Finished My Mosaic Law Paper!

I finally finished my paper on the Mosaic law. I took the class “Intro to Christian Ethics in the Spring of 2012, and the professor said that the paper had to be done by the deadline, but if it wasn’t it could be turned in at any point after that, only it would lose one letter grade total if it wasn’t done by deadline. The topic for my paper was the continuing authority of the Mosaic law. That is, is the mosaic law still our authority today? What about the Ten Commandments? Well after about a year and a half of thinking about it, I finally finished the paper today. You can find it on my “resources” page. If you read it, feel free to let me know what you think! I know I haven’t figured it all out and there are places where I can be sharpened further, but I really enjoyed the study. If you are interested in the topic, here are some of the sources that I found most helpful:

Bahnsen, Greg L., Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Douglas J. Moo, Wayne G. Strickland and Willem A. VanGemeren. Five Views on Law and Gospel. Edited by Wayne G. Strickland, serieseditor Stanley N. Gundrey. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.

Belleville, Linda L. “‘Under Law’: Structural Analysis and the Pauline Concept of Law in Galatians 3:21-4:11.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26 (1986), 53-78.

Carson, Don. The Use of the OT in the NT. Part 1-3, audio lectures. Found on “Forum of Christian Leaders” website: http://welforum.com/course/view.php?id=90 (accessed August 17, 2013).

Dorsey, David A. “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34/3 (September 1991): 321-334.

Gallant, Tim. These are Two Covenants: Reconsidering Paul on the Mosaic Law. Grande Prairie: Pactum Reformanda, 2012.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000.

Hays, J. Daniel. “Applying the Old Testament Law Today.” Bibliotheca Sacra 158: 629 (2001): 21-35.

Kevan, Ernest F. The Grace of Law: A Study in Puritan Theology. Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1999.

Poythress, Vern S. The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 1991.

Schreiner, Thomas R. The Law and its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993.

VanDrunen, David. “Israel’s Recapitulation of Adam’s Probation.” Westminster Theological Journal 73 (2011): 303-24.

Wells, Tom and Fred G. Zaspel. New Covenant Theology: Description, Definition, Defense. Frederick: New Covenant Media, 2002.

Westerholm, Stephen. Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.

Wright, Christopher J. H. Walking in the Ways of the Lord: The Ethical Authority of the Old Testament. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

In case you would like to know just generally where I came down, here is the table of contents and the conclusion:

INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………

I. SURVEY OF PROPOSED SOLUTIONS……………………………………………….

1. Marcion…………………………………………………………………….

2. Dispensationalism…………………………………………………………

3. Covenant Theology…………………………………………………………

4. Lutheran Theology…………………………………………………………

5. The “Fulfillment” Approach……………………………………………….

6. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………

II. BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON ‘LAW’…………………………………………

1. “The Law” as the Mosaic Covenant………………………………………

2. “The Law” as the Pentateuch……………………………………………..

3. “The Law” as the Old Testament Scriptures………………………………

4. Other Uses of “The Law”………………………………………………….

5. The New Testament’s Positive and Negative Affirmations about the Law

6. Excursus: Biblical Language about the Law Illustrated…………………..

III. THE LAW AS A COVENANT………………………………………………………..

1. The Mosaic Law Entered at a Point in Time………………………………

2. Parties of the Mosaic Covenant: God and the Nation of Israel……………

3. The Mosaic Law as a Particular Sphere of Accountability………………..

4. Relationship between Mosaic Law and Moral Law………………………..

5. The Obligations of the Mosaic Law Fulfilled by Christ……………………

6. The Mosaic Covenant Ended at the Death of Christ………………………

7. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………

IV. THE MOSAIC LAW AS A REVELATION OF GOD’S MORAL WILL…………………………………………………………………………………

1. The Mosaic Law Is a Revelation of the Moral Law………………………..

2. The Mosaic Law is Identical in Substance with the Moral Law……………

3. Christians Are Said to “Fulfill the Law”………………………………….

4. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………

V. INTERPRETING AND APPLYING THE MOSAIC LAW……………………..

1. The Mosaic Law Is Fulfilled in Christ…………………………………….

2. The Law’s Place as an Ethical Authority Is Changed…………………….

3. The Law Applies Indirectly…………………………………………………

4. The Mosaic Law Applies Paradigmatically and Typologically……………

5. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………

CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………………….

