Monday, January 31, 2011

Hebrews Carnival January 2011

Here is the blog activity on the book of Hebrews for the month of January:

Charles Savelle talks about The Implications of the New Covenant Sacrifice of Christ in Hebrews 9:23-28.

Keith Reich illustrates συγκρισις or comparison with an example from Hebrews 3:3-6.

Matt Capps is teaching a Book Study on the Book of Hebrews.  He provides a short introduction.

David Ker discusses the meaning of αντί in Hebrews 12:2.  See also the extensive discussion in the comments section.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review of David Allen's Commentary on Hebrews

David L. Allen. Hebrews. New American Commentary 35. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010.

I would like to thank Jim Baird and Broadman & Holman Publishers for a review copy of this commentary.

David Allen, dean of the School of Theology, professor of preaching, and director of the Center of Biblical Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has produced the second major commentary on Hebrews to come out in 2010 (the other being Peter O’Brien’s commentary in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series).

Allen’s commentary, weighing in at 671 pages, is a substantial contribution to the ongoing dialogue over the book of Hebrews.  The 72-page introduction deals with the following topics: the nature, historical circumstances (authorship, recipients, location, and date), purpose, theology, use of the OT, textual criticism, and outline and structure of Hebrews.  The introduction thus explores many of the traditional introductory topics.  Allen engages the various views regarding the book in the presentation of his own views.

Regarding the nature of the book, Allen notes that Hebrews is probably the most enigmatic book in the NT due to the uncertainty over its authorship and provenance.  The book as a whole is sermonic in nature and meant for oral delivery.  The book is also an epistle, although it never had an epistolary introduction.  The epistolary ending is not a Pauline forgery but is original with the book.  Its numerous stylistic devices and its use of the LXX, rather than the Hebrew OT, demonstrate that it was not translated from Hebrew or Aramaic (23-29).

The purpose of Hebrews is primarily pastoral and only secondarily doctrinal (79).  Allen summarizes the purpose as “the necessity of pressing on to maturity in the midst of difficulty (6:1-3) by means of drawing near, holding fast, and stirring one another up to love and good works (10:19-25).”  His section on theology is brief, noting that he will draw out the theological implications at the end of each section in the commentary (82-83).  Allen states that Hebrews does not exhibit a “replacement theology” nor is it supersessionistic since it does not claim that the Jewish people have been replaced by any other group.  He clarifies, however, that there is a form of supersessionism in Hebrews, namely that “the old covenant is superseded by the new” (83).  This is an important distinction that Allen makes in the face of the current politically correct trend of not seeing any supersessionism in Hebrews.

His section on the use of the OT in Hebrews deals with the standard issues.  Hebrews’ presentation is centered on key quotations, as first noted by G. B. Caird but modified by others.  Hebrews exclusively uses the LXX and uses a midrashic approach to the interpretation of scripture.  His method of citation is unique, attributing OT quotations directly to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.  This method of citation signifies that the author of Hebrews viewed scripture as the very words of God spoken personally to the readers (84-87).  Regarding textual criticism, he remarks briefly that the “commentary only deals with text-critical issues that significantly affect interpretation,” but he does point the reader to useful resources for further study (87).  Allen’s outline and structure of the book are influenced by the discourse analysis treatments of Linda Neely, George Guthrie, and Cynthia Westfall (87-94).

Where Allen makes his greatest contribution is his reconstruction of the historical circumstances of the book.  Allen develops his historical reconstruction and argument for Lukan authorship more fully in his monograph, The Lukan Authorship of Jesus.  Readers are encouraged to check out my review and critique of his presentation here.  Allen contends that Luke, the amanuensis of Paul, wrote Hebrews from Rome to a group of former Jewish priests residing in Antioch during the time of the Jewish revolt just before the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  Allen first deals with other major candidates for authorship (Paul, Barnabas, Apollos) before presenting his argument for Lukan authorship.  While he claims that the case for Pauline authorship has been too easily dismissed by recent scholars, Allen ultimately rejects Pauline authorship for a variety of reasons: lack of Paul’s name, lack of epistolary salutation, stylistic and theological differences, treatment of the OT, and the fact that the author apparently considered himself among the second generation of Christians (34-43).  The arguments for Barnabas and Apollos are dismissed much more briefly (43-47).  The case for Priscillan authorship is dismissed in a footnote on page 47.

Allen begins his argument for Lukan authorship with the patristic testimony.  He then proceeds to reconstruct the historical background adducing evidence from Hebrews 13:23-24 and the Pastoral Epistles.  Luke was Paul’s amanuensis during his time of imprisonment in Rome and helped him write the Pastoral Epistles (see 2 Tim 4:11).  In 2 Tim 4:9 Paul urges Timothy to come to him quickly.  Sometime before or after Timothy arrived Paul was beheaded and Timothy was arrested and imprisoned.  Shortly after Timothy was released Luke wrote Hebrews (13:23).  Naturally, scholars who deny Pauline authorship of the Pastorals will not be persuaded by this reconstruction. 

Allen cites similarity in vocabulary and style as another reason for supporting Lukan authorship.  For example, he notes that Hebrews shares 53 words that only appear elsewhere in the NT in Luke-Acts.  Allen tries to counter a few objections to Lukan authorship.  Allen argues that the objection based on ethnicity (that the author of Luke-Acts was Gentile, while the author of Hebrews was Jewish) cannot be sufficiently maintained.  Allen downplays the supposed theological differences between Hebrews and Luke-Acts.  Luke does have a notion of a high priestly Christology and he does have a theology of the cross.  Allen develops his argument more fully in his monograph in which he also highlights other linguistic and theological affinities between Luke-Acts and Hebrews.

