The Better Resurrection (Heb. 11: 35): A Key to the Structure and Rhetorical Purpose of Hebrews 11, GL Cockerill

Tags: resurrection, the resurrection, Abraham, central section, Hebrews 11, verse, section, sinful world, author of Hebrews, vv, the second coming of Christ, parallel verses, Moses, God of Abraham, verses, future resurrection, the resurrection of Christ, direct object, Michael R. Cosby, Gareth Lee Cockerill, God's presence
Content: Tyndale Bulletin 51.2 (2000) 215-234. THE BETTER RESURRECTION (HEB. 11:35): A KEY TO THE STRUCTURE AND RHETORICAL PURPOSE OF HEBREWS 11 Gareth Lee Cockerill Summary This study demonstrates through a detailed study of Hebrews 11 that references to future resurrection (11:17-19 and 11:35) are of foundational importance to the structure and logic of the argument of the chapter, and thus to the faith encouraged by the author in this chapter. This further suggests that the common assumption that the resurrection of Christ was of no importance to the author of Hebrews is mistaken. I. Introduction It might be thought that a study of the resurrection in Hebrews was like looking for water in a desert, or a needle in the haystack. After all, the writer of Hebrews makes explicit mention of Christ's resurrection only once, and that occurs only in the closing benediction of Hebrews 13:20.1 Nevertheless, he does speak of the resurrection of the dead on three occasions (6:2, 11:17-19 and 11:35). While, in the first of these references resurrection is relegated to the elementary teaching beyond which the readers must progress, the next two references occur in Hebrews 11, the `role call of the faithful'. It will be argued in this paper that these two references to resurrection are central to the structure and argument of the chapter, and thus that resurrection faith is at the heart of our author's concerns. The generally perceived paucity of reference to either Christ's resurrection or the resurrection of believers may be partially explained 1 On the integrity of Chapter 13 see William L. Lane, Hebrews 9-13 (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, 1991), pp. 495-99.
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by the way in which Old Testament imagery has shaped the thought of Hebrews. The high priest's entrance into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement is the pattern for Christ's High Priestly entrance into God's presence (9:1-14). After making purification for sin, Christ our High Priest enters the presence of God and sits down at God's right hand from which position of authority He is able to mediate the benefits of His work to the faithful (1:3, 2:17-18; 4:14-5:10; 7:26-28; 8:1, 10:11-14). Hebrew's Christology thus features the themes of atonement, entrance, and session.2 The experience of the faithful parallels that of Christ. After receiving the purification that Christ makes available they too enter the presence of God in the heavenly Most Holy Place (4:14-16; 10:19-22). Another Old Testament picture prominent in Hebrews is that of entrance into the Promised Land (3:7-4:11; 11:1-31). Christ is the Pioneer (2:10) who brings God's people into the heavenly Promised Land of God's presence (4:1-11; 11:1-31; 39-40). God's people enter now through prayer and worship (4:14-16; 12:18-24), but they also await that final eschatological entrance into the heavenly homeland (9:24-28; 11:13-16; 12:25-29). Thus the primary imagery used for both Christ and believers features entrance into the heavenly presence of God. This imagery of entrance into God's presence clearly affirms a state of future blessedness for the faithful, without necessarily implying the agency of bodily resurrection.
II. The Rhetoric of Hebrews 11 Earlier studies emphasised the distinct literary character of Hebrews 11:1-40 and often argued that the writer had made use of a Jewish or Jewish-Christian example list when writing this chapter.3 Michael 2 This focus on the session of Christ at God's right hand has been made possible by the universally acknowledged prominence of Ps. 110:1 in Hebrews. For an extreme position see George Wesley Buchanan, To the Hebrews (New York: Doubleday, 1972), p. 21. 3 Hans Windisch, Der Hebrдerbrief (Tьbingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1931), pp. 98-99; Otto Michel, Der Brief an die Hebrдer (Gцttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975), pp. 371, 422-23; Gottfried Schille, `Katechese und Taufliturgie: Erwдgungen zu Hebrдerbrief 11,' ZNW 51 (1960), 112-31. Despite the distinct stylistic features of Heb. 11:1-40, this chapter is internally integrated and tightly embedded within its context. See Hans-Friedrich Weiss, Der Brief an die Hebrдer (Gцttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991), pp. 553-54. Vanhoye's claim that the unity of 11:1-40 is the most incontestable of any section in Hebrews is reinforced by Cosby's careful rhetorical analysis of this chapter. See Albert Vanhoye, La Structure Littйraire de l'Йpоtre aux Hйbreux (Paris: Desclйe de
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Cosby has studied Hebrews 11 within the context of rhetoric and the use of example lists in antiquity. His work has demonstrated that the author of Hebrews was following the custom, found elsewhere in ancient literature, of using an example list to encourage a particular kind of behaviour.4 Such lists show characteristics of epideictic rhetoric in their praise of past heroes and of deliberative rhetoric in that they seek to persuade their hearers to emulate those heroes. Cosby has shown the skilful way in which the writer used literary devices and arrangement of material to effect his purpose. Nevertheless, Cosby does not find sufficient similarity among ancient example lists to sustain a distinct example-list literary form.5 Thus, there appears to be little value in attempting further refinement by comparison with other ancient lists. Rather, attention must be given to the way in which the writer arranges his examples to obtain the end he desires. Alan Bulley has pursued this line of inquiry in his study entitled `Death and Rhetoric in the Hebrews "Hymn to Faith"'.6 His analysis of the author's arrangement and use of examples in this chapter shows that Hebrews 11:1-40 is epideictic rhetoric in praise of the elders with the deliberative purpose of encouraging faithful action in the face of suffering and death.7 In what follows we shall argue that the author of Hebrews has arranged his material in such a way as to highlight the importance of the two references to the resurrection in chapter 11--verses 17-19 and
Brouwer, 1976), p. 183; Michael R. Cosby, The Rhetorical Composition and Function of Hebrews 11 in Light of Example Lists in Antiquity (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1988), pp. 88-89; cf. Buchanan, Hebrews, p. 104. Vanhoye has also shown the way in which 11:1-40 is integrated into its context by demonstrating that the themes of faith and endurance are announced in 10:36-39 and then developed, respectively, in 11:1-40 and 12:1-13, Structure and Message of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Rome: Editrice Pontifico Instituto Biblico, 1989), pp. 29-30. 4 M.R. Cosby, The Rhetorical Composition and Function of Hebrews 11 in Light of Example Lists in Antiquity (see previous note); also Cosby, `The Rhetorical Composition of Hebrews 11', JBL 107 (1988), 257-73. 5 `The number of example lists of famous people in the literature of antiquity that have been cited as parallels to Hebrews 11 is actually quite modest, and they are of sufficiently different composition and function that it is doubtful that their authors were following a set pattern when composing them', Cosby, Rhetorical Composition, p. 12. 6 A.D. Bulley, in Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 25 (1996), 409-423. 7 Bulley, `Death and Rhetoric', p. 410.
