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guard went into the city and brought word to the high priests of all 12 that had taken place. And after meeting with the elders and taking 13 counsel, they gave a considerable sum of money to the soldiers, telling
them, “Say "his disciples came at night and stole him when we were 14 asleep.' And should this matter come before the procurator, we will 15 satisfy him and clear you of any trouble.” So they took the money
and did as they were instructed. And this story has been disseminated
among the Jews, down to the present day. 16 Now the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where 17 Jesus had appointed them. And on seeing him they did him reverence ; 18 but some doubted. And Jesus came and talked to them, saying,
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and upon earth;
THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS
LIKE its successor Acts, Hebrews is an implicit apology for Christianity. Only, there is this difference between them. The apologetic element in the former is principally I concerned with the outward relationship of the Christian faith (cp. Holtzmann, Das NT u. der Römische Staat, 1892, p. 13f.) to the Roman Empire. Hebrews is directly a word of encouragement (1322) for those inside the church; it forms an attempt to emphasise the sufficiency and finality of Christianity for those who accept Christ, not a demonstration of its political innocence. Both books were written primarily to instruct and edify their age. But while the method of Acts is historical and retrospective, Hebrews is speculative and theological. Luke and Acts establish the certainty of the faith by exhibiting its growth in Jesus and its development into the expanded sphere of the Empire. The author of Hebrews proves Christianity to be the ultimate religion, by means of a long series of comparisons drawn between it and the religion from which it sprang. His training leads him to use the religious authority common to himself and his readers—the OT-and to interpret this on Alexandrian principles of symbolism and typology. Hence the impression of remoteness in his treatment of the religious situation of Christendom within the Empire as compared with Acts, and especially with the Apocalypse. This author does not deal with the Temple and the Jews as they lived. His view is directed to the ideal tabernacle and the Levitical services as these exist in the LXX. He and his readers are citizens of Jerusalem, but it is the Jerusalem in heaven. He and they await the crisis and end of the age ; but it is no outcome of a Roman campaign, it is the act of God in fulfilment of older prophecy (Jer 3131 f.), when the new covenant is introduced. The book reflects a situation of trial, especially in the Roman church, but the attitude to Domitian is more akin to that of Clem. Rom. than to that of the Apocalypse ; for the character of the author and the object of the writing alike prevent the political situation from becoming an absorbing feature of thought. Before transcendentalism, political and social colours pale. Even the later “First Epistle of John” is as silent upon the outer relations of the churches under Trajan, as the Religio Medici upon the Star Chamber and the fortunes of the Huguenots.
The very breath of Hebrews is antagonism to a retrograde movement within the circle of Roman Christians to which it was probably addressed. Behind the letter we can feel a tendency on the part of timid and disheartened members to abandon the Christian faith under stress of
i Though in Acts also there is an implicit apology directed to contemporary Judaism. The author strove to demonstrate that Christianity was the legitimate heir to the Jewish law and its promises. He had before him a Jewish propaganda (Ac 1521) which attempted to jealously dispute that claim, and in view of this he aimed at showing how Gentile Christianity had come from the heart and centre of Judaism by a natural and unforced development.
contemporary trial. This is aggravated by the length of time which has elapsed since the conversion of the readers—a period which has dimmed the first brightness of their faith without producing a mature and intelligent experience. Mental seriousness 1 and moral stability are two qualities in which these people are found sadly deficient. Coupled also with the external trial and internal sluggishness, there is an element of strain existing between the readers and their church authorities. It is these considerations rather than any mere outward features, which characterise the writing.
