Monday, November 28, 2011

Date of Hebrews: Excerpt

I was happy with how this paragraph came out.  In context, I'm addressing arguments by David deSilva that  10:2 implies that sacrifices are still being offered at the time of writing, as well as Luke Timothy Johnson's argument that 8:13 implies that the cultus has not been destroyed yet.  Of course the use of the present tense has long been shown to be irrelevant to the case because Josephus, Clement, and others do the same long after the temple was destroyed.
...When we therefore try to reconstruct the mindset of Jews toward the temple in the time between the destruction of the temple and the Bar Kochba revolt, we get a sense that the temple was physically destroyed but not permanently destroyed in their conceptual framework.  If we want to evaluate the possibility that Hebrews was written in this period, we have to forget that we know the temple was never rebuilt.  We have to picture a time when “various strange teachings” (13:9) might come into play as a coping mechanism until such time as the temple was re-established.  God had allowed the temple to be destroyed before, but once Israel’s sins were purged, he had faithfully seen it rebuilt.  So he would again.  This is the way we must expect many Jews to have thought in those years, and it is against such a backdrop that we must evaluate the possibility that Hebrews comes from this period.

1 comment:

Ken Schenck said...

My summary at the end of this discussion: "In short, neither the use of the present tense nor wording that sounds as if the cultus has not completely disappeared has any force whatsoever in arguing against a post-destruction date, not when we read these comments in the light of how most at the time are likely to have conceptualized the temple’s destruction."