Jeremiah's New Covenant: An Augustinian Reading
Moon, Joshua N.
Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011 pp. viii + 292. $39.95
Journal of Theological Interpretation Supplement, 3
Description: The struggle to read Jeremiah 31:31-34 as Christian Scripture has a long and divided history, cutting across nearly every major locus of Christian theology. Yet little has been done either to examine closely the varieties of interpretation in the Christian tradition from the post-Nicene period to the modern era, or to make use of such interpretations as helpful interlocutors. This work begins with Augustine s interpretation of Jer 31:31-34 as an absolute contrast between unbelief and faith, rather than the now-standard reading (found in Jerome) of a contrast between two successive religio-historical eras - one that governed Israel (the old covenant ) and a new era and its covenant inaugurated in the coming of Christ. Augustine s absolute contrast loosened the strict temporal concern, so that the faithful of any era were members of the new covenant. The study traces Augustine s reading of an absolute contrast in a few key moments of Christian interpretation: Thomas Aquinas and high medieval theology, then the 16th and 17th century Reformed tradition. The thesis aims at a constructive reading of Jer 31:31-34, and so the struggle identified in these moments in the Christian tradition is brought into dialogue with modern critical discussions from Bernhard Duhm to the present. Finally, the author turns to an exegetical argument for an Augustinian reading of the contrast of the covenants.
The study finds that Jer 31:31-34, read in its role in Jeremiah, contrasts Israel s infidelity with a future idyllic faithfulness to YHWH: in the new covenant all will be as it always ought to have been. The contrast is thus a variant of Augustine s proposal of two mutually exclusive standings before Yhwh. The study aims in this matter to contribute to the perennial exegetical, theological and ecclesial discussions of old and new covenants by examining a locus classicus in dialogue with oft-neglected discussions in the history of interpretation.
Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Prophetic Literature, Jeremiah, Literature
Review by Bob Becking
Citation: Bob Becking, review of Joshua N. Moon, Jeremiah's New Covenant: An Augustinian Reading, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2012).
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