Friday, July 31, 2009

Hebrews Carnival July 2009

Instead of listing new postings on Hebrews every week, I have decided to list them once a month, modeling them after the monthly carnivals for other topics.

Jared Calaway in his posting The Sharp Word in 1 Enoch and Hebrews sees a correlation between 1 Enoch 62:2 and Hebrews 4:12-16 regarding the word of God. I don't see the correlation nearly as "sharply" as Jared. I think the word functions in two different ways in the two passages. In 1 Enoch the word is used to destroy the unrighteous, while in Hebrews it has the function of revealing the inner thoughts of human beings. While both passages may be viewed as relating to judgment, the 1 Enoch passage is much more severe.

Jared Calaway also has a discussion on Hebrews 2:10-11 regarding the confusing pronouns in these verses. Be sure to read the comments section that follows.

Jared also has a post on Hebrews in Codex Sinaiticus, noting some of the features of this particular text.

Jared then has a reflection on Hebrews 11:27, Moses' Vision of the Invisible. Moses is the only one of whom it was said that he saw the invisible.

Jim West has a review of the new book The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology. He chose to focus on Richard Hays' essay on supersessionism. West contends that "New Covenantalism"--the term used by Hays--appears to be no different from supersessionism. He only makes scant references to a couple of other essays, so the review is by no means exhaustive.

Clifford Kvidahl, however, in his post New Covenantalism with Richard Hays, tends to agree with Hays that Hebrews is not supersessionistic.

For the moment I am going to have to side with Jim West on this one. I have not been persuaded by recent attempts to downplay Hebrews as supersessionistic. If the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant and replaces it, then that is supersessionism. I believe the recent to downplay the supersessionism of Hebrews is an attempt to be sensitive to our Jewish colleagues. But isn't the Rabbinic Judaism that developed after the destruction of the Temple also supersessionistic?

Jim West also posted a quotation by John Calvin on Hebrews 11 on the topic of hope.

Stephen Hebert has begun an eight-part series on the textual variants of Hebrews 2:9, entitled "separated by grace." Part one sets up the problem. The majority reading reads χαριτι θεου, while the minority reading is χωρις θεου. Part two notes that the external evidence favors the majority reading. Part three begins to examine the internal evidence. He argues that if the original reading was χαριτι θεου, then it is hard to explain how it gave rise to the alternate reading of χωρις θεου.

Word has gotten out among the blogs that the program book for the upcoming SBL conference in New Orleans is now available online. Several papers on Hebrews are scheduled for the conference. Since this is only the preliminary program book and the program is bound to change, I will not list the papers on Hebrews until sometime in November.


  1. Thanks very much Brian for posting this. It helps me to keep up my reading on this favourite Epistle of mine. On 1 Enoch 62:2 as you highlighted, it may relate somewhat to Rev 19:15, "out of his mouth comes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations...", though there is no certainty that the sword imagery refers to the Word (cf. Rev 19:13).

  2. I think you are right; the correlation with Revelation is much closer.

  3. Thanks for posting this!

    I tend to agree on the supersessionism and that ALL Jewish groups developed some sort of supersessionism at this time. In fact, they had to do so. I think that Jonathan Klawans' book, "Purity, Sacrifice, and the Temple" addresses Jewish and Christian supersessionism of the Jerusalem cult probably the best of what's out there now.

    I agree that the mouth-bearing-sword of Revelation is closer (although it omits the "word"), since it is an immediate slaying. It seems that sharp swords and mouths/words are fairly common imagery circulating at the time, ready for anyone to grab. I do wonder, more generally, why the sword is so strongly related to the mouth/word at all. Where does this relationship come from?

  4. I think the trend--with the works of Boccachini, Segal, Boyarin, etc.--is to see Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism as the two most successful strands of Judaism that emerged out of the crisis of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. As such I think it is better to view both movements as supersessionistic.

    It would be interesting to track down the metaphor of the sword/mouth relationship. I am also thinking of some of our modern expressions. "The pen is mightier than the sword": one's words, even when written, can be more pointed or sharper than an instrument of war. Or one can have a "forked tongue."

  5. I had thought of some of those expressions as well, although I usually associate "forked tongue" with serpentine cunning (coming from the actual shape of a snake's tongue).

    I am well within the "Rebecca's Children" trend--Segal is my academic advisor.

  6. Is he really? Fascinating! I didn't realize he was teaching at Columbia. His book on "Rebecca's Children" is required reading for prelims for NT folk at Baylor.

  7. He's at Barnard College for undergraduate teaching and Columbia for graduate teaching and advising.