Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 70:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Tiberius Rata, The Covenant Motif in Jeremiah’s Book of Comfort: Textual and Intertextual Studies of Jeremiah 3033. Studies in Biblical Literature 105. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. Pp. 177. $64.95, hardback.

This work is the author’s published dissertation from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (USA), and is a broad attempt to wrestle with the relationship between the “old” and “new” covenants conceived as the eras before and after Christ. The first section is introductory, ranging over a number of issues, in particular the methodology used (a particular application of “text linguistics”), the problem(s) of the divergences between the LXX and MT versions of Jeremiah, and a brief history of interpretation of the “new covenant.” In many ways this opening section sets the tone for the whole, being broad and promising but somewhat thin. So the methodological discussion emphasizes three aspects of communication: the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic. Though there is little notice of the difficulties plaguing such a neat division—one of the central topics of discussion in philosophy of language for the last twenty years—the scheme might at least allow the possibility of seeing various and mutually helpful aspects of a text.

But the application of the methodology over the developing chapters is disappointing. For instance, in the syntactic analysis the reader is simply informed of the grammatical terms for the parts of a sentence (e.g., for 31:32b, “Prepositional phrase/Infinitival phrase/Prepositional phrase”). While this might highlight some difficult issues, even here there is some disappointment: so at 31:33d (“QATAL/Nominal phrase/Prepositional phrase. ‘I will put my law within them”’), there is no discussion of why the qatal here is translated as a future, though at least two significant works in recent scholarship have argued otherwise. I happen to agree with a future rendering, but the methodological emphasis on syntax ought to have engaged with this issue.

The role of the history of interpretation in the project as a whole is unclear, except perhaps as orienting the discussion. It has three parts, the church fathers (Irenaeus and Augustine); the Reformers (Zwingli, Bullinger, Luther, and Calvin); and then nineteenth-and twentieth-century readings (which incidentally contain no 19th-century works). The inclusion of Bullinger here is good to see, since in spite of his immense influence on the Reformed tradition he rarely emerges from the shadows of Zwingli or Calvin. But none of the figures receives a thorough examin...

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