Book Reviews,  Theology/Bible

New Volume on Hebrews

Richard Bauckham has edited a new volume on the epistle to the Hebrews, Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in Its Ancient Contexts. It’s the latest installment in T & T Clark’s series “Library of New Testament Studies.”

Dr. Barry Joslin of Boyce College contributes an outstanding essay on the law in Hebrews titled, “Hebrews 7-10 and the Transformation of the Law.” Among other things, he argues that in Christ the Old Testament Law has been “transformed” such that the artificial categories of “civil, ceremonial, and moral laws” might be curtailed.

Joslin is also the author of the forthcoming volume from Paternoster, Hebrews, Christ and the Law: The Theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews 7:1-10:18. Joslin’s contributions to the field of Hebrews studies is growing. Because discussions about the relationship between Law and Gospel are often dominated by Paul’s interpreters, those interested in a biblical theology of the Law will have to deal with what Joslin in saying.

Other contributors include Gareth Cockerell (author of the forthcoming NICNT volume on Hebrews), Craig Blomberg, and Ardel Caneday.

Richard Bauckham, Daniel Driver, Nathan Macdonald, Trevor Hart, eds., Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in Its Ancient Contexts, Library of New Testament Studies (T & T Clark, 2008).


  • Jeremiah


    Can you clarify what you mean when you say that he argues that “in Christ the Old Testament Law has been “transformed” such that the artificial categories of “civil, ceremonial, and moral laws” might be curtailed.”

    Is he saying that those distinctions are not actually present in the Mosaic law and that they are in fact manufactured? Obviously there are some distinctions between these categories for the Christian (i.e. it is sinful for me to murder someone still [moral], but it is not sinful for me to refuse to offer up an animal sacrifice for my sins, since Christ has fulfilled that type [ceremonial]).

    Guess I just need to get the book, huh?

    Thanks for posting this,

  • Don

    FWIIW, I do not think the Mosaic covenants can be carved up into various parts, such as civil, moral and ceremonial. This is because they are a covenant, which is a unity, you are either IN the covenant as whole thing or outside of the covenant as a whole thing; for example, no one is partially married, as marriage is a covenant, one is either married or not married.

  • Kyle Barrett

    Is the problem with the distinctions that we weight the value of each category differently? I don’t think I have a problem with the categories (although we need to allow for overlap) as long as we understand that to break a “moral” law and to break a “ceremonial” law still makes one a lawbreaker.


    PS. Barry also has a “lay” commentary on the book of Hebrews in the works as well.

  • Barry

    The point about the familiar tripartite division is merely an implication of the whole study. The division is not necessarily a bad thing, and can be a helpful pedagogical tool, but it tends to create more problems than it solves when we try to classify every commandment into one of three categories. In short, what Hebrews envisions is a transformation of the Law with Christ being the interpretive, hermeneutical key. He has transformed the priesthood (Levitical to Melchizedekian) and the sacrifices (and the whole of the cultus) such that there is still priesthood, there are still sacrifices (see ch.13), and there is still law in the New Covt (8:10/10:16). When viewed more holistically the idea in Hebrews is not mere “abrogation” or “nullification” but rather, “transformation” (the meaning of 7:12’s ‘change’ – nomou metathesis). As such there is both continuity and disc. in the New Cov’t.

    Hope this helps. The essay is describes it well, but the book version unpacks all of the technical matters.


  • Barry

    Thanks for the props on the commentary. I just got that contract this week, which means the commentary will be completed within the next 20 years. (They take a while to write!)


  • Jeremiah


    Thanks for the clarification- that does help. The “transformational” idea seems to be an accurate way of explaining the changes to the Law under the New Covenant. So (at the risk of asking you to regurgitate your book here), would you say that the Ten Commandments, then, are a summary of moral obligations that are still binding on the new covenant believer? In other words, do they still constitute a standard by which the Christian is obligated to live (out of love) under the rule of his risen Savior? Have they been transformed also, or is that beyond the scope of your book?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ll be adding your book to my (ever-growing) list of “to buys”!


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