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Document Details :
Title: Circumcision and Covenant in Genesis 17
Author(s): KRAUSE, Joachim J.
Volume: 99 Issue: 2 Date: 2018
Genesis 17 is widely interpreted as reflecting the concept of an entirely unconditional covenant. As such, it is regarded as the pivotal prooftext for the alleged Priestly theology of 'pure grace'. As the argument goes, P decidedly disconnected YHWH’s promise from any obligation imposed on Israel in order to foreclose the possibility of the covenant being broken by the human partner. However, this is challenged by the commandment of circumcision in Genesis 17. In recent scholarship this problem is increasingly accounted for by a literary-critical division of the chapter. Attributing the commandment to a reworking, identified as H by some, a growing number of scholars argue that, while the reconstructed base text testifies to the concept of an unconditional covenant, the canonical text presents the covenant as being conditional upon observance of the commandment of circumcision. The present article engages this approach critically, offering instead a new synchronic interpretation of the chapter which affords a fresh appraisal of its theological thrust.