Divine Discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews: An Encounter with a God Who Speaks


The Epistle to the Hebrews presents God in dialogue. It opens with God speaking through the prophets and the Son in Hebrews 1.1, and then presents words previously attested in Scripture as the speech of God throughout the epistle. By means of prosopological exegesis, an ancient reading strategy with its roots in classical Greco-Roman training, the author interprets these texts by giving them new participants and settings, which produces readings that support his theological program. They do not appear at random, but instead are found in a distinct pattern throughout Hebrews. In the first two sections of Hebrews (1.1–4.16; 4.11–10.25), the Father speaks first, primarily to the Son; then the Son responds to the Father; and finally, the Spirit speaks to the community. The first chapter of this thesis introduces prosopological exegesis and then discusses the speech of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in chapters 2, 3, and 4 respectively. These chapters discuss the author’s use of Scripture, including his utilization of certain ambiguities within Greek traditions of Scripture, and by extension its text-form and the impact of considering these texts as “speech.” The fifth chapter discusses the implications of these readings for understandings of the structure of Hebrews in addition to divine and human speech in Hebrews 10.19–13.25. This third section of Hebrews exhibits variations from the patterns above, but may help to draw together the author’s three speaking characters. What emerges from this study is a clearer picture of the speaking God in Hebrews. The regular and regulated use of speech throughout the epistle moves the argument forward and is essential to the author’s portrayal of God, since it is not just the author’s words, but God’s as well, that disclose the theological core of this book

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This paper was published in Durham e-Theses.

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