Essays in Honour of Dr. Norman H. Young
Edited By Kayle B. de Waal and Robert K. McIver
Indeed None Better
H. ROSS COLE1
Hebrews is intent on demonstrating that Jesus is the best. This thesis is sustained by a process of elimination, showing how he is better than all other alternatives. He has become better than the angels just as his name he has inherited is better than theirs (Heb 1:4). His priesthood after the order of Melchizedek establishes a better hope (7:19) and he is guarantor of a better covenant (7:22; 8:6) in a greater tabernacle (9:11) with better sacrifices (9:22) and a better country and city (11:35, 40). Even Moses is inferior to Jesus. Moses is the building and a servant while Jesus is the builder and Son (3:3–6).2
The purpose of the author of Hebrews is polemical and practical. The first readers must not lose faith in the Son (Heb 2:1–3; 6:4–6). The Old Testament understanding of what is good, better, and best is not explored in depth. It is simply assumed. This paper seeks to fill in what may therefore be lacunae two thousand years later. It examines the Old Testament use of the Hebrew root bwj (“good”) as listed in The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament.3 We will survey the Old Testament picture of goodness under five headings: The Things That Are Good; The Goodness of God; The Relativity of Different Goods; Goodness as Righteous Behaviour; and...
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