Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Supplements to Novum Testamentum)
David M. Moffitt
334 pp., $172.00
Hebrews: Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
D. Stephen Long
Westminster John Knox Press, 2011
208 pp., $30.00
Amy L. B. Peeler
Critics of Biblical Studies often charge that the discipline attends only to the minuscule, the pedantic, the trendy, the inane, thereby sucking the life out of the faith of wandering souls who dare enter its ranks. Commentaries, with their discussions of questions that never arrive at any definitive answers, and dissertations, with subject matter so narrow that only their authors will ever care to read them, stand as chief examples of these failings. But books such as D. Stephen Long's Hebrews (a volume in WJK's Belief series) and David M. Moffitt's Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews (a "lightly revised" version of his 2010 Duke dissertation) refute such sweeping judgments. In my opinion, both exhibit an ancient and recently revived commitment to studying the Bible not simply for the intellectual curiosity of academia but ultimately for the life of the church.
In Atonement and the Logic of the Resurrection, Moffitt's ecclesial commitment only explicitly surfaces in his acknowledgements ("it is my sincere hope that [this work] will be of benefit to both the church and the academy"), but implicitly it courses throughout the book; his argument makes a real difference for the interpretation of Scripture and therefore matters for the church. This claim is no small one, as he seeks to provide "a substantive re-reading" of the letter that acknowledges the presence and the necessity of Jesus' resurrection. Readers who haven't pored over Hebrews lately, much less interacted with recent waves of biblical scholarship concerning this epistle, might question the boldness of Moffitt's claim. After all, why would anyone need to argue for the centrality of the resurrection for any book of the New Testament? Doesn't each one affirm Jesus' resurrection? Actually, the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly mentions Jesus' resurrection only once (13:20: "The God of peace, who led up the great shepherd of the sheep from the dead by the blood of the eternal ...