Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moore Reviews Two Vanhoye Books

Nicholas Moore has a fresh review of Albert Vanhoye's two most recent commentaries on Hebrews:

Albert Vanhoye. A Different Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews. Translated by Leo Arnold. Rhetorica Semitica. Miami, FL: Convivium, 2011.

Albert Vanhoye. The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary. Translated by Leo Arnold. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2015.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hebrews Highlights January 2016

After several months of relative neglect, Hebrews has received considerable attention this month among the biblioblogs:

Mitch Chase talks about Prophet, Priest, and King in Hebrews 1. He also avers that Jesus evinced Reverence, Not Rebellion, in the Garden of Gethsemane.

David Alan Black shares his musings after Reading Hebrews in the Good News Bible.

Black's post prompted a response by Henry Neufeld on Identifying Extremes - Examine Everything.

Phillip Long has started a series on Jewish Christian Literature, which covers Hebrews through Revelation. The initial posts are not primarily about Hebrews but touches on it from time to time. Introduction. Jewish Christian Literature and High Christology. Jewish Christianity according to N.T. Wright. Jewish Christian Literature and the Law.

Long gets to a more detailed analysis of Hebrews with discussions on Hebrews and the Shame of Suffering; Moses, the Servant in 3:1–6; An Exhortation to Righteousness in 3:7–19; Jesus as High Priest in 4:14–16; Why Does Hebrews Call Jesus a Priest? in 5:5–10; and Old Israel, New Church? in Hebrews 8–9.

Matt Capps has a brief video noting that The Book of Hebrews Points Us to Jesus. The video is meant to promote his 12-week study on Hebrews.

Kevin Wong has announced an upcoming seminar: ". . .  the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies is hosting a non-accredited summer seminar on “The Transcendent Christ: St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews” in Norcia, Italy, focusing on Thomas’ commentary on the work. The seminar takes place July 10th – July 24th, with the application deadline on May 16th." Details of the seminar can be found here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moore Review of Calaway, The Sabbath and the Sanctuary

Nicholas Moore has uploaded to a book review (which originally appeared in the Journal of Theological Studies) on Jared Calaway's book, The Sabbath and the Sanctuary: Access to God in the Letter to the Hebrews and Its Priestly Context.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Word about Book Reviews

Recently, SBL has decided to put all their book reviews behind a pay wall. That is, one now has to join SBL in order to read the reviews. Normally, I don't link to any articles that are behind a subscription wall. I try to link to articles and books that are public access. However, I won't be removing the links because it would be too much trouble (and SBL may change their mind). Personally, I don't think it is a good move. It's not like book reviews are original research and they give exposure to the books that scholars are writing. But I don't have any control over the matter.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hebrews Highlights December 2015

Ken Schenck gives his musings about Jon Laansma's opening essay, "Hebrews: Yesterday, Today, and Future" in his co-edited volume Christology, Hermeneutics, and Hebrews: Profiles from the History of Interpretation.

Jonathan gives his thoughts about the Date of Hebrews.

Wayne Slusser has done a four-part series on The Gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ, based on Hebrews. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

An Apology

I have been wondering why I have not been getting comments on my posts. Well, this evening I discovered that about a dozen comments were awaiting moderation on the blogger dashboard. In the past I have gotten notifications of comments through my email. I have now hopefully corrected this oversight. Your comments have now been posted and I have responded to some of them. I apologize for the oversight. I have not been ignoring you.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Hebrews Article in ZNW

I have recently been made aware of this article on Hebrews which appeared earlier this year: 

Filtvedt, Ole Jakob. “Creation and Salvation inHebrews.” Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 106.2 (2015): 280–303.

 "Der Aufsatz sucht die Ansicht infrage zu stellen, dass der Hebräerbrief eine negative Sicht auf die Schöpfung habe. Zunächst wird das Verhältnis zwischen Jesu Rolle als Mitschöpfer aller Dinge und seiner Stellung als eschatologischer Erbe aller Dinge untersucht. Sodann wird die Tatsache in den Blick genommen, dass sich der Hebräerbrief auf die Schöpfungserzählung der Genesis bezieht, um eines seiner eschatologischen Hauptthemen zu entwickeln, nämlich die Vorstellung, dass Gottes Volk immer noch eine Sabbatruhe erwartet. In einem weiteren Schritt wendet sich der Aufsatz der kultischen Interpretation des Christusgeschehens zu und fragt, ob der im Hebräerbrief für das Christusgeschehen angenommene räumliche Kontext voraussetzt, dass Christus die Schöpfung verlässt, um einen unerschaffenen oder immateriellen Bereich zu betreten. Schließlich fragt der Beitrag nach dem zukünftigen Schicksal der Schöpfung." 

