Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Melchizedek in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature

Here is a new article that is tangentially pertinent to Hebrews study:

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. “Melchizedek in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 41.1 (2018): 124–38.

Abstract:
"The study of especially apocalyptic traditions from the Second Temple period that are concerned with the figure of Melchizedek throws light on a vitality of interest that presupposes but is no longer simply dependent on the pre-texts of Gen. 14 and Ps. 110 in the Hebrew Bible. Although the epistle to the Hebrews is clearly influenced by these pre-texts, the latitude its author takes in focusing on Jesus as both priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’ and as Son may be said to have been shaped by the kind of creative and imaginative engagement with tradition reflected in other Second Temple texts."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Forthcoming Book on John Owen and Hebrews

Another forthcoming book, due January 24, 2019:

John W. Tweeddale. John Owen and Hebrews: The Foundation of Biblical Interpretation. T & T Clark Studies in English Theology. T & T Clark.

Book description from website:
"John Owen is frequently acknowledged as a leading figure of the Puritan and nonconformist movements of the 17th century. However, while his reputation as a pastor, statesman, educator, polemicist, and theologian are widely recognized, his efforts in biblical interpretation are often overlooked; including his massive commentary on Hebrews that represents the apex of his career and which exemplifies many of the exegetical methods of the post-Reformation. John W. Tweeddale reappraises Owen's work as a biblical exegete, offering the first analysis of his essays, or “exercitations,” on Hebrews.

Beginning with an evaluation of the state of research on Owen's commentary on Hebrews, as well as to suggest reasons for its neglect in current scholarship, Tweeddale then places Owens' work within the context of his life; considers the function of federal theology in Owen's essays and how his promise of-fulfillment hermeneutic fits within the broader scope of reformed discussions on the doctrine of covenant; Owen's attempts to resolve the challenge posed by a Christological reading of the Old Testament to a literal interpretation of Scripture; how his essays represent a refining of the exegetical tradition of the Abrahamic passages in Hebrews; and how his exegesis distinguishes himself from the majority of reformed opinion."

Forthcoming Book on Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews

I've known of this book for sometime but had not made any announcement of its forthcoming publication. It is expected to come out in November (just in time for SBL!).

R. B. Jamieson. Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 172. Cambridge.

Book description from website:
"This book addresses two crucial, related questions in current research on the Epistle to the Hebrews: when and where did Jesus offer himself? And what role does Jesus' death play both in Hebrews' soteriology as a whole, and specifically in Jesus' high-priestly self-offering? The work argues that the cross is not when and where Jesus offers himself, but it is what he offers. After his resurrection, appointment to high priesthood, and ascent to heaven, Jesus offers himself to God in the inner sanctum of the heavenly tabernacle, and what he offers to God is the soteriological achievement enacted in his death. Hebrews figures blood, in both the Levitical cult and the Christ-event, as a medium of exchange, a life given for life owed. Represented as blood, Christ's death is both means of access and material offered: what he achieved in his death is what he offered to God in heaven."

Hebrews at the British New Testament Conference

I wish I could attend this conference:

British New Testament Conference
St. Mary's University, Twickenham
September 6–8, 2018

Seminar Details:

Hebrews
Chairs: David Moffitt and Loveday Alexander

Session One: Friday morning | 9-10.30am | Room B13
Issues in Interpreting Hebrews
Jonathan Rowlands, University of Nottingham: The Creative Element of Divine Speech in Hebrews 1:5a
Philip Alexander, University of Manchester: Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews Revisited

Session Two: Friday morning | 11am-12.30pm | Room B13
Hebrews, Heavenly Temple and Heavenly Sacrifice
Zoe Hollinger, Queen’s University Belfast: Jesus: the minister of the heavenly tabernacle, or the heavenly temple (Heb 8:1-5)? A relevance-theoretic approach to the absence of temple language in Hebrews
Justin Duff, University of St Andrews: “The Oil of Gladness” and Priestly Investiture in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Session Three: Saturday morning | 9.15-10.45am | Room B13
Nicholas Moore, University of Durham: ‘He Sat Down’: Christ’s Session in the Heavenly Tabernacle as the End of His Offering
David Moffitt, University of St Andrews: Response to Nicholas Moore

Abstracts:

Session One: Issues in Interpreting Hebrews

Jonathan Rowlands, University of Nottingham
The Creative Element of Divine Speech in Hebrews 1:5a
Speech and, more specifically, divine speech, has become an important topic of discussion amongst Hebrews scholars. The first instance of divine speech quoted in Hebrews is found in Heb. 1.5a, wherein the author cites Ps. 2.7: υἱός μου εἶ σὺ, ἐγὼ σὴμερον γεγέννηκά σε. This quotation opens the famous catena of scripture (1.5-13), outlines the origins of Christ’s Sonship (cf. 1.1-4), and proleptically highlights the importance of the Father/Son dynamic which will culminate in the author’s claim that the audience themselves are υἱοί θεοῦ (cf. 12.4-6). Much discussion has ensued regarding the precise point in the meta-narrative of salvation history at which these words are spoken: when is the ‘today’ in question? Is this spoken to the Son in his pre-existent state, or—as in 1.6—as he enters εἰς τὴν οἰκουμένην (however one understands this), or do these words follow His atoning sacrifice offered in the heavenly tabernacle? However, one issue yet to be fully addressed is the nature of the speech at work in this divine conversation. More specifically, is this utterance—“you are my Son...” – descriptive or creative? This is to say, is this declaration simply a response to something that is already the case (ie, descriptive) or does this declaration become true because it is spoken by God? In this paper I will argue for a creative reading of Heb 1.5a over against the more common descriptive reading, suggesting Jesus ontologically becomes the Son only as these words are spoken to Him by God. I will then end by briefly discussing the implications such a reading has not only for the Christology of Hebrews but for the author’s understanding of the power of divine speech more generally.

