WHEATON COLLEGE

SEEING JESUS: A LOOK AT THE INCARNATION OF THE DIVINE SON IN HEBREWS 2:5-9

SUBMITTED TO DR. DOUGLAS J. MOO IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF BITH 646-GREEK EXEGESIS OF HEBREWS

BY JUSTIN LANGLEY APRIL 22, 2010 CPO 4224

EXPANDED PARAPHRASE OF HEBREWS 2:5-9

God has not permitted angels to rule over the eschatological age. Rather, Ps 8 tells us that God has given humanity the responsibility of ruling over creation by exalting them to a status ranking just below the angels, and has given human beings much glory and honor. Indeed, he decided that he would subject all things in creation to humanity. Yes, nothing in creation is excluded from the human right to rule. But human experience seems to indicate that human beings currently do not rule over the creation. Human sin has produced a situation consisting of frustration and hardship for humanity. Nevertheless, the psalmist’s word must be true. In fact, we see it fulfilled in Jesus. He became fully human, taking on their status just below the angels, so that he could experience the death that was required to restore human beings to the rule of the eschatological age. Indeed, he was bestowed with the glory and honor of being human so that he could experience death on behalf of humanity as the expression of God’s grace towards his fallen image-bearers. It is Jesus’ death and what it accomplished that enables us to see him as rightful ruler over the eschatological age, which has begun but awaits its consummation. Jesus fulfills the lofty place of humanity as described in Ps 8 and therefore serves as the rightful ruler over the eschatological age, which is another reason he proves to be superior to angels.

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INTRODUCTION

The letter to the Hebrews continues to fascinate students of the New Testament for a variety of reasons. At the outset, readers face the mystery of the author who never identifies himself specifically.1 Also, very quickly in ch. 1, readers begin to see the author’s unique methods for quoting Scripture. The sheer volume of Scripture passages the author utilizes and the sophisticated ways in which he draws them into his argument impress the reader with the weight of his message. The author also exhibits an artistic mastery of language and rhetoric as he employs alliteration, puns, and various figures of speech in order to communicate compellingly. These rhetorical elements, among other things, have convinced many commentators that the author may have originally delivered this “word of exhortation” (13:22) as a sermon or at least composed it with an awareness or intention that someone would communicate the message orally.2 The message begins with a majestic exaltation of God’s Son as a superior means (and medium) of revelation. This “exordium” articulates the Son’s equality with God, his activity in creation and redemption, and his superiority to angels, which introduces the first section of his argument (1:1-4). He then demonstrates the Son’s superiority to the angels by applying several texts from the Septuagint which show the exalted position of God’s Son (1:5-13). He closes the

1 The author ostensibly gives away his gender by referring to himself with a masculine participle in 11:32; thus, with most commentators, I will refer to the author with masculine pronouns.

See, for example, David A. deSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004), 789.

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3 catena of quotations with Ps 110:1, which the author will develop later in the message, and then he affirms the proper position of angels as ministering spirits (1:14). In light of the Son’s superiority to angels, the author warns his audience of the danger of neglecting the salvation revealed in and through God’s Son (2:1-4). In the next paragraph, the author shifts his focus to the incarnation of the Son and his solidarity with humanity. He quotes Ps 8:4-6 (8:5-7, LXX) and applies the verses to Jesus. While Ps 8 seems to refer in some way to humanity’s relationship with the created world, the author of Hebrews applies the verses to Jesus with respect to the world to come. Moreover, we must decide whether he intends to capitalize on the usage of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου as a Messianic title. We must also arbitrate between a few textual variants. First, within the quotation of Ps 8 the author has omitted one line, but this line shows up in several Greek manuscripts. Second, and far less significant, we must determine whether the dative personal pronoun occurs twice or once in the first clause following the quotation. Finally, and most significantly, we must review the textual variant in v. 9 and determine whether we should read χάριτι θεοῦ or χωρὶς θεοῦ. Theologically, we seek to understand how Jesus’ humiliation, exaltation, and death correlate in this passage.

ANGELS WILL NOT RULE IN THE ESCHATOLOGICAL AGE (2:5)

The author begins this paragraph with a link to his earlier discussion of the inferiority of the angels in 1:5-14, and he begins by highlighting something not true of angels: “Now, it is not to angels that God subjected the world to come, which is what we are talking about” (2:5).3 The γάρ introducing this clause likely connects, rather loosely, back to 1:5-14.4 Nevertheless, the author
3

All translations of Scripture are my own.

