Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hebrews Summary by Craig Keener

Craig Keener offers a brief video summary of Hebrews, with a particular emphasis on chapter 11.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

New Article on Hebrews 12

Cockerill, Gareth Lee. “Hebrews 12:18–24: Apocalyptic Typlogy or Platonic Dualism?” Tyndale Bulletin 69.2. (2018): 225–40.

"Those who have approached Hebrews either from the point of view of apocalyptic eschatology or from the perspective of neoplatonism have often misinterpreted the two 'mountains' in Hebrews 12:18-24. The first understand these 'mountains' as representing the Old and New Covenants; the second, the earthly and heavenly worlds. This paper argues that the two 'mountains' represent two present possibilities. The first is the present state and future destiny of the disobedient who are excluded from fellowship with God; the second, the present state and future destiny of the faithful who enter into that fellowship.         

This interpretation is substantiated by a careful examination of the text and confirmed by the way this interpretation fits with Hebrews' rhetorical strategy and use of the Old Testament. Crucial to the argument is the total lack of continuity between the two mountains that would be essential to substantiate either of the traditional interpretations."

Monday, October 22, 2018

Hebrews at the Annual SBL Meeting

Society of Biblical Literature
2018 Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17–20, 2018

SBL Hebrews Section

1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Convention Center (CC) – 106 (Street Level)
Theme: Key Issues in Commenting on Hebrews
Amy Peeler, Wheaton College (Illinois), Presiding

Sigurd Grindheim, Fjellhaug Internasjonale Høgskole
Hermeneutical Presuppositions and Their Implications Regarding the Audience of Hebrews (30 min)
"The author of Hebrews boldly demonstrates a Christological reading of Israel’s Scriptures. For example, he reads Psalm 40:7-9 as if Christ is the speaking subject (Heb 10:5-7). The way the argument unfolds, it appears that the audience is expected to share this understanding of Scripture, as there is no attempt to justify it. In this paper, I argue that this observation has implications for our identification of the audience of Hebrews. Not only have they come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah; they have also joined a community with its own group identity. It is therefore inadequate to see the author as weighing in on an intra-Jewish debate. He is rather presupposing an audience that has already separated itself, a community that reads the Scriptures together and shares a common understanding of these Scriptures, an understanding that sets them apart from other Jews."

David Moffitt, University of St. Andrews
Hebrews and Cosmology (30 min)
"One of the main questions that must be addressed when interpreting Hebrews concerns the most plausible cosmological assumptions that underlie the author's arguments. I explore the cosmology implicit in Hebrews and highlight some central interpretive issues impacted by those assumptions. I focus particularly on how the author's presumed cosmological assumptions impact on his engagement with the Jewish cult."

Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University
Yet His Shadow Still Looms: Citations from the “Obsolete Covenant” in the Epistle to the Hebrews (30 min)
"Hebrews both insists that the old covenant is obsolete (8.13) and requires that same covenant to legitimate its typological appropriations; the approximately 35 direct citations and another 50 allusions structure the document. Further, Hebrews taps the old covenant for its list of worthies, since other than Jesus, it locates no post-biblical moral exemplars or, as with Esau, negative examples. Nor, finally, does Hebrews seek to jettison this ancient material, since it recognizes its Spirit-infused origin (cf. 3.7; 10.15). How then is the old covenant obsolete? Using as test cases Hebrews’ appeals to Melchizedek and to Israel’s sacrificial system, this paper argues that Hebrews both incorporates or absorbs the old covenant and, in this repackaging or digesting, renders obsolete only its external markers, not the essence."

