Circumcision as a Sign

The Theological Significance

By Tim Hegg

My purpose in this paper is to explore the theological significance of circumcision within the narrative context of Genesis 17. My approach is to utilize literary methods of narrative interpretation, allowing these data to interpret the significance of circumcision found in the Abraham story. This approach differs from the purely theological approach, which interprets circumcision on the basis of formulated dogmatics.

My procedure will be to outline the narrative structure of Genesis 12-17 and to suggest, on the basis of this structure, that circumcision functions as the Divine resolution to the narrative complication. Next, I will attempt to strengthen this interpretation by demonstrating the distinctive aspects of Israelite circumcision when compared to circumcision in the Ancient Near East, and f inally that this interpretation fits well with the later theological use of circumcision in Scripture.1

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1 This paper is a condensed section of a paper written in honor of my father, Dr. O. H. Hegg on the occasion of fifty years of pastoral service. The full version is contained in a festschrift entitled Feed My Sheep: Writings in Honor of Dr. O. H. Hegg.

Tim Hegg

President / Instructor

Tim graduated from Cedarville University in 1973 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Bible, with a minor in Philosophy. He entered Northwest Baptist Seminary (Tacoma, WA) in 1973, completing his M.Div. (summa cum laude) in 1976. He completed his Th.M. (summa cum laude) in 1978, also from NWBS. His Master’s Thesis was titled: “The Abrahamic Covenant and the Covenant of Grant in the Ancient Near East”. Tim taught Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Exegesis for three years as an adjunct faculty member at Corban University School of Ministry when the school was located in Tacoma. Corban University School of Ministry is now in Salem, OR. Tim is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature, and has contributed papers at the annual meetings of both societies. Since 1990, Tim has served as one of the Overseers at Beit Hallel in Tacoma, WA. He and his wife, Paulette, have four children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.