Naturally, it will be impossible in this review to deal with the commentary in detail.  Allen’s commentary basically takes the following format.  For each passage he begins with a general overview dealing with pertinent issues.  Then he proceeds with a verse-by-verse and passage-by-passage commentary on the Greek text.  Greek words are transliterated, making it somewhat more accessible for the non-specialist.  Nevertheless, the commentary for each section is still quite thorough and learned.  Allen interacts extensively with secondary literature, even dealing with numerous nineteenth-century works which are often neglected in more recent scholarly treatments.  The selected bibliography at the end of the book does not reflect all the numerous works cited in the voluminous footnotes of the commentary (I, for one, would have preferred a more complete bibliography of all works cited).  Allen also deals with the theological implications at the end of most sections.  Here Allen interacts with a great deal of theological literature not normally treated in commentaries of this sort.  Allen demonstrates a greater theological sensitivity than many other commentaries and it is here that I believe Allen makes a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion on Hebrews.  Allen has particularly long treatments on the prologue, 1:1-4 (65 pages!), and the difficult passage of Hebrews 6:1-8 (54 pages!).  In what follows I give a sampling of some of Allen’s more interesting comments and ideas, and how he treats some of the more contested passages in the book.

Allen has a lengthy discussion on the significance of 1:1-4 for the theology of revelation.  On page 152 he says “God’s revelation in Christ is something that God says (God has spoken through the prophets and in a Son), something that Jesus as God is (the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his being), and something that Jesus as God does (he created the universe and he made purification for sins).  Thus God’s revelation in Christ is being, word, and event.  It incorporates all the categories that theologians have fought over relative to the nature of revelation: is it personal, propositional, or eventful?  It is in reality all three.”  Allen also believes that Hebrews in essence reflects a Logos Christology, similar to John 1:1-18.

I was surprised to read that Allen believes that 2:3-4 seems to support a cessationist view of spiritual gifts, that is, that the miraculous sign gifts ceased after the age of the apostles (197-200).  Personally, I do not think the passage supports the theological weight he wants to put on the passage.

Allen appears to contradict himself regarding the word oikoumene (1:6; 2:5).  Commenting on 1:6 on page 174 he remarks, “Although oikoumene usually refers to the inhabited human world, our author used this word in Heb 2:5, its only other occurrence in Hebrews, to designate the heavenly realm with a future connotation.”  However, commenting on 2:5 on page 203 he says “Lane gave the word an interpretive translation, ‘heavenly world,’ but such a translation cannot be fully justified by the meaning and usage of the word oikoumene or by the context of the passage itself.  The noun is commonly used to denote ‘the inhabited earth’ and not ‘heaven’ or some generic meaning like ‘future world,’ ‘future life,’ or ‘heavenly world.’”  He is not the only commentator that makes this frustrating contradiction in their commentaries; I have found it in others.  (In a private email Allen did admit the inconsistency to me—he has been working on this commentary for over ten years and when he did some revisions on chapter 2 he did not go back to see what he wrote on 1:6.  Allen informed me that his current view is expressed in his comments on 2:5).

Allen attempts to address the difficult problem of when Jesus became the Son.  According to Allen, Heb 1:1-2:18 indicates three stages of Sonship: 1) Jesus was Son in his preexistent state; 2) Jesus became Son in connection with his incarnation; 3) Jesus entered into a new stage of Sonship at his exaltation (231).

Allen argues that the “word of God” in 4:12-13 refers, not to the written word, but to Jesus as the Word.  This was the prevailing understanding of the term in the patristic and medieval eras.  It was not until the Reformation era that it was construed as the written word.  The Greek word machaira is better rendered as “knife” rather than “sword” (in his monograph, Allen argues that the word could refer to a scalpel and that the medical language in this verse points towards Lukan authorship).  The adjective zon, “living,” implies personality, not an inanimate object.  These two verses form an inclusio with the prologue in which God spoke his word in his Son (285-286).

In Hebrews 3-4 Allen contends that the “rest” not only has an eschatological dimension but has present-day relevance as well.  The author wants to inspire faithfulness in his audience today.  Allen states that to equate “rest” with heaven alone “is problematic for both Calvinists and Arminians” for three reasons: “First, that the exodus generation was barred from entry because of their disobedience is contradictory to the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.  Second, the exodus generation had to work to obtain the inheritance in Canaan, which does not square with the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  Third, out of the entire exodus generation, only two men who were over 40 years of age entered the promised rest, Joshua and Caleb.  Are we to assume that all of those who died in the wilderness were not part of God’s covenant people, Israel, and thus were eternally lost?”  (292-293).  This paragraph makes me wonder if his theology is controlling his exegesis.  In 3:12 the author addresses his audience as “brothers,” a term usually reserved for fellow believers.  He warns them against unbelief and falling away (aphistemi) from God.  I take this as a real warning and not a hypothetical possibility.  Allen denies that aphistemi means “apostasy.”  On page 262 he states that “Our author used the verb aphistemi only once in this passage and did not use it again in any of the other warning passages, which argues against understanding his meaning as ‘apostasy’ in the traditional sense of the term.”  But it is unclear to me how this follows.  Later he queries, “If apistia and apeithes are synonyms for apostenai, then is apostasy in the usual theological sense what the author had in mind?  It is highly unlikely that the theological sense of the term is what the author intended” (263).  But I ask, what is apostasy if not unbelief and disobedience to God?   Later the author says that the Israelites did not enter into God’s rest because of their unbelief (3:19), and he warns his audience of the danger of coming short of entering God’s rest (4:1).  Allen is probably right that “rest” is a present possibility for the believer, but it also includes a future reality.  Allen’s argument is certainly far more complex than I have presented here and it is impossible to do it justice in this brief review.  I will leave it up to the reader to decide if Allen’s argument is persuasive.

