The holy spirit in Hebrews: a theological reading
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This dissertation takes up the question of the significance of the Holy Spirit in Hebrews. With this in mind, the Spirit was interpreted theologically. Theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS) forms the theoretical foundation of the study. The premise for the TIS interpreter is that the Holy Spirit is shaping the Christian community and is a factor in understanding the Scriptural texts. Subsequently, the Holy Spirit in Hebrews is interpreted thematically (chapter 4), Christologically (chapter 5), and as part of a Trinitarian approach (chapter 6). The thesis presents the Holy Spirit’s speaking of Scripture as characteristic feature of Hebrews – God, the Spirit and Christ are said to speak. The author expresses a fundamental conviction held by Christians of all ages – that the community of faith responds to a voice other than its own. It is the voice of God breathed and reproduced through the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the writer introduces the Holy Spirit as the One who distributes gifts and as such confirms the message of Christ. The Holy Spirit, together with Christ, is the apex of the writer’s discourse since he is “an active presence in the past, he is present everywhere in Scripture – at least, theoretically” (Motyer 2012:217). Simultaneously with the Holy Spirit as the voice of God, the giving of gifts becomes integral to its overall message. It is confirmed that in Hebrews God is the speaking subject together with Christ and the Holy Spirit. In this thesis it demonstrates how the Holy Spirit in Hebrews functions as the ethos and character of God. Drawing on the theology of Emmrich (2002, 2003), Motyer (2012), Lichtenwalter (2012) and Levison (2016) it proves the main argument – that there is a distinctive pneumatology in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The seven references to the Holy Spirit were carefully exegeted to delineate the theology of the Spirit in the Epistle. Walter Brueggemann’s (2001) “prophetic imagination and energizing” was reworked in a distinctive manner to prove how the Holy Spirit affirms the community’s experience and their historical realities. The thesis offers a construal of a Spirit Christology that is constitutive of the power and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ. Most fundamentally, I submit a Spirit Christology from the broader Christological context of the NT at large (i.e. Spirit Christology). It is utilised as a hermeneutical filter through which the high Christology of Hebrews might make sense. This dissertation asserts theologically that the triune economy in Hebrews rests on the presupposition that the Father speaks; he sends forth his Word in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are drawn into this relationship of God’s self-communication. The Trinity and Trinitarian life was in the context of the worship experience of the early Fathers and now in the church. In like manner Clarke (2006:94) indicated that for Augustine “the doctrine of the Trinity was the centre of Christian spirituality, intended to affect one’s way of life”. We worship the Father in the Holy Spirit and in the fullness of truth, his incarnate Son. Finally, the Holy Spirit is essential to the process of salvation and it is he who prepares for what may be the pivotal passage of the Hebrews 9:11-14, in which Jesus achieves eternal salvation. Likewise, the Spirit is called “eternal Spirit” to bring out the (extraordinary) eschatological significance of the Spirit’s assistance in Christ’s once-for-all priestly action.