This first volume in the Biblical Theology set explores the two common grace covenants: the Adamic and Noahic. The volumes present the covenant as an expression of the nature of God, and show a paradigm of activity by which God works in covenantal relations, first to create the world and then, through a redemptive program after the fall, to redeem what was lost.
The proposed paradigm, by which all the divine-human covenants are expressed and understood, is a new and, it is hoped, helpful way of portraying God's covenant making dynamic, and it also thereby illustrates the divine consistency. The three-volume set also develops further the idea that all divine-human covenants are both unconditional and conditional, in contradistinction to prevailing terminology and understanding of the covenants as either conditional or unconditional, or unilateral or bilateral. Ancillary to the discussion of the covenants is a fresh exploration and demonstration of covenant making and covenant sustaining terminology.
This work must be taken into account in all future thinking about the important theme of covenant. All students of the Bible and theology will benefit from Niehaus’s insights that build on and advance previous research on the topic.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry, Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College, CA
Niehaus brings to culmination his lifelong study of ancient near eastern covenants and their importance for understanding biblical covenant as the foundation to biblical theology. He contends that Scripture in its entirety and God’s relationship with human life from creation are covenantal in nature. By showing a pattern in God’s covenantal designs, he demonstrates the cohesive message of the Bible. Every scholar and pastor will benefit from this refreshingly new and lively written approach.
—Kenneth Matthews, Professor of Divinity, Old Testament, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, AL
“Scripture is the Holy Spirit taking the form of words.” (Page 26)
“Likewise, God made humans in his image and likeness, to represent himself both formally and functionally on the earth over which they were to rule.” (Page 53)
“A religiously aware ancient near eastern reader would have understood that this verse claims suzerainty over the universe for the God it names. That is so because, in the ancient world, the creator god was also suzerain over all that he had created. Consequently, the statement that God created heaven and earth implies that he is in covenant with both and, moreover, that he is the source of all authority for any beings in heaven above or on earth below.” (Page 47)
“First, he graciously continued the Adamic or Creation covenant so that humans could continue to exist, procreate, and fulfill the cultural mandate even though they were in a fallen state. Second, when human sin had reached such proportions that God’s justice (and merciful provision for a possible human future) compelled him to bring judgment in the form of the Flood, God made a covenant with and through Noah that renewed the Adamic covenant. From that point onward in human history, the Adamic and Noahic covenants have constituted one legal package under which all humans have lived and will continue to live until the eschaton. So, for example, humans continue to be fruitful and multiply, to exercise rule over the earth and the creatures, and to die.” (Page 32)
“It is clear that the place in which God resides is, ipso facto, a temple—that is, a residence. That is why, after Pentecost, human beings are called temples of the Spirit for the first time, for only after that event has the Spirit come to dwell in human beings. But the same Spirit who dwells in believers has also dwelt in God all the time, just as our human spirits dwell in us.17 And so God is and always was a temple, a residence, of his own Spirit. Consequently, that too is what it means to be made in the image of God. The form in which humans were made was always meant to contain that Holy Spirit, of whom it is the outline, or to use the biblical term, the likeness (Gen. 1:16; Ezek. 1:28).” (Page 59)
Jeffrey J. Niehaus (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books. In addition to being a biblical scholar, Niehaus is a poet who earned his Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard.