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Christ as the Covenant: Justin Martyr's Interpretation of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31.31-32

TOMITA, YUJI (2012) Christ as the Covenant: Justin Martyr's Interpretation of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31.31-32. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis attempts to reveal a neglected facet of Justin Martyr’s idea of the new covenant (NC), with a focus on Justin’s identification of the new covenant with Christ. It is an effort to seek its Jewish origins.

Justin’s interpretation of the NC in Jeremiah 31(38).31-32 is indebted to an early liturgical tradition preserved in Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11. This interpretation of the NC as the Sacrament is linked with his identification of the NC with Christ, since Justin views the Eucharist as the embodiment of the divine Logos, which Justin considers to be equal to Christ. Justin’s NC does not only refer to the Eucharist, but baptism as well. Although Justin’s identification might have been partly influenced by the Kerygma Petri, which identifies the Law with the Lord, it is rather significantly influenced by the Jewish traditions.

This element in Justin’s use of the NC is shaped by the textual/exegetical traditions of the OT/Hebrew Bible such as LXX, a Jewish recension (a καίγε type/‘Theodotion’, or Aquila), and the PT tradition in its oral stage. Particularly, Justin detects the theme of the ‘coming/going out of תורה/תודה’ in Isaiah 2.3/51.4 and the Book of the Covenant—the context of the NC text of Jeremiah (30-31 [37-38])—with his knowledge of a Hebraizing reading of Jeremiah 30.19 attested in the version of Aquila; Justin’s juxtaposition of these verses in Dialogue 11 and 24 indicates that he views תורה in Isaiah 2.3 and 51.4 as identical with תודה/εὐχαριστία in Jeremiah 30.19. Moreover, Justin learned the Midrashic tradition on the water of Marah, which involves Jewish metaphors of ‘tree (of life)’ and ‘water’ as the Torah, orally from the early PT tradition. Justin’s knowledge of this Midrashic tradition, together with his recognition of LXX Jeremiah 11.19 which associates ‘tree’ with ‘bread’, and LXX Exodus 23.25 which juxtaposes ‘bread, water, and wine’, has facilitated his identification of Christ with the new Law/covenant, namely the Sacraments. The identification of the messianic symbol of ‘ruler’s staff’ with the ‘covenant of kingship’ in 4Q252 strengthens our view that Justin’s identification of the NC with Christ is rooted in Jewish traditions, since in Dialogue 86, Justin also associates ‘sceptre/rod’ with the ‘tree of life’, which is the new Law/covenant and Christ.

The findings of this thesis have an implication on the scholarly view of Justin’s use of the testimony sources. This study confirms the fact that Justin’s OT texts are often quoted from secondary sources. As far as his use of Jeremiah 31.31-32 and his OT citations in Dialogue 86 are concerned, however, his combinations and alterations of the biblical texts are related to his theological view of the NC, so that they may indicate Justin’s reworking of the OT/source material; the influence of contemporary Jewish traditions can be traced even in the upper layer of Justin’s source material.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:19 Mar 2012 12:55

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