Wednesday, January 13, 2021

New Book on Creation in Hebrews

Mohr Siebeck has recently published this new monograph:

Angela Costley. Creation and Christ: An Exploration of the Topic of Creation in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

"The Epistle to the Hebrews is usually associated with its theology of Christ the High Priest. However, the term "high priest" is not so common in the first four chapters of Hebrews, occurring only four times with a further reference to sacrifice in 1:3. Rather than emphasising the priestly or sacrificial activity of Christ, these opening sections contain a number of references to creation: 1:2-3,10-12, 2:5-9, 10; 3:1-6; 4:3-4 and 4:9-10. In this volume, Angela Costley uses discourse analysis to explore the importance of the topic of creation to the discourse of the Epistle to the Hebrews, uncovering a close link between creation and salvation. She highlights the interaction of the topic of creation with the topic of salvation in the discourse to uncover a depiction of Christ as the creator who descends to take on human flesh, God who becomes human, in order to lead humanity heavenward."

New Tyndale Commentary on Hebrews

InterVarsity Press has just published a new Tyndale New Testament Commentary on Hebrews by David G. Peterson. This effectively is the replacement volume for the commentary written by Donald Guthrie in 1983. Peterson is also the author of Hebrews and Perfection: An Examination of the Concept of Perfection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, published with Cambridge University Press in 1982. Peterson has a personal website.
 
David G. Peterson. Hebrews: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.
 
Description from the website:
"The letter to the Hebrews provides an amazing combination of warnings and assurances to encourage Christians to persevere in faith, hope, and love. The basis for this is a profound reflection on the person and work of Christ, viewed as the fulfilment of Old Testament Scripture. In this Tyndale commentary, David G. Peterson shows how the author expounds the implications of the gospel with pastoral insight and sensitivity, producing a "word of exhortation" that reaches across the centuries to speak to our lives today.

The Tyndale Commentaries are designed to help the reader of the Bible understand what the text says and what it means. The Introduction to each book gives a concise but thorough treatment of its authorship, date, original setting, and purpose. Following a structural Analysis, the Commentary takes the book section by section, drawing out its main themes, and also comments on individual verses and problems of interpretation. Additional Notes provide fuller discussion of particular difficulties.

In the new New Testament volumes, the commentary on each section of the text is structured under three headings: Context, Comment, and Theology. The goal is to explain the true meaning of the Bible and make its message plain."

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Announcement of a New Book: Within the Veil

Fontes Press is announcing the forthcoming publication of the following book:

Félix H. Cortez. Within the Veil: The Ascension of the Son in the Letter to the Hebrews.

Description:

"Most scholars understand that the Day of Atonement ritual of Leviticus 16 provides the main template for understanding Jesus’s death and exaltation in the argument of Hebrews. This study suggests that the perspective of Hebrews is much wider than that, conceiving of the ascension as the inauguration of Jesus’ office as “Son” at the “right hand of God.” The title “Son” is the fulfillment of the promises made to David (2 Sam 7:12–15), which are claimed for Jesus explicitly in Heb 1:5 and 13. This connection to the Davidic covenantal traditions brings closer the theology of Hebrews and the theology of other New Testament documents, which opens new vistas for understanding early Christianity." 

Publication will be available in January 2021

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Robert Jewett 1933–2020

Yeo Khiok-khng, Harry R. Kendall Professor of New Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, is reporting that New Testament scholar Robert Jewett passed away on December 4, 2020. Jewett is probably best known for his magisterial commentary on Romans in the Hermeneia series. But Jewett also wrote a more popular-level commentary on Hebrews: Letter to Pilgrims: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. According to Bestcommentaries.com he was also slated to do the Hebrews volume in the New Cambridge Bible Commentary series. May he rest in peace.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Book on Hebrews Coming Out This Month

 Here is the newest book to come out on Hebrews:

Andreas-Christian Heidel. Das glaubende Gottesvolk: Der Hebräerbrief in israeltheologischer Perspektive [The Believing People of God. The Letter to the Hebrews in the Perspective of Jewish Theology.]. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 540. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck: 2020. XIII + 328 pages.

