Family Notes 17/02/2016

THE SEVENTEENTH DAY OF FEBRUARY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.


HEBREWS TREASURY — No book of the Bible is more full of Jesus, more attuned to daily life in the 21st century, and more relevant as a word of encouragement than the book of Hebrews. For the next few weeks, our gracEmail family notes will include two items related to Hebrews.
First, a piece of a conversation with me about the book itself (see “Who Wrote Hebrews?” below).
Second, excerpts from a review of Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today, which is probably one of the two or three most significant books the Lord has ever given me to write.


WHO WROTE HEBREWS?

Q: Do you know who wrote Hebrews?

EDWARD: I know as much about it as anyone else, which is finally nothing for sure! Origen told the truth about two centuries after Christ when he said that the author “is known to God alone.” It almost certainly was not Paul, for a variety of reasons. My personal vote among the candidates goes either to Barnabas or to Apollos.

Q: Why do you favor Barnabas?

EDWARD: The author of Hebrews calls his own work a “word of exhortation” (Heb. 13:22). The same Greek expression is found at Acts 13:15, where it is translated as “word of encouragement.” There, Paul and Barnabas are invited to address a Sabbath synagogue audience, which they do for the next 31 verses. Their remarks are called a “word of encouragement.” Not only is Barnabas involved in that, his name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36) – a comment on one of his chief characteristics. He is also a Levite, who would be very interested in the subjects of priesthoods, sacrifices, and their results. These themes permeate Hebrews and can also encourage us today, as I show in Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today.

Q: What can you say in favor of Apollos?

EDWARD: Well, for starters he is called “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). This fits Hebrews very well since its author clearly was exceedingly familiar with his ‘Bible,’ which was the “Old Testament” as we call it. (Hebrews actually tells the Story of the Son of God — from heaven to earth and back to heaven again — based on four different Psalms.) Apollos was also “an eloquent man,” as was the author of Hebrews. And he was from Alexandria, Egypt – a city of learning noted for a particular type of Scripture interpretation. The author of Hebrews reads his Bible in a similar manner.

For full details about Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today, go to: edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/


REVIEW
KEITH BRENTON (New Wineskins)

This new Hebrews commentary by Edward Fudge, a prolific author of at least seven books in print and a good quantity of works available free online (at: www.edwardfudge.com ), expands significantly upon his earlier printed work Our Man in Heaven: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (1973). The obligatory foreword is an “Introduction to a Book of Unknowns,” summarized as: “So far as the origins of Hebrews, we have just reviewed the traditional questions (by whom? to whom? when? where? why?) and the traditional answers (don’t know, don’t know, don’t know, don’t know, don’t know).”

Fudge doesn’’t complicate Hebrews’ message of encouragement, which he sees structured around four messianic Psalms (8, 95, 40 and 110) with a great wealth of supporting scripture. You’ll find no distracting footnotes below the text; relevant citations are briefly mentioned within it – though there is a comprehensive bibliography at the end. Matters tangential but still important to the understanding of the text are set apart in blocks with gray backgrounds, occasionally of more than a page each.

Don’t expect Fudge to propose and exhaustively defend a large number of theses on any given question; he is more likely to summarize the more valid or helpful possible answers, credit their adherents, and point out the collective value of all of them in helping to illuminate the text. He may point out their strengths and weaknesses as lenses in seeing the text clearly. But frequently he will observe of seemingly competing interpretations: “We lose nothing by holding to both ideas” (p. 148) or “Either explanation yields the same result” (p. 164).

He will fire the imagination like the tableaus presented to John in the Revelation by setting an obscure text in a magnificent, tangible, understandable scene: a multimedia museum as Chapter 11’s “Hall of the Faithful;” or an Olympic track venue filled with Chapter 12’s “cloud-crowd” of witnesses. In every instance, he will concisely re-tell the story of each forerunner mentioned, illuminating aspects you may never have considered before. Fudge enthusiastically recognizes the one and only main character of the drama, however: Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. His story, the good news, is what He alone could provide that pleased the Father – and what it means for us. I have only had time to gobble it down, and its smoothness and richness make that possible – but there are nuggets of deep spiritual nutrition on every page. And I can’t wait to go back and munch.

For full review texts and much more, go to: edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/books/