Thursday, November 28, 2019

Survey of Recent Hebrews Research

At the recent SBL conference I picked up a copy of a new survey of recent research in New Testament studies:

Scot McKnight and Nijay K. Gupta. The State of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019.

As is appopriate in such a survey, one chapter (19) is devoted to recent research on Hebrews. David M. Moffitt, senior lecturer in New Testament studies at the University of St. Andrews, is the author of this chapter.

The survey covers the period from 2003, when the last major surveys by George Guthrie and Daniel Harrington were done, to 2017 (no works published in 2018 appear in this survey).

Moffitt organizes his survey according to the following headings:

I. Questions of Historical Background: The Contexts of Hebrews
  A. Authorship
  B. Genre
  C. Structure
  D. Situation
  E. Greco-Roman Backgrounds
  F. The Interplay of Platonic and Apocalyptic Ideas
    1. Studies Emphasizing Hebrews' Platonism
    2. Studies Emphasizing Hebrews' Jewish Eschatology and Apocalypticism
  G. Hebrew and the Heavenly Tabernacle

II. Thematic Studies
  A. Faith and Faithfulness
  B. Hebrews' Critique of Judaism and the Mosaic Covenant
  C. Various Methodological and Thematic Studies

III. Hebrews' Use of the Old Testament
  A. Hebrews, the Septuagint, and Jewish Exegesis
  B. The Role of Specific Old Testament Figures and Texts
    1. Joshua
    2. Zion and Sinai
    3. Usage of Specific Old Testament Texts
    4. Hermeneutics and God's Speech

Moffitt concludes with some reflections on the current trends in Hebrews' research.

Naturally in a span of 18 pages (389–406) it is impossible to be comprehensive. Moffitt does mention most of the major commentaries, collections of essays, and monographs that have appeared in the 15 years covered, but he does overlook a few major studies. Most of the collections of essays and commentaries are simply listed in the footnotes. Moffitt also does not engage in any evaluation of the works surveys but simply highlights the major arguments. Understandably, summarizing a monograph in a few lines is quite challenging. For example, while he does a fair description of my book, I do not feel he fully captured the entirety of what I was doing in my monograph. I was also a bit surprised that there was no mention of discussions concerning the rhetorical structure of Hebrews. Nevertheless, Moffitt provides a useful survey of recent research on Hebrews. Anyone interested in getting started in Hebrews' research would certainly want to read this survey, along with some of the other major surveys I have catalogued on my History of Research page.

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