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35. Further, this study will argue that verse 35 is central to the examples of faith in verses 32-38, and that verses 17-19 are likewise central to the examples of verses 3-31. The examples of verses 3-31 prepare for those of verses 32-38, and resurrection faith in verses 1719 prepares for that of verse 35. Thus, at its very core the faith that the examples of this chapter exemplify is a faith in the resurrection of the dead. This suggests that faith in a future resurrection is the means by which believers will be able to triumph over the suffering and death that are their expected lot in this present sinful and therefore antagonistic world. In order to demonstrate these things we shall begin with an overview of Hebrews 11:1-40.
III. An Overview of Hebrews 11 In this chapter the writer seeks to strengthen the faith of the hearers by describing the history of God's faithful people from creation until the coming of Jesus. Their lives demonstrate the nature of that faith by which the just will obtain life (according to Hab. 2:4 quoted in Heb 10:38a). The recipients of Hebrews have already demonstrated this kind of faith (10:32-36), but the writer is concerned that they persevere in it (10:39). Hebrews 11 may be divided into an introduction (vv. 1-2), two major sections (vv. 3-31 and 32-38), and a conclusion (vv. 39-40).8 Each example of faith given in vv. 3-31 begins with an instrumental pivstei (by faith). These verses cover the history of God's faithful from creation (v. 3) and the faith of Abel (v. 4) to the fall of Jericho and the faith of Rahab (vv. 30-31). Verses 3-31 can be further divided into three smaller sections-- verses 3-7, 8-22, and 23-31.9 Verses 3-7 give examples of faith from 8 The divisions of Heb. 11 proposed in this overview are those followed by Cosby, `The Rhetorical Composition of Hebrews 11', pp. 257-73; Bulley, `Death and Rhetoric', pp. 410-12; Samuel Benetreau, L'Йpitre aux Hйbreux (CEB 2; Vaux-sur-seine: йdifac, 1990), p. 132; and Harold W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989), p. 307. Vanhoye, La Structure Littйraire, pp. 183-95, and Lane, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 320-23, advocate the same divisions except that they do not formally separate vv. 1-2 as an introduction. Paul Ellingworth argues correctly for the introductory nature of vv. 1-2, which provide the basic perspective on faith which underlies this chapter, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), p. 561. 9 Ellingworth divides vv. 3-31 into 3-12, 13-16, and 17-31 (Hebrews, p. 561). This division, however, is too heavily dependent on the anaphoric repetition of in vv. 3-12, 17-31 and is not sensitive enough to content. George H. Guthrie agrees with Ellingworth, except he begins this section with v. 4, Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), p. 373. Guthrie gives no internal analysis of the
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the primal history (Gn. 1-11), verses 8-22 from the period of Abraham and the patriarchs (Gn. 12-50), and verses 23-31 from the period of Moses through the conquest (Exodus--Joshua). There is a dramatic change of style in verses 32-38.10 In these verses the writer describes the people of faith from the time of the judges to the coming of Jesus with the terseness and rapidity of a telegraph operator and with the breathlessness of one who does `not have time to tell' (v. 32). All of the examples are compacted under one dia; pivstew" (v. 33) and one general, open-ended list of names (v. 32). Plural verbs give the impression that many people performed each act of faith. Brevity allows the author to pack many different acts of faith into a small compass. Thus these are typical acts of faith, performed by many people. In these verses the writer paints a picture of a vast host of faithful people demonstrating their faith by a great number and diversity of acts of faith.11 Since verse 35, at the heart of this climactic passage, is the clearest reference to the future resurrection of the faithful in this chapter, it is reasonable to begin our investigation with verses 32-38. From there we shall return to trace the theme of resurrection faith through the chapter as a whole.
structure of Heb. 11:1-40 in his very helpful book on the structure of Hebrews, The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis (NovTSS LXXIII; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994; reprinted: Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998). 10 Ellingworth is correct in arguing that vv. 39-40 are best separated from vv. 3238 (see previous footnote). Vv. 39-40 bring conclusion to vv. 32-38, but they also conclude the whole chapter. The `these' () in v. 40 refers to all the examples of faith in vv. 1-38. Vv. 39-40 also integrate Heb. 11:1-38 with what has been said about the work of Christ in the central section of Hebrews. It is the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ through which `they' and `we' are `made perfect' (, v. 40), through a `decisive purging of sin' and consecration `to the service of God', Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 393. 11 `Clearly, the impression the rhetor wishes to leave with his audience is that there exists an inexhaustible supply of examples of faith and faithfulness to God in their spiritual heritage', Bulley, `Death and Rhetoric', p. 412. `In this light, the list serves not only to provide models form the past, but to leave the audience with the distinct impression that they stand at the peak of salvation history: all of the lives of the faithful have been building up to this moment', Bulley, `Death and Rhetoric', p. 413.
