Friday, July 24, 2015

Latest Acquisition

Arriving in the mail today, Knut Backhaus' commentary was the last major commentary on Hebrews missing from my library. I managed to find a pretty good price (under $40) for a brand new copy.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yale Bible Study on Hebrews

Over the course of eight videos, Harold W. Attridge and David L. Bartlett discuss the book of Hebrews. These videos are part of the Yale Bible Study Series, which is done in conjunction with the Congregational Church of New Canaan in New Canaan, CT. Study material are also available on the church website.

Monday, July 13, 2015

More Resources Added

I have added numerous resources this evening, but the following are the most important:


Brege, Daniel J. “Eucharistic Overtones Created by Sacrificial Concepts in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 66 (2002): 61–81. [Complete issue]

DeSilva, David A. “Despising Shame: A Cultural-Anthropological Investigation of the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994): 439–61.

Dyer, Bryan R. “‘A Great Conflict Full of Suffering’: Suffering in the Epistle to the Hebrews in Light of Feminist Concerns.” McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry 12 (2010–2011): 179–98.

Grudem, Wayne. “Perseverance of the Saints: A Case Study from Hebrews 6:4–6 and the Other Warning Passages in Hebrews.” Pages 133–82 in The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will. Volume 1. Biblical and Practical Perspectives on Calvinism. Edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Bruce A. Ware. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995.

Houwelingen, Rob van. “The Epistle to the Hebrews: Faith Means Perseverance.” Journal of Early Christian History 3.1 (2013): 98–115.

Murray, Scott R. “The Concept of διαθήκη in the Letter to the Hebrews.” Concordia Theological Monthly 66 (2002): 41–60. [Complete issue]

Pak, Joseph K. “False Believers in the Letter to the Hebrews.” The American Journal of Biblical Theology 15.12. Online paper, 2014.

Swetnam, James. "Selected Observations on the Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews." 2013.

Tönges, Elke. “The Epistle to the Hebrews as a “Jesus-Midrash.” Pages 89–105 in Hebrews: Contemporary Methods – New Insights. Edited by Gabriella Gelardini. Biblical Interpretation Series 75. Leiden: Brill, 2005.


Milligan, R. The New Testament Commentary. Vol. IX: Epistle to the Hebrews. Dallas: Eugene S. Smith, 1875.


Lee, Gregory Woodae. “Figural Reading in the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Dialogue withAugustine and Calvin.” Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 2010.

Book Review:

Farley, Lawrence R. The Epistle to the Hebrews: High Priest in Heaven. Review by Lasha Tchantouridzé. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Additions

Some additional resources added this evening:


Ribbens, Benjamin J. “Levitical Sacrifice and Heavenly Cult in Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Wheaton College, 2013.


Langenhoven, Hanno, Eliska Nortjé, Annette Potgieter, and Yolande Steenkamp. "The Day of Atonement as a Hermeneutical Key to the Understanding of Christology in Hebrews."  Journal of Early Christian History 1.1 (2011): 85–97.

Book Reviews:

Gäbel, Georg. Die Kulttheologie des Hebräerbriefes: Eine exegetisch-religionsgeschichtliche Studie. Review by Gabriella Gelardini.

Heemstra, Marius. The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways. Review by Jack Gibson.

Heemstra, Marius. The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways. Review by Shaye J. D. Cohen.

Two New Book Reviews on RBL

The Review of Biblical Literature has two new reviews on books pertinent to Hebrews study:

Peeler, Amy L. B. You Are My Son: The Family of God in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Review by Scott D. Mackie.

Whitlark, Jason A. Resisting Empire: Rethinking the Purpose of the Letter to "the Hebrews." Review by Arie W. Zwiep.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Dissertation Is Available Online

I see that my dissertation is now available online:

Small, Brian Christopher. "The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews." Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 2012.

(I apologize in advance for any typos you may find. I cleaned them up before my book went into print).

