Thu, 04 Apr 2013 - 1:48 PM CST
The Gospel According to Moses: Theological and Ethical Reflections on the Book of Deuteronomy
DANIEL I. BLOCK (Cascade Books, 394 pp., paperback)
In The Gospel According to Moses, Daniel Block laments that the sharp distinction between law and gospel in Protestantism has “left many Protestants with a truncated canon” and a negative view of the Old Testament Scriptures, the Bible of Jesus. The tendency of Christians to view the Old Testament as a failed experiment and the New Testament as “plan B” obscures the believer’s vision of the gracious character of the Old Covenant thus depriving the believer of its life-giving gospel. This exposition of the theology of Deuteronomy is meant to provide a corrective to such a distorted understanding of a vital portion of the Christian canon.
Block argues that Deuteronomy does not present Moses as a lawgiver, but as a pastor exhorting his congregation to be faithful to Yhwh, their Redeemer. Therefore Deuteronomy is “exhortation” not “legislation,” and Moses presents the commandments not as a means of earning salvation, but as an appropriate response to the gracious redemption already given. Deuteronomy is torah “instruction” rather than “law,” and Moses meant it to teach the covenant people how to “walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
According to Block, Deuteronomy “provides the most systematic presentation of theology found in the entire Old Testament.” Deuteronomy presents a theological reflection on the redemptive events recorded in Genesis through Numbers.
This collection of essays by Block offers scholarly insight on a variety of hermeneutical, theological, and critical issues related to Deuteronomy. It presents solid arguments for the essentially Mosaic character of the book and models an evangelical approach to Old Testament law.
Pastors will find this book useful, especially chapter 4, “Preaching Old Testament Law to New Testament Christians.” One caveat is that the author includes untransliterated Hebrew that may present a difficulty for those not able to work with Hebrew script. However, the reader can generally read around these passages and determine the meaning from the surrounding context. Aside from this small inconvenience, The Gospel According to Moses is an excellent resource for ministers and educated laypersons.
Reviewed by G. Vincent Medina, Ph.D., Old Testament professor, Central Bible College, Springfield, Missouri.