The class I am teaching at Nebraska Christian College is working on the book of Hebrews right now. We have been walking through the opening statement of the book, perhaps the most remarkable and densely stated piece of christological theology in all the New Testament. I am pounding into my students that Hebrews makes up a unique and indispensable part of our understanding of Jesus Christ, and without this book, many important doctrines would vanish. It is unlike Pauline theology in many ways and gives us an important balance for the writings of the Apostle from Tarsus. Since Evangelical theology is currently over-influenced by Pauline thought and under-represented by the doctrines of the Gospels, James, and Hebrews, I believe that paying attention to Hebrews is important, even crucial, for an adequate 21st century doctrinal playbook.
Hebrews 1:1-3 is notoriously difficult to translate without leaving many nuances on the table. The NIV2011 folks made a mighty effort, but I think this translation bows to tradition way too much. Humor me a little as I offer a very literal, wooden, (can I say “NASB-type”) of rendering of verse one and the first part of verse two:
With many different pieces and with many different methods in the old days, God spoke to the ancestors by means of the prophets. But in these final days [God] spoke to us by means of Son … (Hebrews 1:1-2a, Krause version)
In the original text, it is not “his Son” or “the Son.” There is no article. God has spoken by Son. Not in bits and pieces, like he did to the ancestors (the biblical nation of Israel). Not through lots of spokespersons (the prophets). Not by using lots of revelatory methods (dreams, words, events, etc.). One person: Son. One method: Son. One revelation: Son. The advent of the Son is not the penultimate revelation. It is the final, complete, all-sufficient, fully-adequate, ultimate revelation for these last days, the final period of human history. I do not doubt that when the end comes, the close of human history, God will more fully reveal himself in power, glory, and judgment, but not now. The revelation of God through Jesus Christ is both all we get and all we need. We don’t need another testament added to our Bibles as some now suggest. We don’t need another book of revelation, a Qur’an or a Book of Mormon. We don’t need a new oracle to speak for God, whether a Bishop of Rome or a Dali Lama. Christ is both the perfect revelation of God and the culmination of all revelation. God’s Son is both a person and a method of revelation, and he has spoken to us in a wonderful, unequivocal, and sufficient way in his words and in his life. Christ is all we need and all we are going to get. That, my friends is Giant Theology.
Nebraska Christian College