New Resources Added

The following dissertations and theses have been added:

Antwi, Daniel Jacobson. “The Death of Jesus as Atoning Sacrifice: A Study of the Sources and Purpose of New Testament Soteriology, with Particular Reference to Selected Texts.” Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, 1980.

Bucher, John Russell. “The Relation to the Old Testament of the Synoptic Teaching of Jesus, with Some Comparison of the Attitude Shown in the Epistles of Paul and in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Edinburgh University, 1940.

Burns, D. Kerr. “The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Inquiry into Its Relation to Primitive Tradition.” Ph.D. diss., University of Edinburgh, 1933.

Ellingworth, Paul. “The Old Testament in Hebrews Exegesis, Method and Hermeneutics.” Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, 1977.

Filtvedt, Ole Jakob. “The Identity of Israel and the Paradox of Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., MF Norwegian School of Theology, 2014.

Imberg, Johannes. “Den levitiska offerkultens function enligt Hebreerbrevets författare: en argumentationsanalys av Hebreerbrevet kapitel 7–10.” M.A. thesis, Lund University, 2012.

Laansma, Jon. “‘I Will Give You Rest.’ The Background and Significance of the Rest Motif in the New Testament with Special Reference to Mt 11 and Heb 3–4.” Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, 1995.

Lloyd, Gwilym George. “The Treatment of the Mosaic Law in the Epistle to the Hebrewswith Some Comparison of the Pauline Attitude.” Ph.D. diss., University of Edinburgh, 1946.

Richardson, Christopher A. “Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith: Jesus' Faith as the Climax of Israel's History in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Aberdeen University, 2009.

I have also added this review:

Docherty, Susan E. The Use of the Old Testament in Hebrews: A Case Study in Early Jewish Bible Interpretation. Review by Nick Norelli.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hebrews Highlights June 2015

Some of the Hebrews highlights for June 2015:

I respond to Felix Cortez's review of my book on the RBL blog.

Paul Barnett speaks about The Hugenot Heart, basing his talk upon Hebrews 9:26.

Matthew Malcolm gives a synopsis of his chapter in All That the Prophets Have Declared on Scripture and the Trinity in Hebrews. (Matthew has kindly sent along a copy to me, which I will be reviewing soon).

Anthony Billington has a meditation on Hebrews 2:6–9: But We Do See Jesus.

Tom Schreiner has a brief video on Hebrews 1:1–2.

New Books Added

I have added almost a dozen new book links, including my own monograph, to the partial books page.

The Book of Hebrews in Eight Minutes

The Bible Project has a very nice brief video explaining the meaning of the Book of Hebrews:

HT: Darrell Pursiful and Ben Witherington

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Is Hebrews 5:11–6:20 Really a Digression?

The latest issue of Novum Testamentum has an article on Hebrews:

Guzmán, Ron, and Michael W. Martin. “Is Hebrews5:11–6:20 Really a Digression?Novum Testamentum 57.3 (2015): 295–310.

Abstract from the Brill website:
"This study challenges the view that Heb 5:11-6:20 is a “digression”—a view so widely held as to be a near consensus in scholarship today, and a view that renders the controversial materials of chapter six tangential to the central purposes of the speech. The study gives consideration to ancient rhetorical theory concerning digressio, surveying the major handbooks that discuss the figure. On the basis of this survey, the study argues that only Heb 5:11-14 displays the essential characteristics of digressio. Moreover, in its position and function, this digressio actually points to the controversial materials of chapter six as central to the speech’s cause."

