It might come as a surprise to many Christians today, but there is no book of the Bible 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 “A Bridge Commentary” 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.
A BRIDGE COMMENTARY
Q: You call Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today a bridge commentary. What does that mean?
EDWARD: There are at least three ways to answer that question.
When it comes to Bible studies, there are two worlds out there which often never come together. One is the ivory-tower world of academic specialists with all their scholarly issues and technical jargon. The other world is where most believers live and work and worship. Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today attempts to bridge this gap. For example, I worked from the Greek text of Hebrews, but Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today doesn’t have a single Greek word in it. And although the eight-page bibliography includes 50 commentaries on Hebrews and more than 80 scholarly articles from theological journals, this book uses everyday language. By linking scholarship with simplicity, I hope to give the reader the best of both worlds.
This is also a bridge commentary in the sense that it spans the usual gap between various versions of the English Bible. Instead of using one Bible translation to the exclusion of all others, I created a new version of Hebrews that closely resembles most standard English versions but is exactly like none of them. The result is a biblical text that most readers will find familiar, whatever their choice of standard versions.
Finally, this commentary bridges the gap between various theological interpretations of Hebrews. It accomplishes this, not by watering down the message or by compromising any doctrine, but by fairly presenting different points of view and then pointing out what the various viewpoints share in common. Interestingly, that turns out to be the most important and most practical part of the message being discussed.
For full details about Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today go to: edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/
By McGARVEY ICE
I review this book from the perspective of one who has taught Hebrews on numerous occasions in both academic and congregational settings. In my own ministry I have attempted to do what Fudge proposes to do in this book: to marry the head, the heart and the hands of the interpreter as well as those of his/her audience. That is, I, along with Fudge, propose to bring both intellectual rigor and spiritual vitality to the exegetical task.
In Fudges language, this is a bridge commentary for the serious Bible student who seeks scholarly content in non-technical terms (p. 19). It is an attempt to do in print what all of us who are confessing Christian exegetes ought to do with our lives: to allow and foster and seek a dynamic relationship between the life of the mind and the life of faith. In this effort I congratulate him, because in my estimation he has done very well.
His exegesis is based on the Greek text, but the absence of Greek in this case is a plus since a majority of his intended audience likely do not have the capacity to grasp these sorts of technical grammatical discussions. Instead, Fudge has compiled (from KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, ESV and HCSB) what he terms The Common Version. No matter what version of the Bible is used by members of a Bible class, there will be substantial agreement between it and the text used in this commentary.