THEO-238 Later NT Writings (Epistle to the Hebrews)

Course Description and Schedule

Instructor: Dr. Andrei Orlov


Phones:  414-288-7649 (office); 414-962-3460 (home)

Office: Coughlin Hall, 217

This course will explore the Epistle to the Hebrews in the light of the Second Temple mediatorial traditions. Alongside the standard questions of the background, the date, the authorship, and the structure of the book, the course will focus on the author's use of traditions about the exalted patriarchs, prophets, and priests (such as Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedek, Abraham, Moses, and Levi)  in the construction of Jesus' priestly and messianic identity.



Seminar - a mixture of introductory lectures, discussions, and student led presentations.


Language Prerequisites:

Greek is required for Biblical division students. All students will be encouraged to utilize relevant sources in French and/or German in preparation of their papers.


Required Texts:


1. For Biblical division students:

Erwin Nestle, Kurt Aland, et al., eds.,  Novum Testamentum Graece (26th or 27th ed.: Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993) or  Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, et al., eds., The Greek New Testament (3rd or 4th ed.; New York: United Bible Societies/American Bible Society, 1993).

For all other students:

NRSV, RSV, or equivalent. Any interlinear Greek New Testament.

2. Harold Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Hermeneia Commentary; Fortress, 1989). = Attridge.

3. Electronic Materials.


Two short seminar papers/presentations (3-5 pages each); one longer course paper (15-20 pages); two books reviews; three one page responses to papers of other students.


1. Two short papers/presentations will deal with the theological content of selected materials from the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is necessarily that a student along with the exegesis of the selected materials can also explore their theological background in the biblical and extra-biblical texts. The materials for the first paper/presentation will be assigned alphabetically by the instructor, the materials for the second paper/presentation will be chosen by a student.  The short papers/presentations should contain 3-4 pages of single spaced prose and a page of bibliography, to be passed out to all class-members one week before class discussion. There will be a respondent (a friendly respondent!) assigned to each paper whose task will be to prepare a one page double spaced response with some critical questions to the presenter. The response will be distributed to all class-members on the day of presentation.

2. The major assignment will be a seminar paper of 15-20 pages, focusing on the literary, theological, social, or historical questions pertaining to the Epistle to the Hebrews. The paper is due December 11. The topic of the final paper will be chosen by student. It can be based on student’s short papers/presentations. Your final paper should conform to the style sheet presented in the SBL Handbook of Style (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999). The Handbook can be found in the library (CALL NUMBER: PN 147.S26) and on the Internet in the PDF. format.

The initial paper proposal should be one or two pages of single space prose describing your topic and the aims of your project, plus another page of preliminary bibliography. The paper proposal with bibliography is due to instructor on Monday, October 2.

The student will present a preliminary draft of the paper during the last two weeks of class. The preliminary draft will be passed out to all class-members on a session before class discussion.

3. Reviews. Each student will prepare two book reviews. The syllabus provides the list of books for reviews. Book reviews should be 1-2 pages of single space prose. The first review will be assigned by the instructor, the second book review will be chosen by a student.


All electronic documents listed in the schedule are available for download only as *. pdf files. These files require free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed.





August 28:  Introduction of Instructor and Students. Discussion of the Syllabus.

                        Main Bibliography


August 30: Backgrounds: Divine Mediators


September 4: Labor Day Holiday – No Class


September 6: Backgrounds: Divine Mediators


September 11: Backgrounds: Heavenly Temple/Heavenly Priests


September 13: Backgrounds: Heavenly Temple/Heavenly Priests


September 18: Hebrews: Authorship, Date, Provenance, and Recipients

  • Reading: Attridge, 1-13.
  • Background Reading: D. A. deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle "to the Hebrews" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) 1-23 (recipients, occasion, date, and location); 23-39 (author).
  • Materials for reviews: D. A. deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle "to the Hebrews" (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).


September 20: Hebrews: Genre and Structure

  • Reading: Attridge, 13-32.
  • Background Reading: “Genre” and “Literary Structure,” from: W.L. Lane, Hebrews 1-8 (Word, 47A; Nelson, 1991).
  • Materials for reviews: A. Vanhoye, S.J., Structure and Message of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Subsidia Biblica, 12; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1989); G. H. Guthrie, The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis (Leiden: Brill, 1994).


September 25 and 27: Hebrews 1 and 2


October 2: Hebrews 3


October 4: Hebrews 4


October 9: Hebrews 5

October 11: Hebrews 6

  • Reading: Attridge, 162-185.
  • Background Reading: N. Young/R. Davidson, "The Day of Dedication or the Day of Atonement."
  • Materials for reviews: I. Salevao, Legitimation in the Letter to the Hebrews: The Construction and Maintenance of a Symbolic Universe (JSNTSS, 219; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002); E. Käsemann, The Wandering People of God: An Investigation of the Letter to the Hebrews (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984).


October 16, 18, and 23: Hebrews 7



October 25: Hebrews 8


October 30: Hebrews 9

  • Reading: Attridge, 230-266.
  • Background Reading: D. R. de Lacey, “Jesus as Mediator,” JSNT 29 (1987) 101-121.
  • Materials for reviews: M. Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T&T Clark, 2003);J. Swetnam, Jesus and Isaac. A Study of the Epistle to the Hebrews in the Light of the Aqedah (AnBib 94; Rome, 1981); W. G. Johnsson, Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews (Ph.D. Diss.; Vanderbilt University, 1973); W. K. Gilders, Blood Ritual in the Hebrew Bible: Meaning and Power (Baltimore: John Hopkins, 2004).


November 1: Hebrews 10

  • Reading: Attridge, 267-304.
  • Materials for reviews: J. Dunnill, Covenant and Sacrifice in the Letter to the Hebrews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); R. Gheorghita, The Role of the Septuagint in Hebrews (WUNT, 2.160; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2003); J. C. Adams, The Epistle to the Hebrews with Special Reference to the Problem of Apostasy in the Church to Which It was Addressed (Ph.D. Diss.; Leeds University, 1964).



November 6 and 8: Hebrews 11


November 13: Hebrews 12

  • Reading: Attridge, 353-383.  
  • Background Reading:
  • Materials for reviews: N. C. Croy, Endurance in Suffering: Hebrews 12:1-13 in Its Rhetorical, Religious, and Philosophical Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).


November 15: Hebrews 13

  • Reading: Attridge 384-410.
  • Background Reading: D. Boyarin, “Introduction,” in D. Boyarin, The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia, 2004) 1-33; H. Koester, “’Outside the Camp’: Hebrews 13.9-14,” HTR 55 (1962) 299-315.
  • Materials for reviews: R. W. Johnson, Going Outside the Camp: The Sociological Function of the Levitical Critique in the Epistle to the Hebrews (JSNTSS, 209; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001); W. Klassen, “To the Hebrews or against the Hebrews? Anti-Judaism and the Epistle to the Hebrews,” in: Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University, 1986) 2.1-16.


November 20: Dr. Orlov in Washington for the AAR/SBL annual meeting – No Class

November 22: Thanksgiving Holiday –No Class

November 27 and 29: Long Papers Presentations

December 4 and 6: Long Papers Presentations

December 11: Long Papers are Due

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© 2006 Andrei Orlov