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July 1973 · Vol. 2 No. 3 · pp. 93–94 

Book Review

The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary

Homer A. Kent Jr.. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1972. 303 pages.

Reviewed by D. Edmond Hiebert

This scholarly production from the pen of the professor of Greek and New Testament at Grace Theological Seminary is a thoroughly competent and up-to-date interpretation of a difficult New Testament book. The introduction presents a brief survey of the chief critical problems concerning Hebrews. Kent wisely leaves open the question of authorship, favors the view that the readers lived in Rome, and holds to a date “in the sixties.” A threefold outline of the book of Hebrews is adopted: doctrinal discussion (1:1-10:18); practical exhortations (10:19-13:17); personal instructions (13:18-25). The author’s literal translation of the epistle, forming the basis for the verse by verse interpretation, is important as bringing out the exact force of the original.

The commentary strikes a happy medium between being excessively detailed and voluminous, and being too compressed and sketchy, it gives a clear and accurate interpretation of the text in the light of the original. Greek terms, always transliterated, are conservatively introduced where needed to make clear the point. The stress is upon the careful unfolding of the meaning of the text; practical and homiletical applications are sparingly introduced. Critical problems are judiciously handled.

No one writing a commentary on the book of Hebrews can expect to win complete agreement on all the problems that he must face. This will be no exception, but the author fairly states the different views and clearly presents his reasons for his own position. A good example is the treatment of the difficult “warning” in 6:46. After a careful exegesis of the verses (pp. 107-111), Kent presents four views that have been advocated (pp. 111-115). His own view, that the passage presents a hypothetical case to illustrate the folly of apostasy, will not achieve uniform agreement from the readers.

In a few instances a significant term is passed over without comment. Thus under 2:11 no explanation of “sanctify” is given, but the term is given full treatment in connection with 10:10, 14. In the discussion of 8:2 no consideration is given to the meaning of the term rendered “minister.” The valuable discussion concerning Melchizedek included the problem, in connection with 7:4, as to whether Melchizedek was a “theophany” (a view Kent rightly rejects), but one wishes he might have said something about other claims concerning Melchizedek, such as, was he Shem?

The volume is attractively printed and remarkably free from typographical errors. In the translation on p. 115 the pronoun “you” seems to have been dropped out, and on page 218, note 25, eis to is printed as {94} one word. Pages 270 and 271 appear in reverse order. The nineteen illustrations included at appropriate places throughout the book add to its appeal.

The extensive research of the author in the writing of this commentary is reflected in the seven-page bibliography. It is based on careful exegesis of the biblical text, and the conservative conclusions of the author reflect mature consideration and careful scholarship. A number of commentaries on Hebrews have recently appeared, but this one may be recommended as one of the best for the pastor and the serious Bible student. Even though the student may have several commentaries on Hebrews on his shelves, this one will prove to be a valued and worthy addition. Get it and diligently use it!

D. Edmond Hiebert
Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California

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