Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hebrews Carnival October 2013

David Allen discusses Outlining Hebrews 10.19–25.

Henry Neufeld discusses The Numerous Authorship Proposals for Hebrews.

Gerry Breshears discusses the Hebrews Warnings.

Nicholas Moore reviews David Moffitt, Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews in the Journal of Theological Studies 64.2 (Oct 2013): 673–75.

James Gray has written an Introduction to the Book of Hebrews.

Ken Schenck enumerates four Ways the NT Uses the OT.  He uses several examples from the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews' reference to Jesus suffering Outside the Gate prompts James McGrath to ponder how this text is clearly at odds with mythicism.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Annual Hebrews' Get-Together Dinner at the 2013 SBL National Meeting

Scott Mackie and I would like to invite you to our annual Hebrews' Get-Together Dinner at the 2013 SBL National Meeting.  There are two late afternoon Hebrews' sessions this year (one on Saturday and one on Monday).  The plan is to attend the Monday afternoon session (4:00–6:30) and then a group of us will go out to eat somewhere.  If you are interested in joining us, you can post a comment here or email me privately.  If you can't attend the Hebrews session but still want to join us for dinner, email me privately and we can make arrangements to exchange cell phone numbers.  I am also open for an informal gathering after the Saturday session but I will have to cut out early as I have another obligation at 8:30.

". . . not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another . . ." (Hebrews 10:25)

Hebrews at the 2013 SBL National Meeting

Friday, November 22


Institute for Biblical Research
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Room: Peale C - Hilton Baltimore
Theme: Emerging Scholarship on the New Testament
This session showcases emerging New Testament scholars sponsored by Fellows of the Institute of Biblical Research. All are welcome to attend the session. Summaries of the papers will be read at the session leaving opportunity for discussion. Full papers will be available at the Institute of Biblical Research website: (click on Emerging Scholarship on the New Testament Group) no later than October 1, 2013. For information on this session please contact Ruth Anne Reese ( and Mark Boda (

Liz Myers, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Mill Valley)
Literary Dependence between 1 Peter and Hebrews: A Probability Analysis of Intertextual Parallels (10 min)

Saturday, November 23


Joint Session With: Hebrews, Intertextuality in the New Testament
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Holiday 1 - Hilton Baltimore
Theme: Space Theory and Emerging Studies
James Thompson, Abilene Christian University, Presiding

Gabriella Gelardini, Universität Basel
The Book of Hebrews and Critical Spacial Theory Revisited (25 min)
"Building on the discussions initiated in 2011 in this paper I shall revisit critical special theory in an attempt to suggest additional gains for interpreting the Book of Hebrews."

Ellen Aitken, McGill University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Radu Gheorghita, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Hebrews by Heart: Benefits from an Ancient Discipline (20 min)
"The paper explores the value of Scripture memorization as a distinct approach to biblical and theological studies. While all forms of Scripture memorization are worthwhile, the particular manner advocated in this paper is memorization of entire books. Brief consideration is given to the ancient art of Scripture memorization as practiced in both Jewish and Christian circles, with further reflections on its declining usage today, not least among the guild of theologians. The main part of the paper will be devoted to examining the results of this type of activity as applied to the memorization of the epistle to the Hebrews. Attention will be given to several exegetical and theological highlights gleaned from this exercise. At various levels of analysis, be they simple (morphological, syntactical, or lexical), or more complex (motif, discourse analysis, structural, or theological), memorizing the epistle to the Hebrews enhances one’s capacity to understand and relate to the truths of this special canonical writing."

Richard K. Min, University of Texas at Dallas
A New Interpretive Paradigm for Melchizedek in Heb 7:1-3 (20 min)
"The study of paradox has been one of the most neglected areas in contemporary biblical scholarship for the latter half of the 20th century. However, there has been a renewed interest due to the innovative approach and breakthrough pioneered by Kripke in the study of paradox of circularity, and its application to biblical paradox by Min. This paper presents and extends this new perspective and paradigm of circular reasoning and its interpretive validity for the case of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-3). Some well-known examples of biblical paradox of circularity are surveyed and analyzed. Two proof methods in John 8:12-20 are analyzed and discussed for the validity of circular reasoning and interpretation. A few noteworthy features in biblical paradox including circularity, nonmonotonicity, and modality are noted and discussed. One landmark example on biblical paradox in the contemporary New Testament scholarship is found in the work of Cullmann on the two-stage coming of the Kingdom of God, expressed in temporal-modal logic of “already” and “not yet” in tension (Luke 17:20–30), in the framework of the salvation history. The current study provides a promising new prospective and paradigm, with many groundbreaking results toward the study of biblical paradox. This is the author’s hope to bring a renewed interest, understanding, and excitement toward the study of biblical paradox in the dawn of the 21st century."

