Hebrews: Hebrews 1-8 (Word Biblical Commentary) Hardcover – 1 Nov 1991
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Top Customer Reviews
Then why only four stars? For a series of reasons.
Print quality is sometimes poor, with portions of letters missing and/or black marks on some pages. This does not make anything illegible, and in my opinion was not bad enough to merit returning the book to obtain a replacement. But it is not up to the standard of print quality that people have come to expect over the past few hundred years!
Layout is extremely poor. In fact, it would appear that the publishers gave no thought at all to layout. Solid text for page after page makes this book very uninviting to pick up and dip into. Verse references are printed in bold at the beginning of the line, but these are not particularly prominent and there is no gap between the commentary on one verse and that on the next one.
Turning to the content itself, Lane clearly dedicated many years to the preparation of his commentary, and seems to have read virtually everything of significance that has been published on the letter to the Hebrews in a wide range of languages. The bibliographies he includes are also very comprehensive. However, his very closeness to all this literature clearly made it hard for him to summarise, and there is thus a tremendous amount of repetition in this book. Three pages on one author's opinions may be followed by another three pages on another author's opinions, even when most of the opinions are the same.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
No one having heard or read his "word of exhortation" could do so without gaining a deeper appreciation for the gospel, for the great and abiding theme is David's Greater Son. All of Scripture bears the same divine authority, and the OT is used right from the start as 'the author is fond of stringing quotations together.' p 26 In a compelling exordium, the Father's appointment of the Son as "heir of all things" (1:2) powerfully issued in a dominion mandate. The contextual background the author supplied by his use of OT texts, especially the two royal psalms (Ps 2 and Ps 110), served to confirm Christ's appointment as king as prophesied to David. 'The divine promise (2 Sam 7:12) pointed to a successor who would be raised up by God subsequent to David's generation, who would be the legitimate heir to the promised eternal kingdom.' p 25 The citing of the eternal session of Christ "at the right hand of God" (1:3) resonated with the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, the son of David according to the flesh, now exalted to David's eternal throne. But He is also the eternal Son of God, "the Son" - having inherited a name which is "much more excellent" than that of "angels" (1:4). The citation of Ps 2:7, "today I have become your Father" (1:5) and God's "firstborn" (1:6) was not to deny His pre-existence and co-eternality with the Father, but coincided with the apostolic testimony in Acts which celebrated that the Son indeed was "raised up", is the first-begotten from the dead, and to his subsequent exaltation. As the unchangeable Son, Lane does not hesitate to apply the divine attribute of immutability to Him, which reaffirms that the eternal Son does not belong to the created order, which further assumes His unexpressed equality with God. According to Lane, the author explicitly affirmed Christ's deity in this passage, declaring that the Son is superior to the "angels" or "the sons of God" (1:6). The inheritance the royal Son received to instate His coming of age is described as a throne for ever (not a thousand years), a sceptre of righteousness over a righteous kingdom (not one capable of rebellion), and a royal anointing - the oil of gladness (1:8-9).
