Friday, February 28, 2014

Hebrews Highlights February 2014

The Hebrews Highlights for the month of February:

Phillip Long continues his series on Hebrews:
Hebrews 6:4–12 - "It is Impossible . . ." (Part 1)
Hebrews 6:4–12 - "It is Impossible . . ." (Part 2)
Hebrews 7:1–3 - The Priesthood of Melchizedek
Hebrews 7 - Melchizedek and Typology
Hebrews 12:18–29 - Marching to Zion

Peter Head discusses a textual variant in Hebrews 5.6 in P46. He makes a convincing case that in this instance the more difficult reading is NOT to be accepted.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another New Book on Hebrews on the Horizon

Another book on Hebrews has appeared on the horizon, this one by my Baylor colleague:

Jason A. Whitlark. Resisting Empire: Rethinking the Purpose of the Letter to "the Hebrews." T & T Clark International. Expected: August 28, 2014.

"This book offers a fresh reading about the purpose for which Hebrews was written. It argues that Hebrews engages both the negative pressures (persecution) and positive attractions (honor/prosperity) of its audience's Roman imperial context. Consequently, the audience of Hebrews appears to be in danger of defecting to the pagan imperial context and not the Jewish synagogues as proposed by much of scholarship on Hebrews. Due to the imperial nature of these pressures, Hebrews obliquely critiques the imperial script according to the rhetorical expectations in the first-century Mediterranean world - namely, through the use of figured speech. This critique is the primary focus of Whitlark's project. Whitlark moves to on suggest that Hebrews functions much like Revelation, that is, to resist the draw of the Christians' Roman imperial context, in part, by providing a covert opposition to Roman imperial discourse. He offers a possible explanation for why Hebrews circulated widely in the early Christian movement and makes some suggestions for dating Hebrews and the ethnic/socio-economic make-up of the authorial audience of Hebrews."

Table Of Contents
1. Introduction: Hebrews and Its Imperial Context
2. Rhetoric of Resistance: Figured Speech and the Critique of Imperial Power
3. Resisting Assimilation: The Warning against Idolatry
4. Resisting Assimilation: A Better Hope
5. Resisting Imperial Claims: The Eternal City and Its Ruler
6. Resisting Imperial Claims: Jesus? Defeat of the Devil
7. Resisting Imperial Claims: Jesus? Herculean Labor of Liberation
8. Resisting Imperial Claims: Answering the Theodical Challenge of Flavian Triumph
9. Conclusion

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Two New Books on Hebrews on the Horizon

I have discovered that two new books on Hebrews are on the horizon:

Matthew C. Easter. Faith and the Faithfulness of Jesus in Hebrews. Society for New Testament Monograph Series. Cambridge University Press. Expected: August 31, 2014

"This volume is the first to investigate manifestations of faith in the book of Hebrews across four dimensions: ethical, eschatological, Christological, and ecclesiological. Matthew C. Easter illustrates that two contrasting narrative identities emerge in Hebrews: the author of the epistle proclaims that "we are not of timidity unto destruction, but of faith unto the preservation of the soul" (Hebrews 10:39). Easter classifies the former as the default human story, which lacks faith and results inevitably in death. The latter represents the story of faith, in which one endures suffering to the point of death and thereby achieves eschatological life. The epitome of faithfulness, Jesus confirms the truth of this conclusion and perfects faith through his resurrection. Humans participate in the story of faith by enduring suffering with the traveling people of God and, in doing so, look forward to being raised with Jesus."

Jonathan I. Griffiths. Hebrews and Divine Speech. The Library of New Testament Studies. Bloomsbury T & T Clark. Expected: October 9, 2014.

"The theme of divine speech appears at the opening of the Hebrews (1.1-2) and recurs throughout the book, often in contexts suggesting connections to other areas of scholarly interest (christology, soteriology, cosmology, and the writer’s understanding of the nature of his discourse). This study begins with a consideration of the genre and structure of Hebrews (offering a new structural outline), concluding that Hebrews constitutes the earliest extant complete Christian sermon and consists of a series of Scriptural expositions. The investigation then turns to consider Hebrews’ theology of divine speech through an exegetical analysis of eight key passages. Throughout it examines the widely held (but largely untested) assumption that logos and rhema function as key terms in the author’s presentation of divine speech.

