Berkhof: Hosea 6:7 Teaches A Covenant Of Works

…In Hos. 6:7 we read: “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant.” Attempts have been made to discredit this reading. Some have suggested the reading “at Adam,” which would imply that some well-known transgression occurred at a place called Adam. But the preposition forbids this rendering. Moreover, the Bible makes no mention whatever of such a well-known historical transgression at Adam. The Authorized Version renders “like men,” which would then mean, in human fashion. To this it may be objected that there is no plural in the original, and that such a statement would be rather inane, since man could hardly transgress in any other way. The rendering “like Adam” is after all the best. It is favored by the parallel passage in Job 31:33; and is adopted by the American Revised Version.

—Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 214–15.

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  1. So a covenant does not require the death of the testator? If it does, then the Covenant of Works cannot have been a covenant until it was broken and a death required.

    • Not every covenant requires the literal death of the testator. Covenants are made on the basis of a ritual death. No one died when God entered into a covenant with Abraham but Abraham’s circumcision was a ritual death. So, when the Lord said “the day you eat thereof you shall surely die” death was threatened and when Adam accepted the terms of the covenant there was a sort of ritual death.

      There is also a question about how to understand Hebrews 9. Is it speaking about a covenant or a testamentary disposition? Good interpreters have been on both sides of the question. So the very premise of your question is in doubt.

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