An Exegetical Outline of Hebrews

Via Dave Black I found Brian Small’s link to Nathan Brown’s outline of Hebrews.

Here’s what Dave had to say:

6:48 PMBrian Small has just linked to An Exegetical Outline of Hebrews. The author naturally shies away from Pauline authorship even though new arguments are being made for that position today (or at least for the “Paulinity” of the letter), and I feel constrained to point out that his very first outline division leaves much to be desired. He tells us that the opening paragraph of the letter is 1:1-3 — which to me is a complete impossibility, since verses 1-4 are a single sentence in Greek and form their own distinct discourse unit. (I have treated this paragraph in some detail here.) These “thorns in the cushion” (as Thackeray, himself an unhappy editor, once called them) are perhaps not deadly, but they do make one pause. However, perhaps I am being overly critical. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Is Dave too picky here? I don’t think so. I think dividing your outline in the middle of a Greek sentence may impact how you read the rest. I always learned Hebrews 1:1-3 as a unit when I was reading in English. In fact, I was required to memorize that when I was in elementary school. I didn’t realize the tight connection between the opening and the remainder of the first chapter (and the argument of the book) until I first read this in Greek.

I also take some issue with the list of methods of persuasion, though this is more of a nuance than a direct disagreement:

1. Taking OT statements concerning the Messiah and applying them to Jesus Christ. (from page 1 of the intro to the outline)

This is more picky than Dave is being, but I don’t see any hint of an attempt to persuade people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah in the use of OT passages. In general, the use of OT passages falls under Nathan’s points 2 & 3, i.e. the author takes the readers from a place of simply believing that Jesus is the Messiah to a place of action and endurance by relating Jesus to the OT stories.

But I’m probably too picky.

Since I’m in the process of revising my own Hebrews study guide, including my own outline, with which I am dissatisfied, I’m going to be going over this outline (and a number of others) rather carefully in the next few weeks. (In case you view the text of my translation with the outline, be aware that I am even more dissatisfied with the translation, which I made nearly 20 years ago.)


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