Thursday, May 17, 2018

Updated Scholars Page

I have made some major revisions to the Scholars page. I have added some new names and I have now added their works on Hebrews as a means of justifying their inclusion on this page. I will continue to add names as I have time. As always, I welcome any corrections, updates, or additions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

New Book on Christ, the Law, and the Covenants in Hebrews and Paul

Jean-René Moret. Christ, la Loi et les Alliances. Les lettres aux Hébreux et de Paul : regards croisés.

Dès son origine, l’Église s’est attachée à comprendre en quoi Jésus-Christ était l’accomplissement de l’Ancien Testament. De quelle manière la Loi et l’Ancienne Alliance préparaient-elles la venue de Jésus ? Comment aident-elles à saisir la portée de son œuvre ? Les lettres de Paul et la lettre aux Hébreux contiennent des développements magistraux sur ces sujets.

Ce livre analyse et compare ces deux regards pour en faire ressortir toute la profondeur. Il aidera ainsi à saisir la richesse de l’œ uvre de Jésus-Christ, comme les auteurs bibliques l’ont comprise à la lumière de l’Ancien Testament.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Inventing Hebrews

Jason Whitlark has informed me that his book, co-authored with Michael Wade Martin (both Baylor University Ph.D. grads, as am I), will be coming out in May. This will be Jason's third book on Hebrews, along with several articles. He is quickly becoming one of the premier Hebrews scholars in the world. If you have read Martin and Whitlark's two articles on the structure of Hebrews (likely the precursors to this book), then you know this book will be good.

Michael Wade Martin and Jason A. Whitlark. Inventing Hebrews: Design and Purpose in Ancient Rhetoric. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 171. Cambridge.

"Inventing Hebrews examines a perennial topic in the study of the Letter to the Hebrews, its structure and purpose. Michael Wade Martin and Jason A. Whitlark undertake at thorough synthesis of the ancient theory of invention and arrangement, providing a new account of Hebrews' design. The key to the speech’s outline, the authors argue, is in its use of ‘disjointed’ arrangement, a template ubiquitous in antiquity but little discussed in modern biblical studies. This method of arrangement accounts for the long-observed pattern of alternating epideictic and deliberative units in Hebrews as blocks of narratio and argumentatio respectively. Thus the ‘letter’ may be seen as a conventional speech arranged according to the expectations of ancient rhetoric (exordium, narratio, argumentatio, peroratio), with epideictic comparisons of old and new covenant representatives (narratio) repeatedly enlisted in amplification of what may be viewed as the central argument of the speech (argumentatio), the recurring deliberative summons for perseverance. Resolving a long-standing conundrum, this volume offers a hermeneutical tool necessary for interpreting Hebrews, as well as countless other speeches from Greco-Roman antiquity."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Critical Readings in Hebrews

Scott Mackie's edited volume on critical readings in Hebrews is now available:

Mackie, Scott D., ed. The Letter to the Hebrews: Critical Readings (Bloomsbury T&T Clark).

Melchizedek Passages in the Bible

Here is a book that I have recently learned about. It is reviewed in The Journal of Theological Studies.

Alan Kam-Yau Chan. Melchizedek Passages in the Bible: A Case Study for Inner-Biblical and Inter-Biblical Interpretation. De Gruyter, 2016.

Aims and Scope:

Melchizedek is a mysterious figure to many people. Adopting discourse analysis and text-linguistic approaches, Chan attempts to tackle the Melchizedek texts in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5-7. This seminal study illustrates how the mysterious figure is understood and interpreted by later biblical writers, "... Using the “blessing” motif as a framework, Chan also argues that Numbers 22-24, 2 Samuel 7 and the Psalter: Books I-V (especially Psalms 1-2) provide a reading paradigm of interpreting Psalm 110. In addition, the structure of Hebrews provides a clue to how the author interprets the Old Testament texts.