On pages 306-313 Allen discusses the peccability/impeccability debate, that is, the debate over whether Jesus could or could not have sinned.  While the issue cannot be resolved by appealing to Hebrews 4:15 by itself, Allen concludes that the “preponderance of evidence seems to tilt the scales in favor of the impeccability position” (312).

Allen deals at length with the most controverted passage in Hebrews, 6:4-8.  Allen begins with an examination of the syntax.  He claims that anakainizein is the subject of the sentence with the direct object being the five participial clauses that precede it (346).  This is certainly a plausible way of understanding the syntax.  Unfortunately, he creates confusion by not translating it that way.  If anakainizein is the subject of the sentence, then the sentence should read, “To renew unto repentance those who once have been enlightened . . . is impossible.”  The sentence is nearly impossible to translate adequately into English.  Another way of analyzing the Greek is to view adunaton as a predicate adjective which takes anakainizein as an infinitive complement: “It is impossible to renew unto repentance those who once have been enlightened . . .” (see Lane, Hebrews 1-8, page 132, note r).  This is in fact how Allen translates it.  Allen does correctly identify parapesontas as a substantival participle in parallel to the previous four participles (347-348), which speaks against those who want to view the participle as conditional.  Allen does a detailed word study of the key word parapipto in 6:6.  He concludes that the word does not mean “to apostasize.”  Instead, it has the connotation of “transgressing” against God.

Allen surveys and assesses the five major views on 6:4-6, which he calls 1) the Loss of Salvation view; 2) the Hypothetical view; 3) the Tests of Genuineness view; 4) the Means of Salvation view; and 5) the Loss of Rewards view.  View 1 is generally the Arminian position, which identifies the people described in the passage as genuine believers who lose their salvation due to apostasy.  Views 2-4 are variations on the Calvinist views identifies the people as non-believers, and that true believers cannot apostasize.  The fifth view takes a middle position between the two: it identifies the people as genuine believers, but they cannot lose their salvation.  Instead, they incur other losses of blesses and rewards due to disobedience.  This final position is the one that Allen advocates.  Space prohibits me from evaluating Allen’s argument at length.  As one who comes from an Arminian point of view, I believe he has too easily dismissed the “Loss of Salvation” view.  He remarks that the “key weakness from the standpoint of the New Testament is the difficulty of explaining the plethora of passages that affirm the eternal security of the believer” (371).  He cites some of these passages in a footnote.  Of course, Arminians can also point to a plethora of passages that seem to support the contention that believers can lose their salvation (the most comprehensive list I know of is found on pages 334-337 in Robert Shank’s Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance), not to mention the plethora of passages that speak about the necessity of perseverance.  I find it curious that one can argue that Christians who live in persistent, willful disobedience can incur all kinds of punishments except for the ultimate punishment of the loss of salvation.  Nevertheless, Allen has offered a formidable argument for the “Loss of Rewards” view and anyone who does work on this passage in the future will have to deal with his arguments.

One of the interpretive cruxes of the book of Hebrews is the meaning of diatheke in 9:16-17.    Diatheke can mean either “covenant” or “testament.”  Allen concludes that both linguistically and contextually that diatheke means “covenant” in this passage and throughout Hebrews (481).  My own view is that diatheke can mean “testament” in this context.  The author of Hebrews is a master of exploiting the ambiguities of language, as can be seen, for example, in his usage of the term “house” in 3:1-6 or “rest” in chapters 3-4.

Another interpretive crux is the interpretation of “altar” in 13:10.  Three major lines of interpretations have been taken.  The altar can refer to 1) the Eucharist; 2) the heavenly sanctuary; or 3) the cross or the sacrificial death of Christ.  Allen, I believe, correctly chooses the third option.  The context does not really support a Eucharistic interpretation, and there is no mention of any sacrificial altar in the heavenly sanctuary (616).

The commentary concludes with a selected bibliography and indexes for subjects, persons, and scripture references.  The book itself is solidly constructed; the binding and stitching remain well intact, even after I have worked my way through the whole book.

This is a meaty commentary both exegetically and theologically.  I would rank it among the top ten most important commentaries on the book of Hebrews.  This commentary will have to be consulted in the future by any serious students on the book of Hebrews.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Even More New Resources Added

I am constantly adding new resources to this site, even though I don't always announce them. Here are some resources that have been added today:


Cortez, Felix H. “‘The Anchor of the Soul that Enters within the Veil’: The Ascension of the ‘Son’ in the Letter to the Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Andrews University, 2008.

Steyn, Gert J. “A Quest for the Assumed LXX Vorlage of the Explicit Quotations in Hebrews.” Ph.D. diss., Stellenbosch University, 2009.


Hebert, Stephen B. "Hebrews 2:9: Separated by Grace." 2007. Online.

Maddox, Roger. “The Role of Paraenesis in Early Christian Letters with an Exegesis of Hebrews 13:1-9.” 1997. Online

Pilhofer, Peter. “Hebräererbrief.” 2006. Online:

Pöhler, Rolf J. "Das Heiligtum als Gleichnis im Hebräerbrief: Ein Beitrag zur Auslegung von Hebräer 9,1-14." (1974).

Steyn, Gert J. “The Vorlage of Psalm 45:6-7 (44:7-8) in Hebrews 1:8-9.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 60 (2004): 1085-1103.


Teupe, Cambron. Bibelarbeiten zum Hebraerbrief: Eine Arbeitshilfe zum Gruppestudium. 2007.