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IV. Hebrews 11:32-38--`A Better Resurrection'
Clearly verse 35 is structurally and conceptually the turning point of this passage. Verse 32 is introductory, and is followed, in verses 3334, by a catalogue of those who triumphed by faith. This catalogue finds its climax in 35a: `Women received back their dead, raised to life again.' Verse 35b, `Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection', begins the corresponding catalogue of those who suffered by faith, found in verses 36-38.12 The first catalogue, and the entire section, begins with the phrase . The turning point comes in verse 35b with . The second catalogue continues in 36a with . We might translate ... as `others . . . and still others.' By progressing from to the writer emphasises that those in this second catalogue are different in kind--they experienced temporal suffering, not temporal triumph. The first catalogue (vv. 33-35a) consists of nine aorist indicative statements culminating in a tenth statement in verse 35a. These nine statements naturally divide into three sets of three:13 three verbs followed by direct objects (v. 33abc); three verbs followed by direct objects with genitive qualifiers (vv. 33d, 34ab); two deponent verbs followed by a third statement in which the direct object is put first (v. 34cde). There is conceptual as well as structural difference between each of these sets of three. The second set (vv. 33d, 34ab) clearly refers to escape from death; the third (v. 34cde), to military victory. The first (v. 33abc) seems to refer to political success. The inner coherence of the third set is clear. These people `became strong out of weakness' and `became powerful in battle' so that they were enabled to rout `foreign armies'. The word `armies' is put first
12 Spicq and Lane correctly divide this passage into vv. 32-35a and 35b-38, see C. Spicq, L'Йpitre aux Hйbreux (Paris: J. Gabalda, 1953) vol. 2, p. 362; Lane, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 382-90. Attridge and Lane both note the introductory character of v. 32, but Attridge misses the division between v. 35a and 35b, he also divides vv. 35-36 and vv. 37-38 into two sections (Attridge, Hebrews, p. 347). Herbert Braun says, `V 33-35s Taten, V 35b-38 Leiden durch Glauben', An die Hebrдer (HNT 14; Tьbingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1984), p. 390. 13 Many commentators recognise this structural feature, see Lane, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 385-87; Attridge, Hebrews, p. 347. Michel, Hebrдerbrief, p. 415; Vanhoye, Structure Littйraire, p. 192; and Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, pp. 161-62, among others, have shown how these three sets of three statements in vv. 33-34 climax in v. 35a.
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for emphasis in this penultimate climax, only to be topped by women receiving `back their dead, raised to life again' (v. 35a). After the introductory statement in verse 35b, the second catalogue also divides into three sections. The first (v. 36) and third (vv. 37d, 38) sections of this catalogue are each dependent on one finite verb ( in v. 36, in v. 37d) qualified in different ways. The central section (v. 37abc), however, is, like the sections of the first catalogue, made up of three indicative aorist statements. This central section stands out from the preceding and following sections in that it refers to those who suffered death for their faith. It is obviously parallel to the central section of the first catalogue (vv. 33d, 34ab) which described those who triumphed over death through faith. Compare especially verse 34b, , and verse 37c, . In the first section (v. 36) of this catalogue of suffering , the direct object of the verb , is qualified by two sets of genitive modifiers, and . The NASB margin gives the most literal translation: `and others received the trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment'. This description of weakness and helplessness stands in contrast to the third section of the first catalogue (v. 34cde), which described empowerment and military triumph. The third section (vv. 37d, 38ab) of the catalogue of suffering is the most thoroughly developed of any section in either of these catalogues. The finite verb describes the lot of these people as those who `went about'. This verb is qualified by two prepositional phrases which describe what these people wore ( , ) and three participles which describe their destitution (, , ). The writer's emphasis on their alienation by the world reaches its climax in the final participle, , which describes their `going about' as a `wandering' in places totally excluded from human society. This exclusion from human society is exactly the opposite of those political triumphs of faith described in the first section of the first catalogue: `who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice' (v. 33abc).14
14 Although the relationships noted above between the content of the two catalogues are clear, there is a parallelism of style and vocabulary only between the central sections of each (vv. 33d-34ab; v. 37abc). The style of each catalogue is crafted to express its content. The three-statement cadence of the three sections of the first catalogue is a triumphant drum-roll that climaxes in v. 35a. The more diffuse style of vv. 36-38, especially vv. 36, 37d-38, is appropriate to describe the wandering about and alienation of those who suffered for their faith.
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These general structural observations suggest that the author is making deliberate contrasts and parallels between the catalogue of triumph in verses 33-35a and the catalogue of suffering in verses 35b38:15 (i) The political successes of v. 33abc are balanced by the disenfranchisement and alienation of verses 37d-38. (ii) The escape from death described in verses 33d-34ab is parallel to the suffering of death in v. 37abc. (iii) The military triumph of strength over weakness in v. 34cde is paralleled by the weakness of beatings and imprisonment in v. 36. (iv) Verse 35 is the turning point where those who were raised from the dead are compared to those who braved death by the power of faith in the `better resurrection'. Thus verse 35a is the climax of the victories described in verses 3234--`Women received back their dead by resurrection'. Verse 35b gives the basic perspective of those who suffered without temporal deliverance as described in verses 36-38--`others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection'.16 This resurrection is `better' because it is resurrection to eternal life.17
15 Victor Rhee has also recognised the chiastic structure of vv. 32-38 and the central position of resurrection within this chiasm, `Chiasm and the Concept of Faith in Hebrews 11', Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (1998), 340. He also refers to his dissertation: `The Concept of Faith in the Overall Context of the Book of Hebrews' (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1996), pp. 237-38 which I have not seen. Rhee's article begins with a good summary of some of the ways the idea of chiasm has been used in studying Hebrews. I have attempted to express some of this in a chart in Gareth L. Cockerill, Hebrews (Indianapolis: Wesleyan publishing house, 1999), p. 260. 16 `The chiastic structure of verses 32-38 implies that faith manifested in the outer sections (vv. 32-34, 36-38) was based on the hope of resurrection in the center sections (v. 35)', Rhee, `Chiasm', p. 340. 17 `The reception of those who had died , "by resurrection", in v. 35a had reference to a temporary gift of life, as young sons were restored to their mothers. The vanquishing of death, however, was only anticipated in their experience; it was not definitive. They would experience mortality again. It is the final defeat of death in the experience of eschatological resurrection that is contemplated in the phrase , "the better resurrection", where the adjective "better" expresses qualitative distinction', Lane, Hebrews 913, p. 389.
