Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hebrews Carnival March 2010

William Varner presents A New Perspective on Hebrews. He provides this new perspective in a PDF file.

Clifford Kvidahl offers Some Random Notes on Hebrews.

Kvidahl also remarks on Hebrews 8:13 and the obsolescence of the Old Covenant.

Dan Cruver had a meditation on Hebrews 10:19-25 that we can have Confidence to Approach God - Together.

Bob MacDonald gives an overview of The Psalms used in Hebrews.

Michael Bird interviews Andrew W. Pitts about his theory on the Authorship of Hebrews. Pitts, and his colleague Joshua F. Walker propose that the evidence best points to a collaboration between Paul and Luke. He argues that the speech is Pauline, which Luke documented in some manner as a stenographer and then later published it. Myself? Although I believe the author of Hebrews is likely an associate of Paul's and may in part be influenced by Paul, I do not think that the writing is Pauline. For example, the theology of the book differs too much from any of Paul's letters and the use of the OT is much different than Paul's.

Tony Siew reflects on Hebrews and Its Influence on his life.

Joel Watts has a reflection on Ben Witherington's discussion on Hebrews in The Indelible Image.

Doug Chaplin notes two places where the language of Eucharist and Sacrifice merge in the NT, which includes Hebrews 13:10.

Matthew Larsen gives the abstract to his paper that he will deliver at the upcoming SBL Conference in Atlanta: The First Century Two Ways Catechesis as the Background of Hebrews 6:1-6.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Buchanan on the History of Scholarship

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.

George Wesley Buchanan is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC (1960-1990) and is the author of two commentaries on the book of Hebrews.

Buchanan believes that the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was an important turning point in Hebrews research. He therefore divides his history of scholarship into two parts. The first part he surveys works published prior to 1955 in chronological order. In the second part he evaluates post-1955 works according to a topical arrangement.

In the first part, “Scholarship before the Scrolls,” Buchanan briefly surveys the works of Johann Jakob Wetstein, Friedrich Bleek, Moses Stuart, Samuel Hulbeart Turner, Franz Delitzsch, Charles John Vaughan, Brooke Foss Westcott, Eduard Riggenbach, James Moffatt, Hans Windisch, Ernst Käsemann, Ceslas Spicq, and William Manson (299-307). The assessments are of uneven value ranging from a couple of sentences to substantial paragraphs. Some of the issues he highlights are authorship, recipients, provenance, date, genre, integrity, background, use of the OT, and other distinctive characteristics of the works featured.

In the second part, Buchanan arranges his analysis according to the various issues related to the study of Hebrews. With regard to the Dead Sea Scrolls, early on some scholars believed that the recipients of Hebrews had some sort of Essene connection (Spicq, Daniélou, Kosmala, Yadin), while some scholars noted the affinities between Hebrews and the Qumran writings (Flusser, Yadin). The publication of 11QMelchizedek was important because of its identification of Melchizedek with the Messiah. (308-309)

Scholars have also noted the similarities of the ideas and terminology between Hebrews and Philo. Spicq concluded that the author of Hebrews was a student of Philo before he became a Christian. Spicq’s thesis was thoroughly refuted by Ronald Williamson who said that “the author of Hebrews was a competent, original scholar, non-Philonic, and heavily dependent on the OT, but with a different view of time and history and a different method of exegesis from that of Philo” (311). Other scholars who note the similarities and differences between the two writing include Friedrich Schröger, Sidney Sowers, and C. K. Barrett.

Buchanan notes that scholars continue to posit non-Palestinian backgrounds for Hebrews such as Alexandria, Ephesus, and Rome, but he finds these attempts to be unconvincing (311).
Some scholars have noted the literary artistry of Hebrews (e.g., James Moffatt and Otto Michel), while others have done extensive study on the literary structure. Leon Vaganay used inclusions and hook-words to compose an outline of the book (312). Albert Vanhoye built upon Vaganay’s work and proposed a concentric structure for Hebrews. Vanhoye observed four markers that signified unit divisions: 1) announcement of the subject to be discussed, 2) catch-words, 3) characteristic terms, and 4) inclusions (312). Buchanan suggests two improvements to the analysis of the structure. First, one should recognize that chapter 13 is a later addition and should not be part of the structural analysis. Second, one should observe that Hebrews is a homiletical midrash on Psalm 110 (315).

