Monday, December 31, 2012

Hebrews Carnival December 2012

William Burch explains what "holiness" means in Hebrews 12:14.

Michael Barber reports that John Paul the Great Catholic University is hosting James Swetnam, a leading Catholic interpreter of Hebrews, as Distinguished Visiting Faculty.  He is lecturing on Hebrews.  His extensive bibliography can be found here.

William Varner discusses the "Story" of Christmas in the Letter to the Hebrews.

David deSilva has started blogging and he begins with a post on Translating Hebrews 10:24.

Monday, December 24, 2012

French Dissertations Online

Apparently, French dissertations are starting to come online at  A quick search discovered one dissertation that was completed last year:

Judith Massengo. "Soteriologie de l'epitre aux hebreux." Ph.D. diss., University of Strasbourg, 2011.

This dissertation is still under preparation.  Hopefully, we'll see more dissertations being made available soon on this site.

HT: Roger Pearse

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review of Charts on the Book of Hebrews

Clifford Kvidahl has a review of Herbert Bateman's Charts on the Book of Hebrews, recently put out by Kregel Academic Press.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Joshua Typology in Hebrews

I have just learned about another new book dealing with Joshua Typology in Hebrews, despite its somewhat misleading title:

Richard Ounsworth. Joshua Typology in the New Testament (Mohr Siebeck).

Here is the abstract from the website:

"In this monograph Richard Ounsworth argues that the Letter to the Hebrews invites its audience to infer a typological relationship between Jesus and Joshua, son of Nun, with whom he shares a name. The author begins by developing a distinctive notion of typology emerging from within the New Testament and its use of the Old Testament, before applying it to Hebrews. Hebrews 3:7–4:11, through its exegesis of Psalm 95, sets up a typology between the audience and the Israelites as depicted in Numbers 13-14, and within this context Joshua typology has much explanatory power. Hebrews 11 develops the theme through the structure of its outline of salvation history, including two significant lacunæ : the crossing of the Jordan, and the person of Joshua. The crossing of the Jordan parallels the High Priest’s passage through the veil of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, and both function as types of entry into God’s rest and the inauguration of the new and eternal covenant."

Thanks to Mike Kibbe for the tip.

New Articles Added

I have added links to the following articles in the last two days:

Bridger, John R. "The Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews." The Theological Students' Fellowship Terminal Letter for Students and Ministers 26 (Spring 1960): 1-4.

Davis, Casey W. “Hebrews 6:4-6 from an Oral Critical Perspective.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51.4 (2008): 753-68.

Emmrich, Martin. "'Amtscharisma': Through the Eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)." Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002): 17-32.

Simpson, E.K. "The Vocabulary of the Epistle to the Hebrews. I." The Evangelical Quarterly 18.1 (1946): 35-38.

Simpson, E.K. "The Vocabulary of the Epistle to the Hebrews. II." The Evangelical Quarterly 18.3 (1946): 187-190.

Course Syllabi

For the Spring semester I will be teaching an upper division class on Hebrews and the General Epistles.  So, in preparation for the course I have been looking at sample syllabi to get ideas about the kinds of assignments I might give to my students.  It occurred to me that I could add a page to the blog containing links to syllabi on courses on Hebrews that are available on the internet.  So, what follows is a listing of syllabi for courses on Hebrews exclusively, or as part of a more general course such as General or Catholic Epistles.  I will include a link to this page on the sidebar.

Baban, Octavian. Tyndale Theological Seminary. Fall 2014.
Exegesis of Hebrews

Battle, John A. Western Reformed Seminary. Fall 2012.
General Epistles

Bauer, David R. Asbury Theological Seminary.
Hebrews (January 1999)
Hebrews (January 2003)
Hebrews (January 2005)
Hebrews (January 2009)

Cowell, Clive M. New Hope Christian College. Fall 2012.
General Epistles and Revelation

Enrique, José. Fordham University. Fall 2010.
The Letter to the Hebrews

Guthrie, George H. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Winter-Spring 2012.
The Epistle to the Hebrews in Jewish Christianity

Johns, Donald A. Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Spring 2004.
Exegesis of Hebrews

Johnson, Dennis E. Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
The Epistle to the Hebrews

Kistemaker, Simon J. Reformed Theological Seminary. Spring 2008.
Exposition of Hebrews

Kistemaker, Simon J. Reformed Theological Seminary. 2011.
Hebrews through Revelation

Krewson, William. Internet Bible Institute. 2003.
The Letter to the Hebrews: An Inductive Study

Liberty University Online.

Lightfoot, Neil. Abilene Christian University. May 2006.
Book of Hebrews

Lowe, Bruce. Reformed Theological Seminary. 2012.

Moody Bible Institute. 2001.

Neufeld, E. Providence Theological Seminary. May 2012.
Hebrews: These Last Days

Oral Roberts University. Spring 2005.
Hebrews and General Epistles

Owen, Dan. Bear Valley Bible Institute.

Ray, Charlie. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Spring 2016.
New Testament Exegesis: Hebrews

Reese, Ruth Anne. Asbury Theological Seminary. January 2004.
Exegesis of Hebrews (January 2003)
Exegesis of Hebrews (January 2004)

Schenck, Ken. Indiana Wesleyan University.
The Book of Hebrews

Schuppe, James S. Washington Bible College. Spring 2012.
Hebrews and the General Epistles

Sloan, David B. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Fall 2014.
English Bible: The Book of Hebrews.

Terry, Bruce. Ohio Valley College. 2001.

Williford, Donald. Hardin-Simmons University. Spring 2006.
The General Epistles and Revelation

Wright, Adam Z. Horizon College & Seminary
Providence Theological Seminary
Fall. 2014

Yates, Richard. Capital Bible Seminary. Summer 2012.
Hebrews, General Epistles, and Revelation

Themelios Book Reviews

The journal Themelios has numerous book reviews that are available online.  I am including a listing of those on Hebrews here and will be adding them to the Book Reviews page.

Allen, David L. Lukan Authorship of Hebrews. Review by Michael Kibbe.

Allen, David L. Hebrews. Review by Barry Joslin.

Human, Dirk J. and Gert J. Steyn, eds. Psalms and Hebrews: Studies in Reception. Review by Jared M. Compton.

Jobes, Karen H. Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles. Review by Mariam J. Kamell.

Moffitt, David M. Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Review by Michael Kibbe.

She, King L. The Use of Exodus in Hebrews. Review by Michael Kibbe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PZB Thematic Issue on Hebrews

Last year Protokolle zur Bibel produced a thematic issue on Hebrews.  Click on the link for the abstracts in both English and German.

ZNT Thematic Issue on Hebrews

Zeitschrift für Neues Testament recently dedicated a whole issue to the book of Hebrews.  The following is the table of contents:

Stefan Alkier, Eckart Reinmuth, Manuel Vogel

Neues Testament aktuell
Der Hebräerbrief im Kontext der neueren englischen Forschung. Ein kurzer Überblick über die wichtigsten Forschungsprobleme
David M. Moffitt

Zum Thema
Hoffnung hören und sehen! Beobachtungen zur Dialogizität des Hebräerbriefes und der Johannesapokalypse
Stefan Alkier

Der Hebräerbrief – Evangelium von Ewigkeit
Karl-Heinrich Ostmeyer

Wilfried Eisele Bürger zweier Welten. Zur Eschatologie des Hebräerbriefes
Wilfried Eisele

Einleitung zur Kontroverse. Ist der Hebräerbrief eine Schrift des antiken Judentums?
Jürgen Zangenberg

Der Hebräerbrief als ständiger Gast im Haus der Kirche
Manuel Vogel

»New Covenantalism«: Eine Wiederentdeckung
Richard B. Hays

Kontroverse: Ist der Hebräerbrief eine Schrift des antiken Judentums? (gesamt)
Jürgen Zangenberg, Manuel Vogel, Richard B. Hays

Hermeneutik und Vermittlung
Der Dritte. Eine sozialphilosophische Perspektive auf den Hebräerbrief
Eckart Reinmuth

Knut Backhaus Der Hebräerbrief. (Regensburger Neues Testament) Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2009 (rez. von Manuel Vogel)
Manuel Vogel

Thanks to Jacob Brouwer for the tip

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Book on Key Themes in Hebrews

I received in the mail today this little book on some key themes in Hebrews:

Jonathan Griffiths, ed. The Perfect Saviour: Key Themes in Hebrews. Inter-Varsity Press, 2012.

