The Old Testament is a problem for many Christians. Some find it puzzling, or even offensive; others seem to glibly misuse it for their own ends. There are few resources aimed at enabling ordinary Christians to understand the OT and use it in their lives as followers of Jesus.
In At Home in a Strange Land: Using the Old Testament in Christian Ethics, Andrew Sloane seeks to address this need. He outlines some of the problems that ordinary Christians face in reading the Old Testament as part of Christian Scripture and provides a framework for interpreting the Old Testament and using it in Christian ethics. He identifies some of the key biblical texts of both the Old Testament and the New Testament that inform Christian ethics and challenge us to live as God’s people. Using the paradigm of learning to travel in unfamiliar places, Sloane seeks to equip the reader with tools for understanding many of the puzzling and difficult passages found in the Old Testament. In sum, the book aims to “rehabilitate” the Old Testament for ordinary, even skeptical, twenty-first-century Christians.
Unlike many other books that address these topics, Sloane’s work brings together questions of interpretation and “ethical application” in one book aimed at lay people.
The Logos Bible Software edition of this volume is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of Scripture. Biblical passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the Word of God.
An excellent introduction to help Christians apply the OT to their moral lives. . . . Sloane regularly refers to contemporary songs and films that address related topics, thus providing helpful connections for younger readers. This is a welcome text.
—Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Utilizing the metaphor of travel, Andrew Sloane invites his readers on a journey through the ‘strange land’ of the Old Testament, focusing on how the Old Testament may be used in Christian ethics. Sloane proves to be a superb guide! Avoiding footnotes and technical jargon where possible (and carefully defining terms where necessary), he succinctly and clearly describes ‘the equipment for the journey’—the nature and authority of the Old Testament, appropriate hermeneutical methodology, and a general framework for understanding Old Testament ethics. He then presents a practical approach for ‘getting going’ on the journey, richly illustrating the basic steps of exegesis from a sample ethical passage in each of the major Old Testament genres. The heart of the work, ‘avoiding pitfalls, hacking through the jungle,’ grapples with difficult ethical ‘terrain’ (issues) in the Old Testament—slavery, ritual impurity, and holy war— and provides penetrating insights for coming to grips with these issues. In his further exploration of Old Testament ethical ‘territory,’ Sloane draws profound ethical implications from Gen 1–3 (for environmental concerns and gender relations) and from the Decalogue in Deut 5 (for the overarching moral vision of the Old Testament). Finally, he effectively shows how to ‘bring the Old Testament home’ by examining a modem ethical issue (cloning) in light of Old Testament principles, and by applying Isaiah 46 (the critique of idolatry) to modern forms of idolatry. A concise annotated bibliography recommends resources for further exploration. Sloane has admirably succeeded in his stated goal of assisting readers, not only to visit, but to find themselves ‘at home in the strange land of the Old Testament.’
—Richard M. Davidson, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament, Andrews University Theological Seminary
How can a Christian read the Old Testament and find in it moral value for the present day? How can this be done without falling into the pitfall of naïve legalism . . . or unthinking rejection . . . ? [Sloane] deftly handles some of the most challenging issues raised by Old Testament texts (e.g., slavery and holy war) and draws out their contemporary moral value. . . . Not everyone . . . will agree with every detail or conclusion in the book. But to differ a good argument is needed. I am the better equipped to engage my world having read this book, and I commend it with enthusiasm.
—Graham A. Cole, professor of biblical and systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Sloane has given us an exemplary ‘manual’ to bring a ‘strange and neglected’ literature (the Old Testament) ‘home’ to our ethical thinking and Christian living. . . . I am encouraged by Sloane’s treatment of a needed topic in an engaging style. . . . I am delighted to commend it to the church in general and college students in particular.
—J. Lanier Burns, research professor of theological studies and senior professor of systematic theology, Dallas Theological Seminary
The ‘strange land’ of which Sloane speaks is the Old Testament. This image was chosen because he has found a lack of understanding of and appreciation for the Old Testament in many Christians. The book is organized around the idea of a Journey into this strange land. Methods of interpretation make up the equipment needed for the journey. Sloane treats troublesome biblical issues such as slavery and holy war as pitfalls to be avoided, and demonstrates his approach in his analysis of the Genesis creation stories as well as Isaiah 46. The writing is very conversational. The author begins each chapter with a long description of events from his own life, thus establishing a comfortable setting for treating biblical issues that might be unfamiliar to his readers. In this way he shows the commonality between these issues as found in the Old Testament and as experienced in today’s world. The beginning reader will derive much profit from this book.
At Home in a Strange Land provides a needed corrective for Christian ethics by facilitating the use of the rich resources of the OT. . . . A careful reading of the book reveals that [Sloane’s] work is deserving of critical scholarly attention. He offers the reader fresh insight into the OT, its milieu, and its meanings. One of the primary contributions of At Home in a Strange Land is that it addresses some of the thorny issues of biblical authority and interpretation. . . . A helpful introduction to the OT as a resource for Christian moral decision-making and ethical living.
—Andrews University Seminary Studies
Andrew Sloane joined the faculty of Morling College (the Baptist Theological College of NSW) in 2002 as lecturer in Old Testament and Christian thought. He initially trained as a medical doctor before turning to theology. He completed his theological education at Morling College and has worked in Baptist churches in Sydney and Newcastle and lectured at Ridley College in Melbourne. He has written on Old Testament, interpretation, ethics and philosophy.