Harold Attridge, Yale University, Respondent (15 min)
Alan Mitchell, Georgetown University, Respondent (15 min)
Eric Mason, Judson University (Elgin, Illinois), Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (15 min)

SBL Rhetoric and the New Testament Section

1:00 PM–3:30 PM
Convention Center (CC) – 607 (Street Level)
Theme: Inference, Innuendo, and Other Innovations

Chee-Chiew Lee, Singapore Bible College
The Rhetoric of Empathy in Hebrews (20 min)
"Scholars have long noted that the author of Hebrews frequently attempts to arouse emotions (such as fear, confidence, shame, honor) in his audience in order to steer them towards faithfulness to God. Although empathy is a recurring motif in Hebrews, there is yet a more systematic and comprehensive explication on how the author uses empathy as a form of pathos to achieve his rhetorical goals. This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach by drawing insights from modern social psychology to identify descriptions of empathy in the relevant ancient literature and to enhance our understanding of the rhetorical goal and effects of arousing empathy. We will first examine how emotions comparable to empathy are used in Greco-Roman and Jewish rhetoric contemporaneous to Hebrews, so that we may establish whether empathy is indeed a form of pathos known during that era and compare them with the author’s use of empathy. Thereafter, we will examine the passages in Hebrews that: (1) describe the empathy of Jesus, Moses, and the audience; and (2) seek to arouse the audience’s empathy, in order to understand how the author uses empathy for his rhetorical purposes. This paper demonstrates that, in line with the use of pathos in ancient rhetorical practices and the understanding of the effects of empathy in modern social psychology, the author of Hebrews arouses the affective empathy of his audience as a catalyst to induce them to help fellow believers who are suffering due to their faith in Christ. Also, Jesus and Moses are not only cited as exemplars of empathy for emulation, but Jesus’ ability to empathize is an important motivation for believers to approach him for help. These rhetorical effects are not only key to maintaining the individual’s faithfulness to God, but also to create community support for maintaining each other’s faithfulness to God in the face of pressures and opposition from the outsiders." 

Institute for Biblical Research
4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Silverton Ballroom 3 (Second Level) - Embassy Suites Downtown (ES)
Theme: Scripture and Church Seminar

Amy Peeler, Wheaton College (Illinois)
Church of Worshipers of the Present-and-Coming King: The Time and Place of Worship in the  Epistle to the Hebrews (25 min)

SBL Islands, Islanders, and Scriptures Section

4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Convention Center (CC) – 302 (Street Level)
Theme: Movement and Dispersion

Althea Spencer Miller, Drew University
The City that Does Not End: On Migration and Immutability in Hebrews (25min)
"In Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is tantalizingly described as being the same in the past, the present, and the future – a trans-temporal existent. Perceived in ontological terms such a claim can be interpreted as representative of a high Christology of Jesus’ divinity. This would be appropriate for Hebrews as the treatise avers Christ’s eternal existence from creation. Yet there are other insinuations throughout the treatise that interplay issues of unbounded temporalities with an existential nomadic consciousness and a multi-faceted Jesus. Jesus morphs as priest, God, and human, assonant with subtle temporal switches dispersed throughout the treatise. A theological chart and an atemporal chronology are borne in Hebrews by theological tropes of Jewish histories and temporal switches. There is an intensification of those switches in chapters 11 and 12 with implications for the averral of Jesus’ trans-temporal immutability. Arguably, Jesus’ trans-temporal constancy can be re-defined by those switches. It would be simple to regard those switches as simple contradictions or confusions in the author’s thought world. This paper argues, to the contrary, that Jesus’ trans-temporality is about complexities of time warps that are mediated in a conceptual frame of a time-bending ancestry conveyed through historical tropes and the litany of way markers in chapters 11 and 12. Ancestry is therefore another conceptual frame for thinking about the work of the past in Hebrews. Time-bending ancestry functions to help ground the communities addressed by Hebrews. It also has implications for understanding Jesus’ immutability. But another concept is the treatise’s sense that this world is a temporary experience. There is a futuristic impulse that calls toward a “heavenly country” from a history of being strangers in an alien land. I prioritize this migrant subjectivity as a point of contact with postcolonial migratory experiences of instability and strategies of relocation and adaptation. These dynamics elucidate, not Jesus’ divine ontological immutability, but the importance of his trans-temporal function in generating cohesiveness and reassurance for a community caught in the crosswinds of migratory temporariness and the heritage of a changing past. In such a case, Jesus’ immutability is less about immutability but points to the migrant ancestral oriented subjectivity of the author’s thought world and methods of community definition and guidance."