Here is the blurb from the back cover:

"Too often, valuable New Testament scholarship never finds its way to the preacher's or pastor's study because it is presented in a format that is not practically digestible in the time available for sermon preparation.

The motivation for this volume is the desire to bridge the gap between the work of evangelical scholars in universities and colleges and the world of the busy preacher and Bible teacher.  Specifically, it offers a theological introduction to the New Testament book of Hebrews, by way of a set of expositions of some significant themes and difficult questions, by some well-known scholars.

Topics covered are: the new covenant (Peter O'Brien); the word of God (Jonathan Griffiths); the priesthood of Christ (Richard Gaffin, Jr); the tabernacle (David Gooding); warning and assurance (Thomas Schreiner); access and arrival (Peter Walker); perfection (David Peterson); and suffering (Bruce Winter).

These studies are accessible to all serious students of the Bible.  The contributors share the conviction that theological research is ultimately only valuable insofar as it aids the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

All the essays appear to be original and not reprints of articles appearing elsewhere.  The book appears to provide an accessible way for pastors to get at the basic themes of Hebrews in preparation for a sermon series or series of Bible studies on Hebrews.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hebrews Articles 2012

The following is an updated list of new articles for 2012.  The 2011 list has also been updated.

Alkier, Stefan. "Hoffnung hören und sehen! Beobachtungen zur Dialogizität des Hebräerbriefes und der Johannesapokalypse." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Bedford-Strohm, Heinrich. "Zu Beginn das Ende : Hebr 13,14 - Jahreslosung 2013." Pastoraltheologie 101. 11 (2012): 72–77.

Böttrich, Christfried. "Der große Durchbruch : Hebr 9,15.26b-28 ; 6.4.2012 - Karfreitag." Pastoraltheologie 101.2 (2012): 187–93.

Cooper, Adam G. "Hope, a Mode of Faith: Aquinas, Luther and Benedict XVI on Hebrews 11:1." Heythrop Journal 53 (2012): 182–190.

Eisele, Wilfried. "Wilfried Eisele Bürger zweier Welten. Zur Eschatologie des Hebräerbriefes." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Gatiss, Lee. "Grace Tasted Death for All: Thomas Aquinas on Hebrews 2:9." Tyndale Bulletin 63.2 (2012): 217–36.

Gorman, Heather M. "Persuading through "Pathos": Appeals to the Emotions in Hebrews." Restoration Quarterly 54 (2012): 77–90.

Hays, Richard B. " 'New Covenantalism': Eine Wiederentdeckung." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Heath, David M. "Chiastic Structures in Hebrews: With a Focus on 1:7-14 and 12:26-29." Neotestamentica 46.1 (2012): 61–82.

Holtz, Gudrun. "Besser und doch gleich : zur doppelten Hermeneutik des Hebräerbriefes." Kerygma und Dogma 58.2 (2012): 159–77.

Kang, Dae-I. "The Royal Components of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7." Perichoresis 10.1 (2012): 95–124.

Mackie, Scott D. “Early Christian Eschatological Experience in the Warnings and Exhortations of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” Tyndale Bulletin 63.1 (2012): 93–114.

Martin, Michael W. and Jason A. Whitlark. "Choosing What Is Advantageous: The Relationship between Epideictic and Deliberative Syncrisis in Hebrews." New Testament Studies 58.3 (2012): 379–400.

Martines, Carmelo. "Principios epistemológicos para la comprensión de la doctrina del santuario." DavarLogos 11. 1 (2012): 1–17.

Μartinez, César A. Franco. “Hebreos 5,7–8 y la oración de Jesús en Getsemaní.” Estudios Bíblicos 70.4 (2012): 521–46.

Mason, Eric F. : "Sit at My Right Hand": Enthronement and the Heavenly Sanctuary in Hebrews." Pages 901–16 in A Teacher for All Generations: Essays in Honor of James C. VanderKam. Vol. 2. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Moffitt, David M. "Der Hebräerbrief im Kontext der neueren englischen Forschung. Ein kurzer Überblick über die wichtigsten Forschungsprobleme." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Nässelqvist, Dan. "Stylistic Levels in Hebrews 1.1–4 and John 1.1–18." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 35.1 (2012): 31-53.

Nease, Owen. “Sound Familiar?: Paronomasia in Hebrews.” Trinity Journal 33 ns (2012): 77–94.

Ostmeyer, Karl-Heinrich. "Der Hebräerbrief – Evangelium von Ewigkeit." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Reinmuth, Eckart. "Der Dritte. Eine sozialphilosophische Perspektive auf den Hebräerbrief." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Rhee, Victor (Sung-Yul). “The Author of Hebrews as a Leader of the Faith Community.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 55.2 (June 2012): 365–75.

Rhee, Victor. "The Role of Chiasm for Understanding Christology in Hebrews 1:1–14." Journal of Biblical Literature 131.2 (2012): 341–62.

Ribbens, Benjamin J. "Forensic-retributive justification in Romans 3:21-26 : Paul's doctrine of justification in dialogue with Hebrews." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 74.3 (2012): 548–67.

Rüpke, Jörg. "Starting Sacrifice in the Beyond : Flavian Innovations in the Concept of Priesthood and Their Repercussions in the Treatise "To the Hebrews." Revue de l'histoire des religions 229 (2012): 5–30.

Schapdick, Stefan. “Die Metathesis der erschütterbaren Dinge, ‘damit das Unerschütterbare bleibe’ (Hebr 12,27): Verwandlung – Vernichtung – Wandelbarkeit?: Zum Verständnis des Begriffs μεταθεσις im Kontext von Hebr 12,1–29 (Teil I).” Biblische Zeitschrift 56.2 (2012): 188–209.

Steyn, Gert J. "The ending of Hebrews reconsidered." Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 103.2 (2012): 235–53.

Swetnam, James. “The Meaning of toi/j avkou,sasin at Hebrews 4,2.” Biblica 93 (2012): 601–8.

Vogel, Manuel. "Der Hebräerbrief als ständiger Gast im Haus der Kirche." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Whitlark, Jason A. "'Here We Do Not Have a City That Remains': A Figured Critique of Roman Imperial Propaganda in Hebrews 13:14." Journal of Biblical Literature 131 (2012): 161–79.

Whitlark, Jason A. "The Warning against Idolatry: An Intertextual Examination of Septuagintal Warnings in Hebrews." Journal for the Study of the New Testament 34 (2012): 382–401.

Wiefel-Jenner, Katharina. "Ein Loch in der Zeit : Hebr. 9,11-12.24 ; 7.4.2012 - Karsamstag." Pastoraltheologie 101. 2 (2012): 194–98.

Zangenberg, Jürgen. "Einleitung zur Kontroverse. Ist der Hebräerbrief eine Schrift des antiken Judentums?" Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Zangenberg, Jürgen, Manuel Vogel, and, Richard B. Hays. "Kontroverse: Ist der Hebräerbrief eine Schrift des antiken Judentums? (gesamt)." Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. Vol. 15. no. 29 (2012).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apostasy in Hebrews

My thanks goes to Michele Ciccarelli who has sent me information regarding a relatively recent article that he published on the subject of apostasy in Hebrews:

M. CICCARELLI, "Un pentimento impossibile. L’apostasia nell’Epistola agli Ebrei e nell’Halakhah mishnaica", in Bibbia e Oriente LII, 245-246 (2010), 171-226.

