The Notion Of Mediator In Alexandrian Judaism And The Epistle To The Hebrews -- By: Ronald H. Nash

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 40:1 (Fall 1977)
Article: The Notion Of Mediator In Alexandrian Judaism And The Epistle To The Hebrews
Author: Ronald H. Nash

The Notion Of Mediator In Alexandrian Judaism And The Epistle To The Hebrews

Ronald H. Nash

In the ninth chapter of the book of job, the afflicted patriarch

laments the great gulf between himself and God. job cannot answer back to God because, of course, God is not a finite, sinful mortal. Therefore, job ponders, how can he and God meet in trial? As if the distance between God and himself were not bad enough, the situation is aggravated by the absence of a mediator (mesitēs in the LXX) between them who might lay his hand upon them both (Job 9:33). 1

Job’s yearning for a mediator who might stand between him and God is finally satisfied in the New Testament proclamation of the “one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). The use of mesitēs in this affirmation is one of four instances in the New Testament when the term is applied to Jesus, the other three occurring in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).

My intention is to explore several dimensions of the mediatorial work of Christ, with special reference to the account given in the Epistle to the Hebrews. I propose to do this by noting similarities and differences between the notion of Mediator in Hebrews and notions prominent in the philosophical and theological world of discourse in Alexandrian Judaism, a background shared by both the anonymous writer of Hebrews and his audience.

Many Christians think of Christ’s mediatorial work only in one of its New Testament dimensions, that of his sacrifice for

men’s sins, his work of redemption and reconciliation. A study of the thought-world of Hebrews reveals other aspects to Christ’s mediatorial work. Even though the term mesitēs is applied to Jesus only four times in the New Testament, this study will draw attention to several related features of the work of Christ that are manifestations of his work as The Mediator.

I. The Epistle to the Hebrews and Alexandrian Judaism

Alexandria was a dominant locale of the Jewish Diaspora and the chief center of Hellenistic thought at the beginning of the Christian era. It is not surprising that those Jews who lived there were open to influence from new ideas, especially from concepts in Greek philosophy that seemed consistent with and su...

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