This Christian adaptation of the biblical tradition, the integration of that adaptation with the traditions of the tribal oath societies of Northern Europe, the perforce limited medieval expressions of that synthesis, and the revival of covenant as the architectonic principle of the Protestant Reformation is an intricate and fascinating story.
The book also briefly examines covenant and hierarchy in Islam and other premodern polities. This transition took place along both the philosophic track championed by Hobbes, Spinoza, and Locke, which set down the theory and principles of modern democratic and republican civil society, as well as a very practical track pioneered by European settlers from various Reformed Protestant backgrounds Puritans, Scottish Presbyterians, and Dutch Calvinists who settled in the New World, most particularly what became first British North America and then the United States, which was established through a synthesis of the ideas of covenant and political compact.
These included the idea that political society is a human artifact that humans established for themselves through political compact; the translation of essentially unenforceable medieval theories of constitutionalism into enforceable constitutional systems; the idea of popular sovereignty; and the development of consociational and cooperative forms of political and social organization. I hope you will visit again. You are commenting using your WordPress.
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Sign me up! Claude Mariottini — Professor of Old Testament. Skip to content. These are the promises God made to Abraham: 1. Share this: Email Print. Like this: Like Loading Bookmark the permalink. Bryant J. Williams III says:. October 15, at am. Claude Mariottini says:. October 20, at am. Bryant, Thank you for your comment. You make very good points in your comment. I am glad to know you are enjoying this series of studies on the covenant. Claude Mariottini Like Like. Lorene Hawkins says:. September 20, at pm. I loved the post on the covenant with God and Abrams it was explained very well and so that you could understand it thank you Like Like.
October 17, at pm. Lorene, Thank you for your nice words. God the Creator and providence. In this opening text, the affirmation of the goodness of creation is repeated seven times, becoming one of the refrains Gn In different formulations, in different contexts, the affirmation of God as Creator is constantly repeated. Thus in the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt, God exercises power over the wind and the sea Ex In Is , this creative action is the basis of hope for a salvation to come.
The God who creates the world by his Word Gn 1 and gives human beings the breath of life Gn , is also the one who shows solicitude towards every human being from the moment of conception. An interesting aspect of this text is that the creative action of God serves here to ground faith in the resurrection of the just.
The same is true of Rm Faith in God the Creator, vanquisher of the cosmic forces and of evil, becomes inseparable from trust in him as Saviour of the Israelite people as well as of individuals. In the New Testament, the conviction that all existing things are the work of God comes straight from the Old Testament.
It seems so obvious that no proof is needed and creation vocabulary is not prominent in the Gospels. Nevertheless, there is in Mt a reference to Gn which speaks of the creation of man and woman. Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap The Word came into the world, yet the world did not know him Jn Jesus witnesses to this love of God to the very end Jn Using a different vocabulary, the Book of Revelation offers a similar perspective.
In history, the victory over the forces of evil will go hand in hand with a new creation that will have God himself as light, 62 and a temple will no longer be needed, for the Almighty God and the Lamb will be the Temple of the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem Rv , In the Pauline Letters, creation has an equally important place. The argument of Paul in Rm concerning the pagans is well known.
Ws So creation then may not be rejected as evil. We will take up this theme later after treating of the human condition. The Human Person: Greatness and Wretchedness. These chapters set the tone for reading the entire Bible. Everyone is invited to recognise therein the essential traits of the human situation and the basis for the whole of salvation history.
Created in the image of God: affirmed before the call of Abraham and the election of Israel, this characteristic applies to all men and women of all times and places Gn 64 and confers on them their highest dignity. The expression may have originated in the royal ideology of the nations surrounding Israel, especially in Egypt, where the Pharaoh was regarded as the living image of god, entrusted with the maintenance and renewal of the cosmos.
But the Bible has made this metaphor into a fundamental category for defining every human person. Insofar as they are images of God and the Creator's stewards, human beings become recipients of his word and are called to be obedient to him Gn Human beings exist as man and woman whose task is at the service of life. In this way, the likeness to God, the relationship of man and woman, and ruling over the world are intimately connected. The close relationship between being created in God's image and having authority over the earth has many consequences.
First of all, the universality of these characteristics excludes all superiority of one group or individual over another. All human beings are in the image of God and all are charged with furthering the Creator's work of ordering. Secondly, arrangements are made with a view to the harmonious co-existence of all living things in their search for the necessary means of subsistence: God provides for both humans and beasts Gn As well as the rhythm of day and night, lunar months and solar years Gn , God establishes a weekly rhythm with rest on the seventh day, the basis of the sabbath Gn When they keep the sabbath observance Ex , the masters of the earth render homage to their Creator.
