Mark F. Rooker. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (B&H Academic, 2010), 234 pages.
We live in lawless times. We are not surprised that the unbelieving world has no time for God’s holy Law. But it’s extremely troubling when so many professing Christians have neither interest in nor love for God’s law.
Mark F. Rooker. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century.
Mark Rooker is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He begins his book with an introductory chapter on the influence, significance, enumeration, divisions, background, context and addressees of the Ten Commandments. He then looks at each commandment from five angles:
The ancient Near Eastern background
The original meaning of the commandment
The way the commandments was observed or disobeyed in the Old Testament
The New Testament use of the commandment
Contemporary significance and application
The concluding chapter deals with the interrelationship of the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Covenant, Israel and the law, the church and the law, the New Testament and the law, and the place of the law in the Christian life.
First, this is a fine example of premier evangelical scholarship. Rooker thoroughly exegetes the Hebrew text, and also interacts with both ancient and modern Christian and Jewish scholarship.
Second, this volume presents an excellent biblical theology of the Ten Commandments. Rooker does not just explain the commandments as originally given, and then jump to today. After explaining the historical and cultural background to each commandment, he traces the commandment through the Old and New Testaments. Following this biblical trajectory is hugely helpful when it comes to understanding and applying the commandments today.
Third, Rooker explains the Ten Commandments in their redemptive context, as a response to God’s gracious redemptive acts, not as a means of redemption. Towards the end of the book, he has an excellent section on Old Testament salvation by grace through faith (180), although it does seem to be somewhat contradicted on page 190 when Rooker says that while God demanded obedience from Israel, he did not provide the means or ability to obey.