"The Epistle to the Hebrews is often accused in academic and church statements of having a negative relationship to Judaism or of having promoted an anti-Jewish attitude throughout history. Yet contrary to this frequent criticism, neither Old Testament tradition nor the role of Israel is marginalised in Hebrews. In his exegetical study, Andreas-Christian Heidel shows that by rereading the letter’s overall theological testimony based on Heb. 11:39–40, an ecclesiological plan of the salvation of God can be expressed in analogy to Rom. 9–11. The aim of this plan is the eschatological unification of the one believing people of God, running through all ages, places and human identities as an invisible community. This unity is not jeopardised by the meaning and the confession of Jesus as Christ, but is in fact guaranteed by it."
 
HT: Cliff Kvidahl 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Hebrews at the Annual SBL Meeting

The following papers on Hebrews will be delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, which will be done virtually this year:

P1-104


Institute for Biblical Research
12/01/2020
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM 

Theme: Research Group - The Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament

Ben Ribbens, Trinity Christian College

Hebrews as Participatory Exegesis of the Old Testament (20 min)

Accepted paper for the IBR Research Group on The Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

 

S2-213


Theological Interpretation of Scripture / Hebrews
Joint Session With: Hebrews, Theological Interpretation of Scripture
12/02/2020
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Theme: Theological Interpretation of the Book of Hebrews

Madison N. Pierce, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Presiding

Michael J. Rhodes, Union University
On the Road to Perfection: Divine and Human Agency, Moral Transformation, and the Epistle to the Hebrews (25 min)

God’s transformation of believers constitutes a major theme in the epistle to the Hebrews. The author speaks of Christians being brought to glory (cf. 2:10), being made holy (cf. 10:14), having the Lord’s laws written on their hearts and minds (cf. 10:16), having their consciences sprinkled clean (cf. 10:22), being purified (cf. 10:22), and, perhaps most strikingly, moving on to “perfection” or “maturity” (cf. 5:14-6:1). Such transformation frees God’s people from acts that lead to death so that they might minister to the living God (9:14). Divine agency is thus emphasized in this process of human transformation, but, intriguingly, human acts of moral and spiritual formation also play an essential and constitutive role in the process. The perfection that the author ascribes to Christ-followers is both gift and human task: the author calls the audience to move on to perfection/maturity (Heb 5:14, 6:1); speaks of the “training” that leads to moral discernment (5:14) and the “discipline” that allows for sharing in God’s holiness and produces righteousness in those trained by it (12:10); and calls the audience to pursue the very holiness that we might otherwise have thought was simply a gift to be passively received (12:14). Hebrews insists, in other words, that humans participate in God’s transformation through exercising their renewed human agency in concrete acts of moral and spiritual formation. This paradox makes Hebrews an ideal text for a theological exploration of divine and human agency in the life of faith. Indeed, Aquinas himself turns to Hebrews 5:11-14 in a pivotal discussion of how the believer’s reception of the infused virtues—themselves gifts that God “works in us, without us” (ST I-II q. 55, a. 4)—nevertheless demand and include human agency in the process of those virtues taking root in the believer’s life (ST II-II q. 24, a. 4). Taking Aquinas’s interpretation of Hebrews 5:11-14 as a starting point, in this paper I explore the interaction of divine and human agency in the process of human transformation within the epistle. I will argue that Hebrews both commends specific character-forming practices and understands such practices as human acts of formation that flow out of and participate in the Triune God’s transforming work. I will pay particular attention to areas of continuity and discontinuity between Hebrews’ account of moral growth and discussions of habituation and the virtues within both the first century and in later Thomistic developments in virtue ethics. Having demonstrated that the exalted depiction of the Triune God’s transforming work paradoxically leads to a greater emphasis on human participation in that work, I will conclude by reflecting on how this exploration clarifies aspects of a theological account of the interplay of divine and human agency in the process of moral growth; furthers our understanding of the ethics of Hebrews as a whole; and has implications for contemporary theological ethics concerned with issues of character, virtue, and formation.