S18 -124
SBL Ethiopic Bible and Literature Section

9:00 AM–12:00 PM
Hyatt Regency (HR) – Mineral Hall C (Third Level)
Theme: Ethiopian Interpretation of Biblical Texts

Dominique Rideout, Abilene Christian University
The Ethiopic Version of Hebrews: A New Witness and Its Value for Text Criticism (20 min)
"The discovery of the oldest Ge'ez manuscript of the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews), Sinai New Finds Ethiopic 2, gives us a second valuable witness to the earliest attested text of the book of Hebrews. In his critical edition of the Ethiopic version of Hebrews, Tedros Abraha presents a diplomatic text of the 14th century Ambrosian manuscript. With the addition of the Sinai manuscript to this critical edition, we can more easily reconstruct the earliest Ethiopic text. In addition to its place as a valuable witness to the Ethiopic, the Sinai manuscript also provides insight to the relationship between the Ethiopic and Greek texts. As a result, for example, Hoskier’s work proclaiming a close correlation between the Ethiopic tradition and p46 no longer stands. This paper will survey the significance of the Sinai manuscript for the study of Hebrews in Ethiopic. First, it will analyze selected variations between the Sinai and Ambrosian manuscripts that are significant for the construction of the earliest text. In this section, it will identify places where the Sinai manuscript preserves an earlier tradition as well as those where comparison between the two manuscripts provides a window into an earlier reading not preserved by either. Second, it will evaluate the relationship of this earliest text to the Greek witnesses. Here, it will compare the earliest Greek texts with the earliest Ethiopic text to determine where a relationship between the two sets of witnesses can be found."

P18 -129
Institute for Biblical Research

9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Sheraton Downtown (SD) – Director’s Row I (Plaza Building–Lobby Level)
Theme: Scripture and Theology: Perspectives from the Majority World, Part 1

Leonard Wee, Trinity Theological College-Singapore
The Abrahamic Narratives and Their Interpretive Background in Hebrews 11:8-19 (17 min)
"Many studies of the use of the Old Testament in the Letter to the Hebrews analysed the Writer’s interpretation of the OT on the basis of the scriptural texts themselves, but few have articulated exactly how the traditional interpretation of these texts would have played a significant role in the Writer’s use of Scripture. This paper proposes that the traditional interpretation of these texts serves as the framework for the Writer’s use of the OT narratives, and that certain departure from the framework at the micro-level can be explained by the rhetorical purpose of the Writer."

S19 -115
SBL Hebrews Section

9:00 AM–11:30 AM
Convention Center (CC) – Mile High Ballroom 4D (Lower Level)
Theme: Interpretation of Hebrews
David Moffitt, University of St. Andrews, Presiding

Scott R. Moore, Regis University
Functions of the Prophets and Writings in Hebrews (30 min)
"One of the great distinctives of the book of Hebrews is the manner in which the Jewish Scriptures are woven in and through its arguments from beginning to end. Prior work concerning Hebrews’ use of scripture has often considered the author’s sources, citation markers, selection of texts that involve direct speech and exegetical technique within the broader context of ancient Judaism, among other topics. This paper examines the various functions of texts from the Prophets and Writings in Hebrews with particular attention to the idea that, in the context of ancient Jewish hermeneutics, the Prophets and Writings were often viewed as texts that interpret or elucidate the Pentateuch. In an effort to create a manageable set of categories with interpretive value from among the dozens of citations in Hebrews (not to mention countless allusions), seven functions of texts from the Prophets and Writings are identified and described. The seven functions are: (1) To fill gaps in the Pentateuch and (2) present gaps to be filled; (3) to make theological connections to Pentateuchal paradigms; (4) to reinterpret or (5) destabilize pentateuchal paradigms; (6) to draw parenetic lessons from Pentateuchal narratives and (7) to offer hope to the audience. Among the citations or allusions referenced are Pss 8, 95, 110; Jer 31:31-34 and Hag 2:6. It becomes apparent that most of these uses relate directly to the Pentateuch in some way, although some of them reinforce traditional interpretations, while others alter or even subvert them. The hope is that these categories will refresh and facilitate dialogue around the interpretation of Hebrews’ use of particular texts."

