Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Newest Acquisition

This just came in the mail today:

Markus-Liborius Hermann. Die "hermeutische Stunde" des Hebräerbriefs: Schriftauslegung in Spannungsfeldern. Herders Biblische Studien 72. Freiburg: Herder, 2013.


Friday, July 14, 2017

A Biblical Theology of Hebrews

I received this new book in the mail:

Peter T. O'Brien. God Has Spoken in His Son: A Biblical Theology of Hebrews. Apollos/InterVarsity Press, 2016.

Blurb from the Amazon site:
"Hebrews is one of the most attractive and powerful yet challenging books of the New Testament. It begins with a magnificent presentation of Jesus as the divine Son through whom God has spoken his final word (Heb. 1:1-4). These opening lines set the trajectory for the whole discourse.

The polished literary character of Hebrews and its careful exposition of the superiority of Christ, the Son of God and great high priest led earlier generations to conclude that it was mainly or simply a theological treatise. However, particularly in the last three decades, its purpose has been understood as hortatory; this is made clear by the exhortatory passages that flow from, and are grounded in, the expositions that appear throughout the discourse.

Peter O'Brien's excellent, cohesive exposition of Hebrews examines the major interlocking themes highlighted by the author as he addresses his 'word of exhortation' (13:22) to the congregation. These themes include God speaking, Christology, salvation, the people of God, and warnings and encouragements.

In this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume, O'Brien shows how Hebrews employs profoundly rich theology to serve the didactic, hortatory and pastoral goals of urging the hearers to endure in their pursuit of the promised reward, in obedience to the word of God and especially on the basis of their new covenant relationship with the Son.

Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dreaming about Commentary Writing

Ken Schenck dreams about writing a commentary on Hebrews. Go for it, Ken!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Is Apostasy Possible For Christians?

Ben Witherington argues that Hebrews 6 does state that it is possible for Christians to fall away from the faith.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

McCruden Reviews Vanhoye's Commentary

Kevin McCruden has sent along to me a link to a fresh review of Albert Vanhoye's commentary, The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When and Where Did Jesus Offer Himself?

This new article is worth checking out!:

Jamieson, R. B. “When and Where Did Jesus Offer Himself? A Taxonomy of Recent Scholarship on Hebrews.” Currents in Biblical Research 15.3 (2017): 338–68.

Abstract:
"This article surveys how recent scholarship answers the question, ‘According to Hebrews, when and where did Jesus offer himself?’ Much interest has been paid to this topic in the wake of David Moffitt’s 2011 monograph, but the debate is often framed in potentially reductionistic binary terms: either Hebrews depicts a sacrificial sequence beginning on the cross and culminating in heaven, or else Jesus’ ‘heavenly offering’ is a metaphor for the cross. By contrast, this article asks how scholars correlate three variables: Jesus’ death, offering, and entrance to heaven. It registers five answers that have been offered, explores the textual basis taken to support each, and articulates the issues which divide each view from the others. Further, the article surveys recent answers to two material questions that arise in the wake of this formal one. First, is Hebrews’ sacrificial theology coherent? Second, in Hebrews, is Jesus’ death atoning?"

Thanks to Bobby Jamieson for the heads up.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Newest Acquisition

I only recently became aware of this work and have managed to find a used copy from Germany:

 Winter, Aloysius. Die überzeitliche Einmaligkeit des Heils im “Heute”: Zur theologie des Hebräerbriefes. Neuried: Ars Una, 2002.

Blurb translated from the back cover:

"The author examines the meaning of the words 'hapax' and 'ephapax' in Hebrews, which are usually translated as 'once for all' and understands them on the basis of their origin and context in the sense of 'once finally' and 'at once finally', which is of considerable importance for sacramental theology. It has been shown that, according to the Platonic-Philonic model, the symbolism of the last 'day' in the pointedly used 'today' presupposes a Greek understanding of time, which was abolished by the God-human act of salvation in the eternal today of God. Thus, the final uniqueness of the 'perfection' effected by Christ is clarified, which is accomplished in 'sanctification' by means of baptism, Eucharist, and other ways, by direct and common participation in the sacrifice which has happened historically and at the same time exists in his person."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Some New Articles and Essays on Hebrews

Here are some new articles and essays that I have come across in the blogosphere:

Samra, Jim. “Faith as an Epistemology: Hebrews 11:3 and the Origins of Life.” Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology 4.1 (2017): 1–12.
 -The whole journal is available for download.