Voorhoeve, Hermanus Cornelis. Der Hebräerbrief. ( 2011.

New Resources Added

The following articles have been added:

Asumang, Annang, and Bill Domeris. "Ministering in the Tabernacle: Spatiality and the Christology of Hebrews." Conspectus: The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary 1.1 (2006): 1-25.

Bénétreau, Samuel. "Évangile et Judaïte: L'apport de l’Épître aux Hébreux." Fac-réflexion 13 (1989): 16-24. 

Bonnardière, Anne-Marie. “L’épître aux Hébreux dans l’oeuvre de saint Augustin.” Biblia Augustiniana (1957): 137-62.

Finney, Timothy John. "Mapping the Textual History of Hebrews." Revue Informatique et Statistique dans les Sciences humaines 33 (1997): 125-47.

Foster, Jason. “The Resurrected Body of Christ: John 20:27 and Hebrews 2:10.” Reformed Perspective Magazine 8.27 (2006).

Langley, Justin. "Seeing Jesus: A Look at the Incarnation of the Divine Son in Hebrews 2:5-9." (2010) Online.

Quinot, Bernard. “L’influence de l’Épître aux Hébreux dans la notion augustinienne du vrai sacrifice.” Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes 8 (1962): 129-68.

Savigni, Raffaele. “Le commentaire d’Alcuin sur l’Épître aux Hébreux et le thème du sacrifice.” Annales de Bretagne et des Pays de l’Ouest 111.3 (2004): 245-67.

The following theses have been added:

Asumang, Annang. “The Tabernacle as a Heuristic Device in the Interpretation of the Christology of Hebrews.” Th.M. thesis, South African Theological Seminary, 2005.

Desjardins, Michael Robert. “Prolegomenon to the Study of Hebrews’ Use of Scripture: A Methodological, Textual and Bibliographic Inquiry.” M.A. thesis, The University of British Colombia, 1976.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review of David Allen's Lukan Authorship of Hebrews

David L. Allen. Lukan Authorship of Hebrews. NAC Studies of the Bible & Theology. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010.

I want to begin by thanking David Allen, Jim Baird, and Broadman & Holman Press for a review copy of this book.

David Allen, dean of the School of Theology, professor of Preaching, and director of the Center of Biblical Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, proposes in this monograph that Luke is the most likely author of the book of Hebrews.  Allen’s book is essentially a revision and expansion upon his 1987 dissertation completed at the University of Texas at Arlington.  Allen is by no means the first to propose Lukan authorship of Hebrews; the theory in various forms has found proponents since patristic times, but this book is perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of the theory.

In his introduction Allen sets forth the appropriate disclaimers: when reconstructing the authorship and other historical circumstances surrounding an ancient work, one is not working in the realm of certainty, but of probability.  Nevertheless, Allen moves forward in relative confidence in the viability of his thesis.  Allen proposes that Luke was the independent author of Hebrews, which he wrote from Rome around 67-69 AD after the death of Paul.  The audience consisted of former priests who were converted to Christianity prior to the martyrdom of Stephen.  When persecution broke out, these priests fled to Syrian Antioch where they became part of the larger Christian community there.  Luke was likely a member of this Antiochene church, or at the very least had contact with the church on several occasions (3-4).

Chapter 1 surveys the history of interpretation regarding the authorship of Hebrews, particularly focusing on previous theories of Lukan authorship.  While Allen does not deal with every theory in detail, he does provide a very useful chart on page 13 summarizing the various theories on the authorship of Hebrews.  Hence, this chapter is a helpful starting place for anyone wanting to get an overview of the various theories on Hebrews’ authorship.

Chapter 2 weighs the evidence for and against the other leading candidates for Hebrews’ authorship: Barnabas, Apollos, and Paul.  Allen quickly dismisses the candidacies of Barnabas and Apollos; for both individuals we do not have any of their extant writings with which to compare the book of Hebrews, and furthermore there is no Patristic testimony supporting Apollos as the author (40-45).  Of course, just because we do not have any extant writings from a candidate does not mean that person could not have written Hebrews.  It simply means that we are unable to test certain theories by means of literary comparison.

Although the majority of scholars today disregard Paul as the author, Allen believes that his candidacy should not be so easily dismissed (45).  Paul was widely, if not universally, regarded as the author among the early church fathers.  Modern proponents for Pauline authorship also adduce many literary and theological affinities between the Pauline writings and Hebrews.  Allen examines in considerable detail the arguments of Eta Linnemann, William Leonard, and David Alan Black for Pauline authorship, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the various arguments.  While the evidence amassed for Pauline authorship is impressive, Allen rightly points out that the literary style and theological emphases are still significantly dissimilar so as to make Pauline authorship highly improbable.  Other evidence that points away from Pauline authorship include divergences in argumentation and citation practice of the Old Testament, the author of Hebrews never identifies himself (as Paul does in all of his other letters), and he seems to place himself among a later generation of believers (2:3).  Nevertheless, the affinities between Hebrews and the Pauline letters does suggest that the author was an associate of Paul’s and was likely influenced by Paul’s theology.  Hence, Luke emerges as one of the leading candidates for authorship (46-77).