New Book Received

Thanks to Chris Cowan with B & H Publishing Group for a copy of Thomas Schreiner's new commentary on Hebrews. It's in the queue for review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrews

Here is my rough translation of the table of contents of Jordi Cervera's new book:

Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrews:
A Christology from a Jewish Matrix

Table of Contents



First Part
The Hebrews

First Chapter
1. Judeo-Christian: an imprecise term
2. Kaleidoscope of believers from a Jewish and Gentile matrix according to the Second Testament
    2.1. Believers from a Jewish provenance
        2.1.1. Hebrews observant of the Torah who required it for Gentile brothers
        2.1.2. Hebrews observant of the Torah who did not require it for Gentile brothers
        2.1.3. Hebrews flexible with the Torah who dismissed it for the Gentiles
        2.1.4. Hebrews observant of the Torah who followed Jesus secretly
        2.1.5. Conclusion
    2.2. Believers from a Gentile provenance
        2.2.1. Gentiles who rejected the Torah and rejected the Jewish tradition
        2.2.2. Gentiles who respected the Torah despite not observing it
        2.2.3. Judaized Gentiles
        2.2.4. Conclusion
    2.3. The antichrists
        2.3.1. Syncretistic or Gnosticized believers who denied the humanity of Jesus
        2.3.2. Messianic believers who did not accept the divine filiation of Jesus
        2.3.3. Conclusion
3. From kaleidoscope to binoculars

Second Chapter
The Hebrews: Historical Panorama
1. The New Testament testimony
2. The apocryphal writings
    2.1. Apocrypha of the first testament
    2.2. Apocrypha of the second testament
3. The apostolic writings
4. References from the fathers of the Church
    4.1. Justin (150–160 AD)
    4.2. Polycrates of Ephesus (ca. 195 AD) concerning the quartodecimans
    4.3. Origen (ca. 185– ca. 253 AD)
    4.4. Epiphanius of Salamis (ca. 315–403 AD) concerning Joseph of Tiberius
    4.5. Jerome (331–420 AD)
5. Groups of Christians from a Jewish matrix according to the fathers of the Church
    5.1. Nazarenes
    5.2. Ebionites
    5.3. Cerinthians and Elkasites
6. Assessments of Rabbinic Judaism
    6.1. The Christians from a Jewish matrix according to the Tannaitic sources
    6.2. The Christians according to Amoraic sources
    6.3. The Birkat ha-Minim as an explanatory synthesis
    6.4. Conclusion
7. A tradition and a progressively irrelevant group

Second Part
The Letter to the Hebrews

Third Chapter
“To the Hebrews”: An author and recpients from a Jewish matrix
1. “To the Hebrews”: A genuine title
    1.1. Hebrews in the papyrus Chester Beatty P46
    1.2. Hebrews in the Codex Sinaiticus (אּ)
    1.3. Hebrews in the Codex Alexandrinus (A)
    1.4. Hebrews in the Codex Vaticanus (B)
    1.5. The genuineness of the title “to the Hebrews”
2. A largely Judaized writing with later adjustments
    2.1. A surprising exordium (Heb 1:1–3)
    2.2. The thirteenth chapter
    2.3. A postscript of delivery
    2.4. Textual dissonances
        2.4.1. Hebrews 7:12 and Hebrews 7:18–19a
        2.4.2. Hebrews 13:8
        2.4.3. Hebrews 13:16
    2.5 Internal contradictions
        2.5.1. The sacrificial affirmations of the ninth chapter
        2.5.2. Contradictions in the tenth chapter
        2.5.3. Comparative schema
    2.6. Adjustments to a largely Judaized writing

Third Part
Christology of the Letter to the Hebrews

Fourth Chapter
The christological context of Hebrews
1. The New Testament and apostolic stamp
    1.1. The Johannine writings
    1.2. The proto-Pauline writings
    1.3. The first letter of Peter
    1.4. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, the Martyrdom of Polycarp
2. References from intertestamental literature
    2.1. A priestly messianism at Qumran
    2.2. The new priesthood of the Testament of Levi
    2.3. Melchizedek at Qumran
    2.4. Melchizedek in the Targums