APPENDIX: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS………………………………………

CONCLUSION

            This paper has been an attempt to explore the continuing authority of the Mosaic covenant. In section one, it was shown through a brief sample of the various historically proposed solutions that whether and how the Mosaic law has authority today is tied to the question of the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and between Israel and the church.

            In section two it was shown that the New Testament usually uses the term “the law” (νομος) in the sense of the commandments given to Israel by God at Sinai. The extended meanings of “the Pentateuch” or “the whole Old Testament Scriptures” are derived from this primary sense. The New Testament speaks of the Mosaic law in both a positive and negative way. These two ways that Scripture speaks of the one law were illustrated by the way that the Scriptures speak of the one person of the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of the attributes of His two natures. This was used to illustrate that the law, in terms of a covenantal relationship, has ended, but the law, in terms of a revelation of moral norms has continuing authority.

            These two facets of the law were examined in the third and fourth sections of this paper. The third section spoke of the Mosaic law as a covenant. It showed that the Mosaic law had entered at a particular point in time and had specific parties, namely God and the nation of Israel. It also introduced a particular sphere of accountability as was illustrated by the fact that the New Testament often uses “transgression” for violation of the Mosaic law, but while “sin” may be a violation of the Mosaic law, it is also used in contexts in which violation of the Mosaic law is contrasted with violations of Gods will outside of the jurisdiction of the Mosaic law.

            This illustrated that there is a difference between the Mosaic law and what might be called an implied “moral law.” This implied law is simply a way to speak of any of the concrete demands upon mankind as a necessary consequence of the need to conform to God’s character. Section three also discussed the fact that Christ, in His sinless life and sacrificial death fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic covenant as the true Israel and second Adam in a way that make the terms of the covenant unrepeatable. He secured the blessings of the covenant so that all those united to Christ through faith are able to share in eternal life with God. Finally the fact that the Mosaic covenant ended with the death of Christ was explored.

            Section four discussed the Mosaic law as a continuing revelation of the moral will of God. It examined how the Mosaic law is a revelation of God’s “moral law,” and is identical in substance with the moral law. This was illustrated by the fact that the moral demands of the law are applicable outside of the jurisdiction of the Mosaic covenant, as well as the fact that the Old Testament saw a future for the Mosaic law that is probably best explained in terms of the moral essence of the Mosaic law, rather than a continuing of the covenantal arrangement. Finally the fact that the Mosaic law continues in terms of revealing the moral will of God is demonstrated by the fact that Christians are said to “fulfill the law.”

            Finally, section five built upon the preceding sections and explored some principles for interpreting and applying the Mosaic law. These included the fact that Christ has fulfilled the Mosaic law, and the fact that the coming of Christ changes the place of the law as an ethical authority. In addition, the Mosaic law applies in an indirect manner because the literal recipient is the nation of Israel; nevertheless, it still speaks to people other than Israel in a revelatory sense. It is not written to Christians, but for Christians. Lastly, the ethical triangle of Christopher J. H. Wright was examined to explain how Israel and her laws apply paradigmatically to the world, typologically to the church, and eschatologically to the redeemed creation.

            This paper has tried to emphasize that the Mosaic law is both totally passed away as an administration of God’s people in the world, and totally relevant to ethics in the church and in the world. While there is so much more that could be said on the subject due to the central place of the Mosaic law in the Bible’s story and theology, hopefully, in some small way, this paper can be a means of God pressing people to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in Christ in a more accurate way.

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