My crude translation:
"This essay seeks to call into question the view that Hebrews has a negative view of the creation. First, the relationship between Jesus' role as co-creator of all things and his position as eschatological heir of all things will be examined. Then it will take into consideration the fact that Hebrews refers to the creation narrative of Genesis in order to develop one of its chief eschatological themes, namely the notion that God's people still await a Sabbath rest. In a further step, the essay turns to the cultic interpretation of the Christ event and asks whether the assumed spatial context in Hebrews for the Christ event presupposes that Christ left the creation in order to enter into an uncreated or immaterial realm. Finally, the article asks about the future destiny of creation."

HT: Bobby Jamieson

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My newest acquisition

I was pleased to get the following book in the mail:

Paolo Garuti. Alle origini dell'omiletica cristiana: La lettera agli Ebrei. Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing Press, 1995.

I have been looking for this book for some time and managed to find a used copy in excellent condition for a fairly decent price. It engages in one of the most detailed treatments of the rhetoric of Hebrews. However, I don't agree with his conclusion that there are redactional layers in Hebrews.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary on Hebrews

Another new commentary on Hebrews is by Steven Mueller for the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary published by Concordia Publishing House. A preview of the book is available on the website.

Description of the volume and series from the website:

"About this Volume
This commentary on Hebrews helps us see how the Old Testament finds its completion in Jesus. Our Lord fulfilled the Old Testament covenant and provides everything needed by His people. By His gracious work, He now calls us His brothers and sisters.

About the Series
The great reformers’ influence upon the Bible’s interpretation and application could not help but revitalize the Church. This is as true today as it was five hundred years ago. The reformers taught with special insight due to their constant reading, study, translating, and preaching of the Sacred Scriptures. This commentary series shares with readers today insights from the reformers and faithful commentary that stems from their heritage.

Similar to the NIV People’s Bible Commentary Series, this lay-level commentary allows readers to study the Word in a deep and meaningful way with devotional warmth and readability.

The Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary Series provides readers with an insightful New Testament commentary in the English Standard Version translation. This new series is perfect for church workers, Bible class teachers, or anyone interested in learning more about the Bible.

The series’ unique layout features both the English Standard Version and King James Version; the complimentary versions and parallel format allow readers to see both the classic and modern translations side by side.

Starting with the Pauline epistles, two volumes of the series will be released per year. Each commentary will feature introductions, notes, charts, maps, applications, articles, and quotes from ancient, medieval, and evangelical Church Fathers.
Through both broad contexts and specific verses, these historical, cultural, and doctrinal insights will surely lead readers to a sound interpretation and application of the biblical text."

Wisdom Commentary on Hebrews

Liturgical Press is launching a new commentary series called the Wisdom Commentary, which will feature "a detailed feminist interpretation of every book of the Bible." One of the first books to come out in the series is the volume on Hebrews by Mary Ann Beavis and HyeRan Kim-Cragg.

"Hebrews seems like unpromising material for feminist interpretation, although it is the only New Testament writing for which female authorship has been seriously posited. Mary Ann Beavis and HyeRan Kim-Cragg highlight the similarities between Hebrews and the book of Wisdom/Sophia, which share cosmological, ethical, historical, and sapiential themes, revealing that Hebrews is in fact a submerged tradition of Sophia-Wisdom. They also tackle the sacrificial Christology of Hebrews, concluding that in its ancient context, far from symbolizing suffering and abjection, sacrifice was understood as celebratory and relational. Contributions from Filipina (Maricel and Marilou Ibita), Jewish (Justin Jaron Lewis), historical (Nancy Calvert-Koyzis), and First Nations (Marie Annharte Baker) perspectives bring additional scholarly, cultural, religious, and experiential wisdom to the commentary."

Kennedy Reviews Schreiner's Commentary on Hebrews

Lindsay Kennedy briefly reviews Thomas Schreiner's commentary on Hebrews in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series.

The Locus of the Atonement in Hebrews

In contrast to David Moffitt's argument that the resurrection is the key for understanding atonement in Hebrews, Mike Skinner argues that the locus of atonement in Hebrews is the ascension.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hebrews at the Annual Meeting of the SBL

Here are the papers on Hebrews that will be delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta this year:

Institute for Biblical Research
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: A602 (Atrium Level) - Marriott

Ruth Anne Reese, Asbury Theological Seminary
Remembering the Future, Shaping the Past: Memory, Narrative, and Identity (17 min)

Remembering the Future, Shaping the Past: Memory, Narrative, and Identity
Memory plays a key role in helping us know who we are and who we are becoming. As recent research in memory studies in a variety of fields tears down the old picture of memory as a wax tablet, the importance of narrative and the narrative structuring of memory is rising. The stories that we tell impact our understanding of identity and ultimately shape our future—not only who we are but who we will be. In this presentation we will examine the intersection of memory, narrative, and identity by looking at how the book of Hebrews invokes the memory of the future, memory rooted in the Old Testament, to appeal to the audience of Hebrews. 

Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Vinings (Atlanta Conference Level) - Hyatt
Theme: Interpreting Biblical Land Texts

Scott R. Moore, Regis University
Promise and Intertextual Logic: How Hebrews Get from A(braham) to Z(ion) (30 min)

Promise and Intertextual Logic: How Hebrews Get from A(braham) to Z(ion)
The Book of Hebrews both breaches and preserves Jewish tradition as it interprets scripture with scripture, showing how the promise of land to Abraham has been transformed into eschatological rest in Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. We find in Hebrews some of the same intertextual strategies that scholars such as Daniel Boyarin identify in midrashic exegesis, including the tendency to interpret texts from the Pentateuch by means of juxtaposing them with texts from the Writings and Prophets. The latter texts interpret the former, often in overtly diachronic arguments. This paper focuses on four intertextual expositions in Hebrews that lead from the promise of land to Abraham to the hope of future life in eschatological Zion. In the process, the crucial elements of continuity and transformation of tradition are highlighted. The first intertextual argument focuses on the connection of the Promised Land with a promise of rest, citing Ps 95 at length. Juxtaposing Ps 95 with Gen 22 and Exod 33, Hebrews transposes (a) the past promise to a future hope and (b) the promise of a place to a state of existence. As the concept of rest is first linked with the land in Exod 33, it becomes one of the main criteria by which to judge whether the promise had reached fulfillment. From Hebrews’ perspective, Ps 95 indicates that by the time of David the “rest” aspect of the promise was still to be realized. A second intertextual argument takes on the exegetical issue of human beings entering “My rest” (that is, the LORD’s rest; Ps 95:11), putting further distance between “Promised” and “Land.” Later, in the great list of heroes in Hebrews 11, a third exposition juxtaposes allusions to Genesis with texts from the Psalms and Isaiah to show that even Abraham sought a city prepared by God in a heavenly country (11:9-16) as his ultimate destination. A fourth exposition, in Hebrews 12, looks back to Sinai and forward with Haggai 2, making the final connection between the covenant with Abraham’s descendants amidst trembling at Sinai and a new covenant offering an unshakeable kingdom. The fulfillment of the promise looks dramatically different than expected in Genesis 22, but it awaits those with faith. Hebrews uses text after text in an effort to convince its readers to put their trust in promises that are simultaneously ancient and contemporary. In the broader scheme of the book, the “new” covenant is both new and old—both a continuation and an innovation. While Hebrews asks its readers to look to a heavenly city and put their faith in what is even better and is not yet seen, its use of scripture and tradition also assures them the present promises rest on those that have long been known.

Sabbath in Text and Tradition
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 313 (Level 3) - HiltonTheme: Sabbath, Rest, and Holiness

Erhard H. Gallos, Andrews University
What “Rest” Remains? A Close Reading of Hebrews 4 (20 min) 

What “Rest” Remains? A Close Reading of Hebrews 4
The topic of “rest” in Hebrews has received considerable attention most recently. However, the existence of competing understandings of the religio-historical provenance of “rest” has not led to a consensus regarding its meaning. This paper takes the initiative of not imposing foreign religio-historical constructs on the “rest” motif, but defines both terms katapausis and sabbatisomos etymologically and from the usage in the LXX. Also, the structural relationship between Heb 4 and 10 becomes important in understanding “rest.” This paper proposes that various semantic, syntactical, and formal cohesions between Heb 4 and 10 shed crucial light on the “rest” motif. The temporal dimension of “rest” becomes pivotal in understanding Hebrews 4. 

Carl Mosser, University of Notre Dame, Respondent (10 min)

4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: International 5 (International Level) - MarriottTheme: Theology and Ethics in Hebrews
Harold Attridge, Yale University, Presiding (5 min)

Cynthia Kittredge, Seminary of the Southwest
Feminist Interpretation of Hebrews and Feminist Theology (30 min) 

Feminist Interpretation of Hebrews and Feminist Theology
Feminist readings of the Epistle to the Hebrews span the past decades and illustrate significant shifts in method and approach in the discipline of feminist biblical studies. The work of Ruth Hoppin (1969), Mary Rose D’Angelo (1992, 2012) and Cynthia Briggs Kittredge (1994) has brought critical theological questions to the text of Hebrews about suffering, and punishment, obedience, priesthood, perfection, solidarity, and community. A book length study in the Wisdom Commentary series by Mary Ann Beavis with Hye Ran Kim-Cragg (2015) excavates the submerged sophialogy of Hebrews from the vantage points of multiple disciplines for theological construction and critique. This paper will explore the most urgent theological questions that are addressed in recent feminist reading of Hebrews and will evaluate the impact of feminist biblical interpretation of Hebrews on constructive feminist theology.

