Introducing Jewish Christian Literature

Starting this week I am teaching an undergrad class on the “Jewish Christian Literature.” Essentially, this is on Hebrews through Revelation. Sometimes this section of the New Testament is called the “catholic epistles” or the “general epistles” since they are perceived as being universal in appeal. James, 1 Peter and 1 John written as circular letters, but 2 and 3 John and Jude seem to be directed at specific congregations. While Hebrews more like a sermon than a letter, Revelation includes seven letters to churches struggling with real issues faced by those local congregations near the end of the first century.

But as I point out the first day of class, we could probably call these letters the “other letters” or the “Not Paul” collection. This is what is difficult about reading books like Hebrews and James. Christian Theology is almost always focused on Paul (and for good reasons). Yet this literature indicates there were other early church thinkers who attempted to explain Jesus to Jewish people rather than Gentiles. The results are compatible with Pauline theology, but also quite distinct. It is that distinctiveness I am interested.

I personally prefer to call these books the Jewish Christian Literature because most of the books are addressed to Jewish Christians in the Diaspora. I will work on the details later, for now I am only stating my conviction that (with the exception of 2 Peter) all the letters are “more Jewish” than the average Pauline letters. They appear to me to represent a stream of early Christianity which was ethnically Jewish and continued to practice some (all?) elements of their ancestral faith while believing Jesus was the Messiah, the fulfillment of prophecy from the Hebrew Bible.

But what does “Jewish Christian” mean? Paul was Jewish and Christian. It is not as though Paul writes “Gentile Christian” letters. In fact, it might be the case there are no true “Gentile Christian” letters in the New Testament since even Luke-Acts has a Pauline influence. By giving these letters the title “Jewish Christian” I want to highlight the fact they are all addressed to “more Jewish than not churches” and Christians who looked to James, Peter, and John as their authorities rather than Paul. In contrast, churches in Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Ephesus were “more Gentile than not” and looked to Paul as the authority (for the most part, anyway).

Is this a fair way to read Hebrews through Revelation? Is it possible to set Pauline Theology to one the side and read Hebrews (for example) without thinking in Pauline categories? Is that a healthy way to read these books?

32 thoughts on “Introducing Jewish Christian Literature

  1. Thanks, Phillip. This approach and perspective should be interesting. As to your ending q’s, “yes” on all.

    One of the things I think more important than almost any Evangelical/traditionalist owns to is some of what is NOT present in either Paul or the Jewish Christian Lit.: Use of Jesus’ BODILY resurrection, followed by a witnessed ascension as either a “fact” or as a reason for faith.
    (We often forget to notice the importance of what is missing that might be expected in a given interpretation or “paradigm”, and to then think through the implications.)

    In stark contrast is that much of the Protestant world particularly, in the last many decades at least, HAS made this a core evidence for “faith”. Even an undefined resurrection or “raising up” of Jesus (which could be non-bodily, and I think IS implied) is very minimal in the General epistles. It certainly is not a key reason or support for belief, nor for seeing Jesus as one “person” of the Trinity.

    Now, resurrection was an established if not highly emphasized Jewish concept well before the 1st century, as in Heb. Scripture and Jesus’ context. Thus, some kind of resurrection of Jesus fits and is not radical nor revolutionary. But did these early Jewish believers (or Paul, for that matter) conceive of it as bodily resuscitation, with 40 days of mingling with disciples and then an ascension?

    That hardly seems possible, on much further evidence than I’ve cited in my “null curriculum” observation above. Only the Gospels/Acts give us stories of “eye witness” accounts of Jesus in a “resurrection body”. And, to my recollection, only Acts (later than the Synoptics and perhaps than John) mentions an ascension. Let me add that if one reads I Cor. 15 (Paul) closely, it clearly supports visionary “appearances” to “more than 500 brethren” but not claims similar to stories in the Gospels/Acts. Rather, these were akin to Paul’s own experience/vision. And it definitely was not pre-ascension, if an “ascension” occurred.

    Bottom line: As far as I can see, we have no pre-70 A.D. “bodily resurrection” stated concept. And only the Gospels/Acts relating it, narrative form, from 70 to the presumed end of composition of the canonical NT books (by around 90-95 in conservative dating, and no later than 130-140 or so in more “higher critical” views.) We shouldn’t, for either Paul or these books, read back in our presumptions about the nature of early concepts (or “reality”) of the Resurrection. This is significant for reading the Jewish Christian Literature.

