Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Week on Hebrews

There have not been many postings on Hebrews the past two weeks:

Brian LePort has a blurb on the Tyndale Life Application Bible Study on Hebrews.

Darrell Pursiful has a series of posts on a "Hemeneutical Key to the Book of Hebrews" which he describes as "liminality." See his posts: 1, 2, 3.

Daniel Kirk touches on Hebrews in his post on Cruciform Ethics.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gardiner on the Authorship of Hebrews

Gardiner, Frederic. “The Language of the Epistle to the Hebrews as Bearing upon Its Authorship.” Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis 7 (June 1887): 1-27.

This article investigates how word frequency might shed light upon the authorship of Hebrews. Gardiner is perfectly aware of the inadequacy of this method, but undertook the exercise so as “to leave no stone unturned” (1) on the question of Hebrews authorship. It is not my intention in this review to give all of the excruciating details of the numerous statistics given in this essay. The reader is encouraged to peruse the article for oneself if one is so inclined.

According to Gardiner, Hebrews has 147 words “peculiar” to itself in comparison to the other books of the NT (2). Among the NT writers the author of Hebrews and the Lucan corpus “excel . . . in the richness of their vocabulary” (3). Gardiner next examines words that are common only to Hebrews and Luke, and Hebrews and Paul (he does not distinguish between the authentic and disputed Paulines). He notes that 34 words are common to Luke and Hebrews only, and that 46 words are common to Paul and Hebrews alone. He says such numbers explain the intuitive sense of the early church fathers who attributed Hebrews to Paul and/or Luke in some way. After surveying some of the characteristic words held in common, Gardiner concludes that “some sort of relation” exists among the three writers.

Gardiner proceeds to examine the usage of other words, such as ερχομαι and λαμβανω with their various compounds, and the usage of particles, adverbs, and prepositions. After this tedious examination of word usage, Gardiner concludes that the style of Hebrews is unlike that of Paul, nor that of Luke (13). Gardiner then examines common words that are characteristic of “phases of thought” that reveal the habitual thoughts of a given writer. For example, αγαπαω and its cognates are used frequently by Paul and John, but hardly used by Hebrews and Luke. Gardiner enumerates a long list of words that indicates a variance of usage by Hebrews, Luke, and Paul.

Gardiner then examines words that are frequently used by both Paul and Hebrews, such as νομος and πιστις. Although these words are used quite often, their nuances are different for each writer. For example, Paul employs νομος “chiefly of a method of salvation,” while Hebrews refers to it as “a definite collection of statutes.” Similarly, there is a distinction with the word πιστις: For Paul it is “reliance upon Christ as the means of salvation in opposition to the law and the works of the law”; for Hebrews “it is only a general reliance on God’s grace and promises” (17). Finally, Gardiner enumerates words characteristic of Hebrews in distinction from other NT writers, including μαρτυς, τελειος, and ιερευς, and their related words. The last of these group of words is most striking, as Paul never uses ιερευς and its derivative words anywhere in his writings, while it is most prominent in Hebrews.

Gardiner confesses that he embarked on this project “suppos[ing] beforehand that it would result in showing Pauline thoughts and reasoning, but the phraseology of S. Luke, and thus would confirm a very ancient and still somewhat popular hypothesis, that the epistle was actually written by S. Luke to express ideas and arguments received from S. Paul,” but his analysis forced him to change his mind (19). Gardiner notes in passing other differences between Hebrews and Paul, such as the rhetorical flow of the discourse, and the manner of citation from the OT (20).

Gardiner concludes his essay with a consideration of candidates for authorship. It is clear that the author must have been a companion of Paul’s who was thus affected by Paul’s mode of expression. Apollos is a strong candidate because of his eloquence and learning in the scriptures. He was an Alexandrian which could explain the epistle’s “Alexandrian tone of thought” and its use of the LXX, which seems to reflect the Alexandrian recension (21). Nevertheless, a strong objection to Apollos’ authorship is the fact that Apollos was never considered as the author by any of the ancients, including any of the Alexandrian authors. Luke and Clement are rejected out of hand by a comparison with their acknowledged writings. The strongest candidate for authorship is Barnabas: He was a Hellenistic Jew from Cyprus (and thus may have had access to Alexandrian literature); he was an early convert and one of the prominent leaders of the church in Jerusalem, a long-time companion of Paul’s, and a Levite (and thus acquainted with the service of the temple).

Although such a statistical analysis that Gardiner engages in has its weaknesses, I think he has sufficiently shown that the author of Hebrews could not be either Paul or Luke. We must look elsewhere. I am in agreement that Apollos and Barnabas are two of the strongest candidates for authorship, although I would also add Aquila as a strong possibility.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Analysis of Hebrews 1:1-4

Clifford Kvidahl offers an exegetical analysis of Hebrews 1:1-4 on his blog, Theological Musings. He also has posted some of his exegetical papers online, including a more detailed analysis on Hebrews 1:1-4 entitled, In These Last Days: The Son as the Final Communicative Act of God. I have added this paper to my electronic articles listing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Week on Hebrews

Alan Knox continues his posts on the Theology of Encouragement in Hebrews with a synthesis of his findings.

Jim West announces that the preliminary program for the 2009 Catholic Biblical Association meeting is now available. At the meeting Eric Mason will be presenting a paper entitled, "The Heavenly Sanctuary in Hebrews and Second Temple Judaism."

At Katagrapho, Christopher Spinks announces the New Covenant Commentary Series. He lists forthcoming volumes in order of projected publication. It looks like the Hebrews volume will not be out for some time. The Hebrews volume will be done by Tom Thatcher.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Week on Hebrews

I am a day late on this post. But not much has been going on with Hebrews this past week in the blogosphere:

Rod Decker has a brief discussion of Hebrews 1:-4. He says that even though these verses are one sentence in Greek, there are two main points. He has an additional post on the meaning of αιων in Hebrews 1:2.

Tommy Wasserman deals with a linguistic problem on Hebrews 6:9.

Richard informs us that D. A. Carson has three new lectures on the use of the OT in Hebrews.

As for myself, I have not posted much recently, since I have had numerous end-of-the-semester responsibilities to take care of. I expect I will get back to doing article reviews once the semester is over.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New JBL Article

My friend Ken Schenck informed me that a new article on Hebrews is out in the current issue of JBL:

Mary Schmitt. "Restructuring Views on Law in Hebrews 7:12." Journal of Biblical Literature 128.1 (2009): 189-201.

This Week on Hebrews

Alan Knox continues to post on the theology of encouragement in Hebrews in his post, Encouragement as Trajectory in Hebrews. He argues that Hebrews has both a negative trajectory (encouraging his readers to move away from something) and a positive trajectory (encouraging them to move towards something). He continues with another post on Mutual Encouragement and Admonition in Hebrews 10:24-25.

Jason Whitlark, a current colleague of mine at Baylor, reviews a book by Kenneth Schenck, a former colleague of mine from my Asbury Seminary days. :-) Ken's book, based on his doctoral dissertation at Durham, is entitled Cosmology and Eschatology in Hebrews: The Setting of the Sacrifice.