Function of the law in the OT

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The Function of the Law in the Old testament

1. Introduction
Pentateuch is the first five book of the Old Testament, which are identified as Torah in the Hebrew Bible. Torah was the Law of the Jews. They lived by it and they lived to study it. In the Torah there are also many theological elements revolve around the Torah and thus, law was not the only important element in the Pentateuch. According to Talmud, Talmud Makkoth 23b, there are 613 commandments: 248 prescriptions and 345 prohibitions. However, these commandments are placed within a framework. Without seeing them in a framework we might conclude law as a separate entity or that the law was used as a means to attain salvation. The second fallacy of the Old Testament Law is quite prevalent in local Christianity. This present work is an enquiry to the Old Testament to show the importance of law in Pentateuch. In addition, this paper will also see whether Old Testament depicts a Judaism, which was a legalistic religion, or not. However, it is not possible to deal with the observance of the Law in isolation as the Law is embedded with several other themes of the Old Testament.
It was rightly pointed out that “the Law does not stand alone. Rather, the Law is integrated with the ongoing story of Israel’s journey from slavery in Egypt to new life in the Promised Land. The Law functions as a dynamic reality within a living community, the Law will not stand still any more than the community will. To speak of ‘the structures of covenant life’ can be a helpful way to speak of the Law.”1 It is evident that the Law is integrated with the redemption of Israel from Egypt; it is embedded with the covenant, especially the Mosaic covenant; it is entrenched with the social structure with which Israel has to live in the covenantal community; it provides the moral standards and ethical guidelines in which the people of God must live before their Most Holy God. Moreover, several other concepts are also surrounded with the



Bibliography: Achard, Robert Martin- A Light to the nations: A Study of the Old Testament conception of Israel’s Mission to the World. Translated by John Penny Smith, (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1962). Bruce C. Birch, Walter Brueggemann, Terence E. Fretheim, and David L. Petersen. A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999), 131. Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of The Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 1997). Dumbrell, W. J. Covenant and Creation: A Theology of the OT Covenants, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1984). Eichrodt, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament, Vol. 2. (London: SCM Press, 1967). Kaiser Jr., Walter C. Israel’s Missionary Call. In perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, Edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1981). Kaiser Jr., Walter C Levenson, J. D. Sinai and Zion: An Entry Into the Jewish Bible (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985). McConville, J Montefiore, C. G. “First Impressions of Paul," Jewish Quarterly Review 6 (1894), 428-75; "Rabbinic Judaism and the Epistles of St. Paul," Jewish Quarterly Review 13 (1900-1901). Moore, George F Nicholson, E. W. Deuteronomy and Tradition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1967). Noth, Martin The Deuteronomistic History, Sheffield: Sheffield Press (E Otto J. Baab, The theology of the Old Testament. (New York, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1949). Perlitt, L. Bundestheologie im Alten Testament, (Neukirchen, 1968). cited in J.G. McConville Law and Theology in Deuteronomy, (Sheffield: JSOT, 1984). Perlitt, Lothar. Covenant, The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Vol.1, (Brill: WM. B. Eerdmans, 1999). Rowley, H. H. The Biblical Doctrine of Election (London: Lutterworth Press, 1950). Rowley, H. H. The Missionary Message of the Old Testament, (London: The Carey Kingsgate Press Limited, 1944). Sanders, E Sanders, E. P. Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983). Von Rad, G. 1938, cited in Claus Westermann, Elements of Old Testament Theology, Trans. by Douglas W. Stott Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1978). Von Rad, Gerhard. Promised Land and Yahweh’s Land, in The Problem of the Hexateuch, Edinburgh, 1966. cited in J. G. McConville Law and Theology in Deuteronomy, (Sheffield: JSOT, 1984). Von Rad, Gerhard Old Testament Theology, Vol. 1, Translated by D. M. G. Stalker. (New York: Harper and Row, 1962). Wenham, Gordon. Law, Morality and the Bible, edited by Bruce Kaye and Gordon Wenham, (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1978). Westerholm, Stephen Westermann, Claus Elements of Old Testament Theology, Trans. by Douglas W. Stott, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1978). Youngblood, Ronald. The heart of the Old Testament: A Survey of key theological themes, (Chicago, Harvest Publications, 1968).

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