In the previous post in this series, I focused on the literary device of parallelism. Parallelism heightens the imagery and sharpens the meaning of words. But the rabbis use midrash to flesh out new, relevant, contemporary meaning from the biblical texts. The writer of Hebrews used a midrashic method to deliver to the audience a call to live righteous lives. Understanding the midrashic literary technique will avoid a supersessionist interpretation and give us a deeper understanding of Hebrews.
Midrash does not assume that the biblical text only has application in the setting in which the text is set. For instance, Isaiah 7:14 is used in Matthew 1:23. It is true that Isaiah has a very contemporary meaning to his prophecy. But Matthew uses it to interpret Joseph’s behavior through the lens of King Ahaz’s own behavior in Isaiah. According to Matthew, Joseph was not seeking HaShem’s direction concerning Mary. Nevertheless, HaShem directly intervened in Joseph’s situation prophetically, just as He did with King Ahaz. The beauty of this Midrash is the fact that HaShem did deliver Ahaz from Israel and Aram, and the conclusion of Isaiah’s prophecy was, “Emmanuel”, God with us. Likewise, and in an even more intense manner, I might add, did Yeshua come to bring salvation to His People Israel. Note that midrash does not undermine the original meaning in this interpretation, it simply interprets a new situation according to the way HaShem has acted before.
This does not mean that you can layer everything about King Ahaz onto Joseph. It is specific only to the situation. When reading midrash, I suggest to seek one main point to the story, and don’t try to read into it multiple ideas.
While there is much more to interpreting midrash beside this, I think sets up my reading of Hebrews 8:6-8a. Midrash does not seek to supersede the intent of the original text. It seeks to use the biblical text, the Tanakh, or Old Testament, to explain contemporary things. The book of Hebrews is a collection of several midrashim, or drashot, if you prefer. My argument going forward is that the writer of Hebrews had no ambition or goal to eradicate the Old Testament, but to show it as a compliment and part of the process of revelation of HaShem’s Salvation.
I realized earlier today that this “series” title question has not been addressed for two and a half posts. This is my inexperience at blogging, I think; and it is also my underlying assumption not being made clear. I apologize for this. Let me finish this post with my “assumption” being laid out.
First, in the title, I am referring to every English translation of the Greek text of Hebrews 8:6-8a. All the popular English versions assume the so called covenants that v.6 refers to are the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament”; i.e. the traditional Christian division of the Bible. In Hebrews 8:6, the English translations’ assumption is that the “Old” has been superseded by the “New”. I do not accept this assumption. In this series, I will demonstrate a new reading of Hebrews 8:6-8a; The writer was actually concerned about different Tabernacles, not different Covenants. By reading Hebrews through parallelism and Midrashic literary devices, I will hopefully show a more cogent reasoning to Hebrews 8 than the traditional Christian supersessionist reading applied to the passage.
So, the title was meant to question the assumption that the Old Testament was replaced by the New Testament.