Kenneth Schenck, Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Eugenia Constantinou, University of San Diego
Hebrews in the Greek Orthodox Lenten Lectionary as Theological Explanation of Christ’s Atonement and Role as Great High Priest (20 min)

"The iconography and liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church frequently embraces the imagery of Christ as the Great High Priest, but its theology traditionally minimizes the death of Christ as atoning sacrifice in favor of a strongly Resurrection-oriented theology. During the season of Great Lent, however, the Sunday lectionary readings highlight the sacrificial aspect of Christ’s death, both affirming it as atonement and calling that fact to remembrance on the part of the faithful through the use of the Book of Hebrews in the Sunday epistle readings. These carefully excerpted lectionary selections from Hebrews create a chain of theological interpretation which looks back on Old Testament history as incomplete and unfulfilled, and contrasts it with the death of Christ as the perfect sacrifice, bringing all sacrifice to a culminating completion. The lectionary selections from Hebrews create both a historical and a theological context for the events which are later “scripturally remembered” and “liturgically lived” during Holy Week."

Kevin B. McCruden, Gonzaga University
Our High Priest Is Cuter Than Your High Priest: The High Priesthood of Jesus in Hebrews in light of the Greco-Roman Category of Priesthood (20 min)
"The Epistle to the Hebrews clearly links the theme of the priesthood of Jesus to biblical antecedents. However, the implications of the letter’s priestly Christology likely would have given encouragement to persons living in a Greco-Roman context, where there were competing understandings of priesthood and sacrifice. Guided by this assumption, this paper seeks to examine the complex civic and religious dimensions underlying the category of priesthood in the imperial period and explore how these dimensions illuminate key aspects of Hebrews’ christological presentation of Jesus as an eternal high priest. While substantive attention will be given in this paper to the role of the Roman emperor in connection with the category of priesthood both in imperial Rome and the provinces, I will not argue that the author of Hebrews is engaging in any kind of veiled or even overt criticism of the Roman imperial order. I seek instead to demonstrate how the qualities of power, privilege, and elite social status characteristic of the category of priesthood in the milieu of the Greco-Roman world are appropriated creatively by the author of Hebrews in an attempt to present Jesus as the most noble of priests. This motivation is guided less by any political agenda than it is by the marginalized situation of the first auditors of Hebrews. Cognizant of the various personal and communal crises attendant upon conversion, the author of Hebrews sketches a portrait of Jesus as high priest that functions largely to celebrate the honorable status of Jesus. In this way, the author employs theological reflection in the service of what I see as a principal social task of this letter, namely: the shaping of the identity of the original auditors of Hebrews."

Amy Peeler, Wheaton College (Illinois), Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (5 min)


Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
Joint Session With: Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity, Senses and Culture in the Biblical World
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Key 12 - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Sensory Perception and Religious Experience
Frances Flannery, James Madison University, Presiding

Scott D. Mackie, Independent Scholar
Visionary Experience in the Epistle to the Hebrews (30 min)

"The role of visionary experience in the development of New Testament Christology is increasingly attracting critical attention. Somewhat less attention, however, has been paid to the role and function of visions in the worshipping life of early Christian communities. This essay contends that visionary experience shapes and defines the Epistle to the Hebrews in both of these respects. The author’s personal visionary experience appears to be reflected in both the unique content and dramatized format of his portrayal of Jesus. His intent to inspire and evoke in the addressed community a vision of Jesus as the efficacious high priest and exalted Son of God is apparent in a number of rhetorical practices and hortatory strategies that appear throughout this self-professed “word of exhortation.” These visually oriented practices and strategies are expressed in three ways: (1) The author dramatizes his narrative, with speaking actors and carefully drawn characters, settings, and circumstances all serving to increase the production of visual imagery in the community’s imagination, and so encourage their substantive entry into the dramatic narrative. (2) Community is reinforced visually, as cues and commands to “behold” and “look closely at one another” are issued, solidifying their sense of family mutuality and belonging. (3) The vivid descriptions ultimately serve a mystical purpose, as the mental imagery they evoke functions as a springboard for an actual visual encounter, “setting the stage” for the community’s visual apprehension of the enthroned Son and his high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. The visual encounter is either elicited by an exhortation to “look at” or “gaze upon” Jesus, or signaled by the observation that he is “now” visible. A hortatory purpose is preeminent: conditions of suffering and marginalization have challenged the community’s commitment. The author wants them to see into the future, past their present, nearly engulfing experience of suffering, thus substantiating by sight the “now, but not yet” eschatological tension which constitutes a significant portion of his “doctrinal” presentation. Most significantly, a vision of Jesus “crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death” (2:9) will assure the community that their endurance of sufferings will issue also in divine vindication. Like Moses, they will “persevere by seeing him who is invisible” (11:27)." 