For γάρ used as a general transition word see BDAG 189. Cf. Harold W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews (ed. Helmut Koester; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989), 69 n8.

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4 intends his readers to understand God as the subject of the verb ὑπέταξεν, drawing some connection also with 2:1-4. He assures his readers that God has not subjected τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν to angels. The word οἰκουμένη usually refers simply to the inhabited world or an inhabited region,5 and the author has already used the term in this general way in 1:6.6 However, he modifies οἰκουμένη with a present participle from μέλλω.7 This phrase probably coheres in meaning with the similar phrase found in 6:5, μέλλοντος αἰῶνος.8 Lane suggests a conceptual (as well as linguistic) link also with Pss 92:1 and 95:10 (LXX), which both refer to the οἰκουμένη “which cannot be shaken”9 in connection with the Lord’s eschatological reign.10 Thus, he understands the phrase “as a designation of the eschatological realm of salvation,”11 and he points out that God has not subjected this realm to angels.12 The author notes at the end of the sentence that this eschatological world “is what we are talking about.” Within the quotations of Scripture in 1:5-14, some references to eschatological

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See BDAG 699. Contra Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 117-18,

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144. This may provide another connection with 1:14, where a present participle from μέλλω appears. Though this participle is used as a substantive, the connection with inheriting salvation may be suggestive for how we ought to understand τὴν οἰκουμένην τὴν μέλλουσαν. Cf. George H. Guthrie and Russell D. Quinn, “A Discourse Analysis of the Use of Psalm 8:4-6 in Hebrews 2:5-9,” JETS 49:2 (June 2006): 239, and Paul Ellingworth and Eugene A. Nida, The Letter to the Hebrews (UBS Handbook Series; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 33.
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Cf. also 13:14. See also the similar phrase in Heb 12:28. William L. Lane, Hebrews 1-8 (WBC 47A; Dallas: Word, 1991), 45-6. Ibid.

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12 The usage of the aorist here may reflect God’s decision not to subject the world to come to angels, which had taken place prior to the coming of the realm in view. Cf. Ellingworth, Hebrews (NIGTC), 145-6. Furthermore, the author may bring this up as a point of contrast with a possible understanding that his readers may have had that the present world is ruled by angels. This idea may have been drawn from the LXX rendering of Deut 32:8 and from developments of this theme within Judaism. See Attridge, Hebrews, 70 n9.

5 realities appear, particularly in vv. 11-12. However, this phrase probably serves more to indicate the character of the upcoming discourse.13 With the introduction of the coming eschatological realm and the author’s insistence that God will not subject it to angels, the question naturally arises from the readers: “To whom, then, has God decided to subject it?”14

NOT TO ANGELS, BUT TO HUMANITY (2:6-8A)

The author introduces Ps 8:5-715 into his argument at this point with the curious phrase, “Someone somewhere has testified.” The psalmist praises Yahweh as he looks at creation, and he marvels at the status of humanity within that magnificent creation. Verses 6-9 comment on the elevated status the creator gave humanity, as reflected in Gen 1:26-28. The author of Hebrews begins his quotation from this Psalm at v. 5, with the words, “What are human beings that you remember them?”16 In Psalm 8, the psalmist asks the rhetorical question to communicate the relative insignificance of human beings when viewed against the brilliant backdrop of a starry sky also created by God. The psalmist follows this rhetorical question with another parallel question, which the author of Hebrews also quotes: “Or what are the descendants of Adam that you care for them?”
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Cf. Attridge, Hebrews, 70.

Contra Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 45, I am not sure the author intends for his readers, at this point, to draw the conclusion that God has subjected the coming world to the Son, per se. Theologically, the assertion is surely correct; however, it seems that the author’s argument moves into answering this implied question by looking to Jesus in his humanity, rather than specifically in his Sonship.
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For simplicity of reference, I will refer to the LXX versification unless otherwise indicated.

16 The references to humanity in the MT, LXX, and NT are singular, but the author clearly intends to speak of human beings collectively, so, to bring this out in English, I am translating ἄνθρωπος with “human beings” and the masculine singular pronouns that follow with plural pronouns. Cf. D.A. Carson, The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 105-9. Also see Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (PNTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 95.

