This second volume in the Biblical Theology set explores the Old Testament special grace covenants: the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic. 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
“Heart circumcision and the indwelling of the Spirit are parallel, and that is part of the parallel structure of these revelations. The parallel is inevitable because it is the indwelling Spirit who performs the heart circumcision (Rom. 2:29).” (Page 329)
“Consequently, the Lord’s passage between the cut-up animals in Genesis 15:17 expresses or symbolizes his promise to take upon himself the penalty of death for Abraham and his offspring—a promise fulfilled on the cross.7 It is a promise of substitutionary atonement.” (Page 58)
“A covenant did not exist in the pagan ancient Near East until it was fully articulated and formally ratified or entered into, apparently by an oath, sometimes also by an animal dismemberment ritual of the sort Genesis 15 and Jeremiah 34 report.” (Page 23)
“which functions as a narrative preface to the covenant making episode” (Page 24)
“There is therefore no condition whose breaking means termination of the covenant. Adam broke the command, but the covenant continued. The same is true for all the subsequent covenants: none of them is conditional in the sense that breaking them terminates the covenant. In other words, the continuation of the covenants does not depend on the vassal’s faithfulness. But under the special grace covenants, the vassal’s continuation in the covenant is conditional upon his or her obedience to the covenant.” (Page 33)
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.