in Abingdon New Testament Commentaries

by Victor C. Pfitzner

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Pages 218 pages
Publisher Abingdon Press
Published 1997
ISBN-13 9780687057245
Pfitzner interprets Hebrews as a passionate appeal directed by its author to a community that is in danger of surrendering the distinctiveness of its faith. Through an examination of its structure, rhetorical devices, and arguments, he shows Hebrews to be a splendid example of extended exhoration, with a recurring pattern of formal introduction, scriptural quotation, exposition, and appplication. By seeing the message of Hebrews as a "word exhortation" (13:22) to a community in crisis, Pfitzner is able to set its distinctive Christology firmly in its original social, historical, and cultural context.


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“The Abingdon New Testament Commentaries series provides,” according to the general editor V. P. Furnish, “compact, critical commentaries on the writings of the New Testament” (p. 11). The present work certainly is in keeping with the objective of the series. Pfitzner masterfully compacts an introduction (pp. 19-45) and critical discussion of Hebrews (pp. 47-208) into 190 pages. On pp. 19-45 Pfitzner, in three broad strokes, succinctly covers the introductory questions. Addressing literary issues first, Pfitzner concludes that the genre of Hebrews is a sermonic letter presented in an epideictic rhetorical fashion and structured with a parenetic thrust on Christ’s priesthood (Heb 4:17-10:18) which is framed by two exhortations (Heb 4:14-16; 10:19-25): “to hold fast to the confession and to claim priestly access into God’s presence" (pp. 20-24). Moving onto historical issues, Pfitzner reveals the shaky foundations for Pauline authorship and argues for Apollos as author. The recipients of Apollos’s sermonic letter, a letter written sometime before 64 CE, were Roman readers who were “possibly tempted to seek security under the cover of Judaism” (pp. 24-32). The final section of the introduction focuses on theological issues. After summarizing the historical milieu of the author’s world (i.e., intertextual issues) and early Christian traditions, Pfitzner identifies Hebrews’ distinctive christological and eschatological emphases (pp. 32-45). Of particular interest is Pfitzner’s argument that Hebrews employs a theology of worship. He traces the theme throughout the book. The summons to worship begins with angels worshipping the Son (Heb 1:4, 6-7), continues with Apollos’s call for believers to be faithful (i.e. [Full Review]