6 The Greek phrase υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου receives much attention from scholars in this passage, and rightfully so. Since in the Gospels Jesus uses this designation as a title for himself, apparently with intended Messianic connotations, particularly in connection with the figure in Dan 7:13-14, one must decide if the phrase has those connotations here. In the Psalm, the phrase, clearly set in parallel with ἄνθρωπος, means the same thing as ἄνθρωπος.17 The TNIV translates this phrase as “mere mortals,” a rendering which has received criticism because it erects an additional set of barriers to seeing clearly how the author of Hebrews may apply this text to Jesus. First, the phrase υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου does not highlight mortality the way the English word “mortal” does.18 Second, using the modifier “mere,” when applied to Jesus, may imply to some readers that “the person so designated is not more than mortal.”19 To alleviate the difficulty, while attempting to retain the apparent generic meaning of the phrase, we have rendered υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου as “descendants of Adam.”20

Cf. Ellingworth, Hebrews (UBS), 34. With synonymous parallelism, there is usually some advance in meaning in the second line. The verbs in this verse are also very similar in meaning, but it seems more likely to see an advance in specificity from the first line to the second in the verbs, rather than a shift in the subjects. Vern S. Poythress, “Small Changes in Meaning Can Matter: The Unacceptability of the TNIV,” JBMW 10:2 (Fall 2005): 31. Ibid., 32. Other scholars have called for a retention of the translation “son of man” in this verse, apparently failing to see any way other than through this phrase that the author of Hebrews could have applied Ps 8 to Jesus. See, e.g., Wayne Grudem, “Are the Criticisms of the TNIV Bible Really Justified? An Interaction with Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Peter Bradley, D.A. Carson, and Bruce Waltke,” JBMW 7:2 (Spring 2002): 57-8. I think this rendering sufficiently satisfies Blomberg’s request: What is needed in modern language translations is some kind of rendering that does not immediately or naturally suggest a Messianic interpretation in verses 6-8 and that is gender-inclusive to ensure that readers recognize that men and women alike were created in God’s image and given the charge to exercise responsible stewardship over the earth, but which then can also be applied to Jesus when the reader comes to verse 9 and grasps the dynamic of our author’s flow of thought. Craig L. Blomberg, “‘But We See Jesus’: The Relationship between the Son of Man in Hebrews 2.6 and 2.9 and the Implications for English Translations” in A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in its Ancient Contexts (ed. Richard Bauckham et al; LNST 387; New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 98.
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7 In spite of humanity’s relative insignificance in the cosmos,21 the psalmist highlights the exalted status God has given them: “You gave them a little lower status than angels” (Heb 2:7a). The verb ἐλαττόω refers to lacking something,22 and the parallelism of this verse implies that God has caused human beings to lack status in comparison with the angels. Normally, this verb carries a negative connotation, but the psalmist (and, thus, the author of Hebrews) utilizes the term to highlight the exalted status of humanity, just below the status of angels in God’s presence and service. The Hebrew word translated with βραχύ τι regularly refers to a short space or a small degree,23 but this Greek phrase may refer to a small degree or a short amount of time.24 Commentators consistently note the ambiguity of the phrase, but most end up choosing to render the phrase temporally.25 However, since the psalmist seems to have intended a reference to a small degree, we have retained this meaning in the translation of the Greek phrase. The Hebrew text of Ps 8 makes this comparison between humanity and ‫ ,אלהים‬which ִ ֱֹ could refer to God or to angelic creatures. The Greek translators resolved the ambiguity of this term by translating with ἀγγέλους, which probably influenced the author of Hebrews’ decision
Humanity’s insignificance is routinely expounded by Jewish writers when referring to Ps 8. See George H. Guthrie, “Hebrews,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (ed. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 945. C. Spicq, “ἔλαττον (ἐλάσσων), ἐλαττονέω, ἐλαττόω,” TLNT 1:469-70. Cf. Albert Pietersma, “TextProduction and Text-Reception: Psalm 8 in Greek,” in Die Septuaginta—Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten: Herausgegeben von Martin Karrer und Wolfgang Kraus (ed. Martin Meiser; WUNT 219; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 492. I have intentionally avoided the regular translation of this verb, “made lower,” because English readers tend to equate (or at least relate closely) the verb “made” with the idea of creating. The idea of creation is not inherent in the verb itself, and, while this may be legitimate with reference to humanity in general, it is not appropriate when speaking of Jesus with this verb in v. 9.
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See L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, “‫ ”,מעט‬HALOT 611. Cf. Ellingworth, Hebrews (NIGTC), 154. ְַ