Sunday, November 24


9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 346 - Convention CenterTheme: Putting Mark in Its Place — Mark and Others
Papers are distributed to Seminar members in advance.
Rikk Watts, Regent College, Presiding

Daniel Lynwood Smith, Saint Louis University
From Water to Wilderness: Situating Mark’s Baptismal Theology in First-Century Christianity (10 min)

"Scholars with an interest in the earliest Christian baptismal theology tend to look to Paul, who offers a rich variety of symbols to describe this ritual. The Gospels of Matthew and John comment further on baptism: Matthew deals with the problem of Jesus’ baptism by John, and John admits that Jesus and his disciples were involved in baptizing. Mark is often overlooked. Yet Mark’s description of Jesus’ temptation, frequently interpreted in terms of a New Adam typology, is more suggestive of a New Israel typology. In Mark 1:9-13, I suggest that the evangelist links Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert, with the Israelite exodus and wilderness wanderings. This link between Christian baptism and Israelite exodus is made explicit earlier by Paul (in 1 Cor 10). Yet, Mark’s own connection is embellished and explained more fully by his interpreter Matthew, in Matt 2-4. This connection between the story of Israel and the story of Jesus and the early Christian community is further explored in the Letter to the Hebrews, where the emphasis moves from the entrance rite of baptism to the living out of the Christian life - or from the water to the wilderness." 


Greco-Roman Religions
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Latrobe - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Attitudinal Practices: Relating to Authorizing Agencies and Redescribing Faith, Belief, and Piety
James Hanges, Miami University, Presiding (5 min)

Faith as Attitudinal Practice in the Writings of John Chrysostom (25 min)
"In most instances the study of ‘faith’ in early Christianity has been related to theological issues, particularly to its meaning in the daily devotion of Christian life. The aim of this paper is to revisit the concept of faith as an attitudinal practice, with the writings of John Chrysostom serving as a case study. If one reads Chrysostom’s homily 23 On Hebrews, it becomes clear that faith has social, cultural and political dimensions alongside its conventional religious dimension. Chrysostom especially relates faith to the communication, transmission and regulation of knowledge (especially, but not exclusively, by means of prophecy). Once knowledge is concerned, the dynamics of power are active. This would have very practical implications for the formation of virtue and identities in late ancient Christian communities. Through this lens, the paper will especially focus on Chrysostom’s discussions of faith in connection with reason (and knowledge), virtue (and discipline) and identity (and alterity)." 


Intertextuality in the New Testament
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 347 - Convention CenterTheme: The Intertextuality of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Use of Scripture Guided by Contemporary Literary Traditions
B. J. Oropeza, Azusa Pacific University, Presiding

Kevin Joseph Haley, Saint John's Seminary (Camarillo, CA)
They Shall Not Enter into My Rest: The Nature and Function of Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3–4 (25 min)
"Hebrews 3-4 consists mostly of the text and interpretation of the latter part of Ps 95. The call for a decision “today” is an important part of the Deuteronomic theology that pervades the latter part of this psalm and thus makes it applicable to the original audience of Hebrews. “Today” is the hinge between the first part of the Psalm with the call to praise and its intertwined themes of creation and election and the last part of the Psalm that concludes with a warning and an ominous oath. The “today” stands in relief against what precedes and what follows and puts in stark relief the emphasis on God’s activity in Ps 95:1-7a with the sinful ways of “our ancestors” in vv 8-11. As W. Dennis Tucker says, “with this opening word, the psalmist sets the tenor—a deuteronomic tenor—for the remainder of the Psalm.” The generation who hears this Psalm, in whatever period, is faced with this existential decision, the same one that Moses and Joshua offered to Israel in their respective times. It is this urgency which the author of Hebrews uses to confront his own audience. The original context of Ps 95 is elusive because of its perennial message. Its power is that it looks simultaneously at God’s actions in the past and the prospect of future rest, both of which meet in the existential decision of the present moment."

Discussion (5 min)

Ken Schenck, Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University
Contact: How Hebrews and Philo Connected Scriptures Together (25 min)
"Although scholarship ebbs and flows in its sense of how likely it is that the author of Hebrews knew of Philo, both of these authors attest to certain common mechanisms by which they connected Jewish Scriptural texts to each other. This paper explores techniques Hebrews and Philo held in common and analyzes their similarities and differences. First, the paper shows that Hebrews and Philo seemed to have used a similar text of the LXX at a number of idiosyncratic points. Second, it shows that they both often used a secondary text to reinforce or develop the putative meaning of a primary text. The remainder of the paper analyzes three similar exegetical techniques they both arguably used to connect Scriptures together. Both use exempla from the Jewish Scriptures with commonly perceived characteristics to reinforce a point. Hebrews 11 is an obvious example for Hebrews. Philo's lengthy discussion of Genesis 3:14-15 in his Allegorical Interpretation also provides several examples of such exempla. Both Hebrews and Philo connect texts to each other on the basis of catchwords (gezera shawa). Hebrews 4:1-11 is an obvious example of connecting Psalm 95 to Genesis 2:2 based on the word "rest." The same section of Philo's Allegorical Interpretation has an example of such a connection made on the basis of being cursed (Leg. All. 3:107). Most of Philo's connections, however, are made on the basis of some deeper, more allegorical connection between what he perceives to be the deeper meaning of one passage and that of another. He uses the etymologies of names, for example, to discover deep meanings he can connect to the deep meanings of other passages. He does this with the name of Noah and Melchizedek and Bezalel in the same section of the Allegorical Commentary mentioned above. Interestingly, many of the passages Philo links together in this section are also passages that appear throughout Hebrews. Hebrews is not averse to such interpretive techniques (e.g., 7:1-3), although it uses them more to interpret individual passages than to connect passages in the Jewish Scripture to each other. Hebrews thus sticks a little closer to the surface of texts when making connections than Philo, whose connections more often are allegorical. Hebrews uses allegorical interpretation, just not so much in the connection of scriptural texts. The paper concludes by noting again the striking amount of similarity between Hebrews and Philo just on this one topic alone just in one section in Philo. It corroborates again the sense that, whether the author of Hebrews knew Philo's works or not, the two individuals surely swam in very similar Diaspora waters."

