Covenants, Pillars and Theologies in Ancient Judaism
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Covenants | Pillars | Theologies

Major Covenants between God and Humans Beings in the Bible

Definition of "COVENANT": a formal agreement, contract, testament, or treaty between two parties, with specific obligations on each side:Rudolf Koch: Christian Symbols

Main Covenants in the Hebrew Bible: the first two apply to all human beings, the next three apply specifically to the Jews, the "Children of Abraham": The "New" or "Renewed" Covenant:Rudolf Koch: Christian Symbols

Seven Main "Pillars" of Ancient Judaism:
[related to the covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David--as listed above]

  1. Rudolf Koch: Christian SymbolsElection:  the people of Israel are "chosen" by God; they are to be "holy" (="set apart"; different from other nations)
  2.      Land:  the "Holy Land" was "promised" by God to be theirs forever; a "land flowing with milk and honey"
  3. Monotheism:  there is only One God = YHWH;  cf. the "Shema" prayer (Deut 6:4) - [cf. earlier stage: Henotheism]
  4.      Law:  core in "Decalogue" (10 Commandments); also the whole "Torah" (Five Books of Moses) & the whole Bible
  5. Monarchy:  the Davidic dynasty ("House of David"; "Sons of David") should reign as kings over Israel forever
  6.      Temple:  the "House of God" should be in Jerusalem, so that God can dwell in the midst of his people
  7. Messiah:  when the covenants are broken, God will raise up an "anointed" leader to restore the nation to God,
    and to restore the earth to peace and justice with no more war, disease, death, etc. (exact expectations vary)

Progression of Theologies in Ancient Judaism:

Deuteronomistic Theology (dominant in the Torah, esp. the Book of Deuteronomy):

Prophetic Theology (found throughout most of the books of the Hebrew Prophets): Apocalyptic Theology (new in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, and in post-biblical Jewish literature):

Go to Covenants | Pillars | Theologies

See also Festivals and Feasts of Ancient Judaism

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