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The Christ of the Covenants (1980)

por O. Palmer Robertson

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Doctrinal Theology
  CPI | Aug 1, 2016 |
Illustrates the differences in the Scofield Bibles
  cemontijo | Jan 18, 2016 |
NO OF PAGES: 308 SUB CAT I: Covenants SUB CAT II: SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: The Christ of the Covenants successively treats the various covenants of the Old Testament from an exegetical and biblical-theological perspective. The richness of a covenantal approach to understanding the Bible is presented, along with interaction with other viewpoints.NOTES: Purchased from CBD. SUBTITLE:
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
This book is not a covenantal theology manual, as some might suspect. The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, is a book about the many Scriptural covenants: the covenant with Noah, Abraham, and David, to name a few. Robertson departs from many covenant theologians in refusing to call the pre-Creation Divine determination to redeem fallen man an actual covenant, even as he argues for the basic correctness of the covenantal position on Israel and the church.

What this book does best is show how the covenants (and not dispensations) truly structure Scripture. Indeed without understanding the covenants, one will inevitably fail to understand much of Scripture.

Being raised a dispensationalist, I had a somewhat vague understanding that there are several covenants mentioned in Scripture. But I never understood how important and influential they really are. Interestingly, in an excursus focusing on dispensationalism, Robertson compares the Old and New Scofield Bibles and shows that contemporary dispensationalism now also emphasizes the importance of the Biblical covenants.

Starting with the basics, Robertson defines the term “covenant” against the backdrop of ancient middle-eastern covenants. He concludes that in Scripture a covenant is “a bond in blood sovereignly administered.” Robertson delves into the technical discussions surrounding this concept, but at the same time manages to keep it somewhat simple. A relationship is established unilaterally, and loyalty is demanded on pain of death.

Robertson moves on to discuss the extent, the unity and the diversity of the Biblical covenants. He makes a good case for understanding the Gen. 1-2 in terms of a covenant of creation, citing Jeremiah 33 and Hosea 6:7 as proof. He contends that after the fall, the Biblical story is a progression of covenants each more specific and more glorious, culminating in the new covenant which was begun and inaugurated with the death of Christ. Yet he maintains that there are important differences worth noting between the covenants, and particularly between the Law and the new covenant.

Then he begins a discussion of all the important Biblical covenants, starting with the covenant of creation. He admits that the focus of that covenant is on the prohibition concerning eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but claims the covenant establishes a gracious relationship whereby man is called to rule God’s creation and given instruction concerning marriage and Sabbath observance (he contends that there is a binding Sabbath principle to be observed on Sundays still today). He rightly emphasizes that ignoring the foundational teaching of how man should relate with the rest of creation has negatively impacted how Christians relate with and think about culture today.

Then he takes up the covenant of redemption which he sees as started in Gen. 3:15, and progressively developed through the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and then the new covenant. He develops each covenant insightfully, focusing on the Scriptural passages which establish the covenant idea, and applying important truths in a fresh way for all of us today. His discussion of the new covenant, and particularly Jer. 31:3-34, is particularly rich and insightful.

That is Robertson’s book. Except I should note he stresses how the idea and promise of Christ is developed through each covenant. And he also has a great excursus chapter on dispensationalism. In that chapter he tries to show how dispensationalism has grown and changed. He finds contradictions within the system, however, and argues the point that dispensationalism depends on a false dualistic view that the physical and the spiritual must necessarily be distinguished. His chapter on dispensationalism (a mere 26 pages in length) alone is worth the price of the book. It would be well for those studying out the dispensational/covenant theology debate to listen to Robertson’s insights.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Robertson’s book. After 300 pages one gets a thorough education in the Biblical covenants. At times it may be difficult reading, but the rewards gained are worth the effort spent. Mostly, Robertson has a gift for cutting to the heart of the matter. And a detailed study on the nature and teaching of the Biblical covenants demands the attention of any Biblical student. This book will help you understand Scripture better, and will increase your wonder at the glorious workings in God’s plan of redemption..

An expanded version of this review is available at CrossFocusedReviews.com, where you can find book excerpts, giveaways, promotional offers, audio reviews and more. ( )
  bobhayton | Aug 16, 2010 |
This book is used as the basic primer on the Covenant in both local churches and seminary classes. It is a great, if not dense, introduction to the coherence of Scripture, the unity of the action of God throughout history: there is truly only one covenant, administered in different ways within Scripture. This is the primary thesis: the covenant is the unifying theme of the whole.

Robertson does great job of pulling together the particular passages that tie each covenant to the preceding and the following administrations. He goes far to prove the organic unity that exists between each, from the Adamic to the New Covenant (which is, not all that "new").

The absence of a structural exegesis is one weakness of his work. Robertson very briefly discusses the six-fold pattern of the ancient Near Eastern suzerainty treaties, but the discussion ends there. Later writers have improved upon this, and there are now many books which discuss the actual biblical structure of the covenant. It has been shown that even Revelation is structured along the same lines as the preceding covenant administrations (writers such as David Chilton and Ray Sutton are good sources).

All in all, a very good introduction to the subject. ( )
  chriszodrow | Feb 27, 2009 |
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