History of Research

Works on the History of Interpretation of Hebrews
Arranged Roughly in Chronological Order

Tholuck, A(ugust). Pages 98–112 in Kommentar zum Briefe an die Hebräer. Hamburg: Friedrich Perthes, 1836. ET: Pages 110–24 in A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Vol. 1. Translated by James Hamilton. Edinburgh: Thomas Clark, 1842.
•Gives an overview of interpreters of Hebrews from patristic times to the early nineteenth century.

Delitzsch, Franz. Pages 22–35 in Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Vol. 1. Translated by Thomas L. Kingsbury. Repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952.
•This commentary first appeared in German in 1857.  He provides an annotated bibliography of commentaries on Hebrews from the patristic period up to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Moll, Carl Bernhard. Pages 16–19 in “The Epistle to the Hebrews.” Translated by A. C. Kendrick. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical, with Special Reference to Ministers and Students. Edited by John Peter Lange. Translated by Philip Schaff. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1868.
•Provides a brief history of the theological and homiletical treatment of Hebrews from the patristic period to the 1860s.  The history consists mainly of an enumeration of works on Hebrews with brief comments.

Burgaller, E. “Neuere Untersuchungen zum Hebräerbrief.” Theologische Rundschau 13 (1910): 369–81, 409–17.
•Surveys recent studies on Hebrews. 

Nairne, A(lexander). “History of the Reception, Criticism and Interpretation of the Epistle.” Pages xix–lxxi in The Epistle to the Hebrews. Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: University Press, 1917.
•A somewhat uneven treatment of the history of interpretation from the early church through to the early twentieth century. 

Kuss, Otto. “Über einige neuere Beiträge zur Exegese des Hebräerbriefes.” Theologie und Glaube 42 (1952): 186–204.
•Reviews some recent contributions to the exegesis of Hebrews. 

Lyonnet, S(tanislas). “Épître aux Hébreux.” Biblica 33 (1952): 240–57.
•Reviews seven recent commentaries on Hebrews.

C. F. D. Moule. “Commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Theology 61 (1958): 228–32. 
•Gives an overview of commentaries for the general reader and for students. 

*Grässer, Erich. "Der Hebräerbrief 1938–1963." Theologische Rundschau 30 (1964): 138–236. Repr. Pages 1–99 in Aufbruch und Verheissung: Gesammelte Aufsätze zum Hebräerbrief zum 65. Geburtstag mit einer Bibliographie des Verfassers. Edited by Martin Evang and Ottow Merk. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 65. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1992.
•A very thorough overview of scholarship for the period covered.  It is divided into introductory questions, religious-historical problems, and theological problems.  It includes a comprehensive bibliography. 

Michel, Otto. “Geschichte der Auslegung des Hebräerbrief.” Pages 84–91 in Der Brief an die Hebräer. 12th ed. Kritisch-Exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament begründet von Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer 13. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966.
•Provides a brief overview of the history of interpretation from the early church to the middle of the twentieth century.

Bruce, F. F.Recent Literature on the Epistle to the Hebrews.” Themelios 3.3 (1966): 31–36. 
•Brief overview of scholarship on Hebrews from the previous twenty years.

Bandstra, A. J.Heilsgeschichte and Melchizedek in Hebrews.” Calvin Theological Journal 3 (1968): 36–41.
•Offers some brief comments on several recent works on Hebrews. 

Custer, Stewart. "Annotated Bibliography on Hebrews." Biblical Viewpoint 2 (1968): 52–68.
•This bibliography only contains books in the English language. It is divided into Conservative Commentaries, Critical Commentaries, and Other Works on Hebrews. The bibliography is not exhaustive, but contains works that the author deems useful for the pastor. 

Bruce, F. F. “Recent Contributions to the Understanding of Hebrews.” Expository Times 80 (1969): 260–64.
•Gives a brief overview of recent works (1950s–1960s) on the study of Hebrews.  He particularly focuses on issues of destination and setting, relationship of Hebrews to the Qumran scrolls, and various other questions. 

Hillmer, M(elvyn). R(aymond). "Priesthood and Pilgrimage: Hebrews in Recent Research." Theological Bulletin 5 (May 1969): 66–89.
•This article takes a topical survey covering backgrounds and literary relationships, the use of the Old Testament, Christology, and Eschatology. 

Vanhoye, Albert. “Trois ouvrages récents sur l’épître aux Hébreux.” Biblica 52 (1971): 62–71.
•Reviews and evaluates three recent monographs on Hebrews. 