Amy Peeler, Wheaton College (Illinois)
“Leading Many Sons to Glory”: Implications of Exclusive Language in the Epistle to the Hebrews (30 min) 

“Leading Many Sons to Glory”: Implications of Exclusive Language in the Epistle to the Hebrews
The author of Hebrews, unsurprisingly, does not employ inclusive language. When he speaks of the humans with whom God is involved in a salvific relationship, he often calls them “sons” (uios, 2:10; 12:5–8). He also speaks of the benefits of being a son, including access to inheritance (1:14; 9:15; 12:23), education (5:13–14; 12:7–11), and priesthood (5:1–4; 10:19–20). As an investigation of women’s participation (or lack thereof) in these arenas in the first-century world, this paper asks how women listening to the sermon to the Hebrews might have perceived this language. The author makes a powerful claim that he and his audience stand in the same relationship with God as does Jesus the Son, but this theological assertion could have added social implications for women who would not normally be included in the privileges typically reserved for sons.

Douglas Farrow, McGill University
The Gift of Fear (30 min)

The Gift of Fear
Douglas Farrow Hebrews Section SBL x David Moffitt Mar 23 (1 day ago) to me, amy.peeler Dear Amy and Craig, Douglas Farrow just sent me the abstract for his paper in the Hebrews section entitled "The Gift of Fear" (see below). He will have to leave SBL on Monday afternoon and has asked that the session not be scheduled later than Monday morning. Hope all is well! Best, David The Gift of Fear Post-Copernican man peers into the heavens and sees grandeur and mystery but no throne of God. Neither does he recognize any purification of ta epourania. Consequently he does not understand the shaking of either earth or heaven. There is no fear of God before his eyes. He lacks the gift of fear, which (as Thomas says) exists preeminently in Christ. The kind of fear he knows is rather the kind that leads to despair, that belongs to what Kierkegaard called the sickness unto death. The lack of the former and the presence of the latter are transforming western law and culture in its own pursuit of a better country. Hebrews, then, is a tract for our times. The paper explores the theme of godly fear that is fundamental to its ethos and ethics, as counterpoint to the confidence motif, the two being mediated by the document’s ascension theology.

D. Stephen Long, Marquette University
The Political Theology of the Priest-King in Hebrews (30 min)

The Political Theology of the Priest-King in Hebrews
This essay examines the political and theological significance of two important images to which Hebrews consistently returns. First is Christ's "session;" he is seated at the right hand of God — he is enthroned as king. Second is his priesthood; he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. These two images come together to form a "political theology" that offers the ethical imperative to "hold fast" and "endure." The juxtaposition of these two images in the "priest-king" renders intelligible the thirteen admonitions found in the closing chapter of Hebrews. For interspersed among these thirteen admonitions is a reminder of what the letter has accomplished — presenting the Priest-King who himself remains constant and sets forth an altar in a city that will be, like him, lasting. The political and ethical significance of Hebrews' presentation will be compared and contrasted to other ancient possibilities in order to bring its unique import into view.

Discussion (25 min) 

Sacrifice, Cult, and Atonement
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 403 (Level 4) - HiltonTheme: Sacrificial Themes in Biblical Narrative

Shawn J. Wilhite, Southern Seminary
Atonement in the Heavenly Holy of Holies: Early Reception of Atonement in Origen of Alexandria’s Reading of Hebrews (25 min)

Atonement in the Heavenly Holy of Holies: Early Reception of Atonement in Origen of Alexandria’s Reading of Hebrews
David Moffitt’s 2011 monograph, Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, has certainly stirred Hebrews scholarship. In 2013, I. Howard Marshall levels a plethora of critiques against Moffitt’s monograph, including why no one else in the early church resembles such position. The following seeks to respond to such criticism via History of Interpretation of Hebrews by asking two questions of Origen of Alexandria’s literature. (1) According to Origen’s reading of the Epistle of Hebrews, where is the locale of atonement? and (2) According to Origen, when does Jesus acquire the position of high priest. These research questions, when asked of Origen, prove to be both continuous and discontinuous with portions of Moffitt’s thesis. For Origen, especially his reading of Heb 4:14 and 9:23–26, (1) atonement is accomplished in the Holy of Holies, which is heaven, and (2) Jesus has always been high priest, even in his pre-incarnation and incarnation position. 

Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies; Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
Joint Session With: Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies, Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: International A (International Level) - MarriottTheme: Papyrology and Digital Humanities

Claire Clivaz, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
Does Any Fragment Count? Considering the Digital Culture from a Papyrological Point of View (30 min)

Does Any Fragment Count? Considering the Digital Culture from a Papyrological Point of View
Every intellectual adventure has a starting point. Digital Humanities are today well anchoraged in the Swiss academic landscape, but when I started to focus my attention on this growing research trend and involved an interdisciplinary team of colleagues in this adventure, I started from papyrological evidences and research. Six years later, I would like in this paper come back to this apparently surprising starting point. In a masterful small essay, the French writer Pascal Quignard has drawn the praise and the complexity of the “fragment”, inspired by the work of La Bruyère (Une gêne technique à l’égard des fragments, 1986). In our emerging digital culture, the “fragment” sounds again to be a quite usual form of textuality, a form so well known in papyrology. Indeed, by its so often fragmentary aspect, a papyrus is an object proper to disrupt and deconstruct the careful categories established by the Modern Age. Papyrology has always lead researchers to «visualization», beyond a textual perception of it: it has always mattered to see the papyrus, to compare its writing with another one, in order to date it. Such elements draw the general background that has lead papyrology to get the digital country before other Ancient fields, as I begun to argue it in a 2011 article. I will develop this general background and observe in which ways some DH projects are dealing with the notion and perception of the «fragment», such as SAWS for example. Finally, I will considering the specific case of the small P126 (PSI 1497). It challenges our common modern and pre-digital notion of the “text” of the Epistle according to the Hebrews (see Clivaz 2010): to “take the digital risk” of the fragment impacts what we know about and read in Hebrews. 

International Syriac Language Project
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 404 (Level 4) - HiltonTheme: Lexicography: Selected Issues and Improved Tools (1)

Michael Theophilos, Australian Catholic University
The Numismatic Background of "charakter" in Heb 1:3 (30 min)

The Numismatic Background of "charakter" in Heb 1:3
This paper explores the implications of numismatic material for contributions to Greek lexicography, particularly as it pertains to linguistic features of the post-classical period. The working aim of this paper is to offer a demonstration and methodological enquiry into employing dated and geographically legitimate comparative numismatic data to refine, illuminate and clarify the relevant semantic domains of New Testament vocabulary. Our discussion will involve analysis of the numismatic background of charakter in Hebrews 1:3. Charakter has been variously translated in the English versions with significant variation (“express image” [KJV, NKJV, AV, JUB]; “exact imprint” [ESV, NRSV]; “very image” [ASV]; “representation” [NET, LEB]; “exact representation” [NIV, NASB]; “exact likeness” [GW, GNT, ISV]; expression” [DARBY]; “exact expression” [HCSB]; “flawless; expression” [PHILLIPS]; “very expression” [CJB]; “very stamp” [RSV]; “engraved form” [GNV]; “impress” [YLT]). Attention to the numismatic record significantly enhances and refines the definition of the relevant semantic domains, especially in regard to diachronic developments. 

Christian Apocrypha
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 313 (Level 3) - HiltonTheme: "Lived Contexts" of Christian Apocrypha

Alexander Kocar, Princeton University
Saints, Sinners, and Apostates: Moral, Salvific, and Anthropological Difference in the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocryphon of John (25 min)

Saints, Sinners, and Apostates: Moral, Salvific, and Anthropological Difference in the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocryphon of John
What happens when the saved sin again? In this paper, I will consider and compare two early Christian texts, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocryphon of John, that both deploy salvific difference to account for the social and theoretical problems posed by sin after baptism. Both Hermas (Sim 8) and the Apocryphon (NHC II, 9; 27) use spatial metaphors representing higher and lower levels of salvation to differentiate between apostates and ordinary sinners; in so doing, these texts subdivide post-baptismal sinners into distinct and usable categories of persons. For both Hermas and the Apocryphon then, this salvific hierarchy enables greater flexibility for readmitting sinful community members while still maintaining important social and ethical boundaries. In the course of this paper, I will contextualize these two texts in light of competing views on repentance and apostasy, e.g., in the Letter to the Hebrews and the writings Ignatius. And finally, I will elucidate how both Hermas and the Apocryphon employ anthropological justifications to explain different types of conduct; in particular, I will examine how both Hermas and the Apocryphon construct persons – in particular sinful persons – in order to account for the possibility of their repentance but also the danger of their apostasy. 

Hebrews; Wisdom and Apocalypticism
Joint Session With: Hebrews, Wisdom and Apocalypticism
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Baker (Atlanta Conference Level) - HyattTheme: Time and Space in Hebrews: Sapiential and Apocalyptic Perspectives
Matthew Goff, Florida State University, Presiding (5 min)

Jared C. Calaway, Illinois College
Spatiotemporality in Hebrews, 4 Ezra, and Revelation (25 min)