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The importance of resurrection for this section becomes even clearer when we look at the central section of each catalogue--verses 33d-34ab; 37abc. As we have seen, these two sections are structurally as well as conceptually parallel. The first describes those who escaped death through faith (vv. 33d-34ab), and naturally leads to those who were actually restored to life by faith as described in 35a. The second describes those who died for their faith (v. 37abc), presumably because they wanted to gain the `better resurrection' described in verse 35b. Although death (v. 37abc) is the last extremity, there is a certain logic in the progression from suffering persecution and imprisonment (v. 36) to suffering death (v. 37abc) to suffering total alienation and exclusion from society (vv. 37d-38). The persecution and imprisonment might well lead to the death of some members of THE COMMUNITY and then to alienation and exclusion from society for the rest. The people of faith are able to endure all of these types of `torture' because they have a hope beyond this life in the `better resurrection' (v. 35b).18 The climactic position and detailed nature of the description of total alienation from society in verses 37d-38 suggests that the writer may have feared his hearers would face such a situation. He wants them to take heart. The victories of verses 33-35a are meant to assure them that God does deliver those who trust Him. Thus, if he does not deliver in this life, He surely will in the `better resurrection' (v. 35b). The suffering and death of verses 35b-38 remind them that many of their brothers and sisters have trusted God in the face of the most dire suffering because they believed in this `better resurrection'.
V. Hebrews 11:1-7--The Primal History It will be appropriate now, having grasped the point of the encouragement given in verses 32-38, to examine the way in which the author has prepared for that in the earlier parts of the chapter. In this section we will begin with 11:1-7, the introduction (vv. 1-2) and the first four examples of faith (vv. 3-7), before moving progressively
18 The author is very deliberate in his use of , `were tortured and refused to be released' (v. 35b). Although this phrase naturally leads one to think of martyrdom, it is broad enough to include all of the sufferings described in verses 36-38. Some had to endure `mockings and scourgings' (v. 36) without being `released', and some `wandered in deserts' etc. (v. 38) without being `released.'
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through the chapter. Just as the primeval history in Genesis lays down the basic pattern of relationships between God, humanity, and the world, so verses 1-7 give us the Basic Structure of faith. The introductory verses, verses 1-2, clarified by verses 3 and 6, give a definition of faith as considered in this chapter: Faith is living life in light of the reality of God and in the assurance that He fulfils His promises.19 In a formal sense, verse 3 begins with and gives the first example. It is `we', however, not an Old Testament worthy, who by faith `understand that the universe was formed at God's command'. This verse brings the readers into this history of faith. It also enunciates a basic assumption that undergirds the understanding of faith in this chapter--it is God who is the ultimate source of reality. Verses 3 and 6 enclose the first two Old Testament examples of faith--Abel and Enoch. These two are prototypical of all the examples that follow.20 By his faith Enoch was translated to heaven and thus escaped death. He is a fitting introduction to all those who by faith escaped death (vv. 33d-34b, 35a) and to all who experienced God's great deliverances in this life, such as those described in verses 33-35a. Abel, on the other hand, is the forerunner of all who braved suffering and death because they had faith in the `better resurrection'.21 If the only result of his faith were death then he would be a witness to the futility of faith. Only by belief in the resurrection
19 While these verses may not give a full definition of faith, defining all its essential characteristics and differentiating it from related terms, they do `provide, in a highly focused and hence somewhat paradoxical way, the essential characteristics that inform our author's understanding [of faith]', Attridge, Hebrews, p. 307. For examples of the form of ancient definitions to which this verse conforms see Attridge, p. 307, n. 27. Although Lane does not like the word definition, he agrees that `Every word has been carefully chosen and weighed so as to draw attention to characteristics of faith that had particular relevance to the immediate situation of the persons addressed', Hebrews 9-13, p. 328. `L'explication porte sur ce que fait la foi, se rйsultats pratiques, non sur ce qu'elle est en elle-mкme', Spicq, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 336. Spicq points out that the lack of articles with all the words in this statement indicate that the author is showing the general character of faith for all times and places. Braun says, `Der Streit, ob Hb hier eine Definition bringt, ist mьssig'. He goes on to stay that the style is clearly a definition style, even if the `definition' given is not comprehensive, Braun, Hebrдer, p. 337. 20 Abel was a person of faith, because `God spoke well of his offerings' (v. 4). Enoch had faith, because the Scripture says that he `pleased God' (v. 5). V. 6 makes it clear that anyone who pleases God must have faith. 21 One of the strengths of Rhee's study is that he sees how Abel (v. 4) points toward those who suffer for their faith in vv. 35b-38, and Enoch (v. 5), toward those who triumph through faith in vv. 33-35a, `Chiasm', pp. 339-40.
