26 January 2010

Book: Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law

David L. Baker, "Tight Fists or Open Hands? Wealth and Poverty in Old Testament Law" (Eerdmans, July 2009):


From the publisher's description: "Any Christian response to today's ever-growing problem of poverty around the globe must be firmly rooted in biblical teaching. While books on various aspects of wealth and poverty in the Old and New Testaments have been published, so far there has been no thorough study of Old Testament law on the topic. [...] Each section of Tight Fists or Open Hands? includes an extended conclusion that summarizes the main ideas, considers relationships with other biblical texts, and points to the significance of the laws for today's world."

From the description on christianbooks.com: "The global pandemic is overwhelming. The rich are becoming more – and more – wealthy, while the poor remain in rags and starving. David L. Baker [...] argues that the popular modes of theological thought dealing with poverty and wealth, Liberation Theology and Prosperity Doctrines, are either too simplistic or deceptively manipulate, or selectively choose biblical texts to support a pre-existing ideology. Baker stands against this use of Scripture believing that support of modern political ideologies cannot be legitimately turned into political theologies. [...]

"Old Testament Law, concerning the poor, can illuminate the ways in which material possessions should[,] and indeed can, be dealt with appropriately. He believes that the attitude toward the poor expressed in the New Testament is rooted in the Mosaic Law and that this Law teaches that God desires justice for everyone, not only the poor. The issue is the poor are in no position to deprive others of economic justice, and therefore the exhortations Liberation theologians tend to point out focus on obtaining justice only for the poor at the expense of others. Conversely, prosperity teachings are wrapped up inside their own interests and selfish morality believed to be the teaching of Scripture. Inevitably these create a theological justification for the hoarding of wealth."

David L. Baker is Senior Lecturer in Old Testament at Trinity Theological College, Perth.

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