Katrina Schaafsma, Duke University Divinity School
A Paragon of Faith? The Use of Abraham in Hebrews (30 min)
"This paper considers the manner and rhetorical ends of the portrayal of Abraham in Hebrews. The investigation emerges from two observations regarding how the work’s depiction contrasts with the casting of Abraham in Pauline literature and in examples of rewritten bible. For the New Testament writers, Genesis 15:6 is a natural place to turn when considering Abraham’s faith: “He trusted the LORD, and he reckoned (λογίζομαι/חשׁב) it to him as righteousness.” However, the grammar of the phrase is ambiguous in both Hebrew MT and Greek LXX; it is unclear precisely who is reckoning on whom. Paul is unequivocal when he deploys λογίζομαι in both Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6 in pursuit of his argument that, since God reckoned Abraham righteous because of faith, God will also reckon future believers righteous on the basis of faith. Yet when Hebrews 11:19 draws on the same verb, it exploits the grammatical ambiguity in the opposite direction. Here Abraham, not God, does the reckoning. Abraham considers God and comes to the conclusion that God is reliable (as Sarah similarly concludes, v. 11). In a chapter that is often interpreted as an exhortation to pursue faithfulness like Abraham’s, Hebrews counterintuitively places the accent on the trustworthiness of God. Similarly, while it may seem obvious that Hebrews depicts Abraham as a paragon of faith, his eulogization in Hebrews appears rather thin when compared with his portrayal in so-called rewritten bible. Philo and Josephus, for example, develop and enhance Genesis material to present Abraham as a model of virtue. But if Abraham is meant to function similarly in Hebrews, the homilist is most unresourceful, missing key opportunities to lift up Abraham’s virtue and consistently sidelining this lead character in his own stories. Instead of recounting Genesis 22 in heightened, agonizing detail, Hebrews 6:13-20 mobilizes an account others treat as Abraham’s crowning moment to make a point that is not even about him. The eclipsing of Abraham in his own story is even starker in Hebrews 7:1-10, where the minor character Melchizedek becomes the major focus instead of Abraham (the true hero of the story, according to the renderings of Genesis 14, Philo, and Josephus). Hebrews resists the tendency, prominent in other canonical and extra-canonical portrayals, to cast Abraham as a paragon of faith. Instead, it depicts Abraham primarily as the paradigmatic recipient of God’s promises, a designation that the audience of Hebrews now shares. With this established, I show how the Abraham narratives are used to shape realistic expectations regarding the lives of those who, like Abraham, receive the promises. I conclude with the homily’s invitation for its audience to ‘consider’ something greater than the reliability of any model of human faith: the reliability of the God who made the promises."

