Fidelity to God: perseverance in Hebrews in light of the reciprocity systems of the ancient Mediterranean world.




Whitlark, Jason A.

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The primary focus of this dissertation is to demonstrate how Hebrews represents, in view of its historical and religious context, human fidelity to God. Reciprocity was one primary dynamic in the ancient Mediterranean world 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. There was, however, a Middle Judaic stream that can be traced from the period of the exile which held to a pessimistic anthropology that crippled the 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 dissertation 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.


Includes bibliographic references (p. 239-257).


Bible. N.T. -- Hebrews., Salvation -- Christianity.