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HT566 History of Covenant Theology

Course Description

An introduction to Reformed federal or covenant theology. The course surveys the historical-theological development of covenant theology, its exegetical foundations, and systematic-theological consequences.

Course Goals

—Academic Goal:

To enable the student to understand and discuss intelligently the background, development, and nature of Reformed covenant theology.

—Pastoral Goal:

To help the student gain a critical appreciation for the development of Reformed covenant theology in the periods of early, high, and late Reformed orthodoxy.

Required Reading

Primary Texts

  1. Heinrich Bullinger, A Brief Exposition of the One and Eternal Testament or Covenant of God (1534) in C. S. McCoy and J. W. Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism (Louisville: WJKP, 1991), 99–138.
  2. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. F. L. Battles, ed. J. T. McNeill, 2 vols (Philadelphia, 1961), 1.15 (all); 2.1 (all); 2.6–7 (all); 2.10–12 (all); 3.1–3 (all); 3.11, 14, 17, 4.14–15; 4.17.1–13, 4.17.31–33, 4.17.41–44; (Note: The Instiutes are cited as book.chapter.section. Where are there are only two numers they refer to book and chapter).
  3. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp.2–39, 97–106, 324–440.
  4. ——, Large and Small Catechisms in Bierma et al eds.Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 137–223.
  5. Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed, trans. Lyle Bierma, Classic Reformed Theology Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010).
  6. Robert Rollock, Some Questions and Answers About God's Covenant in Aaron C. Denlinger, "Robert Rollock's Catechism on God's Covenants," Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 105–129
  7. William Ames, Marrow of Theology, pp. 110–64, 202–13, 278–300.
  8. J. Wollebius, Compendium of Christian Theology in Reformed Dogmatics, trans. John W, Beards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), pp. 54–58, 64–129.
  9. Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (all)
  10. Johannes Cocceius, Summa de foedere [all] (to be provided)
  11. Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life Opened, 1.1–11, 1.13–16, 2.5–12 (in the bookstore).
  12. Turretin, Institutes of the Elenctic Theology, 1.568–89; 2.169–269.
  13. Herman Witsius, Economy of the Covenants 1.41–324.
  14. John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1999), all.
  15. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2.117–129, 354–77.
  16. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: 2: God and Creation, 563–80 and 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, 193–232.
  17. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, trans. G. W. Bromiley, 13 vols (Edinburgh: 1936–), 4:1:1–78.

Required Secondary Reading

  1. R. Scott Clark, "Christ and Covenant: Federal Theology in Reformed in Orthodoxy," in Herman Selderhuis, ed. Companion to Reformed Orthodoxy (handout)
  2. ——, "Baptism and the Benefits of Christ: The Double Mode of Communion in the Covenant of Grace," The Confessional Presbyterian Journal 2 (2006): 3–19.
  3. —, Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant: The Double Benefit of Christ (2005; Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), chapters, 5–7.
  4. Willem van Asselt, "The Doctrine of Abrogations in the Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius," Calvin Theological Journal 29 (1994): 101–16.
  5. J. Mark Beach, "The Doctrine of the Pactum Salutis in the Covenant Theology of Herman Witsius," Mid-America Journal of Theology 13 (2002): 101–42.
  6. Richard A. Muller, "The Covenant of Works and the Stability of Divine Law in Seventeenth-Century Reformed Orthodoxy: A Study in the Theology of Herman Witsius and Wilhelmus a Brakel," Calvin Theological Journal 29 (1994): 75–101.

Recommended Primary Sources

  1. William Ames, A Sketch of the Christian's Catechism, trans. Todd M. Rester, Classic Reformed Theology Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Press, 2008).
  2. Robert Rollock, A Treatise of Our Effectual Calling in Select Works of Robert Rollock, 1.29–60, 160–177, 194–238.
  3. John Ball, A Treatise on the Covenant of Grace
  4. Nehemiah Coxe (Baptist), Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ (A Discourse of the Covenants that God Made with Men Before the Law. Wherein the Covenant of Circumcision is more largely handled and the invalidity of the plea for paedobaptism taken from thence discovered and John Owen, An Expositon of Hebrews 8:6–13 whrein the nature and differences between the Old and New covenants is covered), eds. Ronald D. Miller, James M. Renihan, and Francisco Orozco (Palmdale, CA: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005).
  5. Thomas Boston, A View of the Covenant of Grace (reprint edition; Lewis, UK: Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1990).

