Abstracts

COVENANT-BERIT

Jesper Hgenhagen, "Den gamle pagt. En introduktion til den nyere debat om pagten i det Gamle Testamente", Tekst og tolkning 8, Kbenhavn: Akademisk Forlag, 1990, ISBN 87-500-2883-9, pp.98. - The book contains a critical investigation of recent research on the covenant of Jahve with Israel: discussions of diverging concepts of the covenant in the biblical texts, and the age, origin and history of these concepts. The author begins with Julius Wellhausen and concludes with the most recent contributors: Georg Fohrer, Lothar Perlitt and Earnest W. Nicholson; he shows among other things how the latest research often returns to former perceptions. The last chapter concludes that the Jahve-covenant in all probability is the covenant with David: the monarchy and its institutions are the Sitz im Leben of the covenant. Especially in the period of the late monarchy when the survival of the monarchy and state were threatened by the great powers, focus was put on the idea of the covenant. About the time of the Babylonian exile the idea was applied to the relationship between Jahve and the people of Israel, first as a metaphor to explain the relationship, but later the possibilities of the idea were discovered and a covenant-theology developed. The usefulness of the idea proved itself in the fact that it was able both to explain the disaster and to give hope of a new future. (P.P.S.)

P. Kalluveettil, Declaration and covenant; a comprehensive review of covenant formulae from the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, Rome: Biblical Institute Press, l982, Pp. xi, 284 (Analecta Biblica, 88); see KS 58/4 no. 5124.

E. Kutsch, "Bund" and G. Wanke, "Bundesbuch", in Theologische Realenzyklopdie 7 (Lieferung 3, Berlin and New York, 1980), 397-410 and 412-415. - The article on "Bund" by Kutsch deals with three main areas. (I) Old Testament, which has sections on berit between human partners, berit in the theological realm, and comments on usage in the Targums and Septuagint. Kutsch's well-known but controversial opinion that berit in the theological realm (and sometimes between human partners) does not mean "covenant" but "obligation" is here summarized. There is also a massive bibliography. (2) Early Judaism, which has sections on Ben Sira, the rest of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, from "obligation" to "covenant", Qumran, Philo and Josephus, and the Rabbis. (3) New Testament and the early Church, which has sections on the texts, individual references, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the words at the Last Supper, Paul, and the Apostolic Fathers.

The article by G. Wanke on "Bundesbuch" gives a useful, up-to-date survey of the Book of the Covenant. It includes sections on the name and extent of the work, its contents and structure, its origin and function, and its place in the Pentateuch. There is also a valuable bibliography. (J.D.)

J. W. Lee, "The New Covenant in Jeremiah", Biblical Illustrator 12 (1986), 24-29; see OTA 10/1 (1987), no.250.

D.J. McCarthy, "Covenant and Law in Chronicles - Nehemiah", CBQ 44 (1982), 25-44. - The author examines the specific meaning of covenant and its relationship to law in Chronicles-Nehemiah. Chronicles, despite its borrowings from traditional language, develops not just a structure for covenant-renewal, but also its own precise vocabulary (darash, kana azab, ma'al). Covenant renewal is to revalidate the cult, to purify it to allow God to be present. the focus changes in Ezra-Nehemiah, although the same factors, kings, prophets, cult functionaries and fidelity are involved, except with different emphasis. The distinctive vocabulary of Chronicles is not characteristic of Ezra-Nehemiah. Although there is continuity, Ezra-Nehemiah places a great emphasis on the written law to strengthen the temple community and preserve its identity in the face of foreign dominance. He notes a functional identity between the Mesopotamian adu ("loyalty oath") and covenant renewals in Chronicles-Nehemiah; the unity of the community on the basis of total fidelity to the community's central figure. The picture of covenant-renewal indicates that law in Chronicles-Nehemiah is not seen as pre-existent but as a means to relate to God through fidelity and humility. It can be seen that Chronicles-Nehemiah has preserved an ancient form and not imported a new one of more or less exilic date. (K.W.W.)

E.W. Nicholson, "The Covenant Ritual in Exodus XXIV 3-8", VT 32 (1982), 74-86. - N. rejects the separation of the sacrificial offerings in Ex. 24:4-6 from the covenantal application of the blood in v.8. Nor does he accept such a ritual as a deuteronomic idea. He also rejects Kutsch's explanation of the rite as one of self-imprecation as analogous to the ritual described in Aeschylus's The Seven against Thebes 11.42ff. There is no evidence for such a use of blood in ancient Israel or for the use of blood as a description of kinship term. The blood rite is best understood as the use and significance of blood as holy, belonging solely to God, and conveying holiness to people or objects (Ex. 29:20f., Lev. 8:22ff.) In Ex. 24:3-8 Israel is consecrated as God's holy people. Ex. 19:6a is an interpretation of the ritual in 24:3ff., as constituting Israel as God's "kingdom of priests and a holy nation". (K.W.W.)

Paolo Sacchi, "Legge e Patto nel'ebraismo. Una nuova prospettiva per lo studio delle fonti del Pentateuco", Henoch 7 (1985), 129-149; see OTA 9/2 (1986), no.602.

D.C.T. Sherriffs, "The Phrases ina IGI and lipeney Yhwh in Treaty and Covenant Contexts", Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 7 (1979), 55-68. - The expressions ina IGI DN "before a divinity" in Late Assyrian (and Hittite) treaties and lipne Yhwh "before Yahweh" associated with covenant making in the Old Testament do not necessarily imply that the treaty or covenant was made in a sanctuary. Nor do they mean that the deity was present at the making of the treaty or covenant. Rather they indicate that the deity was a witness and judge, who would punish breaches of the treaty or covenant, and in some cases of Old Testament covenant making the expression also denotes the deity as covenant partner. (J.D.)

M.S. Smith, "Berit 'am/berit 'olam: a new proposal for the crux of Isa. 42:6", JBL 100 (1981), 241-248. - S. examines the sense and uniqueness of Is. 42:6 - berit am, "covenant of the people(s)." He finds previous explanations inadequate since they isolate the phrase from its immediate context or from its relationship to the rest of Second Isaiah. He suggests that the prophet plays upon and transforms the old royal theology of berit olam (cf. Is. 55:1-5 and 2 Sam. 23:1-7). A comparison of 2 Sam. 22 and Is. 42:5-9 illustrates this relationship. Drawing upon the dynastic promise to and mediatorial role of the Davidic king, the prophet envisages Israel in an image of a new kingship mediating blessings to the peoples. The slogan of the old dynasty was berit olam while that of the new dynasty is berit am. Smith points to the phonetic resemblance between the two phrases, the theological support from the context and also its historical plausibility. (K.W.W.)

 

 

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