Covenant in Old Testament Theology
The study of the covenant from a historical point of view has succeeded, paradoxically, in identifying one of the main distinctive features of the Old Testament. The covenant had been the true basis of Israel's life from earliest times, and Mosaic Yahwism was already a distinctive faith, set off from its pagan environment. As Rainer Albertz argues, Theology of the Old Testament is often conceived as a rather a-historical subject, a systematic summary of the Old Testament's message from what would nowadays be called a synchronic perspective. The problem with continuing to use the covenant as the focus for Old Testament theology today is that Julius Wellhausen's basic hypothesis has in recent years reasserted itself. But suppose one thinks, on other grounds, that a canonical approach to Old Testament theology is undesirable, as many biblical scholars surely do, and that no theology will be satisfactory unless it is rooted in the historical actuality of ancient Israel.