Matthew Easter, Missouri Baptist University
“Unholy Like Esau”: Exploring Esau’s Sexual Immorality as a Community-Abandoning Act (30 min)
"The author of Hebrews warns that no “root of bitterness” spring up, causing trouble, defiling many (Heb 12:15). “Sexually immoral” Esau serves as a negative example (12:16-17). It is not immediately clear how Esau is “sexually immoral,” but I argue this sexual immorality is Esau’s abandoning the community of faith. The essay proceeds in three stages. First, I address the nature of Esau’s sexual immorality, wherein I connect his sexual immorality to his marriage outside of the community. The author of Hebrews stands in his Hellenistic Jewish tradition by connecting Esau’s sexual immorality to his marriage to foreign women (cf. Jubilees 25). However, Esau’s exogamous marriage is not, in itself, the concern of the author of Hebrews. Instead, Esau’s mixed marriage sowed seeds of bitterness in the family, and led ultimately to Esau’s abandoning the family. The author of Hebrews quotes Deut 29, which warns any “root growing up with gall and bitterness” (29:18) will be “singled out for evil from all the sons of Israel,” and “God will not want to pardon him” (29:20). Esau’s Hittite wives, however, “brought grief” (Gen 26:35) and “embittered” (Jub. 25:1) Isaac and Rebecca. As the author of Hebrews expected, the “root of bitterness” introduced by sexually immoral Esau “defiled many” (Heb 12:15). After failing to please his father by marrying within the family (Gen 28:6-8), Esau abandons the family. Second, I show how this understanding of sexual immorality as a community-abandoning act extends also to another key narrative for Hebrews: the Israelite wilderness generation’s failure to enter the Promised Land (“the rest” in Hebrews). Num 14 (an important passage for Hebrews) depicts the wilderness generation’s failure to enter the Promised Land as a “fornication” (14:33) resulting in loss of “inheritance” (14:24, 31). Similarly, by selling his birthright, sexually immoral Esau forfeited his inheritance. Alternatively, the author of Hebrews hopes his hearers will receive an inheritance (1:14; 6:12; 9:15) and be numbered among the “assembly of the firstborn” (12:23). Esau’s sin, therefore, amounts to abandoning the people of God for fleeting pleasure (“a single meal,” 12:16). Just as the wilderness generation failed to persevere in faith and so enter the “rest” together, so also Esau failed to persevere in faith with the people of God. Finally, I offer some thoughts about the nature of apostasy in light of these findings, where I conclude that apostasy for the author of Hebrews is abandoning the community of faith. This account of apostasy coheres with contemporary sociologists’ conclusions, who have shown conversion as an act of joining a community of faith. In short, Esau’s sexual immorality is a community-abandoning act, wherein he married outside the family and introduced bitterness into the community, thereby defiling the people of God. Like the wilderness generation, he failed to persevere with the people of God. This act resulted in being cut off from future participation in the community."

Debra Bucher, Vassar College
Hebrews as Exile Literature (30 min)
"In its construction of a new priesthood and a new sacrificial system, Hebrews makes extensive use of Jewish scripture. The Hebrews author uses the language and the sacrificial framework of Leviticus and uses Psalm 110 to assign Jesus to the priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, and at the same time use Genesis 14 to assign priority to that priesthood over that of the Levitical priesthood. And after constructing a new priesthood, and a new kind of sacrifice (once, for all, Hebrews 7:27), the argument culminates in Hebrews 8 with the use of Jeremiah 31:31-34 as the call for a new covenant. While numerous scholars have noted the heavy use of “old” sacrificial language to describe the new, they also are quick to suggest a complete break with the past. Language in Hebrews 8:13 that describes the “old” (covenant) as obsolete certainly gives scholars ample reason to make those conclusions. What happens, though, if we focus on Jeremiah 31 as the key text, not just for the obvious “new covenant” language that it provides, but also as a possible shared experience that it may represent to the author and audience of Hebrews? Jeremiah’s oracle, itself dates from a traumatic period: the start of the Babylonian Exile. More than one scholar has situated Hebrews in a context of suffering or persecution as a result of a Christ-centered belief. Other scholars, most notably Pamela Eisenbaum, have argued that Hebrews was “a desperate attempt to construct anew a religious heritage that seems to have all but disappeared” (2008) as a result of the decimation of the Jerusalem Temple and the end of the sacrificial cult (assuming, along with Eisenbaum a post-70CE date). Jews around the Mediterranean were scattered into a new exile as a result of multiple aggressions against them. Instead of religious controversy as the incentive for the author of Hebrews, it was, instead, religious survival. Interestingly, another Jewish group, the Essenes, who could be interpreted as living in a self-imposed exile, also used Jeremiah in their expressions of a “new covenant.” I maintain that the use of Jeremiah 31 helps us see Hebrews in a different light. Exile, whether it’s spiritual, geographic, or metaphorical, requires transformation of thought and practice. Interestingly, another Jewish group, the Essenes, who could be interpreted as living in a self-imposed exile, also used Jeremiah in their expressions of a “new covenant.” Using the Essenes as a comparator, Hebrews could represent another, later, Jewish approach to exile. Reading Hebrews as a form of exile literature allows us to understand the unique aspects of the text, what it uses from the past, and how modern readers may move forward in reading the supersessionism of the text in a way that does not pit one living religion over another."