Spatiotemporality in Hebrews, 4 Ezra, and Revelation
In general, scholars have divided themselves among those who study space and those who study time, treating them as discrete, yet complementary categories. This is true in the academe broadly, in biblical studies, and in the study of Hebrews specifically. Concerning Hebrews, scholars focusing on the spatial cosmology tend to prefer a Platonic or Philonic reading, while those with a temporal perspective prefer a more apocalyptic/eschatological stance. More recently, however, a handful of scholars have begun to note the sophisticated spatiotemporal interactions that occur throughout Hebrews. Applying insights by critical theorists such as Henri Lefebvre and M.M. Bakhtin among others, this paper will explore some of the sophisticated relationships of space and time that extend throughout Hebrews with special attention to traditions of rest/land, tabernacle, and the camp, and how these spatial categories map in complex ways onto temporal categories of Sabbath, present, and future ages. This paper will provide a differential reading of the spatiotemporality of Hebrews by drawing in roughly contemporary apocalyptic works, particularly 4 Ezra and Revelation, which also have strong interests in the relationship between past, present, and future ages and the spatial categories of land/rest and temple/tabernacle, but map these relationships in different ways. This analysis, therefore, will take some initial steps to show what distinctive contribution Hebrews gives, while also seeing how it participates in spatiotemporal speculation of its own historical time and place.

Catherine Playoust, University of Divinity
The Location of the Cloud of Witnesses: Complexities of Time and Space in Hebrews (25 min)

The Location of the Cloud of Witnesses: Complexities of Time and Space in Hebrews
The hearers of Hebrews are told in Heb 12:1 that as they run toward their heavenly goal they are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, faithful heroes of past generations who are like onlookers cheering on the contestants from the sides of the racetrack. While reassuring for the runners, this is disconcerting from the perspective of the witnesses, who are neither peacefully asleep in the dust until the general resurrection nor settled safely in heaven. Their situation is no mere artefact of the phrasing, for the text states just beforehand that these people have not received what was promised to them, since their perfection will not take place apart from that of the hearers. Indeed, the awkward position in which the witnesses find themselves points to certain challenges of time and space that pervade the text. For its hearers, Hebrews emphasises the continuity from this life to the heavenly life: with souls anchored by the hope entering inside the veil, they are to hold fast, to fix their eyes on Jesus, who is the forerunner in their journey, and to draw near to the throne. Heb 12:22-24 even gives the impression that they have reached the heavenly Jerusalem already, in a festal gathering that encompasses the hearers collectively as well as the now-perfected righteous. Admittedly, much of the text warns about the danger of losing this connection through falling away in sin, but the idea that the individual's death and resurrection might come between now and heavenly entry is barely present, despite occasional brief references to the resurrection of the dead and other future-eschatological events. The case of Jesus is no less puzzling: the link from his death to his exalted entry into the Holy of Holies is so tight that were it not for Heb 13:20, right at the end of the text, one might wonder how the slain victim had managed to carry his own blood inside to offer it sacrificially as high priest. Even in that verse, the language employed is that of elevation from the dead rather than granting of new life. Pre-Christian Jewish apocalyptic texts already manifested a range of beliefs about afterlife, heaven and resurrection, but the inclusion of Jesus-traditions complicated the story further, as will be shown through a brief study of how some other early Christian texts (1 Clement, Ascension of Isaiah, and Revelation) handled these ideas; like Hebrews, each of these texts would leave some questions unresolved.

Kevin B. McCruden, Gonzaga University
Heavenly Realities and Habits of the Heart: Apocalyptic and the Cultivation of Common Life in the Epistle to the Hebrews (25 min)

Heavenly Realities and Habits of the Heart: Apocalyptic and the Cultivation of Common Life in the Epistle to the Hebrews
Among the diverse conceptual backgrounds informing the Epistle to the Hebrews are clear apocalyptic elements and traditions recognizable from other Second Temple Jewish texts as well as texts from the New Testament. The influence of Jewish apocalyptic traditions is perhaps most visible in the rich cosmology of Hebrews, in particular its portrayal of the heavenly session of the Son beside the throne of God in an eternal sanctuary. While the presence of apocalyptic elements in Hebrews seems clear, there is less certainty over the question concerning how apocalyptic imagery and concepts function in Hebrews. Does the author employ apocalyptic imagery primarily in the service of a distinctive Christology that pictures Jesus as an eternal high priest who offers himself in the heavenly regions? Or is it possible that apocalyptic also functions in Hebrews to shape what I would like to call the “habits of the heart” or communal character of the unidentified auditors of the sermon? In this paper I will contend 1) that Hebrews’ use of apocalyptic imagery functions, on the one hand, to reflect imaginatively on the theological claim that Jesus shares fully in the divine life of God and 2) that the author also employs apocalyptic elements for the purpose of inviting the community behind this sermon to embody a transformed common life. Clear textual hints that an invitation to renewed existence is a concern for the author are visible, for example, in the frequent references to the cleansed conscience of the believer, the sanctification of the believer, as well as the implicit summons to the community to emulate the faithfulness of Jesus in response to the pressure of societal scorn and derision. This paper will demonstrate, moreover, that when we view the use of apocalyptic elements in Hebrews from the vantage point of its implicit and explicit moral challenge to the community we discern potential points of contact between Hebrews and other New Testament texts that employ apocalyptic imagery for similar pastoral purposes.