Analysis of the exegetical data shows that Hebrews presents God’s word, which finds full expression in the incarnate Christ, as the central means by which salvation is made available and the place of divine rest is accessed. The study finds that the terms logos and rhema are used with a high degree of consistency to signify forms of divine speech, logos usually signifying verbal revelation (and three times specifically identifying the author’s own discourse) and rhema typically signifying non-verbal revelation in the cosmos. The investigation leads to the ultimate conclusion that the author believes that, through his discourse, he himself communicates that divine word and effects an encounter between his hearers and the God who speaks."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Listen to the Book of Hebrews in Greek

I came across this video in which Anton Tasos reads the Book of Hebrews in Greek:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Book Is Now Published!

At the beginning of this month, I received word from Brill that my book, The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews, has now been published and is available for purchase.

"In The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews Brian Small applies the tools of literary and rhetorical criticism to reconstruct the author of Hebrew’s portrayal of Jesus’ character. The author of Hebrews uses a variety of literary and rhetorical devices in order to develop his characterization of Jesus. The portrait that emerges is that Jesus is a person of exemplary character, who exhibits both divine and human character traits. Some of the traits reveal Jesus’ greatness while others reveal his moral excellence. Jesus’ exemplary character plays a prominent role in the author’s argument and has profound implications for his audience. Jesus’ character produces many benefits for his followers and his character entails certain obligations from his followers."

The book tries to make a contribution to the study of Hebrews in a number of ways:

In chapter 1, I try to situate my study within the context of previous research on Hebrews. In my survey, I tried to include every study that takes a rhetorical or narratival approach to Hebrews. Most of these works are included in the footnotes of the book. Basically, anyone who wants to take a rhetorical or narratival approach to Hebrews will want to consult my book for the works that I include in my survey. I also tried to situate my study within the context of previous christological studies of Hebrews. However, the number of works dealing with Christology in Hebrews was too numerous to include everything. Instead, I tried to outline four basic approaches that have been taken towards the Christology of Hebrews and tried to give representative examples of each.

In chapter 2, I survey the modern literary theory and practice of characterization. I begin with my own definition of character based on my study of literary theory. I then provide a comprehensive survey of the modern literary theory and practice of characterization. My advisor, Mikeal Parsons, told me it was the best survey he has read on the topic. In the chapter I also briefly discuss the ancient literary theory of characterization. I argue that ancient theory of characterization was well-developed not in literary theory, but in rhetorical theory.

In chapter 3, I then develop a comprehensive overview of the theory and practice of characterization in the ancient Greco-Roman rhetorical handbooks, highlighting the various rhetorical techniques that were used in the characterization of persons. Among other things, I argue that Hebrews uses a form of prosopopoiea/ethopoeia when it places Scripture quotations into the mouths of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. While there have been a couple of works that have argued this, no one has made a case for it to the extent that I do in my book. In the course of the chapter I make a modest proposal about the rhetorical genre of Hebrews. At the end of chapter I conclude with a synthesis that shows the affinity between modern literary theory and ancient rhetorical theory and I demonstrate briefly how Hebrews makes use of literary and rhetorical devices in order to characterize Jesus.

In chapter 4, I present a comprehensive reconstruction of the characterization of Jesus in Hebrews. I arrange the chapter according to the relevant encomiastic topics employed by the author of Hebrews. I reveal the portrait of Jesus, highlighting the various character traits that emerge from the assorted techniques employed in Hebrews.

In chapter 5, I explore the role of the author's characterization of Jesus in the overall argument of Hebrews. I engage in a sequential reading of Hebrews indicating how the emerging portrait of Jesus contributes to the development of the author's argument in the book. I conclude with an examination of the signficance of the character of Jesus for the audience. Jesus' character brings many benefits but it also entails many obligations from the audience.

