1 Ch 6; Heb 1-2; Psalm 19
As we read the Scriptures, we keep coming to the realisation that there is much in them which is beyond our ken. Over and again we find references to people or places, events or practices about which we know nothing.
One good example of this is the Letter to the Hebrews. In its ascription immediately we come upon a problem, for unlike Paul’s letters, there is no greeting, or sense of to whom it is written. All that is clear is that there must have been a group ‘in the early church’ who went by the name ‘Hebrews’.
It is hard to discern who they were. There is evidence to suggest that they are to be distinguished from ‘The Jews’ in the gospel of John. Also that they were more closely associated with the Samaritans – which may of course give another more than interesting twist on Jesus’ parable . . .
Within First Century Judaism there were many groupings, some of which are very familiar, others of which are known to specialist scholars, and we may perhaps presume that there were other groups also. Certainly the material in this book is of a very different flavour to the rest of the New Testament, perhaps with the exception of Revelation and Jude. Certainly also, we know that the early church was a place of enormous disputation. Why else would Paul have to write the letter to the Galatians, for example?
The letter to the Hebrews was only grudgingly given a place in the Canon of Scripture, but that it has we ought to be thankful. For herein lies a beautiful mysterious vision of a Christianity that allows more than most writings in the NT, the gospels excepted, for the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God into our present reality. The book of Hebrews dramatically broadens our understanding of our faith, if we will but let it.When was the last time you sat through an intensive study of this book??
And we should dwell herein, for perhaps above all books in the New Testament, again excepting Revelation and the gospels, its theme is Christ – the one who is the reflection of God’s glory, the exact imprint of his being, the one who sustains all things by his powerful word, the one who is More Excellent.
It is also to run up against our own ignorance, and challenges our easy assertions that we Know, that we See. And perhaps for that above all we should give thanks.