Scott Mackie has made available his essay which is part of the recent festschrift for Gary Cockerill:

‘Let us draw near . . . but not too near’: A Critique of the Attempted Distinction between ‘Drawing Near’ and ‘Entering’ in Hebrews’ Entry Exhortations,” in Listen, Understand, Obey: Essays on Hebrews in Honor of Gareth Lee Cockerill (ed. C.T. Friedeman; Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2017), 17–36.

The following essay has appeared in this collection on faith:

Benjamin Schliesser. "Glauben und Denken im Hebräerbrief und bei Paulus. Zwei frühchristliche Perspektiven auf die Rationalität des Glaubens." In Glaube: Das Verständnis des Glaubens im frühen Christentum und in seiner jüdischen und hellenistisch-römischen Umwelt. Edited byJörg Frey, Benjamin Schliesser, and Nadine Ueberschaer, with the collaboration of Kathrin Hager. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 373. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Hebrews Commentary by Jon Laansma

Jon Laansma informed me that his commentary on Hebrews will be coming out soon. It is entitled The Letter to the Hebrews: A Commentary for Preaching, Teaching, and Bible Study. It will be published with Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf & Stock. The commentary was originally slated to be part of Baker's Teach the Text series, but that series has been cancelled.

Laansma is Associate Professor of Ancient Languages and New Testament at Wheaton College. He is the author of "I Will Give You Rest"  The Rest Motif in the New Testament with Special Reference to Mt 11 and Heb 3-4 in the WUNT series published by Mohr Siebeck; and is the co-editor of Christology, Hermeneutics, and Hebrews. Profiles from the History of Interpretation, published with T&T Clark.

He has sent me an electronic copy of his commentary for review. Stay tuned.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Jesus' Heavenly Sacrifice in Early Christian Reception of Hebrews

Here is the latest article on Hebrews to appear:

David M. Moffitt. "Jesus’ Heavenly Sacrifice in Early Christian Reception of Hebrews: A Survey." Journal of Theolical Studies 68.1 (2017): 46–71.

Abstract:
"Modern readings of Hebrews tend to reduce the text’s language of Jesus’ sacrificial offering to the event of his crucifixion. In my book, Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, I argue that such a reduction does not adequately account for either the presence or significance of Jesus’ resurrection and bodily ascension for Hebrews’ Christology and soteriology. The book’s claims have rightly raised questions about why Hebrews has not been read this way in the past. This article offers an initial exploration of some early Christian reception of Hebrews. I demonstrate that, while not universal, a variety of texts from the early centuries of Christianity interpret Hebrews’ language of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice as referring to Jesus’ post-resurrection offering of himself to the Father in the heavens. These findings suggest that early Christian reflection on Hebrews, Jesus’ sacrifice, and atonement could approach these interrelated concerns more holistically—that is, orientated towards the full, creedal narrative of the incarnation, than do some accounts of the atonement that reduce Jesus’ sacrifice to his death on the cross."


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Book Honoring Gary Cockerill

In their latest catalog, Wipf & Stock has announced the publication of this book:

Caleb T. Friedeman, editor. Listen, Understand, Obey: Essays on Hebrews in Honor of Gareth Lee Cockerill.

"This volume brings together a diverse group of scholars, including biblical, systematic, and historical theologians, to honor Gareth Lee Cockerill, longtime professor of New Testament at Wesley Biblical Seminary (Jackson, MS) and distinguished scholar of the book of Hebrews. The essays focus on various aspects of Hebrews’ theology, ranging from the nature of “rest” in Hebrews to the interpretation of Hebrews in early Methodism. Readers will find resources to hear and comprehend Hebrews afresh and will be challenged to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16)."