However, Pietersma, “Text-Production,” 493, suggests that βραχύ τι “regularly refers to degree (‘a little’ versus ‘a lot’) rather than to temporal duration (‘a short time’).” He goes on to state that the author of Hebrews “puts a temporal spin” on the phrase when referring to Jesus in v. 9. See, e.g., David A. deSilva, Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 109-10.
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8 to use this text at this point in his argument.26 Whether the psalmist originally had in mind a comparison between human beings and God or a comparison between human beings and angels, the point remains that humanity has an elevated status in creation. The psalmist continues his reflection on the exalted status of humanity, saying, “You bestowed them with glory and honor” (Heb 2:7b). The verb στεφανόω, often translated “crowned,” figuratively refers to bestowing honor or granting an award to someone who has won a victory.27 With the Psalm’s clear reflection on Gen 1:26-28, many commentators suggest that this line refers to humanity’s God-given mandate to rule over the rest of creation,28 and the original Psalm surely did refer to this aspect of humanity’s status, particularly in light of the next line of the Psalm. However, since the author of Hebrews omits the next line of the Psalm, perhaps he desires to generalize humanity’s rulership,29 not desiring to get bogged down in the psalmist’s explanation, which further specifies the mandate of ruling over the world of animals in the last few lines of the Psalm.30 This also might make it easier for him to use the teaching of

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Cf. Simon Kistemaker, The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Amsterdam: G. van Soest,

1961), 83. See C.J. Hemer, “Crown, Sceptre, Rod,” NIDNTT 1:405-6. I have avoided the typical translation “crowned” this English term usually automatically communicates a royal connotation that I do not think is natural to this Greek word. In approximately 40 occurrences of this word in Greek literature from the LXX to the Early Church Fathers, I did not find a single instance of this verb used for the coronation of a king. (Song 3:11 is not an exception.) Contra Craig R. Koester, Hebrews (AYB 36; Garden City: Doubleday, 1974; repr. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 217.
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E.g., Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 46.

Another option is that the author desires to make a connection with the priestly vocation of humanity perhaps implied in Gen 2:15. Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 49, suggests that the usage of the phrase δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ may allude to Exod 28:2, 40 (LXX), which refers to Aaron’s priestly attire. This would provide an interesting (yet subtle) transition to the next section which focuses on the priesthood of Jesus. However, the Greek terms are reversed in Exod 28, and I can see no other indications in this paragraph that a reference to priestly ideas is intended. Ellingworth, Hebrews (NIGTC), 149. Many manuscripts include the omitted line, but this is probably due to assimilation to the LXX. Cf. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2d ed.; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 593-4.
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9 this Psalm to speak of the subjection of the world to come to humanity, in response to his implied question in v. 5.31 The last line of the Psalm that the author quotes contains the linguistic element that answers the implied question of v. 5: “You subjected all things under their feet” (Heb 2:8a). The psalmist had originally specified the reference to “all things,” recalling the mandate recorded in Gen 1:26-28 that humanity should have dominion over all of the animals God had created. Commentators typically see a connection at this point, by means of the modifying phrase “under their feet,” with the author of Hebrews’ earlier quotation of Ps 110:1 (Heb 1:13).32 However, the author of Hebrews makes no mention in his explanation of the quotation of enemies or of a footstool, so perhaps he does not have this connection explicitly in mind here.33 Rather, he seems simply to focus on the broad idea of the subjection of all things to humanity, and this makes Ps 8:5-7 a particularly effective text to quote in order to make his point: God has not subjected the world to come to angels; rather, he has subjected all things to humanity.

SOMETHING AMISS: WE DO NOT SEE ALL THINGS SUBJECT TO HUMANITY (2:8BC)

Also, by omitting this line, he alters the parallelism. The original Psalm, in these verses, consisted of three bicola, each set in synonymous parallelism. The author of Hebrews has essentially changed the structure to one bicolon set in synonymous parallelism followed by a tricolon set in synonymous parallelism. This may have “weighted” the tricolon with the emphasis he desired to communicate, whereas the original structure may have proven too banal for his purposes.
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E.g., F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 74. The connection between Ps 110:1 and Ps 8:7 is much tighter in 1 Cor 15:25-27.

