As I mentioned just recently, it is sort of a hobby of mine to collect quotes from mainstream Christian authors that reflect what I consider to be a proper perspective on the First Testament and/or the Torah. Joel sent me a great one this evening from Walter Brueggeman.
When Israel arrives at Mt. Sinai, a new extended, complex tradition begins, featuring [a] the making of covenant between YHWH and Israel and [b] the issuance of the commands of YHWH that become the condition and substance of the covenant…In all its complexity, the Sinai tradition extends through the book of Leviticus and through Numbers 10:10, when Israel departs the mountain. The reason the material is so complex is that over time the tradition of commands sought to extend the rule and will of YHWH to every aspect of life, personal and public, civic and cultic…This tradition is at the core of Judaism that is constituted by obedience to YHWH’s Torah. Conversely, in Christian tradition this material has been largely downplayed, precisely because it has been erroneously understood as “law” that provides a way to “earn” God’s grace. A reconsideration of the role and function of the commandments in their rich interpretive complexity is now of immense importance for Christians, precisely to be delivered from wrongly informed and distorting caricatures of the tradition of commandment.
[Brueggeman, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. pg. 61]
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Brueggeman’s writings. Sometimes he leaves me cheering, and sometimes he absolutely drives me nuts.