Friday, March 10, 2006

Précis of Paper for "Hebrews and Theology Conference"

A few days ago, I indicated that my paper proposal for the “Hebrews and Theology Conference” at St. Andrews, Scotland, in July has been accepted for presentation. Here is a précis or abstract of the paper I plan to present.

“The Eschatological World Already Subjected to the Son:
The Oikoumenē of Hebrews 1:6 and the Son’s Enthronement”

Of the several complexities of Hebrews 1:6 (whether palin modifies the verb eisagagē or is a connective as an introductory formula; the significance of the aorist subjunctive eisagagē; prōtotokos; the source of the citation), the meaning and significance of oikoumenē is most crucial and significant for the Epistle to the Hebrews. Attractive as it is, given the view’s longevity and endorsement by scholars such as Harold Attridge [Hebrews, Hermeneia, 56] and others, to understand oikoumenē as referring to the incarnation of the Son of God is doubtful as also is the view that oikoumenē refers to the Parousia, as argued by Westcott (Hebrews, 21-22) and Käsemann (Das wandernde Gottesvolk, 68-74) or hinted at by Hughes (Hebrews, 58-59). Rather, it is more likely that the second mention of oikoumenē (2:5), modified as it is with tēn mellousan, and clarified by the phrase “concerning which we have been speaking” (peri hēs laloumen), speaks of the Son’s enthronement. The Epistle to the Hebrews does speak of the Son’s incarnation “into the world” (eis ton kosmon, 10:5), but then the Son “was made a little lower than the angels” (2:7, 9). I will argue that eisagagē ton prōtotokon eis tēn oikoumenēn, in Hebrews 1:6, is best understood as signifying the Son’s enthronement, exaltation over the angels, and exultation by the angels when the Son entered into the heavenly world of eschatological salvation, the same world to come that God does not subject to angels (ou aggelois hupetaxen tēn oikoumenēn tēn mellousan; cf. Lane, Hebrews, 26-27; Vanhoye, “L’oikoumenē dans l’Epître aux Hébeux,” Bib 45, 248-253). Accordingly, the Epistle to the Hebrews sketches a complex eschatology that entails both temporal and spatial dimensions. The epistle makes much of the temporal axis—“long ago” and “these last days” (1:1-2), a theme oft repeated (e.g., 2:1-4)—beginning in the first verse and running through the epistle. Yet, also present in the epistle is a spatial axis that partakes in the temporal dimension by virtue of the Son’s having been brought already into the oikoumenē, the same oikoumenē which is yet to come (2:5; cf. 6:5).


Alan Bandy said...

Excellent paper topic. Will you make a copy available for those unable to attend?

abcaneday said...


I intend to make the paper available once I get it into proper form for eyes, other than my own, to look at it. That will not be until this summer sometime. Watch my blog for an announcement.

Dan said...

I'm attending the conference in St. Andrews this summer. I look forward to attending your presentation. It's going to be a great conference.


Ken Schenck said...

I look forward to hearing your paper at the conference. I argued this same basic position as well in a JBL article a few years ago. Blessings, Ken

abcaneday said...


Thanks for your comment and thanks for your helpful essay in JBL. I appreciate your mention of it. It did not show up in my data base searches, and I had forgotten about it, though I have JBL on my shelves. We have too much information to try to keep track of in our minds. Our knowledge base is growing much too fast for me to keep up.

abcaneday said...


I purchased a copy of your book, Understanding the Book of Hebrews: The Story Behind the Sermon. I like it very much. The layout so well gives the reader access to the epistle.

I believe that next time I teach our course on Hebrews that I will use your book.