Discussion (5 min)

Sigurd Grindheim, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
Eternal Generation of the Son in Heb 1:5 (25 min)

This paper discusses the quotation of Ps 2:7 in Heb 1:5 with a focus on the phrase “today I have begotten you.” Patristic interpreters found in this expression a description of the Father’s eternal begetting of the Son. Modern scholars have generally rejected this interpretation as an imposition of later dogmatic theology on the epistle to the Hebrews. Instead, they have suggested that the word “today” may refer to 1) the birth of Jesus or the incarnation; 1) his baptism and/or transfiguration; 3) his resurrection; 4) his ascension; or 5) the eschatological “now.” This paper takes a fresh look at these different interpretations and argues that the reference to the eternal generation of the Son is the one that is most compatible with the argument in the epistle. The patristic development of the doctrine of the Son’s eternal begetting has important points of contact with the argument of Hebrews.

Discussion (5 min)

Joshua Heavin, Trinity College - Bristol
Is God Trustworthy? God’s Self-Oath and the Logic of Divine Simplicity in Hebrews 6:13–20 (25 min)

Theological Interpretation of Scripture and ressourcement of Scripture’s reception history have been two of the most interesting and promising developments in the last few decades for the constructive task of theology. A recurring question in these conversations has asked what such work looks like in practice, as opposed to mere meta-level reflection or prolegomena, and this study represents one such instance of applied theological interpretation. Though the doctrine of simplicity fell on hard times in modern theology, simplicity has received fresh and invigorated attention over the last few decades among theologians variously interested in retrieving classical theism, such as the late John Webster, and more recently by Duby, Levering, Sanders, Sonderegger, Swain, Wittman, and others. However, it is common for simplicity to meet at least three significant objections. First, some biblical scholars raise concerns that the metaphysical considerations entailed by simplicity can only be read anachronistically into biblical texts rather than historically substantiated. Second, some theologians likewise suggest that simplicity represents a philosophical abstraction that is less exegetically straightforward than other theological loci, object to simplicity as conflating all of God’s attributes into one, or reject the ontological entailments of simplicity out of preference for dynamism in theology proper; last, communities of faith might find simplicity more abstractly speculative than relevant or practical to the life of faith. To aid with these three questions, this paper contributes a close reading of Hebrews 6:13–18, attuned to its theological logic within its historical context and reception history. In this passage, an attribute no less pastoral than the trustworthiness of God is described in terms of God’s swearing an oath “by himself,” there being none greater by whom to swear (6:13). My argument is that in Hebrews 6:13–18 God’s trustworthiness is not a component part of God, nor some yet greater and extraneous reality that God participates in, but uses a logic that later interpreters appropriately described in terms of simplicity. The first part of this paper recaps the current state of discussions of simplicity in theological interpretation of Scripture. The second part exegetically explores the relationship between God’s being and attributes in Hebrews 6:13–18, read in conversation with texts on God’s self-oath in Gen 22:16; Isa 45:23, 62:8; Jer 22:5, 44:26, 49:13, 51:14; Amos 4:2, 6:8, 8:7; and Philo Alleg. Interp. 3.203. Part three briefly probes how Hebrews 6:13 has factored into historic discussions of simplicity by Aquinas, Thomas Boston, and others. The final part of this paper draws out the constructive value of the logic of simplicity on divine trustworthiness in three ways: first, the value of this reading for projects of theological interpretation and/or retrieval of simplicity; second, the questions this passage poses against biblicistic rejections of simplicity; and third, the pastoral value of divine simplicity and divine trustworthiness for insiders and outsiders to communities of faith, who might dismiss simplicity as overly abstract, impractical, or even harmful and toxic.

