Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Recent Trends in Research on Hebrews' Use of OT

Guthrie, George H. “Hebrews’ Use of the Old Testament: Recent Trends in Research.” Currents in Biblical Research 1 (2003): 271-94.
George Howard Guthrie (1959- ) is professor of Bible at Union University in Jackson, TN (1990- ). He has written several monographs, commentaries, and articles on the book of Hebrews.
This is the first of two surveys by Guthrie that we will be looking at. This survey is more focused on current trends on the study of Hebrews’ use of the OT. This allows Guthrie to provide adequate summaries and evaluations of the works reviewed. Guthrie’s essay is divided into two unequal parts:
The first part is an introduction “detailing the phenomena surrounding Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament” (272). He first notes that no consensus has arisen regarding the number of OT quotations in Hebrews since the author also employs allusions, usages of biblical language, and general references to the OT. Scholarship needs to bring some sort of clarification to the various appropriations of the OT by Hebrews. Guthrie then offers his own definitions of quotations, allusions, summaries, and echoes (273). He comes up with the following numbers: 35 quotations, 34 allusions, 19 summaries, and 13 echoes (274). Hebrews does not use introductory formulas like Paul; instead the author places scripture in the mouths of God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit.
The second part of the article deals with four trends in Hebrews research:
Text Form: Bleek argued that Hebrews uses a form of the LXX similar to Codex Alexandrinus. Katz questioned Bleek’s argument. Thomas contended that the author used a more primitive text behind Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus. Howard claimed that the author used a form of the Hebrew text older than the MT. McCullough argued that one needs to evaluate the recensions used by the author on a book-by-book basis (275). Numerous other explanations can account for the differences in Hebrews’ quotations, including intentional changes by the author for stylistic or theological reasons. Numerous scholars have explored this possibility in recent years (Silva; Leschert; Bateman; Hughes; Enns; Jobes). (276)
Structural “Framing”: Caird suggested that Hebrews is organized according to expositions of OT passages: “Heb. 2 is build around Ps. 8, chs. 3-4 develop from Ps 95, chs. 5-7 play off Ps. 110, and Jer. 31 governs Heb. 8-10" (278). Caird’s suggestion was expanded by R. Longenecker, France, and Walters.
Exegetical Methods: A number of scholars have tried to identify the author’s exegetical methodology. Scholars have explored the following methods: midrash (Leschert; Hayes; Bateman; Ellis; Fitzmyer; Guthrie), chain quotations or haraz (Bateman), example lists (Cosby; Bulley; Eisenbaum), dispelling confusion, reinforcement, implications, capitalizing on the literal sense of the word or phrase, verbal analogy or Gezerah shavah and argument from lesser to greater or Kal vahomer.(Guthrie).
Hermeneutic: Spicq’s contention that Hebrews employs a neo-Platonic dualism has now been called into question (Barrett; Williamson; Hurst). At least seven approaches have arisen exploring Hebrews’ hermeneutical system: 1) Proof-texting: Hebrews disregards the original context of scripture and forces them into the service of Christian proclamation (Weiss). Motyer raised objections to this view; 2) Sensus plenior: the Holy Spirit gives the “understanding of the deeper, christological meaning of the Old Testament text” (284) (Beale); 3) Dialogical Hermeneutics: “Exegesis is for the author of Hebrews the hearing participation in the dialogue that goes on within God and between God and man” (quotation from M. Barth, p. 64; 285); 4) Christ’s preexistence as hermeneutical key (Ellingworth); 5) hermeneutic of permission: “the Old Testament forms ‘permit’ to the new covenant interpreter the meanings that may be found in light of Christ” (287) (G. Hughes); 6) hermeneutic of the living voice: “God is speaking; he speaks old words with new meanings at points” (288) (Blackstone); 7) typology: “correspondences in biblical history between persons, institutions and events” (288) (Enns; Ellis; Caird; France; Motyer).

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