Fifth Chapter
An inspired apology from the death and heavenliness of Jesus
1. Recipients from a Jewish matrix with difficulties to confess the communal faith
    1.1. Messianic traits of Jesus assumed by believers of the Jewish matrix
        1.1.1. A preexistent Messiah, son, and session at the right hand
        1.1.2. A suffering Messiah who expiates sins
    1.2. Christological depth and novelty
        1.2.1. The new covenant in Jesus
        1.2.2. A Messiah fully son, celestial and universal priest
    1.3. The christological controversy
        1.3.1. Jesus is also God
        1.3.2. His blood expiates sins in a definitive manner
    1.4. Difficulties of communion in the confession of faith
    1.5. A postbaptismal catechesis
2. A sacrificed and exalted Jesus: an expiation and a definitive mediation
    2.1. The relevancy of the great high priest in Hebrews
    2.2. Jesus and Melchizedek
    2.3. Conclusion
3. A theology of a Jewish matrix with remarks of a Greek stamp

Sixth Chapter
A symphony of christological titles
1. A rhythmical combination of christological titles
2. Melodies of priestly messianism
    2.1. High priest/priest and son of God
    2.2. Christ, high priest, son
    2.3. High priest and son
    2.4. Christ and high priest
    2.5. Offering and Jesus Christ
3. Priestly melodies
    3.1. High priest and sacrifice
    3.2. Sacrifice and offering
4. Melodies of priestly mediation
    4.1. Envoy and high priest
    4.2. Precursor and high priest
5. Complementary melodies
    5.1. Melody of messianic mediator: son and heir
    5.2. Messianic melody: Christ and son
    5.3. Melody of mediation: great shepherd and our Lord
6. Melodies that outline christological themes

Seventh Chapter
Titles descriptive of the celestial cult of Jesus
1. High priest
2. Priest
3. Minister
4. Sacrifice
5. Offering
6. Conclusion

Eighth Chapter
Titles descriptive of the divine status of Jesus
1. Proclamation of the divinity of Jesus (Heb 1:3–4)
2. Son of God
3. The son
4. Christ
5. Jesus Christ
6. Conclusion

Ninth Chapter
Titles descriptive of the celestial mediation of Jesus
1. Mediator
2. Our Lord
3. Firstborn
4. Initiator and culminator
5. Guarantor
6. Conclusion

Tenth Chapter
Jesus, the glue and backbone title
1. Jesus: celestial high priest and perfect offering
    1.1. Celestial high priest
    1.2. Perfect offering
2. Jesus: preexistent, suffering, enthroned, universal messiah
3. Jesus: mediator of the new covenant and of a new faith in God
    3.1. Jesus: author, leader, and forefather of the new covenant
        3.1.1. Author of the new covenant
        3.1.2. Leader and forefather of the new covenant
    3.2. Jesus: spokesman of a new faith in God

Fourth Part

Eleventh Chapter
Hebrews: A mystic approach to God and to Jesus
1. An existential ascent through Jesus
2. Contemplating Jesus
3. Observing Jesus
4. Fixing the eyes on Jesus
5. Approaching God and Jesus
6. Entering into the celestial realm
7. A mystic and communal journey to heaven

Bibliography used

Index of authors

Index of citations

My First Book in Catalan!

Many thanks to Jordi Cervera for sending me a copy of his book, Jesús en la Carta als Hebreus: Una cristologia de matriu jueva. It is my first book in Catalan!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Prahlow Reviews Allen, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews

Jacob Prahlow reviews David L. Allen's book Lukan Authorship of Hebrews.

Ken Schenck's Book Is Out

Ken Schenck has announced that his new book on Revelation, Hebrews, and the General Epistles is now available:

The Early Church: Letters to the Body of Christ

Congratulations, Ken!

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Response to Felix Cortez’ Review of My Book

Felix Cortez’ review of my book has recently appeared on the RBL website. In his critique of my book, he says that I failed to uncover the story world of Hebrews. However, it was not my intent to uncover the entire story world of Hebrews except for that part of the story world which was pertinent to revealing the character of Jesus. The story world of Hebrews also “includes the stories of the OT . . . as well as the story of the community to which the author was writing” as I note on page 204 in my book. Ken Schenck has already attempted to uncover the story world behind Hebrews in his popular introduction Understanding the Book of Hebrews: The Story behind the Sermon. Cortez notes that I trace the characterization of Jesus in the argument of Hebrews, not its story world, in chapter 5 of my book. But I do reconstruct part of the story world of Hebrews in chapter 4 of my book.

