Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Noachic Covenant

I mentioned Daniélou in my last post; I recall only vaguely, I'm afraid, his thesis - in line, I should hasten to say as he would have done, with the Fathers - about the righteous pagans of the Old Testament, and the "cosmic religion" that consisted in the knowledge of God through Creation prior to His more particular and more extensive successive revelations that culminated in the Incarnation.  However, I have discovered again what intriguing things the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about these, and about God's covenant with Noë and with all flesh:
The Covenant with Noah

56 After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the "nations", in other words, towards men grouped "in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations". [Gen 10:5; cf. 9:9-10, 16; 10:20-31.]

57 This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity [Cf. Acts 17:26-27] united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel. [Cf. Wis 10:5; Gen 11:4-6.] But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism. [Cf. Rom 1:18-25.]

58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel. [Cf. Gen 9:16; Lk 21:24; Dei Verbum 3.] The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek - a figure of Christ - and the upright "Noah, Daniel, and Job". [Cf. Gen 14:18; Heb 7:3; Ezek 14:14.] Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad". [Jn 11:52.]

71 God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings (cf. Gen 9:16). It will remain in force as long as the world lasts.


Creation - source of prayer

2569 Prayer is lived in the first place beginning with the realities of creation. The first nine chapters of Genesis describe this relationship with God as an offering of the first-born of Abel's flock, as the invocation of the divine name at the time of Enosh, and as "walking with God". [Cf. Gen 4:4, 26; Gen 5:24.] Noah's offering is pleasing to God, who blesses him and through him all creation, because his heart was upright and undivided; Noah, like Enoch before him, "walks with God." [Gen 6:9; 8:20-9:17.] This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions.

In his indefectible covenant with every living creature [Gen 9:8-16], God has always called people to prayer. But it is above all beginning with our father Abraham that prayer is revealed in the Old Testament.
* As I wrote in the margin of my copy of the Catechism, Remarkable!

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