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can Abel's death be understood as an example of faith. Abel, `though...dead,...still speaks' (v. 4).22 The first example of faith is an example of faith in a resurrection to eternal life.23 This initial section of chapter 11 concludes in verse 7 with the example of Noah. He is set off from the previous examples by verse 6.24 Noah is a transitional figure from the primal history to the examples that follow. He introduces the future orientation of faith that will dominate the rest of the examples of this chapter, because his faith related to `things not yet seen' (see also v. 1 and compare vv. 1316 ).25 Since he `became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith' he ties this whole history of faith with Habakkuk 2:3-4 quoted in Hebrews 10:37-38--`But my righteous one will live by faith'.26 He is primarily a great example of the triumphs of faith, as pictured in
22 Benetreau summarises the different ways in which interpreters have understood Abel's speaking: (1) He spoke through his blood which cried out for vengeance (Gn. 4:10). (2) He spoke through his blood as an intercessor before God and is a type of Christ's intercession (cf. Heb. 12:24). (3) As a persecuted just person who was in right relationship with God he continues to edify God's people; see Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 457. This witness comes to us, of course, `through the written record of his action in Scripture'. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, p. 335. This third option is accepted by Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 138, and is, in my judgement, the correct option. Pace Attridge, Ellingworth, and Spicq, it is Abel's faith shown by his action, not his blood, which still speaks, Attridge, Hebrews, p. 317; Ellingworth, Hebrews, p. 573; Spicq, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 343. The LXX of Gn. 4:10 uses , not the found in Heb. 11:4, to describe the crying out of Abel's blood. 23 `He belongs to the number of "those who have faith and keep their life" (Heb. 10:39), even though violently slain by jealous and unrighteous men, that is to say, despite all appearances to the contrary--an important theme of this chapter', Hughes, Hebrews, p. 455. `... den Kontrast zwischen "Gestorbensein" and "Nochreden" besonders betont, so deutet sich hier zumindest an, dass der Glaube am Ende auch eine den Tod ьberwindende Kraft in sich trдgt', Hans-Friedrich Weiss, Der Brief an die Hebrдer (Gцttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991), p. 577. 24 V. 6 explains how the writer knows that Enoch had faith. However, it also enunciates a general principle of faith that helps to clarify vv. 1-3 and is foundational for this chapter. 25 Just as Noah believed God would fulfil His word of warning, so the rest of the examples in this chapter believed God would fulfil His word of promise. In actual fact, the warning of judgement and the promise of eternal blessing are two sides of the same coin. Judgement on the wicked implies deliverance for the faithful, and vice versa. Noah was `an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith' (v. 7). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were `heirs of the promise' (v. 9). 26 The `righteousness' that Noah inherited was the opposite of God's floodjudgement on the world. His right standing with God was demonstrated by his being saved from the flood. Thus, it had a future orientation, just as the inheritance of the heavenly homeland is future for God's people (vv. 13-16).
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verses 32-35a, because he `prepared an ark for the saving of his household'. Yet he also intimates the opposition which God's people of faith would suffer, as described in verses 35b-38, for by his faith `he condemned the world'.
VI. Abraham & Moses The next two sub-sections focus on Abraham (vv. 8-22) and Moses (vv. 23-31). The choice of these two, the emphasis put upon them, and the way in which they are interrelated are firmly based on the role that Abraham and Moses play in the Old Testament and on Hebrews' understanding of the continuing relevance of the Old Testament for Christians. At one level within the Old Testament, Abraham is associated with the promise, Moses and Joshua with the fulfilment of that promise (Jos. 23:14). Abraham received the promise of nation and land; through Moses and Joshua God effected the fulfilment of that promise. Hebrews 11:13-16, however, is strategically placed in this chapter to clarify the reader's understanding of this relationship. The promise of land was not fulfilled in Canaan, but is fulfilled in the heavenly homeland. Thus all of God's people in the Old Testament lived as pilgrims in this world with the possibility of facing suffering for their faith. The great events of exodus and conquest might not have been fulfilment, but they were the greatest examples of the way that God's power can bring deliverance for the faithful in this life. Thus, the lives of Abraham, Moses, and those associated with them provide examples both of those who, like the persecuted of verses 35b-38, suffered for their faith, and of those who, like the heroes of verses 32-35a, experienced great triumphs of faith. The writer of Hebrews records seven examples of faith in the Abraham section and seven in the Moses section. Four examples of faith come from the life of Abraham (vv. 8, 9-10, 11-12, 17-19); three from the patriarchs who followed him (vv. 20, 21, 22). Four examples come from the life of Moses (vv. 23, 24-26, 27, 28), three from the time of the exodusconquest (vv. 29, 30, 31). The fourth example (vv. 17-19: Abraham offered Isaac; v. 28: Moses kept the Passover) of each series is important. In each series it is climactic for the faith of the main hero--Abraham or Moses. In each it is central to the whole seven. In
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each this act of faith was the offering of a sacrifice.27 In each the result of faith was a deliverance of another/others from death to life. Abraham experiences a triumph of faith in the birth of Isaac (vv. 11-12), but the theme of alienation and pilgrim existence pervades the Abrahamic section. This alienation becomes persecution that requires great courage in the first three examples from the life of Moses (vv. 23-27).28
Exodus and Conquest: The Triumphs of Faith (vv. 28-31) With the fourth and climactic example of faith from the life of Moses--God's deliverance of the firstborn at the Passover (v. 28)-- the note of triumph predominates. The following three examples--the exodus (v. 29), the conquest of Jericho (v. 30), and the deliverance of Rahab (v. 31)--continue the theme of the triumph of faith and lead directly into the great triumph series in verses 32-35a.29 The deliverance of the firstborn at the Passover (v. 28) and the deliverance of Rahab from death (v. 31) point toward those delivered from death at the centre (verses 33d-34ab) and those resuscitated to life at the climax (v. 35a) of this triumphant parade. The deliverance from Egypt in verse 29 and the conquest of Jericho in verse 30 set the stage for those who won military victories in verse 34cde and those who had political success in verse 33abc.30 Thus in verses 28-31 the exodus and conquest provide examples of the great triumphs of faith. In verses 8-27, however, Canaan sojourn and Egyptian bondage are the context for examples of suffering by faith.
Canaan and Egypt: The Suffering of Faith (vv. 8-27) The alienation in the Abrahamic section (vv. 8-22), which becomes persecution and suffering in the first three examples of the Mosaic
27 Attridge, Hebrews, p. 343. 28 There is an element of triumph in the first example from Moses' life. Moses' life was saved. But the emphasis is on the courage of Moses' parents in face of danger from the king. 29 `... the frequent repetition of pivstei in vv. 27-31 increases the pace in preparation for the even more rapid summary of vv. 32-38, within which still further acceleration can be discerned', Ellingworth, Hebrews, p. 561. 30 This section also prepares for the many examples of vv. 32-38 by enlarging the scope of those involved. In v. 28 it is still the faith of one person, Moses, but many are delivered. In v. 29 it is the people who crossed the Red Sea by faith and in v. 30 it is the people who conquer Jericho by faith. The mention of Jericho brings us back to a single example--Rahab, whose life was saved by faith.
