Jeremiah 31:33 and the New Covenant Law
Odede, Natan Lukhongo
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The theological debate surrounding the identity of the New Covenant law in Jeremiah 31:33 is persistent and without resolution. Among others, two main views identify Jeremiah’s supposed law as either the Old Testament Mosaic Law (implying continuity) or the New Testament law of Christ in the Christian age (advocating for discontinuity with the old). But barely has any of the debates comprehensively explored the possibility of the reference to “My law” being metaphoric. Much study on the identity of the supposed New Covenant law has mainly been centred on etymology and interpretations drawn from the New Testament’s progressive revelation. But to note, a word derives its meaning from the context it is used. Thus our study attempted to derive the meaning of Jeremiah’s law reference from its near and surrounding context, and to specifically explore the possibility of it constituting a metaphoric rather than a literal term. This study mainly employs the historical-grammatical methodology because of its attested principles which include: divine inspiration, context, lexicography, grammatical analysis and historical-cultural background. The biblical-theological approach to interpreting the Bible is also incorporated given that covenant is one of the central themes in the grand narrative of Scripture – both Old and New Testaments. This study explores the significance and essence of the Mosaic Covenant and its Law within the ANE context; after which the necessity of the New Covenant in light of the existing old one is determined. The essence of the New Covenant (its distinguishing factor from the old) is also analysed. The New Covenant prophecy of Ezekiel, a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, will also be considered in the analysis. Parallel observations from both Jeremiah and Ezekiel will be drawn to help determine the defining factor of the New Covenant prophecy – the promise of heart transformation resulting in a restored relationship with God. This study will explore the concept of heart transformation by the power of the Spirit of God as the essence of both Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s New Covenant prophecies, and consider whether the reference to “My law” in Jeremiah 31:33 is a metaphor typifying the anticipated divine heart change, and not necessarily a reference to a literal law code, whether Mosaic or another type of law(s).
- Theology 
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