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The Domitianic date, suggested by the literary connections of the epistle, is corroborated by its internal evidence. The author appears to have followed the history of the church from its beginning with affectionate and intelligent interest. He appeals to a storm of affliction which broke on them after their awakening to Christianity (1032-34), and which may be most naturally referred to the Neronic outburst, especially if the epistle is considered as addressed to the Roman church. Such suffering, however, is a matter of retrospect. At the time of writing, a further peril is being experienced (123. 4)-evidently the rise of the Domitianic persecution, which is not yet at its full height. Imprisonment (1323) and banishment (1319), however, have befallen some of the Christian leaders, and the church as a whole is being tried by the severity of the situation. The writer alludes to these trials indefinitely. He was writing not a history but a word of encouragement, treating the situation with a practical aim on its religious side. But through the appeals (124. 11-13) we can detect that the comparatively smooth existence of the church (Allard, Hist. Persécut. i. pp. 81-133) during the earlier Flavian regime has been rudely broken up. Persecution, unknown in recent years, is upon the readers. And persecution has its attendant perils of relapse and moral failure. Hence they are summoned to remember the past line of heroes stretching from the patriarchs to the Maccabees, and also to recall their own good record as a church. Further, they are reminded that they-unlike some of their predecessors—have not yet had to face (124) the worst. With all its discomforts their career hitherto has been exempt from that supreme trial which is never quite away from the horizon of a genuine faith.
That the epistle was written at a late 3 period (512), when the first generation had long passed from the scene (cp. 23 with Luke 11.4), is self-evident. The original founders and rulers (137) had been succeeded by others whose authority was apparently apt to be somewhat ignored. The severity of the situation, coupled with the length of time that had elapsed since the primitive flush and freshness of the gospel, tended to produce a dissatisfaction with Christianity; and the temptation of the * Hebrews” was to abandon its membership,4 as if it were an exhausted philosophic school (1025), or to slacken their ties with it as though they had received from it all possible benefit. Besides, after 70 A.D. Christianity found itself now in a twofold peril. It was an object of suspicion to the political authorities, an object of jealousy to Judaism, its rival. The former danger was the simpler, involving mainly the straightforward attack of persecution. The latter was more complex. The propaganda of Judaism affected Christians in at least three ways: by using against them its influence with the Roman authorities (cp. the reiterated mention of “jealousy” in Clem. Rom. v.-vi., à propos of the Christian hardships under Nero); by insidiously representing itself as the ancient and sufficient faith, of which this upstart heresy of the Nazarenes was but a meagre offshoot; and on the ground of history and scripture, by directly challenging with bitterness and dialectic skill their historical right and claims. It is for a situation affected chiefly by the second of these phases that Hebrews is intended. The gospel of Matthew is the chief witness to the third, as Acts is to the first.
1 The absence of exact references in Hebrews to the Imperial policy and réginie need excite as little surprise as the silence of the De Imitatione Christi upon Joan of Arc and the wars and court of Louis XI., or of the Pilgrim's Progress upon the brilliant immorality of Charles the Second and the dash of van Ruyter up the Thames. The author's idealistic and speculative bent does not lead him to be nearly as explicit as Ciem. Rom., but the references of the latter quite bear out the implicit hints of the situation conveyed by Hebrews. It is a less probable conjecture that the slight allusions in Hebrews to political matters are purposely vague and covert, from the prudential fear of compromising author or readers.
2 This, in spite of Zahn (Einl. ii. 126), seems the true sense of the
3 The reference to Timotheus (1323) unfortunately yields no evidence for the date, as we have no data for ascertaining the length of his lifetime. I cannot see any covert historical allusion in the use which the author makes of the period forty years (317), although several editors regard this as an unequivocal proof that the church had a Christian career of forty years behind it when the author wrote. This would, of course, bring the date down past 70 A.D., but it must be pronounced rather a prosaic and unnecessary reading of the words in question.
