Christians are often puzzled or bored or indifferent when confronted by the Torah’s obsessive concern with regulating every aspect of Israelite life. Does the holy book really need to tell us what to do when one ox gores another (Exodus 21:35-6)? Why are bald eagles detestable to eat (Leviticus 11:13), but bald locusts are just fine (Leviticus 11:22)?
The details of such passages might need some sorting out, but the overall point should not be missed: the Old Testament writers had an abiding concern with the materiality of life. There simply was no distinction to be made between spiritual concerns and material concerns.
The realm of the material is not just an inert and indifferent means to spiritual aspirations. The salvation of the whole community is worked out not in some interior dialogue with God, but in the everyday interactions with the material world. All of creation is to be brought into conformity with God’s will.
William Cavanaugh in his article on the ABC Religion & Ethics website, Only Christianity Can Save Economics.