Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hebrews Highlights - June 2020

James Arlandson tries to answer the question, Who Was Melchizedek?
He then tries to answer the question, Does Hebrews 7:1–10 Teach Church Policy on Tithing?

Chris Ritter has started a series on Hebrews: Greater Than: The Covenant of the Son. It includes a brief introduction and discussion of chapters 1 and 2. Part two: A Sharp Word for Serious Times deals with chapters 3 and 4. Part three: Detours covers chapters 5 and 6. His fourth installment is on Jesus, Our Melchizedek.

Ken Schenck has started reviewing Susan Docherty's monograph, The Use of the Old Testament in Hebrews. Part 1.
Part 2: Previous Scholarship.
Part 3: The Study of Midrash.
Part 4: Septuagintal Studies.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

An Earth Bible Commentary on Hebrews

Bloomsbury has announced the publication of this new commentary:

Jeffrey S. Lamp. Hebrews: An Earth Bible Commentary: A City That Cannot Be Shaken.

"In this new ecological commentary on the letter to the Hebrews, Jeffrey S. Lamp makes use of approaches developed in the relatively new field of Ecological Hermeneutics to shed light upon the connection of Hebrews with Earth.

Hebrews is frequently characterized as portraying a dualistic cosmology that diminishes the material world, muting the voice of Earth. Conversely, Lamp argues that though Hebrews cannot be construed as an ecological treatise, the contours of the letter's presentation may be subverted by reading from an ecological perspective, such that cues provided by the author of Hebrews serve as opportunities to hear Earth's voice in the letter. Three movements, corresponding to thematic interests of the author of Hebrews, form the framework of this ecological reading: the Son as the agent of creation, the Son depicted as the Second Adam, and the New Jerusalem as the eschatological dwelling place of God. This ecological reading of Hebrews aims to shape its readers into those who fulfill the soteriological aims of God in and for the world."

Friday, June 5, 2020

My Newest Acquisition

I just got in the mail today this rare copy of a dissertation that I had not known about previously:

Ngoupa, Hans Ejengele. “La perfection dans l’Épître aux Hébreux.” Ph.D. diss., Institute Protestant de Théologie, Montpellier, 1982.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Moffitt Reviews Holmes

New review in RBL:

David Moffitt reviews Christopher T. Holmes, The Function of Sublime Rhetoric in Hebrews: A Study in Hebrews 12:18–29.

"In this study, Christopher T. Holmes provides a focused analysis of the rhetorical and stylistic features of Hebrews 12:18–29, their intended effects upon the audience, and the role of the passage in the larger argument of Hebrews. He draws extensively from the first-century treatise, De Sublimitate, arguing that it provides a significant context for interpreting the rhetoric and style of Hebrews. Although New Testament scholars have drawn significantly from the ancient handbooks of Aristotle, Quintilian, and Cicero in the last several decades, this is the first monograph-length study to use De Sublimitate as the primary analytical tool for New Testament interpretation. The result of the study shows that the author's efforts to move the readers »beyond persuasion« shed new light on the thought and genre of Hebrews. Christopher T. Holmes offers both exegetical insights about Hebrews and an additional way to think about the distinctiveness of early Christian rhetoric."

Two New Articles in JSNT

Two new articles in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament:

Moore, Nicholas J. “Sacrifice, Session, and Intercession: The End of Christ’s Offering in Hebrews.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 42.4 (2020): 521–41.

"A growing number of scholars have argued that Christ’s offering in Hebrews is not limited to the cross but extends into heaven; in recent work David Moffitt contends that Christ’s heavenly, atoning offering is perpetual and coextensive with his intercession. This article calls this further step into question, by examining the function of Christ’s heavenly session in Hebrews’ construal of sacrificial process, and by exploring the nature of his heavenly intercession and its relation to his offering and enthronement. It argues that Christ’s session is a hinge, marking an emphatic close to his sacrificial work for the forgiveness of sins, and inaugurating his royal reign and priestly prayer."

Moffitt, David M. “Jesus as Interceding High Priest and Sacrifice in Hebrews: A Response to Nicholas Moore.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 42.4 (2020): 542-52.

