Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Origen & the Epistle of the Diatheke

Elliott Johnson writes in 2010:
"The most developed 'new covenant theology' in the NT is found in Hebrews." (Paul R. Williamson) About that judgment there is little doubt. The question that remains is what is the New Covenant theology in Hebrews? Geerhardus Vos, an eminent federal covenant theologian at the beginning of the twentieth century, framed the parameters of the discussion that continues until today"
The article series 'the Epistle of the Diatheke' Elliott Johnson refers to was published in the Princeton Review in 1915 here and in 1916 here. After his death in 1949 the book 'The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews' was published in 1952. Professor C. Veenhof's inaugural address in 1946 was titled 'the Word of God in the letter to the Hebrews' of which Henk de Jong once said in a (very) critical review:
'yet I learned later that Veenhof's study got hold of only one strand in the Epistle to the Hebrews.'
'the horizontal line that Veenhof discerned in the letter was seconded by a strong vertical one, which, even in my consciousness, had something platonic to it.'
A quote that reminds me immediately of Origen's sermons on Joshua quoted in a recent blogpost by Michael J. Krueger on the NT Canon:
'So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying well-wrought trumpets.  First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on their priestly trumpets.  Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of his Epistles; James also and Jude.  Still the number is incomplete, and John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles.  Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9), and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down, even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers.'
The letter to the Hebrews refers to Joshua (chapter 4) as Henk de Jong points out in his discussion of the vertical  line. The homilies on Joshua of Origen might actually point to the importance of the letter to the Hebrews in his (Origen's) thinking (collection of Origen's quotes from the letters to the Hebrews here). Amazing observation by de Jong and an exciting approach to the question 'what is the New Covenant theology in Hebrews?'.

With this helpful heuristic in mind, let's now reread Geerhardus Vos articles from the Princeton review.

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