Monday, May 8, 2023

Rowlands Reviews Reading Hebrews in Context

Jonathan Rowlands reviews Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston (eds.). Reading Hebrews in Context: The Sermon and Second Temple Judaism.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Oil of Gladness and the Immortal High Priest in Hebrews

New article:

Duff, Justin. “Oil of Gladness and the Immortal High Priest in Hebrews.” Journal of Theological Studies 74.1 (2023): 103–36.


"The anointment of Jesus with the ‘oil of gladness’ in Hebrews 1 is a puzzling feature of Hebrews’ argument. The anointment—which is drawn from Psalm 45 and connected to Christ’s messianic enthronement—is often regarded as a royal investiture that transpired after the death of Christ. The relationship with royal messianism and heavenly enthronement, however, may overshadow another significant function of the oil of gladness: high priestly consecration and bodily immortalization. In this article, the function of Christ’s anointment is explored against uses of Psalm 45 in early Judaism and Greco-Roman and Second Temple traditions that depict heavenly oil as an agent of bodily transformation. These traditions suggest that Jesus’ anointment in Hebrews may signify a priestly consecration that transforms and immortalizes the human body for the heavenly realms. The anointment of Jesus in Hebrews may therefore be connected to the incarnate Son’s inheritance of ‘indestructible life’ (7:16) and clarifies when Jesus ‘became’ a royal-priestly Messiah ‘for the ages’."

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Hebrews Highlights - April 2023

Madison Pierce and Max Botner discuss Why We Love Hebrews on the podcast, On the Way. Pocast is available on Spotify.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Theology of the High Priest Jesus Christ

I want to draw your attention to a little known monograph. It is written in Spanish and is published with a lesser known publisher:
Randy de Jesús Soto. Teología del Pontífice Jesucristo: Análisis retórico y semántico de Hebreos 4,15; 7:26 y 9,14. Estudios de Filología Neotestamentaria 8. Córdoba: Ediciones el Almendro, 2006.

Translation of the blurb:
"The Letter to the Hebrews is the only writing in the New Testament that attributes to Christ the title of Pontiff or High Priest. However, by calling him that way, he does not do so in the sense in which the pontificate of the Old Testament priesthood was understood, since the author knows perfectly well that, in order to be a priest according to the Mosaic Law, it was necessary to belong to the tribe of Levi. The novelty of this attribution lies in the fact that the priesthood of Jesus has qualities that make it eminently superior to the priesthood of the Old Testament."
The author recently passed away in December, 2022. An obituary can be found here.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

A Note on the Structure of Hebrews 10:11–13

New article, which is available for download:

Akagi, Kai. “A Note on the Structure of Hebrews 10:11–13.” Novum Testamentum 65 (2023):227–39.

"Lexical, syntactical, and semantic correspondence demonstrates that Heb 10:11–13 consists of a concentric structure not discussed in the commentary literature. Observation of this structure clarifies the number of contrasts that appear in the sentence spanning these verses and provides additional data informing the debated question of whether the phrase εἰς τὸ διηνεκές in Heb 10:12 modifies the preceding participle προσενέγκας or the following verb ἐκάθισεν. This structure furthermore serves as one more example of the emphasis on the singularity of Jesus’s sacrifice in Hebrews."

Friday, March 31, 2023

Hebrews Highlights - March 2023

David Allen spoke on Hebrews in the Spring Lecture Series at Northeastern Baptist College.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Book of Hebrews? You're in luck; for day 1 of this year's Spring Lecture Series, Dr. David Allen gives his thoughts about the origins of Hebrews, when it was written, from where it was written, to whom it was written, and the biggest question of all: who wrote it?
Spring Lecture Series 2023 Day 2 - Dr. David Allen
Hebrews 6:1-8 has been a source of controversy in the church for centuries. Its interpretation is central to how we understand salvation itself, primarily whether it can be lost or not. For day 2 of our 2023 Spring Lecture Series, Dr. David Allen gives his views on this heavy passage and how it shapes our theology.
Jon Laansma talks with David Capes on Exegetically Speaking on Entering God's Resting Place (Hebrews 4:1–11).
What does the Greek wording of Heb. 4:1-11 tell us about the writer’s idea of God’s promise of entering into his resting place to celebrate the Sabbath?
University of Manchester has an interview with Joshua Bloor on his newly published book, Purifying the Consciousness in Hebrews: Cult, Defilement, and the Perpetual Heavenly Blood of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Did Silas Write Hebrews?

