Episode 37: Getting the Garden Right

Pastor Richard Barcellos joins the Regular Reformed Guys to talk about his upcoming, as yet unnamed book about the Covenant of Works, the Garden of Eden and a number of other questions in relation to the New Covenant Theology.

This is one of those meaty episodes. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

7 thoughts on “Episode 37: Getting the Garden Right”

  1. See: Seth D. Postell, Adam as Israel: Genesis 1-3 as the Introduction to the Torah and Tanakh (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011). He sees strategic and authorial intent in the parallels between Adam and Israel – ipso facto I suggest they are both covenants of works. I suggest these parallels should be considered.
    Adam is placed in a garden that will supply all his needs.
    Adam’s relationship appears to have marital overtones: he is to be obedient to the God who will supply his needs in a home God provided for him.
    However, in the garden there was a serpent that caused Adam to sin.
    Adam was ejected from the garden.
    Gen 3:23‒24 uses two Hebrew words to describe Adam’s expulsion that are used to describe a divorce.
    Adam is forbidden a return as per the Deut 24 marriage law (Gen 3:24).
    Israel is placed in the promised land, a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’
    Israel’s relationship with her God is specifically said to be a ‘marriage’ (Jer 31:31-32).
    However, in the land were the Canaanites who caused the Israelites to sin.
    Israel was ejected from the land.
    Jer 3:1‒8 specifically describes Israel’s expulsion as a divorce.
    Israel is forbidden a return as per the Deut 24 marriage law (Jer 3:1‒8).

    And just a note – the Sabbath is, as you point out, in the Edenic story, and in Rev 1:10. I would not rely on it being in the Sinaitic commands for Israel – a covenant terminated by a divorce.

  2. For further comment on the marital imagery metanarrative which has significant implications re NCT and the 1689 position, see my published PhD (apparently the first ever systematic treatment of the imagery): Colin Hamer, Marital Imagery in the Bible (London: Apostolos, 2015). Commendations include: “Hamer incorporates a holistic view of Scripture … a significant contribution without precedent in the literature,” Dr David Instone-Brewer, Senior Research Fellow Tyndale House, Cambridge, UK and external examiner for the study. “The best and most thorough treatment of this topic now available,” Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary. “Brilliant… amazing,” William A. Heth, Professor of Greek and New Testament Taylor University, Upland, IN.

  3. Can I have a third go at this?

    Metaphors have long been considered rhetorical flourishes but most linguists now accept that they can also be powerful cognitive linguistic instruments. The biblical marriage metaphor is the latter—a large scale conceptual metaphor that dominates Scripture. What was in the metaphor happened ‘on the ground’—Israel was divorced, ejected from the land in 722 BCE, never to return. Judah was subsequently exiled to Babylon (a ‘separation’) but they were brought back.

    But there was a warning for Judah, in Malachi 4, that another ‘divorce’ was coming if they did not change their ways—God having already explained in Mal 2:16 (which is about God’s divorce, as many scholars point out—not human divorce) that he hates that prospect.

    The destruction of the cult foretold by Jesus (e.g. Matt 23:37-38) is that divorce. So the Sinaitic covenant was terminated in two stages by two divorces—not by Jesus’s death. No death was required to terminate it because it was a conditional, volitional, marital covenant—one that never included the Gentiles—its bridal community being formed of those in a consanguineous union with Jacob.

    In the new covenant the bridal community is formed on the affinity principles of Gen 2:24 (my PhD focused on an analysis of this verse, an analysis specifically endorsed by one of the world’s leading Hebrew scholars). The Bridegroom Messiah is the seed of Abraham and those in a marital union with him are counted as Abraham’s seed, just as a married woman is counted as being in her husband’s family, symbolised by the change of her family name. This is how God ‘squares the circle’ to bring a blessing to Abraham’s seed and yet include the Gentiles, and is the profound mystery of Eph 5:31-32. It is spelt out in many places (e.g. John 1:12-13), and the tension between the two different principles in the two covenants runs through the NT (a classic example is John 8).

    Thus both the Sinaitic and New Covenants are repeatedly portrayed as marital covenants (and the Adamic covenant is implied to be such), but they are based on different principles, consanguineous and affinity—the Bible writers working through the implications of this from Genesis to Revelation, until Jesus takes his own body (the church) to himself at the eschaton, just as Adam did with Eve, in a restatement of that Edenic bliss. But I have not seen the covenants addressed in any systematic way in light of this marital imagery in these discussions—is that not an omission?

    By the way, I did think the podcast was brilliant.

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