241: The Decalogue through the Centuries edited by Joseph Greenman and Timothy Larsen

by Gerard


241.5209: Greenman, Jeffrey P & Timothy Larsen, eds. The Decalogue through the Centuries: From the Hebrew Scriptures to Benedict XVI. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012. 227 pp. ISBN 978-0-664-23490-4.

Dewey Breakdown

  • 200: Religion
  • 240: Christian moral and devotional theology
  • 241: Christian ethics
  • 241.5: Codes of conduct
  • 241.52: The Ten Commandments
  • +09: History

In every religion, there is a set of rules for everyone to follow in order to maintain good standing among the followers. Known formally as the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments (or Statements) spell out a basic code of conduct for both Jewish and Christian worshipers. They dictate that the followers should worship only one God and to do so without idols and with reverence. They hold that followers should not steal, murder, lie, cheat. They should also love and respect each other faithfully. Throughout history, the Decalogue has been seen in different lights by different religious scholars. Jeffrey P. Greenman and Timothy Larsen, in The Decalogue through the Centuries, help to gather each of these viewpoints into one resource for students of the Bible.

It would take a while to go through each contributor’s individual arguments and theses. Sufficed to say that views of the Decalogue offered are from early Jewish sources through Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, Andrewes, Owen, and even the British poetess Christina Rossetti. Especially interesting for modern Christians is a chapter devoted to Pope John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s writings on the Commandments.

This was one of those books where I have to separate my opinions on what I learned from my opinion on the book’s writing. It’s a collection of essays that sprung out of a conference held at Wheaton College in 2008 on the history of the Ten Commandments. The subject matter is intriguing, but in this case, the writing is overwhelmingly dry. The problem is, that there’s really no way to make devotional history any better than this. I recommend this one for Biblical scholars only. Everyone else, stay away.