  2. As I look over this and refer to the writing I think of what was discussed on the first day of class and the discussion we had on how we need to stop looking at all of Christian faith from a more Pauline aspect and allow the writers of these particular books to shine in their own ways. Although they may draw some of their own personal knowledge from Paul’s teaching you are right in saying that there were other church leaders that did their own teaching to the Jewish people. Jewish Christian is someone who believes the Christian faith and accepts Paul’s teaching, as many early believers were but it is also someone who maintains Jewish practice or has Jewish heritage while being a Christian believer. I think in some cases it is almost better to set Pauline theology to one side and read Hebrews to better grasp the beliefs that we hold as Christians. We cannot just forget all the things Paul taught but it is important to look at Hebrews and the as you call them “not Paul” collection from a different point of view than what Paul wrote to the Gentiles. These other church leaders need to be recognized for their own beliefs. I am not sure I would say it was healthy to look at just Hebrews and not refer to Paul’s teaching in some aspect when reading it but I would say that it is a good idea to look at these books of the Bible separated from Paul’s abundance of letters to the many churches of the first century.

    • You make some great points in not leaving out different aspects of Christian faith. I agree with you in the discussion that we should look at it more than just a Pauline aspect. From stepping back and seeing that there is more to these books than just a Pauline side, we need to take into mention everything that is going on. The context, the audience, the culture, etc. Many may in fact have stemmed off of Paul’s teachings, but to read the book from a context of not a nonPauline worldview, we can learn a lot more and accurately understand what is going on in the book. It is like an author writing a book from his own thoughts and words but instead someone else getting the credit. Likewise, as humans we all have our own thoughts and we want others to hear about them as our words and not take them out of context or from someone else.

  3. I think that calling the non-Pauline letters Jewish-Christian is probably better than calling them the universal epistles. I feel that by calling them the universal epistles creates the connotation that everyone can understand them, which leads to a lack of prep time that is needed to really delve deep into these books. Each of these books were addressed to a certain type of people, more often than not the people of the Diaspora who had become Christians either through Paul or other missionaries. These Jews would have had at least 1,200 years of history and tradition that can be used to make references and create connections from the past to Christ. The book of Hebrews does this at every step. Without really understanding the audience of these books attempting to study them can prove to be an effort in futility. When people call them Jewish-Christian Epistles individuals who wish to study them are immediately reminded of the audience that the books were intended for. Moving on to the question of whether or not it is possible to divide Pauline theology and the rest of the New Testament, I would have to say yes. There were several anti-Paul sects of Christianity that were formed after Paul’s ministry and they neatly divided Paul’s theology and Jewish-Christian theology. I do not believe that it is healthy because the two theologies, while they may come into conflict every so often (James 2 and Ephesians 2), do make a cohesive theology that is needed for further development of Christian Spirituality.

  4. I think that it is very challenging to read the Jewish Christian Literature in the New Testament because as Western believers we taught to view everything through a Pauline lens. I do think that it is in some small part possible to read these without referencing to a Pauline paradigm, but it is also very challenging to set those preconceptions aside. Is it healthy for us to do so? Absolutely. I would almost say it is necessary in order to understand what the books say on their own merit. But it is also important to realize that there is a great deal of synergy between the Jewish Christian Literature and the words that Paul wrote. We must see Scripture as a whole, not as segmented or segregated parts. In point of fact, Peter lends weight to the fact that Paul’s writings are on par in terms of authority with the Jewish Scriptures, being the Old Testament.

