2015.06.54. Small, The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews

Brian C. Small, The Characterization of Jesus in the Book of Hebrews
Reviewed by Felix H. Cortez

1 comment:

  1. I would like to make a few comments about Felix’s critique of my book. He notes that I fail to uncover the story world of Hebrews. However, it was not my intention to describe the entirety of the story world of Hebrews, which I note includes both the stories of the OT as well as the story world of his audience (p. 204). I reconstructed only the part of the story world that was pertinent to my study, which was about the characterization of Jesus.

    He also states that I analyze the role and significance of the characterization of Jesus in the argument of Hebrews, but not in its story world, in chapter 5. But I do reconstruct part of the story world of Hebrews in chapter 4, which he notes in the next paragraph. Hebrews assumes a story world behind its discourse, but it is a discursive text. Hence, I analyze Jesus’ characterization both in terms of the story world, in chapter 4, and in the discursive argument, in chapter 5.

    He wrongly critiques me when he states “it is difficult to understand why the submission of the enemies under Jesus—or submission of all things—is included in the list before his appointment as high priest.” He notes that the submission of enemies should be placed after Jesus’ appointment as high priest. However, I do not claim that the submission of enemies takes place before Jesus’ appointment as high priest. I note on page 203 that I was going to do a rough chronological reconstruction. I note that a “strict chronological framework is impossible since many of the deeds occur simultaneously.” It is impossible to describe simultaneously actions that occur simultaneously. One must describe one action first and then the other. As I note on page 205 Jesus’ enthronement at the right hand of God and his appointment as high priest occur simultaneously. However, I associate certain actions with his enthronement, including the subjugation of his enemies, while I connect other actions with his role as high priest. Hence, in my list I mention actions associated with his enthronement first, and then actions associated with his appointment as high priest, second. The subjugation of his enemies occurs subsequently to both his enthronement and his appointment as high priest. Felix notes that I was doing a “rough” chronological listing, but then critiques me for not providing a strict one.

    At the time I was writing my dissertation, I certainly connected purification of sins and atonement with the death of Jesus. He argues that these actions should be placed after his resurrection and entry into the heavenly realm. Certainly, this is a possible interpretation that has particularly come to the fore with the publication of David Moffitt’s monograph. I think, however, that Hebrews is sufficiently ambiguous at this point that it lends itself to either interpretation. That is why this is one of the contested issues in the interpretation of Hebrews.


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