Philip Alexander, University of Manchester
Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews Revisited
Since the publication of Ronald Williamson’s monograph in 1970, Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews, study of Philo has advanced apace, with many new insights into his theology, his exegesis, and the world of Hellenistic Judaism to which he belonged. This short paper will survey recent developments in Philonic Studies and assess how they might refine our understanding of Philo’s relation to the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Session Two: Hebrews, Heavenly Temple and Heavenly Sacrifice

Zoe Hollinger, Queen’s University Belfast
Jesus: the minister of the heavenly tabernacle, or the heavenly temple (Heb 8:1-5)? A relevance-theoretic approach to the absence of temple language in Hebrews
The absence of any explicit reference to the temple in Hebrews has proved troublesome for scholars, with various explanations being proposed to explain its omission. Two recent explanations for Hebrews’ supposed lack of interest in the temple, as offered by Jason Whitlark and Philip Church, are here examined from the standpoint of Relevance Theory (RT), which stresses the importance of ostensive (explicit) communication and how communication serves to modify a hearer’s cognitive environment. Both Whitlark and Church suggest that, although the author uses tabernacle language, he intends the audience to understand an implicit reference to the temple in Heb 8:1-5. However, an alternative explanation for how the audience might hear this language is suggested by RT. First, as the author of Hebrews draws ostensibly from the Pentateuch in his depiction of the tabernacle, priesthood and sacrifices, the audience would be unlikely to understand the tabernacle as a coded reference to the temple. Second, by encouraging the audience to view themselves in a situation analogous to Israel in the wilderness, the author modifies their cognitive environment; here, a reference to tabernacle, not temple, would thus be appropriate in describing what the audience draws near to. Indeed, tabernacle language has important implications for the audience. Tabernacle language enables the readers to understand how they are to relate to God in the present as they journey towards their Promised Inheritance and implies that their relationship to the tabernacle, like Israel’s, is temporary only, en route to the goal of their journey: entering Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.

Justin Duff, University of St Andrews
“The Oil of Gladness” and Priestly Investiture in the Epistle to the Hebrews
The anointment of Jesus with the “oil of gladness” (Heb 1:9) is rightly regarded as a royal investiture. Jesus’s anointment is associated with enthronement, the sceptre, and the kingdom (Heb 1:8). The citation in Heb 1:8–9 is also drawn from Psalm 44 LXX, a hymn celebrating Israel’s king. The pronounced relationship between Jesus’s anointment and his kingship, however, may overshadow another function of the oil: high priestly consecration. Like Israel’s kings, Levitical priests were anointed with “holy oil” at their instalment (Exodus 29–30, Leviticus 8, 11QT 15:3–16:4). The high priest was also called the “anointed priest” (Lev 4:3, 16:32). Moreover, Hebrews’ “main point” (8:1–2) is that Jesus became a high priest after Melchizedek’s order, a royal ruler and holy minister in the heavenly sanctuary. Although some scholars have briefly considered a priestly anointment in Heb 1:9, the possibility has not been explored in depth. Moreover, the conversation is rarely brought into conversation with the broader Septuagint and second temple tradition. In this paper, I engage these traditions and propose that the anointment in Hebrews appears to consecrate Jesus for two offices: high priest and king. When read against Jewish apocalyptic and early Christian texts in particular, divine anointment may signal a bodily transformation that safeguards new priests for heavenly space. I therefore propose that Jesus’s anointment may be connected to his inheritance of the “indestructible life” required by priests after Melchizedek’s order (7:16–17), a quality of life that eschews physical weakness and endures forever in the heavens (7:28).

Session Three

Nicholas Moore, University of Durham
‘He Sat Down’: Christ’s Session in the Heavenly Tabernacle as the End of His Offering
The nature of Christ’s heavenly work in the Letter to the Hebrews has been a subject of debate since at least the Reformation. The prevailing assumption in scholarship and beyond has been that Christ’s atoning work is essentially finished on earth and at the cross, paving the way for his ascension into heaven where his only work is to pray. This assumption has been challenged by Aelred Cody, Walter Brooks, Richard Nelson, and most extensively and recently by David Moffitt. These scholars point to the logic of the Day of Atonement sacrifice to argue that the high priest’s actions within the Holy of Holies—and therefore also Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary—form an integral, indeed climactic, part of the sacrifice he offers. This perspective is still being digested by scholars but has increasingly been adopted (see R. B. Jamieson’s CBR taxonomy). However, a significant question remains as to the precise extent and nature of the process of Christ’s sacrifice. This paper will argue that the session of Christ in the heavenly tabernacle is integral to resolving this issue. I will first survey the heavenly session motif in Second Temple texts and across the New Testament. Then I turn my attention to Hebrews, which evokes heavenly session in five places. I will argue that the combination of this royal enthronement motif with the ritual movement of Yom Kippur is an innovation on the author’s part, albeit one prompted by Psalm 110. The two are carefully integrated to indicate a definitive end point to Christ’s sacrifice, after his heavenly entrance but not co-extensive with his heavenly intercession.

Forthcoming Book on the Atonement in Hebrews

This forthcoming book has just come to my attention:

So Great a Salvation: A Dialogue on the  Atonement in Hebrews. Edited by Michael Allen, George H. Guthrie, Jon C. Laansma, and Cynthia Long Westfall. Bloomsbury T & T Clark. Projected publication date: May 16, 2019.