Recommended Secondary Reading

  1. Mark Beach, Christ and the Covenant: Francis Turretin's Federal Theology as a Defense of the Doctrine of Grace.
  2. Brian Lee, Johannes Cocceius and the Exegetical Roots of Federal Theology.
  3. Aaron Denlinger, Omnes in Adam ex pacto Dei: Ambrogio Catarino's Doctrine of Covenantal Solidarity and Its Influence on Post-Reformation Reformed Theologians (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010).
  4. ——, "Calvin's Understanding of Adam's Relationship to Humankind: Recent Assertions of the Reformer's 'Federalism' Evaluated," Calvin Theological Journal 44 (2009): 226–250.
  5. Michael G. Brown, "Christ and the Condition: Samuel Petto c. 1624–1711" on the Mosaic Covenant," Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 131–57.
  6. ——"Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of Samuel Petto (c. 1624-1711)" M. A. Thesis Westminster Seminary California (2009).
  7. Brannan Ellis, "Christ our Righteousness: Petrus van Mastricht's (1630-1706) High Orthodox Doctrine of Justification in its pre-Enlightenment Context", M.A. Thesis Westminster Seminary California (2006).
  8. J. V. Fesko, "Calvin and Witsius on the Mosaic Covenant" in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 25–43
  9. D. G. Hart, "Princeton and the Law: Enlightened and Reformed," in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 44–75.
  10. Brenton C. Ferry, "Works in the Mosaic Covenant: a Reformed Taxonomy," in The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, ed. Bryan D. Estelle, J. V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2009), 76–108.
  11. J. Mark Beach, "Calvin and the Dual Aspect of Covenant Membership: Galatians 3:15–22—and Other Key Texts," Mid-America Journal of Theology 20 (2009): 49–73.
  12. ——, "The Promise of the Covenant and the Enigma of Unbelief: Reflections on Covenant Promise with a Selection from Samuel Volbeda's "Catechetics," Offering a Critique of William Heyns' Doctrine of the Covenant and the Apostasy of Covenant Youth, in Mid-America Journal of Theology 15 (2004): 125–63.
  13. Richard A. Muller, "Divine Covenants Absolute and Condiitonal: John Cameron and the Early Orthodox Development of Reformed Covenant Theology," Mid-America Journal of Theology 17 (2006): 11–56.
  14. G. Vos, "The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology," in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, ed. R. B. Gaffin, Jr. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1975), 234–67.
  15. R. Scott Clark and Joel R. Beeke, "Ursinus, Oxford, and the Westminster Divines," in The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century: Essays in Remembrance of the 350th Anniversary of the Publication of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 3 vols (Ross-Shire, UK: Mentor, 2003), 2.1–32.
  16. Rowland Ward, God and Adam: Reformed Theology and the Creation Covenant (Wantirna, Australia: New Melbourne Press, 2003).
  17. John von Rohr, The Covenant of Grace in Puritan Thought.
  18. John Girardeau, The Federal Theology: Its Import and Regulative Influence (reprint, Greenville, SC: Reformed Academic Press, 1994)
  19. Jeong Koo Jeon, Covenant Theology and Justification By Faith.
  20. ——Calvin and the Federal Vision
  21. ——Covenant Theology: John Murray's and Meredith G. Kline's Response to the Historical Development of Federal Theology in Reformed Thought
  22. Guy Prentiss Waters, "The Theology of Norman Shepherd: A Study in Development, 1963–2006," in The Hope Fulfilled: Essays in Honor of O. Palmer Robertson, ed. Robert L. Penny (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2008), 206–31.
  23. Anthony Selvaggio, "Unity or Disunity? Covenant Theology from Calvin to Westminster," in Anthony T. Selvaggio, ed., The Faith Once Delivered: Celebrating the Legacy of Reformed Systematic Theology and the Westminster Assembly (Essays in Honor of Dr. Wayne Spear). (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007), 217–45.
  24. P. Y. DeJong, The Covenant Ida in New England Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1945).
  25. Willem J. Van Asselt, The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669), trans. Raymond J. Blacketer, Studies in the History of Christian Thought (Leiden: Brill, 2001).
  26. Philip G. Ryken, Thomas Boston as Preacher of the Fourfold State (Carlisle, UK: Rutherford House, 1999).
  27. Carol A. Williams, "The Decree of Redemption is in Effect a Covenant: David Dickson and the Covenant of Redemption" (PhD Dissertation, Calvin Theological Seminary, 2005).

Course Structure

Each class session will involve lecture and discussion.

Course Requirements:

1. Complete the assigned reading 40%

2. Attend class 10%

3. Research paper (limit 2500 words) 50%. Due by 10:00AM on the last Friday at the semester. Email your paper as a Word (or Pages) document to rsclark at wscal dot edu Name the file: lastnamefirstname.doc (or .pages). It is not possible to submit a paper without a thesis sentence and pass this course.

Standards and Manner:

Read On the Writing of Essays, even if you've read it before. Your mark for the paper will be reduced by one full letter for each day an assignment is late. A paper submitted after 10 AM on the last day of classes is late. No exceptions. No excuses.

Start your paper now. If you wait until late in the semester your hard drive will crash, your cat will get leukemia, or something equally dreadful will happen and you will come to me to ask for an extension and I will say "NO!" Be a Calvinist. Plan for trouble and hardship in this life.

Comparative papers are more difficult than papers with one subject because a comparative paper requires investigation of two bodies of secondary literature (assuming they both exist). Thus a paper comparing Luther and Calvin will be about twice as difficult as a paper focusing only on Calvin or Luther. Therefore, they are not encouraged.

Papers must be grounded in primary sources. This means that there must be primary sources for any topic you wish to cover. If there are not primary sources at hand to support your research you should find another topic. Do not count on inter-library loan. Those resources may not arrive in time for you to meet the deadline.

Electronic sources found on sites such as Google Books are appropriate insofar as the original text is a published primary source or secondary text. Other appropriate electronic sources are the DLCP database (available through the WSC library page) or EEBO or the Post-Reformation Digital Library other such reputable primary source sites.

Cheating and Plagiarism

Don't even think about it. Cheating and plagiarism are a serious infractions of the law of God and punishable by a measures determined by the faculty up to and including expulsion from the seminary. Cheating is presenting someone else's work during an exam as your own. Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work as your own in a paper. Please acknowledge all sources with appropriate footnotes. See the Student Handbook for a complete statement on plagiarism.