With regard to the author’s use of the OT, George Howard noted the correspondences and divergences of the OT quotes with relation to both the MT and the LXX (317). Buchanan remarks that scholars are divided on Hebrews’ use of the OT since it is difficult to identify quotations as opposed to allusions; the author tended to change quotes to suit his purposes or he paraphrased, so it is impossible to know when the author is using a different version of a text or not (317-318). Williamson found great differences between Philo’s and Hebrews’ use and exegesis of the OT (318). Schröger “found elements of rabbinic exegesis, elements of apocalyptic-pesher exegesis, and elements of Hellenistic-late Jewish-synagogue exegesis” (319).

Scholars have generally neglected the use of “Son of man” in Hebrews 2:6 and have denied any messianic connotations for the term. This was remedied by I. H. Marshall and W. O. Walker who restored the “close relationship between messiahship and Son of Man theology that is evident in Hebrews and the gospels” (320). Buchanan notes that many of the psalms utilized by Hebrews have royal connotations, so it is likely that the author of Hebrews construed the terms “Son of God” and “Son of man” to designate a messiah or king (320-321).

Buchanan observes that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus receive little attention in Hebrews as opposed to Paul’s letters. Instead the author of Hebrews is interested is interested in Jesus’ death as an atonement offering. Hence, he emphasized the connection of Jesus’ death with the Day of Atonement, rather than the Passover Feast as the gospels record. Jesus was the high priest who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice. Yadin and Kosmala claim that Hebrews “interpreted Jesus’ function as a high priest as a direct challenge to the two-messiah doctrine of the Dead Sea sect” (322). Buchanan remarks that both of these scholars overlooked the role of Jewish messianic expectation related to the Hasmoneans, who embodied both priestly and royal functions, just as Jesus does in Hebrews. Both the Hasmoneans and Hebrews utilizes scripture (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 110) to support their positions (324-325).

While most scholars insist that the “rest” mentioned in Hebrews 3-4 refers to a heavenly rest, rather than a nationalistic-political entity, Buchanan seems to favor the latter interpretation. Whenever Hebrews refers to a heavenly land (11:16) or city (12:22), it does not mean that Hebrews envisions a location in heaven, but that it expresses the divine origin of the land; it is the promised land that is in view (327-328).

Buchanan provides a selective overview of Hebrews scholarship for the middle part of the twentieth century. At times his discussion seems to be idiosyncratic (such as his discussion of the Son of man question). While I do not buy into Buchanan’s contention that chapter 13 is not original to Hebrews, he may be right that it should not be included in a structural analysis of the book. I personally view chapters 1-12 as the sermon with chapter 13 being an epistolary postscript by the same author. Buchanan’s contention that the rest and the heavenly land and city envisioned in Hebrews do not refer to a heavenly reality is not persuasive to me. Hebrews elsewhere talks about the heavenly tabernacle and that Jesus has entered into the heavenly realm. The writer of Hebrews seems to believe that the heavenly reality is greater than the heavenly reality and I believe this conception also applies to his view of the promised rest and the land.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bullinger on Hebrews

I just discovered that Heinrich Bullinger's commentary on Hebrews is accessible on line:

Bullinger, Heinrich. In piam et eruditam Pauli ad Hebraeos epistolam Heinrychi Bullingeri commentarius. 1532.

The link has been added to the books page.