Congratulations, Gary!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hebrews on Genesis 1–11

New article:

Casey Croy. "Humanity as City-Builders: Observations on Human Work from Hebrews’ Interpretation of Genesis 1–11." Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies 2.1 (2017): 32–41.

"Hebrews 11:10 claims that Abraham “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (ESV). The Genesis narrative, however, seems devoid of any indication that Abraham was looking for a city, leading some modern interpreters to conclude that the author of Hebrews was allegorizing the Genesis narrative. On the contrary, reading Genesis 1–11 (the preceding context of the Abraham narrative) from the perspective of the author of Hebrews reveals details which indicate that he is making a valid inference from the text of Genesis. Specifically, the text of Genesis presents the city of Babel (Gen 11) as the antithesis of God’s original plan for human flourishing. The author of Hebrews’s reading of the Genesis narrative reveals his theological perspective on God’s original purpose for humanity, which has several implications for how Christians should reconsider the divide often assumed between sacred and secular work."

The entire issue is available online here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

IBR Scripture and Doctrine Seminar

IBR has announced this program for the Scripture and Doctrine Seminar at the upcoming SBL meeting in November:

We are entering our third year of partnership with the Scripture and Doctrine Seminar. The following program has been arranged for 2017:

Welcome and Introduction:
Dr. Benjamin Quinn, Assist. Prof of Theology and History of Ideas, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Presenters:
Dr. Steve Harris, Independent Scholar, Hamilton, ON—“Hebrews in Historical Theology—The Contours”
Dr. Craig Bartholomew, H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy, Redeemer University College—“Creation, the Ongoing Priesthood of Jesus, and Divine Action in Hebrews”
Dr. Gareth Cockerill, (retired) Academic Dean, Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Theology, Wesley Biblical Seminary—“The Present Priesthood of the Son of God”
Dr. Luke Stamps, Assistant Prof of Christian Studies, Anderson University—“’No One Greater’: Hebrews and Classical Christian Theism”
Dr. Scott Hahn, Franciscan University of Steubenville—“Covenant, Sacrifice and Divine Action in Hebrews”

Question-and-Answer Panel to include Presenters and the Following:
Mr. Michael Rhodes, Dir. of Community Development, Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies
Dr. Amy Peeler, Associate Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College

Monday, April 10, 2017

Didsbury Lectures on Hebrews

Alas, I probably won't be able to attend this:


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Christ-Centered Exposition on Hebrews

I received in the mail today, R. Albert Mohler Jr.'s new commentary on Hebrews in the Christ-Centered Exposition series. According to the blurb on the back page, this series is "presented as sermons, divided into chapters that conclude with a 'Reflect & Discuss' section, making this series ideal for small group study, sermon preparation, and personal devotions."

The commentary is divided according to paragraph divisions of Hebrews. Each chapter begins with an outline of the passage, which becomes the basis of the exposition that follows. The opening chapter also has a brief introduction dealing with the title, audience, date, and authorship of Hebrews. Excurses are interspersed throughout the book. Each chapter concludes with a "Reflect and Discuss" section comprising ten sets of questions. End matter includes a very modest Works Cited section that lists largely Reformed authors, and a Scripture index.This is a popular-level commentary that appears to be designed for its stated purpose.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Church on the Temple in Hebrews

Philip Church's book appears to be available now with Brill:

Philip Church. Hebrews and the Temple: Attitudes to the Temple in Second Temple Judaism and in Hebrews.

Abstract:
"In Hebrews and the Temple Philip Church argues that the silence of Hebrews concerning the temple does not mean that the author is not interested in the temple. He writes to encourage his readers to abandon their preoccupation with it and to follow Jesus to their eschatological goal. Following extensive discussions of attitudes to the temple in the literature of Second Temple Judaism, Church turns to Hebrews and argues that the temple is presented there as a symbolic foreshadowing of the eschatological dwelling of God with his people. Now that the eschatological moment has arrived with the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God, preoccupation with the temple and its rituals must cease."


Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Couple of New Articles on Hebrews


Baugh, S. M. “Hyperbaton and Greek Literary Style in Hebrews.” Novum Testamentum 59.2 (2017): 194–213.

Abstract:
“Hyperbaton,” the separation of words that are semantically and syntactically inter-connected, is used in the epistle to the Hebrews nearly sixty times. Classicist Daniel Markovic has shown that various kinds of hyperbaton were used by Greek literary authors to indicate the boundaries of their basic informational unit, the colon (κῶλον), and sometimes of larger units of discourse like the period (περιόδος). This essay confirms Markovic’s conclusions by studying the instances of hyperbaton in Hebrews which the author used to frame colons while also adding some secondary reasons for its use throughout the composition.


Church, Philip. “Hebrews 1:10–12 and the Renewal of the Cosmos.” Tyndale Bulletin 67.2 (2016): 269–86.

Abstract:
The suggestion that the author of Hebrews is indebted to Philo sometimes leads to the assertion that he has a negative bias against the creation. One text where scholars have detected this bias is Hebrews 1:10-12, quoting Psalm 102:25-27, seemingly to predict the dissolution of the cosmos. The text is part of a Psalm that predicts the restoration of Zion and the gathering of the nations there to worship, and expresses the confidence that the descendants of the servants of Yahweh will live securely in Yahweh’s presence. This makes it unlikely that verses 25-26 predict the dissolution of the cosmos, and exegesis of the verses in question indicates not dissolution, but renewal after the destruction resulting from the exile. Attention to the context of the quotation in Hebrews indicates that dissolution there is also unlikely. The text supports the claim that the exalted Son upholds all things (Heb. 1:3) and sits alongside a discussion of the dominion of humanity over the world to come (2:5-9). A more remote co-text refers to the gathering of the nations to Zion (12:22-24), itself a further echo of the Psalm. The Psalm quotation functions to predict not the dissolution, but the renewal of the decaying cosmos.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Review of Griffiths, Hebrews and Divine Speech


This review originally appeared in Review & Expositor 112.4 (November 2015): 628–29. Thanks to Nancy Declaisse-Walford and Review & Expositor for permission to publish this review here. 
 
***** 
Jonathan I. Griffiths. Hebrews and Divine Speech. Library of New Testament Studies 507. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2014. xvi +200 pp. $112.00. ISBN 9780567655523.

This monograph, a revision of the author’s doctoral dissertation submitted to the University of Cambridge under the direction of Peter Head, is probably the first full-length exploration in English concerning the motif of divine speech in the Book of Hebrews. It achieves this task through an exegetical analysis of eight key passages, giving particular attention to the significant role that the terms λόγος and ῥῆμα play in the author’s theology of divine speech. The book contains a straightforward structure beginning with an introductory chapter, followed by eight chapters that treat each one of the key passages in sequential order (1:1–4; 2:1–4; 4:2–16; 5:11–6:12; 6:13–7:28; 11:3; 12:18–29; and 13:7, 17, 22), and ending with a concluding chapter. The book is punctuated with two excurses that are rather important for his overall argument.

Chapter 1 presents the purpose, thesis, and methodology of the study. The chapter also gives a brief consideration of the historical and intellectual contexts, the genre, and the structure of Hebrews. Griffiths considers Hebrews to be a homiletical address with an epistolary postscript. He offers his own structural analysis in an excursus that follows the chapter. In chapters 2–8 Griffiths engages in a detailed exegetical examination of all the key passages in Hebrews that touches upon the theme of divine speech. He addresses the critical issues and weighs the interpretive options for each passage. Each chapter ends with a conclusion summarizing the results. His exegesis is guided by three lines of inquiry, whose conclusions are encapsulated in the final chapter.

