Examining the commandment from the perspective of the Jewish tradition Professor Goodman is involved in a critical appropriation of the tradition. In Chapter 1, ‘Love and the Ethical’, the author parses the words of the command to find that the worth of the other's interests are to be held in the same regard as one's own. The neighbor who may be a stranger is to be understood to be as a family member. Professor Goodman enumerates numerous ‘expressions of comity and recognitions of dignity in our fellows’ rabbinically derived from the command to love our neighbor as ourself.
Chapter 2, ‘Whose Commandment Is It?’ begins with the recognition that the commandment is rooted in our creation in the image of God. Even so human dignity is wrapped up in individual human uniqueness. Professor Goodman identifies seven areas where the idea of God ‘adds value to our ethical pursuits’—(1) positive content, (2) absoluteness, (3) stability, (4) universality, (5) height, (6) inwardness, and (7) imitatio Dei. In writing that ‘Our Gifford brief is not biblical, or dogmatic, or even civil but natural theology’, Dr. Goodman states that the purpose of his reference to scripture is that ‘What revelation and the idea of God contribute to ethics is dialectical, not foundational’. Our moral notions enter into dialogue with what we read in scripture and thus inform our hermeneutic.
In the concluding chapter ‘Q&A’ Professor Goodman addresses questions that were raised at the lectures, including how ethics can be justified.