This page contains all the nitty gritty details for the Hebrews Study Aid. I hope you don’t mind as I let myself geek out a bit and use some of the technical vocabulary that we use in my line of work! Note, it is not necessary to read this page in order to benefit from the study aid, though reading this may enable you to benefit from it at a deeper level.
Why This Exists
I was originally motivated to make this study aid for myself when I got to the book of Hebrews in my daily reading, and wanted to read each chapter in context. I was also further encouraged to make this by The Bible Project’s urging me to read the quoted passages in context. Constantly flipping around in a printed Bible took a lot of time and I found it to be distracting. It was also a lot of work to remember which verse of the OT chapter was quoted. This distracted from me actually focusing on the wider context!
I searched online for a resource online that would address these problems, and when I couldn’t find one, I started thinking about how I could make my own! After a couple months of thought and one good conversation with my web-designer friend, I was able to conceptualize the present work, which was within my capacities of time and web design!
After I made this aid, I used it myself over the course of about three weeks, noting opportunities for revisions and improvement, and then making an updated version. I am in the process of going through it again, and receiving feedback from pastors, professors, and scholars.
About This Aid
The first rule of hermeneutics is that “Scripture interprets Scripture”. This study aid seeks to do a minimum amount of interpretation, and allow you to more easily apply that first rule. That said, I do recognize that there may be a slight amount if interpretation. This may be found in the passages that were recognized as quotes, as well as in the passage selections that I have made. I encourage you to search for more resources, and read more of the surrounding verses and chapters. It’s an important part of the “hermeneutical spiral” process.
How This Aid Works- An Example
How does reading the context actually aid in understanding? Here the reference to Haggai 2:6 from Hebrews 12:26 is covered as an example.
In Hebrews 12:18-24, the author contrasts the fear-inspiring mountain where Moses received the old covenant to the Mount Zion, which is called “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” The argument is that as believers we have not come to the former, but to the later. Then the author gives a strong warning to not refuse this good news.
This is where we see the quote “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” It seems at first that if we refuse, God will show his wrath and anger by causing upheaval- he’s going to shake things up! But when we read the context of Haggai 2:1-9 we read that the prophet Haggai is proclaiming that the Lord will restore the temple of Jerusalem to its former glory, because the Lord is with Israel.
So, rather than God “shaking things up” in judgement, he is actually going to great lengths to restore Israel because he loves her. And so rather than being recapitulated to a place of fear, we see that we have indeed come to the heavenly Mount Zion! This is just one example of how context can aid in understanding.
Once you open your account, you can change your default Bible language and translation in your preferences.
If you don’t see the highlights after you have added them, check to see that you are still logged on. Bible Gateway automatically logs you off after a day or three.
A single OT chapter may be quoted in different parts of Hebrews, so you will sometimes see highlights that don’t correspond with the Hebrews chapter you are studying. Sometimes, these verses are side by side, resulting in one solid chunk of highlighting!
Exact wording of quotes may vary due to the fact that the author was working from the Septuagint and not the Masoretic Text. Sometimes the actual meaning is the clearly same between the two, and other times you will find that the author has taken a significantly new interpretation of the text.
My study aid includes only direct quotes. There are far, far more references (or “allusions”) to other passages and events. If you would like to see the Scripture references for these, you can go into your preferences on Bible Gateway and change a setting so that you can see them. (The one place I have included an allusion is with Hebrews 7, where I include Genesis 14 so that the reader may understand who Melchizedek is). Not all translations will have allusion references, but I know that the NIV has this feature.
Note that this aid is set up to highlight the entire verse, even when the quoted portion is less than the full verse.
My links usually follow the chapter breaks, but they sometimes differ a bit. Sometimes I include verses from the neighboring chapter when they would help introduce or conclude the material, or I omit verses at the end of the chapter when they start a new subject and may distract the reader. Remember that about 1200 years went by before anyone broke up the Bible into chapters, and these weren’t divided into verses until around 1500! This system usually but not always divides the material in a way that makes sense. Spacing in the original-language manuscripts varies considerably, and we don’t know with certainty how spacing was done in the original “autograph” documents. You can see many translations today recognize chapter break issues when a new chapter begins mid-paragraph!
To vary the readings, one could try reading in different translations (use parallel translation feature to avoid needing to re-highlight!), or listening to an audio recording. If you are looking to purchase a quality English audio bible, The Word of Promise is a favorite audio Bible of mine. Free audio recordings of Scripture are also available in many languages and translations on Bible Gateway pages that the Scripture appears on. Look for the speaker icon that will appear when there is an audio version available.
I hoped you found this to be helpful! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any stories of how this had helped you grow, or if you have any other feedback or constructive criticism. Did you find a mistake? Think something could be improved? Think of a better name? Please let me know!
Ideas for future development (“Residue”)
- It would be desirable to remove the need for creating an account and doing all of the highlighting. This is certainly the biggest barrier to this aid’s use. One possible method to get around this is to use some sort of API to pull passages from Bible Gateway or a similar site. The website would have the same appearance, form, and function, including the highlighted verses. But verses of the same OT chapter referenced in a different chapter of Hebrews would not be highlighted.
- If you are a web programmer who strongly desires to help with this, please contact me!
Hoskins, Dale (2013) Intertextuality, Intratextuality, and Paratextuality: Limitations and proposals. Paper presented at BT13.