Book Review: Charts on Hebrews

Bateman, Herbert IV. Charts on the Book of Hebrews (Kregel Charts of the Bible and Theology). Kregel Publications, 2012.

Charts on the Book of Hebrews

Charts on the Book of Hebrews

My passion is teaching, especially the Bible. Therefore, I look for any tool that will help teach, explain, expand, and clarify. I have taught courses in congregations, college, and seminary on most of the New Testament, but not Hebrews. However, if I had one organizational tool for teaching Hebrews, this book would be it. For me, this is an ideal tool for teaching, replacing many commentaries that can be long-winded. Bateman simplifies and organizes so well.

The book is literally a book of charts and nothing more; not that it lacks anything, but there is really nothing else. I was surprised that there was no introductory chapter to explain the approach of the book and some introductory comments on Hebrews. After going through the book, I found the lack of an introduction less jarring, but still a little surprising.

Bateman provides four major sections of charts: Introductory Considerations, Old Testament and 2nd Temple Influences, Theology, and Exegetical Matters. He concludes with a Chart Comment section in which he succinctly describes each of the charts with qualifications and appropriate references to source material. Although the order of the charts does not matter so much because it is a reference tool, I would have expected the Exegetical Matters chapter to be the second one (theology derives from exegesis, not the other way around).

1. Introductory Considerations

The detail on authorship provides what I would consider essential and thorough for a teaching tool. Chart 1 offers a historical overview of when an author was first proposed for Hebrews. Chart 2 expands that to show how each was developed throughout church history. Chart 3 provides the current view of commentators regarding authorship. The charts on canonical placement and related issues are very helpful for the one who teaches Hebrews. Many other charts in this section are equally essential to studying and teaching Hebrews.

2. Old Testament & 2nd Temple Influences

Charts 35-38 offer both a chart of features relative to the tabernacle/Temple, but also simple diagrams to illustrate the key features in the charts. I am teaching three courses in New Testament Survey; the same week I began teaching that course, this book arrived. Charts 42-47 were immediately pertinent  to several topics I presented. So even though not directly related to Hebrews, the book itself proved very practical and timely for my own teaching. Many of the other charts in this part are imminently useful.

3. Theology in Hebrews

Charts 60-64 reflect the role of Wisdom of Solomon in Hebrews. I had studied the influence of this writing on Paul’s writings for my graduate studies. It is nice to see it included and laid out this well. Chart 67 (“better than” Comparisons) is an example of something that is useful, but I may not have thought about it until seeing it. So also Charts 73 (“Once for all”) and 75 (“Perfection”). Chart 72 (“Covenants of God’s Program”) signals my disagreement with Bateman concerning covenants and dispensations. In the Comments part of the book, he notes on this chart:

Like the era of promise, the era of fulfillment  has two stages/time periods/dispensations: the church period where God’s promises are inaugurated and the millennial period where God’s promises are consummated and may, in fact, continue into the eternal state. (p. 248)

4. Exegesis In Hebrews

I am most at home in this part of the book. One helpful aspect was Chart 91 (“Jewish exegesis in Hebrews”), which covers an often neglected aspect of New Testament studies. Chart 97 (“Major Textual Issues”) is especially helpful for looking at critical textual issues. I like the arrangement with both the text and variant readings and which current English translations support which reading. The significance and explanation section of the chart is succinct, but complete enough to assist the reader in evaluating the textual issue. Likewise, Chart 98 (“Figures of Speech”) is extensive, as well as Charts 99-101. Excellent resource and summaries. The uniqueness charts 103-104 provide the teacher/student with a valuable tool for studying the unique words in Hebrews, but also the English translation choices associated with each.

Some Additional Thoughts

The design of the book is well suited for using charts. The layout is helpful in that all the charts are oriented in the same direction (compare Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul. Kregel Publications, 2012). One thing that would be extremely useful for quick reference is to indicate the part in which the charts appear. For instance, on the top outside margin the title of the book is given for both facing pages. I suggest that the Book title could be on the left facing page and the Part title on the right facing page. That way the user could quickly identify into which part the table falls. While it might seem obvious with some charts, others are not so clear. And additional feature might be to shade the edges of the four parts: top 1 inch of page for Part 1, then down that much for Part 2, etc.

Concluding Thoughts

Kregel is to be commended for publishing such a useful tool, especially for pastors/teachers. As noted above I found several of the Charts immediately applicable in a non-Hebrews course. The book is both practical and extensive, often not easily done, especially with a book as complicated as Hebrews.

Note: Thanks to Kregel Academic & Professional for the review copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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