The Drama of Discipline: Toward An Intertextual Profile of “Paideia” in Hebrews 12 -- By: Ched Spellman

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 59:3 (Sep 2016)
Article: The Drama of Discipline: Toward An Intertextual Profile of “Paideia” in Hebrews 12
Author: Ched Spellman


The Drama of Discipline: Toward An Intertextual Profile of “Paideia” in Hebrews 12

Ched Spellman*

* Ched Spellman is assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at Cedarville University, 251 N. Main Street, Cedarville, OH 45314. He may be contacted at cspellman@cedarville.edu.

Abstract: When the concept of discipline (paideia) is examined in the biblical writings, often an interpreter makes a choice between the punitive or educative sense of the term. Does it mean correction for disobedience or does it mean the process of education or training for a task? In Heb 12:3-11, this interpretive choice becomes critically important. In particular, determining the appropriate conceptual background that informs this concept is necessary for understanding its meaning and function in Hebrews 12. This study seeks to demonstrate the strategic significance of this passage, examine the nature of paideia, and then provide a profile of two OT contexts that likely inform the concept of discipline in Hebrews 12: the directly quoted context of the book of Proverbs and the less recognized intertextual backdrop of the book of Deuteronomy.

Key Words: Hebrews, Hebrews 12, discipline, paideia, intertextuality, conceptual background, Proverbs, Deuteronomy

When the concept of discipline (paideia) is examined in the biblical writings, often an interpreter makes a choice between the punitive or educative sense of the term. Does it mean correction for disobedience or does it mean the process of education or training for a task? In Heb 12:3-11, this interpretive choice becomes critically important. The term paideia itself is one of the verbal elements that stitch the tapestry of this section together.1 In particular, determining the appropriate conceptual background that informs this concept is necessary for understanding its meaning and function in Hebrews 12. In contrast to other portions of Hebrews and other portions even of this passage, one might say Heb 12:3-11 has not received an inordinate amount of analysis. Accordingly, this study seeks to demonstrate the strategic significance of this passage, examine the nature of paideia, and then provide a profile of two OT contexts that likely inform the concept of discipline in Hebrews 12: the directly quote...

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