Enabling Fidelity to God

Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of the Reciprocity Systems of the Ancient Mediterranean World

By Jason A. Whitlark

Foreword by Charles H. Talbert

Enabling Fidelity to God

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  • ISBN: 9781606084779
  • Pages: 242
  • Publication Date: 2/19/2009
  • Retail Price: $29.00
Web Price: $23.20
Web Price: $23.20

Enabling Fidelity to God

Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of the Reciprocity Systems of the Ancient Mediterranean World

By Jason A. Whitlark

Foreword by Charles H. Talbert

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781606084779
  • Pages: 242
  • Publication Date: 2/19/2009
  • Retail Price: $29.00
Web Price: $23.20

About-

The primary focus of this book is to demonstrate how Hebrews represents, in view of its historical and religious context, human fidelity to God. Thus, the basic thesis is twofold. First, with regard to the divine-human relationship in the ancient Mediterranean world, the belief in the reciprocity rationale was one primary dynamic for establishing fidelity to a relationship and has been applied by some scholars, such as David deSilva, to Hebrews as the way to understand its strategy for creating perseverance. A major problem with the application of this dynamic is that a common optimistic anthropological assumption is associated with the various reciprocity systems in the ancient world, both Jewish and pagan. This assumption is required if reciprocity is to be effective for establishing ongoing fidelity.

Second, there was, however, a middle Judaic stream that can be traced from the period of the exile which held to a pessimistic anthropology. This anthropological assumption crippled the perceived success of reciprocity to secure fidelity. Thus, the solution to God's people's inability to remain faithful was an act of God that transformed the human condition and enabled faithfulness to the relationship. The argument of this book is that Hebrews, with its emphasis upon the inauguration of the new covenant by Jesus' high priestly ministry, belongs to this latter stream of thought in understanding how fidelity is secured between God and his people. Hebrews, thus, implicitly rejects the rationale of reciprocity for fidelity. The implications of this offers a fresh perspective on the soteriology of Hebrews.

Endorsements & Reviews-

'Jason Whitlark has overcome what many have regarded as an insoluble problem with regard to Hebrews: a way in which it can be understood in the context of the overwhelming emphasis on grace in the New Testament epistolary literature. His use of the category of divine enablement makes possible a new and refreshing reading.'
-- Sharyn Dowd is Professor for Adult Spiritual Formation and Mission Engagement, First Baptist Church, Decatur, Georgia.

'In Enabling Fidelity to God, Jason Whitlark has produced a stunningly fresh reading of Hebrews in its larger Greco-Roman context. Recent scholarship tends to read the soteriology of Hebrews as reflecting, indeed embracing, the Greco-Roman practice of benefaction and the assumptions of reciprocity that undergird it. In the reading of Hebrews, humans respond in gratitude to God's merciful and beneficent acts in an interdependent, mutually reinforcing circle of salvation. Through a remarkable mastery of primary and secondary sources, Whitlark shows rather that Hebrews, in a direct challenge to the reciprocity system, argues that human fidelity to God is utterly and absolutely predicated upon God's divine enablement. Not everyone will agree will Whitlark's thesis, but students of Hebrews and New Testament soteriology must certainly come to terms with it.'
-- Mikeal Parsons is Kidd L. and Buna Hitchcock Macon Chair in Religion and Professor of New Testament, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

'This is a fresh and provocative new reading of Hebrews that moves the homily from the periphery of New Testament soteriology into the early Christian mainstream. This is an exercise in biblical theology not to be missed.'
-- Charles H. Talbert, Distinguished Professor of Religion in New Testament Studies, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Contributors-

Jason A. Whitlark
Charles H. Talbert

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