Discussion (5 min)

Michael Kibbe, Wheaton College Graduate School
Which Mountain? Which Mediator? The Sinai Narratives in Heb 12:18–29 (25 min)
"Hebrews’ description of Sinai—the place to which his audience has not come—draws from Israel’s experience there as described in both Exodus 19–20 and Deuteronomy 4–5. This paper explores the function of the various allusions and citations from these texts in Hebrews 12:18–29 in order to discern their function in Hebrews’ contrast between Israel at Sinai and his listeners at Zion. I first discuss points of continuity and discontinuity between the Sinai narratives and Hebrews’ interpretation of them. Then, I engage particular points of discontinuity by examining the three-way intersection of Hebrews as reader of OT texts, Hebrews as Second Temple Jewish reader of OT texts, and Hebrews as Christian reader of OT texts. In other words, the cultural encyclopedia from which Hebrews 12:18–29 arises includes not only the Sinai narratives themselves, but also Second Temple eschatological traditions about Sinai, Moses, and Zion, and especially his belief that the coming of Jesus represented a fundamental shift in Israel’s covenant narrative. These three dynamics are necessarily linked at every point; we cannot isolate them so as to say “here Hebrews is simply parroting common ideas about a Sinai-like eschatological shaking of creation,” or “here Hebrews is arbitrarily downplaying Moses so as to exalt Christ,” or “here Hebrews is merely expounding upon his OT irrespective of Jewish and Christian assumptions.” And of course a fourth dynamic, the hoped-for rhetorical effect of the Sinai-Zion comparison on Hebrews’ recipients, stands at the crossroads of the other three. In order to accomplish that effect, Hebrews takes up Exodus and Deuteronomy in ways that are faithful to those texts themselves, comprehensible (though perhaps controversial) within his Second Temple milieu, and ultimately governed by his belief that Jesus, the one like-yet-unlike Moses, has led Israel once more to the mountain of God."

Discussion (5 min)

Liz Myers, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Mill Valley)
The Probability of Literary Dependence between 1 Peter and Hebrews (25 min)
"The presence of numerous conceptual and verbal parallels between 1 Peter and Hebrews is one of the most curious phenomena occurring in NT literature. Such parallels raise the question of a possible relationship between these books. Might this be a case of literary dependence? The question begs an answer since conclusive evidence of a direct literary relationship could have potential implications, not only for exegetical study of both books, but also for textual criticism and relative dating of the documents. While scholars have explored the possibility of an interdependent literary relationship, most published studies attribute the similarities to several different factors that might have been common to both authors. The analysis methods, however, have proved neither comprehensive nor systematic, and results have been inconclusive. This paper presents the first phase of a two-phase research project that seeks to address methodological shortfalls of previous studies and discern what kind of relationship, if any, might be indicated by the intertextual parallels. The first phase asks “what is the likelihood of a direct literary connection between these documents?” The question of literary dependence is approached as a probability analysis. Specifically, this paper shows how the likelihood of literary dependence can be assessed by examining intertextual parallels for evidence of appropriate indicators and applying probability theory to the data in a controlled manner that ensures a meaningful result. Application of the methodology to the parallels between 1 Peter and Hebrews demonstrates the thesis that these documents are more likely than not to be related through direct literary dependence. Such an outcome establishes a literary basis from which to proceed to the second phase of the research project, which investigates the question of who used whom. This paper presents a summary of the probability analysis and highlights potential implications for multiple facets of NT studies."

Discussion (5 min)

Matthew W. Bates, Quincy University
When Jesus Speaks in the Old Testament: A Theodramatic Proposal (25 min)
"The author of Hebrews has determined that Jesus Christ is the speaker of the Old Testament passages cited in the catena in Hebrews 2:11-13 (Ps 21:23 LXX and Isaiah 8:17-18 LXX) and in Hebrews 10:5-9 (Ps 39:7-9 LXX). But how and why? I shall offer a new proposal, arguing that the author of Hebrews participates in what is best termed theodramatic or prosopological exegesis, a reading strategy known from the early church Fathers and Greco-Roman antiquity. In short, the earliest Christians believed that the Old Testament prophets, such as David or Isaiah, could slip into a role (prosopon) as an actor and perform a speech or dialogue in an adopted persona. This paper will develop the theodramatic model used in the earliest church in detail by looking at theoretical descriptions of the method in early patristic exegesis. Then it will show the theological payoff that results from understanding this ancient theodramatic model by concretely demonstrating how shifts in speaker and tense in the Septuagint texts helped the author of Hebrews identify Jesus as the speaker of these passages."

