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The Christ of the Covenants [Paperback]

O. Palmer Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Presbyterian and Reformed; First edition (22 Dec 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875524184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875524184
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
WHAT is a covenant? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-going. 1 Feb 2014
By Dave
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not a book for the average reader. It is quite scholary and needs close and careful reading. Some of the things written were beyond me.

The title is not entirely accurate and is misleading. It is not about Christ but the covenants.

The Covenant of Redemption made within the Trinity is not included - it only concerns itself with those made with man. All this covenant gets is a few words with a comment that it will not be included.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Christ of the Covenants 31 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Outstanding outline on God's historical interactions with humanity and creation. A true 'philosophy of history' with its climax in the person and work of Christ.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super book 7 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book to understand the conanant we made to our Lord when we were first saved, and the promises He made to us!!
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic on Covenant Theology 26 Mar 2004
By J. F Foster - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm giving this book 5 stars even though I do not agree with everything that Robertson puts forth here. This book has been on the market for nearly 25 years now, and it remains a standard resource addressing covenant theology that scholars across the theological spectrum still interact with today.
Robertson's book was, and is, a distinctive contribution to covenant theology. Unlike some of his contemporaries like the great John Murray, Robertson appears to argue for the conditionality (to varying degrees) of each Biblical covenant, rather than trying to determine which covenants were allegedly conditional versus unconditional. However, where certain contemporary covenant theologians stress covenants in the context of the Kingdom of God, Robertson stresses covenants in the context of human redemption. The reader should therefore understand that Robertson's version of covenant theology, while having many similarities with virtually all forms of conservative Reformed covenant theology, is not the only version that has been proposed and argued for.
The book does show its age in spots. His chapter interacting with dispensationalism was spot on 25 years ago, but not now. The progressive dispensational movement of today does not look a whole lot like the dispensationalism that Robertson interacts with here. But more importantly for Reformed readers, Robertson's emphasis on covenants that are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture is a feature that is also on the wane in today's covenantal circles. Robertson forcefully argues for the 'covenant of works/covenant of grace with Adam' structure that is outstanding in my view, but is a feature of covenant theology that's becoming less and less stressed today. He properly stays away from presenting eternal divine decrees within the godhead as covenantal.
One of the central themes of this book is that covenants are far more unified than diverse, demonstrating continuity rather than discontinuity. In many ways, this has been the central issue of debate surrounding Biblical covenants. Robertson's emphatic stress on the unity of the covenants is still a staple of covenant theology, though greater discontinuity is being allowed in covenant circles today in ways that Robertson does not leave room for here. I happen to think that Robertson's presentation, while undoubtedly highly systemic and therefore susceptible to flattening the Bible and minimizing its diversity, is nonetheless very good and mostly correct. His contention that Jesus Christ is the comprehensive fulfillment of all Biblical covenants and that the New Covenant that He inaugurated is the final covenant is an essential aspect of covenant theology that puts each Biblical covenant into a distinctly Christological context.
In summary, any investigation of the merits of covenant theology must include a perusal of this book. Whatever disagreements I may have on the edges, I think Robertson has given us a lasting contribution in this area that has become the starting point for most formulations of covenant theology in the years following its publication. A crucial contribution worthy of purchase.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to the covenant 7 April 2000
By T. Pedlar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In "Christ of the Covenants", O. Palmer Robertson treats a subject which is often lost on today's broadly evangelical church - the Covenant of Grace, by which God has saved and will save His people.
This is not a "light" book, but a treatment of the theology of the Covenant which is accessible to most, nonetheless. It is not terribly scholarly, but does take a more academic tack on the subject than most books. Given this caveat, this is a tremendous resource for those who wish to convey this subject to small group or other audiences within the church.
In this book, Robertson traces the development of God's covenantal dealings with humanity - through the various administrations connected with Abraham, Moses, David and Christ. Each administration, Robertson emphasizes with great aplomb, is not indicative of different covenants (with different requirements, or rewards, as some segments of the church teach), but in fact different reflections of the same Covenant of Redemption that finds its highest fulfillment in Christ and the New Covenant.
This work was truly a joy to read, and a refreshingly intense study of a very important subject. Again, I would recommend this to any pastor, elder, or lay teacher who wishes to take up the subject of Covenant theology in their church or home bible study group.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book on the Covenants from a Reformed Perspective 19 April 2005
By theologicalresearcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in understanding the Biblical covenants from a Reformed standpoint should read this book. Robertson does a good job outlining the major covenants (the Covenant of Creation or Works, the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the Covenant of Consummation or New Covenant). In the first section, Robertson gives us an indepth treatment of the meaning and extent of a covenant using Biblical references and historical examples. In the second section, he gives us an outline of the Covenant of Creation (or Covenant of Works). The third section deals with all of the redemptive covenants after the fall of man. Roberton's main thesis is that all of the redemptive covenants are interrelated and are not separate entities. That there is a gradual progression and advancement in God's redemptive plan with each succeeding covenant. Particularly good was his last chapter dealing with the Covenant of Consummation (or New Covenant). He emphasizes that the New Covenant is both continuous and discontinuous from the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant being a covenant of condemnation because of continued disobedience among the Israelities; the New Covenant being a covenant of life because of the indwelling of the Spirit among God's people. I especially liked Robertson's irenic and humble tone. I was very appreciative about the fact that he did not try to label dispensationalists as "heretics" or "unorthodox." On pages 201-2, he states that "it should not be forgotten that covenant theologians and dispensationalists stand side by side in affirming the essentials of the Christian faith. Very often these two groups within Christendom stand alone in opposition to the inroads of modernism, neo-evangelicalism, and emotionalism. Covenant theologians and dispensationalists should hold in highest regard the scholarly and evangelical productivity of one another. It may be hoped that continuing interchange may be based on love and respect." This kind of attitude is refreshing in contrast to many Reformed fanatics who label anyone outside their tradition as heretics. Perhaps many scholars from the same tradition as the author can learn what it means to be irenic. The only problem I have with the book is that it doesn't contain an author and subject index.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatment of redemptive history 10 Nov 2003
By Camden M. Bucey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Robertson examines covenant theology as an overarching system to organize Biblical redemptive history. Robertson makes a case for the interdependence of each covenant up and over against the distinctiveness of dispensationalism.
Robertson promotes the view that each successive covenant was a progression in God's redemptive plan and that each covenant in its uniqueness was in ways a revealing of a different aspect of that ultimate plan of redemption.
I recommend this book to anyone interested at a fuller understanding of the Bible as a whole and those seeking to understand the role of the Biblical covenants. This book is an excellent treatment of redemptive history.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Biblical study on the covenants - very helpful 11 April 2010
By R. Hayton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is not a covenantal theology manual, as some might suspect. The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, is a book about the many Scriptural covenants: the covenant with Noah, Abraham, and David, to name a few. Robertson departs from many covenant theologians in refusing to call the pre-Creation Divine determination to redeem fallen man an actual covenant, even as he argues for the basic correctness of the covenantal position on Israel and the church.