HT: Cliff Kvidahl

Monday, September 3, 2018

New Dissertation on the Divine Christology in Hebrews


Nick Brennan  informed me that his Ph.D. dissertation has been accepted at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Here is the pertinent information and abstract:

Thesis title: The Son as God: the Theological Salience of Divine Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Primary supervisor: Paul Trebilco
Examiners: Harold Attridge, Craig Koester, Gareth Cockerill

Abstract:
This thesis investigates the divinity of the Son in the Epistle to Hebrews. In spite of a burgeoning interest in divine Christology in NT studies, the Son’s divinity in Hebrews has received little specific attention, being variously assumed, questioned, or treated as largely unnecessary in recent scholarship. Against this backdrop, I explore the portrayal of Christ’s divinity within the Epistle, and seek to demonstrate that the theme is, at once, present, pervasive and theologically salient.
               In the Introduction I survey the state of contemporary scholarship on the Son’s divinity in Hebrews, and discuss issues connected to predicating divinity of the Son in the Letter. From there I move to three chapters which explore controverted texts in Hebrews and their contribution to the Son’s depiction as divine, via the exercising of divine prerogatives.
               In Chapter 2, I focus on the application of OT texts to the Son which, in their original context, refer to God (1:6; 10–12), and seek to demonstrate how the Pastor, through them, not only affirms the Son’s divinity but also the soteriological significance of his exaltation as God.
               In Chapter 3, I discuss how Heb 3:3, 4 has been dismantled as a proof-text for the Son’s divinity.  I argue that the text does witness to the divinity of the Son in Hebrews, identifying him as the God who builds the final house of His people, exercising a power that belongs solely to the Creator.
               In Chapter 4 I survey debate on the relation of the Son’s “indestructible life” (Heb 7:16) to his divinity. I argue that, though both divinity and humanity are active in the text, the Son’s divine nature is foundational to the “indestructible life” which qualifies him for High Priestly ministry.
               Chapters 5 and 6 are more synthetic, demonstrating how two concepts in Hebrews reinforce the Son’s divinity. Chapter 5 explores the largely neglected connection of the Son’s divinity to the concept of covenant, arguing that the Son’s action as New Covenant surety is the properly divine fulfilment of God’s self-binding oaths to Abraham. Chapter 6 seeks to explore Christ’s Sonship, tensions around which have problematised the Son’s divinity in Hebrews. I argue that the Son’s identity as son has pre-temporal origins that depict him as divine, and yet displays itself through two other sonships, human and Davidic. I suggest that it is within this framework that appeal to the Son as God’s radiance (1:3), or as “God” (1:8), make most sense, and that, though the descriptions may secondarily involve his humanity, they portray a Son who is divine.
               The conclusion of the thesis is that, in spite of questions which have been raised, and the relative neglect of the theme in recent Hebrews scholarship, the Epistle serves as a rich witness to the identity of the Son as God. Moreover, this witness is not limited to brief portions of the Letter, but is a pervasive aspect of its thought, and is indeed theologically salient to the reading of the Epistle as a whole.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hebrews Highlights August 2018

Alastair Roberts explains in a video How Should We Understand the People Who Fall Away in Hebrews 6.

Ken Schenck has posted additional installments of his video series on his Hebrews Bible Study:
     Week 2: Jesus Fulfills the Story of Salvation.
     Week 3: The Supremacy of Christ Should Keep Us Going.

Andreas Köstenberger has a brief series on introductory matters regarding Hebrews. He attempts to answer the following questions:
     Who is the Author?
     What is the Message?
     Who Were the Readers?

Simon Woodman continues his preaching series on Hebrews: The Returning Jesus, based in part on Hebrews 10:24–25, 35–38; 9:26b–28.

Andrew Perriman offers Some notes on Jesus as Son and Wisdom of God in Hebrews 1:1–4.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review of Friedeman, Listen, Understand, Obey

Caleb T. Friedeman, ed. Listen, Understand, Obey: Essays on Hebrews in Honor of Gareth Lee Cockerill. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2017. Paperback. Pp. xx + 187.

As the subtitle suggests, this collection of nine essays is in honor of Gary Cockerill, who was a missionary to Sierra Leone, and a long-time professor, now retired, of Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He has been a long-time contributor to scholarship on Hebrews. He did his doctoral dissertation on the Melchizedek Christology in Hebrews 7 for Union Theological Seminary in Virginia in 1976. He has contributed several articles on Hebrews that have appeared in various journals over the years. He has written a couple of popular-level books on Hebrews: A Guidebook for Pilgrims to the Heavenly City and a commentary for the Wesleyan Publishing House. But his magnum opus must be his Hebrews commentary in the distinguished New International Commentary series published by Eerdmans. I consider it to be one of the leading commentaries on Hebrews in existence today.

At the outset, I must give full disclosure that I consider Gary Cockerill to be a personal friend. My memory is getting a little fuzzy, but I must have first met him at the first SBL meeting I attended in Philadelphia in November 2005. But it was certainly at the Hebrews and Theology conference I attended at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in the summer of 2006 when our friendship really began to develop. Ever since then, we have regularly had meals together at every SBL conference. The study of Hebrews is not just an academic exercise for Gary. I have seen how he has been deeply touched in a personal way by the profound message that Hebrews has to offer.

The editor of this collection, Caleb Friedeman, was a student of Gary’s, and at the time of publication of this book was a doctoral candidate at Wheaton College in Illinois. He begins with an introduction giving a justification for the publication of this book. A tribute by his father, Matt Friedeman, immediately follows.