Discussion (5 min)


Christian Apocrypha
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Room: 349 - Convention CenterTheme: New Perspectives on Christian Apocryphal Literature
Tony Burke, York University, Presiding

Eric Vanden Eykel, Marquette University
A Virgin Shall Spin and Bear a Son: Reconsidering the Significance of Mary’s Work in the Protevangelium Jacobi (20 min)
"In the so-called Protevangelium Jacobi, Mary spins thread for the temple veil while receiving news of her impending pregnancy. Some have argued that her work is apologetic, countering the unflattering claim (of Celsus) that she spun in order to make ends meet, others that it is indicative of her virtue, intended to portray her as laudable. Without questioning the validity of these observations, I argue on literary grounds that Mary’s spinning establishes a threefold relationship between Jesus, the young Virgin, and the Jerusalem temple, and that it indicates a correspondence between the temple veil and Jesus’ flesh. Three sources of intertextual resonance layer the significance of Mary's spinning. First, the Moirae of Greco-Roman mythology allow the reader to interpret her work metaphorically, as a participation in the forces that govern divine as well as human destiny. Second, in light of the association between Mary and the Moirae, the Synoptic rending of the temple veil (velum scissum) demonstrates that the thread spun by Mary, symbolizing Jesus own life span, is cut by God at the crucifixion. Finally, the Epistle to the Hebrews (specifically 10:20) provides a sounding board for the aforementioned connections, namely, that the destruction of the veil, itself emblematic of Jesus’ flesh, represents a literal opening of the entryway into the holy of holies. The virgin spinner emerges as one with considerable authority, if qualified. As the willing vehicle of the incarnation, her role in the process of redemption—and thus human destiny—is undeniable. On the other hand, the correlation between the work of her hands and the child in her womb, understood as none other than the God of whom she declares herself a servant, locates the Virgin squarely within the divine plan, subordinate to the very thread she spins." 

Monday, November 25


African Biblical Hermeneutics
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Holiday 3 - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Biblical Interpretation Incorporating African Cultural Elements
Papers in this session engage the Biblical text from the vantage point of African cultural, philosophical, and religious standpoints.

Tim Hartman, University of Virginia
The Power of the Dead among the Living: Reckoning with Jesus as Ancestor in Kwame Bediako’s Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (25 min)
"In many African cultures, significant clan rulers and ancestors who have died are commonly referred to as “the living dead”—active members of the community who dispense advice and play a decisive role in the affairs of society in spite of their physical absence who are regularly offered food and drink in ritual libation ceremonies. Ghanaian Kwame Bediako sees continuity between the pre-Christian African past and the Christian present based on Jesus Christ’s universality and translatability. He claims that the Epistle to the Hebrews is “OUR Epistle!” and uses the Epistle to connect the gospel of Christ to African culture. Drawing on published sources as well as unpublished sermon manuscripts, this paper presents Bediako’s exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews and its relevance to contemporary political theology, the relationship of African Christians to Jews, Western assumptions about the living and the dead, and hermeneutical strategies for reading Hebrews today."
Discussion (5 min)


Early Jewish Christian Relations
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Calloway - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Holy Days, Holy Places: Ritual Practices at the Boundaries
Christine Shepardson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Presiding

Daniel R. Streett, Durham University
Heavenly Holidays: Angelic Festival Observance in Early Judaism and the Letter to the Hebrews (30 min)
"It is widely recognized that Israel’s festivals figure prominently in the NT work known as the Letter to the Hebrews. Most scholars, naturally, have focused on Yom Kippur, although G. Gelardini has recently proposed Tisha Be-Av as the key festal backdrop for the letter. In this paper, I discuss Heb 12:22, which contrasts Israel’s assembly at Mt. Sinai with early Christians’ figurative approach to Mt. Zion. The passage depicts Mt. Zion as the “heavenly Jerusalem” where “myriads of angels” are gathered in a festival celebration (panegyris). Surprisingly, scholars have almost uniformly failed to read this passage in relation to the letter’s overall reception of Israel’s Jewish festivals and priestly cultus. I propose to read this passage, and the letter as whole, in the context of Jewish traditions that understood Israel’s festivals to have an angelic, heavenly, counterpart. Important evidence for this can be found, inter alia, in a) Jub. 6:17–18, which states that the Feast of Weeks had been celebrated in heaven from creation until the deluge; b) Pseudo-Philo, L.A.B. XIII.6, who discusses a heavenly Rosh Hashanah; and c) 4QSongs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, which narrates an angelic liturgy. When read in this context, Heb 12:22–23 is understood as belonging to a tradition of Judaism which interpreted Israel’s festivals apocalyptically and eschatologically. Hebrews 12, then, should be treated as important evidence for the way some early Christian communities negotiated their relationship with Jewish festal ideology and praxis."