4 Same danger in Clem. Rom. 462 (7 7P&TTa vápe coaäo e tos á riers, cmi di zolac pesvos autois de nos clýcovtus), Did. 163, Ignat. ad Ephes. 13, Barnab. 410. Associations and societies, however congenial to the spirit of the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries (Foucart, Associat, religieuses chez les Grecs), involved a certain strain and sacrifice for some Christians. Evidently association required to be enforced as a
This Domitianic date, i.e. previous to 96 A.D., is advocated by Schenkel (Das Christusbild der Apostel, etc., 1879, pp. 123, 130 f.), Mangold (Römerbrief, 1884, p. 258 f.), Holtzmann (ZwTh, 1884, pp. 1-10; Einl. pp. 292-309), Weizsäcker (AA, ii. pp. 155-160), von Soden (JpTh, 1884, pp. 435-493, 627–656 ; HC, III. 2, pp. 14-19), Lipsius (HC, 11. 2, p. 83), Jülicher (Einl. pp. 123–125), and McGiffert (A), pp. 463-470), while Zahn practically agrees by dating the epistle c. 80 A.D. (Einl. ii. pp. 142158; RTK, VII. pp. 492-506). So Cone (The Gospel and its Interpretations, p. 232 f.); also Rovers (Nieuw-test. Letterkunde, 1888, p. 80 f.), Bousset (TR, 1897, pp. 9, 10), J. Réville (Les origines de l'Episcopat, pp. 363-366), Krüger (Altchristliche Litteratur,? 1898, p. 11), Häring (SK, 1891, pp. 589–598), and Brückner (Chron. pp. 224-249). The last-named, however, goes a little too far down, while Pfleiderer (Urc. pp. 627, 628) seems to lean rather to the Trajanic than to the Domitianic date.
Unfortunately there is no decisive evidence for the place of Hebrews within its group. It cannot be placed before 80 A.D.; but if the third gospel and Acts were composed by the beginning of the last decade of the century, Hebrews may be dated slightly earlier, if not as practically contemporary. [EBi, ii. 1998 f., and Bacon, INT, pp. 140-149.)
The alternative date for Hebrews is between 60 and 70 A.D. This largely supported view takes the epistle as implying the contemporary existence of the Jewish temple and ritual, and as written in view of the religious dissolution which (813) culminated in A.D. 70. The arguments in favour of this date have been in part already met by implication, and in part they depend upon a view of the development of early Christianity,
duty, before it became a fixed and natural habit. “Aggregation does not appear to have invariably followed belief.” It was possible to be a Christian in some quarters, and yet, for different reasons, to stand aloof from or to abandon outward adhesion to the community (Hatch, Organisation of the Early Christian Churches, pp. 29, 30).
i For a date indefinitely later than 70 A.D., cr. also Professor W. Robertson Smith (EB, article “Hebrews”), Dr. A. B. Davidson (Hebreus, pp. 15-17), Wendt (ZwTh, 1895, pp. 157-160), and Reuss (?) (pp. 148–153). Harnack (Chron. pp. 475-479) also dates the writing subsequent to 1 Peter under Domitian, though he thinks it might be somewhat earlier.
2 On the seventh decade date and the implied shock with which the crisis threatened the religious feelings of the Hebrews, Dr. Davidson rightly remarks, “Such a despair ought to have seized all Hebrews alike, whether Christians or not; but there is no historical evidence of such a thing."