HT: Jim West

Friday, March 26, 2010

Newest Acquisition

Today I received in the mail a rather rare book, which I only recently discovered:

Abram H. Unruh and Heinrich (Henry) H. Janzen. Der ewige Sohn Gottes: Erbauliche Vorträge über Hebräer Kap. 1-6 und 10 : abgehalten auf der Bibelkonferenz zu Winnipeg am 27.-29. Dezember, 1947. [The eternal Son of God: edifying lectures on Hebrews chapter 1-6 and 10: the Bible Conference held at Winnipeg on 27-29 December 1947]

I find it curious that this Bible conference was held in Canada and published in Canada, yet it is published in German, and in the old Gothic script to boot. The publisher is the Mennonite Brethren Bible College. Unruh (pictured on the left) as its president for one year and professor of biblical studies for ten. Janzen served as its dean (1964-1948) and president (1948-1956).

Hebrews Research in the Early to Middle Twentieth Century

Hillmer, M. R. “Priesthood and Pilgrimage: Hebrews in Recent Research.” Theological Bulletin 5 (May 1969): 66-89.

Melvyn R. Hillmer is Principal and and Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. His 1966 Harvard Divinity School Th.D. dissertation was on “The Gospel of John in the Second Century.”

Hillmer sets out to survey Hebrews research since the appearance of Harris MacNeill’s monograph, The Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (1914). The essay focuses on four central themes of study: 1) the backgrounds of Hebrews and its literary relationship with other literature; 2) its interpretation of the Old Testament; 3) Christology; and 4) eschatology. Hillmer notes by general observation that a consensus seems to have emerged that Paul is not the author of Hebrews, but who the author is has been a matter of considerable conjecture, although Apollos seems to be the most heavily favored candidate (68). He also notes that the trend seems to be to view Hebrews more as a hortatory document than a theological one (68).

With regard to the backgrounds behind Hebrews, some scholars confidently assert Alexandrian Platonic influence (Moffatt; Scott), while others advocate for an orthodox Jewish background (Purdy; Burch). The relationship to Philo has received much attention; some scholars claim that Hebrews is heavily influenced by Philo (Spicq; Bristol; Montefiore), or at least Alexandrian Judaism (Cody), while others note the similarities between Hebrews and Philo but deny any direct influence (Michel; Käsemann; Koester). Some scholars see a direct connection between Hebrews and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Yadin; Kosmala), while others scholars reject any direct relationship (Coppens; Bruce). Hillmer (as does Bruce) concludes that the distinction between Judaism and Hellenism is a false dichotomy; Judaism was pervasively Hellenized, and this milieu provides the likely background for Hebrews. Some scholars have tried to make connections with Gnostic thought (Bornkamm; Manson; Käsemann), but as of this writing the study of the Nag Hammadi writings was in its infancy. (69-73)

With regard to the Old Testament, some earlier scholars assumed that Hebrews employs the same allegorical method as practiced by Philo (Moffatt; Scott; Kennedy). However, more recently, it is recognized that Hebrews utilizes a typological exegesis instead (73-74). This realization has led to fresh studies on Hebrews’ exegetical methods. For Caird, Hebrews regarded the old covenant as a foreshadowing of the good things to come, which finds its fulfillment in the new covenant inaugurated by Christ. Four themes in Hebrews find their basis in prototypes in the Old Testament: the doctrine of humanity, the promise of rest, the priesthood, and the sacrificial ordinances (74). Markus Barth studied the hermeneutical principles of Hebrews’ use of the Old Testament, which he argued was based more on pastoral concerns, rather than academic interests (75). Synge contends that Hebrews made use of a Testimony Book which already contained a selection of scriptural passages. He also sees a promise-fulfillment scenario in the book, with Jesus being the Fulfiller of the Scriptures. His thesis was rejected by Grässer and Koester (75).