Human wretchedness finds its exemplary biblical expression in the story of the first sin and punishment in the garden of Eden.
This prohibition implies that serving God and keeping his commandments are correlatives of the power to subdue the earth Gn , The man fulfils God's intentions first of all by naming the animals and then in accepting the woman as God's gift In the temptation scene, in contrast, the human couple ceases to act in accordance with God's demands. The result is that they try to avoid a confrontation with God. But their attempt to hide themselves shows the folly of sin, because it leaves them in the very place where the voice of God can be heard The man and the woman perceive that they are naked , which means that they have forfeited trust in each other and in the harmony of creation.
By his sentence, God redefines the conditions of human living but not the relationship between him and the couple On the other hand, the man is relieved of his particular task in the garden, but not of work , In other words, God continues to give human beings a task. The relationship between man and wife deteriorates. When this prohibition is violated, access to the tree of life is henceforth blocked Created in God's image and charged with cultivating the soil, the human couple have the great honour of being called to complete the creative action of God in taking care of his creatures Wi By refusing to heed the voice of God and preferring that of creatures human freedom is brought into play; to suffer pain and death is the consequence of a choice made by the persons themselves.
The Old Testament reveals how this plan was realised through the ages, with alternating moments of wretchedness and greatness. Yet God was never resigned to leaving his people in wretchedness. He always reinstates them in the path of true greatness, for the benefit of the whole of humanity. To these fundamental traits, it may be added that the Old Testament is not unaware of either the deceptive aspects of human existence cf. Qo , the problem of innocent suffering cf. But in every case, especially the last, far from being an obstacle to human greatness, the experience of wretchedness, paradoxically, served to enhance greatness.
The anthropology of the New Testament is based on that of the Old. It bears witness to the grandeur of the human person created in God's image Gn and to his wretchedness, brought on by the undeniable reality of sin, which makes him into a caricature of his true self. Greatness of the human person. In the Gospels the greatness of the human being stands out in the solicitude shown to him by God, more than that of the birds of heaven or the flowers of the fields Mt ; it is also highlighted by the ideal proposed to him: to become merciful as God is merciful Lk , perfect as God is perfect Mt , It is hunger for the word of God that draws the crowds first to John the Baptist Mt and par.
As the image of God, the human person is attracted towards God. Even the pagans are capable of great faith. It was the apostle Paul who deepened anthropological reflection. One can scarcely imagine a greater dignity. The theme of the creation of the human person in God's image is treated by Paul in a multifaceted way. It is by contemplating the glory of the Lord that this resemblance is bestowed 2 Co ; The greatness of the human person will then reach its culmination. The wretchedness of the human being. The wretched state of humanity appears in various ways in the New Testament.
It is clear that earth is no paradise! The Gospels repeatedly give a long list of maladies and infirmities that beset people. Death strikes and gives rise to sorrow. But it is especially moral misery that is the focus of attention. Humanity finds itself in a situation of sin that puts it in extreme danger. The preaching of John the Baptist reverberates with force in the desert. The passion of Jesus was then an extreme manifestation of the moral wretchedness of humanity. Nothing was missing: betrayal, denial, abandonment, unjust trial and condemnation, insults and ill-treatment, cruel sufferings accompanied by mockery.
It is in Paul's Letter to the Romans that we find the most sombre description of the moral decay of humanity Rm , and the most penetrating analysis of the condition of the sinner Rm Their refusal to give glory to God and to thank him leads to complete blindness and to the worst perversions Paul wants to show that moral decay is universal and that the Jew is not exempt, in spite of the privilege of knowing the Law It is more in the nature of a theological intuition of what humans become without the grace of God: evil is in the heart of each one cf.
Ps If sin were not universal, there would be some who would have had no need of redemption. The power of sin avails of the Law itself to manifest its destructiveness all the more, by inciting transgression Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thus is manifested the urgent need of redemption. On a different note, but still quite forcefully, the Book of Revelation itself witnesses to the ravages of evil produced in the human world.