The terminus ad quem for the date of Hebrews is fixed by the epistle of Clemens Rom, in which it is certainly and copiously used (Euseb. HE, 3. 38, της προς Εβραίους πολλά νοήματα παραθείς, ήδη δε και αυτολεξεί øntois ¢ åutñs xpnoáuevos). As this epistle was composed c. 97 A.D., Hebrews cannot be much later than 94–95 ; and probably it was in existence considerably before that time. The exact terminus a quo, however, is much more difficult to fix. It is certain that the writing presupposes an acquaintance with the Pauline epistles 2 ; its indebtedness to Galatians, 1 Corinthians, and (especially) Romans lies on the surface, and as closein spite of divergent aims and standpoints—is its connection with Ephesians 3 in conceptions and phraseology. A similar series of affinities exists between 1 Peter4 and Hebrews; but here, as in the case of Ephesians, the explanation of these is uncertain. If Ephesians is authentic, it was used by the author of Hebrews. If i Peter is authentic, on the other hand, its use in Hebrews is possible, its similarity of atmosphere indubitable. The latter may be due to the fact that both writings are coloured by an independent use of Ephesians. The net result of these lines of criticism, however, is merely to establish the post-Pauline date of Hebrews, and at the same time to exhibit its affinities with two writings which upon other grounds are often relegated to a much later date. The latter hint is corroborated by the distinct connection of Hebrews with the group LukeActs (cp. the excellent table in Simcox : Writers of NT, Appendix I. Table 2; also Exp.3 viii. pp. 184–190), which has even suggested the Lucan authorship of the epistle (Delitzsch). The similarities are to be most reasonably explained by the hypothesis that all three writings are neighbours in spirit and practically contemporaries in age. Other coincidences, between Hebrews and later works like the Apocalypse, the Pastorals, and James, are too infrequent and subordinate to be decisive on the question of the date.
1 cf. 21.3 511-63 121-5.25 1322. “Is there a Christ? Is He the Heir of all things ? Was He made flesh? Did He offer the all-perfect sacrifice? Did He supersede the old order of priests? Is He the mediator of a new and better Covenant? What are the terms of that Covenant? There are no questions like these. .... I am astonished at the imperative tone of this Epistle, and the element of holy scorn against those who refuse to go into these great questions carefully” (Jaines Smetham's Letters, p. 170).
2 Evidence stated in Holtzmann, Einl. pp. 298, 299; Brückner, Chron. pp. 236-241. The whole cast and temper of the writer's thought, along with an incidental allusion like that in 1323, indicates a connection with the Pauline circle. 3 Heb. 13 31 64 718 81 911-12 1010 122 1312 1014.29
**: besides words and phrases like Eph. 120 118f. 13 213 120 17 526 120 526 526 αιμα και σάρξ, άγρυπνείν, κραυγή, υπεράνω, εις άτολύτρωσιν, αίων μέλλων, προσφορά και θυσία, βουλή (of God), παρρησία, etc.
4 The relative priority of Hebrews, which is largely held, is not certain upon the grounds of mere literary criticism (cp. Usteri's ed. of 1 Peter, pp. 298–300, and von Soden, HC, III. 2, pp. 3, 4). The probable priority of 1 Peter to James also tells strongly against it.
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 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.2
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
1 The absence of exact references in Hebrews to the Imperial policy and régine 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 Clem. 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 words.
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 prósaic and unnecessary reading of the words in question.
4 Same danger in Clem. Rom. 462 (ré potrao góp' xordão de tots & ríos, oto or zora áleivos ÚTois é yooolhoortui), Did. 162, 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
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 skilĩ 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.
This Domitianic date, 1 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 (Ã A, ii. pp. 155-160), von Soden (JpTh, 1884, pp. 435–493, 627–656; HC, III. 2, pp. 14–19), Lipsius (HC, II. 2, p. 83), Jülicher (Einl. pp. 103-106), and McGiffert (AA, pp. 463-470), while Zahn practically agrees by dating the epistle c. 80 A.D. (Einl. ii. pp. 142– 158; 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. Řéville (Les origines de l’Episcopat, pp. 363-366), Krüger (Altchristliche Litteratur, 2 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.
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. 70.2 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 å date indefinitely later than 70 A.D., cp. also Professor W. Robertson Smith (EB, article “ Hebrews"), Dr. A. B. Davidson (Hebrews, 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.”