Dec 6, 2018

The Uniqueness of God's Covenant with Israel

I have expressed my reluctance before to using the so-called suzerain-vassal treaty forms as an interpretive grid for the Mosaic Covenant or certain parts of the Pentateuch. I believe that it is more likely that the these biblical texts and suzerain-vassal treaties owe their similarity to the fact that they draw from the same pool of elements that most agreements draw from (e.g., identification of the parties, stipulations, witnesses, etc.). 

I believe that my argument is bolstered somewhat by John Walton's assertion that, "In the ancient Near East, the idea of a god who made a covenant with a group of people was unique to Israel—a circumstance for which we have little precedent" (Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2017], 105). So it is possible that one could play the ancient Near Eastern background card to show that God was doing something different and not relying on cultural norms such as suzerain-vassal treaty forms.

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