The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Dec 18, 2014

Resources for Studying and Teaching the Epistle to the Hebrews

Updated 1/13/15, some corrections made
During my doctoral studies, I had the privilege of taking the Epistle to the Hebrews with George Guthrie from Union University (Jackson, Tennessee). How I have the fantastic experience of going through a directed study with one of the seminary students here at BCM. So, what am I requiring him to read and what should you, dear reader, give heed to for serious study of this great epistle written by Apollos . . . I mean "nobody knows," though my good Doktorvater can make a persuasive argument for Pauline authorship--yes, there is still a remnant! :)

Anyways, at this point in time, it seems the near unanimous consensus of conservative scholars is that Peter O'Brian's Pillar NT commentary on Hebrews is currently the cat's meow, i.e. the best! And so far I've been fairly impressed--so if you have limited funds and can only afford one commentary, this may be your best bet.

However, I'm also partial to my teacher, Dr. Guthrie's own NIV Application Commentary (don't let the series title irk you; this is one of the rare commentary series that actually cares about the spiritual well-being of the reader/student). In addition, F. F. Bruce in the NICNT is considered a classic. Also worth mentioning is Donald Guthrie in the always-accessible Tyndale series. Another notable within conservative scholarship would be David Allen in the NAC series (though I can't speak for this particular commentary, I have a very high open of the NAC series in general--however, one colleague at BCM told me that he felt Allen's discussion of possible Lukan authorship was very persuasive).

For more rigorous study, the three top critical/technical commentaries are (in my opinion): William Lane (WBC), Harold Attridge (Hermeneia), and, for the truly adventurous, Ceslas Spicq's two-volume French commentary.

By the way, I'm requiring my student to read all of O'Brian's, as well as some of Lane's and George Guthrie's commentaries, In addition, my student was asked to do a book review on one of these three worthy monographs: George Guthrie on The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis, L. D. Hurst, The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its Background and Thought, or David Allan's Lukan Authorship of Hebrews. (He chose Allan on Lukan Authorship; looking forward to seeing what he has to write).

Here are some other worthy monographs: David Alan Black, The Authorship of Hebrews [if you want to read a defense of Pauline authorship, you'll have to read either my Doktorvater or Eta Linnemann; but there is still a remnant!]; Albert Vanhoye, La Structure Littéraire de L'épître aux Hébreaux [note: this is an extremely influential text!]; and David DeSilva's The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective, which I am currently reading. A book that I would like to get some day is Amy L. B. Peeler's You Are My Son: The Family of God in the Epistle to the Hebrews (currently 100 dollars on Amazon!)

As for articles (many of which are available for free online), I am having my student read the following: 
1. George H. Guthrie, "Hebrews in Its First-Century Contexts: Recent Research," pages 414-443 in The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research (ed. Scot McKnight and Grant R. Osborne; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2004)--this essay gives you a good grasp of the history of scholarship in Hebrews. 
2. David Alan Black, "Literary Artistry in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Filologia Neotestamentaria 7 (1994) and David Alan Black, "The Problem of the Literary Structure of Hebrews: An Evaluation and a Proposal," Grace Theological Journal 7 (1986)
3. Harold W. Attridge, "'Let us Strive to Enter That Rest': The Logic of Hebrews 4:1-11," Harvard Theological Review 73 (Jan-April 1980) 
I felt those give my student a decent overview on the various issues involved in the study of the Epistle (and we have barely touched the warning passages yet! Speaking of which, you should be aware of the book Four Views on the Warning Passages of Hebrews, put out by Kregel and edited by Herbert Bateman IV).

This is barely scratching the surface of all the fantastic material out there on a fantastic epistle/homily! And, as a bonus, there's a brand new article coming out in the next JETS by Craig Allen Hill entitled "The Use of Perfection Language in Hebrews 5:14 and 6:1 and the Contextual Interpretation of 5:11-6:3." Looking forward to reading it.

Dec 4, 2014

The Original Languages: Primary Everywhere Except your Local Congregation (or: Some Odd Advice From a Biblical Languages Instructor)

I initially wanted to entitle this post "Take your Greek and Hebrew to Chapel, but not to Church," but that would not accurately reflect what I'm trying to say (I don't actually have a problem with anybody taking their Greek or Hebrew to church). Furthermore, let me just emphasize that Scripture in the original languages, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, is THE final authority, and no translation (no matter what language) has any right to equal authority (though naturally all translations have authority in the believer's life to the extent that they accurately reflect the meaning of the originals).

Furthermore, I have encouraged my Biblical Hebrew students to incorporate their Hebrew into their own personal daily study of Scripture (currently I'm trying to incorporate reading from Greek, Hebrew, English, and German Scriptures into my own study).

Here, however, is my point: the seminary student, within the local congregation, should be available to minister and serve alongside his or her brothers and sisters, and this is most easily done with a Bible in the same language as everybody else. You never know when you'll be called on for public reading of Scripture, or to council, etc. If you're in a Spanish-speaking church, and you can read Spanish, then bring a Spanish Bible and use it primarily. If you're in a South Korean church, bring a Korean Bible (to the extent that you can use it). If I were to visit Japan again, I would take my Japanese Bible and use it primarily anytime I was with Japanese believers. In other words, in that circumstance, the Japanese would trump the Greek and Hebrew, simply because I want to be a blessing to others. Naturally the Greek and Hebrew may be alongside, and I can refer to it as necessary, but I'll read from the Japanese.

We see this principle in the New Testament itself. When quoting the Scriptures, what did the Apostles and other divinely inspired authors use? The Septuagint, the version most likely available to the audience! Some exceptions exist (I'm convinced at one point Peter corrects the LXX to better reflect the Hebrew), but that's a story for another time.

Here's my point: when you are studying Scripture with others, in order to be a better blessing, be willing to read from the same language as them (and long-term missionaries--there is no excuse for not reading out of the Scriptures in the native language if you've been there a few years; may I just brag a bit on my doctoral adviser, mentioning that he's capable of reading Scripture out of what seems like a gajillion foreign languages, and his place of residence is still Virginia?).

Now, some people could translate on the fly, so I'm not necessarily talking to them; if you're called on to read Scripture publicly and it's not obvious that you have a different language in front of you, then this probably does not apply. This post is mostly directed as seminary students.

This is one of those bizarre posts that is less a resource for other Christians and more my own weird opinion. Just a thought, though; be willing to worship and read Scripture with other believers in their own language--take your Greek and Hebrew (they are the final authority for doctrine, after all), but don't be afraid to read along in the plain old English, Japanese, or Spanish!