Wednesday, 9 August 2017

One-on-One with Jon Laansma on His New Book on Hebrews

Associate Professor of Ancient Languages and New Testament offers new commentary.

I recently interviewed one of my new colleagues, Jon Laansma, associate professor of ancient languages and New Testament at Wheaton College, and author of the new book The Letter to the Hebrews: A Commentary for Preaching, Teaching, and Bible Study. The book was recently released, and is helpful for those communicating the book of Hebrews to others.

Ed: OK, you can’t start an interview on the Book of Hebrews without asking: who wrote the Book of Hebrews?

Jon: This is an interesting question, but the debate over names points us away from where the author wants us to look. The writer was a highly literate individual who cared deeply about this faltering community; he (probably “he”) wrote during the time the apostles were active (A.D. 60-80, probably) and was deeply plugged into their teaching, yet boldly went where they had not explicitly gone. He wants us to look to the throne of grace, where our Brother is seated as our sympathetic High Priest.

He wants us to see that we’re part of God’s story, whether we know it or not, and that faith is the only sound course to follow. Arguments over authorship have their place and can aid our reading, but they can also become an evasion.

Focusing on the human author can be doing precisely what the author did not want us to do.

Ed: So, I can’t know the author… so, then, why did you write this commentary? What niche does it fill today?

Jon: I wrote this for the kinds of readers Hebrews itself is after (5:11-6:3). The commentary pays close attention to what specialists say and speaks to many of their questions, but it is written above all for anyone who has a serious interest in understanding the scriptures whether or not they have formal training.

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