Discussion (5 min)

Discussion (30 min)

 

S8-401


Intertextuality in the New Testament
12/08/2020
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Theme: Intertextuality in the Epistles

Julie M. Leyva, Duke University
God Said It Where? Tracing a Mystery Citation in Hebrews 13 (19 min)
n many and various ways, scholars have illuminated the way Israel’s Scriptures function as divine discourse in Hebrews. This paper examines one specific instance of divine speech in Hebrews: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (13:5), and assesses several potential scriptural sources. Although the citation does not match exactly any extant passage in the LXX/OG, commentators have nominated various sources, including Genesis 28:15, Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Joshua 1:5-9, and 1 Chronicles 28:20, though they devote little attention to defending any of these choices. This paper will explore each of these potential sources, noting themes within their literary contexts that might connect to the situation in Hebrews. After assessing the merits of these possible scriptural quotations, we will argue that the author of Hebrews may not have had any one text in mind but rather invoked an often-repeated divine promise from Israel’s Scriptures as a word of assurance to his audience, living as they were in uncertain circumstances.


Hebrews at the Annual ETS Meeting

There are just a few papers on Hebrews that will be delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, which is being done virtually this year.

Thursday, November 19
10:30–11:25

General Epistles

Michael McKay (Cedarville University)
Is Joshua a type of Christ in Hebrews 4:8?: An argument from context and Nomina Sacra


New Testament Canon, Textual Criticism, & Apocryphal Literature
Criteria of Canonicity

Benjamin Laird (Liberty University)
The Canonical Criterion of Apostolicity and the Reception of Hebrews in Early Christianity


Friday, November 20
10:30–11:25

Trinitarian Theology
Perspectives on the Relational Trinity

Madison N. Pierce (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
Trinitarian ‘Grammar’ and Unity in Hebrews: Hearing God Speak as ‘One’

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Concept of διαθήκη in Hebrews 9:16–17

New article:

Kyu Seop Kim. "The Concept of διαθήκη in Hebrews 9.16–17." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 43.2 (2020): 248–65.

Abstract:

"Many exegetes assume that wills were of immediate effect when they were written and that it was common in Graeco-Roman society to transfer the unrestricted ownership of property to heirs regardless of the testators’ death. However, these assumptions are not sustainable when we explore actual testamentary practices in ancient society. In documentary papyri, the transfer of patrimonum rarely took place during the lifetime of the testator, and the death of the testator was conditio sine qua non for the efficacy of the testament. These aspects lead the reader to a new understanding of Christ’s death in Heb. 9.16-17."

Friday, October 9, 2020

Hebrews in the Southern Baptist Theological Journal

The Southern Baptist Theological Journal has dedicated nearly an entire issue to the Book of Hebrews. Articles can be downloaded individually or you can download the entire issue.

Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Christ is Better!


Thomas R. Schreiner

The Trinity in Hebrews


Jonathan I. Griffiths

Leading Many to Glory: An Exposition of Hebrews 2:5-3:3


Brian Vickers

Seeing is NOT Believing: Faith Versus Sight in Hebrews


Barry C. Joslin

Theology Unto Doxology: New Covenant Worship in Hebrews


Gareth Lee Cockerill

From Deuteronomy to Hebrews: The Promised Land and the Unity of Scripture


Ardel B. Caneday

God’s Parabolic Design for Israel’s Tabernacle: A Cluster of Earthly Shadows of Heavenly Realities


James M. Hamilton, Jr.

Typology in Hebrews: A Response to Buist Fanning


William James Dernell

Typology, Christology and Prosopological Exegesis: Implicit Narratives in Christological Texts



Monday, August 31, 2020

Hebrews Highlights August 2020

Chris Ritter completed his sermon series on Hebrews with a sermon on chapter 13: Greater Than: What to Tell Yourself.

Amy Peeler and David Capes discuss Jesus as the author and perfecter of faith in Hebrews 12:1–2.

Reading Hebrews in a Time of Pandemic

New article:

Andrew T. Lincoln. "Reading Hebrews in a Time of Pandemic: Heroism and Hope in the Face of Fear." Expository Times 131.11 (2020): 471–79.