There is a general consensus that Christology is at the heart of Hebrews’ message. However, there is no universal agreement about the underlying influence on the author’s Christology. Moffatt locates its origin in Hellenistic thought, while Käsemann sees connections with Gnostic ideas such as the “Redeemed redeemer” and the heavenly Anthropos. Manson, by contrast, sees the basis of Hebrews’ Christology beginning in “the Messianic terminology of Palestinian Judaism and then taking the vocabulary of the Jewish-Alexandrian school of Wisdom-theology” (78). While Hebrews employs a variety of expressions to refer to Jesus, it is clear that the high priesthood of Christ is the predominant christological conception. Some scholars find this idea as a development from Old Testament expressions (Nairne; Cullmann). Some scholars have attempted to find correlations with Qumran texts (Yadin; Kosmala), and in particular, those dealing with Melchizedek, while others have denied any association (Higgins). Hillmer suggests that the similarity in terminology indicates common traditions of a messianic high priest underlying Hebrews and other Jewish literature. At the same time, though, Hebrews has utilized these traditions in an original manner. (79-80)

There is also a revived interest in the eschatology of Hebrews which is replete with eschatological references (e.g., 2:3; 6:2; 9:28; 10:25-30; 12:27-29). Scott and Moffatt believe that the eschatological references derive from apocalyptic traditions and are inconsistent with the rest of the thought-world of Hebrews. Barrett, on the other hand, sees Hebrews as thoroughly and consistently eschatological in its orientation and this is acknowledged by other writers as well. Héring proposes that Hebrews evinces a combination of biblical eschatology and Platonic idealism. Carlston claims that there is an emphasis on realized eschatology in the book, while Dahl says that realized eschatology is experienced by the Christian through prayer and worship. (80-83)

In conclusion, Hillmer notes that the trend in recent years (that is the five or six decades leading up to 1969) has moved from viewing the book as primarily influenced by Alexandrian thought to seeing greater connections with Judaism and closer affinities with other early Christian writings. This trend has also led to a more positive evaluation of the book for modern readers. (83-84)

While Hillmer’s article is now over forty years old, it is still worth reading to get an overview of the trends in Hebrews research in the early to middle years of the twentieth century.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stewart Custer's Annotated Bibliography

This begins a series of posts on works on the History of Interpretation of Hebrews.
Custer, Stewart. “Annotated Bibliography on Hebrews.” Biblical Viewpoint 2 (1968): 52-68.
From the Logos Bible Software website: “Stewart Custer received a B.A. and M.A. in Bible and a Ph.D. in Greek text from Bob Jones University. He began teaching at BJU in 1955 as a graduate assistant in Greek. Besides teaching Biblical Theology, Methods of Bible Exposition, and advanced Greek courses at BJU, Custer was the director of the university’s planetarium and produced programs for public viewing. He was chairman of the Division of Bible and editor of Biblical Viewpoint, the journal of BJU’s School of Religion, until his retirement. Dr. Custer has been in demand as an expository preacher, visiting many churches to present a series of expositions on a single book of Scripture or to speak on specific topics such as the fallacies of evolution or the inspiration of the Bible. He currently serves as the pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Greer, SC.”
This article contains a selective annotated bibliography on commentaries and other works on Hebrews that the author deems beneficial to the pastor. The 64 titles listed are classified under three headings: Conservative Commentaries, Critical Commentaries, and Other Works on Hebrews. He deals with both popular and scholarly treatments. Custer provides a brief paragraph highlighting the characteristics of each work. He places an asterisk beside titles that considers will be most useful for the pastor. The interpretive cruxes by which he analyzes each work appear to be 1:8; 4:12; 9:4; and especially 6:1-6. He is particularly concerned to highlight each author’s perspective on the deity of Christ. He often indicates an author’s view on the authorship and/or dating of Hebrews.
Naturally, the author’s comments are from a very conservative perspective. While the bibliography is now quite dated, it is useful for getting a rather thorough overview of works prior to 1968.

New Books and Articles Added

The following books have recently been added:

Egerton, Harriet Catherine (countess of Ellesmere)
. Questions on St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, with Practical and Explanatory Observations Suited to the Capacity of Children: Upon the Plan of Mr. Fuller's Scripture Examiner. 1837.

Johann August. Lectiones academicae in Epistolam Pauli ad Hebraeos. 1790.