This study aims at comparing the theme of the sin of apostacy in the Epistle to the Hebrews with the same subject as it is considered in rabbinic literature, especially in halakhic material in the Mishna. The Epistle to the Hebrews considers apostasy from faith as an unforgivable sin (Heb 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 12:17). On the contrary, the Rabbis, although they were concerned about apostates and those who attempted to abandon the covenantal community, strove to show the importance of true repentance as a way by which even an apostate could turn back to the Covenant stipulated by God with the people (Yoma VIII,8; Tos.Yom.Kip. 5,9; b.Sheb. 13a; Pesikta R. Kahana 24,12). The main theme of Hebrews is that there is only one sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, for the perfect salvation of mankind (Heb 7:25.27; 9:27-28; 10:10.12.14). The rhetorical style of the Epistle allows the author to avoid dealing with various cases in which one can obtain forgiveness, and instead to speak about the impossibility of a Christian renewing his/her life after apostasy. The reason for such impossibility is that metanoia is not seen, as in rabbinic writings, as a means to restore the previous purity. On the contrary, it is considered as a penitential process which is completed and finished through adhesion of faith to the unique and once and for all sacrifice of Christ. In other words, faith needs to be upheld and it is important to know that repentance and internal conversion cannot be earned by the individual apart from the salvific mediation of Christ.

Michele Ciccarelli
Pontificia Facoltà dell'Italia Meridionale
Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose "G. Moscati" - Avellino

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DeSilva Article Added

The following article has been added, thanks to David deSilva's new homepage:

DeSilva, David A.  "The Invention and Argumentative Function of Priestly Discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews." Bulletin for Biblical Research 16 (2006): 295–323.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Tyndale Article and Other News

Tyndale bulletin has a new article out on Hebrews:

Lee Gatiss. "Grace Tasted Death for All: Thomas Aquinas on Hebrews 2:9." Tyndale Bulletin 63.2 (2012): 217ff.

Here is the synopsis from the website:
"This article examines the biblical interpretation of Thomas Aquinas, which has until recently been relatively neglected amongst the many works of this leading medieval theologian. Looking particularly at ‘by the grace of God Christ tasted death for all’ (Hebrews 2:9), a key phrase which throws up several exegetical and theological puzzles, it concludes that Aquinas’s approach to it is a prime example of medieval commentating both at its best and its worst. It shows how his lack of knowledge of Greek led him astray, notes his neglect of textual criticism, and examines his reliance on tradition, especially the Hebrews commentary of Peter Lombard. It places his use of the theological formula ‘sufficient for all, efficacious for the elect alone’ when expounding the words ‘for all’ into historical context, surveying exegetical discussion of the extent of the atonement from Origen to Gottschalk to John Owen. Aquinas’s use of the scholastic ‘division of the text’ methodology to identify a melodic line centring on this verse’s theme of ‘grace’ within both Hebrews and Paul (the assumed author) is uncovered, along with other interpretative tactics and a reflective piety which jar against the presuppositions of modern academic biblical studies."

In other news: Kevin McCruden emailed me today and informed me of two publications of his that will be coming out sometime next year:

A Body You Have Prepared For Me: The Spirituality of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Liturgical Press)

"The Eloquent Blood of Jesus: The Fidelity of Jesus as a Neglected Theme in Hebrews 12:24." Catholic Biblical Quarterly (July 2013 ?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New Article Added

I have just added the following article to the Articles page:

Asumang, Annang, and Bill Domeris.  "The Migrant Camp of the People of God: A Uniting Theme for the Epistle to the Hebrews." Conspectus: The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary 3 (2007).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Newest Acquisition

I have recently returned from the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, where I heard several papers on the book of Hebrews.  Somehow I managed to leave the bookroom without having made a single purchase this year.  However, I did receive one book for free thanks to Bryan Dyer of BakerAcademic:

Harold W. Attridge, Essays on John and Hebrews.

I will post a review of the book once I have managed to dig myself out of the backlog of work that is currently burying me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hebrews at the Annual SBL Meeting

There are a number of sessions and papers on Hebrews during the upcoming SBL Conference in Chicago. The following includes both the times and places, but also the abstracts of all the papers pertaining to Hebrews.

We would like to have another Hebrews dinner after one of the sessions. The best time that works for me is Sunday lunch, as I have another commitment on Saturday evening, but this does not preclude having a get-together on Saturday evening as well. I hope you will join me and others for lunch on Sunday after the morning session. 


Bible, Myth, and Myth Theory
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Room: N140 - McCormick PlaceTheme: Mythic Motifs in the Bible

Jeremy Miselbrook, Loyola University of Chicago 
Jesus the Hero: The Heroic Portrayal of Jesus in the Epistle to the Hebrews

"Scholars have long theorized about the possibility of a Hellenistic-hero background to New Testament Christology. While the Gospel narratives have received the majority of early attention on this subject, Hebrews scholarship has increasingly provided insight into how the author may have utilized heroic language and mythic imagery in the epistle . This paper will show that the author of Hebrews incorporated a portrayal of Jesus as a hero into his Christology. The first part of the paper will review the major steps of scholarship in the study of heroes and Jesus of the New Testament. The second section will offer a summary of the heroic paradigm as derived from classic Hellenistic hero mythology. The final section of the paper will show how the author of Hebrews portrays Christ as a hero in Hebrews 2:5–10."


Rhetoric and the New Testament
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: W475b - McCormick Place

Ira J. Jolivet, Jr., Pepperdine University
The Polemic Between the Precepts of the Law and the Doctrines of Faith in the Deliberative Argument of Hebrews

"While the number of scholars who use rhetorical insights to analyze Hebrews has increased significantly in recent years, their numbers have not generated a corresponding rise in the level of consensus on specifically rhetorical issues such as the identifications of the document’s structural unity or of the precise rhetorical species to which it conforms. Besides not producing agreement on these types of issues, rhetorical critics have also shed little if any helpful light on other traditionally difficult problems, such as the degree to which Hebrews is a polemic against Judaism or the Mosaic Law. A fundamental premise of this paper is that the inability of rhetorical critics to contribute meaningfully to the analysis of Hebrews is due to the critical mistake of focusing primarily on Aristotelian structural aspects of the speech rather than on its more philosophical characteristics. Because in so doing they ignore the shift due to the influence of the Stoics during the Hellenistic Period in the focus of philosophy from metaphysics to emotional therapy and the simultaneous change in rhetoric from a (techne) as Aristotle had defined it to a science (episteme). The most noticeable effects of these changes can be seen in deliberative oratory, the goal of which for both Aristotle and the Stoics was happiness. But whereas Aristotle had equated this goal with the advantageous (to sumphuton) and had claimed that its acquisition required the possession of both the internal and external goods of the virtues of the soul and of the body, the Stoics insisted that virtue is the only truly good thing it alone is entirely sufficient for happiness. They taught, also, that mistaking mere advantages, which are “indifferents,” for that which is truly good gives rise to the passions, the unstable movements of the soul that if left unchecked harden into sin (hamartia). The Stoics’ philosophical departure from Aristotle is seen in their reclassification of the goal of deliberative rhetoric into three categories: honor (virtue as the summum bonum and the greatest necessity), advantage (indifferents), and things that combine qualities of both honor and advantage. I propose that the perceived polemic in Hebrews between the “good things” of faith and the “weak and ineffectual” law with its “regulations for the body” are indications that its author skillfully crafted a deliberative speech as the remedy for the passions of fear (phobos) and distress (lupe) that threatened the souls of the members of his intended audience who had mistaken the merely advantageous indifferents of the law for the truly good and perfectly virtuous will of God. More specifically, this speech involves the contrast between the precepts (paraineseis) of the law that deal with external indifferents and the doctrines (dogmata, theoremata) of faith that Jesus the exemplar of moral perfection internalized. These doctrines consist of his examples of the virtue of courage, the good emotion (eupatheia) of caution (eulabeia), and confidence and hope, two of the good things “that participate in virtue.”"

David deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary
The Letter to the Hebrews and Greek Pedagogical Texts

"The so-called Letter "to the Hebrews" is noteworthy among the New Testament writings for its many points of contact with Greek educational theory and practice. This paper explores, first, the connections between the earliest texts of the Progymnasmata (those of Theon and Hermogenes) and Hebrews 12:5-11. The latter provides an example of the pattern of the elaboration of a chreia or thesis taught in the elementary exercises, as well as an example of the creative expansion of a maxim (and a well-known pedagogical maxim at that). The paper goes on to explore connections between Greek comments about education and particular texts in Hebrews regarding suffering as an opportunity for formation and progress through the various levels of eduction on the way to maturity."


4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: W183c - McCormick PlaceTheme: The literary, philosophical, and theological content and context of the Book of Hebrews

Ekkehard Stegemann, Universität Basel, Presiding

Jason A. Whitlark, Baylor University
Jesus' Victory over Satan: A Figured Critique of Imperial Power in Hebrews

"Hebrews 1:5-13 celebrates the enthronement of the Son and his victory over his enemies. That victory is articulated in 2:14-15 in apocalyptic terms as victory over the devil who has the power of death and as liberation from the fear of death. In this way, Jesus helps the “seed of Abraham” (2:16) and leads “many sons” to glory (2:10). How might this portrayal of Jesus’ victory have been received by early Christian audiences in the Roman Empire? What I will argue in this paper is that Jesus’ triumphant enthronement upon his victory over the devil in Hebrews represents a figured critique of Roman imperial authority. The critique is twofold. First it correlates Roman power with the devil. I will establish this correlation in two ways. (1) I will examine other New Testament documents and early Christian martyrdom texts that identify persecuting imperial culture and its authorities with the devil. (2) I will examine the notion in Roman imperial discourse that Roman authority was supremely manifested in its power over life and death. Second, as noted by some interpreters of Hebrews, the victory of Jesus is portrayed in these verses in a manner similar to Hercules. Jesus’ Herculean victory is then over Roman authority rendering Roman power unable to enforce ultimate loyalty to its rule because Jesus has liberated Christians from the fear of death. This investigation demonstrates possibly why Hebrews circulated widely among early Christian communities who faced ongoing pressures from their Roman imperial culture. The apocalyptic portrayal of Roman power encourages Christians to resist the pressures of their imperial culture with patient suffering, a steady witness, and bold confidence because of their hope in the victory of the Son."

Gareth Lee Cockerill, Wesley Biblical Seminary
Hebrews 12:18-24: An Example of Apocalyptic Typology or Platonic Dualism?

"This study begins its analysis of the connection between the “Sinai” of Heb 12:18-21 and the “Zion” of 12:22-24 by surveying the various ways in which interpreters of Hebrews have understood this relationship: as a contrast between the old and new religious orders, between the times before and after Christ, or between Judaism and Christianity; as an ineffective foreshadowing of the effective, or, as is asserted by those who affirm a Platonic background for Hebrews, as an earthly copy of the heavenly reality. This paper contends that this passage is concerned neither with a typological relationship between the old and the new nor with a Platonic relationship between earthly and heavenly, copy and reality. The author is not here concerned either with lesser/greater, before/after, type/antitype on the one hand, or with below/above, copy/reality on the other. There is little in this passage that suggests the writer’s primary concern is with an earthly/heavenly distinction and less that would indicate temporal sequence between these two “mountains.” The primary relationship between the two is stark contrast—between exclusion from and access to the presence of God. Other indicators as well, including the rhetorical structure of this “sermon,” suggest that the author presents “Sinai” and “Zion” as two alternatives for the people of God in the present. Through the work of Christ the “Mount” of God’s speaking has become the place of judgment for the apostate (12:18-21) but the “Zion” of fellowship with God for the faithful (12:22-24)."

Kenneth Schenck, Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, Respondent

Amy Peeler, Wheaton College
“My Son, You Are Priest”: The Filial Context of the Cultic Motif in Hebrews

"Interpreters of Hebrews agree that the author constructs the Christology of the letter around two foci: Son and Priest. The relationship between those two foci, however, has elicited a wealth of disagreement. Are these identities separate or integrally related? Does one take precedence over the other? After providing a brief summary of the history of interpretation of these questions, this paper, in conversation with Hebrews’ most recent interpreters, argues both for the close relationship between the two titles and also for the priority of Jesus’ sonship. Although the author’s explication of Jesus’ priesthood, introduced at 2:17, becomes a dominant issue in the central section of the letter (4:14–10:25) and references to aspects associated with it continue until the closing section (12:2, 24; 13:12), the author frequently integrates Jesus’ priesthood with assertions of Jesus’ sonship. The consistent linkage between the familial and the cultic motifs suggests that the familial dynamic between God and Jesus is integral to his status as God’s final High Priest. Moreover, I argue that the author of Hebrews grounds Jesus’ vocation as priest in his filial relationship with God, and he does so in two ways. First, Jesus’ sonship is granted priority because it is the suffering that Jesus experiences as the Son of God, through the will of his Father, that qualifies him for his role as High Priest. Second, the author of Hebrews integrally relates these two roles because Jesus’ priestly offering and his priestly intercession are the means by which Jesus secures the human portion of his own inheritance. The author of Hebrews continues to construct his theological and Christological vision through the familial relationship between God and Jesus, even as he turns to the topic of Christ’s priesthood. God the Father appoints his Son as High Priest by means of suffering so that the Son can provide the inheritance to God’s many sons and daughters. In so doing, the Son attains his inheritance—including the audience of Hebrews themselves—through his priestly service."

Jesper Svartvik, Lund University
The Reception History of Heb. 8.13: A Stumbling Block or a Stepping Stone?

"During the last two millennia no single New Testament text has dictated Jewish-Christian relations more than has the Epistle to the Hebrews. Whereas biblical scholars continue to grapple with the “whence” of Hebrews (i.e., authorship, context, genre, structure, date etc.), no one can be in doubt of its “whither”. This anonymous text of unknown origin, with its tremendously influential metaphors and thoughts, has been at the very centre of Christian theology in at least three respects. (a) First, the author of Hebrews interprets the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth with first-century sacrificial nomenclature: Jesus is being compared to both the high priest who brings forth the sacrifice and the sacrifice being brought forth. He is also compared to the parokhet, the veil which separated the Holy of Holiest from the rest of the Holy. Due to this metaphorical multiplicity, the various images collide. If they are taken too literally, they negate each other: in a literal sense, he cannot be the high priest, the sacrifice, and the parokhet at the same time. (b) Secondly, this epistle played an important role in early Christian debates on whether it was possible for Christians to return to faith after having relapsed. We ought to ask ourselves whether it is a coincidence that Heb., emphasising the one-ness of Jesus’ sacrifice, also wrestles—perhaps more than any other early Christian text—with the question of whether there is forgiveness a second time for sinners. In other words, is there a connection between the emphasis of a sacrificial ephapax (Heb. 9.12) and the once-for-all forgiveness? Is there a correspondence between a daily forgiveness and a discourse of continuing sacrifice? (c) Thirdly, another area of immeasurable influence is the discourse of an “old” and a “new” covenant in the Heilsgeschichte, and that the default setting of much Christian theology when it comes to Jewish-Christian relations is comparative, i.e., that Christianity is “better” than Judaism. This is certainly not isolated exclusively to Jewish-Christian relations, but it is, no doubt, accentuated in an unparalleled way in Jewish-Christian encounters. Few Christians in the pews and in the pulpits would spontaneously argue that Christianity has “fulfilled” Hinduism or “terminated” Buddhism. Those Christians who are critical to other faith traditions are perhaps inclined to state that they are “at fault”, but when it comes to Judaism it is likely that they would assert that Christianity is “better” than Judaism and that Judaism, theologically speaking, has ceased to exist post Christum. In this paper it is argued that no single biblical text has influenced Christians’ understanding of the relation between Jews and Christians more than has Hebrews. Its impact is enormous, and a past without its Wirkungsgeschichte is unimaginable. Subsequent Christological thinking has nourished from Heb., but detrimental models of how to understand Judaism have also profited from this epistle. The paper will explore the role Heb. 8.13 has played and continues to play in shaping the agenda for Jewish-Christian relations."

