ANE treaties and Republication

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Since the discovery of ANE treaties, they have been appropriated for namely proving Mosaic authorship, but allso for understanding the Mosaic covenant. Since this has been used mostly by those advocating Klinean republication, I am curious as to the view of non-Klineans and how the ANE treaties can either help or hurt the understanding that the CoW was not republished.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm not sure that I see these matters related in any way. For what it's worth, I don't consider myself Klinean. I have a fair library, and not one book by Kline. Probably a gap I should fill...

Republication or re-expression, restatement, etc.--this concept does not originate with Kline. What I think the OPC report dealing with republication does is make clear that Kline's views on the nature of republication can be read in two directions, "substantively" and "administratively." His strongest critics make a case that Kline advocated some sort of substantive republication at some point in his career. The OPC report (rightly) indicates that is the wrong direction, confessionally speaking.

The ANE treaty-form I summarize and condense here (I freely admit my inadequacy to the task) to the best of my knowledge as: preamble, parties, stipulations, sanctions. It is a structure analytically developed from studying ancient documents; it isn't as if there was an ancient U.N. that imposed a "template" that all the local nations and empires had to follow. I fail to see how structure impacts the question.

There is one twist on the theory: that the treaty-form has two main expressions, bilateral and unilateral, or a treaty of mutual obligations and one that was clearly suzerain-vassal, where the obligations stated are one-sided. As I understand the matter, some have said that the former is closer to the Mosaic covenant, the latter nearer to Abrahamic (one sided). I personally don't think that analysis is good. Yes, Abraham's covenant was one-sided; the obligations are self-imposed by God; and I think it is asking too much of a theory to then flip the theory (theory upon a theory). The general theory is better, allowing for a variety of expressions of one concept.

The CoW is drawn in the simplest of terms in Scripture: do and live is the sum of it. Eden is the setting, God imposes it, man is the recipient, "do not eat the TKGE," "or die." There, I describe the CoW in four parts corresponding to the ANE model. You can do something like this with all covenants of Scripture. The existing ANE treaty concept shows primarily that the testimony of Scripture to the existence of such arrangements has not been anachronistically imposed by a later author on the past, whether on the putative Exodus era or on the patriarchs' era.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm not sure that I see these matters related in any way. For what it's worth, I don't consider myself Klinean. I have a fair library, and not one book by Kline. Probably a gap I should fill...

Republication or re-expression, restatement, etc.--this concept does not originate with Kline. What I think the OPC report dealing with republication does is make clear that Kline's views on the nature of republication can be read in two directions, "substantively" and "administratively." His strongest critics make a case that Kline advocated some sort of substantive republication at some point in his career. The OPC report (rightly) indicates that is the wrong direction, confessionally speaking.

The ANE treaty-form I summarize and condense here (I freely admit my inadequacy to the task) to the best of my knowledge as: preamble, parties, stipulations, sanctions. It is a structure analytically developed from studying ancient documents; it isn't as if there was an ancient U.N. that imposed a "template" that all the local nations and empires had to follow. I fail to see how structure impacts the question.

There is one twist on the theory: that the treaty-form has two main expressions, bilateral and unilateral, or a treaty of mutual obligations and one that was clearly suzerain-vassal, where the obligations stated are one-sided. As I understand the matter, some have said that the former is closer to the Mosaic covenant, the latter nearer to Abrahamic (one sided). I personally don't think that analysis is good. Yes, Abraham's covenant was one-sided; the obligations are self-imposed by God; and I think it is asking too much of a theory to then flip the theory (theory upon a theory). The general theory is better, allowing for a variety of expressions of one concept.

The CoW is drawn in the simplest of terms in Scripture: do and live is the sum of it. Eden is the setting, God imposes it, man is the recipient, "do not eat the TKGE," "or die." There, I describe the CoW in four parts corresponding to the ANE model. You can do something like this with all covenants of Scripture. The existing ANE treaty concept shows primarily that the testimony of Scripture to the existence of such arrangements has not been anachronistically imposed by a later author on the past, whether on the putative Exodus era or on the patriarchs' era.
Bruce is right. It's not clear how ANE treaties, which are between two humans (though the gods are invoked to impose the sanctions) could have any direct relevance to the republication question. It's worth noting that Kline was not the first to draw comparison between the Biblical material and the ANE covenants. He was building heavily on the then-current (1960's and 1970's) scholarship of people like George Mendenhall and Moshe Weinfeld, which did distinguish sharply between suzerainty treaties (bi-lateral) and covenants of grant (unilateral). More recent OT scholarship is more cautiously nuanced in that distinction, though I'm not sure that Reformed scholarship has always kept up. For the current state of scholarship, see Noel Weeks, Admonition and Curse: The Ancient Near Eastern Treaty/Covenant Form as a Problem in Intercultural Relationships. Weeks is a conservative Reformed scholar who specializes in ANE background material.

In my view the ANE background material has been helpful in illuminating aspects of the Biblical material. For example, the fact that God alone passes between the pieces of the divided animals in Genesis 15 is striking in light of the fact that normally both parties making the covenant would normally do so as an acted our self-imprecatory oath: if I fail to keep this covenant may I end up like these animals. So here God takes it upon himself alone to fulfill the covenant. This is different from Mount Sinai where the blood of the covenantal sacrifices is applied to the people as well and they respond "All this we will do." But these observations about the differences between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants are not based on ANE discoveries. Matthew Henry (who had no access to ANE materials) discusses Genesis 15 in terms of a monarch granting land to his faithful servant in ways that are in many respects similar to the later discussion.

In other words,the relationship of the various covenants to each other is a question that is raised by the Biblical materials themselves. There are continuities and discontinuities and the challenge is to do justice to both. Sometimes I think we may be shaped in our presentation of the materials by the error we are seeking to correct. O Palmer Robertson is writing at least in part to convince dispensationalists of the unity of Scripture so of course he will emphasize the unity of the covenants; Kline is more concerned about Norman Shepherd and the neo-nomianism that is manifested in the FV movement, so he sharply emphasizes discontinuity. I suspect the answer is somewhere in between, but the balance will only be found in exploring the Biblical material. ANE backgrounds can certainly help here and there, but they are in the end still background.

PS: a couple of other examples of ANE insights: why is Moses told to make the Ten Commandments on two tablets? It's not that he wrote 5 on each; rather, in the ANE covenants were drawn up in duplicate with one copy deposited at the feet of the respective gods of the nations concerned. Here there is only one God, so both copies are put in the ark, which is God's footstool. Likewise, when Moses breaks the tablets in pieces it is not merely a temper tantrum; it is an act with specific legal significance - essentially, tearing up the contract. Will either of those insights revolutionize your theology? Probably not. But they do contribute to a fuller understanding of the Biblical material.
 
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