In the opening essay, Rick Boyd explores the use of Psalm 8 in Hebrews. He contends that Psalm 8 is given an eschatological orientation in Hebrews. He argues cogently for an anthropological reading of Psalm 8 in the context of Hebrews. God’s design is to subject the world to come to humanity, but this subjection is not yet realized (2:5–8). Verse 9 indicates a change in subject. Christ fulfills Psalm 8 as the representative human who attains to perfected Sonship (2:10; 7:28) and is crowned with glory and honor (2:9). As pioneer of their salvation, he then is able to lead humanity to God’s originally intended creational design for them.

In the second chapter, Scott Mackie critiques those scholars who try to make a distinction between προσέρχομαι (“draw near”) and εἰσέρχομαι (“enter”) in Hebrews. According to these scholars προσέρχομαι refers to the preliminary or proleptic access that the living have to God, while εἰσέρχομαι denotes full access that the deceased have to God. Mackie examines three passages (4:14–16; 10:19–23; 12:22–24) which use προσέρχομαι, and one passage (6:18–20) which uses εἰσέρχομαι. He contends that there is no distinction in Hebrews’ usage of these verbs. In all four passages the logic of Hebrews demands that believers imitate Jesus’ entry into the heavenly realm; their faithful perseverance is dependent upon their attainment of communicative and relational proximity to God and Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.

Matt O’Reilly employs social identity theory to explore the temporal aspects of social identity in Hebrews 3:7–4:11. The author of Hebrews depicts God’s rest as a desirable potentially future social identity for his audience. The rest motif functions as a social boundary marker; only believers will be able to enter into the divine rest. The author attempts to show the coherence of their anticipated future social identity with their past. First he associates the promise of rest with God’s divine rest on the seventh day of creation. The creation story helps to define the identity of the people of God in terms of their relationship to God as creator. Second, he connects his audience to the wilderness generation. The author demonstrates that there is continuity between the wilderness generation and the audience in that both had the gospel (the promise of rest) preached to them, but at the same time he wants to encourage the audience not to imitate the unfaithfulness of the wilderness generation and so strengthen their identity as the people of God who enter into God’s rest. Entrance into God’s rest is presently available to God’s people; however, full realization of that rest awaits the future.

Jon Laansma engages in a theological reading of Hebrews regarding the living and active Word of God. In the first part of his essay, “the God Who Acts,” he investigates the narrative substructure in 2:5–8; 3:7–4:11; and 5:11–6:20. Laansma contends that the Abrahamic promise is the thread that weaves throughout the underlying storyline of Hebrews. The promise is to be construed as the sacred space of the heavenly rest and tabernacle into which God’s people can enter only by means of Christ’s priestly and sacrificial ministry. In part two, “the God Who Speaks,” Laansma explores Hebrews’ theology of the word. The God who spoke through the prophets in the Scriptures now speaks in the Son. With the advent of the Son, we now read the OT Scriptures with a Christological hermeneutic. While the OT was God’s word, it was incomplete because it was not God’s word in the Son. Laansma concludes the essay with a brief reading of the exordium (1:1–4).

Caleb Friedeman examines one point of convergence between the Synoptic tradition (in particular Mark) and Hebrews. Both traditions utilize Psalm 2:7 to emphasize that God’s ultimate revelation is in Jesus as the Son of God. Friedeman first traces this theme in the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s introduction at 1:1 and the centurion’s confession at 15:39 form an inclusio for the book, while Jesus’ baptism, transfiguration, and the Parable of the Tenants form key moments in the narrative. He then briefly surveys the usage of Psalm 2 in early Jewish literature (the Dead Sea Scrolls, selected pseudepigrapha, the Septuagint, Targums, and Rabbinic literature) and the New Testament. He concludes that the Synoptic tradition and Hebrews are unique in utilizing Psalm 2:7 to emphasize that Jesus as Son is God’s climactic revelation. Together the two traditions herald the Son as God’s ultimate revelation both in Jesus’ earthly life and in his current position at the right hand of God. Friedeman proposes that Hebrews is dependent upon the Synoptic tradition for this motif.

Amy Peeler examines the “filial foundations of ordination in Hebrews and other New Testament texts” (p. 95). Peeler has argued that Jesus derived his priesthood from his Sonship. As Son, Jesus received his call to the priesthood from his Father. His pedagogical training through suffering and his self-sacrifice perfects him for his role as high priest. In a similar way those who participate in Christ derive their priestly status from their sonship. She begins by tracing the theme of the priesthood of all believers in 1 Peter, Revelation, Paul, and Hebrews. She concludes that in all these texts it is the believer’s filial status that allows them to serve God as priests. Peeler then revisits the same four NT sources and finds that they also give justification for ordination. While all believers are called to be priests, some individuals are set aside for the specialized ministry of leadership.

Carey Vinzant traces a common underlying narrative in three NT authors: John, Paul, and Hebrews. All three exhibit a common Christological trajectory of preexistence, kenosis, and exaltation, but they present these themes in their own distinctive ways. John depicts Jesus as the divine Word made flesh who returns to the Father after his resurrection. Paul’s narrative arc is reflected in two high Christological passages: Philippians 2:5–11 and Colossians 1:15–20. In Hebrews Christ is co-creator, who became lower than the angels, taking on human flesh and experienced temptation, suffering, and death, but now is exalted to the right hand of God as the great High Priest. Likewise, all three develop their accounts of the human problem of sin and the salvation offered by Christ by means of their own distinctive metaphors. In John sin is described as darkness, blindness, and death. The solutions offered by Christ are light, signs leading to belief, and life. For Paul sin is depicted in terms of death, guilt, and debt. Christ provides life, pardon, and freedom. Finally, in Hebrews sin is construed in terms of uncleanness and separation from God. Christ effects cleansing which enables God’s people to enter into the presence of God.