Craig Koester, Luther Seminary, Respondent

Hindy Najman, Yale University
Heavenly ascent and liturgy in Epistle to the Hebrews and early Jewish Interpretation

"This paper will consider various ways in which heavenly ascent and liturgy are employed to construct new narratives of redemption. Attention to the role of authoritative figures and texts will play a central role."

James Thompson, Abilene Christian University, Respondent



Book of Acts
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: S404d - McCormick Place

Michael B. Cover, University of Notre Dame
Homiletic Exegesis in Acts 2 and Hebrews 3–4

"Both the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb 13:22) and Paul’s speech in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:15) are dubbed logos (tes) parakleseos (“word of exhortation). This titular identification suggests that a comparison of Hebrews and the speeches in Acts might yield important information about the form and content of early Christian homilies. Lawrence Wills has in fact used Paul’s first missionary homily, given on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:16–41), to create a generic typology for the homiletic genre, which he finds in various Christian and Jewish sources spanning the first and second centuries. The scope of this paper is much more modest. Rather than aiming at such a typology, I will investigate what a comparison of Hebrews and Acts might yield in terms of defining a common pattern of homiletic exegesis. By a pattern of exegesis, I mean especially the way in which an OT pericope guides and structures an interpreter’s exegetical argument. In this paper, I will claim that the homiletic exegesis of LXX Ps 94:7d–11 in Heb 3:7–4:10 sheds considerable light on the form and pattern of Luke’s exegesis of LXX Ps 15:8–11b in Acts 2:25–36. In particular, I argue that LXX Ps 15:11c should be understood as part of the pericope upon which Peter comments, as this best explains the singular dexia in Acts 2:33 (cf. LXX Ps 15:11c). Once this restoration is made, a common pattern of commenting on both the first word and the final verse of a Psalm pericope (as well as sequentially on medial themes) emerges in the both Acts and Hebrews. Luke has followed the pattern of Psalmic interpretation exemplified by Hebrews, even as he has curtailed and stereotyped it according to the conventions of Greco-Roman historiography. The contribution of this study is twofold. On the one hand, it clarifies the exegetical method used in Peter’s speech and reopens old questions about Luke’s use of sources in Acts. On the other hand, it contributes to the ongoing study of early Christian homilies, distinguishing a sequential pattern of exegesis shared by these two texts." 


Joint Session With: Hebrews, Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity, Sacrifice, Cult, and Atonement
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: E262 - McCormick PlaceTheme: One Sacrificial Body: Yom Kippur and Space in Hebrews
Jason Tatlock, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Presiding

Ellen B. Aitken, McGill University
The Body of Jesus outside the Eternal City: Mapping Ritual Space in the Epistle to the Hebrews

The persuasive strategies of the Epistle to the Hebrews employ metaphors of travel, arrival, and entrance both to describe the work of Jesus in the world (earthly and heavenly) and to encourage its inscribed audience to maintain solidarity with Jesus. The quotation of Ps 40:6-8 on Jesus’ lips in Hebrews 10 announces not only his “arrival” to do God’s will, but also emphasizes the “body prepared” in place of the sacrificial offerings of the Israelite cult. This paper examines the spatial mapping of Hebrews in order to understand the semiotically complex landscape through which Jesus and the audience journey. It attends particularly to the erasure and re-inscribing of meaning within this landscape in relation to patterns of sacrifice, offering, and ritual presence. It argues that the argument of Hebrews places Jesus’ suffering body within this landscape and thus redefines the landscape of meaning through which the audience moves. Building on my earlier work that develops a reading of Hebrews within the cityscape of Flavian Rome, it proposes that Hebrews is thus deploying a conceptual reimagining of the ritual, sacrificial, and monumental space of the city of Rome in order to create a compelling vision of “the city that is to come” (Heb 13.14)."

John Vonder Bruegge, Northwestern College - Orange City, Respondent (15 min)

David M. Moffitt, Campbell University Divinity School
Serving in Heaven’s Temple: Sacred Space, Yom Kippur, and Jesus’ Superior Offering in Hebrews

"Because the Yom Kippur sacrifices included the presentation of blood in the inner sanctum of the Jerusalem temple, movement through space was a constitutive element of the ritual process that effected atonement. The high priest’s physical act of walking into the temple’s first sanctum and passing through the curtain that separated the inner sanctum from the outer one was, therefore, more than a metaphor for drawing near to the presence of God. Rather, in crossing from one sanctum to the other the high priest entered into that sacred earthly space where God’s presence dwelt most fully. Students of the letter to the Hebrews universally recognize the importance of this spatial progression for the epistle’s depiction of Jesus as the heavenly high priest. Few, however, have taken seriously the possibility that Hebrews’ use of this spatial component of Yom Kippur amounts to more than a metaphor for the departure of Jesus’ spirit upon his death from earth into the immaterial presence of God (i.e., heaven). This paper explores just such a possibility. In particular, attention is paid to Jewish and early Christian apocalyptic texts that clearly envision heaven in spatial terms. Texts that imagine a temple in heaven that has its own especially sacred space (as opposed to those that imagine heaven as a temple all of which is equally sacred space) are especially instructive. If such a concept is in play in Hebrews, I argue that three significant implications appear to follow: 1) the epistle cannot be easily interpreted as affirming an essentially Platonic cosmology, 2) the significance of the process of Jewish sacrificial ritual for Hebrews’ understanding of Jesus’ atoning work can be more clearly grasped, and 3) the text does not argue from nor advocate for the assumption that Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice replace the Levitical priesthood and sacrifices." 


Christian Theology and the Bible
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: S103d - McCormick PlaceTheme: Reading the Literal Sense of Scripture on Purity and Sacrifice
The is one of three sessions on the literal sense of Scripture hosted by this section

R. Trent Pomplun, Loyola University Maryland
Indestructible Life: the Priesthood of Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews

"The last fifty years has seen an explosion of subtle exegetical treatments of Jesus Christ as a priest of the ‘order of Melchizedek’ in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This explosion is largely due to the importance of Melchizedek in Second Temple Judaism as witnessed by the mysterious priest’s presence in various fragments from Qumran, especially 11QMelch. The following paper will synthesize recent research on these Melchizedek traditions with recent works on the eschatology of the Epistle to the Hebrews to offer an exegesis of the ‘single sacrifice for sins’ that Christ offers to perfect the sanctified ‘for all time’ or ‘once and for all.’ The literal sense of Hebrews 10:12-14, however, is among the most elusive of exegetical fauna, for it requires one to explain both the meaning of sacrifice and the ontological conditions that must obtain for a temporal act to be decisive in manner that the author of Hebrews claims. After a brief attempt to do so, this paper will offer a few constructive suggestions for why this literal exegesis is important for theological debates about the sacrifice of the Mass." 


Christian Theology and the Bible
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: W184d - McCormick PlaceTheme: The Literal Sense of Biblical Texts Addressing Sacrifice and Purity: Theory and Practice
This is one of three sessions addressing the literal sense of Scripture hosted by this section.

Benjamin J. Ribbens, Wheaton College (Illinois)
Levitical Sacrifices in Hebrews: Does Hebrews Violate the Literal Sense of Leviticus?