which would require many pages to exhibit. The finest statements of the case are given by Professor Bruce (Exp.vii. p. 162 f. ; The Epistle to the Hebrews, 1899; and in DB, ii. article “Hebrews"), Weiss (-Mever, and INT, ii. p. 30 f.), and Westcott (Epistle to Hebrews). Rendali (Theology of Hebrew Christians, pp. 70–76), Professor Mackintosh (Essays tow. a New Theclogy, 1889, pp. 291-297), and Adeney, BI, p. 429 (c. 68 A.D.), prefer to place the writing as near as possible to the crisis of 70 A.D., while a more or less earlier date (65-70) is chosen by Bleek, Beyschlag (NTTh, ii. pp. 286-288), Renan (l'Antéchrist, chap. ix.), Hilgenfeld (Einl. pp. 377–383), Clemen (Chron. pp. 277–279), Burton (RLA), Farrar (CGT, “Hebrews”), Roberts (Greek the Language of Christ and his Apostles, 1897, chap. viii.), Salmon (INT, pp. 430, 431), S. Davidson (ÎNT, i. pp. 183-250), Bovon (NTT), ii. pp. 387-389), Ménégoz, (La Théologie de l'épitre aux Hébreux, 1895), Professor G. G. Findlay
Epistles of Paul, p. 263 f.), Stevens (NTTh, p. 485 f.), Schäfer (Eini. pp. 149–157), Trenkle (Einl. pp. 88–91), and G. Milligan (Theol. of Epistle to Hebrews, 1899). With many others, these critics keenly defend the Jewish Christian character of the writing (“Le monument le plus éloigné du judaisme," Havet) and its date in the seventh decade of the first century. As a phase of this theory, it may be noted that Ramsay, retracting his former adhesion to the 64-66 date (CRE, p. 307), now regards the writing as addressed to the Jewish party of the Jerusalem church by Philip the Deacon, who wrote from Caesarea (59 A.D.) after discussions with Paul (Erp.5 ix. pp. 407-422); while W. M. Lewis (Thinker, Oct.-Nov. 1893 ; Biblical World, Aug. 1898, April 1899) had already conjectured on similar lines that the epistle was a joint production of Paul and Luke, written from the Caesarean imprisonment (Ac 2335). Such attempts possess the merit of novelty.3 But even upon the ordinary theory, as argued by the critics already named, it seems impossible to demonstrate that Hebrews was composed before the fall of the temple in A.D. 70, in the sense in which one can determine, for example, that a book like Tobit was written previously to its building in B.C. 25. Ultimately, the question of the date rests upon the question of the destination—the character and situation of the readers.
Of the localities to which the epistle is conjectured to have been addressed-Palestine (Jerusalem or Syria 4), Alexandria, Rome (Italy)
1 "Nous devons nous résigner å ignorer le lieu ou se trouvaient les destinataires. Tout ce qu'il nous est permis de conjecturer, c'est qu'ils vivaient dans une ville ou dans une contrée ou l'influence des Juifs-cultivés plutôt qu' incultes, ritualistes plutôt que légalistes—constituait un danger pour la prospérité de la communauté chrétienne.” °Cp. also Dr. J. B. Crozier, Intell. Development (1897), i. pp. 333– 337.
2 The (a) seventh decadle date is usually held with (6) the Jewish-Christian hypothesis, and the (c) Domitianic date with (3) the Gentile-Christian. But some, e.g. Dr. A. B. Davidson and Zahn, accept (b) and come down later than 70, while others, like Pfleiderer, accept (B) with a second century date (Urc. pp. 620-640 ; so Hausrath), or-like Häring-admit (a) with a modified form of (6).
3 Cp. ä critique by G. Milligan, Exp.5 x. pp. 154-160 ; Bartlet (AA, pp. 210 f., 281 f.) also dates it c. 62 A.D. as addressed to Caesarea.