Evil releases terrible calamities. But it will not have the last word. Babylon falls The salvation that comes from God is opposed to the proliferation of evil. From the beginning of its history, with the Exodus from Egypt , Israel had experienced the lordas Liberator and Saviour: to this the Bible witnesses, describing how Israel was rescued from Egyptian power at the time of the crossing of the sea Ex The miraculous crossing of the sea becomes one of the principal themes for praising God. In the land of Canaan, continuing the experience of liberation from Egypt, Israel was once again the recipient of the liberating and salvific intervention of God.
Oppressed by enemy peoples because of its infidelity towards God, Israel called to him for help. In the anguished situation of the Exile — after the loss of the Land — Second Isaiah , a prophet whose name is unknown, announced to the exiles an unheard-of message: the Lord was about to repeat his original liberating intervention — that of the Exodus from Egypt — and even to surpass it. After the return of the exiles, seen as imminent by Second Isaiah and soon to become a reality — but not in a very spectacular manner — the hope of eschatological liberation began to dawn: the spiritual successors of the exilic prophet announced the fulfilment, yet to come, of the redemption of Israel as a divine intervention at the end of time.
In many of the Psalms, salvation takes on an individual aspect. Caught in the grip of sickness or hostile intrigues, an Israelite can invoke the Lord to be preserved from death or oppression. He has confidence in the saving intervention of God Ps In some texts, salvation after death makes its appearance. God then can not only subdue the power of death to prevent the faithful from being separated from him, he can lead them beyond death to a participation in his glory.
The Book of Daniel and the Deuterocanonical Writings take up the theme of salvation and develop it further. In the Old Testament, to bring about liberation and salvation, God makes use of human instruments, who, as we have seen, were sometimes called saviours, as God himself more often was. The very name of Jesus evokes the salvation given by God.
It can be said that in the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and in the uncontested Pauline Letters, the New Testament is very sparing in its use of the title Saviour. The title, then, could become ambiguous. Furthermore, the notion of salvation, in the Greek world, had a strong individual and physical connotation, while the New Testament, in continuity with the Old, had a collective amplitude and was open to the spiritual. With the passage of time, the danger of ambiguity lessened. In Jesus' public life, his power to save was manifested not only in the spiritual plane, as in Lk , but also — and frequently — in the bodily realm as well.
He has brought salvation of a different kind. The perspective is eschatological. God is the Liberator and Saviour, above all, of an insignificant people — situated along with others between two great empires — because he has chosen this people for himself, setting them apart for a special relationship with him and for a mission in the world.
The idea of election is fundamental for an understanding of the Old Testament and indeed for the whole Bible. The choice which the Lord made of Israel is manifest in the divine intervention to free it from Egypt and in the gift of the land. At the same time, the importance of Israel's response to the divine initiative is underlined as well as the necessity of appropriate conduct. In this way, the theology of election throws light both on the distinctive status and on the special responsibility of a people who, in the midst of other peoples, has been chosen as the special possession of God, to be holy as God is holy.
In Deuteronomy, the theme of election not only concerns people. One of the more fundamental requirements of the book is that the cult of the Lord be celebrated in the place which the Lord has chosen.
The election of the people appears in the hortatory introduction to the laws, but in the laws themselves, divine election is concentrated on one sanctuary. The chosen tribe is Judah in preference to Ephraim, the chosen person is David. Thus the Lord has chosen Jerusalem 2 Ch or more precisely, Zion Ps , for his dwelling place.
For the Israelites in troubled and difficult times, when the future seemed closed, the conviction of being God's chosen people sustained their hope in the mercy of God and in fidelity to his promises. During the Exile, Second Isaiah takes up the theme of election to console the exiles who thought they were abandoned by God Is The execution of God's justice had not brought an end to Israel's election, this remained solid, because it was founded on the election of the patriarchs. The election of Israel does not imply the rejection of the other nations.
This understanding of election is typical of the Bible as a whole. In its teaching on Israel's election, Deuteronomy, as we have said, puts the accent on the divine initiative, but also on the demands of the relationship between God and his people. Faith in the election could, nevertheless, harden into a proud superiority. The prophets battled against this deviation. A message of Amos relativises the election and attributes to the nations the privilege of an exodus comparable to Israel's Am Amos believes that the Lord had chosen Israel in a unique and special manner.
It expresses a personal relationship more intimate than simply intellectual knowledge.