Did Silas write Hebrews? So argues the author of this new book:

Andersen, Bob. Who Wrote Hebrews? The Case for Silas and His Message for Today. Riverside, CA: Gentle Impact Publishing, 2023.

"This is not another commentary on Hebrews. It is an analysis of the setting--which shines a beacon on the message. Pinpointing the author, historical setting, and target audience make the urgency of the message clear—not only for the ancient Hebrews but for Christians today. It is an argument for Silas as author with evidence that was "hidden in plain sight." It shows Hebrews was written to Jerusalem. It is a defense against 20th century thought and shows Paul's involvement in the writing of the book of Hebrews."

Don't let the cover fool you, nor the fact that the book appears to be independently published. This book does show evidence of scholarly research (hence, the inclusion on this blog). That is not to say that I am endorsing the book. I have not yet read the book to assess whether his arguments stand up to scrutiny. As with many of my  posts, I am alerting you to new books on Hebrews that may be of interest to you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Intercession of Jesus in Hebrews

Newly published:
"Recent scholarship on Hebrews has focused on Christ's sacrifice, resurrection, atonement, and priesthood. Though these discussions focus on the pre-and-post ascension mediatorial role of Jesus, there has been minimal attention paid to »intercession« as the present mediatorial task of Jesus in heaven. In this volume, Abeneazer G. Urga examines the background and nature of Jesus' heavenly intercession in the Epistle to the Hebrews. He demonstrates that the author of Hebrews has primarily depended on the LXX and some texts of the New Testament – while remaining cognizant of the theme of intercession in Second Temple Literature – in the formulation of the motif of Jesus' high priestly intercession. Urga also argues that Jesus' heavenly intercession is vocalis et realis , and that his intercession is made in order to procure help and the forgiveness of sin for God's people in their time of need."

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Christology and New Creation in Hebrews

New article:

Shin, Euntaek D. “‘I Will Complete a New Covenant’ (Heb 8.8): Christology and New Creation in Hebrews.” New Testament Studies 69.2 (2023): 230–34.

"The use of συντɛλέω to speak of God's ‘completion’ of the new covenant (Heb 8.8) has generated various explanations. Yet none of them factor in an important clue in Hebrews, namely, the rest discourse. By establishing literary and theological connections between Heb 3.7–4.13 and 8.8–12, this study argues that the promise of the completion of the new covenant evokes the completion of creation and its ensuing sabbath rest. Such an evocation brings to surface a logic of Christology and new creation embedded in Hebrews."

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Reading Hebrews Missiologically

New book:
Abeneazer G. Urga, Edward L. Smither, and Linda P. Saunders, Editors. Reading Hebrews Missiologically: The Missionary Motive, Message, and Methods of Hebrews. William Carey Publishing.
"God’s interactions with Israel were a foreshadowing of the perfect reality in the person of Jesus: absolutely God and absolutely human. Jesus came to earth to establish his kingdom and all that God had initiated in the old covenant. There is a continuity of theological understanding as we move from the Old Testament to the letter sent to the Christians in Rome.

The discussion on the theology of mission in the New Testament usually focuses on Jesus and Paul, with minimal attention given to the General Epistles. However, Reading Hebrews Missiologically tries to fill that gap and focuses on the theology of mission in the book of Hebrews and fleshes out the unique contribution it has to the discussion of a New Testament theology of mission. The twelve contributors—from various theological, geographical, and missiological contexts—explore the missionary motive, the missionary message, and the missionary method of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

All Scripture can be read missiologically, and the letter to the Hebrews, with its emphasis on the supremacy of Christ, is no exception. We pray that this book will inspire fresh approaches to practical mission in the world today."

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Purifying the Consciousness in Hebrews

New book:

Joshua D. A. Bloor. Purifying the Consciousness in Hebrews: Cult, Defilement and the Perpetual Heavenly Blood of Jesus. Bloomsbury T&T Clark.

