Monday, November 12, 2007

On Covenant, Priests, and Kevin Wilson's Post



My friend, Dr. Kevin Wilson has just written a blog-post on the longstanding question of why the P/PT source of the Pentateuch seems to lack a bi-lateral vassal covenant. Take a look, by clicking here. I'm very honored that Kevin has been spending time with my forthcoming paper. I am also extremely encouraged that he has found some of my arguments helpful. He has invited me to respond to his post if I'd like, so here are a few quick thoughts in this busy pre-SBL period.

First, I am wondering if maybe we do have some pre-Deuteronomy evidence of adherence to a bilateral covenant among writers from Judah. Amos 5:11, for example, echoes the "futility curses" found in bilateral treaties similar to Israel's covenant with God. This suggests that Amos's theology was at least partly covenantal. See Weinfeld, DTR School, pp. 122, 135, 345; Deut 1-11, p. 49.

Second, I am wondering if the PT source really is not up to more than just getting the plans for the tabernacle into Moses' hands (as Kevin's wording suggests, as he is thinking out loud). After all, the school’s texts describe God giving Israel a testimony on Mount Sinai (עדות; Exod 25:16, 21 NJB and NIV), and this testimony includes laws to be obeyed (the purity, purification, and atonement laws in the first half of Lev). To me, these PT laws have a weighty symbolism intended to help the people grow spiritually. It gives the wrong impression, I think, to say the "cultus" is PT's overarching concern, since PT presents rules of behavior to be followed in all of life outside of temple ritual.

In short, PT has rules for everyday life, just not rules to be followed out of covenantal loyalty. To be sure, PT does not have any thought of rewards for treaty loyalty.

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