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section (vv. 23-27), prepares the way for those who suffer for their faith without temporal deliverance in verses 35b-38. There is a certain chiastic parallelism of thought within this section that demonstrates the central position of Abraham's faith in the resurrection recorded in verses 17-19. To begin with the first three examples of faith from the Abraham section (vv. 8-12) are paralleled in reverse order by the first three examples of faith in the Moses section (vv. 23-27). (i) verse 8 parallels verse 27; (ii) verses 9-10 parallel verses 24-26; (iii) verses 11-12 parallel verse 23. The first example from Abraham (v. 8) and third from Moses (v. 27) both speak of separating from the sinful world. Abraham left his homeland; Moses left Egypt.31 They differ, however, in emphasis: the Abrahamic example focuses on the place to which Abraham is going; the Mosaic, on the place that Moses is leaving.32 Nevertheless, both refer to separation from the sinful world. They lay a foundation for the author's exhortation in 13:13-14.33 The second examples of both Abraham (vv. 9-10) and Moses (vv. 24-26) refer to alienation and suffering for faith in relation to the sinful world. The Moses example is more intense in that alienation has become hostile opposition. The courage of Moses in choosing such a lifestyle is also emphasised.34 Finally, in the third example of Abraham (vv. 11-12) and the first of Moses (v. 23), through the faithful action of parents God gives life to a child who will fulfil His promise--Isaac's miraculous birth and Moses' deliverance from Pharaoh.35
31 Moses' abandoning Egypt is given as an encouragement for the people of faith to abandon the value system of this world whether it refers to Moses' fleeing from Egypt after he killed the Egyptian in Ex. 2:13-15 or the later exodus of the Israelites. Lane argues for the former, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 374-75; see also Braun, Hebrдer, p. 382. Spicq and Benetreau thinks that this abandoning Egypt includes all of Moses' interviews and discussions with Pharaoh pertaining to the liberation, Spicq, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 35; Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, pp. 156-57. The parallel with Abraham's leaving for the promised land may suggest that this second view is correct. 32 Notice the parallel structure between Moses and Abraham . 33 `Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come'. 34 V. 10 describes the eternal reward that motivated Abraham; v. 26, the eternal reward that motivated Moses. 35 The fact that Abraham was , `as good as dead' (v. 12) shows that the birth of Isaac was an instance of God bringing life out of death.
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The intervening material in verses 13-22 falls naturally into three parts: verses 13-16 describe the pilgrim/alienation of the patriarchs in the Promised Land.36 Verses 17-19 describe Abraham's courage in sacrificing Isaac and his faith in the resurrection. Verses 20-22 give specific examples of the faith of the patriarchs that emphasise their living as pilgrims and aliens in the Promised Land.37 Thus verses 13-16 and 20-22 both focus on the alienation of the patriarchs. Verses 17-19, which focus on Abraham's faith in God's power to raise the dead, come at the very heart of this section. This fourth example of faith is not only climactic for the life of Abraham and central to the seven examples in the Abrahamic section (vv. 8-12, 17-19), it is at the very heart of this whole section on pilgrimage and suffering in verses 8-27. The hope engendered by the miraculous birth of Isaac (vv. 11-12) and by the deliverance of Moses (v. 27), reaches a new level of intensity. While the hypothetical raising of Isaac may have been only a temporal resurrection (like v. 35a), Abraham's faith was in a God who `could raise the dead' ( , v. 19) in a general resurrection, a `better resurrection' to eternal life (v. 35b).38 Faith in such a resurrection is the natural outcome of the faith defined at the beginning of this chapter.39 The faith that believes God created the visible world from `things not seen' (v. 3) can easily believe that He will call the dead back to life. In Romans 4:17 Abraham's faith in a God who gives eschatological life to the dead is also faith in a God who calls into existence things that did not exist.40
36 Some have suggested that verses 13-16 are the most obvious redactional addition made by the author to a pre-existing Vorlage characterised by a list of examples introduced with , see Weiss, Hebrдer, pp. 556-57. In my judgement, the careful arrangement of the material in chapter 11 belies any attempt to divide between author and Vorlage. The perspective expounded in verses 13-16 pervades the rest of the chapter, especially verses 8-31, for verses 13-16 make clear the true nature of the promise sought by the people of faith. 37 Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, pp. 149-52, has a good discussion of the future orientation of the patriarchs' faith in vv. 20-22. His statement in regard to Joseph on p. 152 is representative: Joseph's request concerning his bones `tйmoigne avec йclat d'une espйrance qui dйpasse l'existence terrestre, une espйrance ancrйe en Dieu'. 38 The general nature of this statement is strengthened by the fact that has no object and is gnomic present, see Ellingworth, Hebrews, p. 603. 39 Weiss supports this understanding of the resurrection here by pointing to such resurrection faith in contemporary Judaism. He argues that this belief in the resurrection of the dead is the logical or natural outcome of the definition of faith given in v. 1, Weiss, Hebrдer, pp. 598-99. 40 See O. Hofius, `Eine altjьdische Parallele zu Rom. IV. 17b', NTS 18 (1971-72), pp. 93-94, Hofius notes that, in 2 Maccabees 7, the mother of the Maccabean martyrs uses faith in God's creation of the world from nothing as motivation for
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Thus, this section on alienation and persecution in verses 8-27 prepares for the concluding section of this chapter, verses 32-38, in at least two ways. First, the resurrection faith of Abraham (vv. 17-19), at the heart of verses 8-27, points directly to the resurrection faith in verse 35, at the centre of verses 32-38.41 Second, the alienation of the patriarchs (vv. 8-16, 20-22)42 and especially the suffering and courage of Moses (vv. 23-27)43 prepare for the alienation and suffering (vv. 37d-38) at the conclusion of verses 32-38. This is the basis for the author's call to his readers to separate themselves from the sinful world (vv. 8, 27), even if it means alienation (vv. 9-10, 13-16, 20-22) and suffering (vv. 24-26), for God will keep His promise to deliver (vv. 11-12, 23), even if it means raising the dead (vv. 17-19)--which it surely will (v. 35).
confidence that He will raise the dead.