Obviously, it remains for the scholarly guild to decide whether I have been successful in my contribution to the study of the book of Hebrews.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

RIP Daniel Harrington

I got word via Joel Green on Facebook that Daniel Harrington, Professor of NT at Boston College, has passed away. See the obituary and tribute.

Harrington has made contributions to Hebrews studies. He wrote a small commentary on Hebrews for Liturgical Press, and a history of Hebrews research in English, What Are They Saying about the Letter to the Hebrews? for Paulist Press. Of course, he was the author and editor of numerous other books on the New Testament, too numerous to list here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Howard Tillmann Kuist Lectures on Hebrews

Howard Tillmann Kuist, Lectures on Hebrews, Asbury Theological Seminary.
Addresses Delivered at the vespers service of the 1963 Evangelical Seminary Ministers Conference.

The Keynote of the Christian Evangel: A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapters 1 and 2.
The Urgency of the Christian Evangel: A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapters 3 and 4.
The Rudiments of the Christian Evangel: A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapter 5 and 6.
The Finality of the Christian Evangel: A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapter 7.

Robert Traina Lectures and Notes on Hebrews

Robert Angelo Traina was a long-time professor of biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He developed a Methodical Bible Study method, which he taught for many years to Asbury students, it and continues to be taught at Asbury. His method was developed and expanded upon in the book he co-authored with David Bauer, entitled Inductive Bible Study. Remarkably, Asbury has available audio lectures of his classes online. Below are two sets of his class lectures on Hebrews. At the end is also included his personal handwritten and typed notes.

ATS Class Lectures on Hebrews

Spring Semester 1980 - NT EB662
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9 - missing
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Spring Semester 1982 - NT EB730
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23

Notes on Hebrews - Robert Traina's personal handwritten and typed notes

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bateman Articles and Reviews

Herbert W. Bateman IV has made available online a number of his articles and reviews.  The following articles have been added to this site:

Bateman, Herbert W. “Psalm 45:6–7 and Its Christological Contributions to Hebrews.” Trinity Journal ns 22 (2001): 3–21.

Bateman, Herbert W. “Psalm 110:1 and the New Testament.” Bibliotheca sacra 149 (1992): 438–53.

Bateman, Herbert W. “Second Temple Exegetical Practices: Extra-Biblical Examples of Exegesis Compared with Those in the Book of Hebrews.” Southwestern Journal of Theology 53 (2010): 26–54.

The following reviews have been added:

Johnson, Luke Timothy. Hebrews: A Commentary. New Testament Library. Review by Herbert W. Bateman.

Laansma, Jon. "I Will Give You Rest": The Rest Motif in the New Testament with Special Reference to Mt 11 and Heb 3–4. WUNT 2/98. Review by Herbert W. Bateman IV.

O'Brien, Peter. The Letter to the Hebrews. Pillar New Testament Commentay. Review by Herbert W. Bateman IV.

Bateman's Handbook to the General Epistles

Apparently, this handbook to the General Epistles is now available:

Herbert W. Bateman IV. Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook. Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis. Kregel, 2013.

Description from the Kregel website:

"A concise guide to the interpretive process for the eight New Testament general letters

This handbook is designed as a step-by-step approach for analyzing and communicating eight letters of the New Testament: Hebrews, James, the Petrine Letters, the Johannine Letters, and Jude. Interpreting the General Letters provides important background material for the interpretation of these books by exploring the types and component parts of letter writing, the importance of an amanuensis; the historical background of the Greco-Roman world, and implications of each of these factors for interpreting the general letters.

This foundation is followed by a discussion of the theology of the general letters. Specific consideration is given to the era of promise in Hebrew Scriptures, the era of fulfillment as underscored in the general letters, and how the theology of each letter contributes to the overall canon of Scripture.

Finally, Bateman provides nine steps that move from interpretation to communication: three steps for preparing to interpret the letters, three for interpreting, and finally three for communicating the letters. All explanations include examples in order to develop a student’s or pastor’s skills for accurate interpretation and convicting communication of God’s Word See page 21 for full series details."