Felix H. Cortez, Andrews University
“Receiving a Kingdom that Cannot Be Shaken”: Daniel 7 and the Eschatology of Hebrews (30 min)
"The 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland of the Novum Testamentum Graece as well as most major commentaries have noted significant verbal parallels between the expression "since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" in Heb 12:28 and Daniel 7:18. Nevertheless, the relationship between this passage and Dan 7 has not been explored adequately. The purpose of this paper is to explore the likelihood of an allusion to Dan 7:18 in Heb 12:28 and its possible relationship to the argument of Heb 12:18-29 and the eschatology of the letter in general. Daniel was an influential book in the New Testament (over 150 allusions) and well-known in Second Temple Literature and the Apostolic Fathers. The majority of allusions to Daniel in the NT focus on the prophecies of Dan 7, in some cases together with allusions to Hagg 2:6-7, which is also quoted in Heb 12:26-27. The paper will show that an exploration of Dan 7 as an intertextual background to Heb 12:18-29 provides helpful perspectives to understand the nature of the judgment/panegyric scene at the heavenly Mount Zion in Heb 12:22-24, the enthronement scene and the following exhortation in Heb 1:5-2:5, the Son of Man in Heb 2:6-13, and the "last days" in 1:2."

SBL Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Seminar

4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Convention Center (CC) – 710 (Street Level)
Theme: The Sublime in Religious Rhetoric (Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity Track 1: New Horizons in Sociorhetorical Interpretation)

Christopher Holmes, McAfee School of Theology
Divine Speech, Hebrews, and the Rhetoric of the Sublime (20 min)
"The treatise, On the Sublime, describes the nature and intended effects of the rhetoric of the sublime or what I have called sublime rhetoric. Sublime rhetoric is a short-hand reference to discourse that moves beyond persuasion, the topic and assumed goal of much of ancient rhetorical theory. As the author explains in the first chapter of the treatise, sublime rhetoric is characterized by its non-or super-rational effects. Couched in language drawn from religious experience, magic, and military conquest, the author says that sublime rhetoric has the capacity to lead the audience into ecstasy, to cast a spell upon them, and to assert an “irresistible power of mastery” over them (Subl. 1.4). In the eighth chapter of On the Sublime, the author identifies the five sources of sublime rhetoric, and the rest of the treatise elaborates on those sources with examples drawn from a variety of Greek authors. One of the surprising details in On the Sublime is its allusion to the creation story in the book of Genesis as an example of sublime rhetoric (Subl. 9.9). This paper takes as its point of departure the author’s reflection on this allusion and how it relates to sublime rhetoric. It considers the reasons why the author identifies this as an example of sublime rhetoric and how it relates to the intended effects of sublime rhetoric as they are described elsewhere in the treatise. With this example in mind, the paper then evaluates the theme of God’s speech as an avenue for considering sublime rhetoric in Hebrews. The paper will highlight how the references to God’s speech in Hebrews tap into what Yun Lee Too (The Idea of Ancient Literary Criticism) has called the “spatialized and moved language” of sublime rhetoric. Sublime rhetoric displaces the audience by uplifting, transporting, and re-situating them. One of the important aspects of sublime rhetoric in Hebrews is that it moves the audience out of their empirical life situation through dislocation so that they might perceive that life situation in a new way."