4 Kübel (Kurzgefasster Comment. NT. 4, pp. 151-153) thinks the epistle was written by Barnabas between 67 and 68 A.D. to the Syrian Jewish-Christians. Rendall (Theology of Hebrero Christians, pp. 67-69) also inclines to a Syrian audience, possibly Antioch itself. Mr. Ayles (Destination, Date, and Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 1899) makes Barnabas the author, and dates the book c. 64 A.D. ; but, like e.g. Professor Ramsay, he unfortunately decides for Jerusalem as the destination. Passages like 23 511 124--to mention no others-absolutely prohibit this idea of Jerusalem as the circle of “ Hebrews."
the last-named is upon the whole to be preferred (cp. Heb 1310-16, Ro 14), although the destination of the letter is almost as dim as its authorship. Rome suits the internal evidence of the letter, its connection with Clem. Rom., and especially the reference in 1323. 24, where oi åtó tñs 'Italias (read in the light of Mt 15, Ac 2127 2418) surely means Italian residents abroad. Possibly it was written from Alexandria.3 At any rate its direct audience were the members of the particular church (1324) the rank and file, not the leaders, still less a group of evangelists (Heinrici, ThLz, 1895, p. 289). Probably enough it was some special community of older Christians at Rome, who are not to be identified with the whole church (cp. the expressions in 512 1025 1324), but may have formed a household church by themselves (Zahn, Einl. ii. pp. 146148 ; Harnack, ZNW, 1900, pp. 19–23, the latter, oddly enough, attributing the authorship of the writing to Prisca and Aquila, chiefly Prisca). Jülicher (Einl. pp. 130-132), however, rejects this utterly.
It looks almost a paradox to assert that the epistle to the Hebrews 4 was addressed to a church (in Rome or Italy) whose body and complexion were predominantly Gentile. Yet the evidence of the writing seems to leave no alternative (so Schürer, Harnack, von Soden, Pfleiderer, Wendt, Weizsäcker, Jülicher, and McGiffert among others). The copious and elaborate reasoning that fills page after page, the verbal illustrations and arguments from the LXX, the interest implied among the readers in the OT and their acquaintance with its contents and scope, these and many other characteristics spring, not from the fact that this circle of Christians was specially rooted in Judaism, but from the whole groundwork of OT and Jewish associations, traditions, and presuppositions, which underlay early Christianity. The epistle of Clem. Rom., e.g., is siniply woven through and through with OT quotations and references. Yet it was addressed to a predominantly Gentile church, which was evidently expected to understand and be profited by such a treatment of the subject. So, too, in Paul's letters to Rome (413. 16) and Galatia (329)4.
1 Taking the title spòs 'EBpaícus with the other Alexandrian titles of the gospel xal 'Eßporious and the gospel xut' 'Airttious, Harnack (Chron. p. 479 n.) conjectures that Esp. might mean the Hellenistic Jewish-Christians in Egypt, in which case the epistle would be taken as addressed to Egypt at a time when the churches contained Jewish-Christians, not Egyptian Gentile Christians (Aigustíos). On our ignorance, however, of Jewish-Christianity in early Egypt, cp, the caveat of Zahn, Einl. ii. p. 153.
2 Cp. the discussions in Dr. A. B. Davidson's edition (pp. 13-18; he dates the epistle from Rome to some community of the Dispersion in the East) and Holtzmann (Einl. pp. 303-308). Neither Rome nor Alexandria completely satisfies the evidence of the epistle, but perhaps there are fewer difficulties on the Roman hypothesis than upon any other (Zahn, Einl. ii. pp. 142–158). On the ourvoyagn Alspian (CIG, 40, 9909), cp. Exp. Ti, x. p. 422.
For an estimate of Alexandria and its significance in early Christianity, cp. J. S. Riggs, AJT (1897), pp. 927-949 ; also, from another stand point, Friedlander, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Christenthums, ein Excurs von den Septuaginta zum Evangelium (1894), espec. pp. 143-172.
The title apos 'EB paíous was, of course, added by later tradition. The superficial appearance of the letter and its contents made it a very natural guess, but it has no more weight or value than that of the Pauline authorship (“hardly more than a reflection of the impression produced on an early copyist," W. R. Smith). Both rose out of an age which had already lost all direct knowledge of the writing's origin and standpoint (cp. Zabn's decisive remarks, Einl. ii. pp. 111-113, 118-120, a recapitulation of his researches upon the canonical tradition). Klostermann (zur Theorie d. bibl. Weissagung u. zur Char. d. Hebr. p. 55 f.) conjectures após Bepualous=Bepealous as the original form of the title, in which case the epistle was written by Apollos to the Jewish-Christian community of Beroea (Ac 1710).