The first line of inquiry considers whether Hebrews contains a logos Christology. While Hebrews never explicitly identifies Jesus as the logos, it evinces “a discernible and sustained ‘word’ Christology” (p. 162). The term λόγος is never used to identify Jesus; instead it primarily refers to divine speech, but secondarily to the author’s own message. The term ῥῆμα also refers to divine speech, but Griffiths discerns a distinction between the two terms: “while λόγος typically imports the communication of information (particularly the Gospel message), ῥῆμα occurs in contexts where a physical manifestation of God’s speech is in view, particularly as it is expressed in the created order” (p. 164). The second line of inquiry concerns the interplay between divine speech, Christology and soteriology. He concludes that salvation is obtainable through a positive response to the divine word which finds its fullest expression in the person and work of Christ. But an encounter with the divine word may also be an occasion for judgment for those who reject it. The third line of inquiry explores the author’s own view regarding his discourse in relation to divine speech. Griffiths contends that the author identified his own sermon as a form of divine speech. God often uses human agents to communicate his divine message.

The book contains a number of strengths. First, it is written with lucid, flowing prose. Second, it is well-researched as is evidenced by the copious footnotes and fulsome bibliography. Third, the exegetical discussions are sound and generally persuasive. Griffiths does not force the exegesis, even in places where it could support his thesis (for example, he does not discern a logos Christology in 4:12). Fourth, the second excursus provides a useful overview of the term λόγος and its relationship to word/wisdom personalizations in other ancient literature.

I have a couple of quibbles with the book. First, I did not find his proposed structure for Hebrews to be entirely persuasive. Griffiths discerns eleven cycles of a threefold pattern of exempla, explanation/application, and exhortation in Hebrews. His divisions, however, seem to split up blocks of material that naturally go together. For example, some of the more natural divisions of Hebrews would be 2:5–18; 3:1–6; 3:7–19; and 4:1–13. By contrast, Griffiths detects cycles at 2:5–3:3; 3:4–13; 3:14–4:1; and 4:2–11. In my opinion, his proposed structure is the weakest part of the book. Second, Griffiths makes a novel suggestion that 4:12 is alluding to the Ehud story in Judges 3. This is an intriguing suggestion since Ehud announces to the king of Moab that he has a “secret word/thing” or a “word/thing of God” for him (there is a word-play in the Hebrew). The “word” of course is a two-edged sword that he thrusts into the king’s belly. In the Septuagint the phrase for two-edged sword (μάχαιραν δίστομον) is the same one Hebrews uses as a metaphor for the word of God in 4:12. The allusion, however, is unlikely since there is nothing in the context to suggest that the author had this story in mind and an allusion to Ehud would be overly subtle. Finally, I have a suggestion for further exploration. The author of Hebrews often attributes scripture quotations to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. While Griffiths notes this feature cursorily in his final chapter, it would be profitable to reflect more fully on how scripture as divine speech contributes to an understanding of the author’s theology of divine speech. Despite these minor reservations, I think that Griffiths has made a commendable contribution to Hebrews research.


Monday, February 20, 2017

A New Commentary on Hebrews from a "Pro-Torah" Perspective

I just got in the mail a new two-volume commentary set that would probably not be on most scholars' radar because it is not published with your standard scholarly publishers:

Tim Hegg. Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Volume 1:Chapters 1–8; Volume 2: Chapters 9–13. Tacoma, WA: Torah Resources, 2016. Pp. 355 + 370. Paper.

Some initial observations:
The commentary is apparently written from a Hebraic perspective, and in particular, from a "pro-Torah" perspective. It takes issue with scholar who claim that Hebrews says that the new covenant has forever replaced the old covenant. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in his exegesis.

The commentary also evinces some scholarship. The author provides a modest bibliography of commentaries used—all in English. All of them are scholarly, but he is missing some key ones. Other works cited are in the modest footnotes used throughout the commentary. The author uses Greek and Hebrew, which are often translated and/or transliterated. The writing style seems accessible enough for non-specialists.