A few years back I investigated the use of the word ‘covenant’ in the Old Testament and in Paul’s letters, as a project for my final year at Moore College. The whole thesis is available in PDF here, but I thought it would be a good idea to break it down into bite-sized pieces, massaging and tweaking it to make it a bit more readable and updating it in places, and to publish it as a series of blog posts.
To summarise: A lot of weight has been placed on the idea of ‘covenant’ as an overarching concept describing Christian salvation, Christian community, and God’s plans for the world. My project argues that this weight is much more than the actual biblical word ‘covenant’ can bear. The biblical term ‘covenant’ has some importance, especially in the Old Testament, but it has to be understood according to its quite specific biblical meaning, rather than used as a catch-all term to describe “relationship with God” or “community”, etc. This helps us to understand why Paul only ever rarely uses the word in his letters. I call my view an ‘acovenantal’ perspective, to distinguish it both from bicovenantalism and from the New Perspective on Paul.
Here are the posts so far:
- What Saint Paul Rarely Said
- How should you look for ‘covenantal’ ideas in Paul?
- Some important features of Paul’s use of the word ‘covenant’
- What’s the precise meaning of the word ‘covenant’ in the Old Testament?
- The two covenants with Abraham – Part 1 (Genesis 12)
- The two covenants with Abraham – part 2 (Genesis 15, 17 and 22)
- What is the significance of circumcision in Genesis?
- Two kinds of covenant at Sinai: law and mediation
- The two-fold covenantal relationship in the prophets: with Israel, for the nations
- Covenants in Cloudcuckooland and the Greek Old Testament
- Covenants in Second Temple Judaism
- The sectarian covenants of Qumran and the New Perspective
- The covenants in the background to Paul’s letters – a summary
- The covenants in Galatians 3:15-22 – Introduction
- The word ‘covenant’ in Galatians 3:15
- The singular seed of Galatians 3:16
- The ratification of the covenant in Galatians 3:17
- The mediator in Galatians 3:20
- The Purpose of the Law in Galatians 3
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