"When comparing Christ’s sacrifice to the levitical sacrifices, the author of Hebrews makes some critical statements about the old covenant sacrifices that appear to contradict the literal sense of Leviticus. Whereas Leviticus says that sacrifices made atonement and forgave sins, Hebrews argues that the old covenant sacrifices did not cleanse the conscience or take away sins. Such a deliberate contradiction of Leviticus, however, seems to conflict with the author’s commitment to the Septuagint as the very words of God. While Hebrews freely reinterprets the Septuagint in light of the revelation of the Son, it seems unlikely that the author would deliberately contradict the literal sense of Leviticus. Scholars have offered a number of proposals concerning what, according to Hebrews, the old covenant sacrifices accomplished compared to Christ’s sacrifice. These proposals ascribe to the levitical sacrifices a diminished efficacy (a different kind of purification), and they then offer reasons why the author might diminish the significance of the levitical sacrifices. However, each of these proposals must accept to varying degrees the disconcerting conclusion that Hebrews contradicts the literal sense of Leviticus. This paper proposes that John Calvin’s interpretation of Hebrews offers a way forward. According to Calvin, Hebrews considers the levitical sacrifices to be sacramental, Christological types, and by understanding the old covenant sacrifices in this way Hebrews is still able to consider the levitical sacrifices to have achieved atonement and forgiveness of sins. This is a concrete example of how, as Hans Frei notes, Calvin employs figural reading in order to maintain the literal sense of the Old Testament." 


Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: W181a - McCormick Place

Renate V. Hood, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Sylvie T. Raquel, Trinity International University
If papyri could speak: Insights into the world of early Christianity gained from two unpublished papyri

"This paper will provide new data extracted from translations and reconstructions of two recently acquired, unpublished papyri fragments of Hebrews 9 and 11. A discussion of the condition, physical characteristics, usage, and dates of the papyri (preliminary data suggests that one is from the second century and one from the third century, while awaiting further dating in summer 2012), along with a presentation of scribal features, will provide insight into early (Egyptian) Christian writing practices and religious life. An examination of nomina sacra presented in light of paleographical data will bear significance on the discussion of the origin and function of nomina sacra in early Christianity. Additional observations from a variant in an explicit quotation in Hebrews, while making reference to the assumed LXX Vorlage, and other textual and paleographical data, will likewise illumine the socio-cultural world of the early Jesus followers." 


Sacrifice, Cult, and Atonement
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: S502b - McCormick PlaceTheme: Ritual Dynamics of Defilement and Purification

Daniel P. Bailey, University of Illinois at Chicago
Paradigms of Sacrifice and Atonement: Did the New Testament Authors “Read” Jacob Milgrom and Harmut Gese?

A persistent but often unaddressed question in the study of biblical atonement concerns what use the scholar of the NT and early Judaism should make of his or her readings of the works of modern Hebrew Bible scholars who strive to recapture the original sense and logic of cultic atonement. This paper argues that beyond a greater appreciation of OT texts in their own right, such reading can sharpen historically oriented observation about the NT and early Jewish texts. The principle is illustrated with reference to Jacob Milgrom and Hartmut Gese. First, knowing Milgrom’s theology helps one to appreciate how little it is reflected in early Jewish sources. No known ancient Jewish or early Christian text unambiguously reflects on the significance that the application of sin-offering (hatta’t) blood to holy objects in the sanctuary has for the forgiveness (Leviticus 4) or cleansing (Leviticus 16) of Israelite worshipers. The Temple Scroll says that in the ideal temple the high priest will use the blood of the people’s sin offering on the Day of Atonement to “atone for all the people of the assembly” (11Q19 26:7, 9), but the text does not mention atonement for the sanctuary or the altar (cf. Lev 16:16, 18, 20, 33). The author of Hebrews comes closer to having “read” Milgrom in that he mentions blood on holy objects and forgiveness of persons in close proximity, but the connections are tenuous and must be supplied by the modern reader: “Indeed, under the law almost all things are purified (katharizetai) with blood [including the worship vessels just mentioned in v. 21?], and without the shedding of blood [for sprinkling on these things?] there is no forgiveness of sins [for people]” (Heb. 9:22). The differences between Milgrom and Gese might be summarized by the significance they give to the blood of the hatta’t: blood as “purging” the sanctuary (Milgrom) versus blood as providing symbolic “access” to the sanctuary for the Israelite people as represented by their high priest through his hand-leaning on the animal victim (Gese). Gese-like ideas are found in both Ephesians and Hebrews. Gentile believers are “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13) and thus enjoy an “access” (prosagôgê, 2:18; 3:12) previously accorded only to members of the “commonwealth of Israel” (2:12). This echoes Paul’s idea of Jesus as the new “mercy seat (hilastêron) though faith” (Rom 3:25) with its implication of “access by faith into grace” (Rom 5:2). Similar images of cultically mediated access in Hebrews include “a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain,” where Jesus made his journey for others (Heb. 6:19-20; cf. 9:24); “the entrance (eisodos) into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus that he opened for us, as a new and living way (hodos) through the curtain” (10:19-20); and an invitation to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (4:16, possibly alluding to the mercy seat of 9:5). Ultimately the cultic motifs emphasized by Gese are more constitutive for Hebrews than those of Milgrom.

Review of Barnard, Mysticism of Hebrews

Nicholas J. Moore reviews Jody A. Barnard, The Mysticism of Hebrews in Reviews of Biblical  and Early Christian Studies.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hebrews at the Annual ETS Meeting

As is typical, Hebrews seems to get more attention at the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting than at the annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting.  Here are the papers on Hebrews that will be delivered at ETS this year:

Wednesday, November 14


9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Matthew McAffee
(Welch College)
The Old Testament Covenant Context of The Good Word and Its Significance for Interpreting Hebrews 6:5


8:30 AM-11:40 AM

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Dana M. Harris
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
Typological Trajectories and Inheritance Language in Hebrews

9:20 AM—10:00 AM
Jeff Fisher
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
Medieval and Reformation Understandings of the Son’s Superiority over Angels: A Comparative Analysis of Christian and Jewish Interpretations of the Psalms Cited in Hebrews 1-2

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Kyle D. Rapinchuk
(Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Servant Motif and Moses in Hebrews 3:1-6

11:00 AM—11:40 AM
René A. López
(Dallas Theological Seminary)
Present and Future Rulership: Angels, the Son, and His Partners (Hebrews 1:3–3:1)


3:00 PM-6:10 PM

3:00 PM—3:40 PM
Michael Kibbe
(Wheaton College)
Priesthood and the Sequence of Atonement: A Biblical-Theological Analysis of David Moffitt’s Atonement and the Logic of the Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews

3:50 PM—4:30 PM
Daniel P. Bailey
(University of Illinois at Chicago)
The Evolution of Atonement: Hebrew Sirach 3:30 and a Semantic-Historical Argument against the Sense “Propitiation” for Hilaskesthai in Hebrews 2:17

4:40 PM—5:20 PM
Bryan R. Dyer
(McMaster Divinity College)
“Learned from What He Suffered:” The Role of Christ’s Suffering and the Wordplay μαθειν-παθειν in
Hebrews 5:8

5:30 PM—6:10 PM
Jesse Coyne
(New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Metaphorical World of Wilderness in the Epistle to the Hebrews


Tuesday, November 15

8:30 AM-11:40 AM
Biblical Theology

8:30 AM—9:10 AM
Jon C. Laansma
(Wheaton College and Graduate School)
Reading Hebrews from the Perspective of Biblical Theology


8:30 AM-11:40 AM

10:10 AM—10:50 AM
Amy Peeler
(Wheaton College)
“Appointed Heir of All Things”: Inheritance in the Epistle to the Hebrews


3:00 PM-6:10 PM

4:40 PM—5:20 PM
Victor (Sung Yul) Rhee
(Talbot School of Theology)
Christology in Hebrews: Preexistence, Incarnation, and Exaltation of Christ


3:00 PM-6:10 PM

3:00 PM—3:40 PM
Benjamin Laird
(University of Aberdeen)
Hebrews and the Circulation of the Pauline Corpus in Early Christianity


Friday, November 16

12:50 PM-4:00 PM
Biblical Theology of Hebrews

12:50 PM—1:30 PM
David Moffitt
(Campbell University Divinity School)
Jesus, the Law, and the Heavenly Priesthood: Reassessing Hebrews’ Supersessionism

1:40 PM—2:20 PM
Gareth Lee Cockerill
(Wesley Biblical Seminary)
“ . . . in One who is Son”—The OT and the Pre-Existence of the Son in the Letter to the Hebrews

2:30 PM—3:10 PM
Amy Peeler
(Wheaton College)
“I Will Be a Father”: Paternal Theology in the Epistle to the Hebrews

3:20 PM—4:00 PM
Michael Horton
(Westminster Seminary, California)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hebrews Carnival September and October

Matthew Malcom queries, Why does Hebrews cite "someone somewhere"?
He also discusses the trinitarian sub-structure of Hebrews.