John's Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern
Joint Session With: John's Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern, Ethiopic Bible and Literature
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 312 - Convention CenterTheme: Book of Revelation in Ethiopic Contexts and Traditions
Lynn Huber, Elon University, Presiding

Mark C. Kiley, Saint John's University
Taking the Measure of Revelation's Catholicity (30 min)
"This presentation focuses on the degree to which the Apocalypse reflects dialogue with later works of the NT canon as well as with 1 Enoch. The analysis begins with statistical comparison of themes shared among Revelation, the co-called catholic epistles, and Hebrews. Relatively unique thematic clusters are present in these late canonical texts. In addition to the juxtaposition of letter –like and other genres, Revelation also shares with Hebrews an interest in the tabernacling presence of God, an appreciation of Jesus’ role in cleansing by his blood, and a Sabbath/rest for the people of God. Both James and Revelation explicitly address the Diaspora, discuss wisdom “from above”, display an appreciation of prophetic activity and the twelve tribes, as well as calls for justice. With 1 Peter, Revelation depicts the priestly identity and persecution of the elect, and some version of lion and lamb imagery. Both Revelation and 2 Peter insist on the future consummation of what has begun in Christ and enlist the topos of 1000 years in the articulation of that agenda. Most interestingly, Jude and Revelation show a heavy indebtedness to themes that recur in 1 Enoch. Under that umbrella, I pay special attention to those sections of 1 Enoch that discuss measurement, and attempt to discern the degree to which Enoch’s version of this theme also shapes Revelation. On the way, I will try to discern whether the Seer has independent access to 1 Enoch as such. This study of measurement texts will attend to the full range of Enochic manuscripts that have come to light in the last century, with particular focus on the Ethiopic. In light of these findings, a coda will suggest the coherence of the reference in John 3 to the Spirit given without measure."


Joint Session With: Hebrews, Intertextuality in the New Testament
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 321 - Convention CenterTheme: Reception History
Gabriella Gelardini, Universität Basel, Presiding

Harold W. Attridge, Yale University
Jesus as High Priest Outside Hebrews: Patristic "Canonical" Readings of Hebrews (25 min)
"Reading Hebrews within the canon of the New Testament encouraged interpretation of the Epistle through the lens of other NT authors. The paper explores the phenomenon with special attention to the ways in which the Gospel of John and Hebrews mutually influenced the reading of the other text."

Jon Laansma, Wheaton College (Illinois), Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Michael Allen, Knox Theological Seminary
Witnesses on the Journey to Perfection: The Nature and Ethics of Theological Retrieval according to the Epistle to the Hebrews (25 min)
"The Epistle to the Hebrews opens space for reflection upon the nature of theological renewal by means of exegetical and dogmatic retrieval. This paper reflects upon the eschatology, anthropology, and soteriology of the Epistle, noting that it portrays a “great cloud of witnesses” with whom we journey spiritually and intellectually. The Epistle affirms the role of earlier witnesses (evidenced not only by the litany in Hebrews 11-12:2 but also by its arguments via scriptural exegesis) while also noting that these witnesses were not perfected (Heb. 11:40). Therefore, the paper offers an account of the nature and ethics of theological retrieval in a key provided by the Epistle to the Hebrews by focusing on its use of the metaphor of the journey."

Jesper Svartvik, Lunds Universitet, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Craig R. Koester, Luther Seminary
“In Many and Various Ways”: Theological Interpretation of Hebrews in the Modern Period (25 min)
"Historical study of Hebrews investigates the theological traditions and social context that shaped the composition of the book. Reception history brings these questions full circle by asking about the theological traditions and historical situations that have shaped major interpretations of Hebrews. This paper focuses on three lines of modern interpretation: First, Alexander Bruce and James Moffatt came from the wing of the Scottish Reformed tradition that acknowledged the role of historical development on early Christianity. Although their work was historical, they kept modern secular readers in mind, emphasizing that Hebrews is about freedom of access to a God who might seem distant. Christ’s self-sacrifice did not placate divine wrath but conveyed the love creates fellowship with God. Second, Otto Michel and Ernst Käsemann came from the German Lutheran tradition and stressed the importance of God’s Word and the church’s confession in Hebrews. Their work reflects the struggle of the Confessing Church against National Socialism in the 1930s. For them, Hebrews is an exhortation to persevere in faith in a time of suffering. Third, Albert Vanhoye reflects Roman Catholic tradition and emphasizes Christ’s high priestly mediation. He discerned a symmetrical architecture in Hebrews, with the liturgical portrayal of Christ’s high-priestly sacrifice at the center (Heb 9:11-12). In the wake of controversies concerning priesthood after Vatican II, he proposed that Christ’s priestly mediation is made tangible through the sacramental ministry of the church and its leaders. As we explore the theological paradigms and social contexts that shaped interpreters in the past, we see how these factors continue to influence the interpretation of Hebrews. Such investigation into reception history also encourages reflection on the close relationship of historical and literary studies to issues of theology, as well as the ongoing relevance of Hebrews."

