You are on page 1of 2

2/3/2015

AngelicWorshipofChristinHebrews1:6|LarryHurtado'sBlog

LarryHurtadosBlog
CommentsontheNewTestamentandEarlyChristianity(andrelatedmatters)
TAGS
Jesusdevotion,Monotheism,NTreligiousideas

AngelicWorshipofChristinHebrews1:6
February3,2015
DavidAllenhasproducedacareful,patientanalysisofHebrews1:6,whereangelsare
commanded(byGod)toworship/reverenceJesus,andrecentscholarlydiscussionofthe
text:Who,What,andWhy?TheWorshipoftheFirstborninHebrews1:6,inMark,
Manuscripts,andMonotheism:EssaysinHonorofLarryW.Hurtado,eds.ChrisKeithandDieterT.
Roth(London:BloomsburyT&TClark,2014),15975.
AsAllennotes,theverseistantalizinglysubjecttodifferentnuances,asreflectedinrecent
scholarlystudies.ItformsonelinkinachainofbiblicaltextscitedinHebrews1:513,thenet
forceofwhichseemstobetounderscorethehighstatusofJesus,inparticularcontrastinghis
statuswiththatofangels.TheprecedingstatementsinHebrews1certainlyascribetoJesusa
remarkableanduniquestatusandrole,as,forexample,theeffulgenceofthegloryandthe
directimprintofthebeingofGod(1:3).ThiscontrastoftheSon(Jesus)withangelsisthen
expresseddramaticallyin1:6,whereitappearsthatGodcommandsthemtoreverencethe
firstborn.
Partoftheambiguityoftheverseisinthewordused:proskynein,which,inwiderancient
Greekusage,cancoveravarietyofreverentialactionsrangingfromtheworshipgivento
deitiestotheobeisanceshowntorulers,tothereverencegiventovarioussocialsuperiors(e.g.,
slavestotheirmasters).Ontheotherhand,iftheauthorintendedheresimplytoindicatethat
angelswererequiredtoacknowledgethesuperiorityoftheFirstborn,itmightbeabit
redundant,asthatpointismaderatherclearlypriorto1:6.But,asreflectedincurrent
scholarlydiscussionofthematter,thereisnocompleteconsensusonwhattomakeofthe
reverentialactionportrayedinHeb1:6,whetheritrepresentstherobustworshipgivento
divinebeingsor...somethingless.
Allenalsonotesthelackofotherdirect/explicitreferencestoworshipgiventoJesusin
Hebrews,andfindsthatcurious,giventheotherwisehighstatusascribedtoJesusbythe
author.ButAllenproposesthatHeb13:21justmightbeanothertextwhereJesusisrecipientof
akindofworship,ifyoutakethedoxologythereasdirectedtoJesus(andnottoGod).But
13:21alsoisabitambiguous,oratleasthasbeenreadinbothwaysbycurrentscholars.
Inmyview,thelackofexplicitreferenceinHebrewstoJesusasrecipientofworship(ofthe
kindsignifyingdivinestatus)maybeacorollaryoftheauthorsemphasisinthis
exhortation/treatiseonJesusasfullyhuman,andsotheidealhighpriestandalsoidealmodel
forbelievers.IntryingtodrawconclusionsaboutwhattheauthorofHebrewsmayhave
thoughtaboutJesusascorecipientofworshipbybelievers,weneedtoexamine
assumptions.Inparticular,canweassumethatwhatanauthorwritesinagiventext(with
clearpastoral/hortatorypurposes)isindicativeofthefullextentofthatauthorsbeliefsand
https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/angelicworshipofchristinhebrews16/

1/2

2/3/2015

AngelicWorshipofChristinHebrews1:6|LarryHurtado'sBlog

approveddevotionalpractices?Granted,Hebrewsdoesntexplicitlyrefertotheworshipof
JesusinearlyChristiancircles.Butthereisalsonothinginthetexttosuggestthattheauthor
woulddisapproveofsuchworshipeither.Thereisthedangerofargumentfromsilenceeither
way.
So(asAllenbasicallyjudges),itsprobablybestnottomakethequestionofwhetherJesuswas
corecipientofworshipinearlyChristiancirclesresttooheavilyonHebrews.Ontheone
hand,Jesusisascribedahighstatussuchthatitisdifficulttoimaginewhatmorecouldbe
saidtoexalthimfurther.Ontheotherhand,forwhateverreason,theauthordoesnot
explicitlysaywhetherhedoesordoesntknowofanapproveofthesortofdevotional
practicesthatarealreadypresupposedinPaulsletters.So,itsprobablywisesimplytotake
thetextaswritten,withitsfascinatingcombinationofhighChristologyandstrongemphasis
alsoonJesusastheultimateagentofredemption.
About these ads
(http://wordpress.com/aboutthese-ads/)

FromUncategorized

LeaveaComment
CreateafreewebsiteorblogatWordPress.com.|TheTitanTheme.
Follow

FollowLarryHurtado'sBlog
BuildawebsitewithWordPress.com

https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/angelicworshipofchristinhebrews16/

2/2