Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Myron C Kauk


Suzerain, Vassal, Covenant, Biblical Narrative




Much has been written within the scholarly literature regarding the nature of the Mosaic Law as being one which reflects a suzerain-vassal covenant between Yahweh and the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and particularly in the book of Deuteronomy. Likewise, it has been well established by scholars that this covenant relationship serves as a key biblical-theological theme within the narrative of the former prophets, the so-called “Deuteronomistic history.” At the same time, however, there have been relatively few attempts to examine the ways in which this critical theme features throughout the remainder of the biblical narratives, from the relationship between God and Adam in the Garden of Eden, to the relationship between Jesus and the Father in the Gospels. The purpose of this dissertation, then, is to trace this key biblical-theological theme across the entire biblical narrative, from Genesis to Revelation. In doing so, it will be demonstrated that the suzerain-vassal covenant relationship serves as a central thematic thread which not only runs through, but also connects, the Old and New Testament narratives. This theme, moreover, is one which builds towards, and ultimately culminates in, the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospels. Finally, it will be demonstrated that Jesus is presented by the New Testament authors as both the ontological Son of God, and as the one truly faithful vassal to the divine suzerain, whose covenant faithfulness redeems His people from the curse of the Law, thereby bringing about covenant blessings and restoration, blessings which ultimately culminate in the eschaton.

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