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The Eucharist and the Epistle to the Hebrews

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2009


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Short Studies
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page 300 note 3 The Apostolic Liturgy and the Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1882).

page 301 note 1 “The Greater and More Perfect Tent”. A Contribution to the Discussion of Hebrews 9, II’, Bibl. XLVII (1966), 91–106. See also his articles ‘On the Imagery and Significance of Hebrews 9, 9–10’ in C.B.Q. XXVIII (1966), 155–73, and ‘Hebrews 9, 2 and the Uses of Consistency’, C.B.Q. XXXII (1970), 205–21.

page 301 note 2 ‘Das Abendmahl als Opfermahl im Neuen Testament’, Nov. Test. VI (1963), 128–52.

page 301 note 3 Ibid. pp. 146–7.

page 301 note 4 ‘Das Abendmahl im Hebräerbrief’, St. Th. IV (1951), 102–8.

page 301 note 5 Ibid. p. 108.

page 301 note 6 ‘L'Eucharistie dans I'Epître aux Hébreux’, N.R.Th. III (1972), 269–77.

page 301 note 7 Ibid. p. 277.

page 301 note 8 A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Edinburgh, 1924).

page 301 note 9 Ibid. p. 234.

page 301 note 10 Untersuchungen zum Hebräerbrief (Gütertloh), p. 77.

page 301 note 11 The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1967), p. 401.

page 301 note 12 ‘Der Gottesdienst der Hebräerbriefgemeinde’, M¨nch. Th. Z. XIX (1968), 181.

page 301 note 13 In Eph. vi. 12 the words ‘flesh’ and ‘blood’ occur, in fact, in a non-eucharistic context, in the same order as in Hebr. ii. 14.

page 302 note 1 See ix. 7, 12, 14, 18, 21; and cf. X. 19, 29, xii. 24 and xiii. 12, 20. It is worth noting that Justin (Apol. I. 66. 2) uses the formula under discussion three times, but with no uniformity of word order.

page 302 note 2 I accept the exegesis of this verse by Andriessen in his article ‘Das gröβere und vollkommene Zelt’, Bibl. Z. XV (1971), 76–92; cf. the article by the same author together with A. Lenglet, ‘Quelques passages difficiles de l'Epître aux Hébreux’, Bibl. LI (1970), 207–20.

page 302 note 3 Andriessen, however, though – on other grounds – he does see in vi. 4–5 an allusion to the Eucharist, does not feel that it is correct to read back the usage of Justin into Hebrews. Justin does not in fact describe the Eucharist as a ‘gift of God’, but does call it a ε⋯;χαριστ׀α (I. 65. 3, cf. I. 65. 5, 66. 2).

page 302 note 4 Op. cit. pp. 56–7; cf. Andriessen, ‘L'Eucharistie dans l'Epître aux Hébreux’, N.R. Th. III (1972), 272, n. 8.

page 303 note 1 Theissen, op. cit. p. 56, notes that, according to X. 32, it can be looked back to.

page 303 note 2 Behind the light imagery of the New Testament lie such Old Testament passages as Isa. xl. 6. On the biblical symbolism of ‘light’ see Bevan, E., Symbolism and Belief (Fontana Library edition, London and Glasgow, 1962), pp. 111–13Google Scholar, and Aalen, S., Die Begriffe ‘Licht’ und ‘Finsternis’ im Alten Testament und im Spätjudentum und im Rabbinismus (Oslo, 1951).Google Scholar

page 303 note 3 See Moe, art. cit. p. 108. Montefiore, , A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1964), p. 109, suggests ‘the richness of the whole Christian life’, Moffatt ‘the Christian salvation in general’ (op. cit. p. 78), while Field takes ‘the heavenly gift’ to be ‘a liturgical term of the primitive Church’ (op. cit. p. 151). He quotes the Liturgy of St James, in which ‘immediately before invoking the Holy Spirit upon the worshippers and upon the bread and wine’ the request is made, ‘Grant us Thy heavenly and eternal gifts’.Google Scholar

page 304 note 1 Salvation, in Hebrews, is an eschatological concept. While in one sense it is part of the present experience of the believer, it is also, in another, deeper sense, a condition into which the believer does not enter until he reaches the heavenly city. See, for example, i. 14. In ii. 9 γε⋯ωis used of Christ's ‘tasting’ of death, which is not merely an experiencing of a condition but also an anticipation as far as men are concerned.

