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Melchizedek in Hebrews

hebrews melchizedek typology

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#1 Monk Herman

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Posted 15 December 2014 - 04:18 AM

The Orthodox Study Bible makes what strikes me as a valuable suggestion: that Melchizedek may be seen not just as a type of Christ, but as a theophany.

 

But I'm puzzled by St Paul's reference to Melchizedek in his discussion of Christ as the Eternal High Priest in the letter to the Hebrews. Nowhere does he mention Melchizedek's offering of bread and wine. The Mystical Supper is an important theme in First Corinthians, and it seems to me that it would be very appropriate here.

 

Can anyone offer any suggestions as to why Melchizedek's offering of bread and wine might not be mentioned in Hebrews?

 

Thanks-a-million

 

H



#2 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 15 December 2014 - 04:01 PM

Quote from post #1:

                    "The Orthodox Study Bible makes what strikes me as a valuable suggestion:

that Melchizedek may be seen not just as a type of Christ,

but as a theophany."

 

If Melchisezedec is seen as a "Theophany" according to the suggestion of the OSB, perhaps this statement points to something deeper than a simple offering of bread and wine. The offering seems to imply that Christ Jesus, the Son of God, offering Himself instead of bread and wine, is the ultimate sacrifice exemplified in this "Theophany" 

 

This topic is, it seems to me, not so much a matter of discussion, but a matter for spiritual/mystical experience.

 

I'm puzzled, also, as I read your post, Monk Hermon!

 

It's perhaps more an invitation to Prayer, rather than Study; or maybe both combined in the silence implied when faced with a "Theophany"

 

"Be Still and Know" 


Edited by Marie+Duquette, 15 December 2014 - 04:04 PM.


#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 December 2014 - 04:50 PM

My own reaction is that I would want something much more than a suggestion in the OSB in relation to anything. We should have recourse to the Church's liturgical, patristic and monastic deposit.



#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 December 2014 - 05:26 PM

St John Chrysostom on Hebrews:

 

Hebrews 7:1-3

 

‘For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him: to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of Peace, without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, abides a Priest continually.’

 

1. Paul wishing to show the difference between the New and Old [Covenant], scatters it everywhere; and shoots from afar, and noises it abroad,  and prepares beforehand. For at once even from the introduction, he laid down this saying, that ‘to them indeed He spoke by prophets, but to us by the Son’ c. i. 1, 2, and to them ‘at sundry times and in various manners,’ but to us through the Son. Afterwards, having discoursed concerning the Son, who He was and what He had wrought, and given an exhortation to obey Him, lest we should suffer the same things as the Jews; and having said that He is ‘High Priest after the order of Melchisedec’ Hebrews 6:20, and having oftentimes wished to enter into [the subject of] this difference, and having used much preparatory management; and having rebuked them as weak, and again soothed and restored them to confidence; then at last he introduces the discussion on the difference [of the two dispensations] to ears in their full vigor. For he who is depressed in spirits would not be a ready hearer. And that you may understand this, hear the Scripture saying, ‘They hearkened not to Moses for anguish of spirit.’  Exodus 6:9 Therefore having first cleared away their despondency by many considerations, some fearful, some more gentle, he then from this point enters upon the discussion of the difference [of the dispensations].

 

2. And what does he say? ‘For this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God.’ And, what is especially noteworthy, he shows the difference to be great by the Type itself. For as I said, he continually confirms the truth from the Type, from things past, on account of the weakness of the hearers. ‘For’ (he says) ‘this Melchisedec, King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all.’ Having concisely set down the whole narrative, he looked at  it mystically.

 

And first from the name. ‘First’ (he says) ‘being by interpretation King of righteousness’: for Sedec means ‘righteousness’; and Melchi, ‘King’: Melchisedec, ‘King of righteousness.’ Do you see his exactness even in the names? But who is ‘King of righteousness,’ save our Lord Jesus Christ? ‘King of righteousness. And after that also King of Salem,’ from his city, ‘that is, King of Peace,’ which again is [characteristic] of Christ. For He has made us righteous, and has ‘made peace’ for ‘things in Heaven and things on earth.’ Colossians 1:20 What man is ‘King of Righteousness and of Peace’? None, save only our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

3. He then adds another distinction, ‘Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, abides a Priest continually.’ Since then there lay in his way [as an objection] the [words] ‘You are a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec,’ whereas he [Melchisedec] was dead, and was not ‘Priest for ever,’ see how he explained it mystically.

 

'And who can say this concerning a man?' I do not assert this in fact (he says); the meaning is, we do not know when  [or] what father he had, nor what mother, nor when he received his beginning, nor when he died. And what of this (one says)? For does it follow, because we do not know it, that he did not die, [or] had no parents? You say well: he both died and had parents. How then [was he] ‘without father, without mother’? How ‘having neither beginning of days nor end of life’? How? [Why] from its not being expressed.  And what of this? That as this man is so, from his genealogy not being given, so is Christ from the very nature of the reality.

