Talk:Heb 3:1-4:16

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Verse 4:12[edit]

Psuche vs. Pneuma[edit]

Anyone here want to take on the distinction between these two in Greek thought? Rob Fergus 22:54, 28 Aug 2006 (UTC)

I would thoroughly enjoy a discussion on this subject, but I'll admit from the very beginning that it will be quite thorny! Anyone else to the fray? --Joe Spencer 14:20, 29 Aug 2006 (UTC)
I'm going to be traveling in Guatemala and Maine for the next three weeks, but hope to take this up again after I get back. Meanwhile, if anyone has any good readings on this... --Rob Fergus 14:56, 30 Aug 2006 (UTC)
Meanwhile: I suggest the chapter on 1 Corinthians 15 from N. T. Wright's book The Resurrection of the Son of God. He offers a wonderful commentary on Paul's distinction between psyche and pneuma as it works out in thinking the resurrection. My contribution to this question would be grounded in that discussion. --Joe Spencer 15:01, 30 Aug 2006 (UTC)

Verse 4:16[edit]

Boldly vs. openly[edit]

The Greek word parrhesia is translated boldly in each New Testament translation I could find. I don't know Greek, but an alternate translation seems more appropriate to me here: "openly, frankly, i.e without concealment". This definition seems to be a more natural continuation with the ideas about God discerning thoughts and intents (v. 12), having "all things . . . naked and opened" unto him (v. 13).

I think this matters because it bears directly on the tension Nathan posted (Heb 5:5) about passivity vs. assertiveness. The assertiveness described here may be more appropriately viewed as opening ourselves to God rather than, say, boldy marching up to the temple. On this view, there is not so much a tension between passivity and assertiveness, rather the passivity in being called of God is one facet of a broader submission to and unity with God that we should strive for by also "hold[ing] fast our profession" of God (v. 14), relating to God's infirmities (v. 15), opening ourselves to God (v. 16), offering prayers to God (Heb 5:7), and learning and suffering like God (Heb 5:8).

What do you think?

--RobertC 04:53, 24 Feb 2006 (UTC)

Robert, I am not so sure. The second definition of parrhesia is "free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance." I take it that you want to resist this definition, preferring instead the first. However, I do think that "cheerful courage" captures much of the tone of Hebrews. The author is writing a people who "recall former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured hard struggle and sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and afflication, and sometimes being partners with those so treated." (RSV) See Heb 10:32 et seq. One of my absolute favorite passages of scripture is the contrast between the old and the new law that the author of Hebrews offers by contrasting Mount Siani with Mount Zion. See Heb 12:18 et seq. (Incidentally, this is a passage that the KJV mangles a bit. The RSV -- which I have with me -- does a bit better.) The basic contrast is between the terror of Mt. Siani -- "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned" (Heb 12:20) -- and Mt. Zion, a place where we are gathered to "the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering" (Heb 12:22, emphasis added). I think that "cheerful courage" is not a bad way of understanding Hebrew's soteriology. Another -- implicit contrast -- is the believer boldly approaching the throne of grace and the awful and blood-soaked journey of the high priest into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. In short, I think that the current translation is more consistent with the rest of Hebrews. Besides, I love the tone of "boldly going to the throne of grace" and I would be loath to lose it.

--Nathan Oman 18:30, 24 Feb 2006 (UTC)

Good point about the tie-in with the terror of Mt. Sinai vs. "festal gathering" of Mt. Zion. Since none of the translations I checked at Crosswalk use the openly definition, I'm suspicious of my argument above. I'll work on revising the Heb 5:1-5 commentary page to reflect both views (with an emphasis on your reading) when I get some time (unless you or someone else beats me to it).
I'm less clear on the last point you're making above, about the implicit contrast with the bload-soaked journey of the high priest. Are you suggesting a contrast between the drudgery of a difficult trip and the cheerfulness implied by parrhesia, or the courage implied by parrhesia, or something else entirely?
Also, thanks for recommending the RSV (it's available on-line here at Crosswalk) and for the very interesting posts. (Also, don't miss my other question for you here.)
--RobertC 04:57, 25 Feb 2006 (UTC)
Robert, I try to flesh out what I am talking about with my last point in my exchange atTalk:Heb_5:1-5 with Matthew. Here is the gist of what I am saying:
1. The ancient temple was associated with fear and terror, just as was Mt. Siani in Heb 12:20.
2. The invitation in Heb 4:16 is an invitation for all believers to essentially go through the ritual of the high priest and enter into God's presence.
3. This is a scary thing to do.
4. Ergo, the author encourages them to act boldly and courageously.
--Nathan Oman 17:47, 27 Feb 2006 (UTC)

I finally broke down and got the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. It has a pretty interesting entry on this word. Here is the part pertaining to Hebrews (the numbers starting with 30 are footnotes which don't copy easily):

In Hb. παρρησία plays a relatively important part.30 It connotes a distinctive mode of being on the part of the Christian. As has been correctly observed,31 παρρησία has “a peculiarly objective character.” One has it, not as a subjective attitude, but as the appropriation of something already there. One keeps it by holding fast, not merely oneself as a believer, but the presupposition of faith in the promise, παρρησία is thus posited objectively with the object of hope, and it is worked out in a life which is commensurate with and has entered into this openness. Hb. 3:6 contains the admonition to hold fast παρρησία and τὸ καύχημα τῆς ἐλπίδος. In 3:14 we read: τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ὑποστάσεως μέχρι τέλους βεβαίαν κατασχεῖν. ὑπόστασις is the formal term for παρρησία and the καύχημα which we have in hope. We have only its ἀρχή. In content παρρησία is freedom of access to God, authority to enter the sanctuary, openness for the new and living way which Jesus has restored for us, 10:19. This παρρησία is given with the blood of Jesus (10:19) and is grounded in His high-priestly way (4:14f.). The saving work of Jesus, which penetrates all the heavens, has created parrhesia and made its fulfilment possible. Parrhesia works itself out in the confidence and openness which need not be ashamed when it stands before the Judge, 4:16. It is preserved by patience in tribulation, 10:34ff. It demands an ἀληθινὴ καρδία ἐν πληροθορίᾳ πίστεως, and presupposes purifying of the conscience and baptism, 10:22. Since it is freedom on the way to God, it contains a reward, the attainment of hope. If it is kept open, there is already achieved, with saving participation in Christ, redeeming membership of His house, 3:14, 6.

When I get some time I'd like to look at this more carefully. I think this can/should be related to D&C 121:45, the priesthood, mysteries of God, veiling/unveiling, etc. That is, I think boldness and confidence should be understood in the same terms as piercing the veil and understanding the mysteries of God. This may also have interesting implications for understanding Job 42:6.... --RobertC 14:59, 11 Dec 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for posting these notes and for drawing my attention to this discussion that occurred before I was on the project. I have a back-burner fascination with the book of Hebrews, and I really like the possibilities opened across the course of the above comments. I'd love to take this up as a next project here. --Joe Spencer 14:40, 13 Dec 2006 (UTC)