Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Thomas R.W. Longstaff

Second Advisor

Yeager Hudson


In this paper I have attempted to explore "covenant" in faith and history, as it extends throughout the entire framework of the Bible and the entire history of the people who produced it. With such a monstrous topic, a comprehensive analysis of the material could take a lifetime to do it justice. Therefore, I have taken a very specific approach to the material in order to investigate the evolution of covenant from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

I have made every effort to approach this thesis as a text-based, non-doctrinal discussion. However, having my own religious convictions, it has, at times, been difficult to recognize and escape my biases. Nevertheless, I am confident that this final product is, for the most part, objective and free from dogmatism. Of course, I have brought my own perspective and understanding to the material, which may be different from the reader's, so there may be matters of interpretation on which we differ, but c 'est fa vie in the world of religious dialogue.

The structure of this paper is symmetrical: Part I examines the traditions of the Torah and the Prophets; Part II, the Gospels and Paul's letters. I have balanced the Old Testament against the New Testament (the Torah against the Gospels; the Prophets against Paul) in order to give approximately equal weight to the two traditions, and establish a sense of parallelism in the structure of my overall work.

A word should also be said about three matters of style. First, instead of the customary Christian designation of time as B.C. or A.D., I have opted to use the more modem B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) notations. This more recent system is less traditional; however, more acceptable in academic and, certainly, more appropriate for a non-doctrinal discussion. Second, in the body of this paper I have chosen to highlight several texts using a variety of colors. This highlighting serves (1) to call the reader's attention to specific passages, and (2) to compare the language and imagery of similar texts. All highlighting has been added to the texts at my own discretion. Finally, the divine name, traditionally vocalized as "Yahweh," is a verbal form of the Hebrew "to be," and means, approximately, "I am who I am." This name was considered too holy to pronounce by the ancient Israelites, and, the word adonai ("My LORD") was used in its stead. In respect of this tradition, I have left the divine name in its original Hebrew form. Accordingly, should be read as "the LORD" throughout this paper.

All Hebrew and Greek translations, where they occur, are my own. The Greek translations are based on the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.


Covenants, Hebrew Bible, Christian Scripture, New Testament, Torah

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