The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century. By Mark F. Rooker. NAC Studies in Bible and Theology. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010, 248 pp., $24.99.
Given the extensive secondary literature on the Ten Commandments, my first response to Mark Rooker's work is to ask the question, "What can it say of significance in two hundred pages?" The answer is, "Quite a lot." The book begins with an introductory chapter that provides an overall context for the Ten Commandments, not only in their biblical and ancient Near Eastern (ANE) setting, but also regarding their use in Jewish and Christian ethics. Among other things, Rooker discusses the background of the commandments in the context of ANE law codes, as well as the perpetual question of the enumeration of the commandments. He also comments briefly on the two listings of the commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).
Following the introductory chapter, the book devotes a chapter to each commandment in sequence, using the traditional Protestant enumeration. Each of these chapters follows the same order: a comparison of the commandment to other ANE law codes; an exposition of the commandment itself, often focusing on key words (especially important with regard to Commandments 6 through 10); the broader OT usage of the commandment; the NT use of the commandment; and a concluding section that deals with application to current ethical issues. It is important to note at this point that, while most of the commandments clearly have their ANE counterparts, two of the commandments stand out in this respect. There is nothing equivalent to, or approaching, the Fourth (Sabbath) Commandment or the Tenth Commandment (coveting) in any of the ANE codes. That observation in itself clearly sets the Ten Commandments as body of law or of moral statements apart from its ANE context - a point well made by Rooker.
The final chapter provides a summary of conclusions in which Rooker addresses such things as the interrelationship of the Ten Commandments and their setting in the context of salvation history. Among the …