James Swetnam, «The Crux at Hebrews 5,7-8», Vol. 81 (2000) 347-361
Heb 5,7-8 is a classic crux. It is not clear, as the text seems to say, how Jesus could beg to be freed from death and then be heard `although He was son'. Further, it is not clear how Jesus could `learn obedience from the things He suffered' since Hebrews pictures Him as antecedently ready to do God's will. The present paper reviews some of the principal suggestions which have been made and makes its own: that the Sitz im Leben of Jesus' plea is the cross, and the words refer to Ps 22 which Jesus cites in Matthew and Mark. In the context, reference to the psalm is taken by bystanders as an allusion to God intervening through Elijah to save Jesus. Hebrews understands Jesus' citing the initial verse of the psalm as an agreement to all that the psalm implies, i.e., as an implicit petition to die. Further, the main verse alluded to in Ps 22 seems to refer to the tôdâ which Jesus celebrated with His disciples, and this explains how He could `learn' obedience: He learned by experience the benignant effect of obedience to God.
paradoxical to say that Jesus was not heard because of His reverence for God. But the fact that no manuscript has the ou)k makes any discussion moot8.
4. Jesus Was Heard by Being Glorified
Jesus was heard in the sense that he was freed from death by being glorified9. This interpretation gives a satisfactory meaning to ei)sakousqei/j and a)po_ th=j eu)labei/aj, but does not explain kai/per w@n ui(o/j, which is severed from what precedes10. Further, the parenthesis which this interpretation makes out of the phrase kai/per w@n ui(o/j e!maqen a)f )w|n e!paqen th_n u(pakoh/n would seem to function as a description of eu)la/beia, but if so, the eu)la/beia must be an expression of obedience which the Son learns, but this obedience in turn is said to be the result of things Jesus suffered (e!paqen). But in Hebrews to suffer is a term used for Jesus death. If Jesus obedience resulted from His death, and if His reverence resulted from His obedience, it seems impossible that His reverence be the cause for His asking to be freed from death by being glorified. Finally, the most telling objection against this interpretation is that it seems to make Jesus untrusting in the face of death: He has to descend to loud cries and tears in order to beg for glorification, hardly a model to be held up to those Christians who are being tested as Jesus was tested cf. Heb 2,18)11.
5. Jesus Was Heard after Fear
Jesus was heard after He feared, i.e., Jesus was heard after an experience of fearing12. This argument is based on the use of the preposition a)po/ in Heb 11,34 and elsewhere in Hebrews. But this interpretation again implies that eu)la/beia means fear in the sense of