Review: Biblical Covenantalism

hres.9781625646606.jpgDouglas W. Kennard is Professor of New Testament at Houston Graduate School of Theology, Houston, Texas. Formerly, Kennard was Chair of Biblical Studies at Bryan College and Professor of Bible, Theology, and Philosophy at Moody Bible Institute. He has a M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Seminary, as well as a Th.M. and Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Kennard is the author of A Critical Realist’s Theological Method: Returning the Bible and Biblical Theology to be the Framer for Theology and Science (Wipf & Stock, 2013), and the present three-volume work, Biblical Covenantalism (Wipf & Stock, 2015).

Biblical Covenantalism reposes in the reality that, “the covenants for Israel are intrinsically linked together and telescope out of each other . . . [and] Israel’s eschatology is framed by these covenants. The Church is already blessed by a number of these same covenants and her eschatology joins with some of Israel’s blessings, especially fostered by the Spirit and Messiah Jesus” (vol. I, p. 53). In other words, for Kennard, the eschatology of both Israel and the Church climax in the Kingdom of Christ on earth through a series of covenants link together by idea of Covenant Nomism, and Kennard is here that he seeks to bring his readers.

Volume one of Kennard’s work (Biblical Covenantalism: Engagement with Judaism, Law, Atonement, the New Perspective, and Kingdome Hope) seeks to construct a foundation for the framework of observing God’s work among his people throughout history in the form of covenants. Kennard walks the reader through the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, and the Deuteronomistic and Levitical contribution to a Priestly Covenant. Together these covenants build and encourage the seedlings of the eschatological idea of a Messianic Priest to ultimately realizes the aspects of this Priestly Covenant (vol. I, p. 319).

Volume two of Kennard’s work (Biblical Covenantalism: In the Prophets, Psalms, Early Judaism, Gospels, and Acts) seeks to build upon the previous foundation of biblical covenants in Torah by directing attention to the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant. Kennard traces the theme of the Davidic Covenant through the Psalms, Daniel, and Second Temple Judaism, all the way through the Gospels and into Revelation. As attention is shifted to the New Covenant, Kennard spends a good deal of time in Jeremiah before addressing the New Covenant in the Second Temple period and beyond. Kennard firmly positions the idea of Covenant Nomism in Second Temple Judaism and uses this conclusion to explore the Gospels and Acts. Kennard sees the New Covenant as the reaffirmation of the previous Covenants, namely the Priestly Covenant developed in volume one, and thus, the theme of Covenant Nomism is carried throughout (vol. II, p. 254).

Volume three of Kennard’s work (Biblical Covenantalism: Engaging the New Perspective and New Covenant Atonement) seeks to nuance the previously developed conclusions concerning Biblical Covenantalism through the New Testament epistles. Kennard begins with James and concludes that, “James sees Messianic Jews as needing to keep the Law because God has given the Law to Israel to be obeyed, and God will act as their Judge” (vol. III, p. 29). In other words, Kennard observes that same Covenant Nomism previously witnessed in the Second Temple period in James. Subsequently, Kennard similarly directs attention to Paul, Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter, 1 John, and Revelation. Kennard finally brings the volume to a close by putting all the pieces of the puzzle together in a skillful manner that the reader of the three volumes will appreciate. For Kennard, it is within this covenant program that God is gracious and obtains all the glory.

Biblical Covenantalism by Douglas W. Kennard is rich with helpful and thought-provoking insight. It is evident that Kennard has spent a significant amount time within the material presented, and for good reason. Kennard’s work is easy to read and meticulously detailed. It is well-organized and self-establishing as Kennard guides readers through a covenant program that brings continuity and consistency to the work of God among his people. Regardless of one’s stance on issues that surround the various New Perspective conversations, Kennard has provided an excellent work that deserves significant attention and interaction. It comes recommended with enthusiasm.

 

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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