Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

Course Description

In this course, Our Father’s Divine Plan, we will look at the plan of Salvation History through the major covenants of both the Old and New Testaments. Beginning with an investigation into the nature of divine revelation we will proceed to look at what a covenant is and how a covenant operates. Once we have established the biblical understanding of covenant we will launch into an investigation of the five major covenants of the Old Testament, before concluding the course by looking at the covenant made by Jesus Christ.

The first covenant we will explore is the Adamic covenant. There we will see how the first three chapters of Genesis set the stage for the rest of Salvation History. In exploring this first covenant that God made with humanity we will look at the nature of humanity’s original sin and violation of that covenant, along with its consequences. Doing this we hope to gain new insights into the nature of sin and its consequences. We will also explore the ancient Hebrew understanding of creation and how they understood God’s action of creation as somewhat akin to Moses’ construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s construction of the Jerusalem Temple; both of which were built in imitation of the universe.

After exploring the Adamic covenant we will turn our attention to the second major covenant God made with humanity: the Noahic covenant. For most of us, probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding Noah is the epic flood which consumed the world of his day. In this course you will gain new insights into the nature of this colossal event. We will see how this event was viewed by the early Christians as having a sacramental connotation. Finally, we will have an interesting investigation into the parallels between the events surrounding Adam’s covenant violation and Noah’s.

Moving to the third major covenant recorded in Scripture, we will look at the Abrahamic Covenant. The course will explore God’s dealings with Abraham: the Father of Faith. As most people are familiar with God’s instruction to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise, we will look at this episode in great detail; for after his attempted sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham received from God a threefold promise, an understanding of which is crucial for appreciating the actions of Jesus in the New Testament.

This course will spend a considerable amount of time looking at the fourth major covenant of the Old Testament: the Mosaic covenant. Under the leadership of Moses, Israel was constituted a nation at Mount Sinai after their epic exodus from Egyptian captivity. We will see how this event was unquestionably the most important event in Israel’s history. It not only solidified the nation of Israel as an Exodus people, but, as we will be at pains to show, it was the benchmark for the prophetic revelations of how the future Messiah would one day bring about an even greater Exodus than the one Israel had experienced under Moses’ leadership.

After looking at the Mosaic covenant the course will explore the fifth and final major covenant of the Old Testament: the Davidic covenant. This, along with the covenant God had made with Moses and Israel at Mount Sinai, is undoubtedly the most important covenant for understanding Jesus’ public ministry. We will see how under David and Solomon God had constituted the Davidic Kingdom, where the nation of Israel was entrusted with the task of leading all nations in right worship of Yahweh. It was to David that God’s most important promise of the Old Testament was given: to raise up a son to David who would be God’s own son and who would rule from an everlasting Davidic throne (see 2 Sam 7). We will proceed to see how and why the Davidic Kingdom was dissolved, eventually leaving the twelve tribes under the domination of Gentile rule. Without doubt these two aspects of the Davidic covenant are the most important for understanding Jesus’ mission. For Jesus fulfils God’s promise to David, as the “son of David” (see Mt 9:27; 12:23), and restores the Davidic Kingdom as repeatedly announced by the prophets.

Finally, we will look at how Jesus Christ, with the sixth and final covenant recorded in sacred Scripture, fulfills all of the preceding Old Testament covenants. Here you will see the greatness of what Jesus has done for you and for humanity.

This is truly a sublime course!

So book us to give it in your parish or school, now!

Course Objectives

  1. To understand the biblical notion of covenant.
  2. To be able to identify the six major covenants enacted between God and humanity in the Old and New Testaments.
  3. To discover how God has continually acted throughout Salvation History to expand his covenantal family with humanity through the major covenants.
  4. To learn new perspectives on the creation account in Genesis’ first chapters.
  5. To understand the importance of the threefold covenant oath God sworn to Abraham, and its relevance for Jesus’ public ministry and for your life.
  6. To see how the covenants of the Old Testament, particularly the Mosaic and Davidic covenants, set the stage for Jesus’ ministry and for the Church he established.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Burgsma, John. Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2012.

Hahn, Scott. A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. Michigan: Servant Publications, 1998.

Popular Level Reading:

Robertson, Palmer O. The Christ of the Covenants. Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Company, 1981.Horton, Michael. Introducing Covenant Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 1999.Béchard, Dean P. ed. and trans. The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

_________. The Historicity of the Gospels: Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1964.

_________. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: Address of His Holiness John Paul II and Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: St Paul Books and Media, 1993.

_________. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Dauphinais, Michael and Matthew Levering. Holy People, Holy Land: A Theological Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

Farkasfalvy, Denis. Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington DC. The Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Geisler, Norman L. and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011.

Hahn, Scott W. A Pocket Guide to the Bible. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Division, 2008.

_________. Scripture Matters: Essays on Reading the Bible From the Heart of the Church. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2003.

Shea, Mark P. Making Senses out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did. San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999.

Sri, Edward. The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2009.

Stravinskas, Peter M.J. The Catholic Church and the Bible. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

_________. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aquinas, Thomas. ‘Light of Faith’: The Compendium of Theology. Sophia Institute, 1993. (Reprint of Herder edition 1958).Beale, Gregory K. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

_________. Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

Beale, Gregory and D.A. Carson, (eds.). Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Hahn, Scott W. Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promises. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Scholarly Journal Article:

Bouyer, Louis. “The Two Economies of Divine Government: Satan and Christ in the New Testament and Early Christian Tradition.” Letter and Spirit 5 (2009): 239-264. Daniélou, Jean Cardinal. “The Sacraments and the History of Salvation.” Letter and Spirit 2 (2006): 203-216.