"Is Jesus’ perpetual intercession for his people in Hebrews (Heb. 7.25) understood as a constitutive part of his atoning, high-priestly ministry? Nicholas Moore argues that Jesus’ act of sitting at God’s right hand is the decisive end of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and so also of Hebrews’ Yom Kippur analogy. Among other points, I argue in response that Jesus’ ongoing absence from his people, status as high priest and current location in the heavenly holy of holies imply that Hebrews’ Yom Kippur analogy extends beyond Jesus’ act of sitting to include his present ministry of intercession. Not only were prayer and atoning sacrifice closely correlated for Second Temple Jews, Hebrews presents Jesus as the high priest who, in his resurrected humanity, is always also the sacrifice in the Father’s presence. Jesus presented himself to the Father once, but he is perpetually the high priest and sacrifice who ministers in God’s presence. For Hebrews, the Yom Kippur analogy (and so also Jesus’ atoning ministry) ends when, like the earthly high priests, Jesus leaves the heavenly holy of holies to return to and again be present with his people (Heb. 9.28). Only then will his followers receive the salvation for which they are waiting. Until that approaching day arrives, Jesus’ ongoing intercession with his Father ensures that his people will be saved completely."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Johnsson Dissertation Finally Published

William Johnsson's important 1973 dissertation, "Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews" was never published, that is, until now:

William G. Johnsson. Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews. Fontes Press.

"At the epicenter of the book of Hebrews stands a prolonged exposition of the Israelite cult. While many studies have focused on the theology of the cult, Johnsson uses a structuralist and religio-historical approach to analyze Hebrews as a religious document that shares anthropological parallels with other major religious groups and their documents.

Johnsson's initial survey of scholarship on the cult in Hebrews lays the foundation for analyzing the key terms of 'defilement,' 'purgation,' and 'blood,' which stand at the heart of the cultic argumentation of Hebrews. These terms and their associated ideas are analyzed closely in their contexts within Hebrews 9-10, which reveals significant theological implications for the human condition as laid out in the rest of the discourse."

I did some of the editorial work on one of the chapters (and it was a ton of work), so I am glad to see it finally in print.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

My Review on Davis, The Place of Paideia in Hebrews' Moral Thought

My review has finally appeared in RBL:

Davis, Phillip A., Jr. The Place of Paideia in Hebrews' Moral Thought. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/475. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

New Article on Syncrisis and Encomium in Hebrews

The most recent issue of Catholic Biblical Quarterly has the following article:

Jerome H. Neyrey. "Syncrisis and Encomium: Reading Hebrews through Greek Rhetoric." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 82.2 (April 2020): 276–99.

Abstract: "Although the use of rhetoric to interpret NT texts, even Hebrews, is hardly new, here I employ an unfamiliar, and so unused source of Greco-Roman rhetoric, the progymnasmata (preliminary rhetorical exercises). They provide excellent examples of genres that form the skeleton and substance of the argument in Hebrews." These progymnasmata consisted of twelve to sixteen exercises of increasing difficulty, among which I focus on "comparison" (σύγκρισις) and "encomium" (ἐγκώμιον). Progymnastic rhetoric states that "comparison" are made out of the "headings' of the "encomium." Thus, one comparison is in fact two encomia, for example, Jesus and Israelite priests, each figure described according to traditional encomiastic patterns."

Neyrey claims that hardly anyone has applied the progymnastic exercises of encomium and syncrisis to the Book of Hebrews. He only cites C. F. Evans' slender monograph, The Theology of Rhetoric: The Epistle to the Hebrews. In fact, I deal at length with the progymnastic exercises of encomiastic topics and syncrisis in my monograph, The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews. Moreover, Michael Martin and Jason Whitlark deal with syncrisis at length in structuring Hebrews' argument in Inventing Hebrews: Design and Purpose in Ancient Rhetoric. So, in fact, there has been more work done applying the progymnastic exercises of encomium and syncrisis to Hebrews than Neyrey gives credit for in his article. This is a surprising oversight from a scholar of the caliber of Neyrey.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

New Book: Strangers on the Earth

Wipf & Stock have announced the publication of this new book:

James W. Thompson, Strangers on the Earth: Philosophy and Rhetoric in Hebrews.

"Contrary to what we might imagine from its title, the Epistle to the Hebrews is immersed in Hellenistic thought. Its author demonstrates an acquaintance with Greco-Roman rhetoric, and often supports his arguments with the assumptions of Hellenistic philosophy. While he shares the apocalyptic worldview of other Jews in this period, he recasts it with the language of Middle Platonism."

Friday, March 6, 2020

Yauri Reviews Healy's Commentary on Hebrews

Benjamin Rojas Yauri reviews Mary Healy's commentary Hebrews of the
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series in RBL.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Introduction and Study Guide on Hebrews

Bloomsbury is announcing the publication of this book:

Patrick Gray and Amy Peeler. Hebrews: An Introduction and Study Guide (Bloomsbury).

