For Christians worldwide, the Decalogue is probably the best-known text in the First Testament. Many of us memorized it as a child, and theologians often declare that although the other law codes in the Pentateuch have no bearing on Christians, the Ten Commandments function as a universal moral or natural law, uniquely binding on us as it circumscribes a way of life.
In view of the literary shape of the document and its ancient Near Eastern context, some might argue that the Decalogue is the world’s first publicly promulgated “Bill of Rights”. However, unlike modern bills of rights, rather than guaranteeing the rights of the people addressed, the Decalogue seeks to rein in their propensity to abuse their authority and trample on the rights of those in their household and neighborhood.
In light of Jesus’ interpretation of the Decalogue and all other laws in Israel’s legal canons by his declaration that “You shall demonstrate love for YHWH your God and for your neighbor as you do for yourself,” what might be the covenantal significance of the Decalogue and its implications for Christian living? What might be the implications for people of other faith traditions?
On Thursday, 20 October 2021 at 1400 UTC/GMT, Dr. Daniel Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Wheaton College (USA), will explore the intricacies of the Decalogue in the Hebrew Scriptures as a “Bill of Rights” and its implications for academics serving in pluralistic universities.
In preparation for the webinar, read Dr. Block’s essay “The Decalogue in the Hebrew Scriptures” in The Decalogue Through the Centuries (WJK Press, 2012).
View Dr. Block’s outline of the webinar here.
Please also look over Dr. Block’s list of further reading.