Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, New Testament PhD

First Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Second Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Third Advisor

William Johnsson

Abstract

Problem. The focus of the dissertation is the significance of the term αἷμα (“blood”) in the Epistle to the Hebrews and how the author of Hebrews uses the term to formulate the argument and message of the Epistle. The dissertation traces the scholarly blood debate involving blood as life or death which began in the last decade of the nineteenth century and eventually fizzled out in the mid-1950s. Recognition of the ambivalence of blood, symbolizing both life and death, is necessary to understand the message of Hebrews.

Method. The dissertation provides a discussion of the concept of blood in the OT and ANE environments, demonstrating that in the OT the role of blood in the context of the cult as a means of atonement is unique.

Results. References to blood are also classified and assessed from the works of both Philo and Josephus, Rabbinic literature, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, the Qumran community, and the NT. The final chapter of the dissertation deals with the meaning of blood in the Epistle itself, where the author of Hebrews uses his rhetorical skill to present blood as a most powerful medium of approach to God.

Conclusions. According to the Epistle, blood sanctifies, purifies/cleanses, consecrates/inaugurates, effects perfection, seals covenants, and brings about decisive purgation. When it is despised, it destroys by death. Blood, when used with the term σάρζ (“flesh”), confirms the true humanity of Christ. Blood constitutes a Leitmotif in the Epistle to encompass the atoning work of Christ, who as High Priest shed His blood vicariously to eradicate sin, cleanse the conscience, and save humankind.

Subject Area

Haima (The Greek word), Blood--Religious aspects--Christianity, Blood in the Bible, Bible. Hebrews -- Criticism, interpretation, etc

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