Bible Matrix II: The Covenant Key
But this relationship brings with it specific moral demands. Because it is God's people, Israel must live as God's people. For Amos, it is clear that election means responsibility more than privilege. Obviously, the choice comes first followed by the demand. It is nonetheless true that God's election of Israel implies a high level of responsibility. By recalling this, the prophet disposes of the illusion that being God's chosen people means having a claim on God. The peoples' and their kings' obstinate disobedience provoked the catastrophe of the Exile as foretold by the prophets.
This decree of God produced its effect 2 K Jerusalem must be rebuilt; the prophet Haggai predicts for the rebuilt Temple a glory greater than that of Solomon's Temple Hg In this way, the election was solemnly reconfirmed. But the opposition Jesus encounters from the leaders brings about a change of perspective. This word does not mean, however, the substitution of a pagan nation for the people of Israel.
The promise of God's presence with his people which guaranteed Israel's election, is fulfilled by the presence of the risen Lord with his community. Nevertheless, for Luke a certain tension remains because of the opposition encountered by Jesus. This opposition, however, comes from the people's leaders, not from the people themselves who are favourably disposed towards Jesus.
Bible Matrix II: The Covenant Key
At the same time, there is an awareness that Israel's election is not an exclusive privilege. Thus, the conviction of partaking in the divine election was communicated to all Christians. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul makes clear that for Christians who have come from paganism, what is involved is a participation in Israel's election, God's special people. They have no need to boast to the prejudice of the branches. It cannot, therefore, be said that God has rejected his people The New Testament never says that Israel has been rejected.
From the earliest times, the Church considered the Jews to be important witnesses to the divine economy of salvation. She understands her own existence as a participation in the election of Israel and in a vocation that belongs, in the first place, to Israel, despite the fact that only a small number of Israelites accepted it.
Therefore, it is the Jews who will first praise God among the nations; they will then invite the nations to rejoice with the people of God b Paul himself recalls with pride his Jewish origins. In 2 Co , he sees it as a title of honour parallel to his title as minister of Christ But the point he is making here is that these advantages, instead of leading to Christ, kept him at a distance from him. As we have seen, the election of Israel presents a double aspect: it is a gift of love with a corresponding demand.
The Sinai covenant clearly shows this double aspect. As with the theology of election, that of the covenant is from beginning to end a theology of the people of the lord. Adopted by the lord as his son cf. Ex , , Israel was to live totally and exclusively for him. The notion of covenant then, by its very definition, is opposed to an election of Israel that would automatically guarantee its existence and happiness.
Election is to be understood as a calling that Israel as a people is to live out. The establishment of a covenant demanded on Israel's part a choice and a decision every bit as much as it had for God. In each context, the word has different nuances of meaning. Promise to Noah Gn No obligation is imposed on Noah or on his descendants. God commits himself without reserve. This unconditional commitment on God's part towards creation is the basis of all life. The rainbow is to be a sign of God's promise. Promise to Abraham Gn ; The narrative makes no mention of a reciprocal obligation.
The unilateral character of the promise is confirmed by the solemn rite which precedes the divine declaration. It is a rite of self-imprecation: passing between the two halves of the slaughtered animals, the person making the promise calls down on himself a similar fate, should he fail in his obligations cf.
Jr If Gn 15 were a covenant with reciprocal obligations, both parties would have to participate in the rite. The notion of promise in Gn 15 is also found in Gn 17 joined to a commandment. God imposes a general obligation of moral perfection on Abraham and one particular positive prescription, circumcision These promises are unconditional and differ from those of the Sinai covenant Ex It is a mark that identifies those who will benefit from God's promise. Those who do not bear that mark will be cut off from the people, because they have broken the bond Gn The Covenant at Sinai. The text of Ex shows the fundamental importance of the covenant of God with Israel.
The whole idea of covenant depends on this divine initiative. The redemption accomplished by the lordat the time of the Exodus from Egypt constitutes forever the foundation for fidelity and docility towards him. The one acceptable response to this act of redemption is one of continual gratitude, which expresses itself in sincere submission. Ex brings to fulfilment the establishment of the covenant announced in The separation of the blood into two equal parts prepares for the celebration of the rite. Half of the blood is poured on the altar, consecrated to God, while the other half is sprinkled on the assembled Israelites who are now consecrated as a holy people of the lordand preordained to his service.
This relationship did not last. Israel adored the golden calf Ex The narrative recounting this infidelity and its consequences constitutes a reflection on the breaking of the covenant and its re-establishment. The people have experienced the anger of God — he speaks of destroying them But the repeated intercession of Moses, the intervention of the Levites against the idolators , and the people's repentance secure a promise from God not to carry out his threats and to agree instead to walk once more with his people God takes the initiative in re-establishing the covenant These chapters reflect the conviction that, from the beginning, Israel tended to be unfaithful to the covenant, but that God, on his part, always restored relations.