Abstract:

"Despite its well-known difficulties, the epistle to the Hebrews offers resources for reflection in a time of pandemic. Covid-19 has, in its own way, exposed how the existential fear of death can be crippling in its dominance and yet also provoke heroic actions. In the midst of its catastrophic effects for individuals and societies there has also been a demand for some signs of hope that might sustain efforts to find a better future. To read Hebrews in this setting is to be reminded that some of its major themes resonate with the experience of the pandemic’s broad characteristics. It deals with its recipients’ perceived bondage to the fear of death. It claims that this fear has been overcome through the heroic death of Christ, whose pattern of life is to be emulated in the heroism of his followers. It sets these topics within an overall message of hope, in which God’s action in the exalted Christ is seen as both a ‘word against death’ and the promise of a better world. The article explores further the potential appropriation for present-day readers of Hebrews’ treatment of each of these topics—fear of death, heroism and hope."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Hebrews Highlights - July 2020

Nijay Gupta make recommendations for 5 Books Every Pastor Should Read on Hebrews.

Chris Ritter continues his sermon series on Hebrews:
What Can Wash Away My Sins?

David Pallmann has a Critique of Eternal Security based on the warning passages in Hebrews.

Peter Goeman attempts to answer the question: Where was the Altar of Incense Located? (I.e., is Hebrews 9:3–4 wrong?).

Andrew Perriman offers a novel interpretation of Hebrews 1:6 in his post about Jesus and the empire to come.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Lost Commentary of Cyril of Alexandria Found!

Roger Pearse has announced on his blog that Cyril of Alexandria's lost Commentary on Hebrews has been found. It is preserved in three Armenian manuscripts and has now been published. Quick! Someone who knows Armenian translate the thing!




Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hebrews Highlights - June 2020

James Arlandson tries to answer the question, Who Was Melchizedek?
He then tries to answer the question, Does Hebrews 7:1–10 Teach Church Policy on Tithing?

Chris Ritter has started a series on Hebrews: Greater Than: The Covenant of the Son. It includes a brief introduction and discussion of chapters 1 and 2. Part two: A Sharp Word for Serious Times deals with chapters 3 and 4. Part three: Detours covers chapters 5 and 6. His fourth installment is on Jesus, Our Melchizedek.

Ken Schenck has started reviewing Susan Docherty's monograph, The Use of the Old Testament in Hebrews. Part 1.
Part 2: Previous Scholarship.
Part 3: The Study of Midrash.
Part 4: Septuagintal Studies.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

An Earth Bible Commentary on Hebrews

Bloomsbury has announced the publication of this new commentary:

Jeffrey S. Lamp. Hebrews: An Earth Bible Commentary: A City That Cannot Be Shaken.

"In this new ecological commentary on the letter to the Hebrews, Jeffrey S. Lamp makes use of approaches developed in the relatively new field of Ecological Hermeneutics to shed light upon the connection of Hebrews with Earth.

Hebrews is frequently characterized as portraying a dualistic cosmology that diminishes the material world, muting the voice of Earth. Conversely, Lamp argues that though Hebrews cannot be construed as an ecological treatise, the contours of the letter's presentation may be subverted by reading from an ecological perspective, such that cues provided by the author of Hebrews serve as opportunities to hear Earth's voice in the letter. Three movements, corresponding to thematic interests of the author of Hebrews, form the framework of this ecological reading: the Son as the agent of creation, the Son depicted as the Second Adam, and the New Jerusalem as the eschatological dwelling place of God. This ecological reading of Hebrews aims to shape its readers into those who fulfill the soteriological aims of God in and for the world."

Friday, June 5, 2020

My Newest Acquisition

I just got in the mail today this rare copy of a dissertation that I had not known about previously:

Ngoupa, Hans Ejengele. “La perfection dans l’Épître aux Hébreux.” Ph.D. diss., Institute Protestant de Théologie, Montpellier, 1982.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Moffitt Reviews Holmes

New review in RBL:

David Moffitt reviews Christopher T. Holmes, The Function of Sublime Rhetoric in Hebrews: A Study in Hebrews 12:18–29.