De Gruyter has provided open-access to this book.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Jared Compton's New Podcast On His Book

Jared Compton has a new podcast on his book, Psalm 110 and the Logic of Hebrews.

I disagree with Mr. Morales' statement that "The use and function of the Old Testament in the book of Hebrews has been a neglected area of study." I can name several books and articles on the topic.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Hebrews at Various Conferences

The book of Hebrews was/will be featured in several papers at various meetings in the first part of 2018. Here are the papers that I was able to identify:

Saint Mary’s College – Notre Dame, Indiana

Saturday, February 3, 10:30–11:30
Jared Calaway, Illinois Wesleyan University
On the Ignorance of the Audience: A Modest Proposal for the Letter to the
"Several scholars have inquired into understanding the audience in Hebrews
including: location, ethnicity, and social issues of persecution and malaise.
Additionally, there have been occasional considerations of the audience’s
knowledge of the biblical tradition, usually couched in terms of whether
they could follow the author’s complex presentation. What demands,
however, does the author make on the audience’s knowledge? What
knowledge is assumed or assumed lacking? Looking at these questions, I
contend that the audience likely knew the general outlines of the biblical
accounts, but were fuzzy on the contextual details, and the author takes
advantage of this in his* hermeneutics."

Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Resort - Atlanta, Georgia

Friday, March 2, 6:00–8:00
Christopher T. Holmes, McAfee School of Theology Fear of Death in the Epistle to the Hebrew

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary-Houston Campus

Friday, March 2, 4:30–5:10
Boyd Luter, The King’s University, Southlake, Texas
Israel’s Land Promise and Hebrews: ‘The End’ or ‘On Hold’—as Jesus Predicted?” 

Pentecostal Theological Seminary - Cleveland, Tennessee

Saturday, March 10, 8:30–10:00
Suzanne "Brett" DeMond
"Finishing on the Right Side of History: Group Borders in the Book of Hebrews"

Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center - Columbia, Missouri

Monday, March 12, 1:00–3:00
Matthew C. Easter, Missouri Baptist University
“Root of Bitterness Defiling Many: An Intertextual Reading of Sexually Immoral Esau in Hebrews 12:15-17”

Grace Bible College, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Friday, March 23, 8:00–9:30
J. Michael McKay, Cedarville University
"Reevaluation of Iesous in Hebrews: Joshua or Jesus?"

Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Friday, April 6, 1:00
Timothy Bertolet, Faith Bible Fellowship Church, York, PA
Why Moses? Re-Evaluating the Reference to Moses in Heb. 3:1-6

Two New Books on Hebrews 12

I received an email today from ISD announcing two forthcoming books on Hebrews 12:18–29:

Lukas Stolz. Der Höhepunkt des Hebräerbriefs: Hebräer 12,18-29 und seine Bedeutung für die Struktur und die Theologie des Hebräerbriefs
In der Forschung zum Hebräerbrief wurde die besondere strukturelle und theologische Bedeutung von Hebr 12,18-29 bereits mehrfach postuliert. Lukas Stolz geht zum ersten Mal ausführlich der Frage nach, ob bzw. inwiefern der Abschnitt sowohl strukturell als auch theologisch als Höhepunkt des Schreibens ad Hebraeos gelten kann.Nachdem der Autor wichtige Einleitungsfragen zum Hebräerbrief behandelt, erfolgt die Exegese von Hebr 12,18-29, in der er sich den zahlreichen Auslegungsfragen zum theologisch äusserst dichten Abschnitt detailliert und mit verschiedenen Exkursen stellt.Im auswertenden Schlussteil der Arbeit werden die literarischen, rhetorischen und inhaltlichen Hinweise für den Höhepunktcharakter von Hebr 12,18-29 ausführlich dargelegt. Aufgrund eines Vergleichs von Hebr 12,18-29 mit den Vorgaben der antiken Rhetoriklehrer für einen guten Redeschluss, argumentiert Lukas Stolz, dass der Abschnitt auch die peroratio des Hebrärbriefs ist.

