James Swetnam, «The Meaning of toi/j a)kou/sasin at Hebrews 4,2», Vol. 93 (2012) 601-608
The words toi/j a)kou/sasin in Heb 4,2 are frequently taken as referring either to the Israelites of the desert generation who, in contrast to the majority, did believe in God’s care, or to the Christians who, in contrast to the desert generation, do believe. After indicating why each interpretation is unsatisfactory, the note argues from the wording of the entire verse in the context of the epistle as a whole that the words refer to the Christians who heard the words of the Lord as he instituted the Eucharist. He is the one who, through the linkage of faith, makes entrance into God’s rest possible.
See more by the same author
08_Biblica_2_AM_C_Swetnam_Layout 1 30/01/13 13:18 Pagina 604
604 JAMES SWETNAM
This becomes clear from the way the thematic word lale,w is used in Heb
1,2. Further, based on the way the word lale,w is used in Heb 1,2 it is clear
that the speaking â€œinâ€ (evn) the Son is more important than the speaking
â€œinâ€ (evn) prophets in that the former is the â€œfinal and decisiveâ€ speaking in
Godâ€™s dealings with humanity 12.
Given this background it is instructive to see how the author of Hebrews
views the terminus of Godâ€™s speaking â€œthroughâ€ the angels, i.e., with regard
to the Mosaic Law. He views it as a â€œwordâ€ (lo,goj): o` di vavgge,lwn lalhqei.j
logoj (Heb 2,2). Further, this lo,goj, though ending up as a â€œbookâ€ (bibli,on,
Heb 9,19), was spoken (lale,w) by Moses to all the people (Heb 9,19). The
Mosaic Law, then, would seem to be the o` lo,goj th/j avkoh/j, â€œthe word
heardâ€, by the desert generation. It contained the promises of entrance into
the land which was the goal of their wandering. In Heb 3,16 those who re-
belled are said to have been the ones who, having â€œheardâ€ (avkou,santej),
had gone out of Egypt through the instrumentality of Moses. Heb 3,16 thus
supports the interpretation of o` lo,goj th/j avkoh/j given above.
The problem now is to identify in the epistle the term of Godâ€™s parallel
speaking â€œthrough the Lordâ€ in the words of the institution of the Eucharist.
In the context of Heb 4,2 the word lo,goj appears at Heb 4,11-12 13. The
present writer has long argued for the minority interpretation of this word
in the latter two verses in the sense of lo,goj of the Johannine prologue 14.
In addition to the arguments involving the immediate context of Heb 4,12-
13 indicating that the lo,goj of Heb 4,12 is not the word of Scripture, the
above argumentation involving the parallelism between the terminus of
Godâ€™s speaking â€œthroughâ€ the angels and â€œinâ€ Moses and â€œthroughâ€ and
â€œinâ€ the Son should now be considered. o` lo,goj th/j avkoh/j as involving
the Son should be somehow intrinsically superior to o` lo,goj th/j avkoh/j in-
volving Scripture, for the speaking in the Son is â€œfinal and decisiveâ€, as
the thematic prologue of the epistle makes clear. Thus, on the supposition
â€œThe final and decisive address of God to humanity occurs not â€˜of oldâ€™
but, literally, â€˜at the end of these daysâ€™ â€¦. The lively sense that the author and
his community live at the final point of Godâ€™s dealing with humanity is not,
of course, unique, but is shared by Jewish apocalyptists and by many early
Christiansâ€ (ATTRIDGE, Hebrews, 39). In support of this view Attridge refers
to Heb 9,6-10 and 10,25. He could also have cited Heb 3,1-6 and the radically
different roles of Moses and Jesus as Servant â€œinâ€ the house and Son â€œoverâ€
the house in the context of the use of the verb lale,w by Moses at 3,5.
Noted by LANE, Hebrews 1â€“8, 98.
J. SWETNAM, â€œJesus as lo,gojâ€ in Hebrews 4,12-13â€, Bib 62 (1981) 214-
224; ID., â€œThe Context of the Crux at Hebrews 5,7-8â€, FilologÃa Neotesta-
mentaria 14 (2001) 103-107; ID., â€œA Close Reading of Hebrews 3,7â€“4,11 and
Logos as Christ in Hebrews 4,12â€, Melita Theologica 58 (2007) 43-51. Of
course others have held this view long before the present writer.
Â© Gregorian Biblical Press 2012 - Tutti i diritti riservati