Ekkehard Stegemann, Universität Basel, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (15 min)


4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Peale B - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Themes and Studies in Matthew's Gospel
Daniel Gurtner, Bethel University (Minnesota), Presiding

Jeffrey S. Siker, Loyola Marymount University
Prison & Interpretation in Matt 25:31-46 (20 min)
"In this paper I explore the interpretation of Matthew’s eschatological judgment in 25:31-46 with a focus on visiting those in prison. This important story about the future judgment of the sheep and the goats includes the statement by the Son of Man to the righteous sheep that “I was in prison and you visited me” (25:36), and conversely to the accursed goats that “[I was] in prison and you did not visit me” (25:43). The reference to visiting those in prison has received surprisingly little attention in the commentary literature (e.g., Davies & Allison, Luz, Bruner). What would it have meant in the Matthean context to visit those in prison? What was Matthew referring to? Does Matthew’s reference to the imprisonment of John the Baptist (11:2; 14:3, 10) or the story of the indebted slave in prison (18:30) shed any light on the meaning of visiting those in prison for Matthew, and how such visiting relates to the other charitable acts that are affirmed in Matthew 25:31-46? Do Paul’s imprisonments (Rom 16:7; 2 Cor 6:5; 11:23; Phlm 10, 13; Phil 1:7-13) or references to prison in Hebrews (10:34; 11:36; 13:3) help us to comprehend better Matthew’s understanding of attending to those in prison? What happens, in the long history of Matthean interpretation, when those who are imprisoned are not jailed as a result of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Mt 5:10-11), but because they have committed truly criminal acts? Thus, in this paper I address: 1) the first century contexts for understanding Matthew’s reference to prison in the Roman context (from Paul’s custodia libera – liberal detention—, to prison as a brief holding pen before execution or exile, to prison as a place of torture); and 2) how Matthew’s reference to visiting those in prison has been interpreted in ancient (e.g., Chrysostom, Augustine) and modern theological contexts (e.g., Tolstoy, Gutiérrez, Moltmann)."


Social History of Formative Christianity and Judaism
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Key 8 - Hilton BaltimoreTheme: Religion and the Market
Philippa Townsend, Ursinus College, Presiding (5 min)

Chris L. de Wet, University of South Africa
Asceticizing the Spectacles of Distinction in the Marketplace: John Chrysostom on the Public Appearance of Female Roman Aristocrats (25 min)
"Like many of the malls in affluent urban areas today, the late ancient Roman marketplace was not merely a space where one goes to purchase goods and/or services. It was a type of informal ‘theatre’ itself, where many individuals were expected to embody various roles. The homilies of John Chrysostom exhibit numerous condemnations of wealthy female Roman aristocrats flaunting their wealth, and thus their status, in the public space of the market. One of the most vehement of these accusations is found in his homily 28.9-10 On Hebrews, where he lashes out against the luxurious marketplace processions of aristocratic Constantinopolitan women. But such displays should not merely be reduced to instances of vainglorious ego boosting, as Chrysostom recounts them. Rather, these spectacles of social distinction represent very important social negotiations and reproductions that have been conditioned into the Roman aristocratic classes, especially women – a strategic politic of managing and regulating appearances demanded by a particular social space, namely the market. Utilizing the social theory of Pierre Bourdieu, this paper will look at the social function of these strategies of pretension and aesthetic representation, particularly those expected of women, and account for their role in the marketplace. Thereafter, the implications of Chrysostom’s new politics of appearance will be investigated. It is argued that Chrysostom applies various technologies for ‘asceticizing’ such appearances, not to dismantle to frameworks of upper class Roman distinction, but to create a new form of social distinction with a new politic of representation and, in essence, redefine the character of the marketplace itself." 

Tuesday, November 26


Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity
Joint Session With: Space, Place, and Lived Experience in Antiquity, Archaeology of Religion in the Roman World
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 343 - Convention CenterTheme: Borders and Borderlands
Christine Thomas, University of California-Santa Barbara, Presiding