41 The interpretation as `as a type' strengthens this interpretation.
Isaac's deliverance becomes a type of the general resurrection. See Lane, Hebrews
9-13, pp. 362-63; Attridge, Hebrews, p. 335; Braun, Hebrдer, p. 372; Spicq,
Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 355; Weiss, Hebrдer, p. 598. The weakness of Benetreau and
Spicq's argument that Isaac is a type of Christ's resurrection is belied by Spicq's
own statement: `Il est remarquable, au contraire, que notre auteur n'exploite pas les
traits messianiques de la figure d'Isaac, mais n'exalte que les mйrites de son pиre',
vol. 2, p. 354. The designation of Isaac as monogenhv" might imply a subtle
association with Jesus, but this association is not exploited in the text. Benetreau
overemphasises the significance of , Hйbreux, vol. 2, pp. 138-49.
Weiss's argument that there is no reference to the resurrection of Christ because
this part of the chapter comes form a Jewish Vorlage is not convincing, Hebrдer,
p. 598. 42
Abraham `made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a
foreign country' (v. 9). Abraham and those associated with him admitted that they
were `aliens and strangers on earth' (v. 13). Thus they set the stage for those
`wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth'. (v. 38,
RSV,). God was `not ashamed to be called' the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
because they lived as aliens on earth looking for the heavenly homeland (v. 16). In
like manner `the world was not worthy' (v. 38) of those who suffered rather than
loose the `better resurrection' (v. 35b).
43 Compare Moses' choice to `be mistreated along with [] the
people of God' (v. 25, vv. 23-27) and the life of the faithful sufferers in verses
37d-38 who were `destitute, persecuted and mistreated' [] (v. 37b).
Moses was ready to suffer `disgrace for the sake of Christ' (v. 26) because he was
also one of those of whom `the world was not worthy' (v. 38). `Le poids de
l'йpreuve, la solitude et l'incomprйhension, dйjа prйsents dans la vie des
patriarches et de Moпse, viennent ici sur le devant de la scиne, donnant un ton trиs
grave а cette derniиre partie du chapitre', Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 163.
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Hebrews 11:17-19 and 11:3-7/28-31 Hebrews 11:17-19 is not only central to the Canaan and Egypt section (vv. 8-27), it is central to the whole first major section, verses 3-31. There are significant, though not exact, parallels between the four examples of faith that precede this section (vv. 3-7) and the four that follow (vv. 28-31). Note first the examples that immediately precede and follow--Noah and the flood in v. 7, Moses and the Passover in v. 28.44 It has been shown above that verses 7 and 28 are important transitional verses--verse 7 from the primeval history to the time of the patriarchs, verse 28 from the examples of suffering to the examples of triumph. These verses describe two most notable deliverances of God's faithful people from death--`By faith Noah built an ark to save his family' (v. 7) ... `By faith Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel' (v. 28).45 The three examples in verses 3-5 and the three in verses 29-31 are not exact parallels, for these two sections have different purposes. As noted above, verses 3-5 bring us into the history of faith and announce the two types of experience that people of faith have--Abel suffered by faith (v. 4), Enoch was delivered by faith (v. 5). The three examples in verses 29-31, on the other hand, prepare for the great triumphal march of faith in verses 32-35a. However, it is interesting to note the contrast between the first example of Old Testament faith in verses 3-5 and the last in verses 29-31: Verses 3-31 move from the death of Abel (v. 4) the to the deliverance from death of Rahab (v. 31) the .46
44 Ellingworth argues that `: the perfect, in contrast to the aorists in vv. 27 and 29, marks the establishment of the passover as a permanent institution', Hebrews, p. 617. The grammatical similarity between Noah's action and Moses' is clearer if is translated `established' instead of `kept'--Moses `established the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood', ; Noah `prepared an ark', . Each of them did it for a saving purpose: Moses did this `so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them', ; Noah, `for the salvation of his household', . 45 It is interesting to note that in both of these instances it was deliverance from a death that was God's judgement on unbelievers. There is no explicit reference to the sacrifice of Christ in v. 28, but the `sprinkling of blood' must have sent the recipients' minds back to what had been said about the efficacy of the blood of Christ in Heb. 9:12-14. 46 As noted above, the first use of (v. 3) is a description of our faith rather than the faith of one of the ancients. It does not easily fit this parallel structure.
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VII. The `Better Resurrection' in Hebrews 11
The Primal History in verses 3-7 introduces the suffering and the triumph of the people of faith in the starkest terms--death and translation to heaven. The Canaan and Egypt section in verses 8-27 shows that God's people are able to endure alienation and suffering because of their confidence that God delivers from death--ultimately in the resurrection (vv. 17-19). The Exodus and Conquest section in verses 28-31 reminds us that God has shown this power through many temporal deliverances. These verses lead into the great march of the triumph of faith in verses 32-35a. At the very centre of verses 3-31 is the declaration that Abraham himself, `the patriarch' (Heb. 7:4), believed God could raise the dead. The climactic section of this chapter (vv. 32-38) repeats the teaching of verses 3-31 with greater intensity. It has already been demonstrated that the style of this section shows greater scope and compactness. This section also brings the distinction between suffering and triumph into clearer focus. Abraham and Moses experienced both triumph and suffering by faith. Now, however, the writer records only examples of triumph in verses 33-35a-- crescendoing in the temporal resurrection of 35a. He records only examples of suffering in 35b-38, suffering made possible only by faith in the `better resurrection' of 35b, buttressed by the power of God demonstrated in verses 33-35a. Thus verses 32-38 repeat the teaching of verses 3-31 with greater power and clarity. The resurrection faith of Abraham (vv. 17-19) is indeed the faith that enables God's people to endure, because it is faith in their future resurrection to eternal life (v. 35b).47 In my judgement, the writer of Hebrews believes that the experience of suffering by faith, as depicted in this chapter, especially in verses 35b-38, is the predominant experience of the people of God. At least he expects it to be the predominant experience of those whom he addresses.48 He introduces chapter eleven with an example of one who died by faith (v. 4), spends the great bulk of the chapter with those who suffered for their faith (the Canaan and Egypt section in vv.
