Book Review: The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments In The Light Of The Christian Dispensation, by G. Campbell Morgan

As is the case with many books written more than a few decades ago, much of what is needed to know about a book can be seen from the title itself.  One of the purposes of having lengthy titles is so that they can set the proper expectations for the reader in terms of the book’s content and the author’s approach.  In this case, the author tips his hand in the subtitle of the book that this look at the Ten Commandments will be done from the point of view of dispensationalism, and the fact that the author mentions that it is a Christian perspective means that one can expect the author to do some fancy footwork to deny the validity of the biblical Sabbath [1] to contemporary believers.  Yet although the author did fulfill this particular expectation, the book ended up being a surprisingly tough-minded look at most of the ten commandments that managed to get pretty close to the mark in its discussion of the ten commandments as a whole, although on a few areas it managed to fuzz the proper division of the ten commandments [2] while making a case for two different divisions of the ten commandments and shading its bets both ways.

This book is organized in a straightforward fashion, although it manages to have some surprises.  Unsurprisingly, the author discusses each commandment in turn, dealing with a variety of issues as they relate to the ten commandments, such as an explanation for the derivation of the name Yahweh from various forms of the Hebrew verb to be.  There are at least a few surprises in store for the reader of this book, though.  One of them is that the book is surprisingly rigorous and harsh on its moral view, to the extent that it would likely make most contemporary readers a bit uncomfortable with how often we break these commandments in our lives with casual profanity, anger, lust, and the like.  Of particular interest and praise is the way that the author really takes exploitative business owners and imperialists to task for their violence and exploitation.  Most of the time when one reads high-minded and even a bit moralistic works, the morals the authors are promoting are strictly private in nature, but this author to his credit has a strong tendency to support social justice and to criticize injustice in light of the biblical ethic, something that is definitely worthy of praise.  The other surprise within the contents of the book is the fact that the author includes the “new” commandment to love one another that, in the author’s mind, supercedes all of the other ones.

Given the author’s dispensationalist viewpoint, it probably does not come as much of a surprise that the author does not view the law being written on our hearts from the point of view of Jeremiah or the book of Hebrews, but the author’s rigorous personal and social morality is something to behold and to recognize, all the more remarkable given the fact that the book comes in at a very short 126 pages, making it clear that this is a book not to be missed.  Despite the fact that the author whiffs on the Sabbath, his standard of morality is sufficiently biblical and sufficiently rigorous to present challenges for any believer, giving us a stern reminder of the expectations of our conduct based on the scriptures, when most of us would feel as if we were doing a good job merely to be a bit more righteous and a bit more obedient than the worldly people around us.  This book is a strong encouragement to aim for a higher standard, and an encouragement most of us probably need.

[1] Unlike, for the example, the following authors:

But like the following authors:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: The Ten Commandments

  1. Pingback: Turnabout Is Fair Play, Or The Lament Of The Social Justice Warrior | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code | Edge Induced Cohesion

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