  5. I think calling them “Jewish Christian Literature” is a good word choice. I feel like calling them “not Paul” collection has a connotation that I do not think you are aiming for. Calling them “not Paul” gives the impression that they are not as good or meaningful as if they came from Paul. Which the focus of a book should not be whether or not Paul wrote them, but rather that everything in the Bible is inspired by God as mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16. Saying that it is not Paul who wrote it as their name shifts that focus that should be on God to Paul. The name you choose does a nice job with that. My perception of the title is that it is who the target audience probably was as you mentioned.
    I do not think that we should split the two categories, I feel like they complete each other or at least round each other out. I feel like you cannot truly dig deep without thinking about Paul’s theology. Paul’s theology brings in a new aspect that is not in the others since he is more gentile focus while the Jewish Christian literature is more Jewish literature. I feel like this combination brings everyone together. If it was solely Paul’s theology then those who are coming from the Jewish background may feel left out. While on the other hand without Paul’s theology the gentiles may feel left out.Together they bring the bigger picture together that is meant for everyone.In Hebrews 9, it talks about how Jesus Christ is the “mediator” between the Old and New Covenant (v. 15). There is no specific group this new covenant is geared towards. John 3:16 does not specify what group is able to have eternal life, but rather what needs to be done to obtain eternal life. It does not say Jews that believe get it, but rather whoever believes. So having both Paul and Jewish Christian Literature is important because both audiences are able to take part of the new covenant. I think that it is important to have both categories in mind for this reason.

  6. In reference to your final question, I absolutely believe that it is healthy to read these books in their intended context, while keeping in mind the cultural implications of their time. In my experience, it is very important to be able to communicate the gospel in ways that are relevant, applicable, and understandable to the audience. I think this a main reason why the letters that were written to primarily Jewish churches are more Jewish than the Pauline letters. In order to reach them and communicate clearly, they use terms and ideas that are familiar to them. One of the most important parts of delivering information is to understand and keep in mind the intended audience.

  7. This sounds like a class I’d delve into . I’m a Catholic who was raised Protestant in community which has a sizable Jewish contingent. I have studied Judaism. I have read TANaKh with Rabbis and Jewish friends. I get frustrated when Christians claim Christianity supersedes Judaism and that Jesus came in part to replace Judaism.

  8. My father in law introduced me to Arnold Fruchtanbaum who is a Messianic Jew. He teaches the Bible from a Jewish perspective since even Paul was a Jew. He’s worth looking into.

  9. So, can I take your class? Haha. As a current Christian Ministry major, I found this brief bit of information fascinating and not something I’ve heard. I think it makes perfect sense to look at the books this way as long as you are not throwing away one or the other. Thanks for the post!

  10. I never truly understood the possibility of being a Jewish Christian or what that type of religious lifestyle could and would look like. I am excited to learn more about this throughout the semester. I cannot even begin to imagine the view the people in Paul’s time had of him through reading his writings about these “new concepts” of “Gentile Christians” and “Jewish Christians”. I am sure that it was difficult for Paul to be teaching this type of material to those who had been taught for generations about how to live the way God desired for them to live and then Paul saying that those ways of life were no longer necessarily (i.e. food laws and circumcision).

    I am interested to read the letters of Paul from the perspective of those who were living in the present times of the letters being written. What were their initial thoughts? It makes more sense, now, why Paul was in prison so often due to his teachings because they were so interesting, and Paul appeared to be a heretic. At what point did the people start to take Paul seriously and believe in his teachings? Why did they even listen to Paul when he seemed to be crazy? On the other hand, Paul’s common audience were the Gentiles/Gentile Christians who had no previous affiliation with Jewish culture. Maybe that is why Gentiles/Gentile Christians were his target audience, at least for the majority of his letters, the Jews did not want to listen to what he had to say.

  11. I think as readers of the current age, and not reading during the time when the author actually wrote them, gives us more ways to analyze the writings of Paul. In these books in particular it seems as if Paul was writing to reach a different audience. In these books, Paul seems to have written with a different approach than in his usual books. This is not because Paul, the apostle, tried to show a different side, but in my honest opinion, changed the biases that he was writing with to make them more readable by the churches he was writing to. As authors and writers, they tend to write to people with certain biases, these biases are what the readers pick up on. Kings would write to their subjects because they wouldn’t want them to fear, they would write based on what was either a lie or a truth to them, and keep that from the people. In my honest opinion, because Paul seems to be using a different approach in these few books, he could have differed the approach he took to reach these certain audiences. I do not think that it is bad at all, we need to read the Bible with the idea that authors still had biases and ways that they reached their audiences.

