In Part 2 of the study (Chapters 2–3), we discovered that the default human story for Hebrews is a pessimistic one: God intended glory, honor, and dominion for human beings, but humans are currently trapped in a pathetic story characterized by unfaithfulness concluding assuredly in eschatological death. Even though faith is “the reality of things hoped for” (11:1), no one – not even the heroes of faith from Israel’s tradition – has realized this hope.
In this chapter I wish to demonstrate that Jesus’ experience of the eschatological hope, and his resurrection in particular, opens the possibility of the same for humanity. Scholars have noted the relative absence of the resurrection of Jesus in Hebrews when compared to other early Christian texts. For example, Wright suggests: “All the major books and strands, with the single exception of Hebrews, make resurrection a central and important topic, and set it within a framework of Jewish thought about the one god as creator and judge.” Although the resurrection of Jesus is not as explicitly present in Hebrews as in other NT documents, I contend that Jesus’ resurrection plays more of a central role than is immediately evident. The human Jesus, with whom human beings share a destiny, was raised and realized the eschatological hope, and so those who participate in the same story can expect the same conclusion. In this way, I am also responding to studies that overemphasize the contrast between Hebrews’ concept of faith and the Pauline participatory faith. For example, Bacon writes:
In Paul faith was the opposite of the Pharisaic καύχημα. It was the self-surrender by which dying to sin, to the law, to the whole struggle for a righteousness of our own, we participate ethically in the death of Christ; but also, receiving from God forgiveness and the life-giving Spirit, participate further in Christ’s resurrection. In Hebrews this most characteristic as well as most fundamental concept of Paul’s Christianity has disappeared. Faith becomes the power of penetration to the ideal. It approximates dangerously to the Buddhistic-gnostic conception of “enlightenment” or gnosis.