logo e scritta


PORTALATIN AntonioTemporal Oppositions as Hermeneutical Categories in the Epistle to the Hebrews
Mod.: R.P. Johannes BEUTLER, S.J.

This dissertation argues that the category of time in the Epistle to the Hebrews assumes the form of a fourfold temporal dialectic which establishes a temporal framework within its exposition and paraenesis. The identification of this hermeneutical framework serves as an interpretative device both for a more accurate understanding of this biblical book and for its actualization. This thesis has the basic presupposition that the Epistle is a unitary structured linguistic discourse written by a pastoral authority to a Christian Community. Thus, one may find a coherent development of temporal categories throughout the text.

The Epistle to the Hebrews basically uses four paradigmatic temporal oppositions which are identifiable in the text as semantic lines of sense. Two of these oppositions refer to ages or periods of time. First, there is the temporal opposition between two historical world ages: the eschatological present, time of the New Covenant, and the past age, time of the Law, the Levitical priesthood, and the First Covenant. Second, there is the opposition between the present transitory age of the people of God, and the meta-historical future of the sabbatical time and the permanent city. Then, the Epistle uses two pairs of opposite temporal motives for the understanding of these ages: the opposition between uniqueness and repeatability, and the opposition between permanency and transitoriness. The reader/listener is asked by reading the Epistle to adopt this temporal framework in his/her life. He/she is located in the eschatological present and from this cross point, he/she should establish a specific attitude of faith in relationship to the past of the people of God and to the meta-historical future.