'Faithfulness and the Purpose of Hebrews' offers fresh answers to several unresolved questions by employing that branch of social psychology known as social identity theory. The author of Hebrews describes the faithfulness of Jesus as "prototypical" and relates the faithfulness of all other to Jesus' faith. Utilizing a model of present temporal orientation, the study interprets the dynamic relationship between the "antecedent" faithfulness of many witnesses and the "forthcoming" promised rest of the addressees. The addressees of Hebrews were encouraged to "understand their futures by looking to the past". Social identity theorists explain that groups with a negative social identity have two broad options: social mobility or social change. The study concludes that the author of Hebrews provides internal constraints that are meant to prevent social mobility.
Matthew J. Marohl is an Assistant Professor of religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1 The Historical Critical Investigation of the Identity of the Addressees of Hebrews: An Overview and Critique 2 The Historical Critical Investigation of the Purpose of Hebrews: An Overview and Critique 3 Social Identity Theory and Hebrews 4 Social Identity Theory and First-Century Mediterranean Culture 5 Us and Them: the Faithful and the Unfaithful 6 The Faithfulness of Jesus in Hebrews 7 Present Temporal Orientation and Faithfulness in Hebrews 8 Faithfulness and the Purpose of Hebrews Bibliography