  12. I appreciate your focus on incorporating different church thinkers. I believe it is important to take a step back from the common Pauline approach and truly put ourselves within the text. In order to accurately comprehend what the scripture is telling us; it is necessary to read it from all angles. Like Jobes says, “These ancient books were written in a time and place quite unlike the modern setting in which read them today.” (6). It is important for modern day readers to understand the culture and common customs that were taking place when the books were being written. This gives us a better understanding of what is actually taking place and leads to less misinterpretation. In all, it is a fair way to read Hebrews through Revelation. In fact, I believe that all three answers to the questions would be yes. In order for the reader to truly understand the author this different approach to reading and interpreting should be practiced to retain a full perspective. Just as it states in Hebrews 1:1, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” Therefore, if we limit ourselves only to the Pauline approach to reading scripture, we may miss out on different points being made.

  13. P. Long’s introductory blog post for Jewish Christian literature reveals a hole in, at least, my own personal reading of scripture and theology. P. Long directly addresses the extremely strong theme of our theological focus being on Pauline literature and a lack of study on the general epistles is evident. As I begin to dive into the general epistles, I realize there is no excuse for such a lack of study on this literature P. Long names Jewish Christian. Take Hebrews as an example, Hebrews perhaps contains much on Christology that is important and applicable to the Christian lifestyle. Jobes states that Hebrews demonstrates the importance of Christ’s identity in terms of redemptive history which offers peace of mind for us today (Pg. 44). However, I have never fully read through the book of Hebrews merely because I have spent much more time focusing on the Gospels and Pauline Literature. P. Long’s blog post suggests the importance of all scripture and proposes correct viewpoints in how to read Hebrews through Revelation. This echoes what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16, that all scripture is God-breathed and helpful in the Christian lifestyle. However, my last sentenced addresses the very issue P. Long brings to attention, that often times we are set in our ways of thinking through the lenses of Paul, his writings, and the theology within those writings. The challenge of putting off the glasses of Pauline theology and putting on the glasses of how Jewish Christian Literature, and it’s theology, is an exciting aspect of this class. To read Hebrews through Revelation as separate, unique, and or separate from Paul is quite correct. To read Hebrews through Revelation in this way, is hopefully, the way we all read scripture, recognizing the contextual and cultural aspects of what we are reading. To recognize that Hebrews through Revelation have strongly more Jewish oriented audiences in original author’s mind is merely to recognize a contextual clue, and rightly so.

  14. This whole winter break I’ve been introduced to see the whole Bible through the eyes of the Jewish viewpoints. It is interesting what I have read on this blog; to be honest it’s true that many christians had focused on Pauline letters as if they were only directed to the Gentiles. You explaining the all letters as Jewish Christian literature gives me confidence of what I have been introduced to view it in the sense of the Jewish perspective that during that era of spreading the Gospel, Paul was Jewish and Christian at the same time, bringing some sort of balance to both titles he held. I’m curious what else I will get from this class I’m taking.

  15. I think that we often apply Pauline theology to more books than Paul himself wrote. It is almost as though that we as Christians have put Paul on a pedestal as though he influenced every New Testament book. And while Paul did have a huge impact on scripture I feel we sometimes only study the New Testament through Paul’s theology. I think it is important to really understand who the author is and who his audience is. This will allow us to better understand where the author is coming from and what his theology is. I do not think that it is healthy to just read scripture strictly from a Pauline theological point of view. We do not do that with the Old Testament so why do we let Pauline literature so define what we are reading and studying in the New Testament? Perhaps we have become lazy in our study of theology in the New Testament whatever it may be we must learn to set aside Pauline Theology and read Hebrews through Revelation without thinking only of Pauline theology.

  16. In this introductory post and reading we are trying to understand what Jewish Christian literature is and how as Christians in today’s day and age can better understand what Paul and all the other authors of the books in the new testament are trying to reveal to us. As discovered in the readings of the books of the Bible, most of the new testament books were written as letters to the people or church of that time. In these letters they were talking about a certain issue that may be going on and how as Christians and Christ followers you need to stand strong in what you believe and not back down. Throughout the time of Paul and his missionary travels he stirred the pot with many other people getting caught up in a lot of instances where he was near death. I think that as we read these books, we need to keep a clear eye out for what Paul was talking about and relate it to those times instead of trying to relate them to our lives now. Back in the Bible times those customs and things they did were a lot different than our culture now. So as we get ready to learn about Paul and his letters along with the other books of the Bible I think it should be clear to keep a good perspective on what is written and learn more about the time in which they lived and how they reacted to certain events. We can always learn from history and the past instances that happened.