Christian Friedrich. Observationes super epistolae ad Hebraeos historicae, criticae, theologicae. 1766.

The following articles have just been added:

Bacon, Benjamin W. "The Doctrine of Faith in Hebrews, James, and Clement of Rome." Journal of Biblical Literature 19.1 (1900): 12-21.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. "First Clement Called Forth by Hebrews." Journal of Biblical Literature 30.2 (1911): 157-60.

Torrey, Charles C. "The Authorship and Character of the So-Called 'Epistle to the Hebrews.'" Journal of Biblical Literature 30.2 (1911): 137-56.

MacLeod, David J. "Christ, the Believer's High Priest: An Exposition of Hebrews 7:26-28." Bibliotheca sacra 162 (2005): 331-43. [This links directly to a PDF file]

HT: Rob Bradshaw

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hebrews at the ETS Regional Meetings

There are a few papers that have been delivered at the regional meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society. The following are what I have been able to find. Not all of the regional sites posted programs for the meetings. If you know of other papers on Hebrews, please let me know.

Midwest Regional Meeting, March 19-20

Bryan Dyer of McMaster Divinity College
"'A Great Conflict Full of Suffering': An Analysis of Suffering in the Epistle to the Hebrews in Light of Feminist Concerns"

Southeastern Regional Meeting, March 19-20

Joseph Greene of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest
"The 'Eternal Spirit' of Hebrews 9:14"

Alan Knox of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest
"A Theology of Encouragement in Hebrews"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

OT Priesthood Fulfilled in the NT

Milligan, W. “Idea of Old Testament Priesthood Fulfilled in the New Testament.” Expositor. Third Series, 8 (1888): 161-80.

William Milligan (1821-1893), the eldest son of George Milligan, was a Scottish theologian who was professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Aberdeen from 1860 until his death. He wrote The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord which was based on the 1891 Baird Lectures delivered at Aberdeen. The book deals largely with the book of Hebrews.

As indicated in the title, Milligan argues that the institution of the Old Testament priesthood finds its fulfillment in the New Testament, principally in Christ Himself and in His Body, the Church. Generally speaking, many of the ordinances and institutions (e.g., Law, Passover, Sabbath, Pentecost, Day of Atonement, Sabbatical Year, Jubilees, Tabernacle ) of the OT find their fulfillment in Christ and the Church.

The priesthood, first of all, is fulfilled in Christ Himself. What Hebrews says about Christ as High Priest is also true of Him as Priest, for the former is simply the culmination of the latter (169). Christ possesses the two general qualifications of the priesthood. First, He was appointed to the office by God Himself (5:5). Second, He can bear gently with the ignorant and erring (5:7-9). He also fulfilled the personal qualifications of a priest. He was the possession of God and one who could approach God nearer than anyone else (171). He was free from personal defect and uncleanness, holy (without sin), and was consecrated to the office (171-172). He fulfills the purpose of the priesthood, for it is through Him that we can draw near to God (173).

The priesthood is also fulfilled in His Church as a whole, the visible Body of Christ (174-175). Whatever is characteristic of the Head should also characterize the Body. First, the Church is called of God; it an elect body duty bound to worship God (177-178). Second, the Church should have sympathy and compassion for suffering humanity (178). The Church’s qualifications are that she is God’s possession, free from all uncleanness, holy, and consecrated to God’s service by the indwelling Spirit (179).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dale Martin Lecture

Dale Martin's Lecture - Interpreting Scripture: Hebrews (Introduction to the New Testament Course at Yale)

Rod Decker Lectures

Rod Decker has posted his lectures on Hebrews that he gave at the Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis.

I would like to post a multimedia page with links to videos and recordings related to the Book of Hebrews. This is a good place to start. If you know of any others that I can link to, let me know.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Features

You may notice a couple of new features to this blog. First I have added tabbed pages across the top for easier access to resources on Hebrews. Other resource links are still listed in the side bar. Also I have added a search engine feature. Hopefully, this will make the site more useful.