Henry Neufeld comments on A Note on Hebrews 1:3 in the Orthodox Study Bible.
He also comments On Hebrews 5:1–10 and Prayer.

Jared Calaway remarks on the sensuous language in Hebrews.

William Mounce queries, Is Faith Merely Assurance? - Heb 11:1.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meyer on Obedience and Church Authority in Hebrews

The following article has been added:

Meyer, William D. "Obedience and Church Authority: The Problem of the Book of Hebrews." Ashland Theological Journal 28 (1996): 9–28.

HT: Rob Bradshaw

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Review of Cockerill's Commentary

Below is a guest review of Gary Cockerill's new commentary on Hebrews, which I gladly reproduce here with the author's permission.  The review was originally written in Catalan by Jordi Cervera i Valls, but has been translated into English with the help of Scott Mackie.  I echo Jordi's assessment of Cockerill: he is a scholar with a pastor's heart.

Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2012) xlix +742 pp.

At a recent gathering of Hebrews scholars in San Francisco, Gary Cockerill was asked concerning his forthcoming commentary: “How many pages will it be?” Cockerill replied, blushing slightly, “Nearly eight hundred,” and then, with emotion, he explained it was his opera magna, and that Hebrews was the biblical writing he loved the most and to which he has dedicated his greatest efforts. He also thanked God for all the blessings he received from his study. Indeed, the publication of this commentary represents a personal tribute of gratitude to God for the gifts received during his lifetime.

It is not common to hear such confessions in a biblical congress, even in an intimate circle of colleagues; however, Cockerill is not a common scholar. His decided character, always disposed to talk after a paper’s exposition, the earned respect as a professor of the Wesley Biblical Seminary, his naturalness in gathering with a group of people discussing Hebrews, and his friendly and open manner.

We report these personal details in order to make the point that under every book, there is always a beating heart and a vibrating spirit. In the case of Gary Cockerill’s commentary on Hebrews, this is unquestionable. We should also emphasize that the New International Commentary series is one of the most prestigious and historically significant commentary series in English.

After the editor of the collection, Gordon D. Fee, offers a brief recommendation, Cockerill’s programmatically states that “the exposition does not treat this book at a distance as if it were a laboratory specimen.” He also comments that his intention “is to do more than explicate an ancient document within its context and then draw some analogies for contemporary believers.” He wants to help modern reader “to enter the Christian world of Hebrews and allow that world to reshape their hearts and minds” (p. xiii). It is a yearning that reflects his vocation as a pastor of the Wesleyan Church, the hope and expectation that God’s word will be effective in human lives: “I hope this commentary will help those who approach this ancient but ever-relevant text to hear the word of God has spoken in his Son, enter the divine presence through the cleansing he provides, and persevere through obedient faithfulness in fellowship with the people of God” (p. xiii).

Reading the index of the book (pp. vii-xi), we identify the personal mark that the “Pastor Cockerill” gives, referring to the author of Hebrews, as “the pastor.” In fact, “The pastor who wrote Hebrews” is the first aspect discussed in a section entitled, Hebrews in its Environment; and another section is called, “When Did the Pastor Write This Sermon?” His creativity colors these living titles throughout his discussion of the various status quaestionis of Hebrews (author, canonicity, background, literary genre, audience, dating).

Cockerill deals with potential polemics in his treatment of the addressed community’s identity: were they Jews or Gentiles? He rightly points out that “One can understand Hebrews without identifying either the name of its author or the location of the recipients. One cannot, however, interpret Hebrews without taking a position as to whether the recipients were Jewish or Gentile believers” (p. 19). Distancing himself from the controversial issue of “supersessionism,” he claims that Hebrews never compares Christianity with Judaism, or Israel with the Church. For Hebrews, according to Cockerill, God’s people are, and always has been, the people who hear the word of God and respond with faith and obedience. “There is nothing in this sermon that would demean or marginalize Jews as a people,” he affirms, closing the section with assertion: “One does violence to the text of Hebrews if one forces it to speak otherwise” (p. 23). The first 40 pages finish by prudently dating Hebrews between 50 and 90 CE.

In a section entitled, The Message of Hebrews, Cockerill exhibits excellent lucidity as he discusses the relevance of the exegetical methods used by Hebrews to interpret the Old Testament (p. 57). He proposes the following hermeneutical principles, worthy to be reproduced at length:
First, God’s word in the incarnate, obedient, now exalted Son fulfills all that God Has said. Therefore the Son stands in complete continuity with and fulfills all previous revelation. Second, the Old Covenant with is priesthood and sacrifice has always been and continues to be a type and foreshadowing of the sufficiency of Christ as Savior. It was never meant to be an adequate means of salvation in itself. Third, those who live by faith on the word of God constitute the one people of God throughout history. Their goal has always been and continues to be final entrance into God’s eternal ‘rest’ (p. 59).
These are concise and clear hermeneutical principles, accurately reflecting Cockerill’s empathy with Hebrews and his ability to synthesize and update it.

Another section, The Sermon’s Rhetorically Effective Structure, treats the literary structures proposed by Vanhoye, Guthrie and Westfall. However, Cockerill chooses to divide the writing into three big sections (1:1-4:13; 4;14-10:18; 10:19-12:29). The reason for such a division is the parallel between 4:14-16 and 10:19-25. The first section (1:1-4:13) proclaims the divine revelation in the Son, and warns against disobedience. The second section (4:14-10:18) presents the priesthood of Christ as the fulfillment of his sonship and the content of God’s self-disclosure in the Son. Through this ministry God’s people have both the unprecedented privilege of entering his presence and the intensified obligation for obedience. Thus, the third section urges faithful endurance until Christ’s return, enabled by the sufficiency of his high priesthood (p. 62).

Having thus introduced and structured the writing, the remainder of the work, some 600 pages in length, constitute the commentary proper. Throughout, Cockerill follows a format of Text, Exposition, and Notes. Items are placed with precision and with didactic titles, and exhibiting a balance that will be well appreciated by experts. Explanations are exhaustive but not burdensome, avoiding digressions, yet without sidestepping the complicated nature of some passages.

A nice example occurs in the comments on 9:22: “According to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Cockerill’s comments show how this statement is integrated within his larger argument:  “The pastor has been building his case that the pervasive role of sacrificial blood in the Old Covenant anticipated the cleansing power of Christ blood” (p. 409). He insists that the terms “without blood” and “forgiveness” become crucial, the first highlighting the drama of Christ’s death, and the second describing the benefits of this death (pp. 410-411). We add that the sacrificial theology and the sacrificial system allow us to understand the meaning and value of Christ's death, placing us in the same origin of Christological discourses.

Also illuminative are Cockerill’s comments on 10:1-4:
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Cockerill claims that “they describe a system that could not produce salvation but could only anticipate the future by being its opposite and thus by showing the need of what was to come” (p. 428). This comment is commendable and coherent with the hermeneutical principles mentioned in the Introduction, and avoids any charges of supersessionism. His comments on 10:4 underline the confusion caused by this verse’s logic, and the “impossibility” that the blood of goats and calves remove sins. He points that this contradicts 9:22, which states that bloodshed is necessary to get atonement.  He solves this dilemma by saying that the sin of disobedience can only be assumed by Christ’s sacrifice offered once for all (p. 432). The author does not focus on the topic, but hints at the difficulty of these verses, especially 10:4. We go a step further and emphasize that these verses are against the general discourse of Hebrews when previously stated that sacrifices sanctify, purify and forgive sins (cf. 9:13-14; 9:22), a point made again in 13:11-12. This is a delicate issue to solve if we want to be faithful to the overarching intent of Hebrews, but this is not the place to do attempt such an endeavor.

