I note the following examples of this type of tripartite division of the Torah:
- Thomas Aquinas discussed the tripartite law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, in his “Summa Theologica”, section entitled "Treatise on the Law" and more specifically in questions 99-105.
- Luther appears to believe in a bipartite Law, when in The Bondage of the Will, he referred to "the civil or moral law”. (Luther Bondage CXLVI)
- Calvin, in book 2 of Institutes of the Christian Religion (2.7, 2.8.31), presented a bipartite view when he discussed the law, its moral and ceremonial aspects. However, later, in book 4 of the Institutes (4.20.14), when he discussed civil government, he presented a tripartite law when he stated: "the well-known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law.”
- The Westminster Confession (1646) set out a tripartite law
- The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) almost copies the Westminster Confession in assuming a tripartite law (see Chapter 19).
- The Church of England 1662 liturgy for Holy Communion required the minister to read each of the 10 commandments (including the Sabbath commandment) and the congregation would respond, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.”
- However, according to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, no such division exists.
The problem with all of these is that no such distinction is made in the Torah itself. The closest we come is the difference we have between:
- Israelite Covenant: Exodus 19-24, and expanded in parts of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – often called, “The Old Covenant”, or, “Moral Covenant”, or, sometimes incorrectly called, “The Mosaic Covenant”.
- Levitical Covenant: – Lev 1-9, 16, 21-27 , Num 3, 4, 8, 18, 25:10-13, Deut 33:8-11, Neh 13:29, Mal 2:4-8. This is an eternal covenant (Num 25:12, 13, Ps 106:30) of salt, Num 18:19. This is almost the same as what people call the "ceremonial law" (not quite) but goverened all the rules of priests and sanctuary regulations.
- Davidic (or Regal, or Royal) Covenant: 2 Sam 7, 23:5, 1 Kings 6:11, 12, 8:25, 1 Chron 17:11-14, 2 Chron 6:14-16, 7:17, 18, 13:5, Ps 89:4, 29, 34, 39, 132:11, 12, Jer 33:21, Eze 37:15-28. This is an eternal covenant. This was essentially the civil authority to govern Israel.
None of these have been retracted and Jesus even says so in Matt 5:17-19. But how the covenants work and which should now be kept is another matter for another question.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in the law (Matt 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31) He responded with two commandments about love (Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18) that are not part of the 10 commandments. Therefore, even for those who believe that we can separate moral laws from ceremonial laws, the moral laws clearly more than just the 10 commandments.
I know of some groups who say some of the following things:
- There is NO law any more - all law has been abandoned, including the 10 commandments - some Baptists and evangelicals say this.
- We should keep all the Torah including the annual feasts - this included the United Church of God and some fringe elements of other denominations
None of these are even internally consistent.