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Foto , Promise and vovenant. The promises to the patriarchs in late biblical literature by Alexander Rofč; The promise to the fathers in rabbinic literature by Alon Goshen Gottstein; Israel in Luke-acts by Fr. Robert J. Karris; Divine promises and prophecies in , in Antonianum, 68/1 (1993) p. 138-143 .

Un Simposio a Gerusalemme

Il 24 marzo 1993 si è tenuto a Gerusalemme, nello Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, un simposio di dialogo tra le tre religioni monoteiste sul tema: «On the Divine Promises», riferendosi alle promesse patriarcali del libro della Genesi.

La domanda di partenza era: come hanno interpretato le grandi reli­gioni monoteiste le promesse che Dio ha fatto ai patriarchi? Ciascun rap­presentante della propria confessione religiosa ha dato la sua risposta, che noi riportiamo nella formulazione sintetica che essi stessi hanno pre­parato.



by Alexander Rofé

The Hebrew University, Jerusalem


In older literature the promises functioned as a demonstration of the divine omnipotence. In postexilic statements the promises are applied to the nation's present situation.

  1. Ezek 33:23-29: The remnant in the land understood the promise to Abraham as an a fortiori warrant for their inheriting the land; the pro-phet protests that the title to the land is conditional.
  2. Isa 41:8-13: The promises to Abraham and their past fulfillment function as a type for the future redemption.
  3. 2 Chr 20:6-12, esp. vss. 7, 11: The author appeals to the promise to Abraham as an argument in the conflict between Jews and their nei-ghbors in the V-IV centuries BCE. Does Jer 12:14-17 belong to the same period?
  4. Gen 24:6-8; 26:2-5: The Lord's oath to Abraham substantiates the injunction not to emigrate from the country. This interdiction was rele-vant to the situation in the Persian age.
  5. Lev 26:42-44: In this interpolated passage, covenants with the three Patriarchs are appealed to, in order to emphasize that the covenant is in force even when Israel is exiled. Israel's mere existence proves that the Lord has not repudiated his covenant with Israel.

P constructs his theological scheme of four concentric, ever restri-ctive, covenants: Noah, Abraham, Israel, Phinehas. Thus, he places the family of the High Priests at the apex of the whole system.

Isa 59:21, adopting P's diction, introduces a new depositary of the covenant: «those in Jacob who turned back from sin» (vs. 20). They are entrusted with the study of the Lord's words (= Torah). This covenant is probably parallel to the one made with the High Priests.


by Alon Goshen Gottstein Tel Aviv University Abstract

At the outset it should be noted that «promise» is not a category used by any of the Biblical narratives concerning the fathers. The rele-vant Biblical category is covenant. The covenant with the fathers contains promises for the inheritance of the land and for the creation of a nation.

Later Biblical literature (Psalm 105 and Nehemia 9) stili refers to the inheritance of the land as a covenantal promise made to the fathers. In contrast, the theologoumenon regarding the promise of the land to the fathers finds no echo in classical Rabbinic literature. The purpose of the presentation will be to discuss the meaning of this lack.

It will be suggested that this lack stems from a decline in the place of the concept of covenant in Rabbinic literature. Rabbinic theology departs in many significant ways from Biblical theology. One of the expressions of
the difference between Biblical and Rabbinic theologies concerns the centrality of Israel in the structure of the two bodies of thought. For the Bible, covenant is one of the major structuring ideas of its theology. The Rabbis continue the understanding of the centrality of Israel. However, the primacy of Israel for the Rabbis is such that it is no longer grounded in a historical moment of beginning, and in a form of conditional relationship, such as covenant.Rather, the basis for the status of Israel is perceived in cosmic terms. The world was created for the sake of Israel.

Alongside the cosmic centrality of Israel we find the cosmic centra­lity of Torah. Torah is the cosmic blueprint. The continued maintenance of the world is conditioned upon the observance and study of the Torah. Thus Torah and Israel constitute the two pivotal concepts of a new theologicai structure, that is grounded in the cosmic, rather than the histori-cal, order.

These new ideational emphases come at the expense of other Bibli-cal emphases. One major expression of this new emphasis is the decline in the place of covenant in Rabbinic thinking. A concomitant change is the decline in the place the Land of Israel occupies in Rabbinic theology. This is not to say that the Land of Israel has lost its importance for the Rabbis. Nevertheless, where for the Bible the land of Israel is perhaps the centerpoint of Biblical narrative, and the ultimate telos of at least certain portions of the Bible, in Rabbinic literature it has become an im-portant value, but no longer one that structures the religious universe.

These larger changes that affect the structure of Rabbinic thinking account for the Rabbinic history of the idea of the promise of the land of Israel to the fathers. In brief, we find no evidence that this particular theologoumenon held any currency in Rabbinic theology. We have no Rabbinic sources that continue to refer to the inheritance of the land as deriving its authority from a promise to the fathers. Moreover, when we follow the midrashic interpretation of such sections as Genesis 15 and Genesis 17, where the land is promised to Abraham, we note the Rabbis bring a totally different agenda to the reading of the text. This agenda completely sidesteps the essential point of the Biblical story, i.e. the pro­mise of the land to Abraham. What we have here is not merely an argu-mentum ex silentio, but a way in which we can trace changing ideological concerns in different historical periods, that force the idea of promising the land to the fathers into near oblivion.

