2009 The Catholic Epistles

Session 1

Jonathan Griffiths (University of Cambridge)

Christ as the personal 'word of the oath' in Hebrews 6.13-7.28

It has long been suggested that Hebrews presents Christ as the incarnate Logos of God, an argument that has rested largely on exegesis of Hebrews 1.1-4 and 4.12-13. The debate concerning the existence and extent of this Logos Christology is ongoing. A significant, but often ignored section of Hebrews with respect to this discussion is the writer's treatment of God's oath in 6.13-7.28. This oath appoints Christ as high priest, enabling him to provide to others access to God's presence and the related salvific benefits. In light of the suggestion that the writer presents Christ as the incarnate Logos elsewhere in Hebrews, it is worth considering whether in this passage the 'word of the oath' (7.28) has a personal and Christological significance. In this paper, I will argue that the 'word of the oath' does bear this significance, and, moreover that the statement in 6.17b that God 'confirmed' (emesiteusen) his promise by an oath should be read, 'he mediated his promise by an oath', with the implication that Christ's personal mediation is there signified as the personalised 'word of the oath'. As I demonstrate, a revised reading of 6.13-7.28 in light of a personal and Christological reading of the 'word of the oath' has significant implications for the broader study of Hebrews, in particular its soteriology, Christology and theology of God's speech.

Session 2

Jeremiah 31:31–34 (LXX 38:31–34) in Hebrews. The History of the Two Versions of Jeremiah 31:31–34 and their Reception

The longest and one of the most interesting quotations from the Old Testament in the New is the quotation from Jeremiah 31:31–34 (LXX 38:31–34) in Hebrews 8 and 10. What is especially interesting is the fact that the text exists in two substantially different versions, a fact that hitherto has been almost totally neglected in the scholarly discussion. One version is mainly preserved in Hebrew and one mainly preserved in Greek. Consequently, in a Hebrew speaking context, of course, the Hebrew version was used, while in a Greek speaking context the Greek was used, and in a Latin speaking context both versions were used side by side. Moreover, the Greek version does not seem to be a rendering of an extant Hebrew version, but rather of another and more original Hebrew version, which is no longer extant. One of the most significant differences between the versions is the very rare use of the plural of νόμος in the Greek version (leges in the NT Latin), where the Hebrew version has Torah in the singular (lex in the OT Latin). The singular Torah apparently refers to the Torah in the Hebrew version, but to what does the plural of νόμος in the Greek version refer, and how does this affect the interpretation of the text in Hebrews? This and a number of other questions raised by the different versions will be discussed in the present paper.

Session 3

Travis B. Williams (Exeter University)

For Richer or For Poorer? The Socio-Economic Condition of the Recipients of 1 Peter

A topic that has received considerable attention in recent years is the socio-economic status of the earliest Christian communities. Yet, as is often the case in New Testament studies, the epistle of 1 Peter has been all but overlooked. What makes this omission somewhat surprising, however, is that during this same period significant debate has taken place within Petrine scholarship itself. In fact, one will find just as much diversity of opinion here than in the discussion of the Pauline communities. Views have spanned the entirety of the socio-economic spectrum, ranging from wealthy, 'upper-class' elites to poor tenant farmers just trying to stay above the subsistence level. However, what has been sorely lacking is any attempt to implement insights from the most recent economic discussions, whether in classical or biblical studies. And what is more, very little evidence from the world of ancient Anatolia has actually been employed in constructing a picture of the readers' socio-economic condition. This paper will be an attempt to bring some much-needed resolution to the debate by first outlining the economic situation of first-century CE Asia Minor and then re-examining the evidence from 1 Peter in light of any fresh discoveries attained therein.