A great deal of mystery surrounds the book of Hebrews, especially regarding its authorship, date, and audience. However, by asking the right kind of questions, one can move beyond the impasses typical of historical investigation of the book. In this volume, David deSilva explores Hebrews through a social-scientific lens, asking one of the most important questions when interpreting letters and sermons: What was going on in the community to occasion such a response? DeSilva looks for clues concerning the anonymous author, his education level, the influence of the Greek environment, and his perception of his own authority. In addition, by forming a social profile of the audience that includes location, ethnicity, and class status, deSilva brings to light the author’s aims of helping protect Christian converts from persecution and social shame. This book not only helps the sermon “to the Hebrews” take on flesh and blood for contemporary readers; it also expands the readers’ tools for asking fresh questions and exploring new dimensions in biblical texts.
In the Logos edition, all Scripture passages in The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective are tagged and appear on mouse-over, and all Scripture passages link to your favorite Bible translation in your library. With Logos’ advanced features, you can perform powerful searches by topic or Scripture reference—finding, for example, every mention of “Melchizedek” or “sacrifice.”
- Exploration of authorship questions, such as “Who is the explicitly mentioned or implied author-sender of the text?”
- Examination of the level and nature of the author of Hebrews’ education
- Analysis of how the sermon is strategically constructed to address the particular challenges that the author identifies
- The Author of Hebrews: A Social Profile
- The Audience of Hebrews: A Social Profile
- Sociorhetorical Strategy I: Dealing with Social Shame
- Sociorhetorical Strategy II: Grace and Reciprocity in Hebrews
- Sociorhetorical Strategy III: Reinforcing Group Identity and Commitment
Praise for the Print Edition
Modern readers too often forget that the sermon we call Hebrews—a powerful, timeless word that reaches to the heavens—was written in a nitty-gritty, socio-cultural context and was profoundly shaped by that context . . . Whether analyzing the author’s rhetorical strategy, the demands of gratitude upon the audience, or the shaping of social identity in a religious group, deSilva provides his readers with a new lens through which to follow the author’s arguments and assess the implications for ‘hearing’ Hebrews in the modern world.
—George H. Guthrie, Union University
David deSilva is a recognized expert in socio-rhetorical analysis, honor-shame discourse, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. All three converge in this slender but rich volume. It is conversant with modern theory, but thoroughly rooted in the ancient sources. While chiefly focused on the first century biblical message, deSilva’s analysis will also help modern readers to be shaped and sustained by this ‘word of exhortation’ (Heb 13:22).
—N. Clayton Croy, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
- Title: The Letter to the Hebrews in Social-Scientific Perspective
- Author: David A. deSilva
- Series: Cascade Companions
- Publisher: Wipf & Stock
- Publication Date: 2012
- Pages: 204
About David A. deSilva
David A. deSilva is a Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, and an ordained elder in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is the author of 20 books, including Global Readings: A Sri Lankan Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians; Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation; An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation; Introducing the Apocrypha; and Perseverance in Gratitude: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Epistle “to the Hebrews”.