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February 3, 2023 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Friday Noon Study Group February 3 12-1
We began last Friday’s discussion of the Epistle to the Hebrews with a reminder of how frequently this text drew upon verbatim citations from the Tanach (Chapters 1-4 in Hebrews directly cited excerpts from Psalms 102:25ff., 110:11, 8:4-6, 22:22, 15:7-11, and Isaiah 8: 17-18). We speculated that such extensive reference to Hebrew scripture had the effect of making the author of Hebrews more credible (he/she had a mastery of Tanach) and of making the author’s audience more comfortable by citing from texts with which they were familiar.
We then took a closer look at chapters 5-7 in Hebrews, chapters that focused upon the priesthood of Christ, furthering the case for his superiority as an intermediary between God and Man/Man and God. These chapters confirm the concept, expressed earlier in the Hebrew Bible, that the Messiah would be a Davidic figure, appointed by divine decree: “The Lord hath sworn . . . ‘Thou art a priest for ever in the manner of Melchizedek'” (Psalm 110:4/ Hebrews 5:5-6). A good portion of our discussion was devoted to an exploration of who Melchizedek was. He appears in Genesis 14:18 as a Canaanite King and Priest who blesses Abram. Christian tradition associates Melchizedek, (“king of righteousness””king of peace”) with the “eternal priesthood” of Christ. In the Epistle to the Hebrews (and also in the Dead Sea Scrolls), Melchizedek is seen as a divine being who will judge and atone for his people. According to an encyclopedia entry shared by one of our participants, “Melchizedek is made to foreshadow Christ. . . . According to the analogy, just as Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites, paid a tithe to Melchizedek and was therefore his inferior, so the Melchizedek-like priesthood of Christ is superior to the Levites.”
We concluded our discussion session last week in the middle of Hebrews, Chapter 7:11-12, which suggests that not only was the Levitical priesthood superseded by “another priest arising according to the order of Melchizedek,” but that “when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.”
This Friday, we’ll further examine the passages just cited and then continue our exploration of the Epistle to the Hebrews with a closer look at Chapters 7:11-Chapter 10.
Our discussion group meets via Zoom every Friday from 12-1 (see the CBI web site or Weekly Announcements for a Zoom link). All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous Friday study group sessions. Any copy of the New Testament is acceptable (the more versions the richer the conversation).