Cortez takes issue with some of my reconstruction of the chronology of Jesus’ life. At the time I was writing my dissertation I did associate the cleansing of sins and atonement with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Certainly there are those who contend that the cleansing of sins and atonement is not completed until after Jesus enters heaven and offers his blood. This interpretation has certainly come to the fore with the publication of David Moffitt’s monograph Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I think Hebrews can lend itself to either interpretation and hence this remains a contested issue in Hebrews’ study.

Cortez, I think, wrongly critiques me on his next point: “it is difficult to understand why the submission of the enemies under Jesus—or submission of all things—is included in the list before his appointment as high priest.” He contends that the submission of enemies should be listed after his appointment as high priest. I, in fact, do not believe that the submission of enemies takes place before his appointment as high priest. As I note before compiling the chronology, “a strict chronological framework is impossible since many of the deeds occur simultaneously” (p. 203). It is impossible to narrative simultaneously deeds that take place simultaneously. If two things happen at the same time, one can only describe one thing and then the other. I connect the submission of Jesus’ enemies with Jesus’ enthronement as king, not with his appointment as high priest. Hence, on page 205 I describe all the events associated with his enthronement first, and then I describe the events associated with his high priesthood second. I do say “simultaneously with his enthronement, Jesus was also appointed as high priest” (p. 205). The submission of enemies takes place after Jesus’ enthronement and his appointment as high priest.

Cortez then remarks in the next sentence: “There is, however, the more fundamental question whether this reconstructed story of Jesus is coterminous with the story behind Hebrews or just a part of it.” I take it, then, that Cortez believes that the story of Jesus is coterminous with the story world of Hebrews. I, however, take the story of Jesus as only part of the larger story world that lies behind Hebrews. His suggestion in the penultimate paragraph certainly points to further avenues for exploration.

Johnsson Dissertation Available Online

Steve Cook informed me that the following dissertation is available online:

Johnsson, William George. “Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1973.

As usual, I will add a link to the dissertations and theses page.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hebrews Articles in La Nouvelle Revue Théologique

I was pleased to discover that the journal La nouvelle revue théologique has a number of their articles available online, including the following articles dealing with Hebrews. I came across some articles I have not discovered before (I don't know how that happened . . .).

Vanhoye, Albert. “Salut universel par le Christ et validité de l’Ancienne Alliance.” La nouvelle revue théologique 116.6 (1994): 815–35.

Grelot, Pierre. “Le ministère chrétien dans sa dimension sacerdotale.” La nouvelle revue théologique 112.2 (1990): 161–82.

Bonnard, P.-E. “La traduction de Hébreux 12, 2:‘C’est en vue de la joie que Jésus endura la croix.’La nouvelle revue théologique 97.5 (1975): 415–23.

Andriessen, Paul. “La traduction de Hébreux 12, 2: Renonçant à la joie qui lui revenait.’La nouvelle revue théologique 97.5 (1975): 424–38.

Andriessen, Paul. “Angoisse de la mort dans l’Épître aux Hébreux.” La nouvelle revue théologique 96.3 (1974): 282–92.

Andriessen, Paul. “L’eucharistie dans l’Épître aux Hébreux.” La nouvelle revue théologique 94.3 (1972): 269–77.

Vanhoye, Albert. “Le Christ, grand-prêtre selon Héb. 2,17–18.” La nouvelle revue théologique 91.5 (1969): 449–74.

Coppens, J. “Les affinités qumrâniennes de l’épîtreaux Hébreux.” La nouvelle revue théologique 84.2 (1962): 128–41.

Coppens, J. “Les affinités qumrâniennes de l’épîtreaux Hébreux.” La nouvelle revue théologique 84.3 (1962): 257–82.