Thomas McCall engages in an exercise in the theological interpretation of Scripture in conversation with Karl Barth and Thomas Aquinas on the topic of the submission/subordination of the Son. After making some initial observations on Hebrews 5:7–10, he gives an overview of Barth’s and Aquinas’ respective views on the obedience of the Son. For Barth, the eternal subordination of the Son is inherent in the life of the Trinity, that is, there exists in the very nature of God Himself a superiority (the Father) and subordination (the Son). By contrast Aquinas claims that the obedience and subordination only applies to the incarnate Son in his mission as redeemer of humanity. But the unity of the Son and the Father is so complete that the Son enjoys the beatific vision even in his earthly life. McCall first critiques Barth’s view, which he finds to be inconsistent with his stated view elsewhere that there is no distinction of personality in the Godhead, and his view runs into the danger of ontological subordination. Furthermore, Barth’s view runs afoul of Hebrews 5 in which Jesus learned obedience, although he was the Son. Jesus’ obedience and submission is not intrinsic to Jesus’ identity as the Son. By contrast Aquinas’ position avoids the problems of Barth’s theology and coheres well with Hebrews 5:7–10.

Chris Bounds undertakes “an exercise in Wesleyan ad fontes” (p. 155) in exploring early Methodist theologian’s appropriation of Hebrews in shaping Wesleyan doctrine. He engages in what amounts to be a descriptive overview of the explanatory notes and commentaries on Hebrews of the earliest Methodist theologians: Joseph Benson, Adam Clarke, Joseph Sutcliffe, and John Wesley. He organizes his descriptive task under the following headings: Jesus Christ, New Covenant Versus Old Covenant, Salvation and Atonement, Obedience Necessary for Final Salvation, Apostasy, and Christian Perfection. Bounds concludes that these commentaries “provide essential fontes from which to understand Methodist theology and evaluate Wesleyan doctrinal development” (p. 169) and that they highlight “the heart and strength of Wesleyan theology: soteriology” (p. 170).

End matter includes a bibliography of Gary Cockerill’s works, and an index of ancient sources.

The essays in this collection are a diverse and interesting assemblage of articles dealing with Hebrews. I personally would liked to have seen more essays included in this festschrift as fitting tribute to a man who has spent so much of his career uncovering the rich treasures of the biblical book of Hebrews.

I want to thank Caleb Friedeman and Wipf and Stock Publishers for a review copy of this book.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Newly Arrived from France

My newest acquisition. I just received a nice copy of this book from France:

Antoine Guggenheim. Jésus Christ, grand prêtre de l'ancienne et de la nouvelle Alliance Etude théologique et herméneutique du commentaire de saint Thomas d'Aquin sur l'Epître aux Hébreux. Parole et Silence, 2004; reprint 2011.

Blurb from website:
"Le Commentaire de saint Thomas d'Aquin sur l'Épître aux Hébreux, qui n'a encore jamais été étudié de manière aussi ample, ouvre un nouvel accès à sa théologie de l'histoire. Il enrichit la réflexion contemporaine par l'unité constamment maintenue des catégories historique et ontologique, ou spirituelle. Il donne à réfléchir sur le lien qui unit la personne du Christ et son Acte sacerdotal au régime de salut qu'Il accomplit et à celui qu'Il inaugure et, en ce sens, il invite à scruter les relations de Jésus et d'Israël. Les commentaires d'œuvres philosophiques ou théologiques, et d'abord de l'Écriture Sainte elle-même, ont constamment nourri la réflexion systématique de saint Thomas. L'argumentation théologique est, par excellence, comme il le dit lui-même, le fruit de l'étude des Livres saints. Étudier l'herméneutique philosophique et théologique qu'il met en œuvre dans sa « lecture » de l'Épître aux Hébreux nous permet donc, d'une part, de mieux apprécier l'ensemble de sa théologie et, d'autre part, de réfléchir à la tâche de l'exégèse aujourd'hui."

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hebrews Highlights June-July 2018

Simon Woodman has been preaching a series on Jesus in Hebrews: the Pastoral Jesus, based on Hebrews 2:14–18; 4:14–15; 6:19–20; 13:20–21; the Familial Jesus, a sermon based in part on Hebrews 2:11–13; 3:13–14; and 9:15; the Accessible Jesus, based in part on Hebrews 4:16; 7:19, 25; 6:19–20; and 10:19–22; and the Vulnerable Jesus, based in part on Hebrews 6:4–6; 13:11–14.

David Alan Black reflects on Turning to Our Great High Priest from Hebrews 4:14–16. This prompted a further reflection from Henry Neufeld.

Philip Church reviews the Passion Translation by examining how it treats Hebrews.

Alastair Roberts explains in a video What is the Biblical Theological Significance of Melchizedek?

Ken Schenck has been posting excerpts of his new Hebrews Bible Study Book.
     Jesus Is the Enthroned Son of God
     The First Warning to Remain Faithful

Ken also has a "Patrons Only" podcast on Stephen and the Book of Hebrews

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Hebrews at the Annual Catholic Biblical Society Meeting

Seminar Leader in 2018:

Kevin McCruden, Gonzaga University

Program Details for 2018:

The Continuing Seminar on the Epistle to the Hebrews will convene for a third year in a row at the 2018 annual meeting of the CBA at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Papers will be presented by Bryan Dyer, Kelli O'Brien, and David Moffitt on topics ranging from the response of faith in Hebrews to intertextual connections between Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark. Presenters will provide brief summaries of their work with significant time devoted to discussion. All are welcome!

