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Monday, March 4, 2013

"Charts on the Book of Hebrews" (Herbert Bateman IV)

TITLE: Charts on the Book of Hebrews (Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology)
AUTHOR: Herbet Bateman IV
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2012, (272 pages).

This book brings together a host of scholarship material and sources in the form of visual charts. Easily accessible and clear, Bateman distills into a small book what many researchers, pastors, teachers, scholars, and theologians will need hours and large resources to discover. Written in four parts, Bateman brings together a wide variety of scholarship through history to bring us an easy and convenient reference rolled into one volume. Part One considers the introductory information surrounding Hebrews. There are lots of information with regards to the sources and authorship of the ancient book of Hebrews. There is a historical spread from the ancient Church fathers, theologians, scholars, and leaders through the centuries, to modern critical scholarship. In just a few pages, readers are treated to a breathtaking view of perspectives through the centuries. Just on authorship alone, the many viewpoints on who wrote the book of Hebrews provide a glimpse into the complexities and difficulties of determining with any scientific accuracy the originators of the book. Some say Paul while others say Barnabas, or another of Jesus' disciples. Some even mention Mary and Clement of Syria as possible authors! Even modern commentators are not in agreement about it. This is why many modern Bible commentaries on Hebrews will indicate "unknown" as a better way to answer the authorship question. The genre and structure of Hebrews are highlighted with ample references and explanation of the different viewpoints. Of lesser dispute is the destination of Hebrews where most of the scholarship agree that it is Rome. That said, the other possible destinations are Colossae, Antioch, or simply unknown. Generally, it is agreed that Jewish Christians are the primary audience of the book of Hebrews.

Part Two goes deeper into the content of Hebrews, providing helpful references to Old Testament allusions, Jewish cultic practices and rituals, priesthood, and many Messianic figures mentioned in Hebrews.  There are dating considerations. This section is important, espcially for non-Jewish readers because the book of Hebrews can be better appreciated if one understands the Jewish practices of old first.

Part Three highlights the differente views of the theologies in Hebrews. It focuses on the Person of Jesus, suggests how Hebrews paint the portraits of God, each with biblical references. It points out the different characteristics of Jesus and how the Triune Godhead works together to sustain creation, radiate God's glory, how God guides, and many more. There are constant parallels between Hebrews and the Old Testament to cement the tight relationship between the testaments. Jesus is wisdom. The Word of God is wisdom. God is wisdom. Of particular interest is how Hebrews refers to Jesus through many different titles, royal, priestly, and messianic.  There are also non-regal as well as divine titles.

Part Four will be of particular interest to students of exegesis and word study interest. Reading like a concordance in many ways, the various biblical texts and translations are carefully compared and contrasted.  It does to Hebrews what Burton Throckmorton has done to the synoptic gospels. While Throckmorton has compared the synoptic gospels side by side, Bateman compares the Hebrew text side by side with the Septuagint and the relevant Old and New Testament texts. However, there is a slight difference. Bateman leaves the reader to do most of the reading and interpretation. In fact, the book is basically there to highlight the nuances of the text, as well as the different perspectives through the ages. The reader needs to do the interpretation, and the application of the text. The figures of speech tables show us how important it is to understand the symbolic nature of much of the language in Hebrews. Addressing this step well is key to applying the text.

Hebrews is not an easy book to study, let alone understand the plain reading of it. There are lots of background information that the modern layperson or the casual reader will miss out. This book is an exegetical swiss knife to understand the background, the symbols, the history, the theology, and many aspects of Hebrews. It lists down ready references for students to use as a primer in Hebrew studies. It is also a quick reference for pastors and teachers to use in their powerpoint slides or preaching outlines. What I appreciate most is how Bateman has concisely put complex information into simple tables and charts for ease of reading and appreciation of the complexity when studying the book of Hebrews. With this book, no one should be afraid to study Hebrews. In fact, this book will empower any interested reader to learn more and to appreciate Hebrews even more.

If you are a pastor, professor, scholar, researcher, or Bible teacher, this book is certainly a must have as part of your biblical resource.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Kregel Academic without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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