I must apologize, my gentle snowflakes, for not having yet posted the sequel to my earlier piece on pluralization in Biblical translation, but I simply haven’t had the time or energy to finish it. I expect to post it within the next couple of days. In the meantime, however, I would like to call to your attention an intriguing paragraph from an older book that I have obtained only in recent days, and which I’ve been reading with great delight: the late estimable Stephen Neill’s Jesus through Many Eyes: Introduction to the Theology of the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1976; reprint, Cambridge: James Clarke Lutterworth, 2002). Bishop Neill writes:
The central section of the Epistle [to the Hebrews] deals with priesthood. T. W. Manson once made the brilliant suggestion that the key to understanding this part of the Epistle lies in the Epistle to the Galatians. The writer of Hebrews had read and understood that letter. He had grasped [St] Paul’s remarkable doctrine of the ceremonial Law as ‘the interim’ between the period of the forward-looking promise, which was the period of Abraham, and the period of the promise fulfilled, which was the period of Jesus Christ. He said to himself, ‘How will that work out, if we apply it to the ritual law of sacrifice?’ He found that here too the principle of the ‘interim’ applies—the Law made nothing perfect (7:19)” (page 109, brackets mine).
This is the most exciting suggestion I have stumbled upon in quite some time, as it tentatively brings together three long-standing research interests of mine that have so far met at very few junctures: the interpretation of Galatians, the interpretation of Hebrews, and the relationship between the Testaments. Sadly, Manson will be of little help beyond his brilliant suggestion, as Neill ruefully comments in a footnote that this idea was offered to him by Manson in conversation, and that he was able to find no detailed exposition of it in any of his published writings. That is very unfortunate indeed, but no matter: I have still got some reading to do!
(Incidentally, T. W. Manson’s On Paul and John, which I encountered in Spanish translation when I was all of 16, was the very first book on Biblical theology that I ever read. That little book, which still is somewhere around here, gave me an appetite for that discipline that has not diminished with time. For that I thank Manson, and I find it quite fitting that such a felicitous suggestion should come from him.)