The heart of Allen’s argument is found in chapters 3-5.  In chapter 3 Allen lays out the linguistic evidence for Lukan authorship.  Allen begins by noting the lexical similarities between Hebrews and Luke-Acts.  Allen not only identifies 53 words (including four proper nouns) that are unique to Luke-Acts and Hebrews among the NT writings (he lays out these words nicely in a chart on pages 84-86), but Allen sets forth numerous other lexical similarities between the two sets of writings (96-109).  Allen also argues that the lexical similarities between the Pauline and Lukan writings only bolsters Lukan authorship of Hebrews since they demonstrate that Paul and Luke were acquaintances and influenced one another (90).  Next Allen proceeds to lay out the stylistic similarities between Hebrews and Luke-Acts (117-125).  Allen’s presentation of the lexical and stylistic similarities is highly detailed, but the various pieces of evidence he adduces range in persuasiveness.  Some of the similarities could be chalked up to mere coincidence, while other pieces of evidence seem so narrowly defined so as to conveniently exclude the other NT writings.  In other instances, it is hard to see how certain pieces of evidence contribute to the overall argument since the same words or constructions can be found in the other NT writings.  Nevertheless, the overall effect is cumulative and I think Allen succeeds in demonstrating that among the writings of the NT the Lukan writings evince the greatest lexical and stylistic similarity to Hebrews.

I do not, however, find that these similarities are decisive evidence for positing Lukan authorship of Hebrews.  First, I remain dubious about linguistic arguments that are based solely on the NT writings.  The NT, relatively speaking, represents only a small portion of Greek literature compared to the vast body of Greek literature that survives from the ancient world.  It would be relatively easy to find distinctive literary features among two sets of works when the comparison base is so relatively small.  Second, nearly all scholars recognize that Hebrews and the Lukan corpus evince the most sophisticated Greek style among all of the writings of the NT.  The many similarities that Allen highlights between Hebrews and Luke-Acts could be attributed, not to common authorship, but to the fact that the authors of these works were more skilled in the use of the Greek language.  In order to strengthen the case for Lukan authorship of Hebrews, one would have to compare the linguistic features of Hebrews and Luke-Acts with the larger body of contemporaneous Greek literature.  At the very least, the Apostolic Fathers should be taken into consideration, but an analysis could be expanded to include the Greek Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, early Patristic writings, and near-contemporary writers such as Philo, Josephus, Plutarch, and Lucian.  This might be a good dissertation project for someone to see if Allen’s thesis could be falsified by expanding the scope of comparative literature to determine if the linguistic similarities between Hebrews and Luke-Acts are truly distinctive or not.  Third, Allen does not delve much into the lexical and stylistic differences between the two sets of writings.  Allen rightly points out that, while Hebrews evinces lexical and stylistic similarities with the Pauline literature, the differences make Pauline authorship of Hebrews highly unlikely.  Can the same be said of Hebrews with regard to the Lukan corpus?  Allen does remark that there are 337 words which appear in Hebrews, but not in Luke-Acts (87).  Is this a sufficient number to question the viability of Lukan authorship?  Later in the book, Allen admits that 1 Peter shows “remarkable similarity” to both the writings of Luke and Hebrews (272).  If a writer other than Luke could write 1 Peter that has linguistic and conceptual similarities to his writings, then couldn’t the same be said for the author of Hebrews?

Allen then considers the use of Old Testament quotation formulas in Luke-Acts, Hebrews, and Paul (127-135).  Here I believe is one of the weakest links in Allen’s argument.  Allen concludes that Hebrews shares similarities with both Paul and Luke, but that Hebrews more closely aligns with Luke.  In terms of the quotations themselves Paul uses both the MT and the LXX, Luke seldom uses the MT, and Hebrews never uses the MT (135).  Here again Hebrews is closer to Luke than to Paul.  Yet there are some significant differences.  First, as Allen acknowledges, Hebrews never uses gegraptai to introduce OT quotations; Luke, on the other hand, uses it quite often (14 times).  Second, Allen also acknowledges that Hebrews differs from both Paul in Luke in that it usually does not name the human author of Scripture quotations.  Instead, Hebrews often attributes quotations directly to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, even when they were not the speakers in the original OT context.  Luke never does this; he sometimes identifies God as the speaker of the quotation, but usually God is the one who is speaking in the original context of the quotation, such as when God speaks to Abraham or Moses.  Thus, Hebrews’ citation practice is dramatically different from what we encounter in the Lukan corpus.  This fact seems to speak against Lukan authorship of Hebrews.

In the last section of the chapter Allen utilizes discourse analysis to examine three features of Hebrews and Luke-Acts: the prologues of each book, Stephen’s speech in Acts 7 versus the “faith chapter” of Hebrews 11, and the macrostructure and superstructures of each book.  Allen notes several similarities between the prologues of Luke, Acts, and Hebrews (138-141).  It is virtually without dispute that these prologues are, both in terms of vocabulary and style, some of the most elevated prose in the NT.  Allen sees this as evidence of common authorship.  However, Allen also notes the similarity of Luke’s prologues to Josephus’ prologues in Against Apion (141-142).  Other authors of Luke’s time were equally capable of writing such elevated prose, so it is just as plausible that another author whose literary skills were equal or even superior to Luke’s could have written the book of Hebrews.  Allen then traces numerous thematic and linguistic parallels between Acts 7 and Hebrews 11 (143-149).  Some of the linguistic parallels, noted in a chart on pages 148-149, are actually quite intriguing.  Certainly there are similarities between the two passages, as both are in a sense a recounting of Israelite history, but there are certainly differences as well; both function differently within their literary contexts.

The final piece of Allen’s linguistic argument examines the macrostructures and superstructures of Luke, Acts, and Hebrews.  Allen highlights several studies that have attempted to discover the chiastic structure of Luke, Acts, and Luke-Acts as a whole (152-162).  Likewise, scholars have attempted chiastic analyses on the structure of Hebrews (162-170).  That Luke-Acts and Hebrews evince a chiastic framework suggests to Allen common authorship of these works.  Yet Allen does admit that chiastic analyses have also been posited for other NT writings.  Hence, a chiastic arrangement, if truly present, is not a unique feature to Hebrews and the Lukan writings (170-171).  Common authorship would not be needed to account for such a feature in these writings.

