The book's point of departure is the return from the Exile, which is presented as an opportunity for Jews, primarly those in Judah, to interpret anew the relationship between God and Israel. The relationship had traditionally been thought of as a covenant, and central to the book's thesis is that post-exilic writers used a paradigm that was essentially that of the pre-exilic Mosiac covenant, i.e. a pact between God and humanity conditioned by the latter's observance of the law. The first part of the book describes the process whereby the Mosaic covenant was renovated and its content brought up to date. In this discussion, familiar topoi of Second Temple Judaism such as penitential prayer, creation theology, and kinship ethos are shown to be integral to a contemporary concept of creation.