Theological Commentary on Hebrews

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm looking for a good theological commentary on the Book of Hebrews - not something strictly exegetical or expository. I'm interested in studying the theology of the book. (I'm aware of John Owen, of course, but I don't have enough decades to spend on him, wonderful as it is.)

Any suggestions?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
David Dickson's commentary is good, and quite a bit more brief.

I was thinking of that one myself but thought it might be too brief. Still, I have been reading David Dickson's commentaries on other epistles on and off for a while now and there is loads of doctrine packed into a very short space.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Possibly John Brown's (of Edinburgh) commentary on Hebrews (a Banner of Truth Geneva reprint) might fit the bill.
 

Unique Name

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm looking for a good theological commentary on the Book of Hebrews - not something strictly exegetical or expository. I'm interested in studying the theology of the book. (I'm aware of John Owen, of course, but I don't have enough decades to spend on him, wonderful as it is.)

Any suggestions?

My pastor would often cite The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews by Geerhardus Vos in his very enlightening sermons. One day I will read it haha.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
My pastor would often cite The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews by Geerhardus Vos in his very enlightening sermons. One day I will read it haha.
Yes! I was just getting on here to mention that work. Approaching Hebrews with a Biblical-theological perspective is quite helpful.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
I guess I'm not understanding the useful difference between a "theological" commentary, and an "exegetical" commentary.

If you do good exegesis, don't you get good theology?

Maybe I just don't understand the necessary distinction.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I guess I'm not understanding the useful difference between a "theological" commentary, and an "exegetical" commentary.

If you do good exegesis, don't you get good theology?

Maybe I just don't understand the necessary distinction.

An exegetical commentary focuses on technical aspects of the Hebrew or Greek text of the Bible book. There are exegetical commentaries that don't have much theology in them at all, because of that specific focus. You should, theoretically, get good theology from good exegesis, but that's not always the case. Rudolf Bultmann was supposed to have been a first-class exegete of the Bible, but his theology was totally out to lunch. Don Carson notes, on the other hand, that John Murray's commentary on Romans has both excellent exegesis of the text and more theology than is usually expected from that type of commentary (I'm paraphrasing).
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I guess I'm not understanding the useful difference between a "theological" commentary, and an "exegetical" commentary.

If you do good exegesis, don't you get good theology?

Maybe I just don't understand the necessary distinction.

The distinction is best considered as a comparative rather than an absolute one. Consider, for instance, the difference between John Calvin's commentaries and those of many of his Reformed contemporaries and followers. We can perhaps classify Calvin's commentaries as more exegetical than theological, not because they do not discuss theology, but because Calvin does not employ his commentaries for the purpose of discoursing at length on theological topics that arise from the text. Hence, his readers were referred to his Institutes for an extended discussion of such doctrinal topics. Other commentators, by way of contrast, almost pack an entire systematic theology into their commentaries on one book.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
An exegetical commentary focuses on technical aspects of the Hebrew or Greek text of the Bible book. There are exegetical commentaries that don't have much theology in them at all, because of that specific focus. You should, theoretically, get good theology from good exegesis, but that's not always the case.

This x100. Peter O'Brien in his now defunct commentaries balanced this really well. From what I remember, his Hebrews commentary is quite good.

The Bible Speaks Today series tends to do well focusing on theological themes (of course, always depending on author). Dr. Duguid models a theological approach to Ezekiel very well in the NIVAC series (which isn't my favorite series at all but he is exceptional - shhh, don't tell him).
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Many authors don't set out to balance between exegesis and theology. Perhaps the latter would be better called Topics on Hebrews. For example, the G. Vos volume starts where you'd expect in a commentary considering characteristics of the epistle. After that, the focus includes topics such as Diatheke,
priesthood of Christ, sacrifice in the New Covenant, and etc. Since these were originally lectures at Princeton, I suspect he was ensuring his students had the theological framework for topics they would encounter doing the typical language work and exegesis. (And I should note, that someone else trying to capture information from classroom lectures rarely generates writing as lively as what the scholar would have done himself. Also, many of the topics in this book were published in Presbyterian Guardian but it's nice to have the information pulled together in one volume.)
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
For the theology of Hebrews, Vos is imperative. I would also recommend Owen, Phillips, Guthrie, Schreiner, Brown, O'Brien (though noting the controversy around him), and Lane.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Still, your commentary recommendations and reviews are a great resource, Lane! Would you care to put up the links to some of these again?
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I had a lengthy response typed up but lost it.