 

See the ‘without beginning’; see the ‘without end.’ As in case of this man, we know not either ‘beginning of days,’ or ‘end of life,’ because they have not been written; so we know [them] not in the case of Jesus, not because they have not been written, but because  they do not exist. For that indeed is a type,  and therefore [we say] 'because it is not written,' but this is the reality, and therefore [we say] 'because it does not exist.' For as in regard to the names also (for there ‘King of Righteousness’ and ‘of Peace’ are appellations, but here the reality) so these too are appellations in that case, in this the reality. How then has He a beginning? You see that the Son is ‘without beginning,’  not in respect of His not having a cause;  (for this is impossible: for He has a Father, otherwise how is He Son?) but in respect of His ‘not having beginning or end of life.’

 

‘But made like the Son of God.’ Where is the likeness? That we know not of the one or of the other either the end or the beginning. Of the one because they are not written; of the other, because they do not exist. Here is the likeness. But if the likeness were to exist in all respects, there would no longer be type and reality; but both would be type. [Here] then just as in representations  [by painting or drawing], there is somewhat that is like and somewhat that is unlike. By means of the lines indeed there is a likeness of features, but when the colors are put on, then the difference is plainly shown, both the likeness and the unlikeness.

 

Hebrews 7:4

 

4. ‘Now consider’ (says he) ‘how great this man is to whom even the Patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.’  Up to this point he has been applying the type: henceforward he boldly shows him [Melchisedec] to be more glorious than the Jewish realities. But if he who bears a type of Christ is so much better not merely than the priests, but even than the forefather himself of the priests, what should one say of the reality? You see how super-abundantly he shows the superiority.

 

‘Now consider’ (he says) ‘how great this man is to whom even the Patriarch Abraham gave a tenth out of the choice portions.’ Spoils taken in battle are called ‘choice portions.’  And it cannot be said that he gave them to him as having a part in the war, because (he said) he met him ‘returning from the slaughter of the kings,’ for he had staid at home (he means), yet [Abraham] gave him the first-fruits of his labors.



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 06:11 PM

This afternoon, I went to the monastery library here and looked at the OSB reference; I cannot see that it mentions 'a theophany' exactly. It does refer to what St Cyprian of Carthage says, which is that Melchisedek's offering of bread and wine is a 'prefiguration' of the Eucharist of Christ. A prefiguration is a foreshadowing, a representation beforehand, not a theophany.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 16 December 2014 - 06:13 PM.


#6 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 06:18 PM

Thank you for such a long quote, Reader Andreas, from Saint John Chrysostom

 

To Monk Herman --  Thanks for the new Thread on Melchizedek in the Book of Hebrews.

I love that particular Book; not, that I understand it at all; but it does lead me to appreciate the Beauty and Grace,

that the Holy Spirit has breathed into the Words of Scripture; that we may "taste and see how good the Lord is "!

 

In the "NEW ADVENT" web site there is a complete translation of Saint John Chrysostom's commentary

the Book of HEBREWS.  I haven't read it yet, but do hope to do so at some time in the future.  This seems to be

a good reference for persons who don't have extensive libraries at home, on the Fathers of the Church.



#7 Anna Stickles

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 09:44 PM

This afternoon, I went to the monastery library here and looked at the OSB reference; I cannot see that it mentions 'a theophany' exactly. It does refer to what St Cyprian of Carthage says, which is that Melchisedek's offering of bread and wine is a 'prefiguration' of the Eucharist of Christ.

Saint Ambrose of Milan also mentions this in one of his homilies on the Patriarchs. 

 

As to why St Paul does not mention it...

To ask why someone mentions one thing and does not mention another thing... well I suppose it would be according to what he thought would be most helpful to his audience in terms of what his particular aim was in writing to them. 

 

Maybe it would be helpful to look at the overall themes of the Epistle - what is St Paul's main point that he is trying to get across, and then look at how he uses the image of Melchizedek to help do this.



#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 December 2014 - 11:01 PM

Perhaps, as St Cyprian says, to show the superiority of the Christ as High Priest and the Eucharist over the Levitical priesthood.



#9 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 December 2014 - 09:28 PM

Let me remind that, as st Paul was addressing his letter to Hebrews, he tried to connect Judaic tradition and old Testament events and Biblical persons to Jesus (as prefigurations of Christ). Thus, he makes a direct connection to priesthood as it was introduced in Old Testament with the Priesthood of Christ - but not as the  ecclesiastic service that it is in New Testament's era, but rather by connecting the sacrificial prefigurations of Old Testament with the Sacrifice of Christ.

 

So, I think, it would be meaningless, in this context, to make any reference to "bread and wine" while he was addressing to Jews. But when he was addressing to Christians at the Church at Corinth it was most appropriate to present the "bread and wine" practice. Judaic practice is lacking any experience of "bread and wine" consumption that might be related to sacred sacrifice. This kind of connection is alien to Old Testament's tradition, and certainly Old Testament's tradition is not connecting Melchizedek's offerings with Melchizedek's priesthood - rather Abraham's offerings to Melchizedek are proof of his priesthood.

 

My point is that the connection of Melchizedek's offerings of "bread and wine" with the ecclesiastic mystical transformation of bread and wine into Christ's body, is very problematic when someone is trying to explain the connection to another person that is Jew. A Jew is not in position to understand this kind of connection according to Jewish tradition.

  


Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 December 2014 - 09:30 PM.


#10 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 09:55 AM

Jews do, though, partake of blessed wine and bread on Friday evenings to honour the Sabbath.






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