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10 The author of Hebrews begins his elaboration and application of Ps 8:5-7 by emphasizing that God omitted nothing in all of creation when he subjected all things to humanity.34 Granting the ostensible totality of the subjection of all things to humanity, the author of Hebrews perceives a note of dissonance with his own experience: “But now, we do not yet see all things subject to them” (Heb 2:8c). As the author evaluates his own observation of the operations of the world, he can manifestly claim that humankind does not experience mastery of the creation. Perhaps this implies the understanding that angels do indeed govern the present age35 along with a tacit acknowledgement of humanity’s fall from their exalted position.36 Thus, Ps 8 speaks of the design for humanity in creation which remains unrealized due to the events narrated in Gen 3. Nevertheless, the author of Hebrews does not wish to expound on any of these themes. Indeed, if he has humanity’s failure to obey God in his purview at all, he remains conspicuously silent about it. However, the author does reveal a measure of hope that he may yet experience this reality. The little word οὔπω may indicate that the author of Hebrews viewed his experience as caught up in the “overlap of the ages,” realizing that the age to come had begun but still awaited full consummation.37 As he moves to apply Ps 8 to Jesus, he highlights the exalted nature of humanity within creation, testified of in Scripture, though not fully experienced in daily living.

WE SEE JESUS: FULLY HUMAN, FULLY EXALTED (2:9)
Whether or not the dative personal pronoun is repeated in this sentence (2:8b) seems to me a very minor issue. The earliest manuscripts omit the first occurrence, and it certainly seems unnecessary. For brief discussion, see Metzger, Textual, 594, and Attridge, Hebrews, 69 n4.
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Cf. Deut 32:8 (LXX).

See Annang Asumang and Bill Domeris, “Ministering in the Tabernacle: Spatiality and the Christology of Hebrews,” Conspectus: JSATS 1:1 (March 2006): 12.
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So O’Brien, Hebrews, 97.

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Understanding how the author applies (and how he does not apply) Ps 8:5-7 to Jesus remains the crux of this passage. He first brings in the phrase “the one who has a little lower status than angels.” The author utilizes a perfect tense participle from ἐλαττόω to identify one who has a low status.38 As in Ps 8, βραχύ τι παρʼ ἀγγέλους modifies this verb, and most commentators insist that we must understand βραχύ τι temporally here, in contrast with its probable spatial meaning in the Psalm itself.39 Usually, they demand this shift in order to make plain a reference to Jesus’ incarnation, which, of course, only lasted a short time.40 In addition, commentators who press this issue also see this passage as describing a sequence of humiliation followed by glorification as a result of death in Jesus’ incarnation.41 However, as Westcott comments on v. 7, “βραχύ τι is used here of degree…and not of time….The Hebrew is unambiguous; and there is no reason to depart from the meaning of the original either in this place or in v. 9.”42 The author of Hebrews takes this phrase as his point of departure for interpreting the passage from Ps 8. Those who insist on the translation of υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου as “son of man,” insisting that we must at least allow for the possibility that the author of Hebrews intends to capitalize on the potential Messianic connotation that Jesus himself gave to this phrase, seem to overlook the fact that the author of Hebrews never uses this phrase
38 For the perfect tense conveying a primarily stative idea, see Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament (2d ed.; Sheffield: JSOT, 1999), 39-40.

E.g., Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 42-3, who argues that the positioning of βραχύ τι at the beginning of the clause in v. 9 “is placed first for emphasis.” Even if this placement is emphatic (which I doubt), I do not see how this requires a shift in the meaning of the phrase from a spatial idea to a temporal idea. This phrase, modifying the participle, is bracketed by the definite article and the participle, which is a common Greek construction that does not seem emphatic in any sense.
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Cf., e.g., Attridge, Hebrews, 75-6. Cf., e.g., Donald Guthrie, Hebrews (TNTC; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1983), 90-1. B.F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Macmillan, 1920), 44.

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12 again in the entire epistle.43 Moreover, if he were reading Ps 8 in a Messianic fashion at all, one would expect that he would apply the epithet to Jesus in v. 9 of all places.44 Therefore, it seems best to understand this phrase as applied to Jesus in the same way it appears in the Psalm.45 This participial construction serves as an appositive to the accusative Ἰησοῦν, placed emphatically in the middle of the clause. The author’s climactic point rests on the two words βλέπομεν Ἰησοῦν. However, the significance of the contrast in what we do see versus what we do not see (in v. 8) lies in the two participial phrases drawn from the language of Ps 8:6. These phrases connect the person of Jesus with humanity as described in the Psalm. God gave humanity a slightly lower status than the angels, and Jesus has a slightly lower status than the angels.46 Likewise, God bestowed on humanity glory and honor, and Jesus has received glory and honor. Most commentators understand the prepositional phrase διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου to modify ἐστεφανωμένον, seeing that “the suffering of death” serves as the ground of Jesus’ receiving glory and honor.47 However, this seems redundant, since the final subordinate clause of this verse, also referring to Jesus’ death, modifies ἐστεφανωμένον. Perhaps we may see διὰ τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου as modifying ἠλαττωμένον, showing that Jesus has a status slightly lower than the angels “for the sake of the suffering of death.”48 The author may have wanted to show
43