The "word spoken/ordained by angels" (2:2) appears to best fit the Mosaic Law. Lane further observed that although the cultural mandate to subdue the earth had been frustrated by sin and death, 'the sense of wonder expressed by the psalmist indicates that it has not been forgotten.' p 46 Lane applied the citation of man (Ps 8 in Heb 2) to 'Jesus in a representative sense [who] fulfilled the vocation intended for humankind.' p 47 He was not alone in desiring that it be thought of primarily in an christological sense. Based on the unanimous precedent set by the Septuagint, the Targum and other Jewish commentators on Ps 8, Hughes was of the same mind, further concurring with them that angels 'give the right interpretation of these passages in which the translation of elohim as "God" would be misleading.' Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Hebrews p 86 (All against Jimmy Swaggart, Study Bible KJV Crossfire Edition.) The exalted Son is the One by whom all things unfailingly exist, understood to mean that Christ is supreme in His sovereignty over creation, vested with absolute authority, and significantly so over all life (2:8). The concurrency between the human and the divine natures of Christ is epitomized in the humiliation and exaltation of the Son (2:5-9). That Christ "tasted death for everyone" (2:9) may give universalists premature reason to celebrate, but those ifo limited atonement have consistently held that "everyone" is a catch-all, a collective word limited to the subject of this pericope: "sons and daughters" of God, "brothers and sisters" of Jesus - the elect "children of God" (2:10-13). The author riveted their attention on the solidarity of the Son with the people of God (2:10-18). Lane, in objection to post-Reformation textual variants, did not wish to deprive us of the forceful Hebrew incarnational expression contained in "He took on Him the seed of Abraham" (2:16 KJV). Lane found in it a rich textual history directed to 'the faithful remnant [which] is the object of God's comfort' (p 64), a strong allusion to Isaiah 41:8-10: "But you, Abraham's descendants, upon whom I took hold of..." Salvation depended on the two natures of Christ. In order to be our representative Jesus had to have a nature exactly like ours, and be fully God. The high priestly motif unfolds from 2:17, as His conformity to us in our estate and condition was absolutely necessary 'to the great end of His being a successful Savior.' John Brown Hebrews p 134
The author's pastoral rhetoric showed a determination to evoke in his hearers a concern for matters of eternal consequence, and was designed to extract a renewed commitment to the faith. A comparison between the Son's eternal appointment (3:5-6a) and that of the major OT mediator, Moses, followed: 'The argument turns on the distinction between "servant" and "Son", and between the prepositions "in the house" and "over the house".' p 78 The Son is a better leader than Moses. The paranetic section containing the second warning, (3:7-19), extended to the hearers a triple threat, signalled by the recurrence of "today" (3:7, 13, 15) which brought home to their own assembly the memory of the gravity of the Exodus assembly's failure to "hear His voice" (Ps 95). The writer never lost sight of the power of oral impact, and his implicit charge was that they too were no longer listening to the voice of God in Scripture and preaching. To those who ultimately spurn Him who is speaking, the unavoidable conclusion is that their indifference would result in the relapse of their Christian faith. Detectable in the Greek wordplay in "see to it" (3:12) and "so we see" (3:19), the author motivated 'his concern is that the community should continue to live in terms of the divine promises' (p 83), with Lane noting that the challenging 'speaker sought to make the movement of his ideas more lively by means of a series of rapid questions and answers.' p 84 The warning to the fathers was served here again to the children, that those who will not enter God's promise of rest are 'those who, having covenanted to obey Him, proved repeatedly disobedient.' FF Bruce, Hebrews p 102
Both the OT and NT people of God enjoyed 'the privileged position of standing before the word of promise' (p 98), for "the good news was preached to us exactly as unto them" (4:2). Joshua failed to provide them true rest, "for if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on" (4:8). Thus the Son is a better leader than Moses and Joshua. The Word as living and active showed God's voice is still made audible in Scripture and preaching (4:12), and conveyed the hope that they would recognize its abiding authority for God's people. 'The Word of God confronts us, and of the Word is predicated the judgment which belongs to God in His omniscience.' John Murray, Collected Writings 2:31 Lane's configuration of the divine attribute of omniscience ("no creature is hidden from His sight", 4:13) is pointed: 'The surveillance predicated of God is exhaustive; nothing escapes His scrutiny.' p 103 He is ignorant of nothing. And God has our best interest at heart. To this end, He provides us with a compassionate great high priest as answer to His promise of personalized, present help. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest..." (4:14). Lane's appraisal is worthy of mention: 'The reference to Jesus in His office as high priest in v 14 is not an afterthought, but the intended conclusion of the entire argument. The crucial issue for the community is whether they will maintain their Christian confession.' p 105 Our limited abilities ("weaknesses" 4:15) are impotent to relieve us from our entanglement with sin and our estrangement from God. But access into His presence is guaranteed, because of the Son: 'They may draw near to God through prayer with the confidence that they will be graciously received.' p 115 Even though Hebrews is interspersed with strong admonitions, it contains words of loving exhortation: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in time of need" (4:16). God's promises are marked by His own special presence.
We have our own great high priest, of whom we have the assurance that "He was heard" by God (5:7), and, as the covenant Mediator, continually intercedes for us, which never so belied a commitment to establish continuity between the OT assembly and the NT church. 'These moving words express how intensely Jesus entered the human condition, which wrung from Him His prayers and entreaties, cries and tears.' p 119