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(1,611 words)

Author(s): Attridge, Harold W.
Two brief biblical passages on Melchizedek generated a complex speculative tradition in Jewish and early Christian circles. In Genesis Melchizedek, the “king of Salem” and “priest of God Most High” (Gen 14:18), greets Abraham after his victory over the five kings who had taken captive Abraham’s nephew, Lot. Melchizedek blesses Abraham, who in turn gives him a tithe of his spoils (Gen 14:20). In Ps 110:1 (LXX 109) the psalmist tells of God addressing an Israelite king, telling him to take…
Date: 2024-01-19

Gospel of Truth

(535 words)

Author(s): Attridge, Harold W.
[German Version] (NHC I/3; XII/2 Gos. Truth). The Gospel of Truth, a homily on the Christian message by a Valentinian of the 2nd or 3rd century, survives in two copies discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi: a complete text in Lycopolitan Coptic (NHC I/3) and fragments in Sahidic (NHC XII/2), independently translated from the Greek. Irenaeus ( Haer. III 11.9) records a Gospel of Truth “recently composed” by Valentinians (Valentinianism) that differed significantly from the canonical Gospels. He does not quote the text, however, and its relationship to the Gos. Truth, whose title derives f…

Acts of Thomas

(390 words)

Author(s): Attridge, Harold W.
[German Version] ( Acts Thom.). The Acts Thom. report the missionary journeys of Thomas Didymus toward and in India. The complete text is preserved in two manuscripts, one Syriac from the 10th century and one Greek from the 12th century. Abbreviated forms exist in the Greek, Syriac, Latin, Armenian, Coptic and Arabic languages. The Syriacisms in the Greek indicate …

John, Gospel of

(5,507 words)

Author(s): Attridge, Harold W.
[German Version] I. Introductory Issues – II. Literary Features – III. Religio-historical Parallels – IV. Theology The Fourth Gospel provides a totally independent witness for the theological interpretation of the figure of ¶ Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ: I, 1). Although stylistically homogeneous, it combines distinct perspectives. The most Jewish of the Gospels, it nevertheless contains polemic against “the Jews” as striking as any in the New Testament. Although it cultivates a high Christology (I, 8), it insists on the…

Hebrews, Epistle to the

(1,513 words)

Author(s): Attridge, Harold W.
[German Version] I. Authorship – II. Date – III. Adressees – IV. Genre and Structure – V. Religio-historical Background – VI. Message Among the letters ascribed to Paul, Hebrews stands out for its artful valuation of the person and work of Jesus Christ and its urgent exhortations to remain faithful. The text is a masterpiece of early Christian homiletics, interweaving imaginative interpretation of Scripture with powerful parenesis. ¶ I. Authorship The text does not name its author. A reference to “our brother Timothy” (Heb 13:23) may have led to the assumpti…


(2,145 words)

Author(s): Klauck, Hans-Josef | Satran, David | Bovon, François | Attridge, Harold W.
[German Version] I. Terminology – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament– IV. New Testament Apocrypha from Nag Hammadi I. Terminology Etymologically, “apocryphal” means “hidden, secret,” while “pseudepigraphal” indicates that a document has been falsely attributed to an author. In the modern period, the usage of both terms has been burdened by confessional preconceptions, since the extent of the canon (Bib…


(3,604 words)

Author(s): Blum, Erhard | Attridge, Harold W. | Anderson, Gary A. | Dan, Joseph | Nagel, Tilman
[German Version] I. Old Testament – II. New Testament – III. Judaism – IV. Qur’ān I. Old Testament 1. Name. The name אַבְרָהָם/ 'abrāhām is a by-form of אַבְרָם/ 'abrām or אֲבִירָם/ 'abîrām (Num 16:1, etc.). With the meaning "Father (= God) is exalted," it corresponds to a widely dispersed West-Semitic name pattern and, as a praise or confessional name, belongs in the realm of personal piety. The otherwise unattested extended form is interpreted in Gen 17:4f. in a popular etymology as "Father (אָב/ 'āb) of a multitude (הָמוֹן/ hāmôn) of nations" - in an entirely …