No “Covenant” at Creation?

Derek Ouellette —  June 10, 2010

Why do you suppose the word “covenant” is not found in the Biblical narrative until Genesis 9 when God establishes one with Noah? Some scholars have taken this to strictly mean that there was no “covenant of creation”, while others prefer to read all the “elements” of a biblical covenant in the creation narrative story.

Still, everywhere a biblical covenant is established in the scriptures, the word always seems to be used. Why not in the creation account? Can we account for this absence?

I’ve been reading John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology Vol. 1, where he proposes an interesting hypothesis:

A covenant (berit) is a commitment undertaken with some formality. By not speaking of the relationship between God and the first human beings as a covenant, Genesis has perhaps implied that there was no need for formally binding commitments before the time of human disobedience and divine punishment. Those events have imperiled the relationship on both sides. – p.181

There was no need to formally initiate a covenant because in the very act of creation it is implied. And by the righteous act, the covenant faithfulness of both parties, the covenant was upheld until “the time of human disobedience”.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.