Sunday, March 29, 2009

Morison on Hebrews 1

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verses 1 and 2.” Expositor. First Series, 1 (1875): 60-70.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verses 3 and 4.” Expositor. First Series, 1 (1875): 119-28.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verse 5.” Expositor. First Series, 1 (1875): 185-96, 279-86.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verse 6.” Expositor. First Series, 1 (1875): 349-65.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verses 7-9 (in Particular, Verse 7).” Expositor. First Series, 1 (1875): 447-462.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verses 8 and 9.” Expositor. First Series, 2 (1875): 295-316.

Morison, J. “The First Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: Verses 10-14.” Expositor. First Series, 2 (1875): 418-33.

These series of articles consist of a verse-by-verse exposition of the first chapter of Hebrews. Morison often engages the views of various translations and the interpretations of other scholars. In his exposition Morison often employs soaring rhetoric and occasional flights of fancy. I will only note some of the highlights of his exposition.

Morison notes that the first four verses are really one sentence in Greek. The first two verses present an antithesis between prophets/Son, long ago/last days, to the fathers/to us. The Divine Father does two things in verse 2: 1) He makes his Son his heir, and 2) before Jesus’ incarnation the Father made the worlds by him.

In verse 3, glory refers to the sum of the divine perfections. The Greek word απαυγασμα is best translated as “effulgence” rather than “refulgence.” It refers to his “manifestative eradiation.” The word υποστασις is best rendered as “substance” rather than “person” and it refers to God’s “inner being” or “unseen selfhood.” The word χαρακτηρ is God’s “exact representation, delineation, or impression of the essential glory of the Father.” The name that Jesus inherits is “Son.”

In verse 5, the author quotes from Psalm 2:7 which must be regarded as Messianic, as it seems to have been regarded in this way by the early Jews and Christians. The psalm is quoted to demonstrate that Jesus has inherited a more excellent name than the angels. “Today” refers to Jesus’ incarnation. While the emphasis of the verse is on Jesus’ Sonship and the Divine paternity, Jesus’ preexistence and divinity is implied.

The second quote in verse 5 is from 2 Samuel 7:14/1 Chronicles 17:13. While the verse originally refers to Solomon, the promise also looked forward to the distant future of an ideal king. Solomon was only a shadow of a future, ideal Solomon; the divine sonship of Solomon was a prefiguration of the divine Sonship of Christ.

In verse 6, Morison takes the adverb παλιν with the following verb εισαγαγη. He translates it like a Latin future perfect: “he shall have brought in.” Morison believes that this verse refers to the second advent, as the first advent is alluded to in verse 5. “Firstborn” adds the idea of primogeniture. It implies Jesus’ priority in time (cf. Rev 1:5; Col 1:18), but more importantly his precedence in position (cf. Col 1:15-16; Rom 8:29). The citation that follows is from Psalm 97:7 or, more likely, Deuteronomy 32:43. The Greek word αγγελοι translates the Hebrew word Elohim, which can refer to God or gods, thus it is a generic term referring to Higher Powers, and thus may include angels.

The μεν . . . δε contruction of verses 7-8 shows a contrast between the way angels are spoken of in Scripture, and the manner in which the Son is addressed. In the quotation from Psalm 104:4 the word πνευματα is best rendered as “winds” rather than “spirits” since its antithesis is clearly “flames of fire” in the next line. He rejects the interpretation that αγγελους is the predicate of πνευματα. The verse does refer to angels and assigns to them their “subordinate place in the divine government of the world.”

In verses 8-9, Psalm 45:6-7 is quoted. The psalm was composed in honor of Solomon at one of his marriages, but it also has Messianic referents. The divine Son has a throne; he is a king and not a mere messenger or minister. His throne is established forever and his reign is the perfection of wisdom and righteousness. The dignity and joy of his kingship surpasses all others.

In verses 10-12, Psalm 102:25-27 is quoted. This psalm is descriptive of his “super-angelic glory.” In verse 12, Morison prefers the reading ελιξεις, “he will roll,” rather than αλλαξεις, “he will change.” The following quote in verse 13 is from Psalm 110:1 and is clearly Messianic. It declares the exaltation of the Son as he is enthroned in glory. The ultimate consummation will be when He subdues all his enemies.

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