Cf. O’Brien, Hebrews, 96.

On this point, see in particular Darrell Bock, “Do Gender-Sensitive Translations Distort Scripture? Not Necessarily,” JETS 45:4 (Dec. 2002): 662. Cf. Carson, Inclusive Language, 180-1. Cf. Barnabas Lindars, The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews (NTT; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 40. One could argue for both meanings, as do Asumang and Domeris, “Ministering,” 11: “His lowering was both in terms of the shortness of the time and His hierarchical position in relation to the angels.” We could perhaps quibble over whether this is an exalted or a reduced status for Jesus, but I think the possibility of viewing this as “humiliation,” in line with a passage like Phil 2:7-8, is quite beside the author’s point. Rather, he uses this language in order to show Jesus’ identification with humanity, as the Psalmist describes humanity.
47 46 45

44

See, e.g., Ellingworth, Hebrews (NIGTC), 154-5.

More idiomatically, perhaps we could render the clause, “the one who has a slightly lower status than angels because he needed to suffer death.”

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13 how Jesus “fulfills” both points of the psalmist’s comments about humanity in relation to his death. Finally, the last clause of the paragraph gives the reason Jesus received the glory and honor of being human: “so that by God’s grace he might taste death on behalf of everyone.” In place of χάριτι θεοῦ a handful of manuscripts read χωρὶς θεοῦ, a fascinating textual variant that apparently existed in the time of Origen. Most (if not all) English translations retain the majority reading, but some scholars have recently argued for the preference of χωρὶς θεοῦ.49 Nevertheless, it seems more reasonable to understand that χωρὶς θεοῦ appeared as an early marginal gloss that found its way into some manuscripts in this clause at a relatively early date.50 Perhaps the author mentions God’s grace here to show that Jesus’ death for everyone flows out from God’s grace toward humanity, who failed to measure up to the exalted status the psalmist ascribes to them.51

SUMMARY

The author of Hebrews spent most of ch. 1 arguing for Jesus’ superiority above the angels by virtue of his divine Sonship. In 2:5, he picks up this argument and carries it forward in a slightly different direction. He begins the paragraph indicating that the angels will not rule the

E.g., Ellingworth, Hebrews (NIGTC), 155-6. For a more popular presentation, see Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), 144-8.
50 For full discussion, see Daniel B. Wallace, “The Gospel According to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman,” JETS 49:2 (June 2006): 337-40. Cf. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 594.

49

Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 49. Cf. Thomas G. Smothers, “A Superior Model: Hebrews 1:1-4:13,” RevExp 82:3 (Sum 1985): 339.

51

14 eschatological age. He then quotes Ps 8:5-7 from the LXX in order to identify humanity as the ones destined to rule the eschatological age. However, he then highlights how his and his audience’s common experience tells them that humanity does not currently rule over all things as the psalmist says they should. He then moves to apply Ps 8:5-7 to Jesus, explaining that we see Jesus by virtue of his suffering death on behalf of humanity. His argument implies the failure of humanity to experience the fullness of the position to which God had exalted them in his creation. Nevertheless, the failure of humanity has not thwarted the design of God, for he has decided to subject the coming eschatological age to Jesus, the one who lived up to the exalted status given to humanity by God.

