The Structure of Biblical Authority

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In his book, Structure of Biblical Authority, Meredith Kline explains, describes, and defends the suzerain-vassal paradigm of the biblical covenant and canon of Scripture. Scripture’s authority, according to Kline is not merely related to its ontology (that God has spoken it); but in its basic economic form, Scripture is a covenantal document and therefore is authoritative. It is through this covenant that God binds himself to his covenant people and they to him. As our covenant suzerain, God sovereignly rules his vassals with covenant stipulations.
Part One
In chapter one, Formal Origins of Biblical Canon, Kline shows how the origin of the Old Testament canon, coincided with the founding of Israel at the establishment of the covenant at Sinai. It is around this very treaty that the totality of the Old Testament canon was formed. Therefore, canon is inherent in covenant: the same type of covenants which were attested in the ancient world. Therefore, we ought to turn to this structure to gain perspective and insight on the particular structure and communication of God with man in the Scriptures.
In chapter two, Covenantal Bible, Kline applies the first chapter in answering the question, “Are all the Scriptures covenantal?”. He answers in two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. His answer for the Old Testament is that the treaty form which was adopted shows the remarkable unfolding of the covenant relationship between God and His people. The Old Testament represents the adaptation of the treaty form, yet maintained creativity and originality establishing a formal covenantal corpus for God’s people. This lays the proper groundwork for viewing the distinction between the Old and New Testaments. More than mere association...

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...ssing features of both Exodus and the gospels. They both have as their literary center of gravity “an account of the inauguration of a divine covenant, set within a record of the the covenant mediator’s career and of the law of the community promulgated by the mediator” (181). Kline goes on to lay out feature after feature of the similarities and purposeful differences (how Christ fulfills the law in its cursings and blessings). While Exodus established the Old Covenant, the Gospels establish the New. Both were authored by the same Spirit.
The Structure of Biblical Authority has helped me understand the general layout and purpose of the Canon. It also offers a proper perspective on laws, covenants, and events contained in both the Old and New Covenants.

Works Cited

Kline, Meredith G. The Structure of Biblical Authority. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1997.

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