“I will make an everlasting covenant with you . . .” (Isaiah 55:3). “Covenant” is a major theme in the Bible, and many Christian thinkers across the centuries have made it the organizing principle by which they understand the Old and New Testaments. The biblical material is undoubtedly plentiful, but some specific texts are also much disputed.
Paul R. Williamson offers fresh readings of many passages that contribute to the theme of covenant. He highlights its significance for biblical theology. He explores its role within God’s unfolding purpose. He concludes that covenant is essentially “a solemn commitment, guaranteeing promises undertaken by one or both parties, sealed with an oath,” and that its primary function is to advance God’s creative purpose of universal blessing from its inception in the primeval period to its consummation in the new heavens and the new earth. He is not afraid to challenge established positions. One example is his dual-covenant approach to God’s dealings with Abraham.
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“Rather than establishing or framing such a divine—human relationship, a covenant seals or formalizes it. The biblical order is relationship, then covenant; rather than covenant, hence relationship.” (Page 75)
“The following discussion will assume a total of seven” (Page 31)
“In the Septuagint, běrît is generally translated by the term diathēkē.” (Page 37)
“The glue that binds all the biblical covenants together is God’s creative purpose of universal blessing. Each of the subsequent covenants simply takes us one step closer towards the realization of that divine goal.” (Page 76)
“Apparently, it was not until the Reformation period, however, that anyone constructed a biblical theology around this particular concept. This was done by Johannes Cocceius (1603–69), whose attempt to interpret the Bible holistically by giving central place to ‘covenant’ not only laid the basis for federal or covenant theology (e.g. as presented in the 1677 magnum opus of H. Witsius), but also anticipated more recent emphases by identifying covenant as the major biblical-theological trajectory that could be traced throughout salvation history.” (Page 19)
Few will be the readers who will not learn a great deal . . . and who will not appreciate the firm but respectful way Dr. Williamson disagrees with his dialogue partners. And perhaps some of those who are much too indebted to atomistic exegesis, unable to see how the Bible hangs together, will glimpse something of the comprehensiveness and wholeness of God’s self-disclosure in Scripture, and find their worship of the covenant-making God enhanced.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Sealed with an Oath is a ‘must read’ for anyone exploring the covenants of the Bible. Whereas other works survey the various biblical covenants and explore their similarities and dissimilarities, this work’s focus on the appropriate linkages among the different covenants makes it especially useful in understanding how covenant may be read through the entire Bible.
—Randall C. Bailey, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
While other books undoubtedly offer a more approachable introduction to covenant in biblical theology, Sealed With an Oath is a helpful addition. This book will particularly benefit pastors teaching and seminary students studying divine-human covenants. Laypersons interested in learning more after reading Robertson or Dumbrell will find much complementary material in Williamson’s excellent book.
—Jason Button, TheoSource
Lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew, Moore Theological College.