Here, however, I must register my own skepticism towards studies that attempt to identify chiastic arrangements to literary works.  Many of these studies strike me as artificial; often these chiastic outlines seem rather forced (as a case in point, look at Vanhoye’s outline on page 164).  Ancient writings were often intended for oral delivery.  I find it difficult to imagine an audience being able to hold the whole of an oral presentation in their minds and to be able to discern the complex chiastic structures contained therein.  Nor, do I find it entirely plausible that writers would sit down and work out complex chiastic arrangements for their works before putting their ideas down in writing.  Scholars who discern chiastic arrangements of literary works have the benefit of poring over a written text for hours in order to work out their arrangements.  It seems to me that in order for the technique of chiasm to be persuasive, it needs to be more readily apparent to an audience that only has the benefit of hearing an oral presentation once.  This is not to deny that chiasm is used by ancient authors, but for me it is more persuasive to find chiasm at the microlevel of discourse, such as in sentences and paragraphs.  Nor do I deny that parallelism and other organizational techniques are used by ancient authors to arrange their works.

In chapter 4 Allen seeks to compare the purposes of Luke-Acts and Hebrews.  Working off the insights from previous Lukan scholars (particularly W. C. van Unnik), Allen proposes that Hebrews 2:3-4 is a key passage for understanding the purpose of Luke-Acts (181-184).  The message of salvation begins with Jesus and is continued by his “witnesses” and confirmed by signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  This appears to be a nice way of summarizing what is going on in Luke-Acts.  Allen thus remarks that the Lukan purpose is similar to Hebrews: “to challenge believers to mature and not to waver in their faith” (182).  Turning to the purpose of Hebrews, Allen rightly notes that the purpose of Hebrews must be found in the hortatory sections of the book (184).  Allen nicely traces the theme of the “word” of God and the importance of obedience to that word throughout the prologue, hortatory sections, and conclusion of the book (185-186).  Allen then demonstrates that the “word of God” is a major emphasis in the Luke-Acts as well (186-191).  Equally, the notion of “certainty” can be found in both Luke-Acts and Hebrews as well (192-193).  Confidence in the certainty of God’s message encourages believers to move forward in maturity in the Christian faith.

Chapter 5 turns to an examination of the theology of Luke-Acts and Hebrews.  Allen divides his analysis into three sections: Christology, Eschatology, and Additional Arguments.  Under Christology he notes the following similarities: 1) Both have an exaltation Christology; 2) Both use teleioo to refer to Christ’s consecration and enthronement into the messianic office (cf. Luke 13:32); 3) Both talk about the “testing” of Jesus (cf. Luke 22:28); 4) Both see Jesus as the Davidic ruler in fulfillment of such passages as 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7; 5) Hebrews 5:7 seems to coincide best with Luke’s account of Gethsemane; 6) Both have an interest in the humanity of Christ and mention his inner human development (Hebrews 5:8; Luke 2:52); 7) Both use a similar word (agonia, agon) to describe Jesus’ suffering; 8) Both used archegos as a title for Jesus; 9) Both make significant use of the title Kurios as a designation for Jesus.  It is impossible to deal with each of these points in this review.  Suffice it to say, some of the evidence he adduces is more persuasive than others.  For example, both Hebrews and Luke have a strong exaltation Christology and the use of archegos as a title for Jesus is quite striking.  Other points are debatable: for example, it is not clear that teleioo is being used in the same way in both Hebrews and Luke; scholars have debated whether Hebrews 5:7 alludes to Gethsemane; and the way Jesus’ “human development” is described is different in both Luke and Hebrews.  Allen attempts to address perhaps one of the biggest objections to the Lukan authorship of Hebrews, that is, Luke does not describe Jesus as a high priest. Allen contends, however, that Luke does depict Jesus as a priest based on three points: 1) Luke mentions Jesus’ anointing (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:25-27; 10:36-42); 2) Jesus intercedes on the behalf of others (Luke 22:31-32; 23:34); 3) Jesus lifts his hands and blesses the disciples prior to his ascension; this is indicative of a priestly act.  Allen does have a very interesting interpretation of the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus in Luke 17:11-19.  Jesus told the lepers that they were cleansed and that they should go show themselves to the priest.  The one Samaritan, when he realized he was cleansed, returned to thank Jesus; he showed himself to Jesus who is the true high priest.  If Luke is truly depicting Jesus as a priest, it does not appear, however, that his high priestly Christology is as developed to the extent it is found in Hebrews.  Naturally, one could argue that this was not Luke’s purpose when he wrote Luke-Acts.