Condensed:

Peter T O'Brien, in my opinion, is the best modern commentary, though it is hard to come by for under a few hundred dollars.

I haven't see P. E. Hughes's commentary mentioned. He was well-read in Patristics, which I appreciated.

Another interesting resource that has yet to be mentioned is The Reformation Commentary on Scripture. Much inside that series has never been translated.

Lane mentioned my other suggestions above.

If you are not looking to get bogged down in the technical aspects of language and structure, you should probably go with John Brown of Edinburgh. He is the best of the older commentators on Hebrews. This is taken into account that you probably don't want to slog through Owen's massive commentary.

Gouge is good but incomplete.

Here are some misc. resources:

As you are studying Hebrew's theology, I would highly recommend Owen's treatise on the Priesthood of Christ that was pulled from his larger commentary: https://www.heritagebooks.org/products/the-priesthood-of-Christ-its-necessity-and-nature-owen.html

Dr. Robert Cara was on Reformed Forum to discuss Hebrew's Covenant Theology:

I highly recommend Richard Phillip's sermons:

Here are Martyn LLoyd Jones's various sermons on Hebrews:


I intended to work on this glorious exhortation one day. I still might as it is my favorite portion of Scripture, that is, if I had to pick a single book.

I recently acquired Schreiner's new commentary (EBTC) on Hebrews but haven't had a chance to read it. Has anyone else read it?
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Did you mean the John Brown, Geneva Series, Banner of Truth? In terms of surnames in Scotland, Brown is almost as common as Smith :)
Yes, that John Brown (of Edinburgh). His full title is: "SENIOR MINISTER OF THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION, BROUGHTON PLACE, EDINBURGH, AND PROFESSOR OF EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY TO THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH"1

JBoEweb.jpg

Here is a short bio:

"BROWN, JOHN: The name of several Scotch ministers, the most noteworthy being:
1. John Brown of Edinburgh:
Scotch Burgher minister, eldest son of Rev. John Brown of Whitburn (21 m. w.s.w. of Edinburgh), Linlithgowshire (b. 1754; d. 1832), and grandson of John Brown of Haddington; b. at Whitburn July 12, 1784; d. at Edinburgh Oct. 13, 1858. He studied at Edinburgh and the divinity hall of the Burgher Church at Selkirk; was licensed 1805 and ordained minister of the Burgher Church of Bigger, Lanarkshire, 1806; became minister of the Rose Street Church, Edinburgh, 1822, and of the Broughton Place Church in the same city 1829; was professor of exegetical theology to the United Associate Synod after 1834. He was strongly in favor of the separation of Church and State, and in 1845 was tried (and acquitted) before the synod on a charge of holding unsound views concerning the atonement. He was a fine orator and a voluminous writer; the most prominent of his works are: Expository Discourses on First Peter (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1848); Exposition of the Discourses and Sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ (3 vols., 1850); The Resurrection of Life, an exposition of I Cor. xv. (1852); Expository Discourses on Galatians (1853); Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (1857). He was the father of the well-known John Brown, M.D. (b. 1810; d. 1882), author of Rab and his Friends (Edinburgh, 1859)."2


1. Brown, John. Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Edinburgh; London: William Oliphant and Sons; Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1857. Print.
2. J. Cairns, Memoirs of John Brown, Edinburgh, 1861; DNB, vii. 18-19.

He is one of my all-time favorite commentators. I always read him with profit.

His Hebrews commentary can be read online here: https://archive.org/details/anexpositionepi05browgoog/page/n4/mode/2up


My apologies for derailing the thread.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Nonsense. Assuming it required decades to read Owen on Hebrews (which it does not), they would be decades well spent.
I was sitting on my fingers for all this, but really, do read Owen. I don't remember how long it took me, but some five years ago I read the whole thing--an hour at a time more or less.

I'll even suggest that time spent reading Owen on Hebrews is suspended. At least I didn't feel older when I got done. ;)
 
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