Apr 29, 2013

Review of Charts on the Book of Hebrews

Herbert W. Bateman IV, Charts on the Book of Hebrews, Kregel Charts of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).

One cannot help but be impressed with Herbert Bateman’s Charts on the Book of Hebrews. There are 104 charts total, but this does not tell the whole story. I would guess that at least half of the charts are more than a page in length and a number of the charts are quite detailed. Indeed, there is such an impressive amount of information that sometimes it borders on overkill (e.g., five charts and eight pages on the issue of Hebrews and the Canon). However, one reader’s informational gluttony might be another reader’s feast. This chart book is also a bit different from some others in that there is a helpful written explanation of the charts in the back (“Chart Comments,” pp. 239–53). Another bonus is the four-part bibliography.

The charts themselves are grouped into four major sections. The first major section covers introductory considerations (e.g., authorship, dating, structure, etc.) (pp. 15–66). The second section addresses background issues, namely, Old Testament and Second Temple influences on Hebrews (pp. 67–105). The third section covers the theology of Hebrews (pp. 107–50). And the fourth section contains charts related to exegetical issues (i.e., interpretive issues, text-critical issues, figures of speech, and important words) (pp. 151–238). Most preachers and teachers will likely find the most useful information in sections three and four, but there is just about something for every student of Hebrews here.

By way of critique, there are a few typos here and there (e.g., the wrong
sigma form on p. 119 and a blank page on p. 200). One might also quibble a bit with the treatment of Scot McKnight’s view on the warning passages. It seems to me that McKnight nuances his view concerning those addressed by the passages in calling them “phenomenological believers.” They might be “real Christians” but probably not “real” in the same way as others on this chart who hold that the author is addressing “real Christians.” Finally, the usefulness of this book could be enhanced in two ways. First, it would be very helpful to make these charts available in electronic form as a supplementary CD (or some other means). I for one would be willing to pay a bit more to be able to easily incorporate this material into handouts or presentations. Second, a Scripture index would be quite valuable and a Second Temple literature index could be a great timesaver.

These minor critiques aside, Bateman has provided a great resource for those interested in the serious study of the book of Hebrews. This work will not solve the interpretive challenges of understanding Hebrews, but it does provide a jump start on the data needed to move towards better comprehension.

Thanks to Kregel for providing the review copy for this unbiased evaluation. 

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