The Structure of Hebrews: A Text-Linguistic Analysis by George H. Guthrie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
To start, I have to admit that I did not 'read' the book like I do most books. What I mean by that, is that I didn't read every word on the page, but rather read for content, skimming through sections at times (it's a method I had to adopt in grad school to get through all the reading I was assigned at times). I was given a reading list by a mentor whom I meet with regularly, and this book was HIGHLY recommended that if I were able to get my hands on it, I had to read it. Looking at the price on Amazon for used copies almost gave me a heart attack, but I was quickly surprised when (out of just sheer humor) I submitted a request for an interlibrary loan at my local library to see if they could find it. To my amazement, about 1-2 weeks after submitting the request, they called me and said my book was in. Having a limited time to read it also played into the factor of reading for content rather than making sure I absorbed EVERY last word on the page.
Overall, this is a very helpful book for one who wants to study the book of Hebrews. HOWEVER, it is NOT the easiest read I've ever trekked through. The first half of the book is HEAVILY involved with the history of text-linguistic analysis involving Hebrews, and once the author moves on to addressing the actual text, he utilizes the Greek text at times (without translating). Luckily for me, I've been continuing to work on my Greek so I was able to get through it, but it might prove a little more difficult for someone who hasn't done any work with Greek.
I found Guthrie's structure of Hebrews highly fascinating and a great help to grasping the overarching picture of what the author of Hebrews might have been trying to accomplish when writing the letter. I ESPECIALLY love the various charts and illustrations that he provided in the book to illustrate what he was trying to say. I was able to create my own flow chart based upon his findings that I'm planning on utilizing next semester for our guy's bible study in our campus ministry.
Having never really studied Hebrews super in-depth, I am unable to compare this book and the structures within to other scholar's, however I can say that what Guthrie presents here is pretty convincing. Looking at the letter as two genres that are interwoven and are both moving to bring the hearer to an overall conclusion (though doing it different ways) is something, that to quote Guthrie, "makes our methods of outlining difficult, but rhetorically would have been super effective and powerful!"
If you're ever studying Hebrews and have an opportunity to read this book, I recommend that you at least attempt it! At the very least, check out chapter 7 (and utilize the index to look up techniques/methods that are talked about in the earlier chapters to fill in any confusion you face).
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