  17. Often, when discussing the catholic epistles, Christians make them almost subordinate to the Pauline epistles. This is, like you said, “for good reasons.” One reason that I feel has an underlying weight in the causation of this subordination is the difficulty in concrete authorship. The frequency of pseudonymity in the early church letters was high and is why we have a pseudepigrapha. Writings known to be pseudonymous (Jobes, 7). These include writings like Enoch and the Gospel of Peter. Some of the catholic epistles have concrete authorship but others do not. One specific book of the Bible that does not have concrete authorship is Hebrews. The book is canonical and was even quoted by Clement around AD 95, so even though the specific authorship and audience are unknown there is importance in this book (Jobes, 32). Like Hebrews, there is clearly importance to all the catholic epistles. I would like to argue that these catholic epistles are not as subordinate to the Pauline epistles for the Protestant Christian walk as implied above.
    Coming from the view of Narrative Theology, these catholic epistles are clearly just as important to the Protestant faith as the Pauline epistles are. When looking at the Biblical narrative we should know how our faith came about. Karl Barth teaches in his Dogmatics in Outline that knowledge of God is a form of worship to God. When we as Protestant Christians have a greater understanding of the narrative we are living on we can worship God in a greater perspective. These catholic epistles, for the most part, seem to be written to a Jewish audience. These catholic epistles also help us as Protestant Christians connect the narrative of our faith from Genesis to Revelation. They give us the bridge of understanding between Jesus’ coming and our saving faith, between the law and grace, and a greater understanding of who Jesus is and how Christianity has been shaped due to its Jewish history. The catholic epistles grow our understanding of the biblical narrative, give us a greater concept of God which in turn helps us have greater worship, and they bridge the gap between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

  18. I just took Professor Long’s course, Pauline Literature and Theology, in the fall semester. I am excited to study the Jewish Christian Literature in the New Testament. It caught my attention that you claimed that these letters could be called the “Not Paul” collection. As you stated above, Paul has countless ties throughout the Bible and more specifically, the New Testament. It seems as if almost everything in the New Testament can be traced to Paul in some form or fashion. That being said, I am intrigued to study this literature that is not from Paul over the course of this semester.

    During last semester when studying Pauline letters, there were countless letters to specific church communities that were struggling with specific problems at that point in time. Though Hebrews and some of the other Jewish Christian Literature can be viewed as sermons, your point that Revelation consists of letters to struggling churches connects with the messages of some of the Pauline letters. It will be interesting to weave and learn through this Jewish Christian Literature after having established a background of study of the Apostle Paul’s work. To answer your question at the bottom of the post, I feel as if it is definitely healthy to study this Jewish Christian Literature without thinking in Pauline categories. I think this is healthy because Hebrews and other Jewish Christian Literature comes from different writers and a different background. Therefore, it is important to study and embrace this newness with a new perspective and interpretation style.

    However, I feel as if there is a twist to this approach to studying Hebrews and Jewish Christian Literature from outside of Pauline categories. According to Sweeney (2016), “In the New Testament, it (Hebrews) commonly stands between the Pauline and General (Catholic) Epistles” (p. n.d.). This quote explains the idea that Hebrews is the bridge between the Pauline Letters and the General Epistles. Moreover, Sweeney (2016) claims that the letter, or sermon, of Hebrews is anonymous, but some people link it to Paul. Though I am not sure if this is correct or not, if it is possible that Paul impacted the sermon of Hebrews, then students of the Bible should study it within Pauline categories. This is where it gets a bit tricky.

    From a Bible student’s perspective, I feel as if the Jewish Christian Literature is not always studied as often or to the same degree as some of the more popular Pauline letters. For example, at church services, I feel as if I hear much more sermons that are centered around the message of Romans, Acts, Ephesians, Galatians, Colossians, etc. than I head sermons centered around 2 John, 3 John, Hebrews, Revelation, Jude, etc. Because I am not as familiar with all of the intricacies and ins and outs of the Jewish Christian Literature, I am excited to dive in and learn. I am a firm believer that all of the Bible is relevant and important to study, and I am excited to take a much deeper look into these texts.

