In God’s People in God’s Land: Family, Land, and Property in the Old Testament (Eerdmans, $14.95), Christopher Wright is keen on showing us ways in which we can cash in on the Old Testament paradigms for living. For example, according to Wright, land was the keystone of an Israelite family’s economic viability. And the family was one of the social pillars of Israelite society. Together, land and family were a sacred relationship granted and blessed by God. To violate this relationship was to jeopardize Israel’s social order and break covenant with the heavenly Lord. Herein lies a message for Christian social ethics today.

And there is more—the rights of women, children, and slaves (read disadvantaged workers) are all relevant topics for a day in which the rights and abuse of each are an issue of social concern. In every case Wright delivers a fresh perspective.

This is a useful and readable book, though convincingly disguised as an academic study (but don’t let transliterated Hebrew and the trappings of scholarship put you off). Some may be familiar with Wright’s earlier book on Old Testament social ethics, An Eye for an Eye. Many of the same topics are treated here—but in greater depth. Evangelicals who wish to put biblical teeth into their determination to uphold the family in our society must start by understanding the Old Testament. And no one is better than Wright at pointing out the features of that terrain.

By Daniel G. Reid, reference-book editor for InterVarsity Press.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.