Description:
"In this study, Christopher T. Holmes provides a focused analysis of the rhetorical and stylistic features of Hebrews 12:18–29, their intended effects upon the audience, and the role of the passage in the larger argument of Hebrews. He draws extensively from the first-century treatise, De Sublimitate, arguing that it provides a significant context for interpreting the rhetoric and style of Hebrews. Although New Testament scholars have drawn significantly from the ancient handbooks of Aristotle, Quintilian, and Cicero in the last several decades, this is the first monograph-length study to use De Sublimitate as the primary analytical tool for New Testament interpretation. The result of the study shows that the author's efforts to move the readers »beyond persuasion« shed new light on the thought and genre of Hebrews. Christopher T. Holmes offers both exegetical insights about Hebrews and an additional way to think about the distinctiveness of early Christian rhetoric."

Two New Articles in JSNT

Two new articles in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament:

Moore, Nicholas J. “Sacrifice, Session, and Intercession: The End of Christ’s Offering in Hebrews.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 42.4 (2020): 521–41.

"A growing number of scholars have argued that Christ’s offering in Hebrews is not limited to the cross but extends into heaven; in recent work David Moffitt contends that Christ’s heavenly, atoning offering is perpetual and coextensive with his intercession. This article calls this further step into question, by examining the function of Christ’s heavenly session in Hebrews’ construal of sacrificial process, and by exploring the nature of his heavenly intercession and its relation to his offering and enthronement. It argues that Christ’s session is a hinge, marking an emphatic close to his sacrificial work for the forgiveness of sins, and inaugurating his royal reign and priestly prayer."

Moffitt, David M. “Jesus as Interceding High Priest and Sacrifice in Hebrews: A Response to Nicholas Moore.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 42.4 (2020): 542-52.

"Is Jesus’ perpetual intercession for his people in Hebrews (Heb. 7.25) understood as a constitutive part of his atoning, high-priestly ministry? Nicholas Moore argues that Jesus’ act of sitting at God’s right hand is the decisive end of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and so also of Hebrews’ Yom Kippur analogy. Among other points, I argue in response that Jesus’ ongoing absence from his people, status as high priest and current location in the heavenly holy of holies imply that Hebrews’ Yom Kippur analogy extends beyond Jesus’ act of sitting to include his present ministry of intercession. Not only were prayer and atoning sacrifice closely correlated for Second Temple Jews, Hebrews presents Jesus as the high priest who, in his resurrected humanity, is always also the sacrifice in the Father’s presence. Jesus presented himself to the Father once, but he is perpetually the high priest and sacrifice who ministers in God’s presence. For Hebrews, the Yom Kippur analogy (and so also Jesus’ atoning ministry) ends when, like the earthly high priests, Jesus leaves the heavenly holy of holies to return to and again be present with his people (Heb. 9.28). Only then will his followers receive the salvation for which they are waiting. Until that approaching day arrives, Jesus’ ongoing intercession with his Father ensures that his people will be saved completely."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Johnsson Dissertation Finally Published

William Johnsson's important 1973 dissertation, "Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews" was never published, that is, until now:

William G. Johnsson. Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews. Fontes Press.

Abstract:
"At the epicenter of the book of Hebrews stands a prolonged exposition of the Israelite cult. While many studies have focused on the theology of the cult, Johnsson uses a structuralist and religio-historical approach to analyze Hebrews as a religious document that shares anthropological parallels with other major religious groups and their documents.

Johnsson's initial survey of scholarship on the cult in Hebrews lays the foundation for analyzing the key terms of 'defilement,' 'purgation,' and 'blood,' which stand at the heart of the cultic argumentation of Hebrews. These terms and their associated ideas are analyzed closely in their contexts within Hebrews 9-10, which reveals significant theological implications for the human condition as laid out in the rest of the discourse."

I did some of the editorial work on one of the chapters (and it was a ton of work), so I am glad to see it finally in print.