Batdorf, Irvin W. “Hebrews and Qumran: Old Methods and New Directions.” Pages 16–35 in Festschrift to Honor F. Wilbur Gingrich: Lexicographer, Scholar, Teacher, and Committed Christian Layman. Edited by Eugene Howard Barth and Ronald Edwin Cocroft. Leiden: Brill, 1972.
•Gives an overview of research on the relationship between Hebrews and the Qumran scrolls. 

Thurén, Jukka. Pages 9–55 in Das Lobopfer der Hebräerbrief: Studien zum Aufbau und Anliegen von Hebräerbrief 13. Acta Academiae Aboensis, Ser. A, Humaniora 47.1. Åbo: Åbo Akademi, 1973.
•In the introduction the author summarizes the problems and methods of Hebrews research outlined by Grässer (see above), then he gives an overview of several selected works on Hebrews in the years 1964–1972, an overview of research on the composition of Hebrews, and on the riddle of chapter 13.
Buchanan, George Wesley. "The Present State of Scholarship on Hebrews." Pages 299–330 in Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults. Part One: New Testament. Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty. Edited by Jacob Neusner. Leiden: Brill, 1975.
•This essay is divided into two parts.  The first part primarily deals with major commentaries dated before the Dead Sea Scrolls had been made available to the scholarly community (before 1955).  The second part treats the history of interpretation from 1955 up to the early 1970s in topical fashion.  Topics include: insights from the scrolls and Philo, geographical backgrounds, style and literary structure, midrash, Son of Man, Great High Priest, and eschatology.

*McCullough, J(ohn). C(ecil). "Some Recent Developments in Research on the Epistle to the Hebrews." Irish Biblical Studies 2 (1980): 141–65; 3 (1981): 28–43.
•This useful survey deals with scholarship from 1960–1979.  Topics covered include authorship, religious background (Philo, Qumran, Gnosticism, Merkabah mysticism), date and destination, literary genre and structure, use of the OT, exegetical methods, and individual themes and passages (Covenant, Hebrews 6:4–6).

*Feld, Helmut. Der Hebräerbrief. Erträge der Forschung 228. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1985.
•A thorough overview of research.  The book is divided into two parts: literary-historical and theological questions.  The book concludes with an extensive bibliography on commentaries arranged in chronological order and other works.

Hughes, Philip Edgcumbe. "The Epistle to the Hebrews." Pages 351–70 in The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters. Edited by Eldon Jay Epp and George W. MacRae. The Bible and Its Modern Interpreters 3. Philadelphia: Fortress; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989.
•This essay gives a brief overview of recent scholarship on Hebrews with an extensive bibliography.  Topics covered are Qumran, destination, authorship, and structure.

Carlston, Charles E(dwin). "Commentaries on Hebrews: A Review Article." Andover Newton Review 1 (1990): 27–45.
•This article reviews popular, semi-popular, and scholarly commentaries from the 1980s.

Grässer, Erich. “Neue Kommentare zum Hebräerbrief.” Theologische Rundschau 56 (1991): 113–39. Repr., pages 265–94 in Aufbruch und Verheissung: Gesammelte Aufsätze zum Hebräerbrief zum 65. Geburtstag mit einer Bibliographie des Verfassers. Edited by Martin Evang and Otto Merk. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 65. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1992.

*McCullough, J(ohn). C(ecil). "Hebrew in Recent Scholarship." Irish Biblical Studies 16 (1994): 66–86, 108–20.
•This fine survey deals with the development of scholarship since his earlier essays from 1980–1993.  It is arranged according to the following topics: author, recipients, genre, structure and style, and date.  An extensive bibliography is provided at the end of part one.

*Koester, Craig R. "The Epistle to the Hebrews in Recent Study." Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 2 (1994): 123–45.
•This article nicely complements McCullough's article of the same year.  This survey covers the decade since the publication of Helmut Feld’s survey (see below) and is arranged according to the following topics: (1) commentaries, (2) literary and rhetorical aspects, (3) historical, social, and religious context, (4) theological themes and major passages, and (5) history of interpretation and influence.  He concludes with a bibliography of works from the 1980s and early 1990s.

Watson, Duane F(rederick). “Rhetorical Criticism of Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles Since 1978.” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 5 (1997): 175–207.
•This article is divided into two parts.  In part one he discusses current issues in rhetorical criticism.  In part two he gives an overview of research on rhetoric in Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles.

