Structure and Interpretation in Hebrews 8:1-10:18: A Symphony in Three Movements -- By: Gareth Lee Cockerill
BBR 11:2 (2001) p. 179
Structure and Interpretation in Hebrews 8:1-10:18: A Symphony in Three Movements
Wesley Biblical Seminary
Most scholars agree that Heb 8:1-10:18 is the author’s exposition of the effective sacrifice of the Son/high priest. There is, however, no consensus about how this section should be subdivided into smaller sections. In this study I argue that Heb 8:1-10:18 is best understood as a “symphony” in three movements (8:1-13; 9:1-22; 9:23-10:18) on the themes of “sanctuary” (8:1- 2; 9:1-10; 9:23-24), “sacrifice” (8:3-6; 9:11-15; 9:25-10:14), and “covenant” (8:7-13; 9:16-22; 10:15-18). The themes of “sanctuary” and “covenant” support the central theme of “sacrifice.” The first movement (8:1-13), by alluding to Ps 110:1 and citing Jer 31:31-34, establishes the bare fact that Christ’s sacrifice must be different from human sacrifices because it pertains to the heavenly sanctuary and establishes the new covenant. The second movement (9:1-22) describes the sacrifices used in the Tabernacle ritual and in the establishing of the old covenant by allusion to the Pentateuch. The purpose of this description is to show that these sacrifices were inadequate but pointed toward the adequate self-sacrifice of Christ and the cleansing power of His blood. The third movement (9:23-10:18) focuses on the quality of Christ’s sacrifice by expounding Ps 110:1; Ps 40:6-8; and Jer 31:31-34. The high point of this symphony is reached in Heb 10:5-10, the heart of this third movement. These verses affirm that Christ’s effective sacrifice is the willing offering of himself unto death as an obedient human being.
Key Words: Hebrews, Heb 8:1-10:18, structure, sanctuary, sacrifice, covenant, blood of Christ, body of Christ, will of God, Ps 110:1; Ps 40:6-8; Jer 31:31-34
It is generally acknowledged that Heb 8:1-10:18 is an exposition of the effective sacrifice of the Son as high priest, “the heart of the christological exposition of Hebrews.”1 This section is closely associated
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