Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Charts on Hebrews

Herbert W. Bateman, IV. Charts on the Book of Hebrews. 266 pages. Kregel Academic.
ISBN #780825424663. $26.99.

This is one of many books of charts published b Kregel.

Kregel Academic has asked bloggers to review their books, and I have been happy to receive them. Normally I prefer the works of long-dead theologians, but I also like to see what is being published today.

Kregel is my source for Luther's commentaries on Galatians and Romans. I get them "used" but new on the secondary market, often for $1 plus shipping.

Bateman is a prolific author. He teaches at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. Here are some of his books.

This style of reference work was new to me. I can see how useful it would be for anyone undertaking a serious study of Hebrews. Kregel has many more books like it, using a matrix to condense a lot of factual material for easy comparisons. I would rather scan a chart than read a 100 page article on a topic.

In Biblical studies, there are so many learned papers and books on any topic that one German journal was established simply to publish overviews of topics. Its English name is Theological Round-Look, literally: Cliff Notes for scholars.

The first challenge of writing is to gather all the well known research on a topic, whether it is good, bad, or zany. Many do not make the attempt. They go to their school notes and reproduce what they were told in seminary, because their professors had the last word on any given topic.

The authorship of Hebrews is an interesting topic. This book has about 15 pages listing all the possible authors and who nominated the putative author. Moreover, these authorship debates are arranged in various ways. That alone would save students of the Bible many hours of searching and note-taking.

Paul signed his letters and Hebrews has a different style than Paul's, so it is natural to think of another author. In one place Luther argued for Apollos but went on to say "Paul..." In other words, the issue was not a major one for him.

The date of Hebrews is an issue parallel with the authorship. Having these charts is like finding the note cards of an obsessive compulsive scholar, all neatly arranged. But there is much more than the standard introductory questions for any book of the Bible.

There are so many charts that I can only list a few of them here:

  1. Genre and structure
  2. Old Testament quotations
  3. Second Temple
  4. Godhead
  5. Interpretive Issues
  6. Figures of Speech

Each topic listed above has sub-categories.

The Book of Hebrews should be studied more in congregations, colleges, and seminaries. The work contains some of the most eloquent expressions in the Scriptures. The argumentation is also worth exploring and appreciating - Jesus as the High Priest, Melchizedek. That leads us into a greater appreciation of the Bible as one, unified truth - the Book of the Holy Spirit.

Who would be interested in this book? Every Biblical professor will profit from this concise treasury of research. Biblical students will have their eyes opened about this often-overlooked letter and its meaning.

If a pastor wants to teach a course on Hebrews, this is a reference work to use, for organizing the presentation and the topics to be addressed.

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