Introducing Old Testament Quotations and the Authorship of Hebrews

(From Dave Black Online, Monday, March 5, 2018. Used by permission.)

5:18 PM So here’s another blog post that is guaranteed to bore you to death or at least put you to sleep. (So what’s new, eh?) This afternoon I was sitting in my home library reading Ephesians 4 when I “just happened” (= divine providence no doubt) to come upon a literary device that Paul uses in verse 8. Friend, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know this is how my mind works. I try to fill in the blanks, sometimes even where no blanks exist. Anyhow, this is what I was reading:

In verse 8 you can see that Paul introduces an OT quote with the words “he says,” meaning “God says.” We’re going to look closely at this for just a few minutes. You see, one of the main arguments against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews is said to be the way the author of Hebrews introduces his OT quotations. Here’s a screen shot of an article I found online:

Certainly this distorts things a bit, don’t you think? It’s an overgeneralization, and an inexact one at that. How do I know? Because I once took the time to compare Hebrews with the 13 authentic Paulines and even wrote a little book on the subject called The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul. So I grabbed my book off the shelf and, lo and behold, I was reminded that I had actually discussed this matter, to wit:

So then I grabbed my favorite commentary on Ephesians (written by my former Basel prof Markus Barth) and discovered that he, too, agreed that the words “he says” are Pauline. Here are his exact words (pp. 430-431):

Therefore he says. The quotation formula “he says” is found in several Pauline or other NT writings, and introduces a citation from the Bible of Isreal.

Oh my. Barth goes on to cite Paul’s use of the same (or a very similar) introductory formula in Eph. 5:14, Gal. 3:16, 1 Cor. 6:16, 2 Cor. 6:2, and Rom. 15:10. In other words, he cites the same examples I cite in my book, and even added one I didn’t include (Rom. 15:10). The point Barth’s trying to make is that, by using this method of quoting the OT, Paul is making it clear to his audience that he’s not quoting “a hymn or perhaps a Targum, rather than a Scripture text” (p. 431).

Again, the evidence seems plain: Paul does indeed use “he says” to introduce quotes from the OT. The facts are obvious. Consequently the argument that Paul introduced OT quotes in one way and the author of Hebrews did so in a completely different way is an argument that fails the smell test. So evidently, we have to throw out that argument. And I haven’t even discussed the other internal arguments against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews, because honestly?

Listen, this is a one finger pointed at you and three fingers pointing back at me scenario. I haven’t always been right. If fact, I’ve been wrong about a good many things in my 42-year teaching career. This is why the body of Christ is so essential. To keep us thinking. And honest with the data. And true to our (better) selves. I am determined to address my failings, my faux pas (that can be a plural in French too, right?), my eisegesis. And yes, I realize this is a third-tier issue. God gave us a spectacular writing called Hebrews, and we all value it, whatever our position on authorship is.

But if Paul were the author ….

Internal vs. External Evidence in Biblical Studies – an Example

8:06 AM From The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul:

Today, I’m intrigued to note how often exegetical arguments are based upon subjective internal evidence. Arguably, this is not the best way to approach exegetical conundrums when there is an abundance of external evidence to be considered. I would prefer that our students be exposed to all of the evidence, even data that are contrary to the consensus opinio. I fear that much of the trouble goes back to the way we do theological training. Thus one will rarely (if ever) hear that “there is strong (although not probative) internal evidence and solid external evidence for the Paulinity of the epistle [to the Hebrews].” Now, I can see some force in arguments to the contrary, but to ignore the primary data is beyond comprehension.

New Release – To Be or Not To Be: The Adventure of Christian Existentialism

Energion Publications announces the release of the 29th volume in the Topical Line Drives series, To Be or Not To Be: The Adventure of Christian Existentialism by David Moffett-Moore. The suggested retail for the paperback is, as always for this series, $5.99, and the ebook editions will be available at $2.99.

You can read it now on Kindle, and it will be available on other ebook platforms and in print (perfect bound) in the next few days.

New Release: Process Spirituality

Energion Direct Catalog Page

What one believes about God shapes how one worships, prays, thinks, and lives. Dr. Bruce Epperly, who provided a very short introduction to process theology in Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God, now provides a short and succinct guide to spiritual practices for those who want to embrace and live the adventurous spiritual  life. From times of worship, to prayer, to solitude, and even to study, he provides a guide to living with a God who is deeply and intimately involved in our lives. Holiness and spirituality are not about being other-worldly. Rather, they are about being even more in the here and now than any of us may have thought possible.