page 304 note 2 The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1903), p. 149.

page 304 note 3 See below the discussion of the Eucharist and eschatology, pp. 311 ff.

page 304 note 4 Art. cit. p. 108.

page 304 note 5 Art. cit. p. 273.

page 304 note 6 ‘On the Imagery and Significance of Hebrews 9, 11’, C.B.Q. XXVIII (1966), 153–73.

page 304 note 7 Ibid. p. 171.

page 304 note 8 ‘“The Greater and More Perfect Tent“. A Contribution to the Discussion of Hebrews 9, 11’, Bibl. XLVII (1966), 91–106.

page 304 note 9 A. Vanhoye,‘“Par la tente plus grande et plus parfaite…“ (Hé 9, 11)’, Bibl. XLVI (1965), 1–28.

page 304 note 10 A Letter to Hebrews (Cambridge, 1967), p. 86.

page 304 note 11 Ibid. pp. 82–3.

page 305 note 1 In the same way, G. Milligan has observed, ‘A priest “after the likeness of Melchizedek“ is “another“, that is a “different“ priest (lερεύς ἓτερoἓ)’, The Thieology of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Edinburgh, 1899), p. 112.

page 305 note 2 See the article by Sabourin, L., ‘“Liturge du Sanctuaire et de la Tente Veritable“ (Héb. viii. 2)’, N.T.S. xviii (1971). 8790.Google Scholar

page 305 note 3 In ix. 23 the author says that Christ's sacrifice cleanses ‘those heavenly things themselves’.

page 305 note 4 Art. cit. p. 92, the tent ‘is rigorously parallel with Christ's blood’; ‘The interpretation that the tent is Christ's earthly body…is favoured by the parallelism with the blood’; cf. p. 97, ‘the strict parallelism’.

page 305 note 5 Art. cit. p. 273.

page 305 note 6 See Swetnam's own article, C.B.Q,. XXXII (1970), 205–21.

page 305 note 7 On αμα in Hebrews see, e.g., xiii. 20. See also p. 301 n. 13 above.

page 306 note 1 The instrumental use of δι⋯ is well attested in the NT. See Moule, C. F. D., An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek (Cambridge, 1953), pp. 56–7, where Moule suggests that perhaps Hebr. ix. 12 is an example of δι⋯ used of attendant circumstances, ‘with blood…’.Google Scholar

page 306 note 2 L'Epître aux Hébreux (Paris, 1952), II, 264.

page 306 note 3 Art. cit. p. 274.

page 306 note 4 He notes that, e.g., both Hebr. ix. 19–20 and Matt. xxvi. 27 include the formula θαβών…θ⋯γων (and that this differs from Exod. xxiv. 8, θαβών κα׀ εῑπεν).

page 306 note 5 See Schröger, art. cit. pp. 169–70.

page 306 note 6 Art. cit. p. 274.

page 307 note 1 I accept the argument of Andriessen that the το⋯ τ’ ἔστιν τ⋯ς σαρκòς α⋯τού of x. 20 refers not to δι⋯ το⋯ καταπετ⋯σματος but to òδòν πρòσφατον κα׀ ⋯σαν. See his articles ‘Quelques passages difficiles de I'Epître aux Hébreux’ (with A. Lenglet) in Bibl. LI (1970), 207–20, and ‘Das gröx00DF;ere und voll-kommene Zelt’ in Bibl. z. xv (1971), 76–92. Cf. the idea of Milligan that what Christ ‘offers’ in the heavenly sanctuary is Himself, i.e. ‘by the “offering“ of the Christian High Priest our writer understands neither the sacrifice of the cross alone, nor even that sacrifice completed by its presentation in heaven at the moment of Christ's return thither, but along with both these thoughts, the further thought of His continuous presentation of Himself before God’ (op. cit. p. 150).

