|dc.description.abstract||This thesis investigates faith and the faithfulness of Jesus in Hebrews. Preceding studies have understated the christological dimension of faith or have made Jesus the object of faith. Furthermore, while Käsemann emphasized the corporate motif of the travelling people of God for Hebrews, most interpreters still operate with a largely individualistic concept of faith. I argue that faith in Hebrews is manifested in four dimensions: christological, eschatological, ethical, and ecclesiological. That is, faith is exemplified and enabled by Jesus (christological dimension), who in faith endured suffering to death (ethical) in hopes of postmortem life (eschatological). Humans exercise this faith by persevering with the travelling people of God (ecclesiological).
I read Hebrews with an eye to story, and the thesis is organized with these narrative concerns in view. Chapter 2 lays the exegetical and philosophical foundations for such an approach to Hebrews, arguing that Hebrews operates with stories and that human identity is itself a story. Our treatment of Hebrews deals with the two narrative identities the author presents, which are laid out succinctly in Heb 10:39: “but we are not (story 1) of timidity unto destruction, but (story 2) of faith unto the preservation of the soul.” I discuss these two stories in parts 2 and 3 of the thesis.
Part 2 of the thesis (chapters 3-5) addresses “the default human story.” We find that the default human story is characterized by unfaithfulness and concludes assuredly in death. Although God intended glory, honor, and dominion for humanity (Heb 2:6-8), we do not at present see this divine intention fulfilled. Instead, humans are shackled by a guilty conscience and are inherently unfaithful. The assured conclusion of death holds true even for Israel’s heroes of faith, who did not receive the promise and are not made perfect (11:13, 39-40). Although these chapters do not address faith per se they are necessary pieces to fill out the whole vision of the understanding of faith in Hebrews. To understand “faith” fully, we need to understand “unfaith.”
Part 3 of the thesis (chapters 6-8) discusses the story rewritten in Christ. This story, lived out perfectly by Jesus, is characterized by faith in the face of death and concludes assuredly in postmortem life. Hebrews depicts Jesus in martyrological terms, whose faith is associated with endurance through suffering in hope of postmortem reward. The conclusion to the story of faith is assured because the pioneer of faith is also the perfecter who successfully realized life after death.
Part 4 of the thesis (chapter 9) addresses how human beings exercise faith. The question of how a person first participates in the story of faith is difficult, since the author of Hebrews never speaks to this question directly. However, looking at how the author expects humans to exercise faith after they are “in” may offer a glimpse into the way humans can “get in.” I argue Jesus’ faithfulness in sacrifice enables humans to exercise faith, and we subsequently follow the model of Jesus’ faith (christological dimension), moving forward in hope of postmortem life (eschatological). In the present, faith entails endurance to the end (ethical), and this endurance likely involves suffering. Ultimately, we find that the author of Hebrews expects humans to join together with others being faithful (ecclesiological dimension), “going to Jesus outside the camp, bearing his reproach” (13:13).||en_NZ