Christopher T. Holmes. The Function of Sublime Rhetoric in Hebrews: A Study in Hebrews 12:18-29
In this study, Christopher T. Holmes provides a focused analysis of the rhetorical and stylistic features of Hebrews 12:18-29, their intended effects upon the audience, and the role of the passage in the larger argument of Hebrews. He draws extensively from the first-century treatise, De Sublimitate, arguing that it provides a significant context for interpreting the rhetoric and style of Hebrews. Although New Testament scholars have drawn significantly from the ancient handbooks of Aristotle, Quintilian, and Cicero in the last several decades, this is the first monograph-length study to use De Sublimitate as the primary analytical tool for New Testament interpretation. The result of the study shows that the author's efforts to move the readers "beyond persuasion" shed new light on the thought and genre of Hebrews. Christopher T. Holmes offers both exegetical insights about Hebrews and an additional way to think about the distinctiveness of early Christian rhetoric.

According to the email, both books will be out on May 1. As typical, the prices are outrageous—and for paperbacks no less.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Assembling the Cloud of Witnesses

Heythrop College University of London
Centre for Textual Studies

Assembling the Cloud of Witnesses
Essays in Honour of Marie Isaacs (1936 - 2016)
Friday 9 March 2018 at 10.30am

The Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies presents a one-day colloquium in honour of Rev. Dr. Marie Isaacs, a New Testament scholar, the author of The Concept of Spirit: A Study of Pneuma in Hellenistic Judaism and Its Bearing on the New Testament (1976); Sacred Space: An Approach to the Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (1992); Reading Hebrews and James: A Literary and Theological Commentary (2002). Marie taught at Heythrop for 30 years, becoming head of the department of Biblical Studies and serving as college Vice-Principal. Alongside her academic career, Marie was an ordained minister and one of the first women ministers in the Baptist Church.

The programme will include contributions by Marie’s former colleagues from Heythrop and King’s College as well as a new generation of Heythrop-associated scholars, paying tribute to Marie’s scholarly work and exploring various areas of biblical studies. The list of confirmed speakers includes:

Nick King, The Spirit in John's Gospel: A tribute to Marie Isaacs

Jenny Dines, Witnesses Under a Cloud: who and what are Hypocrites in the New Testament?

Ann Jeffers, The Case of the Clever Ancestress: the afterlives of Sarah in Hebrews, Philo and the Testament of Abraham

Bridget Gilfillan Upton, Neither History nor Fiction: John's Gospel as Persuasion/Propaganda

Mary Mills, Literary Violence in the Book of Revelation

Sean Ryan, Sacred Space in the Apocalypse: The "shrine of the tent of witness in heaven" (Rev 15:5)

Jonathan Norton, The Rhetorical Purpose of the Hypocrite in Romans 1-3

Alison Fincham, In Training for the Heavenly City: Hebrews 12:1-13

Starting at 10 for 10.30am. Registration fee of £15 will be charged to cover the cost of catering.

Conference organisers: Dr Jonathan Norton, Dr Sean Ryan (Heythrop Centre for Textual Studies)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Whitfield Reviews Dyer, Suffering in the Face of Death

Bryan J. Whitfield reviews Bryan R. Dyer, Suffering in the Face of Death: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Its Context of Situation for RBL.

I have a review of Dyer's book forthcoming in the June issue of the Horizons journal. I will publish the review once it has appeared in print. Since I was constrained by a word limit, you will find Whitfield's review to be more thorough.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hebrews Highlights February 2018

Phillip Long continues his series on Hebrews:
     Hebrews 7:1–3 – Who Was Melchizedek?
     Hebrews 8–9 – Old Israel, New Church?
     Hebrews 9:11–22 – The Christ, the Unblemished Sacrifice
     Hebrews 10:32–39 – Recall the Former Days
     Hebrews 10:39 – We Are Not of Those Who Shrink Back
     Hebrews 12:1–3 – Running the Race
     Hebrews 12:18–29 – Marching to Zion
Ken Schenck has completed his series on Concentrated Hebrews:
     Hebrews 4:14–5:11
     Hebrews 5:12–6:20
     Hebrews 7:1–28
     Hebrews 8:1–10:18
     Hebrews 10:19–11:40
     Hebrews 12:1–29
     Hebrews 13:1–25