The covenant of course is only a human way of conceiving the relationship of God with his people. As with all human concepts of this kind, it is an imperfect expression of the relationship between the divine and the human. Ex The covenant must not be understood simply as a bilateral contract, for God cannot be obligated in the same way as human beings. Nevertheless, the covenant allows the Israelites to appeal to God's fidelity. Israel has not been the only one to make a commitment.
The lordcommits himself to the gift of the land as well as his own beneficent presence in the midst of his people. Covenant in Deuteronomy. This latter covenant is a promise of allegiance to the Lord 2 K Destined by God to be permanent Dt ,12 , it demands the people's fidelity. The declaration of Dt merits particular attention, for it affirms the validity of the covenant for the present generation cf.
This verse gives a kind of key to interpreting the whole book. The temporal distance between the generations is abolished. Promise to David. Being an unconditional promise, the covenant with the house of David cannot be broken Ps If David's successor sins, God will punish him like a father punishes his sons, but he will not withdraw his favour 2 S The perspective is very different from that of the Sinai covenant, where the divine favour is conditional: it requires obedience to the covenant on Israel's part Ex A new covenant in Jr In Jeremiah's time, Israel's inability to keep the Sinai covenant was manifested in a tragic manner, resulting in the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple.
Coming after the breaking of the Sinai covenant, the new covenant makes possible a new beginning for the people of God. The prophetic message does not announce a change of law, but a new relationship with the Law of God, an interiorization. This stupendous innovation will be based on the Lord's gratuitous initiative: a pardon granted to the people's faults.
This shows that the oracle of the Book of Jeremiah commanded attention at the time of Jesus and Paul. The theme of God's covenant with his people in the writings of the New Testament is placed in a context of fulfilment, that is, in a fundamental progressive continuity, which necessarily involves breaks at certain points. Continuity concerns above all the covenant relationship, while the breaks concern the Old Testament institutions that were supposed to establish and maintain that relationship. In the New Testament, the covenant is established on a new foundation, the person and work of Christ Jesus; the covenant relationship is deepened and broadened, opened to all through Christian faith.
The Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles make little mention of the covenant. In the infancy gospels, the canticle of Zechariah Lk proclaims the fulfilment of the covenant-promise given by God to Abraham for his descendants. The promise envisages the establishment of a reciprocal relationship Lk between God and those descendents. But the words of Jesus also reveal a radical newness, for, whereas the Sinai covenant included a ritual of sprinkling with the blood of sacrificed animals, Christ's covenant is founded on the blood of a human being who transforms his death as a condemned man into a generous gift, and thereby makes this rupture into a covenant event.
The words of Jesus over the cup proclaim that the prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah is fulfilled in his Passion. In the Acts of the Apostles , it is to the covenant promise that Peter draws attention. The universal scope of the covenant is thereby expressed. The Letters of Paul discuss the issue of the covenant more than once.
The covenant-law is later and provisional Ga The covenant-promise is prior and definitive Ga From the beginning it has a universal openness.
Israel continues to be in a covenant relationship and remains the people to whom the fulfilment of the covenant was promised, because their lack of faith cannot annul God's fidelity Rm Even if some Israelites have observed the Law as a means of establishing their own justice, the covenant-promise of God, who is rich in mercy Rm , cannot be abrogated. Continuity is underlined by affirming that Christ is the end and the fulfilment to which the Law was leading the people of God Ga For many Jews, the veil with which Moses covered his face remains over the Old Testament 2 Co ,15 , thus preventing them from recognising Christ's revelation there.
Ep The Pauline Letters, then, manifest a twofold conviction: the insufficiency of the legal covenant of Sinai, on the one hand, and on the other, the validity of the covenant-promise. Rm For Christ has overcome all obstacles by his redemptive obedience Heb ; , and has opened access to God for all believers Heb ; In this way, the covenant announced and prefigured in the Old Testament is fulfilled.
It is not simply a renewal of the Sinai covenant, but the establishment of a covenant that is truly new, founded on a new base, Christ's personal sacrificial offering cf. The conclusion which flows from all these texts is that the early Christians were conscious of being in profound continuity with the covenant plan manifested and realised by the God of Israel in the Old Testament. Israel continues to be in a covenant relationship with God, because the covenant-promise is definitive and cannot be abolished.