Regarding eschatology, Allen makes the following observations: 1) Both Luke and Hebrews have a reduced emphasis on the parousia; 2) Both have a prophecy-fulfillment schema; 3) Both depict Jesus as the eschatological prophet in the likeness of Moses; 4) Both have journey motifs as a description of the experience of the people of God.  Under Additional Arguments, Allen amasses the following evidence: 1) Both appear to have a polemic against Qumranic ideas (ritual baths, angels as saviors, two messiahs, the superiority of the Aaronic line; 2) Both have an interest in angelic activity; 3) The Lukan temptation narrative hints at Israel’s failure during their wilderness wanderings; Hebrews describes Jesus’ faithfulness immediately prior to a discussion of Israel’s failure during the wilderness wanderings; 4) Paul preaches a “word of exhortation” in Acts 13—a designation that the author of Hebrews uses for his work.  Other thematic elements in the speech are correlated with Hebrews; 5) The “elementary teachings” of Hebrews 6:1-2 correlates well with the activity of the early church described in Acts; 6) Both use “house” as a theological description of the people of God; 7) Both attach theological significance to “today”; 8) Both have an emphasis on apostasy and perseverance; 9) Both have a concept of the “way” 10) Luke has a theology of the cross, which is consistent with Hebrews’ discussion of the significance of Jesus’ death; 11) Both give significant attention to the motif of “salvation” 12) Both use priestly terminology; 13) Both discuss Jesus’ intercessory ministry; 14) Both have similar attitudes towards money and possessions; 15) Thematic elements in the sermons in Acts correlate to the theology of Hebrews; 16) The figure of Melchizedek in Hebrews correlates to Luke’s depiction of Jesus as an exalted human being; 17) Both make reference to the “new covenant.”  Again, the evidence presented here has varying degrees of persuasiveness, and in a couple of places, I felt like he needed to flesh out the points he was making (for example, his comments about Melchizedek), but the effect is cumulative.  Allen has succeeded in demonstrating that Luke-Acts has significant theological affinities with Hebrews. 

Allen does not really discuss any theological differences between the two sets of works.  Are there any differences that might detract from the argument for Lukan authorship of Hebrews?  Let me suggest a few as a starting point: 1) Luke demonstrates great interest in the earthly life of Jesus, particularly in his gospel; Hebrews gives scant attention to the earthly life of Jesus and any references to his earthly life are quite vague; 2) Luke makes frequent references to Jesus’ resurrection.  Luke uses various words to describe the resurrection (αναστασεως, ανιστημι, εγειρω); Hebrews only makes one explicit reference to Jesus’ resurrection (13:20) and he uses an expression not found in Luke-Acts (αναγαγων εκ νεκρων); 3) Luke makes several references to the Temple, but only once to the tabernacle (Act 7:44); Hebrews never mentions the Temple and only focuses on the tabernacle; 4) The Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in the Lukan writings; in Hebrews the role of the Holy Spirit is much less prominent; 5) While Luke may depict Jesus as a high priest and make mention of the New Covenant, these concepts are much more fully developed in Hebrews.  One may, of course, attribute these differences to different genres and themes, but I find the differences significant, nevertheless.

The final two chapters are not crucial to Allen’s main thesis about the Lukan authorship of Hebrews, but they are related to the issue of authorship and so round off his discussion nicely.  Chapter 6 deals with the identity of Luke.  Allen believes that one of the major obstacles to the acceptance of the Lukan authorship of Hebrews is the supposition that Luke was a Gentile, while the author of Hebrews was Jewish (261).  Allen contends that “Luke was a Hellenistic Jew with cosmopolitan training and interests” (266).  Allen states that early Patristic writers never identify Luke as a Gentile.  While this is certainly an argument from silence, I believe Allen’s point is that if Luke was a Gentile, this would have been mentioned by ancient writers.  Allen surmises that Luke can be identified with the Lucius of Romans 16:21, who is referred to as Paul’s “kinsman,” that is, a fellow Jew.  Allen amasses a great deal of evidence to support his claim that Luke was Jewish.  Luke evinces great knowledge and interest in Jewish customs, religious practices, including interest in priestly matters and in Jerusalem and the Temple.  Luke is also heavily interested in the relationship of Judaism to the Church.  Allen claims that Luke depicts “the Jewish Christian church [as] part of the reconstituted people of God” (293).  While Luke demonstrates a great interest in the Gentiles’ acceptance of the gospel, it is Israel’s initial acceptance of the gospel that opens the way for the Gentiles (296).  Luke’s profound understanding of the OT has deeply influenced the shaping of his narrative.  Allen claims that Luke’s use of Scripture resembles most closely the book of Hebrews’ usage of the OT (309).  Space prohibits me from outlining Allen’s other linguistic and conceptual evidence that betrays a Jewish author (310-319).  I think Allen makes a strong case for Luke’s Jewishness in this chapter.

In the seventh and finally chapter, Allen admits that he is skating on “thinner ice” when it comes to his reconstruction of the background, provenance, and recipients of Luke-Acts and Hebrews (323).  Allen proposes that Luke-Acts was written around 61-63 AD to Theophilus, a former Sadducee who served as high priest in 37-41 AD, but was deposed because of his favorability towards the new Christian sect (324-341).  Hebrews was written by Luke from Rome after the death of Paul and before the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD).  During Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome (ca. 66-67 AD), Timothy went to see him and was probably imprisoned and only later released after Paul’s death (Hebrews 13:23).  Luke was in Rome during Paul’s imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:11) and was likely Paul’s amanuensis for the Pastoral Epistles.  Hebrews was written to a group of former priests who had embraced the Christian faith and fled Jerusalem when persecution broke out after Stephen’s martyrdom and they settled in Antioch where they became part of the larger Christian community there (341-375).  Allen has made a plausible reconstruction of the circumstances surrounding the writings of Luke-Acts and Hebrews.  Naturally, as with many historical reconstructions, Allen has had to resort to conjectures to fill in the gaps in the textual evidence.  Of course, one of the biggest objections to the early dating of Luke-Acts is that Luke uses Mark which is often dated to around 68-73 AD.  If so, Luke’s gospel would have to be later.  Those who reject the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles may also not find his reconstruction convincing.

The book includes a selected bibliography.  Anyone wanting to track down the vast secondary sources that Allen uses will have to hunt through the footnotes.  The volume concludes with name, subject, and scripture indexes.  The book is well made; after working through the entire book, I have found the binding and stitching are still well intact.