There, Jewish Christians formed certainly the minority of his audience ; yet Abraham is termed “our forefather according to the flesh” (Ro 41, cp. also 2 Co 616), and Gentile Christians are over and again assumed to be the people of God. Besides, such a use of the OT for didactic purposes was quite a conventional method of instruction, as may be seen in Philo (quis rer. divin. her., 1. 511; de Monarch, II. 222 ; épunveis yap εισιν οι προφήται, θεού καταχρωμένου τους εκείνων οργάνοις προς δήλωσιν ών åv éDennon), far too general to be confined merely to Jewish Christians. The OT had been familiar to many members of the church, even before they became Christians. Their first acquaintance with Jewish history and hopes did not date from their reception of Christ. It was originated by the propaganda, especially of Hellenistic Judaism. And even after their entrance into the Christian faith, the OT rather grew in significance. It was their religious codex, authoritative on worship and theology; any writer could with confidence appeal to it and argue from it, as in the nature of the case it was certain that his readers and he would be thus occupying common ground.
Positive arguments which tend to support this conclusion are drawn (Jacoby, NT Ethik, p. 202 f.) from allusions such as those in 614 134 1312. The principles mentioned in 614. are not such as would naturally be required for Jewish Christians (Schürer, SK, 1876, p. 776 f.); they distinctly point, like 134, to the first steps not of Jewish but of pagan converts, and the lapse feared in 1312 is a fall not into Judaism but away to idols and pagan faith.
The church addressed, then, is Christian. Gentiles form the major part of it, but the readers are viewed under no distinctions of race. At the same time one or two passages (64 139-16 etc.; cp. Hort, Jud. Christianity, p. 156 f. ; Haupt, SK, 1895, pp. 388-390) certainly seem to suggest that the situation of the church included temptations of a specifically Jewish character, which might appeal with especial force to Jewish Christians, and an attempt has been made to explain these as the efforts of a speculative Judaism which beset Gentile Christians during the second decade after the fall of Jerusalem (Häring, SK, 1891, pp. 589-598). At any rate, during the closing quarter of the century Jewish propaganda flourished throughout the Empire. The genuine morality and monotheism preached by the Hellenistic Jews especially must have proved not merely a rival to Christianity in the eyes of the outside pagans, but a dangerously attractive movement for those weaker and less intelligent members of the Christian church who lay open, through birth or circumstances, to such Jewish influences.2 Vivere more judaico was a specious watch-word. It represented, as we find from Cerinthus afterwards, a distinct and subtle danger, prompting Gentile Christiansespecially proselytes—to revert to their old life.3 “Better," urges the
1 It is scarcely necessary to add that the occasional use of the present tense (78. 20 83-5 96-9. 13 1310) in the epistle is no argument for the contemporary existence of the temple and its services. The writer is using a literary method, in common with Jewish (Josephus, Antig, iii. 6-12) and Christian writers (Clem. Rom. 404_413 ; Diognet. 3, etc. ; Fourth gospel, 52), who had occasion to refer to the Jewish cultus and customs after 70 A.D. (cp. Schürer, HJP, 1. ii. p. 268 f. ; Zahn, Eint. ii. pp. 141, 142).
On the exposure of provincial Christianity in the East to such Jewish apostasy, cp. Wellhausen, Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten, III. p. 196 f., and Harnack, TU, 1. 3, p. 73 f. Rabbinical tendencies naturally revived in the period following A.D. 70.
8 Although Judaism may be reckoned-in spite of Bar-kokhba's revolt--as a lost cause after 70, it was far from being a forsaken belief. It became, in spirit and