APPLICATION

In this text, the author of Hebrews affirms the psalmist’s reckoning of the elevated status of humanity. The psalmist reflects on the amazing reality that God cares for human beings.52 Even as the author of Hebrews acknowledges the failure of humanity to live up to God’s design, he also highlights the immeasurable grace of God in sending his Son to take on the fullness of humanity and experience death on human beings’ behalf. Jesus’ death for us, perhaps above all other statements in the Bible, affirms the dignity and value of human beings. The author of Hebrews also wants his audience to see Jesus as sovereign over all things. Later in the message, he exhorts his audience to run the race of life with endurance by looking to Jesus as their goal (12:2). Knowing that we live in the last days, experiencing the frustrations
Cf. J.P. Oberholzer, “What is Man…?” in De Fructu Oris Sui: Essays in Honour of Adrianus van Selms (ed. I.H. Eybers et al; Pretoria Oriental 9; Leiden: Brill, 1971), 147.
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15 associated with living in this world broken by the results of human sin, we can take great comfort in looking to Jesus’ endurance of suffering in his human life, knowing that he now sits at the right hand of the Father, having offered the perfect sacrifice effective to take away all sin and provide forgiveness for believers. Indeed, we now see Jesus, the perfect man who has inaugurated the kingdom of God in which he rules sovereignly over all things.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asumang, Annang and Bill Domeris. “Ministering in the Tabernacle: Spatiality and the Christology of Hebrews,” Conspectus: The Journal of the South African Theological Seminary 1:1 (March 2006): 1-25. Attridge, Harold W. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Edited by Helmut Koester. Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989. Bauer, Walter, William Arndt, F. W. Gingrich, and Frederick William Danker, eds. A GreekEnglish Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Third ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Blomberg, Craig L. “‘But We See Jesus’: The Relationship between the Son of Man in Hebrews 2.6 and 2.9 and the Implications for English Translations.” Pages 88-99 in A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in its Ancient Contexts. Edited by Richard Bauckham et al. Library of New Testament Studies 387. New York: T&T Clark, 2008. Bock, Darrell L. “Do Gender-Sensitive Translations Distort Scripture? Not Necessarily,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45:4 (Dec. 2002): 649-69. Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990. Carson, D.A. The Inclusive Language Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. deSilva, David A. An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2004. . Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews.” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Ellingworth, Paul. The Epistle to the Hebrews. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. Ellingworth, Paul and Eugene A. Nida. The Letter to the Hebrews. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1994. 17

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Grudem, Wayne. “Are the Criticisms of the TNIV Bible Really Justified? An Interaction with Craig Blomberg, Darrell Bock, Peter Bradley, D.A. Carson, and Bruce Waltke.” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 7:2 (Spring 2002): 29-63. Guthrie, Donald. Hebrews. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1983. Guthrie, George H. “Hebrews.” Pages 919-95 in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Edited by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007. Guthrie, George H. and Russell D. Quinn. “A Discourse Analysis of the Use of Psalm 8:4-6 in Hebrews 2:5-9.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49:2 (June 2006): 23546. Hemer, Colin J. “Crown, Sceptre, Rod.” Pages 405-6 in vol. 1 of New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Edited by Colin Brown. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975-1985. Kistemaker, Simon. The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Amsterdam: G. van Soest, 1961. Koehler, Ludwig and Walter Baumgartner, eds. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated by M. E. J. Richardson. 5 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1994-2000. Koester, Craig R. Hebrews. Anchor Yale Bible 36. Garden City: Doubleday, 1974. Repr., New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008. Lane, William L. Hebrews 1-8. Word Biblical Commentary 47A. Dallas: Word, 1991. Lindars, Barnabas. The Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews. New Testament Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2d ed. New York: United Bible Societies, 1994. Oberholzer, J.P. “What is Man…?” Pages 145-51 in De Fructu Oris Sui: Essays in Honour of Adrianus van Selms. Edited by I.H. Eybers et al. Pretoria Oriental 9. Leiden: Brill, 1971. O’Brien, Peter T. The Letter to the Hebrews. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. Pietersma, Albert. “Text-Production and Text-Reception: Psalm 8 in Greek,” in Die Septuaginta —Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten: Herausgegeben von Martin Karrer und Wolfgang Kraus. Edited by Martin Meiser. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 219. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

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Porter, Stanley E. Idioms of the Greek New Testament. 2d ed. Sheffield: JSOT, 1999. Poythress, Vern S. “Small Changes in Meaning Can Matter: The Unacceptability of the TNIV.” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 10:2 (Fall 2005): 28-33. Smothers, Thomas G. “A Superior Model: Hebrews 1:1-4:13.” Review and Expositor 82:3 (Sum 1985): 330-42. Spicq, Ceslas. Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. Translated and edited by James D. Ernest. 3 vols. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994. Wallace, Daniel B. “The Gospel According to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49:2 (June 2006): 327-49. Westcott, B.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. London: Macmillan, 1920.

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