Madison N. Pierce, Durham University
The Wilderness Space in Hebrews and Wisdom of Solomon (25 min)

The Wilderness Space in Hebrews and Wisdom of Solomon
While the Exodus itself is a positive event in the life of Israel, the wilderness evokes a mixed response. It is the space where God miraculously provided for his people, as well as the space where they rebelled and ultimately perished. Depictions of these episodes represent this tension also. For example, Hebrews 3.7–4.11 presents the wilderness as a space of testing, where the community proves whether it can persevere, but the latter half of Wisdom of Solomon (most of 10.15–19.22) depicts this space as one where God graciously provided for the “righteous” Israelites and punished their wicked enemies. The different accounts thus present a tension between human response and divine action. To gain insight into Hebrews’ choice to emphasize the human element in the wilderness, rather than the divine, this paper will bring these texts into conversation and explore their constructions of the wilderness space. I will first summarize the accounts of Massah and Meribah in Wisdom of Solomon, then analyze the authors’ uses of the tradition, and finally suggest their underlying motivation for their contrasting emphases.

Eric F. Mason, Judson University (Elgin, Illinois)
Hebrews 1 as Apocalyptic Revelation (25 min)

Hebrews 1 as Apocalyptic Revelation
Scholars of Hebrews have long discussed the presence of elements of Jewish apocalyptic thought in the book, especially when considering the author’s cosmological, messianic, and eschatological ideas. Likewise, interpreters frequently comment on the way the author uses quotations of Scripture in Hebrews 1 compared to his use of quotations elsewhere in the text. The author presents the words of Scripture in Hebrews 1 as the direct words of God, now recontextualized to speak instead of the Son. Recent suggestions for understanding this phenomenon include appeals to ancient rhetorical methods like prosopopoeia or the possibility that the materials here are rooted in the author’s mystical experiences. Without fully rejecting the former or heartily embracing the latter, I suggest instead the possibility that the author presents these particular words of God as a form of apocalyptic revelation. Both the setting of this divine speech and the themes addressed are consistent with that of apocalyptic revelation, even if the means by which the material is presented is modified to fit the author’s purposes in the book of Hebrews itself.

Discussion (20 min)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hebrews at the Annual ETS Meeting

Here are the papers on Hebrews that will be given at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society:

Tuesday, November 17

8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Crystal Ballroom A
Marriage and the Family:

Family and Discipleship

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Barry Joslin
(Boyce College)
Hebrews for the Family: How the Letter to the Hebrews Informs the Task of Evangelizing and Discipling the Family

8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Room - 305
New Testament:
Grammatical and Lexical Studies
11:00 AM—11:40 AM
Todd R. Chipman
(Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Greek Perfect in Hebrews: Investigating the use of the Perfect Tense form in the Epistle to the

2:00 PM-5:10 PM
Crystal Ballroom B
General Epistles:
Images/Imagery in the General Epistles

2:00 PM—2:40 PM
Michael McKay
(Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
"If They will enter into my rest": The Impact of the Greek Translation of Psalm 95 for Auctor's Argument in Hebrews 3 and 4

Wednesday, November 18
8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Crystal Ballroom B
Letter to the Hebrews
George H. Guthrie
(Union University)

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Benjamin Ribbens
(Trinity Christian College)
The Significance of Post-Reformation, Dutch Reformed Debates for Contemporary Atonement Debates in Hebrews

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
R. B. Jamieson
(University of Cambridge)
Hebrews 9:23 and the Heavenly Sanctuary: Purification, Inauguration, Both, or Neither?

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Craig Allen Hill
(Biola University)
The Imagery of Inheritance in Hebrews

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
David K. Bryan
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
The Heavenly King-Priest: Exploring an Undervalued Aspect of Hebrews’ Christology

3:00 PM-6:10 PM
Room - 209
New Testament General Epistles

3:50 PM—4:30 PM
Todd R. Chipman
(Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Holy Words, Holy War and Hebrews: Investigating Christ’s Statements of Scripture in Hebrews 2:12-13 and 10:5-9 in Light of Second Temple Holy War Tradition

3:00 PM-6:10 PM
Room - 210
New Testament
Moderator: Bruce Compton
(Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary)

3:00 PM—3:40 PM
Joshua Caleb Hutchens
(The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Christian Worship in Hebrews 12:28 as Ethical and Exclusive

3:50 PM—4:30 PM
Aubrey M. Sequeira
(The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Echoes of Scripture in the Letter to the Hebrewsand the Author's "Interpretive Perspective"

4:40 PM—5:20 PM
Ched Spellman
(Cedarville University)
The Drama of Discipline: An Intertextual Profile of Paideia in Heb 12