1. Kelli O'Brien, independent scholar, "Today, if you hear his voice: Scripture in Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark."

2. Bryan Dyer, Baker Academic and Brazos Press, "All of These Died in Faith": Hebrews 11 and Faith in the Face of Death."

3. David Moffitt and Elizabeth Shively St. University of St. Andrews, "Reception of the New Exodus in Mark and Hebrews."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Ken Schenck's Hebrews Bible Study

Ken Schenck's Bible study on Hebrews is now available from Seedbed. Here is an excerpt from the book along with a video for week 1 of the study: Jesus Christ Is God's Definitive Word.


Friday, June 29, 2018

The Place of Paideia in Hebrews' Moral Thought

New on the radar screen:

Phillip A Davis, Jr. The Place of Paideia in Hebrews' Moral Thought. WUNT II. Mohr Siebeck. Forthcoming.

"In Hebrews 12:1–17 the author seeks to encourage the readers by interpreting their sufferings as paideia from God. Scholars have typically interpreted this paideia either as corrective reproof or formative training, but by examining the passage in light of Hebrews' ethics, the ancient practice of corporal punishment, and the author's quotation of Proverbs 3:11–12, Phillip A. Davis, Jr. shows this dichotomy to be untenable. The main problem Hebrews addresses is the danger of sinning, not apostasy per se. Yet because Hebrews rejects second repentance, paideia cannot be corrective. At the same time, ancient education had as its goal moral formation, which always involved the pain of physical punishments. The author draws on this commonplace to suggest that the pain of the audience's sufferings should be taken as a concomitant part of their formation in the righteousness the “epistle” demands of them."

HT: Cliff Kvidahl

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Titles Added

Thanks to the Open Digital Theological Library search engine, I have been able to add links to the following works:

Tasker, R. V. G. The Gospel in the Epistle to the Hebrews. London: Tyndale, 1950.

Hort, Fenton John Anthony. "Hebrews 1:8."

Gallos, Erhard H. “Katapausis and Sabbatismos inHebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Andrews University, 2011.

Kuma, Hermann V. A. “Haima in Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Andrews University, 2010.

Langenkamp, Peter A. “God’s Word to Man, Wisdom Personified and the Christ of Hebrews 1:3.” M.A. thesis, Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, 2017.

Rodrigues, Adriani Milli. “Toward a Priestly Christology: A Hermeneutical Study of Christ’s Priesthood.” Ph.D diss., Andrews University, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, 2017.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hebrews at the International SBL Meeting

The following papers dealing with Hebrews in some manner will be presented at the International SBL meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 30 to August 3:

Embarrasing Inclusion: Samson and Jephthah in the Epistle to the Hebrews
Program Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
David Allen, Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education
"The Beispielreihen of scriptural figures in Hebrews 11 famously includes a number of ambiguous characters, those whose commendable achievements are often equally matched by their apparent frailties and misjudgements. The list is a proverbial ‘mixed bag’. However, there are two individuals named within the discourse – Samson, and more notably, Jephthah – whose prior scriptural achievements seem particularly problematic, and whose presence within the cloud of witnesses seems questionable at least. This paper probes their inclusion within the Hebrews 11 retinue. It begins by engaging with the intra-Hebrews effect of such inclusion and the consequences for interpreting the text. The second part of the paper then turns to the ensuing reception of Hebrews, to explore how subsequent interpreters have engaged with the implied praise of such figures, and the ramifications of this for the text’s function."

Philemon: A Conclusion to Paul’s Letters? 
Program Unit: Canonical Approaches to the Bible (EABS)
Stefan M. Attard, University of Malta
"Within the context of the gradual formation of the New Testament canon, this paper seeks to highlight the import of the Letter to Philemon in terms of a synchronic analysis that takes the whole Pauline corpus into consideration. Because the Letter to the Hebrews is very generic and lacks a one-on-one style, Philemon can be considered the last significantly personal letter of Paul. The position of Philemon before Hebrews and the other non-Pauline letters hence lends credence to the maximalist view that all the epistles from Romans to Philemon were penned by the Apostle of the Gentiles, since it seems to function as a conclusion to the whole collection of both undisputed and disputed Pauline writings. Though Hebrews may have been considered of Pauline origin at the time the canon was put together, its different positions in various extant documents is a curious phenomenon. For this reason, the placing of Philemon and Hebrews in various codices and manuscripts is examined and the relation of Philemon to the preceding writings (all the way back to the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles) are analysed, both with regards to structural and theological considerations. As for Philemon’s theological outlook, it is legitimate to ask whether this letter echoes some of the main teachings laid down in the previous letters and to what extent, if any, can it be said to fittingly bring to a close basic tenets of this entire corpus of writings. It will be argued that the reasons for its present position in the canon are not to be found primarily in its relative shortness, or in its being addressed to a somewhat unknown individual, but to more relevant concerns that make it a powerful conclusion to Paul’s thoughts."