Rv b This is why, from apostolic times, the Church had to define itself in relation to the Law, following the example of Jesus himself, who gave it its proper significance by virtue of his authority as Son of God. Israel's Law and cult are developed throughout the Old Testament. The different collections of laws can also serve as guides for the chronology of the Pentateuch. The gift of the Law. The Law is, first of all, God's gift to his people. The gift of the Law is the subject of a main narrative of composite origin, and of complementary narratives among which, 2 K , has a special place because of its importance for the Deuteronomist.
These theophanies, together with the covenant, signify a special grace for the people, present and future, and the laws revealed at that moment in time are their lasting pledge. But the narrative traditions also link the gift of the Law with the breaking of the covenant, that result from violation of the monotheism prescribed in the Decalogue. The laws contain moral precepts ethical , juridical legal , ritual and cultural a rich assemblage of religious and profane customs.
They are of a concrete nature, expressed sometimes as absolutes e. They then have the status of precedent and serve as analogies for comparable situations, giving rise to the later development of jurisprudence, called halakah, the oral law, later called the Mishna. Many laws have a symbolic meaning, in the sense that they illustrate concretely invisible values such as equity, social harmony, humanitarianism, etc.
Not all laws are to be applied, some are school texts for the formation of future priests, judges and other functionaries; others reflect ideas inspired by the prophetic movement. From a historical point of view, biblical laws are the result of a long history of religious, moral and juridical traditions. They contain many elements in common with the Ancient Near Eastern civilisation. Seen from a literary and theological aspect, they have their source in the God of Israel who has revealed them either directly the Decalogue according to Dt , or through Moses as intermediary charged with promulgating them.
The Decalogue is really a collection separate from the other laws. Its first appearance describes it as the totality of the conditions necessary to ensure freedom for Israelite families and to protect them from all kinds of oppression, idolatry, immorality and injustice. The exploitation experienced by Israel in Egypt must never be reproduced in Israel itself, in the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
On the other hand, the provisions of the Covenant Code and of Ex embody a range of human and religious values, and also sketch a communitarian ideal of permanent value. Since the Law is Israelite and Jewish, it is therefore a specific and determinate one, adopted to a particular historical people. But it has also an exemplary value for the whole of humanity Dt For this reason, it is an eschatological good promised to all the nations because it will serve as an instrument of peace Is ; Mi It embodies a religious anthropology and an ensemble of values that transcend both the people and the historical conditions of which the biblical laws are in part the product.
As a manifestation of the all-wise divine will, the commandments become more and more important in the social and individual life of Israel. The Law becomes omnipresent there, especially from the time of the Exile 6th c. The Psalms, Sirach and Baruch are witnesses within the Scriptures themselves. In observing that Law, believing Jews found therein their joy and their blessings, and participated in the universal creative wisdom of God.
This wisdom revealed to the Jewish people is superior to the wisdom of the nations Dt ,8 , in particular to that of the Greeks Ba Matthew, Paul, the Letter to the Hebrews and James devote an explicit theological reflection to the significance of the Law after the coming of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Matthew reflects the situation of the Matthean ecclesial community after the destruction of Jerusalem 70 A.
Jesus affirms the permanent validity of the Law Mt , but in a new interpretation, given with full authority Mt Along with the Law, Jesus, the new Moses, imparts knowledge of God's will to mankind, to the Jews first of all, then to the nations as well Mt The Pauline theology of the Law is rich, but imperfectly unified. This is due to the nature of the writings and to a process of thinking still being worked out in a theological terrain not yet explored in depth. Paul's reflection on the Law was sparked by his own personal spiritual experience and by his apostolic ministry.
Through his apostolic experience: since his ministry concerned non-Jews Ga ; Rm , it posed a question: does the Christian faith demand of non-Jews submission to the Jewish Law and, in particular, to the legal observances that are the marks of Jewish identity circumcision, dietary regulations, calendar? A positive response would have been disastrous for Paul's apostolate.
Wrestling with this problem, he was not content with pastoral considerations: he undertook a deeper doctrinal exploration.
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Paul becomes acutely aware that the coming of Christ demands that he redefine the function of the Law. Henceforth, what is to be the role of the Law? Paul struggled to give an answer. Consequently, the ministry of Moses could be called a ministry of death 2 Co , of condemnation