Thursday, November 19

1:00 PM-4:10 PM
Room - 211
Analytic Theology:
Sacred Theology

1:00 PM—1:40 PM
Amy Peeler
(Wheaton College)
“Behind the Veil”: The Rights of Priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews

1:00 PM-4:10 PM
Room - 402
Letter to the Hebrews:
Hebrews and the Atonement
Jon C. Laansma
(Wheaton College)

1:00 PM—1:40 PM
Daniel J. Treier
(Wheaton Graduate School)
Atonement and Christology in Hebrews

1:50 PM—2:30 PM
Matthew Levering*
(Mundelein Seminary)
Death, Sacrifice, and Blood in Hebrews

2:40 PM—3:20 PM
Mark Gignilliat
(Beeson Divinity School)
The Atonement in Hebrews: Plight and Solution

3:30 PM—4:10 PM
Cynthia Long Westfall
(McMaster Divinity College)
Space and the Atonement in Hebrews

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hebrews Highlights October 2015

I am a tad late getting this out, but I have been busy. Blog posts on Hebrews have been sparse in the past several months. There are only two posts for the month of October:

Joel Watts asks: Is Hebrews 4:12–16 Christological?

Ken Schenck ponders: Can we "lose" our salvation?

Friday, September 25, 2015

New Articles on Hebrews

Here are some recent articles on Hebrews:

(1) Steyn, Gert Jacobus. “Moses as ΘΕΡΑΠΩΝ in Heb 3:5–6: Portrait of a Cultic Prophet-Priest in Egypt?” Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 40.2 (2014): 113–25.

-Steyn's article is available on, so you have to have an account to access it.

(2) Kibbe, Michael. “Requesting and Rejecting: Παραιτέομαι in Heb 12,18–29.” Biblica 96.2 (2015): 282–86.


"This short note examines the three occurrences of παραιτέομαι in Heb 12,18-29 and suggests that the repeated use of the word demonstrates the author’s evaluation of Israel’s “request” for distance from God at Sinai as a rejection of his word to them. While some have distinguished between the meaning (and referent) of παραιτέομαι in 12,19 and 12,25, this distinction is unsustainable in light of the use of παραιτέομαι outside of Hebrews and the flow of thought in Heb 12,18-29."

-This article is not yet available on the Biblica webpage but should be soon.

(3) Stökl, Daniel. “Yom Kippur in the Apocalyptic Imaginaire and the Roots of Jesus’ HighPriesthood: Yom Kippur in Zechariah 3, 1 Enoch 10, 11QMelkizedeq, Hebrews and the Apocalypse of Abraham 13.” Pages 349–66 in Transformations of the Inner Self in Ancient Religions. Edited by Jan Assmann and Guy G. Stroumsa. Studies in the History of Religions 83. Leiden: Brill, 1999.

-While not a new article, it has now been made available on

(4) McCruden, Kevin B. “The Eloquent Blood of Jesus: The Neglected Theme of the Fidelity of Jesus in Hebrews.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 75 (2013): 504–20.

-Another article that has recently been made available on

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Book on Hebrews

ISD Publishers is announcing the publication of the forthcoming book on Hebrews:

The Epistle to the Hebrews: Writing at the Borders. Edited by R. Burnet, D. Luciani and G. Van Oyen.

"This volume contains the exegetical contributions of a conference held in Louvain-la-Neuve in 2014. The participants explored the concepts of border, boundary, and frontier related to Hebrews, not only in the letter itself, but also in its reception. The book first focuses on the definition of Hebrews as a text at the confluence of various cultural worlds: elaborated in the Diaspora, can the letter/sermon be characterized as a middle course between a so-called 'Jewish world' and a so-called 'pagan world'? Within the Jewish cultural world, did it really hold a marginal position? Is its nuanced attitude toward the priesthood and the Temple the first step outside Judaism, as it has long been claimed?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Other New Books on Hebrews

Some other recent publications on Hebrews include:

Compton, Jared. Psalm 110 and the Logic of Hebrews (Bloomsbury T & T Clark).

Vanhoye, Albert. The Letter to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Paulist Press).

McWilliams, David B. Hebrews. Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament (Tolle Lege Press).

As usual, the New and Noteworthy page has been updated. 

New Book on Hebrews

I notice that a new noteworthy book on Hebrews has just come out:

Ole Jakob Filtvedt. The Identity of God's People and the Paradox of Hebrews. Mohr Siebeck.


"Does the letter to the Hebrews confirm traditional notions of Jewish identity, does it articulate a fresh notion of Christian identity, or is neither of these alternatives adequate? Taking the motif of the "people of God" in Hebrews as his starting point, Ole Jakob Filtvedt explores these questions, and argues that the answer must be related to a paradoxical tension between newness and continuity in Hebrews. Prior attempts to read Hebrews within a supersessionist paradigm are critiqued, but so are more recent interpretations that see Hebrews as confirming a "radical new perspective" on Christian origins."