Introducing Hebrews

This week the Adult Bible Study Guide begins a new quarter-long focus on the biblical book of Hebrews. Or epistle. Actually, it might be most correct, and pedagogically helpful, to refer to it as a sermon, perhaps Christianity's best early homily. The ABSG states:  


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11573
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In my understanding of the book of Hebrews, I never found Paul discussing about the day of atonement or the investigative judgment. According to him they (the ceremonial rites of the sanctuary) are all past events, ended with the cross. He locates ministry of Jesus in the MOST HOLY, starting in A.D. 31, not 1844. If Adventists were to admit this, the church will cease to exist. He also says that in these last days God speaks through his Son, not through the testimonies of Ellen White.

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Quote from Zondervan Academic: "An even more persuasive argument that the apostle Paul was not the author of Hebrews is the way the author alludes to himself in Hebrews 2:3, stating that the gospel was confirmed “to us” by those who heard the Lord announce salvation. … "

It is not beyond possibility that the gospel story was indeed “confirmed to” Paul (part of the “us” above) by mere mortals as described by Hebrews 2:3. Both Stephen (at his stoning, Ref Acts 7) and Ananias in Damascus (Acts 9) may well have been in Paul’s thinking when he or his amanuensis penned those words. The confirmation of Paul’s calling as an evangelist, especially to the gentiles, it is suggested, is that to which the testimony of Galations 1:1, and verse11 alludes.

Clearly Paul’s attention was caught on the Damascus Rd. It is also suggested strongly, that Stephen’s bearing and witness undoubtedly was indelibly imprinted on the hearts and minds all the witnesses especially those seeking for truth, among whom was Paul (aka Saul).

I have a very simple question. Why can’t I begin to study a sermon, which the book of Hebrews is, by its introduction like any reader would do? We begin with chapter 2, then chapter 13 , then chapter 3 in lesson 1, and then chapter 1 in lesson 2, but not the introduction, we have to wait till lesson 3 to read Hebrews 1:1-4.

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Quote: ‘A text without a context is the pretext for a proof text.’

For many an understanding of the context in which the message was written, provides for greater and more meaningful understanding of the message.

Example: What does the counsel of the author of Hebrews, ’ Remember the prisoners as if chained with them’ (Heb 13:3) have to do with the overall message of Christ’s saving grace and gift of salvation for believers eclipsing the Levitical rites and sacrifices?

That makes so much sense!

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I don’t think these points in question will be given attention then, as they are not considered in the lesson.

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If you don’t think Paul wrote this book, you might check Heb 13:23-25. It is pretty clear that either Paul wrote the book, or he added these texts to the end of it. But even more important is the fact that if you believe the bible is inspired, that God would not have allowed something in the book that contradicted His wishes. Take your pick.

The point of my original post was to cast doubt on the Zondervan claim by pointing out that Paul may well have been the author of Hebrews.

For those interested, the following are the dot points, in no particular order, I proposed to my SS Class Sabbath, Jan 1, 2022:

PAUL AS AUTHOR

  • Tradition: earliest manuscripts have Hebrews placed within the Pauline letters, immediately after Romans, hence attributing them to Paul
  • Mention of Timothy in the Heb 13:23
  • Hebrews concludes in a similar manner to most if not all other letters of Paul, ie, with personal greetings to some, general greetings to others, general counsel to “the church,” and
  • A benedictory prayerful blessing to the hearers, so similar to the usual style of Paul
  • The sermon/letter is essentially a treatise and comparison between the Jewish sacrificial system and how Christ’s sacrifice far exceeded in value and benefit, the offerings of bulls and other animals. Paul, a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee and a student of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) would have intimate, inculcated understanding of such a system and would have been able to explain to both Jew and gentile, as Hebrews does, how the types met their fulfillment in the great antitype of Christ.
  • Internal evidence (Heb 2:3) suggests strongly that the letter was written quite some time after Christ’s ascension, indeed during a time when many (maybe all) of the original 12 disciples had moved off the scene AND the set. Paul makes a point in Galatians (1:1 & 11, 12) of explaining that he didn’t get his understanding of Christ’s ministry from the 12, nor from hearing the teachings and witnessing of Christ in person, ie, the mission of Christ. He heard the message first from Stephen and then from Ananias, before going into Arabia to receive His 2nd personal interview with the Christ.
  • Historic circumstantial evidence seems to place the time of writing/preaching of the subject matter of Hebrews during the time/s when the Christians were suffering persecution and this persecution in known to Paul (see Heb 13:3)
  • Heb 13 23 infers that Paul is known to his audience
  • Heb 13 24 sends greetings to the Hebrew believers on behalf of those believers in Italy, a location in which Paul likely finds himself at the time of writing
  • SS quarterley’s teachers’ helps asserts that EGW identifies Paul as the author (This assertion has been confirmed by me. See Youth’s Instructor June 30, 1892, Sons & Daughters of God p24 Jan 18, Medical Ministry p23) also
  • An interesting comment within the SDABC re the authorship suggests the possibility that Luke, Paul’s amanuensis, took notes during Paul’s sermons and when the need arose, prepared from his notes, the sermon to the Hebrew believers on behalf of Paul. Rationale for such thinking revolves around the apparent significant writing style differences between Paul’s other dictated letters and the original text of Hebrews. (See SDABC7 p387,388, Further insights into Hebrews context can be found in SDABC6 p106,107 )

Not presented to my SS class was information re a Ministry Magazine article back in April 1967 by a Felix A Lorenz that concludes essentially, that the author may never be known this side of eternity.

The very recipients of the book speak against Pauline authorship…to the Hebrews. Paul was apostle to the Gentiles, to whom many of his letters were addressed, and his letters to them were sent to destinations in the empire, not to Jerusalem.

The Lukan connection is far too circumstantial and conjectural. Dissimilarity of writing style between Hebrews and Paul’s other letters simply suggests different authorship. The mention of Timothy says little, Timothy being known amongst other potential writers within his orbit. EGW also postulates a 6,000 year old earth. She is not the last word on biblical interpretation.

The greeting in chapter 13 makes no sense as a Pauline identification. He was viewed with suspicion in Jerusalem, the likely location of the recipients considering the focus on temple services and priesthood. Paul served no congregations there, and was actually viewed with suspicion by the Jewish Christians there for his radical views on the role of the Torah.

Finally, Hebrews contains no positive self identification of Paul in its opening. This is unlike every other authentic Pauline letter in the NT.

Frank

Because the ASSQ is all about indoctrination, and not doing true contextual reading and study of biblical books. The quarterly looks to make theological points keeping with Adventist teaching, not contextual ones that arise from the text.

Frank

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I appreciated the link to The Bible Project. It’s a wonderful resource.

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