The comments on 12:14-17 begin with the apt title: Don’t sell your Birthright as Esau Did. In this passage, Esau, the “immoral and godless” one, is the personification of apostasy. Cockerill differs from the usual sexual reading of pornos showing that, separately, the two terms lose meaning, but together they reinforce each other to explain the sin of Esau: a rejection of primogeniture, not for fear but by desire. The incredibly ridiculous trade (“a dish of lentils!”), “for which he bartered the eternal attests to the great disdain with which he treated the things of God. Nothing less than both ‘immoral’ and ‘godless’ sufficiently describes this arch-apostate” (p. 639). Esau is rebuked, and the community is effectively warned to not repeat his disastrous example.

In 12:17 there is an enigmatic expression, “place of repentance,” that Cockerill rightly associates with 6:4-8 and 10:26-31 (two severe warning passages). Following the assessment of Koester and Lane, he proposes that this is a technical term that refers to the opportunity of repentance in a moral or religious sense. This theme is present in the wisdom literature (Wis 12:10), Second Temple literature (4 Ezra 7:82, 9:12; 2 Bar. 85:12; 2 En. 62:2) and also in apostolic tradition (1 Clem 7:5; 2 Clem 8:2; Tatian, To the Greeks 15:4). I personally believe this phrase is best illuminated by the Targumic haggadot of  Gen 35:33 and 49:3-4, which narrates a controversial episode: Ruben’s incest with Bilhah. It is a phrase that refers to the delicate issue of the impossibility of repentance, which became a recurring theme in later Christian (HermVis III, 7:5; Ap. Const. II.38:4; V.19:3) and rabbinical traditions (Ber 34b; Sanh 99b).

In conclusion, I am convinced that this commentary represents a new landmark in Hebrews scholarship. All scholars of Hebrews must have it on their shelves! It is clear and comprehensible enough for beginners, and providing the deep details scholars require. We truly join ourselves to the author’s joy about the appearance of this commentary on Hebrews, and welcome this vibrant and intelligent analysis.

Jordi Cervera i Valls
Facultat de Teologia de Catalunya
English version revised by Scott Mackie.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Churchman Articles Added

The following Churchman articles have been added:

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: I." Churchman 15.7 (1901): 347–50.

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: II." Churchman 15.8 (1901): 399–402.

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: III." Churchman 15.9 (1901): 486–89.

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: IV." Churchman 15.10 (1901): 524–28.

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: V." Churchman 15.11 (1901): 568–73.

Moule, H. C. G. "Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews: VI." Churchman 15.12 (1901): 632–36.

Peterson, Dennis. "The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Decline of Anglicanism." Churchman 114.4 (2000): 330–45.

Tait, Michael. "The Search for Valid Orders: The Melchizedek Christology in Hebrews." Churchman 124.2 (2010): 127–42.

HT: Rob Bradshaw

Review of Jobes, Letters to the Church

RBL has a new review by Peter Davids on Karen Jobes' Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Exodus Theology in Hebrews

I just discovered this new book on Hebrews:

Bonggyeong Lim. Horror and Hope: Exodus Theology in the Book of Hebrews. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012.

"The author endeavors to highlight the concepts of horror and hope in the book of Hebrews by exploring theological interrelation between the Old Exodus of Israel and the New Exodus in Christ event. While the concept of horror is predominantly observed in the warning passages of the book, the concept of hope is manifested in the sections referring to the redemptive event of Christ, including His heavenly sanctuary ministry. Particularly, it is argued that theological themes relating to the Old Exodus, such as the “revelation of God,” “salvation,” “Moses,” and “covenant” are developed throughout the book of Hebrews in a way to demonstrate that Exodus is one of the central motifs of the book as a whole. In this way, the book of Hebrews is shown to speak of hope to the humankind who are hopeless and struck with horror, yet, who are looking forward to the great eschatological Exodus at the end of the world history. However, it is maintained that this book gives a severe warning message to the individuals who persistently reject the Captain of the New Exodus, the Savior of hope, Jesus Christ."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brief Review of deSilva's New Book

This has been a slow month for Hebrews studies on the blogs, but recently Nijay Gupta has posted a brief review of David deSilva's book, The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective.  I hope to have my own review of the book up on this blog in the not-too-distant future. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review of Moffitt, Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in Hebrews

Review of Biblical Literature has just posted this review:

Moffitt, David M. Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Review by Kenneth D. Litwak.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hebrews Carnival August 2012

Roger Pearse queries whether there is an extant an Armenian version of Ephraim's commentary on Hebrews.

William Mounce discusses Preserving Images in Translation, using Hebrews 10:29 as an illustration.

David Stark urges that the church should be Praying with Jesus Psalm 40, part of which is attributed to Jesus in Hebrews 10.

Jared Calaway muses about the Author of Hebrews as Mystagogue.

Matt O'Reilly discusses Unbelief and Falling Away in Hebrews.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Mysticism of Hebrews

The latest offering by Mohr Siebeck:

Jody A. Barnard. The Mysticism of Hebrews: Exploring the Role of Jewish Apocalyptic Mysticism in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

"Jody A. Barnard examines the role of Jewish apocalyptic mysticism in the epistle to the Hebrews. Jewish apocalyptic mysticism is defined as a phenomenon occurring in late Second Temple Judaism (including early Christianity), which finds literary expression in the apocalypses and related literature, and exhibits a preoccupation with the realities of the heavenly realm, and the human experience of this realm and its occupants. The author demonstrates that there are numerous apocalyptic and mystical themes appropriated in Hebrews, and that there is evidence to suggest that this is not merely a conceptual and literary phenomenon, but is born out of, and informed by, mystical experience. The cosmology, Christology, and soteriology of Hebrews all belong to the world of Jewish apocalyptic mysticism and are significantly elucidated with reference to this context."

Chiastic Structures in Hebrews

I just stumbled across this new dissertation:

Heath, David Mark. "Chiastic Structures in Hebrews: A Study of Form and Function in Biblical Discourse." Ph.D. diss., University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective

David deSilva continues to crank out more books on Hebrews.  Here is the latest title:

David A. deSilva. Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective. Cascade Books, 2012.

Book description from the website:
"A lot of mystery surrounds the book of Hebrews, especially regarding its authorship, date, and audience. But by asking the right kind of questions, one can move beyond the impasses typical of historical investigation. In this volume, David deSilva explores Hebrews through a social-scientific lens, asking one of the most important questions when interpreting letters and sermons: What was going on in the community to occasion such a response? DeSilva looks for clues concerning the anonymous author, his education level, the influence of the Greek environment, and his perception of his own authority. In addition, by forming a social profile of the audience that includes location, ethnicity, and class status, deSilva brings to light the author's aims of helping protect Christian converts from persecution and social shame. This book not only helps the sermon "to the Hebrews" take on flesh and blood for contemporary readers; it also expands the readers' tools for asking fresh questions and exploring new dimensions in biblical texts."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Greening of Hebrews?

A new book on Hebrews:

Jeffrey S. Lamp. The Greening of Hebrews?: Ecological Readings in the Letter to the Hebrews. Pickwick Publications, 2012.

Book Description:
"Applying an ecological hermeneutic developed in the Consultation on Ecological Hermeneutics of the Society of Biblical Literature, and in conjunction with intertextual and theological hermeneutics, Jeffrey Lamp creatively reads the Letter to the Hebrews from the perspective of Earth. The author of Hebrews engages in an extended argument that reinterprets features of the old covenant in terms of the Son in order to demonstrate that the new covenant instituted by the Son is superior to the old. In such an argument, the voice of Earth is understandably absent. The author of the letter is frequently understood as denigrating the temporal order, of which the old covenant is a part, while praising the eternal order, of which the new covenant is a part. An ecological reading of Hebrews demonstrates that, despite the rhetorical concerns of the author, embedded in the argument are textual clues, derived primarily from the christological affirmations of the argumentation, connecting Hebrews with the larger biblical concern for the integrity and care of the created order."