47 There is no reason to believe that the resurrection of verse 35b is a resurrection of martyrs only. There is no hint in this chapter that a martyr's death brings special reward. This resurrection is one that the faithful would have lost if they had denied their faith under torture. 48 `Mais le cercle peut кtre йlargi. Cette description [v. 36ff] est, apparemment, celle qui se rapproche le plus de ce que les destinataires de la lettre ont vйcu (10:33-34) et aussi de ce que le Christ a vaillamment endurй (12:3)', Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p.164.
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8-27), and concludes with this most intense description of suffering by faith (vv. 35b-38). Verse 39 seems to bring all under this rubric--`These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.'49 `All these died in faith, without receiving the promises' (v. 13 NASB) applies to all in this chapter. All died in anticipation of the `better resurrection'. Thus, belief in the `better resurrection' (Heb. 11:35b) to eternal life is crucial to the faith that the writer of Hebrews wants his hearers to have. Hebrews 11:1-38 is structured to foster this kind of faith in their lives.
VIII. Conclusion: The `Better Resurrection' and the Christology of Hebrews Can we find any relationship within Hebrews between the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of Christ? We can certainly find a connection between the resurrection of believers and the work of Christ. Hebrews 11:39-40 makes it clear that the final goal of all the faithful in chapter eleven is only obtained through the work of Christ.50 Thus it is only through His high priestly work that the people of faith will attain to the `better resurrection' (v. 35b). The resurrection may have been in the writer's mind when he says that Jesus died in order `that he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil' (Heb. 2:14-15).51 We have seen that, in dependence on Psalm 110:1 and Day of Atonement imagery, the writer of Hebrews emphasises the `session' of Christ at God's right hand. He must, however, have assumed Christ's resurrection, for he refers to it in the great benediction of
49 `Ce verset applique le bon tйmoignage а tous les anciens, rejoignant la formulation du v. 2 а ce sujet (Vanhoye St [Structure Littйraire], p. 191-192, souligne la correspondance entre le dйbut et la fin du chapitre), et cela mкme lorsque, dans l'Ancien Testament, l'approbation divine sur eux n'est pas explicitйe', Benetreau, Hйbreux, vol. 2, p. 166. 50 The being `made perfect' of 11:40 refers to the benefits Christ brought both at His first and second coming, see Lane, Hebrews 9-13, pp. 392-94; Hughes, Hebrews, pp. 516-17; and Cockerill, Hebrews, p. 265. 51 In my judgement, however, Heb. 2:14-15 are best understood in relation to 2:16-18. It was sin that gave the devil power to frighten humanity with death, for sin implied future condemnation. Thus, by dealing with sin (2:16-18) Jesus destroyed the devil's power to intimidate by death. See Cockerill, Hebrews, pp. 70, 73; cf. Hughes, Hebrews, pp. 110-13.
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13:20-21. The doctrine of a future resurrection is also consonant with the writer's belief in the return of Christ and a future judgement.52 Belief in a second coming seems to be implied by the way the writer interprets Psalm 110:1. He understands the last part of this verse, `until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet' (quoted in Heb. 1:14), as a reference to the time of Christ's return. The writer enlarges on Psalm 110:1 by his interpretation of Psalm 8:3-6 in Hebrews 2:5-9. Psalm 8:6, `and put everything under his feet', is also a reference to Christ's second coming. Presumably the `all things' not now visibly under Christ's feet will be so when he returns (Heb. 2:9).53 Hebrews 9:28 makes the second coming of Christ explicit--`he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him'. This passage also associates Christ's second coming with the judgement. Human death followed by judgement in 9:27 parallels Christ's first and second coming in 9:28.54 Hebrews 12:25-29 certainly makes this future judgement clear. In summary, although the resurrection of Christ plays little part in the Christology of Hebrews, it is certainly assumed by the writer. The work of Christ is necessary for the faithful to obtain the `better resurrection' (11:35b) that awaits them. The writer's conviction that Christ will come a second time in judgement is also in harmony with his teaching about the resurrection of the faithful. Faith in this `better resurrection' is strong motivation to endure the suffering that the faithful often experience in this life.
52 `Various biblical and intertestamental apocalyptic texts link future judgment with the resurrection of the dead. In some cases judgment is not mentioned, but it is implicit in the respective destinies to be accorded the righteous and the wicked', Richard H. Hiers, `Day of Judgment', in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 2, p. 80. 53 Attridge says that the citation of Ps. 110:1 in Heb. 1:13 `while celebrating the position of the exalted Christ, points, as did the preceding citation, to the eschatological fulfillment of the Son's sovereignty. This balance between the present and future moments of Christ's victory will be sketched more fully in the exegesis of Ps 8 in chap. 2', Hebrews, p. 62. 54 Attridge states that the judgement mentioned in v. 27 was `the immediate postmortem judgment that was, in traditional Greek mythology, the fate of the soul', Hebrews, p. 265. Ellingworth, however, is correct when he says that the phrase `leaves entirely open the question of whether or not the judgment immediately follows death'. He goes on to say, `the parallel with ojfqhvsetai in v. 28 suggests a link between judgment and the return of Christ...', Hebrews, p. 486. Hughes states what, in my judgement, is obvious: `The judgment, moreover, is inseparably associated with that day when Christ will appear a second time, not to deal with sin...', Hebrews, p. 387.

GL Cockerill

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