This does not amount in any way to relinquishing any clalms upon the land. It merely indicates that these claims are disengaged from the promise to the fathers. Instead, one may see the land of Israel as being given or as belonging directly to Israel. The disengagement of the land from a covenantal context may also serve to heighten the bond between land and people. The presence upon the land is not contingent upon ful-fillment of covenantal stipulations. One may even entertain the idea that the relationship of land and people is itself grounded in the cosmic order, though this possibility is not clearly spelled out in Rabbinic sour­ces.

The cosmic context does, however, become the context against some of the statements concerning the relationship of the fathers and the land are seen. Leviticus 26,42, that clearly spells out the relationship of the fa­thers and the land, is disengaged in midrashic interpretation from this context. The concept of covenant of the fathers is transformed into the concept of merits of the fathers. The merit of the fathers is itself not limi-ted to Israel only, and takes on cosmic significance. Thus, in a rounda-bout way, the fathers figure not only in a national context, but in a cosmic context as well. However, at this point we can not speak of an extension of the promise to the fathers. It is not a promise or an inheritance which has been expanded. Rather, it is the protective and beneficiary life force of the fathers that is perceived to have positive effect upon ali of crea-tion.


by Fr. Robert J. Karris, O.F.M.

President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America



From an analysis of recent research the lecturer will address the hotly debated issue of whether Luke, through his presentation of the Pharisees, other Jewish leaders, and the Jewish people in his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles, teaches that the Jewish people are no longer heirs to the promises made to Israel.

Specifically, the lecturer will study the figure of Abraham, using the schema devised by Nils A.Dahl:

  1. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the fathers: Luke 20:37, Acts 3:13; 7:32, etc.
  2. God's covenant, oath, and promise to Abraham: Luke 1:55, 72-73; Acts 3:25; 7:2-8; 7:17, etc.
  3. Children of Abraham: Luke 3:8; 13:16; 19:9; Acts 13:26, etc.
  4. Abraham in the hereafter: Luke 13:28; 16:22-31; 20:37-38.
  5. Miscellaneous: Luke 3:34 (the genealogy of Jesus); Acts 7:16 (the tomb which Abraham bought).

From this vast amount of material on Abraham, the lecturer will fur-ther restrict his presentation to an in-depth investigation on Luke 13:10-17, in which the phrase, «daughter of Abraham» (Luke 13:16), occurs.

Thus the lecturer will approach a topic of monumentai proportions from a consideration of one key passage, whose significance in itself and in relation to the problematic «Israel in Luke-Acts», can be profitably de­bated by the lecturer and his correspondents.


Dr. Yasir Al-Mallah Arabie Department Bethlehem University Abstract

This paper focuses on the divine promises and prophecies as found in the two main sources of Islamic Literature, namely, Al-Qur'an and Al-Hadlth (Prophetic Tradition). The paper is divided into four parts: Introdu-ction, divine promises before Mohammad, Islamic divine promises/prophecies and Conclusion.

In the Introduction the researcher clarifies some concepts that are an in­tegrai part of the Islamic faith and without which it would be hard for the reader to piece together the different components of the paper. Among these concepts are: The relationship of other prophets to Islam, and the universality of Islam since it is not exclusive to one people or race. In the second part the researcher clarifies some divine promises of the Prophets or Messengers who carne before Mohammad as mentioned in the Qur'an. In the third part the researcher explains what is meant by promises and prophecies in Islam and cites different types of these promises and prophecies.

One of these applies to our modem life and another is going to happen in the future. 1) It was narrated by Abù Dàwùd and Al-Bayhaqi that Taubàn said: The Prophet said:

Nations will almost stand together to control you in the same way a group ga-thers to eat a meal. Someone asked: Will this happen because we are few in number? The Prophet replied: Rather, you are great in number. But, you are scum like that of the torrent. Allah will take away the enemy's fear of you and dishearten you. Someone asked: What does «dishearten» mean? The Prophet replied: It is the love of life and hatred of death.

Anyone who examines the conditions of Muslims from the appearance of the Problem (question) of the Orient in the 19th century till the present time finds very clear examples of the phenomenon of the greed of nations to con­trol the Islamic world, to unite against it and plot to seize its resources.

2) Al Bukhàrì and Muslim narrated the following prophetic saying about the nearing of the Hour of Resurrection:

The Hour and I were raised like these two.

He pointed to his index and middle finger. This description implies that our time is dose to the arrivai of the Hour which happens suddenly since only Allah knows its exact time.

In the Conclusion the researcher clarifies that these promises and pro-phecies are a major part of the Islamic belief and that Muslims are waiting for their fulfillment.

Finally, the researcher calls upon People of the Book (both Christians and Jews) to take positive initiatives towards Islam by recognizing it and de-scribing it to the youth in a fair way. This is very important for the encouragement of religious tolerance and the replacement of wars and killing with mercy, security, mutual understanding peace for all human beings.

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