Thursday, January 21, 2010

Covenant in Judaism

I've been reading through Mark Elliott's The Survivors of Israel (sadly Mark died a couple of years ago) about covenant in Judaism. In chapter six he points to two hypothetical extremes in Judaism in regard to covenant as either unconditional and inviolable, or as conditional, legal, and individualistic. The former views the covenant as static and nationalistic, while the latter is potentially dynamic and universalistic. There are a spectrum of possibilities between both and Elliott rejected E.P. Sanders' view of covenant as inviolable (esp. Sanders' appeal to m.Sanh 10.1). since in the literature surveyed (DSS, 1-2 Macc, Pseudepigrapha) "by far the dominant view of covenant among these groups was the conditional, individual, dynamic, and dualistic" variety. Elliott's work has not received the attention that it deserved!


Anonymous said...


Steven Coxhead said...

欢迎Mike Bird的新中文朋友!

Rachel said...

I agree that Elliott's work has been underutilized. It's nice to see you giving it a much-deserved affirmation. But I just wonder what the status is of a pluralized description in relation to a lot of our problems--that Jews believed different things about the covenant. The suggestion that one view is nevertheless "dominant" in the literature seems to me to overlook some key difficulties. The extant literature is a very small sample, often preserved by chance, of a literate elite. And in any case we don't really vote on such issues. (Etc.) So don't we ultimately have to give a theological account of the covenant, in which case, as Christians (assuming for the moment that we are), shouldn't we give a christological one? (You can probably tell that I've been reading IV/1 lately, so it seemed worth trying it out in a NT forum.)

Ferdie said...

Hi Michael,
I would really like to meet you some day. You look like the kind of guy I can make friends with! I almost decided to go to Highland before Durham accepted me for a masters in 2008.
I really like the way you write and I think we've got lots of things in common - and that's more than just theology! I think of things like rugby, cricket? I'm from South Africa!
Frederik Mulder
NS - I'm at Tyndale House in Cambridge at the moment, working on a proposal for my PhD wich I will start with in the Netherlands soon. I hope to work on either Resurrection as motivation for behaviour in 1 Corinthians; or something related to resurrection and justification in 1 Corinthians.