Deuteronomy's Motif of Life in Hebrews Program 
Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
Albert Coetsee, North-West University (South Africa)
"The influence and effect of the book of Deuteronomy in the New Testament writings is widely accepted. One of the New Testament books that contains the most quotations, references and allusions to Deuteronomy, is the book of Hebrews. Several ground-breaking studies on the influence and effect of Deuteronomy in Hebrews have been done, including the following: Allen (2008), in his very informative PhD thesis (Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews: An Exercise in Narrative Re-Presentation), investigates the way in which the book of Deuteronomy operates within the paraenetic sections of Hebrews, and argues that Hebrews becomes a “new” Deuteronomy that challenges its predecessor’s contemporary hegemony. Steyn (2007:152-168; Deuteronomy in Hebrews) gives a synopsis of quotations, references and allusions attributed to Deuteronomy, as well as a brief discussion of certain motifs from Deuteronomy in Hebrews, namely covenant, Moses and priesthood. This paper endeavours to contribute to the study of the influence and effect of Deuteronomy in Hebrews by investigating the influence of another possible Deuteronomic motif in Hebrews, namely the motif of “life”. References to “life” are found throughout Deuteronomy. Markl (2014:71; This Word is your life: the theology of ‘life’ in Deuteronomy), who outlines “life” (חיה ) in Deuteronomy (the only study done on this subject in recent literature), calls it “one of the key theological concepts in the book”. With this paper I argue that traces of this motif are present in Hebrews, and I demonstrate how these traces function within the book. The paper first defines the (multifaceted) concept of “life” in Deuteronomy. This is followed up by combing through the text of Hebrews to identify traces of this motif in the words and concepts that the writer employs, as well as the overall theme of the book. In conclusion, the findings are synthesized to give a panorama of this motif in Hebrews."

“The Oil of Gladness” and Priestly Investiture in the Epistle to the Hebrews Program 
Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
Justin Harrison Duff, University of St. Andrews
"The anointment of Jesus with the “oil of gladness” (Heb 1:9) is broadly regarded as a royal investiture. Jesus’s anointment is associated with enthronement, the scepter, and the kingdom (Heb 1:8). The citation in Heb 1:8–9 is also drawn from Psalm 44 LXX, a hymn celebrating Israel’s king. The pronounced relationship between Jesus’s anointment and his kingship, however, may overshadow another function of the oil: high priestly consecration. Like Israel’s kings, Levitical priests were anointed with “holy oil” at their installment (Exodus 29–30, Leviticus 8, 11QT 15:3–16:4) and the high priest was called the “anointed priest” (Lev 4:3, 16:32). Moreover, Hebrews’ “main point” (8:1–2) is that Jesus became a high priest after Melchizedek’s order, a royal ruler and holy minister in the heavenly sanctuary. Although some scholars have briefly considered a priestly anointment in Heb 1:9, the possibility has not been explored in depth and is rarely brought into conversation with the greater Septuagint and second temple tradition. In this paper, I engage these traditions and propose that the anointment in Hebrews appears to consecrate Jesus for two offices: high priest and king. When read against Jewish apocalyptic and early Christian texts in particular, divine anointment may further signal a bodily transformation that safeguards new priests for heavenly space. I therefore suggest that Jesus’s anointment may be connected to his inheritance of the “indestructible life” required by priests after Melchizedek’s order (7:16–17), a quality of life devoid of physical weakness that endures forever in the heavens (7:28)."

Moses the Martyr: A Martyrological Reading of Hebrews 11 
Program Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
Paul Middleton, University of Chester
"While the roll call of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 contains explicit references to martyrs (11.34–38), they are usually interpreted as comprising a subset of exemplars of Faith alongside other significant Hebrew Bible figures who demonstrated that Faith in different ways. This paper, instead, argues there are strong martyrological elements planted throughout chapter 11, such that those mentioned at the end become the climax of a list of heroes who have in some way undergone (albeit metaphorical) martyrdom. While I will illustrate this claim using a number of figures from the chapter, the paper will focus on the way in which the character of Moses has been refracted through a martyrological lens (11.23–29), such that he proleptically conforms to the model of Christ’s suffering (11.26). Moreover, chapter 11 is situated between two sections of the letter which, I will argue, deal with potential martyrdom (10.26–39; 12.3–7). Therefore, the rhetorical force of the chapter highlights not merely examples of faith, but faith potentially leading to martyrdom. Among these examples is Moses, who imitated the same sufferings of Christ which the Hebrews are in turn called to emulate (13.13)."

The Son of God in Psalm 110 in the Light of the New Testament 
Program Unit: Biblical Characters in Three Traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
Richard K. Min, The University of Texas at Dallas
"As warned by the author of Hebrews, two passages in Psalm 110 generate the enormous controversies and difficulties in New Testament study and exegesis. The first controversy and paradox about the Son of God is the problem of the lordship of Christ. He is the son of David. Yet he is being addressed by David as "my lord" (Psalm 110:1). The paradox deals with the extended human "father-son" relationship in the law, with the divine-human relationship (of lord-servant). This divine lordship of the Son of God is professed by David who is the very author of this psalm and the father of the son of David. All synoptic gospels deal with the passage (Psalm 110:1) as having great significance (Matthew 22:41–46; Mark 12:35–37; Luke 20:41–44). The second controversy and paradox of the Son of God in Psalm 110:4 is the problem of the priesthood of the Son of God who is from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:14–15). According to the law, to have a priest outside of the tribe of Levi and according to the order of Aaronic lineage is impossible. The legal question is how it could be possible for Christ, the son of David, to be a priest of God. This controversy has never been dealt with or resolved in any part of the New Testament except in Hebrews. The paper presents and extends this new perspective and paradigm of circular rhetoric and paradox in the Bible."

