Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises

Article excerpt

KINSHIP BY COVENANT: A CANONICAL APPROACH TO THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD'S SAVING PROMISES by Scott W. Hahn Yale, 589 pages, $50

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the Anchor Bible was the flagship series for "scientific" biblical scholarship in the modern mode: historical, philological, and religiously neutral. The Anchor Bible Reference Library (now the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library) soon emerged to provide a series of equally magisterial monographs on major biblical themes. It is somewhat surprising that one of the newest entries, Kinship by Covenant, comes from the pen of Scott Hahn, an ardent Catholic apologist.

Hahn's project is ambitious: to defend the New Testament accounts of covenant fulfillment by the "Christ event" (an unfortunate BuItmannian turn of phrase). In the first half of the book, Hahn attempts to make historical-critical "covenant research" serve as the basis for a Christian reading of the Bible as a whole. The dog, however, won't walk. The usual historical-critical insights emerge from methods that treat the Bible as a heterogeneous residue of ancient Israelite religion. As a result, they resist integration into what Hahn calls a "canonical" or "narrative" reading of the Bible.

The second half of Kinship by Covenant treats important New Testament passages. Knotty texts in Galatians and Hebrews are illuminated, but it is telling that the extensive scholarly apparatus of the first half contributes very little. …

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