    Sweeney, James. (2016). “Hebrews.” Ed. John D. Barry et al. The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

  19. The Jewish Christian Literature of the New Testament is largely regarding as almost the “lesser” of the New Testament with a higher importance placed on Paul’s letters than on the writings of the Apostles. Although this action some believers have unconsciously taken upon themselves is wrong, it is nonetheless a very common presumption of the Western church today.
    The modern Western church, which is largely Gentile in its ethnicity and cultural background, identifies more with Pauline teaching than with the largely Jewish backgrounds of the Apostles writings. This is not a new occurrence, as even in the third generation of the church there was a struggle for the Gentile leaders to accept the writings of James, Peter, and John as canonical (Jobes 9, 17). Over time, however, the leaders of the Gentiles churches accepted the Apostles’ writings as true. The greatest struggle occurred over the book of Hebrews. This was largely because the book is anonymous and therefore cannot be attributed to a specific person with authority. Jobes explains why the Roman church was hesitant to accept the canonicity of Hebrews, even though many scholars now believe that it was written to the Jewish Christians living in Rome (31).
    Jewish Christian Literature contains as much importance in our foundational theology as does the teachings of Paul. In fact, Hebrews teaches us more about Christ being our intercessor than any other book of the New Testament (Jobes, 44). This is largely done through the examination of Christ as our perfect High Priest throughout the book of Hebrews (Jobes, 44).
    Unfortunately, not everyone has seen the importance of Jewish Christian Literature in the church. In fact, Martin Luther went so far as to say that the theology of James 2:14-26 conflicts with Romans 3:21-26 and in turn, he held little confidence in James (Jobes, 177).

  20. By default, my reading of the New Testament are influenced by Pauline theology or history simply because I spend more time interacting with his letters than any of the other sections. When I first read through Hebrews, it became obvious to me that there were some differences between this letter and others that may have been circulating through the churches. Jobes suggests that Hebrews was a sermon written specifically about the new relationship the Jews were entering into with Christ as High Priest and the implications it has on the daily life of the religious community (44). It is interesting to reflect on the anonymous authorship status of this book because it adds an interesting element of faith into modern Christian thinking. We are used to having faith in the actions of God when they are seen and can be used as examples in our Christian walk. It is entirely different, or at least for me it i, to have to trust in the uncertainty of something as human as an author being who they say they are. It means having to chose to set aside the uncertainty and constant wondering about that the human author and recognize that it may not matter as much as trusting the text itself and the importance it has for my personal theology and Christology. Jobes reflected on the tradition of accepting Pauline association with Pauline authorship as seen by some church fathers in an attempt to attach a human name to this piece of holy literature (57). Yet it is entirely possible that one of the other disciples including Apollos or Barnabas was the one to do the actual action of writing the letter to the Hebrews (61). I think there is value in reading Hebrews with the Pauline epistles in mind because it gives some context to the text, as well as looking at it as part of a separate narrative that has unique audiences and authorships which gives unique perspective to the greater Church that was forming during the early years.

  21. I think that it is right to say that the books from Hebrews to Revelation are Jewish Christian books as compared and contrasted to Pauline Christian books. Yes, Paul was a Jew who became a Christian but he was saved with the purpose of going directly to the Gentiles with the message of the gospel of grace so they could be saved without Israel, without their laws and rituals nor by any work but saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Galatians 2 tells of a meeting of Paul with James, Peter and John where the conclusion is for Paul had been sent to go to the gentiles (uncircumcision) by Jesus Christ and they to the Jews (circumcision) as God had revealed to Peter.

    Luke was a gentile Christian and he writes to a Gentile, Theophilus to give to him and to all gentiles in general an understanding of how salvation came to the gentiles through Jesus Christ but without the Jews. He writes both the gospel of Luke and Acts and in this later book explains how all things began as fulfillment to the Jews but when the Jewish leadership is hardened and kills Stephen, Saul who would become Paul is introduced and Acts reveals the transition of how the Gospel goes to the Jews through the messenger and Apostle Paul. Therefore, there are the writings to the Christian Jews by way of last nine books of the New Testament and those writings directed towards the Gentiles. It is healthy to read these books in this way and most likely the Jewish Christian books, though we use them today will be greatly needed when God works once again directly with His chosen people after our home going in the Rapture.