page 307 note 2 The Eucharist in the New Testament (London, 1964), p. 136.

page 307 note 3 The Epistle to the Hebrews (Oxford, 1930), p. 150.

page 307 note 4 Cf. Schröger, art. cit. p. 170.

page 307 note 5 Verheiung und Heilsυollendung (München, 1955), pp. 184 ff.

page 307 note 6 O. Michel, Der Brief an die Hebräer (Göttingen, 1949), p. 342.

page 307 note 7 Op. cit. p. 190.

page 307 note 8 Ibid.

page 308 note 1 Ibid. p. 191.

page 308 note 2 Ibid.

page 308 note 3 Ibid.

page 308 note 4 Op. cit. pp. 76–9.

page 308 note 5 Ibid. pp. 77–8.

page 308 note 6 Ibid. p. 78.

page 308 note 7 Peake, A. S., The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (Century Bible, Edinburgh, undated), p. 241, who concludes, ‘the only Christian altar is in the heavenly sanctuary where Christ ministers’. Spicq cannot accept the identification of the altar with ‘la table eucharistique’, but understands it to refer to ‘le Christ immolé’ (op. cit. 11, 425). Montefiore says, ‘Calvary is meant, not some heavenly altar of the true sanctuary’ (op. cit. p. 244).Google Scholar

page 308 note 8 Cf. Schierse on the ἔχομεν of xiii. 10. See p. 307 n. 5 above.

page 309 note 1 Cf. Moffatt, op. cit. p. 235.

page 309 note 2 J. H. Davies, op. cit. p. 133.

page 309 note 3 ‘L'Eucharistie dans I'Epître aux Hébreux’, N.R. Th. III (1972), 275–6.

page 309 note 4 Cf. Peake, op. cit. p. 241, ‘It is clear that if the point of the argument is that Christianity knows no sacrificial meal, the “altar“ cannot be “the table of the Lord“.’

page 309 note 5 Kuss, O., Der Brief an die Hebräer (Regensburg, 1966), p. 219.Google Scholar

page 309 note 6 Héring, J., L'Epître aux Hébreux (Paris, 1954), p. 124, ‘Toutefois ce sacrement n'est jamais expressément mentioné par I'auteur.’Google Scholar

page 310 note 1 Art. cit. p. 181.

page 310 note 2 Ibid.

page 310 note 3 P. V.

page 310 note 4 Ibid. p. vi.

page 311 note 1 p. 23.

page 311 note 2 The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1933), p. 201.

page 311 note 3 Op. cit. p. 220. Milligan, however, also holds that the author does ‘hint’ at the sacraments, and concludes, ‘On the whole doctrine of the Epistle, therefore, and not on mere incidental allusions in it, the true significance of the sacraments may be said to rest.’

page 311 note 4 Eucharist and Eschatotogy (London, 1971), p. 11.

page 311 note 5 Wainwright describes vi. 1–6 as ‘a liturgically flavoured passage’ (ibid.), and includes vi. 4 ff among passages discussed under the heading ‘The Eucharist is a taste of the Kingdom’ (ibid. pp. 151–2). There are, however, only a few further brief discussions of Hebrews’ passages.

page 311 note 6 See C. K. Barrett, ‘The Eschatology of the Epistle to the Hebrews’ in The Background of the New Testament and Its Eschatolog (Cambridge, 1956), ed. D. Daube and W. D. Davies, pp. 363–93. Cf. my Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews (Leiden, 1970), ‘Time, History and Eschatology’, pp. 142–59.

page 312 note 1 E. Käsemann, Das wandernde Gottesυolk (Göttingen, 1959), p. 6.

page 312 note 2 Such a conclusion regarding the teaching of the Epistle has important implications for churches today engaged in ecumenical discussions and discussions concerning a minimum rule for church membership.

As far as Christian eucharistic doctrine is concerned the Epistle to the Hebrews would seem to invite, if eucharistic faith and practice be retained, a view of the Eucharist which sees it in no sense as a sacrifice but as at most a moment in the liturgy when the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is remembered and the End is anticipated, or at least saluted.

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