Strive For Peace And Holiness: The Intertextual Journey Of The Jacob Traditions From Genesis To Hebrews, Via The Prophets -- By: Annang Asumang

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 17:1 (Mar 2014)
Article: Strive For Peace And Holiness: The Intertextual Journey Of The Jacob Traditions From Genesis To Hebrews, Via The Prophets
Author: Annang Asumang


Strive For Peace And Holiness: The Intertextual Journey Of The Jacob Traditions From Genesis To Hebrews, Via The Prophets

Annang Asumang1

Abstract

Interpreters approach the problems generated by the exhortation in Hebrews 12:14-17, that believers should strive for peace and holiness, and avoid the apostasy of Esau, in a variety of ways but with limited success. At issue are: the structural relationship between the pericope and its surrounding passages, the identity of the μετα παντων of Hebrews 12:14a, the conceptual links between its clauses, and the literary role of Esau. Given the manner in which the author employs the Old Testament throughout the epistle, the solution to these problems is likely to be derived from identifying the passage’s Old Testament background. This article proposes that themes from the Jacob-Esau saga and their interpretations by the prophets echo in the background of the passage. Hebrews, it argues, has interpreted episodes in the exile of Jacob to Mesopotamia and return to Bethel as prefiguring the migration of the people of God to Mount Zion. Believers who apostatise will be following the bad example of Esau. This interpretation has the advantages of fitting the socio-historical context behind Hebrews, accords

with the argument of Hebrews 12, and sheds light on the identity of the μετα παντων.

1. Introduction

Hebrews 12:14-17 (ESV) reads as follows:

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

The problems associated with interpreting this passage are well-known. They include, (a) delineating its literary structural relationship with the rest of the chapter, given the abrupt manner in which it begins and ends, (b) identifying who the μετα παντων (everyone) in Hebrews 12:14a represented, whether it included the persecutors of the readers, or ref...

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