Q&A: The Literary Form of Hebrews

The Literary Form of Hebrews

How is the Letter to the Hebrews similar to and different from other New Testament epistles?

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Answer

The book of Hebrews is both similar and different from other New Testament epistles. It's similar in the sense that it is an occasional document. By that we mean, it's written to a specific group of Christians to address their specific concerns. In this case, almost certainly a group of Jewish Christians who are struggling because some of them are considering returning to their Jewish faith and rejecting Christ and returning exclusively to their Jewish faith. It's very specific. It's written probably to a house church or a group of house churches to address their specific needs.

It's different from the other New Testament writings probably mostly in its literary quality. It is the finest literary Greek in the New Testament, incredibly well-structured. In many ways it is written like a theological essay meant to convince it's hearers of a particular perspective concerning who Jesus Christ is and what he accomplished on the cross. So, similar in that it is occasional, an occasional document, a true letter in that regard; different, it's got more literary qualities. It's highly theological in its focus, very creative theologically as well.

Answer by Dr. Mark L. Strauss

Dr. Mark Strauss Professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego, CA