restricted access Chapter 15. Jesus and the Covenant
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Chapter 15 Jesus and the Covenant Nearly every theological interpretation of the Lord’s Supper concerns itself with the last supper as somehow expressing the “covenant theology” of Jesus. The question we ask in this chapter is whether or not, and if so in what way, Jesus thought of the last supper and his death as covenant-establishing. Which means that we are also concerned here with the origins of the “new covenant hermeneutic ” of the earliest Christians or, better yet, the origins of various new covenant hermeneutics among various followers of Jesus who were Israelites of a special sort.1 Because the unique concern of this chapter is what it is, we have ranged more deeply into other portions of the New Testament and, consequently, will proceed from these later portions back to Jesus. The question of concern in this chapter is not whether or not covenant is useful as a hermeneutic, or whether it is a category sufficiently large and flexible A much shorter version of this chapter was as a Festschrift contribution for my doctoral supervisor , Professor James D.G. Dunn. See “Covenant and Spirit,” in The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins (ed. G.N. Stanton, B.W. Longenecker, and S.C. Barton; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 41–54. The original impetus of this piece, the origins of a new covenant hermeneutics, permitted a greater opportunity to explore the significance Professor Dunn has had in the scholarly debate over the development of covenant thinking in earliest Christianity. The present chapter focuses on Jesus and the covenant. 1 Apart from Paul (2 Cor 3:14), an early Christian use of “New Testament” for the collection of books is Tertullian, Marc. 4.1 (“one for each Instrument, or Testament as it is more usual to call it”); see also Origen, Princ. 4.1.1. Melito of Sardis, however, refers to the Jewish Bible as the “Old Testament” (cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.26.14; also Melito’s Peri Pascha). Perhaps the earliest noncanonical uses of the category for understanding salvation-history are found in Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 6.5 (cf. also Protr. 11), and in Irenaeus, Haer. 9.1; 33.14; see also Barn. 4.6–8, 14; 6.19; 7.5; 9.4; 10.9; 13.1; 14.5; Justin, Dial. 11.2; 118.3; 123.4. See esp. W. Kinzig, “Kainh\ diaqh/kh,” JTS 45 (1994): 510–44; K. Backhaus, Der neue Bund und das Werden der Kirche (NTAbh NF 29; Münster: Aschendorffische, 1996), 306–24; “Gottes nicht bereuter Bund,” in Ekklesiologie 293 294 Jesus and His Death enough to encompass the biblical witness—for this is manifestly true.2 As a hermeneutic, covenant theology has proven useful to many scholars for centuries . Nor is the issue whether or not covenant is the central term for the Apostle Paul—some have made a plausible case for Paul as a covenant theologian. Again, the issue is not as concerned with whether covenant is a category that can be used to unite the entire biblical witness, but rather this: when do we see the origins of a covenant hermeneutic in the Jesus movement and earliest Christianity? des Neuen Testaments (ed. R. Kampling and T. Söding; Freiburg: Herder, 1996): 33–55; “Das Bundesmotiv in der frühkirchlichen Schwellenzeit,” in Der ungekündigte Bund? (ed. H. Frankemölle; QD 172; Freiburg: Herder, 1998), 211–31; “Hat Jesus vom Gottesbund gesprochen?” TGl 86 (1996): 343–56. The key to our study is that we are looking at when and how the term covenant was used to distinguish discrete periods of salvation history, whether or not such persons envisaged a breaking up of the people of God into Judaism and Christianity, and whether or not this began with Jesus. Another similar schematic, and more redolent of New Testament authors, is promise or expectation and fulfillment or realization. One should not suppose, however, when one sees “covenant theology ” that the early Christians automatically thought in terms of two covenants or even in terms of climactic salvation-history; scholars today are quick to point out an incipient Christian bias in such interpretive programs. For a nice survey of the transformation of the term from Jesus to Justin, cf. Backhaus, Der neue Bund und das Werden der Kirche, 324–44. It is characteristic of Christian hermeneutics to synthesize such schemes within the larger scheme of covenant theology, which is a broader, soteriological scheme for understanding the biblical revelation. In my judgment, however, this...


pdf

Subject Headings

  • Jesus Christ -- Person and offices.
  • Atonement.
  • Jesus Christ -- Historicity.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access