Thursday, December 4, 2008

A better covenant

Denny Burke recommends an interesting new book, Hebrews, Christ, and the Law: The Theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews 7:1-10:18 by one of his faculty members, Barry Joslin:
...Joslin is trying to ask and answer the question, “What is the theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews?”

The answer Joslin gives will be surprising to some because he does not believe that Hebrews abrogates the Law under the new covenant. According to Joslin, the New Covenant does not abrogate the Old, rather it transforms it. He writes:
The work of Christ has transformed the law, and this transformation involves both its internalization and fulfillment in the NC [new covenant]; the law has forever been affected Christologically. . . The writer of Hebrews does not suggest that the law itself (the OC’s regulations) in toto has been abrogated” (pp. 2, 4).
» Hebrews, Christ, and the Law | Denny Burk


  1. I was just passing by when I noticed your post on "a better covenant" and just had to remark that the man needs to be honest with the plain reading of the text of Hebrews. The big warning is to NOT go back there to the Sinai Covenant or what befell your fathers in the wilderness will be small potatoes when compared to what will happen to you.

    Hebrews 10:28-31 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    The purpose for the giving of the new covenant is because the covenant made at Sinai was not able to make men holy. The law, even the moral law as some would have cannot make men holy. It had to be replaced.

    "Hebrews 8:7-13 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. (8) For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, (9) not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (13) In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away."

    The author should listen to Paul in Galatians. Have you begun in the Spirit...? It's stuff like his that would leave the ordinary guy in the pew wondering if his Bible is trustworthy.

    In His love.

  2. The book is apparently an extended argument and it is difficult to tell from the excerpt just what it has to say, but from the short quotation:
    "The work of Christ has transformed the law, and this transformation involves both its internalization and fulfillment in the NC [new covenant]; the law has forever been affected Christologically."
    it isn't immediately evident to me that Joslin would disagree with you. The law can't make men holy. It never did.


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