On a different note, I have recently added 7 new books (by Laune, Harms, Holtzheuer, Harttmann, Kohlbrugge, Parrot, and Schultetus) to the electronic books page.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dual and Dueling Blog Sites!

With the uncertainty of what is going to happen to blogger sites, I decided to set up a dual blog site on I am still learning Wordpress, so I haven't got it set up just like I want it, but one of the coolest features is the ability to create tabbed pages at the top. This will allow me to update resource pages much easier, rather than search through old blog posts. New site:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Christ as Creator

Michael Bird has a brief review of Sean M. McDonough, Christ as Creator: Origins of a New Testament Doctrine, (Oxford, 2010) and an interview with the author. The book has a chapter on Hebrews entitled, "'In the Beginning, Lord . . .': The Contribution of Hebrews." The price on the book is outrageous though. I will be checking it out of the library . . .

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hebrews at SBL Regional Meetings 2010

As I prepare to give my paper at the regional meeting next weekend, I wanted to highlight other papers on Hebrews at the SBL regional meetings. This is what I was able to find. Two of the regional meetings did not post a program on their websites. If you know of any others that I have not listed, please let me know.

Midwest Region

February 12-14
Valparaiso University in Indiana

Jeffry B. Gibson
"The Jewish War and the Sitz im Leben of the Epistle to the Hebrews"

Plus there was a session reviewing:
Eric F. Mason, "You Are a Priest Forever": Second Temple Jewish Messianism and the Priestly Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Brill, 2008).

March 5-7
Atlanta Marriott Century Center

Joshua Vis, Duke University
"The Sacrificial System of Leviticus in the Book of Hebrews"

March 13-14
The Marriott Hotel - DFW Airport North

Brian Small, Baylor University
"Scripture as Prosopopoeia in Hebrews."

Jason Whitlark, Baylor University
"The Eternal City and Its King: Roman Imperial Discourse and Hebrews."

D. Jeffrey Bingham, Dallas Theological Seminary
"Irenaeus and Hebrews."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lukan Authorship of Hebrews

I see Broadman & Holman is starting to advertise David Allen's upcoming book, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, which is due out in June. The blurb from the website:

"A new volume in the NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY STUDIES IN BIBLE AND THEOLOGY series, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews explains why Luke is the likely author of the book of Hebrews. The ramifications of this possibility are then detailed in depth, including the way Hebrews informs the interpretation of the books of Luke and Acts. Also present throughout is commentary author David L. Allen’s thorough analysis of the writing style similarities between Hebrews, Luke, and Acts."

And the bio:

"David Allen is dean of the School of Theology, professor of Preaching, and director of the Center of Biblical Preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds degrees from Criswell College (B.A.), SWBTS (M.Div.), and the University of Texas at Arlington (Ph.D.)."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Arrival

I just received in the mail today a reprint of:

Friedrich Büchsel, Christologie des Hebraerbriefs.

The book was originally published in 1922 and is extremely hard to find, so I am glad that this reprint has been made available at a relatively inexpensive price. It is a small book--only 74 pages. The chapter titles are:

The Son of God
The Historical Jesus
The High Priest

Büchsel was professor at the University of Rostock beginning in 1918.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hebrews Carnival February 2010 - Part 2

February has been a busy month for the book of Hebrews. Part 1 has already been posted.

Ken Schenck starts off the second half of the month by distilling Hebrews 1-4 into bullet points.

Schenck also claims that Hebrews reflects Perfect Arminianism. I tend to agree with him. :-)

Clifford Kvidahl notes the semantic links between The First Warning Passage in Hebrews 2:1-4 and chapter 1.

Kvidahl then offers a Meditation on Auctor's Christological Use of Psalm 8 in Hebrews 2.

Andy Naselli announces the impending availability of Peter O'Brien's Commentary on Hebrews. He links to a 77 page PDF file that gives a sampling of the commentary. Michael Bird muses briefly on O'Brien's commentary.