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Covenant: The History of a Biblical Idea (Seminar in the History of Ideas) Paperback – May 1, 1969

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An unusually good book in which results of the best scholarship are summarized in a lucid, witty, and engaging way... For a short introduction to the idea of covenant in the ancient Near East and in the Bible, this book is perhaps the best available today.

(American Ecclesiastical Review)

About the Author

Hillers is Professor of Near Eastern Studies at The Johns Hopkins University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Seminar in the History of Ideas
  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (May 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801810116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801810114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I can't do better than quote from the back of the book: "Two major motifs run through the discussion: the influence of ancient treaty forms on the concept of covenant and the varying forms of covenant that underlie the history of the idea from (Genesis) to the time of the Essenes and early Christians. Through analyses of the style, content, and language of biblical and extra-biblical documents, Dr. Hillers renders the complex idea of covenant comprehensible to the layman. He provides valuable insights into such ideas as the love of God and the knowledge of God, which are intimately connected with Israel's concept of covenant. His account also serves as an introduction to some of the concerns and methods of modern biblical scholarship." I would add to these selected themes, Dr. Hillers' wonderful chapter, "Therefore will I punish you;" explaining the "lawsuit addresses in Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 1:2-3, Micah 6:1-8 and Jeremiah 2:4-13. Just under 200 pages, this book is to me a must-read for every serious student of the Bible.
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Format: Paperback
I'm hoping my own re-thinking some important and favorite books might help reactivate my main theology blog and reactivate my life some, too. This time it's Covenant: The History of a Biblical Idea by Delbert R. Hillers, the book one of my seminary professors insisted we'd need to understand because otherwise we wouldn't *get* our seminary education. I didn't reread the book (yet), but glancing through it as a critter casually noms on browse made me realize it could be fun and even enlightening to read again in detail.

Particularly in the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible, sometimes referred to as "Old Covenant Scriptures," throughout scripture we hear about the God who covenants, the God of covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, David... the God who covenants with each one of us in baptism. On a side note, the seminary I attended most properly would be referred to as "ecumenical," and it's also one of the historic United Church of Christ seminaries. Some antecedents of today's UCC opined that God never had dealt with, interacted with humanity in any way other than by covenanting!

Author Delbert Hillers observed that [page 87] "Outside the Bible, it is in treaties that we find ... a mixture of history and commands, and the present shape of the Pentateuch ultimately reflects the combination of narrative and obligation in the treaty." In school we read examples of suzerainty treaties, purportedly the model for many of the biblical texts.

Early on the author cautions, "A ... difficulty with 'covenant' is that it is not necessarily one idea." [page 6] However (listen up, peeps!), on page 29 he lists the most characteristic six parts of a typical treaty: 1. preamble; 2. historical prologue; 3. stipulations; 4.
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