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Enabling Fidelity to God: Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of the Reciprocity Systems of the Ancient Mediterranean World (Jason A Whitlark) Paperback Book, (Wipf and Stock, 2009) 9781606084779
Enabling Fidelity to God: Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of the Reciprocity Systems of the Ancient Mediterranean World (Jason A Whitlark) Paperback Book, (Wipf and Stock, 2009) 9781606084779
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Title: Enabling Fidelity to God: Perseverance in Hebrews in Light of the Reciprocity Systems of the Ancient Mediterranean World

Author: Whitlark, Jason A

Publisher: Wipf and Stock; Publication Date: 2009

Paperback; ISBN: 9781606084779

Volumes: 1; Pages: 242

List Price in Paper: $27.00 Our price: $22.99

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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.Table of Contents Foreword by Charles H. Talbert xiii Acknowledgements xv Abbreviations xvii Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Two Means of Fidelity: Reciprocity and Enablement 1 Benefaction and Patronage: Previous Applications to Interpretation 2 Greco-Roman Benefaction and Pauline Studies 2 Greco-Roman Benefaction, Hebrews, and David A. deSilva 6 Method: Reading with the Authorial Audience 8 Plan 12 Chapter 2 The Historical Context of Hebrews 15 A Characterization of Reciprocity 17 Reciprocity is a Relational Bond 20 A Cohesive Dynamic 20 A Non-Commercial Bond 21 A Non-Legislated Bond 22 The Bond is Characterized by Fidelity 25 Expressions of Fidelity 25 The Extent of Fidelity 36 Conflicting Loyalties 37 The Bond is Characterized by Cooperation 38 The Obligations of Symmetrical Reciprocity Relationships 38 The Obligations of Asymmetrical Reciprocity Relationships 40 The Bond is Characterized by Mutual Dependence 49 Reciprocity Involves A Measure of Risk 49 Risk Arises From the Voluntary Nature of the Reciprocity Bond 50 Assuaging the Risk: $$ 51 Conclusion 53 The Anthropological Assumption of Reciprocity 54 The Optimistic Assumption of the Preceding Characterization 55 Additional Proof: Emphasis Placed Upon Character 56 In the Selection of Benefactors/Beneficiaries 56 Touted in the Honorific Inscriptions 58 Intrinsic to the Benefactor/Beneficiary 60 Additional Proof: Giving Produces Gratitude 62 Additional Proof: Optimistic Anthropology Made Explicit in Aristotle and Seneca 65 Conclusion 68 Chapter 3 The Religious Background of Hebrews 71 Divine-Human Reciprocity Relationship in the Jewish Milieu 72 The Mosaic Covenant and the Suzerainty-vassal Treaty 72 A Relational Bond 74 Fidelity: Indebted Gratitude 76 Cooperation 81 Mutual Dependence 82 Josephus and Greco-Roman Patronage/Benefaction 85 A Relational Bond 85 Fidelity: Indebted Gratitude 87 Cooperation 89 Mutual Dependence 91 Conclusion 92 Reciprocity and Other Streams of Middle Judaism 92 Rabbinic Judaism and Reciprocity 96 Consequence of Anthropological Assumptions in the Jewish Milieu 97 Consequence of an Optimistic Anthropological Assumption 97 Possibility of Success 98 Realization of Fidelity 102 Consequence of a Pessimistic Anthropological Assumption 103 Failure of the Relationship 104 Solution to Infidelity 116 The Function of Gratitude 121 Conclusion 125 Chapter 4 Fidelity in Hebrews 127 Hebrews and Its Milieu: Echoes of Benefaction in Hebrews 127 Conceptual Echoes 128 Lexical Echoes 132 The Religious Appropriation of Benefaction/Patronage: Two Models 134 Josephus 135 Paul 135 Interpreting Fidelity in Hebrews: A Critique of DeSilva's Reciprocity Model 138 DeSilva's Methodology 138 DeSilva's Appropriation of Ancient Reciprocity 139 A Preliminary Critique of DeSilva's Interpretation 142 Interpreting Fidelity in Hebrews: Divine Enablement and Anthropological Assumption in Hebrews 146 Election and Enablement 148 Election Motifs 148 Enablement 152 Anthropological Assumption 163 Universal Need for Purification 164 Subjection of Humanity to Death 164 The History of Israel 165 The Paradox of Divine Enablement and Human Responsibility 166 The Paradox in Hebrews 166 Other Representatives of This Paradox 168 Conclusion 171 Chapter 5 Conclusion 173 Summary 173 Hebrews's Place in the Theological Tradition of the Church 176 Avenues of Future Research 178 Appendix 183 Bibliography 185 Indexes Index of Subjects 199 Index of References 215
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