Hebrews at the Annual ETS Meeting

Evangelical Theological Society
70th Annual Meeting - Denver, CO
November 13 - 15, 2018
Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel,
1550 Court Place, Denver CO 80202

Tuesday, November 13

9:00 AM-12:10 PM
Holy Spirit - New Testament
General Studies

10:40 AM - 11:20 AM
S. M. Baugh
(Westminster Seminary California)
Whose Spirit? Christ’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 9:14

Wednesday, November 14

3:00 PM-6:10 PM
Inerrancy of Scripture
Inerrancy in the Life of the Church

3:50 PM - 4:30 PM
Dana M. Harris
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
'Today If You Hear My Voice': The Spirit and the Ongoing Testimony of God's Word in Hebrews

3:00 PM-6:10 PM
Letter to the Hebrews
Currents and Rapids in Hebrews' Scholarship

Jon Laansma
(Wheaton College)
3:00 PM-3:40 PM

Chee-Chiew Lee
(Singapore Bible College)
The Use of Scripture and the Rhetoric of Fear in Hebrews

3:50 PM-4:30 PM
Bryan Dyer
(Baker Academic/Calvin College)
Faith in the Face of Death: Hebrews 11 and its Rhetorical Strategy

4:40 PM-5:20 PM
Ben Ribbens
(Trinity Christian College)
"Sacrifice and Offering You Did Not Desire": Psalm 40:6‒8 in Hebrews and the Sacrifice God Desired

5:30 PM-6:10 PM
Bobby Jamieson
(Capitol Hill Baptist Church)
Something to Offer: Connecting Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews

Hebrews at the ANZABS Conference

There is one paper on Hebrews that will be delivered at the ANZABS Conference in Wesley Hall, Trinity Methodist College in Auckland, Australia:

Friday 7 December, 2018
Philip Church, Laidlaw College
“In Speaking of a New Covenant, God Declares the First Obsolete” (Heb 8:13): 
Supersessionism in the Book of Hebrews

"In the 2000 edition of his Hebrews commentary Robert Gordon claimed that Hebrews was supersessionist. In the second edition (2008) he added an eighteen page defence of that claim. Since Hebrews was written by an ethnic Jew to ethnic Jews, and since the argumentation is drawn from the Jewish Greek Scriptures, the critique of the Jewish cult is an internal critique, the seeds of which were sown in those Scriptures. The former covenant anticipated the new, and what it anticipated is now a reality. Now that the reality has come, what anticipated it has been fulfilled and is no longer necessary. This is fulfilment rather than supersession."

Friday, October 12, 2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

New Article in JBL

A new article on Hebrews has just appeared in the latest issue of JBL:

Duff, Justin Harrison. “The Blood of Goats and Calves . . . and Bulls? An Allusion to Isaiah 1:11 LXX in Hebrews 10:4. Journal of Biblical Literature 137.3 (2018): 765–83.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Creation and the Book of Hebrews

A new book has just come on my radar screen:

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."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My RBL Review of Kleinig's Commentary

My review of John Kleinig's Hebrews commentary in the Concordia Commentary series has now been published with RBL.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Melchizedek in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Forthcoming Book on John Owen and Hebrews

Another forthcoming book, due January 24, 2019:

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

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

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

Forthcoming Book on Jesus' Death and Heavenly Offering in Hebrews

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

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

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

Hebrews at the British New Testament Conference

I wish I could attend this conference:

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

Seminar Details:

Chairs: David Moffitt and Loveday Alexander

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

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

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


Session One: Issues in Interpreting Hebrews

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

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

Session Two: Hebrews, Heavenly Temple and Heavenly Sacrifice

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

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

Session Three

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

Forthcoming Book on the Atonement in Hebrews

This forthcoming book has just come to my attention:

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

HT: Cliff Kvidahl

Monday, September 3, 2018

New Dissertation on the Divine Christology in Hebrews

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hebrews Highlights August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review of Friedeman, Listen, Understand, Obey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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