Jennifer T. Kaalund, Drew University
Inside Out: Place and the Making of Christian Identity in Epistle to the Hebrews (30 min)
"Scholars of early Christianity have examined Christian identity as a place of malleability and negotiation. One way Christians identified themselves was as “other.” In his book, Sojourners and Aliens: Self as Other in Early Christianity, Ben Dunning writes: “alien status becomes itself a site of a compelling doubleness: it retains its negative connotations of social estrangement and marginality, while also, and at the same time being refigured as a ‘mark of excellence, a source of power’ – thus a double useful resource around which to figure the complexities of identity” (Dunning, 7). This kind of “rhetorical maneuvering” is found in Hebrews where dis/placed and strange bodies are employed in the imaginative construction of Christian identity. Indeed, Hebrews calls its audience to embrace an identity of liminality, describing the faithful ancestors as “strangers and foreigners” (11:13) for whom God prepared a “better country” (11:16), and promised a heavenly city (11:16). These exemplars of the faith go about “in sheep- and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented…wandering in deserts, and mountains, and in caves and holes in the earth” (11:37-38). The audience is encouraged to imitate their forebearers and accept this liminal, spatially constructed identity. The author creates a Christian geography, ultimately exhorting the audience to go “outside the camp” (13:13) because they have “no lasting city.” As such, the question of place and placelessness is a significant feature of Christian identity in this text. “Placing” Christians outside of time and occupying strange spaces results in an identity that is not only mobile, but one that is also fragile. Drawing on social and literary theory concerning spatiality, empire studies, and scholarship on early Christian identity formation, I will examine how exploring space and place in Hebrews can further elucidate both the alien motif in early Christianity and how embracing alterity, blurring the boundaries between inside and out, remains a dangerous although at times necessary means of survival, particularly in an urbanized imperial context."

Hebrews at the 2013 ETS Meeting

Tuesday, November 19

8:30 AM–11:40 AM

11:00 AM–11:40 AM
Liz Myers
(Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary)
Assessing Intertextual Relationships between New Testament Books: A New Methodology and Application to 1 Peter and Hebrews

Wednesday, November 20

8:30 AM–11:40 AM
Evangelicalism, Inspiration, and Inerrancy

8:30 AM–9:10 AM
Gareth Lee Cockerill
(Wesley Biblical Seminary)
“Today, if you hear his voice . . .” (Heb 3:7): The Immediacy of God’s Word in Hebrews and Modern
Biblical Exposition

8:30 AM–11:40 AM

Moderator: Cynthia Long Westfall
(McMaster Divinity College)
8:30 AM–9:10 AM
Michael Kibbe
(Wheaton College)
Moses Feared and Israel Fled: Deuteronomic Historiography in Hebrews 12:18– 29

9:20 AM–10:00 AM
Dana M. Harris
(Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
The Use of ερχομαι and αγω in Hebrews: Going Where Jesus Has Already Gone

10:10 AM–10:50 AM
Bryan R. Dyer
(McMaster Divinity College)
The Epistolary Closing of Hebrews and Pauline Imitation: Disputing Charges of Pseudepigraphy

11:00 AM–11:40 AM
Christopher W . Cowan
(B&H Academic)
The Warning Passages of Hebrews Revisited: A Response to Wayne Grudem and Buist Fanning

Thursday, November 21

1:00 PM–4:10 PM
Atonement and Resurrection in Hebrews: A Discussion of David Mofιtt’s Thesis

Moderator: Jon C. Laansma
(Wheaton College and Graduate School)

1:00 PM–1:30 PM
Michael Allen
(Knox Theological Seminary)
The Theo-Logic of Exaltation in the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Reply to David Moffitt

1:40 PM–2:40 PM
Douglas Moo
(Wheaton College)
Paul and ‘The Message of the Cross’

2:50 PM–3:50 PM
I. Howard Marshall
(University of Aberdeen)
‘Yes, But...’ Testing the Exegetical Basis for David Moffitt’s Proposal

3:00 PM–3:30 PM
David M. Moffitt
(University of St. Andrews)
Further Reflections on Hebrews, Sacrifice, and Purity

3:30 PM–4:10 PM
Panel Discussion
Michael Allen
(Knox Theological Seminary)
Douglas Moo
(Wheaton College)
I. Howard Marshall
(University of Aberdeen)
David M. Moffitt
(University of St. Andrews)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hebrews Articles 2013

The following is a lists of articles that have come out in 2013.  I will update this list as I learn of new articles:

Barnard, Jody A. "Ronald Williamson and the Background of Hebrews." Expository Times 124 (July 2013): 469–79.

Burnet, Régis. “La finale de l’Épître aux Hébreux: Une addition alexandrine de la fin du IIe siècle?” Revue biblique 120.3 (2013): 423–40.

Church, Philip. "The Temple in the Apocalypse of Weeks and in Hebrews." Tyndale Bulletin 64.1 (2013): 109–28.

Dyer, Bryan R. "The Epistle to the Hebrews in Recent Research: Studies on the Author's Identity, His Use of the Old Testament, and Theology." Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 9 (2013): 104–31.

McCruden, Kevin B. "The Eloquent Blood of Jesus: The Neglected Theme of the Fidelity of Jesus in Hebrews 12:24." Catholic Biblical Quarterly 75 (2013): 504–20.

Ounsworth, Richard. "Faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews." Scripture Bulletin 43.1 (2013): 22–32.

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 57.1 (2013): 46–59.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

One Moore Review of Joshua Typology in the NT

Nicholas Moore has one more review on a book on Hebrews:

Richard Ounsworth. Joshua Typology in the New Testament. Mohr Siebeck, 2012.