Ritualized Actions Stirring Eschatological Hope 
Program Unit: Early Christianity (EABS)
Bernhard Oestreich, Theologische Hochschule Friedensau
"Earliest Christian documents witness the expectation of Christ’s imminent glorious parousia (1Thess 4:15; 1Cor 15:51). It is commonly held that this expectation declined as decades elapsed and church members passed away. The emphasis shifted from future to realized eschatology or Christian hope was re-interpreted in an individualistic sense. However, as Erlemann (1993) has shown, there is no clear development towards disappointment and abandoning the expectation. Late documents like Revelation, 2Peter, or Didache do not give up this early conviction of the soon coming parousia despite permanent disappointment. How was this possible? The paper explores the possibility that some ritualized actions of early Christians did not only express eschatological hope but also continuously stirred this hope. One of the features of ritualized actions is the recourse to tradition—especially by actions that seem to stick to traditional forms—that lets historical event and present time fall together in the participants’ experience. Performing rituals of Christian hope would thus make the first generation of Jesus’ followers and later Christians contemporaneous and help the latter ones to be filled with the expectations of earlier generations. The study investigates eschatological elements in Christian rituals, especially the Lord’s supper, in New Testament texts and the Didache. It also entertains the idea that the letter to the Hebrews with its interpretation of Israel’s cult and its contested eschatology could be a theoretical reflection of Christian hope as an afterthought based on the ritual performance of hope."

Elijah, Elisha, and Other "Prophets" in Hebrews 11:33–38 
Program Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
Lotta Valve, Abo Akademi
"The list of exemplary biblical figures of faith in Hebrews 11 turns, in the end of the chapter, into a list of actions of unnamed figures, who in v. 32 are called “prophets.” The rapid listing of their sufferings but also righteous deeds of faith in a stylistically persuasive way is an interesting example of the rhetoric of the author/s. However, it is quite remarkable that the author nevertheless lets these persons go unnamed. Why this procedure? In my paper, I analyze which figures of biblical and intertestamental literature are referred to in this list, and whether there are other than rhetorical reasons for leaving out their names. According to my hypothesis, the relative importance of especially Elijah and Elisha as types for Christ in early Christianity has made it possible for the author to refer to them only vaguely, while simultaneously acknowledging their significance."

Critical Spatial Theory and the Place of the Atonement in Hebrews 
Program Unit: Epistle to the Hebrews
Cynthia Long Westfall, McMaster Divinity College
"David Moffitt’s observation in Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews that heaven is the place in which the author of Hebrews depicts the atonement leads him to deduce that the culmination of the atonement was after the resurrection and ascension. Negative responses to Moffitt’s work have reflected an overriding theological concern with the time in which he concludes the final act of the atonement took place. Place and time are linked without question. As Hermann Minkowski who was Einstein’s teacher said, “Nobody ever noticed a place except at a time or a time except at a place.” However, interpreters of Hebrews often ascribe metaphorical, symbolic or otherwise abstract significance to the references to place, treating them as if they were references to time (e.g. most often in eschatological/apocalyptic future) or assigning them to a theological category or idea (e.g. exaltation). Studies on the role of place say that the preference for mapping reality on time is an anachronistic bias of the characteristically modern domination of space by time, and speak of recovering a sense of place on which meaning is mapped which was characteristic of ancient thought. Critical spatial theory provides definitions and categories for place and space that are helpful, and allow us to explore the meaning of place as its own category in the Book of Hebrews. My thesis is that the interpretation of the Hebrews author of the heavenly tabernacle and its use (priesthood and sacrifices) in the LXX is based on the meaning of place in the continuity and contrast between the past Mosaic tabernacle and what is true in the present of the heavenly tabernacle in the light of Jesus’s sacrificial death."

Friday, June 15, 2018

New Article on Hebrews

New article on Hebrews:

Wenkel, David H. “Abraham’s Typological Resurrection from the Dead in Hebrews 11.” Criswell Theological Review 15.2 (2018): 51–66.

"This study considers the typological function of Abraham and Sarah in Hebrews 11. This study argues that the writer of Hebrews presents Abraham as one who experienced a bodily resurrection of the dead in nuce when God empowered him to procreate at age ninety-nine. A miraculous act of re-invigoration enabled Abraham and Sarah to conceive the child-of-promise (Isaac) when it was impossible. This event was a proto-resurrection of the dead because a part of Abraham’s body that was de ad, was made alive. This is a watershed event in the typological escalation of Hebrews 11 that eventually culminates in the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead in Hebrews 13."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hebrews Highlights May 2018

David deSilva preaches about Our Great High Priest.

Simon Woodman preaches about The Sustaining Jesus based on Hebrews 1:1–4; 2:10; 3:1–4.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Updated Scholars Page

I have made some major revisions to the Scholars page. I have added some new names and I have now added their works on Hebrews as a means of justifying their inclusion on this page. I will continue to add names as I have time. As always, I welcome any corrections, updates, or additions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

New Book on Christ, the Law, and the Covenants in Hebrews and Paul

Jean-René Moret. Christ, la Loi et les Alliances. Les lettres aux Hébreux et de Paul : regards croisés.

Dès son origine, l’Église s’est attachée à comprendre en quoi Jésus-Christ était l’accomplissement de l’Ancien Testament. De quelle manière la Loi et l’Ancienne Alliance préparaient-elles la venue de Jésus ? Comment aident-elles à saisir la portée de son œuvre ? Les lettres de Paul et la lettre aux Hébreux contiennent des développements magistraux sur ces sujets.

Ce livre analyse et compare ces deux regards pour en faire ressortir toute la profondeur. Il aidera ainsi à saisir la richesse de l’œuvre de Jésus-Christ, comme les auteurs bibliques l’ont comprise à la lumière de l’Ancien Testament.