"Joshua D. A. Bloor argues that the purification of the consciousness of sin, via Jesus' perpetual heavenly blood offering, is a vital motif for understanding Hebrews' sacrificial argumentation, and vice-versa. Jesus' 'objective' earthly achievements are many, yet only his 'subjective' heavenly blood offering purges the heavenly tabernacle and subsequently the consciousness of sin. Bloor views the Levitical cult as having a positive role in Hebrews, with Levitical 'guilt' foreshadowing and informing Hebrews' notion of the 'consciousness of sin'. Levitical sacrifices could purge the consciousness, but only Jesus' heavenly blood can offer complete perpetual purgation. This blood is a qualitative type of purgation which continually speaks in heaven, offering eternal assurance for the recipients regarding their consciousness of sin.

Bloor begins with the 'defiled consciousness' and situates the world of Hebrews within cultic defilement, enabling the consciousness of sin and its cosmic implications to be properly understood. From here, the solution to a defiled consciousness is explored by examining Hebrews' cultic argumentation. Bloor highlights the distinctive purposes inherent in both Jesus' earthly and heavenly achievements, with the latter concerned particularly with Yom Kippur imagery and the purgation of the consciousness. Bloor concludes by differentiating between Jesus' session, present heavenly activity and perpetual heavenly blood offering. Throughout this volume, Bloor engages, critiques and advances current discourse concerning the nature and timing of Jesus' offering in Hebrews."

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Reading Hebrews in Context

Newly published:
Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, Jason Maston, eds. Reading Hebrews in Context: The Sermon and Second Temple Judaism. Zondervan Academic.

About the Book

Study Hebrews in its Second Temple Context

Following the proven model established in Reading Romans in Context, Reading Mark in Context, and Reading Revelation in Context, this book brings together a series of accessible essays that compare and contrast the theology and hermeneutical practices of the book of Hebrews with various early Jewish literature.

Going beyond an introduction that merely surveys historical events and theological themes, this textbook examines individual passages in Second Temple Jewish literature in order to illuminate the ideas and emphases of Hebrews' varied discourses. Following the rhetorical progression of Hebrews, each chapter in this textbook:

  1. pairs a major unit of Hebrews with one or more sections of a thematically related Jewish text
  2. introduces and explores the historical and theological nuances of the comparative text
  3. shows how the ideas in the comparative text illuminate those expressed in Hebrews

In addition to the focused comparison provided in the essays, Reading Hebrews in Context offers other student-friendly features that help them engage broader discussions, including an introductory chapter that familiarizes students with the world and texts of Second Temple Judaism and a glossary of important terms. The end of each chapter contains a list of other thematically-relevant Second Temple Jewish texts recommended for further study and a focused bibliography pointing students to critical editions and higher-level discussions in scholarly literature they might use to undertake their own comparative studies.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Book of Human Nature

"Is there a unique characteristic of humanity that can distinguish it from the animal world? Biology teaches us that the human species is different from the higher mammals by its number of pairs of chromosomes, from which one could think that man is simply better endowed than other animals. Biology does not exhaust the question. Indeed, anthropology reveals that all people have universally instituted rituals. Rituality is made explicit in language and ceremonies, whether in the multitude of religions or in the sciences. The ultimate ritual is that of thought: logic. This work aims to show that the rituality of man defines human nature. The author bases his demonstration on the Letter to the Hebrews by Rabbi Shaoul of Giscala. We see that the rituality linked to the Temple of Jerusalem is the perfect example showing human nature, and its chaotic becoming when it is not understood. Jean-François Froger has collaborated with several other authors in pursuing the aim of establishing a theoretical anthropology. Indeed, the historical or field experience that is essential is not enough to know the foundations of a science. He takes advantage of his work in logic to show that the human mind uses the same principles when studying physics or anthropology."

Monday, February 13, 2023

Realize What You Do!

New book:
"Why do we observe today a certain disaffection with regard to the celebration of rites? Because it is difficult to inhabit them, because of their prescribed character and the formalism attributed to them. To restore to the ritual gestures of a celebration of the mass all their density, Jean-Claude Reichert puts them in correspondence with significant passages of the preaching of Christ that the letter to the Hebrews deploys. The challenge is to receive from this biblical reading enough to rediscover the acts of faith in which we are invited to participate, by signing ourselves, by saying the Kyrie eleison or the Agnus Dei, by acclaiming the Word of God, by uniting ourselves to the prayers of the priest, singing the Glory to God or anamnesis. The eight chapters of this work thus constitute eight concrete examples of an approach that the Council promotes when it underlines that 'in the celebration of the liturgy, Sacred Scripture has an extreme importance' (Sacrosanctum Concilium 24). A substantial and luminous contribution to a little explored field."