Mike Heiser answers questions about the book of Hebrews:
     Hebrews Q&A Part 1
     Hebrews Q&A Part 2

David deSilva preaches a sermon on Hebrews 12:28–13:16: "Going to Serve Christ"
He preaches another sermon on Matthew 4:1–11 and Hebrews 4:12–16: "The Divine Source Code"

Austin Duncan explains how you can Preach Like Hebrews.

Stephen Rankin preaches a sermon on The Peaceful Fruit of Righteousness based on Hebrews 12:7, 11.

Henry Neufeld offers A Brief Note on Hebrews and Structure.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Review of Ribbens, Levitical Sacrifice and Heavenly Cult in Hebrews

A slightly edited version of this review has appeared in Horizons: The Journal of the CollegeTheological Society 44.2 (December 2017): 513–14. Copyright: College Theology Society 2017. Used by permission. 

Levitical Sacrifice and Heavenly Cult in Hebrews. By Benjamin J. Ribbens. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2016. Pp. XVII +297. $140.00.

In assessing Hebrews’ understanding of the relationship between the old covenant sacrifices and Christ’s new covenant sacrifice, many scholars conclude that Hebrews takes a negative view of the old covenant cult. Ribbens challenges this position by contending that Hebrews affirms the efficacy of the old covenant sacrifices while also asserting the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice.

Chapter 1 sets forth the need for this study. Some scholars have negatively evaluated Hebrews’ theology of sacrifice, claiming that Hebrews’ argument is self-contradictory and/or intentionally misinterprets the Septuagint. Ribbens’ survey of various proposals concerning the relationship between the old and new covenant sacrifices reveals a lack of scholarly consensus regarding Hebrews’ understanding of the efficacy of these sacrifices. This study attempts to remedy these defects.

In chapters 2–3 Ribbens attempts to situate Hebrews within its socio-religious context. Chapter 2 examines Second Temple Judaism’s understanding of the efficacy of sacrifice. Sacrifices were meant primarily to provide atonement, forgiveness of sins, and purification. Chapter 3 then considers the concept of a heavenly cult in Second Temple Judaism. The chapter focuses particularly on texts that describe a heavenly temple in which God dwells and angels function as priests. The earthly cult derived its legitimacy by properly imitating the heavenly cult.

Chapters 4–6 turn to an examination of Hebrews itself. In chapter 4, after dealing with the obligatory introductory matters, Ribbens turns to consider the possible conceptual background for Hebrews’ notion of a heavenly tabernacle. He rejects the Platonic/Philonic tradition in favor of the Jewish mystical apocalyptic tradition as the more likely background for Hebrews’ thought. After investigating several key passages in Hebrews, Ribbens contends that Hebrews follows a Day of Atonement pattern. Christ’s sacrifice is a process that begins with his passion on earth, but is not completed until Christ rises from the dead, ascends through the heavens, and enters the heavenly Holy of Holies as the heavenly high priest who offers himself as a sacrifice through the presentation of his own blood. Since the earthly tabernacle derived its validity by being modeled after the heavenly sanctuary, the same thing could be said about earthly sacrifices since they are patterned after Christ’s heavenly sacrifice.

Chapter 5 examines Hebrews’ view of the old covenant sacrifices. They are efficacious in that they provide atonement and forgiveness of sins. However, the author also critiques them for what they could not accomplish. They could not provide access to God, perfection, or redemption. Chapter 6, by contrast, enumerates the many salvific benefits that Christ’s new covenant sacrifice did accomplish. These benefits include atonement, forgiveness, purification, perfection, redemption, removal of sin, and cleansing of the conscience.