  22. To start off, I agree that giving these epistles the title of “Catholic, or Universal” may not be the best designation. As Jobes states :The term catholic epistles derives from the Greek phrase Kath holou, ‘referring to the whole” (Jobes 1). I believe that a much more accurate term would be Jewish-Christian Literature. With that said, in answer to your questions I believe that reading through Hebrews and Revelation with a Jewish mindset is not only a fair way to read through, but also a necessary way to read through it. However I don’t think it is necessary or useful to set aside Pauline Theology while reading through Hebrews or any of the other Jewish-Christian literature. Since 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture is God-breathed” we know that all scripture must be unified and cannot contradict itself. Therefore we must be able to reconcile Pauline theology with the more Jewish minded theology from these epistles. Much like how James seems to argue for justification by works, and Paul strongly argues for justification by faith, we must reconcile these passages and understand how they work together instead of simply setting aside one side of the argument. While I doubt that is exactly what you would be arguing for here, I think it is valuable to mention that we must read the whole Bible with unity. While the authorship of Hebrews has been hotly contested for a long time, I believe it would be erroneous to say that Paul wrote Hebrews or to read Hebrews with the mindset that it is Pauline theology.

    Growing up at Rush Creek, much of my personal theology is based heavily on Paul’s letters and his theology. I have read his letters much more in depth than I have with the Jewish-Christian letters because of this. Therefore when I read through these letters, I often compare them to Paul’s letters and see how they fit together instead of giving them equal weight. This is something that I will need to work on throughout this semester.

    • My personal thoughts on this blog is that calling them “Jewish Christian Literature” is the most respectable way you can put that together. Calling the non-Pauline letters and the Jewish was probably better than the universal epistles. In my personal thoughts by calling them that created a deeper creations for the book at hand. Every one of those books was thought of to different people. More of these people was missionaries doing God’s work on a daily basis. The Jews had over a thousand years that people could used for Christ and Gods work forever and ever. I think it is a healthy way to read the passage. I think we just have to think of it as God’s work and we need it no matter how it is.

  23. Hebrews 1:1 says, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” It’s important to not only look at scripture with the common Pauline approach and put ourselves in text so that we can accurately comprehend what the scripture is telling us. It’s important to read from all angles. Like Jobe says that ancient books were written in the time and place quite unlike the present day setting in which we read them from (6). It’s very beneficial if a reader today understands the culture and customs that were practices in the past and this will help to reduce misinterpretation of content. Today with the difference in culture, for example American culture is so different from African culture, being from an African culture and have lived in American culture. There is a different way of reading and interpreting content in this culture in relation to other cultures. It’s important to know the culture that the material comes from and it will help with the interpretation process and its helps to find the relation from the different cultures. In conclusion, it’s helpful to read Hebrews through Revelation.

  24. As for me putting aside Pauline theology in reading the book of Hebrew seem an unhealthy way to read it. Since the author of Hebrew is anonymous, yet there were a large scale of speculation concerning the original author of Hebrew. However, there were assumptions stating the author background as a Hellenistic Jews based on the critic of his literary works and his sophisticate knowledge on the Hebrew Bible .It also infer that he was somehow influences by Pauline theology and have some sort of association with apostle Paul since he was the seconds generation Christian confirmed by those who heard it. Therefore, I believe the author did not set aside the Pauline theology when he wrote the book of Hebrew. It seem to me that Paul theology, messages, and literary works played a significant role for the author to articulate sophistically and theologically. Yes, there were various deferences in terms of their usage of terminology and writing styles, but it’s quite transparent that as seconds generation Christian, he must used Pauline theology (as a reference, since he was influence bu Paul) to compose this profound and extreme difficult book. Therefore, nothing’s wrong to set aside Pauline theology in reading Hebrew. But, if one seeks to gain a solids understanding of the book must read it with Paul theology in-mind. Most of us were highly influences and our understanding of grace, salvation, redemption, forgiveness, justification and the atonement of Christ were clearly expounded to us by apostle Paul. In order for us to fully grasp the meaning behind Hebrews to revelation, looking at from the viewpoint of Hebrew is not enough; cross-examining with Paul theology would not make any kinds of contradiction, but will fortify and deepen our understanding of the messages behind the texts of Hebrew through Revelation.

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