Covenant, Nuptiality, and the Biblical Vision of Reality

Covenant, Nuptiality, and the Biblical Vision of Reality

JPI 956
3 Credits

At the heart of biblical revelation is a vision of creation that is relational and covenantal. It is the reality of covenant that grounds creation. This course will follow a critical analysis of the development trajectory that the theology of covenant takes as it appears in the various moments of Israelite history reaching its fulfillment in Christ. While the theme is adumbrated in the earlier strata of Scripture, it is the prophets who explicitly announce the nuptial nature of the covenant and orient us towards its fulfillment in the Messiah—whom the New Testament presents as the Bridegroom. This “ontological” turn is reinforced by the nuptial aspects of the Eucharistic and Marian dimensions of the covenant in the New Testament. At the heart of this study is the relationship of the Old to the New Testament. In examining Pauline theology, the critical issue will be the relationship of law to grace within a covenantal framework. The answer here determines the relationship between law (and obedient behavior) and salvation. Is salvation predicated on being a member of the covenantal community or is faithful following of the Law essential? Within the Old Testament there is the crucial witness of the prophets who raise a devastating critique against covenantal presumptuousness (“the temple, the temple”) while in the New Testament there is the struggle within the early Church over the issue of faith versus works. In particular, the question of antinomism versus covenantal nomism which deals with the question of legal observance, free will, and grace will be examined. Authors will include Westermann, Wenham, Cassuto, Dumbrell, Eichrodt, Heschel, Hugenberger, Barth, von Balthasar, John Paul II, Ratzinger, Blenkinsopp, N.T. Wright, and Wyschogrod.

Selected Texts


Joseph Atkinson portrait

Joseph C. Atkinson

Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
S.T.L. and S.T.D. Program Advisor

Dr. Atkinson’s work has included foundational research in developing the biblical and theological foundation of the family. He is a primary authority on the concept of the Domestic Church, which explores the ecclesial structure and meaning of the family. He teaches on the biblical structure and meaning of marriage and the family, on the Jewish background of the family, and on the nature and role of covenant.

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