In chapter 7, in light of the results achieved in his study, Ribbens returns to evaluate the proposals surveyed in chapter 1 highlighting their inadequacies to account for the relationship between the old and new covenant sacrifices. He concludes the chapter by arguing that his study supports a more positive view of the old covenant sacrifices as sacramental, christological types. The old covenant sacrifices were external rituals which only derived their efficacy to achieve forgiveness and atonement by being linked proleptically to the efficacious sacrifice of Christ.

Ribbens writes with lucid prose and presents a well-crafted argument. His survey of the various scholarly proposals is clear and concise. He cogently develops his argument and keeps it tightly focused without getting sidetracked with peripheral issues. When assessing various interpretive options, he represents the views of others fairly while also charitably critiquing those that are inadequate. Ribben’s main contribution to the scholarly discussion of Hebrews is to get us to reconsider Hebrews’ attitude toward the old covenant sacrifices. Hebrews’ argument regarding sacrifices is neither self-contradictory nor does it mishandle the interpretation of the Septuagint. Hebrews instead offers a synkrisis which compares good versus better. While Hebrews views the old covenant sacrifices positively, it regards them as incomplete and anticipatory of the perfect, singular sacrifice of Christ which renders their observance no longer necessary. This monograph is more suited for graduate-level work and would be a valuable addition to any theological library.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Dissertation on Social Identity in Hebrews

I stumbled across this dissertation today. I am adding it to the dissertations page:

Kissi, Seth. “Social Identity in Hebrews and the Akan Community in Ghana.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pretoria, 2017.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Two New Articles on Hebrews in Novum Testamentum

Two new articles on Hebrews have appeared in the latest issue of Novum Testamentum:

Baugh, S. M. “Greek Periods in the Book of Hebrews.” Novum Testamentum 60.1 (2018): 24–44.

"It is typical for students of the book of Hebrews to comment on its long, complex sentences or “periods” as evidence of the author’s literary and rhetorical skills. This essay surveys ancient and modern views on the Greek period and finds that they are typically shorter, antithetical or “rounded” statements which may or may not coincide with a grammatical sentence. Example periods in Hebrews are then discussed along with observations on other, supporting literary features of the epistle in those places where the author occasionally employs a periodic style."

Doran, Robert. “The Persuasive Arguments at Play in Heb 2:11 and 7:12.” Novum Testamentum 60.1 (2018): 45–54.

"The phrase ‘from one’ in Heb 2:11 does not refer to some common ancestor or creator, but is the commonplace that common predication connects those so predicated. At Heb 7:12, the author draws upon the accepted connection in the Mediterranean world between form of government and worldview/religion—to change one is to change the other—and so the argument is rhetorically persuasive."

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

New Article on the Sabbath Rest in Hebrews

The following article has just appeared in NTS:

Langziner, Daniel. “‘A Sabbath Rest for the People of God’: (Heb 4.9): Hebrews and Philo on the Seventh Day of Creation.” New Testament Studies 64.1 (2017): 94–107.

"This article examines the background of the concept of Sabbath rest (σαββατισμός) in Heb 4.1–11. Special attention is given to the relation between God's rest and God's activity, which seemingly are in tension with each other: on the one hand, the author's argument is based on the assumption that God entered his rest at the seventh day of creation and stopped working forever (4.10); on the other hand, there is a clear reference to God's works after creation (3.9–10). A comparison with Philo's explanations of the seventh day of creation, however, reveals that for a Jewish Middle Platonist this tension does not appear to be a problem because rest and activity in God are two sides of the same coin. It is argued that this background helps to explain Hebrews’ concept of Sabbath rest. A concluding outlook shows that the suggested Middle Platonic understanding of Hebrews 4 fits well the context of the epistle as a whole, as the same coexistence of rest and activity can also be found in Hebrews 7 in relation to Jesus’ intercession in the heavenly tabernacle."