My Newest Acquisition

This book just came in the mail today, all the way from Italy:

Michael Tait. Too Many Priests? Melchizedek and the Others in Hebrews.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

New JBL Article on Hebrews

In the most recent issue of JBL, the following article appears:

Yuh, Jason N. “Abandonment and Absenteeism in the Letter to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Associations.” Journal of Biblical Literature 138.4 (2019): 863–82.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Atonement in Hebrews and the Qur'an

Here is a unique study dealing with Hebrews:

Bennett, Matthew Aaron. Narratives in Conflict: Atonement in Hebrews and the Qur’an. American Society of Missiology Monograph Series 42. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2019.

Description from the website:
"Did Jesus die on the cross for our sins as the Gospels describe? Or, as Muslims often contend, was Jesus rescued to heaven in order to avoid the shameful crucifixion that would be unbefitting of a messenger of God? This debate has raged for generations and has caused no shortage of frustration among those seeking to explain the central teaching of the Christian faith to those influenced by the Qur’an. What this book aims to do is uncover four barriers to understanding the biblical teaching on atonement that likely exist in the minds of our Muslim friends prior to asking about the historical reality of the Christ event.

What we will discover is that the Qur’an diverges from the biblical teaching on atonement at the lexical, ritual, narrative, and worldview levels. Each of these points of divergence presents a barrier to communication. Therefore, before arguing with our Muslim friends that Jesus died on the cross, we must provide an answer to the prior question, why would it matter? This book argues that the Letter to the Hebrews provides a particularly helpful biblical starting point for overcoming all four barriers."

Here is the abstract of the work which is based on his doctoral dissertation with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017:

"As the last 1400 years of Christian–Muslim dialogue have demonstrated, there are several areas of Islamic theology and Qur’anic claims that conflict with the message of the Bible. One such area of conflict is at an area of vital concern to the Bible: the concept of atonement. In the Hebrew Bible atonement is a logically unified concept whereby God grants his people means of achieving forgiveness and purification by accepting the blood of a sacrificial animal as a ransom–purgation. The book of Hebrews highlights the way the Christ Event accomplishes atonement by connecting Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension with the ritual actions of the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

The Qur’an, however, despite both claiming to continue and complete prior revelation and while including similar language often understood to mean atonement, teaches a very different doctrine of forgiveness. Despite the presence of the component parts of biblical atonement—sacrifice, forgiveness, purification, ransom, blood—the Qur’an keeps each aspect conceptually separate from the others. Such separation is most clearly seen in the Qur’an’s refusal to acknowledge blood’s role in achieving forgiveness or purification. Thus, while atonement language and the concepts of forgiveness and purification are present in both texts, there is an underlying disunity in the biblical and qur’anic ideas of atonement (conveyed through the Arabic word, kaffāra).

Where many scholars accuse the Qur’an of being blatantly mistaken or ill– informed in its retelling of quasi–biblical narratives, this dissertation will show that a generous reading of the Qur’an reveals a potentially nuanced intertextuality resulting in a PREVIEW xiii different understanding of continuation. Exegesis of Sura 5 demonstrates that the Qur’an sees sacrifice as a demarcation given to mark off new dispensations of revelation. This understanding of the purpose of sacrifice gives the Qur’an the ability to claim to stand in the stead of Judaism and Christianity without having to account for some of the details of underlying meaning and overt ritual. Thus, rather than assuming the Qur’an to be negligent in its treatment of Jewish and Christian atonement, the Qur’an simply makes a different claim to continuation than the book of Hebrews makes.

Ultimately, Hebrews offers a narrative–driven answer to the question, “Why did the Christ Event occur as the Bible indicates?” In so doing, it challenges the Qur’anic claims to continuation of prior revelation more forcefully than does the mere factual question, “Did the Christ Event occur as the Bible indicates?” The affirmative answer given to the latter question gains impact through understanding the whole biblical narrative that the Christ Event brings to a climax. The book of Hebrews demonstrates the climactic nature of the Christ Event, and thus its portrayal of Christian atonement coheres more seamlessly with biblical ritual, metanarrative, and worldview than does the disjunctive metanarrative suggested by the Qur’an. Ultimately, the argument of this dissertation is that Christ’s fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, as presented in the Book of Hebrews, exposes distinct worldviews between the Qur’an and Bible, and can be used to challenge Qur'anic claims to completing prior revelation."

Monday, December 9, 2019

Dissertation on the Use of Psalm 102 in Hebrews

I want to thank Jon Rinker for sending me a copy of his dissertation:

Jonathan A. Rinker. "Creation, Consummation, Perseverance and the Use of Psalm 102:25–27 in Hebrews 1:10–12." Ph.D. diss., Baptist Bible Seminary, 2017.

