people go so they may worship me.” The second half consists of the covenant initiatory worship service and the design of the liturgical components of the tabernacle. Leviticus is almost exclusively about liturgy: the liturgy of offerings and sacrifices, ordination of priests, and the Day of Atonement. Mixed in with these liturgical laws are laws pertaining to holy living within such a worshiping community. The book of Deuteronomy can certainly be understood as an entire worship service.
Rather than contradicting Wright, I confirm his approach by recognizing there is a paradigm here on which we recognize certain principles that apply: worship drives the culture. How then do we apply these principles to our society? President John Adams has a suggestion. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” If Christians are to work toward bringing their society nearer to conformity with the overall paradigmatic structure of principles underlying the concrete laws of Old Testament society, those overall principles must include worship.
 Wright, C. J. H., Old Testament Ethics and the People of God (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 2004), p. 18.
 Wright, 37.
 Wright, 51. While Wright introduces the concept in Chapter 2, he more fully elaborates this concept in Chapter 11.
 Wright, 63.
 Wright, Chapter 3.
 Wright, 321.
 Wright, 117.
 In addition, I am hesitant to fully embrace Wright’s conclusion that God’s covenant with Noah was a “universal covenant” with all life. Certainly the scope of the covenant included all life. However, it is interesting to note that God did not use his covenantal name in the establishment of the covenant, but more to the point, he did not communicate the terms of the covenant to all life. He communicated the terms of the covenant to Noah and his sons. Covenant, in order to be binding must have two responsible parties.
 Wright, 45.
 I have not mentioned here the significant focus of worship in the Ten Commandments itself.
- The “international” character of the Wisdom literature in the Old Testament (imaginewithscripture.wordpress.com)