Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law

tight fistsWhile at the eerdmans.com site, the cover of Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament caught my eye for several reasons:

1. It is by David Baker, who wrote Two Testaments, One Bible, a good text on Biblical Theology I have skimmed but never finished, and one that appears to be coming out in a 3rd, updated edition.

2. It attempts to draw from the ethical teaching of the Old Testament.

3. It is about wealth and povety, the teaching of which jumps out at you when reading Scripture, esepcially when reading through Proverbs. (When there is an economic downturn, your theology of wealth and poverty needs to be sound so that you can avoid the triplet temptations of anxiety/despair, stinginess/hoarding, and greed/gambling — the latter two being born of the former. Such a theology should cut through all Health and Wealth Theology-thought, for real inheritance can only be found in Christ as one inherits the kingdom of God through belief in him alone for salvation, and rightly understanding that inheritance will shape our concepts of poverty, wealth, provision, and giving sacrificially.)

4. Its cover art reminded me of another book on my shelf: The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story - a book I would recommend highly!

The description from the publisher:

Any Christian response to today’s ever-growing problem of poverty around the globe must be firmly rooted in biblical teaching. While books on various aspects of wealth and poverty in the Old and New Testaments have been published, so far there has been no thorough study of Old Testament law on the topic. David Baker argues here that an understanding of that law is not only fundamental for interpreting the entire Old Testament, but it is also assumed by the writers of the New Testament. Tight Fists or Open Hands? fills this gap in Old Testament scholarship and lays a foundation for considering the relevance of these laws to everyday life in the twenty-first century.

The heart of this book is a study of all the biblical laws concerned with wealth and poverty. Baker groups these laws together by topic, considering the similarities and differences between the Decalogue, Book of the Covenant, Holiness Code, and Deuteronomic laws. He then places these in the context of ancient Near Eastern law in order to make clear which attitudes are distinctly biblical and which are held in common with other civilized peoples.

Each section of Tight Fists or Open Hands? includes an extended conclusion that summarizes the main ideas, considers relationships with other biblical texts, and points to the significance of the laws for today’s world. Such thorough exegesis and modern application make this book relevant to pastors, scholars, and students in a variety of courses.

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One response to “Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law

  1. Number 4 made me laugh- something about not judging a book by the cover- but I know what you mean. Looks like a good book.

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