In conclusion, Allen has made a strong case for the Lukan authorship of Hebrews.  If we had to restrict ourselves to the writers of the NT, then Luke is certainly the best candidate.  Of course it is entirely possible that someone else, who was equally adept at the Greek language, could have written Hebrews, even if we have no means of making a linguistic comparison.  If the case for Lukan authorship is to be sustained, I suggest that further examination of the linguistic evidence is in order.  Comparisons should be made with other near-contemporary Greek literature to determine if Hebrews and Luke-Acts truly share a distinctive style.  Explanations for the conceptual differences that I have noted between Hebrews and Luke-Act are also in order.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Albert Mohler Audios on Hebrews

Albert Mohler has been posting his audio teachings on the book of Hebrews on his website.  I will place a permanent link to this page on my multimedia page.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Even More New Resources Added

In the past couple of days I have been able to find links to numerous additional resources.  Here are some more articles that have been added to electronic articles:

Allen, David. “More Than Just Numbers: Deuteronomic Influence in Hebrews 3:7-4:11.” Tyndale Bulletin 58 (2007): 129-49.

Grogan, Geoffrey W. “The New Testament Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Comparative Study.” Tyndale Bulletin 18 (1967): 54-76.

Hausoul, Raymond R. "Inleiding op de Hebreeënbrief."  

Smillie, Gene R. “Contrast or Continuity in Hebrews 1.1-2?New Testament Studies 51 (2005): 543-60.

Smillie, Gene R. “‘Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ’ in Hebrews 4:12-13.” Novum testamentum 46 (2004): 338-59.

Smillie, Gene. "'The Other ΛΟΓΟΣ' at the End of Heb. 4:13." Novum testamentum 47.1 (2005): 19-25.

In addition, the following book has been added:

Fudge, Edward. Our Man in Heaven: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. 1973. 

The following partial books have been added:

Allen, David L. Lukan Authorship of Hebrews. 2010.

Kleger, Roland. L’Épitre aux Hébreux: Un commentaire exégétique, théologique et pratique. 2007.

Thompson, James W. Hebrews. Paideia. 2008.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

14 New Articles Added

I have added the following articles to the articles page:

Asia Journal of Theology:

Arowele, P. J. "The Pilgrim People of God (An African's Reflections on the Motif of Sojourn in the Epistle to the Hebrews)." Asia Journal of Theology 4.2 (1990): 438-55.

Yeo, Khiok-Khng. "The Meaning and Usage of the Theology of 'Rest' (καταπαυσις and σαββατισμος) in Hebrews 3:7-4:13." Asia Journal of Theology 5.1 (1991): 2-33.

Andrews University Seminary Studies:

Camacho, Harold S. “The Altar of Incense in Hebrews 9:3-4.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 24 (1986): 5-12.

Davidson, Richard M. “Christ’s Entry ‘Within the Veil’ in Hebrews 6:19-20: The Old Testament Background.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 39 (2001): 175-90.

Davidson, Richard M. “Inauguration or Day of Atonement? A Response to Norman Young’s ‘Old Testament Background to Hebrews 6:19-20 Revisited.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 40 (2002): 69-88.

Gane, Roy E. “Re-Opening Katapetasma (“Veil”) in Hebrews 6:19.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 38 (2000): 5-8.

Johnsson, William G. “Issues in the Interpretation of Hebrews.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 15 (1977): 169-88.

Melbourne, Bertram L. “An Examination of the Historical-Jesus Motif in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 26 (1988): 281-97.

Rice, George E. “Apostasy as a Motif and Its Effect on the Structure of Hebrews.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 23 (1985): 29-35.

Rice, George E. “The Chiastic Structure of the Central Section of the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 19 (1981): 243-46.

Rice, George E. “Hebrews 6:19: Analysis of Some Assumptions concerning Katapetasma.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 25 (1987): 65-71.

Salom, A. P. “Ta Hagia in the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 5 (1967): 59-70.

Young, Norman H. “The Day of Dedication or the Day of Atonement? The Old Testament Background to Hebrews 6:19-20.” Andrews University Seminary Studies 40 (2002): 61-68.

Young, Norman H. “‘Where Jesus Has Gone as a Forerunner on Our Behalf’ (Hebrews 6:20).” Andrews University Seminary Studies 39 (2001): 165-73.

HT: Rob Bradshaw

Chafer Theological Seminary Journal Articles Added

I have come across several online articles on Hebrews from the Chafer Theological Seminary Journal.  These will be added to the online articles page.

Harless, Hal. "Fallen Away or Fallen Down? The Meaning of Hebrews 6:1-9." Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 9.1 (2003): 2-17.

Lewis, Stephen R. “The New Covenant: Enacted or Ratified?Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 8.4 (2002): 55-65.

Niemelä, John. “No More Sacrifice. Part 1 of 2.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 4.4 (1998): 2-17.

Niemelä, John. “No More Sacrifice. Part 2 of 2.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 5.1 (1999): 2-27.

Woods, Andy. “The Paradigm of Kadesh Barnea as a Solution to the Problem of Hebrews 6:4-6.” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 12.1 (2006): 44-70. [This is a PDF of the full journal issue]

The following paper will also be added:

Crawford, Scott. "Hebrews: Five Warnings for Believers." 2006.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Karrer Review of McCruden

Martin Karrer has a review of Kevin McCruden's Solidarity Perfected: Beneficent Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews in RBL.

Hebrews Carnival December 2010

The book of Hebrews has been getting sparse attention among the biblioblogs in recent months, and December is no exception:

Does the NT misread the OT?  Daniel McClellan and John Meade have an exchange over whether Hebrews 2 misreads Psalm 8.

Charles Savelle discusses The Danger of Drifting in Hebrews 2:1-4.

William Mounce deals with a grammatical issue in Hebrews 2:11.

Happy new year!