Jon is the Vice President for Development and Chair of Bible/Theology Deptment at Appalachian Bible College.

With his permission, I print the abstract:

"The heavy use of Old Testament quotation in Hebrews is spawned in Heb 1 as the author describes the glory of God’s revelation in his Son. This dissertation considers how the author of Hebrews uses one of those quotations, LXX Ps 101:26–28 in Hebrews 1:10–12, in order to show the significance of this quotation for his exposition and exhortation.

Chapter two explores the structure and message of Ps 102, which weaves lament for suffering and the unrealized Davidic promises, along with a hymn of praise that envisions these promises fulfilled in Zion’s restoration. Chapter three examines Ps 102:25–27 in its OT context. On the surface, this prayer acknowledges Yahweh as the eternal and changeless Creator. However, in light of the psalmist’s desperate suffering, his prayer demonstrates a persevering trust in Yahweh’s word, although still unfulfilled.

Chapter four turns to examine the literary and historical contexts of Hebrews, noting the serious threats to the faith of the recipients, and the author’s expository and hortatory aims in order to warn and comfort his congregation. Chapter five closely examines Heb 1:10–12 in the argument of 1:1–14 and its distant parallel in 12:25–29.

Chapter six examines the text form of the citation, noting its origin in the LXX, and the questions this raises about the author’s hermeneutical warrant. Next, this chapter provides a detailed exegesis of 1:10–12 in order to discern its meaning and significance in context. The conclusion here is that the psalm citation at Heb 1:10–12 makes a strong contribution to the author’s portrayal that Jesus has been appointed as the Davidic heir who rules in the world to come, fulfilling the promises for Israel’s restoration in Zion.

Chapter 7 broadens the scope to consider the quotation’s contribution of the argument of Hebrews. The conclusion here is that Heb 1:10–12 is foundational for both the author’s exposition on the Son, and his exhortation to the sons. Finally, chapter 8 summarizes this study, notes some of its unique contributions, and suggests opportunities for further study."

Anyone who wants a copy of the dissertation, let me know. He has granted me permission to distribute the dissertation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Zeitschrift für Neues Testament Issue on Hebrews

An entire issue of Zeitschrift für Neues Testament (Volume 15, Issue 29, June 2012) is dedicated to Hebrews and is available for download

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Survey of Recent Hebrews Research

At the recent SBL conference I picked up a copy of a new survey of recent research in New Testament studies:

Scot McKnight and Nijay K. Gupta. The State of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019.

As is appopriate in such a survey, one chapter (19) is devoted to recent research on Hebrews. David M. Moffitt, senior lecturer in New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews, is the author of this chapter.

The survey covers the period from 2003, when the last major surveys by George Guthrie and Daniel Harrington were done, to 2017 (no works published in 2018 appear in this survey).

Moffitt organizes his survey according to the following headings:

I. Questions of Historical Background: The Contexts of Hebrews
  A. Authorship
  B. Genre
  C. Structure
  D. Situation
  E. Greco-Roman Backgrounds
  F. The Interplay of Platonic and Apocalyptic Ideas
    1. Studies Emphasizing Hebrews' Platonism
    2. Studies Emphasizing Hebrews' Jewish Eschatology and Apocalypticism
  G. Hebrew and the Heavenly Tabernacle

II. Thematic Studies
  A. Faith and Faithfulness
  B. Hebrews' Critique of Judaism and the Mosaic Covenant
  C. Various Methodological and Thematic Studies

III. Hebrews' Use of the Old Testament
  A. Hebrews, the Septuagint, and Jewish Exegesis
  B. The Role of Specific Old Testament Figures and Texts
    1. Joshua
    2. Zion and Sinai
    3. Usage of Specific Old Testament Texts
    4. Hermeneutics and God's Speech

Moffitt concludes with some reflections on the current trends in Hebrews' research.

Naturally in a span of 18 pages (389–406) it is impossible to be comprehensive. Moffitt does mention most of the major commentaries, collections of essays, and monographs that have appeared in the 15 years covered, but he does overlook a few major studies. Most of the collections of essays and commentaries are simply listed in the footnotes. Moffitt also does not engage in any evaluation of the works surveys but simply highlights the major arguments. Understandably, summarizing a monograph in a few lines is quite challenging. For example, while he does a fair description of my book, I do not feel he fully captured the entirety of what I was doing in my monograph. I was also a bit surprised that there was no mention of discussions concerning the rhetorical structure of Hebrews. Nevertheless, Moffitt provides a useful survey of recent research on Hebrews. Anyone interested in getting started in Hebrews' research would certainly want to read this survey, along with some of the other major surveys I have catalogued on my History of Research page.