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Olyott on Hebrews – A Review by Bob Thomas

Author
Category Book Reviews
Date September 13, 2012

I Wish Someone Would Explain Hebrews to Me!*

So do I, and so do a lot of other believers who, reading Hebrews, find it a rich mine of Divine teaching and, sensing there is something special about it, nevertheless don’t really know quite what to make of it. Well, Stuart Olyott has done us the favour. Stuart Olyott is a pastor’s pastor who travels widely in a ministry of help and encouragement to fellow pastors, especially the young and inexperienced. And if this book is any indication of his ability to do this, he does it well.

Perhaps the most difficult of the critical questions to answer about Hebrews is: who wrote it? Many of us are fed up with hearing the circumlocution: ‘The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews’. And we are fed up because we are content to use one word instead of eight: ‘Paul’. My reason for this is that if Hebrews was not written by Paul then it would have to have been written by his spiritual equal or superior, of whom neither the New Testament nor early church history know anything. For our comfort, however, Olyott gives a more nuanced justification for Pauline authorship. No, I’m not going to repeat it. Buy the book – it’s worth every cent – and go straight to page three.

Stuart Olyott has the happy knack of simplification, though remembering Einstein’s Theory of Simplification (which he quotes) that ‘Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler’, he applies this theory rigorously to his exposition. What is Hebrews all about? The perils of falling back. What is Christology? The study of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ – who was he, and what did he do? He tackles problems head on (as regarding authorship). Why do we find verse 8 in chapter 13, when it doesn’t quite seem to fit? ‘If, spiritually, we are not quite what we should be, it is not because Christ has changed. The fault lies squarely with us . . .’

Which brings me to my final point. This book is an excellent example of godly contemporaneity. Some practise contemporaneity by throwing the baby out with the bath water. Others never achieve it despite their best efforts. But this man, who keeps Hebrews 13.8 front and centre, gets contemporaneity just right. Stuart Olyott’s exposition of Hebrews is as focussed on Christ as the book of Hebrews is itself. It will greatly assist both the preaching of it and the practising of its message.

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      I Wish Someone Would Explain Hebrews to Me!* So do I, and so do a lot of other believers who, reading Hebrews, find it a rich mine of Divine teaching and, sensing there is something special about it, nevertheless don’t really know quite what to make of it. Well, Stuart Olyott has done us the […]

Taken with permission from Australia’s online magazine New Life, September 1, 2012, edited by Bob Thomas.

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