What this book does best is show how the covenants (and not dispensations) truly structure Scripture. Indeed without understanding the covenants, one will inevitably fail to understand much of Scripture.

Being raised a dispensationalist, I had a somewhat vague understanding that there are several covenants mentioned in Scripture. But I never understood how important and influential they really are. Interestingly, in an excursus focusing on dispensationalism, Robertson compares the Old and New Scofield Bibles and shows that contemporary dispensationalism now also emphasizes the importance of the Biblical covenants.

Starting with the basics, Robertson defines the term "covenant" against the backdrop of ancient middle-eastern covenants. He concludes that in Scripture a covenant is "a bond in blood sovereignly administered." Robertson delves into the technical discussions surrounding this concept, but at the same time manages to keep it somewhat simple. A relationship is established unilaterally, and loyalty is demanded on pain of death.

Robertson moves on to discuss the extent, the unity and the diversity of the Biblical covenants. He makes a good case for understanding the Gen. 1-2 in terms of a covenant of creation, citing Jeremiah 33 and Hosea 6:7 as proof. He contends that after the fall, the Biblical story is a progression of covenants each more specific and more glorious, culminating in the new covenant which was begun and inaugurated with the death of Christ. Yet he maintains that there are important differences worth noting between the covenants, and particularly between the Law and the new covenant.

Then he begins a discussion of all the important Biblical covenants, starting with the covenant of creation. He admits that the focus of that covenant is on the prohibition concerning eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but claims the covenant establishes a gracious relationship whereby man is called to rule God's creation and given instruction concerning marriage and Sabbath observance (he contends that there is a binding Sabbath principle to be observed on Sundays still today). He rightly emphasizes that ignoring the foundational teaching of how man should relate with the rest of creation has negatively impacted how Christians relate with and think about culture today.

Then he takes up the covenant of redemption which he sees as started in Gen. 3:15, and progressively developed through the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and then the new covenant. He develops each covenant insightfully, focusing on the Scriptural passages which establish the covenant idea, and applying important truths in a fresh way for all of us today. His discussion of the new covenant, and particularly Jer. 31:3-34, is particularly rich and insightful.

That is Robertson's book. Except I should note he stresses how the idea and promise of Christ is developed through each covenant. And he also has a great excursus chapter on dispensationalism. In that chapter he tries to show how dispensationalism has grown and changed. He finds contradictions within the system, however, and argues the point that dispensationalism depends on a false dualistic view that the physical and the spiritual must necessarily be distinguished. His chapter on dispensationalism (a mere 26 pages in length) alone is worth the price of the book. It would be well for those studying out the dispensational/covenant theology debate to listen to Robertson's insights. Perhaps I will try to flesh out the arguments in that chapter in a later post.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Robertson's book. After 300 pages one gets a thorough education in the Biblical covenants. At times it may be difficult reading, but the rewards gained are worth the effort spent. Mostly, Robertson has a gift for cutting to the heart of the matter. And a detailed study on the nature and teaching of the Biblical covenants demands the attention of any Biblical student. This book will help you understand Scripture better, and will increase your wonder at the glorious workings in God's plan of redemption.
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