Young, Frances M(argaret). “Hebrews, Letter to the.” Pages 129–32 in New Testament: History of Interpretation: Excerpted from the Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation. Edited by John H. Hayes. Nashville: Abingdon, [1999], 2004.
•This article gives a very brief and idiosyncratic overview of the history of interpretation under five topics: (1) authorship and background, (2) Platonism and eschatology, (3) Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, (4) Christology, and (5) Paraenesis.

*Koester, Craig R. Hebrews: A New Translation with Commentary. The Anchor Bible 36. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Pages 19–64
•The first part of his commentary deals with the history of interpretation and influence of Hebrews from the early church to the present.  He divides his survey into four parts: (1) the early church to A.D. 600, (2) A.D. 600 to A.D. 1500, (3) A.D. 1500 to A.D. 1750, and (4) A.D. 1750 to the present day.  In the last section he deals with the historical setting (authorship, addressees, destination, date), Christian origins (Pauline and Jewish Christianity), and history of religions (Hellenistic Judaism, Gnosticism, Palestinian Jewish writings).

Kraus, Wolfgang. "Neuere Ansätze in der Exegese des Hebräerbriefes." Verkündigung und Forschung 48/2 (2003): 65–80.
•This history of research deals with commentaries and monographs from the 1990s and early 2000s according to a topical arrangement.

*Guthrie, George H(oward). "Hebrews' Use of the Old Testament: Recent Trends in Research." Currents in Biblical Research 1.2 (2003): 271–94.
•After a general introduction to the nature of Hebrew’s use of the OT, the article traces four current trends in the study of Hebrew’s use of the OT: (1) the text form used by the author, (2) his framing of structure by use of certain OT texts, (3) his exegetical methods, and (4) his hermeneutic.  A bibliography is included at the end of the article.

*Guthrie, George H(oward). "Hebrews in Its First-Century Contexts: Recent Research." Pages 414–443 in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Edited by Scot McKnight and Grant R. Osborne. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.
•A very fine overview of current research on Hebrews’ relationship to its first-century context.  The topics covered include use of rhetorical conventions, structure, Jewish background (Merkabah mysticism, Gnosticism, Qumran, Hellenistic Judaism, Jewish apocalyptic, synagogue), use of the OT, hermeneutical approach, connections with emergent Christianity (Stephen tradition, Pauline Christianity, First Peter), specific circumstances (authorship, recipients, date, occasion), and theology.  Some of the scholarship he surveys is treated more fully in the article listed above.

*Harrington, Daniel J. What Are They Saying about the Letter to the Hebrews? New York: Paulist, 2005.
•This is a nice accessible overview of scholarship from 1975 on.  He only deals with English-language works, but he seems to hit every major monograph of the period up to around 2003, as well as a few selected commentaries.  He classifies the monographs into three broad categories: (1) the “mysteries” of Hebrews (background and literary issue), (2) Hebrews and the Old Testament, and (3) theology.

Gelardini, Gabriella. “Chronologischer Aufriss des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts.” Pages 11–55 in “Verhärtet eure Herzen nicht”: Der Hebräer, eine Synagogenhomilie zu Tiscah be-Aw.” Biblical Interpretation Series 83. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
•This history of research focuses primarily on works that deal with the structure of Hebrews.

Docherty, Susan E. "The History of Previous Scholarship on Hebrews." Pages 9–82 in The Use of the Old Testament in Hebrews: A Case Study in Early Jewish Bible Interpretation. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 260. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.
•She provides a selective overview of late nineteenth and twentieth century commentaries, theological and structural studies, and studies of the interpretation of the Old Testament in Hebrews.

*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.

*Moffitt, David M. "The Epistle to the Hebrews." Pages 389–406 in The State of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research. Edited by Scot McKnight and Nijay K. Gupta. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019.
•A compact but thorough overview covering the period from 2003 to 2017. He organizes his survey according to three broad headings (with various subheadings): (1) Questions of Historical Background, (2) Thematic Studies, and (3) Hebrews' Use of the OT. Due to limitations of space, he mostly summarizes the works he highlights rather than engage in critical evaluation.

Some Specialized Histories of Scholarship:

Greer, Rowan A. The Captain of Our Salvation: A Study of the Patristic Exegesis of Hebrews. Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese 15. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1973.

Demarest, Bruce. A History of Interpretation of Hebrews 7,1–10 from the Reformation to the Present. Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese 19. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1976.

Hagen, Kenneth. Hebrews Commenting from Erasmus to Bèze 1516–1598. Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese 23. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1981.

Laansma, Jon C. and Daniel J. Treier, eds. Christology, Hermeneutics, and Hebrews: Profiles from the History of Interpretation. Library of New Testament Studies 423. London: T & T Clark International, 2012.