Review: Hebrews

0664221181Luke Timothy Johnson (Ph.D., Yale University) is R. W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Chandler School of Theology, Emory University. Johnson is a notable scholar whose research concerns have been the literary, moral, and religious dimensions of the New Testament, including the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts of early Christianity, Luke-Acts, the Pastoral Letters, and the Letter of James. Johnson is also the author of numerous books, many of which, nowadays, are still widely used in academic and ecclesiastical settings around the world—the present volume on Hebrews being one of those contributions.

Hebrews: A Commentary is firmly positioned as one of the most notable volumes within the acclaimed New Testament Library (NTL) series. The commentary begins with a 60-page introduction that is well-worth the price of the volume. Johnson, of course, tackles all the introductory matters with precision. Johnson dates the composition of the book between AD 50-70 and provides a rather convincing case for the authorship by the hand of Apollo—although Johnson concludes the anonymity of the author being the only known reality. Moreover, Johnson provides an excellent discussion about the use of the book of Hebrews within Christian tradition and rightly concludes that it was the usefulness/ truthfulness of its content, rather than apostolic authorship, that resulted in its widespread acceptance.

The commentary proper is likewise excellent throughout and judiciously presented. First and foremost, like the other volumes in the NTL series, Johnson provides the reader with an original translation and textual notes. I have continually found this to be one of the most helpful features of the NTL series, and Johnson does not disappoint. He is meticulous and careful in his translation and presents the evidence and and textual issues well. In fact, compared to the other volumes that I have interacted with in the series I think Johnson has been the most helpful in this section. Second, Johnson has presented a good case for LXX priority in Hebrews and does an excellent job presenting that reality throughout. Third, while Hebrews is certainly rich with Christological significance on the surface, Johnson does a tremendous job bringing this reality to bare at almost every corner of the document.

There are no shortages in sight when it comes to the task of choosing a commentary on the book of Hebrews. Still, only the most inexperienced of readers would assume that all such commentaries are made equal—or even close to equal. While I don’t see Johnson coming off of my bookshelf before Lane (WBC) or Ellingworth (NICGT), or even Bruce (NICNT), I did find the volume extremely helpful and I am happy to have it in my library. Johnson is continually careful in his presentation of the text, and his explanation and interaction with the major themes of Hebrews and the LXX are indispensable. If you are in the market for a well-written work by a well-known and notable scholarly voice, Hebrews: A Commentary by Luke Timothy Johnson will not bring disappointment. It comes highly recommended.

 

I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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