"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."
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
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.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
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.
"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
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
Here is the newest book to come out on Hebrews:
Friday, November 20, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
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:
Institute for Biblical Research
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Theme: Research Group - The Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament
Accepted paper for the IBR Research Group on The Relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Theological Interpretation of Scripture / Hebrews
Joint Session With: Hebrews, Theological Interpretation of Scripture
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.
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.
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 (30 min)
Intertextuality in the New Testament
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.
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
Michael McKay (Cedarville University)
Is Joshua a type of Christ in Hebrews 4:8?: An argument from context and Nomina Sacra
Benjamin Laird (Liberty University)
New Testament Canon, Textual Criticism, & Apocryphal Literature
Criteria of Canonicity
The Canonical Criterion of Apostolicity and the Reception of Hebrews in Early Christianity
Friday, November 20
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
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.
"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
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
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
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.
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.
"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
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.
Monday, July 20, 2020
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
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
Ngoupa, Hans Ejengele. “La perfection dans l’Épître aux Hébreux.” Ph.D. diss., Institute Protestant de Théologie, Montpellier, 1982.
Friday, May 29, 2020
The Function of Sublime Rhetoric in Hebrews: A Study in Hebrews 12:18–29.
"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."
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
Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews. Fontes Press.
"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.