Baker Academic has a brand new website! Click Here To Visit:


series: Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


"Thompson's masterful commentary on Hebrews will be a boon to students, preachers, and experts alike. Its clear, readable style, accompanied by a wealth of sidebars and charts, makes one of the most obscure books of the New Testament easily accessible."--Alan C. Mitchell, Review of Biblical Literature

In Hebrews, James Thompson brings the insight of a veteran teacher and writer to bear on a New Testament book whose rich imagery and memorable phrases have long shaped Christian discourse. This commentary, like each in the eighteen-volume Paideia series, approaches each text in its final, canonical form, proceeding by sense units rather than word-by-word or verse-by-verse. Each sense unit is explored in three sections: (1) introductory matters, (2) tracing the train of thought, (3) key hermeneutical and theological questions.

About the Series:
Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by

Forthcoming volumes in the Paideia series include:

Mikeal C. Parsons on Acts

Frank J. Matera on Romans

Pheme Perkins on First Corinthians

Raymond F. Collins on Second Corinthians

Editorial Board

Paul J. Achtemeier (emeritus, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia)

Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield)

C. Clifton Black (Princeton Theological Seminary)

Susan R. Garrett (Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary)

Francis J. Moloney, SDB (Salesian Province of Australia)


"With a firm grasp on the theological, ecclesial, historical, social, and literary issues, James W. Thompson has produced a commentary on Hebrews that is clear, compelling, and helpful. In Thompson's hands, this often difficult biblical book breaks open with new power and meaning."--Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

"A carefully crafted work like Hebrews deserves a commentary that concentrates on the text itself, not on opinions and arguments about it; that provides necessary historical information reliably and concisely (here, ancient rhetoric); that stimulates the user to think about matters raised by the text. Thompson's commentary does all these things well because he has thought about Hebrews judiciously and deeply."--Leander E. Keck, Winkley Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, Yale Divinity School

The Author

  1. James W. Thompson

    James W. Thompson

    James W. Thompson (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is scholar in residence at the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He is the editor of Restoration Quarterly and the author of numerous books, including Moral...

    Continue reading about James W. Thompson


"Preachers will find helpful insights in [this volume] as they do their own expositional studies."--PreachingNow

"Thompson's Paideia commentary on the book of Hebrews balances readability with depth. . . . The strength of this commentary is its ability to make biblical scholarship accessible. Couple this with Thompson's rhetorical analysis, which keeps the reader's focus on the text of Hebrews, and this commentary provides an excellent tool for serious Bible study. . . . Though this academic commentary will undoubtedly appeal to university and seminary students, it will also benefit anyone interested in enriching their sermons and/or devotional reading with a more studious perspective."--Frederick S. Tappenden, Bible Study Magazine

"The commentary's simple framework is useful. With regard to each biblical section, the author presents introductory matters, traces the train of thought and considers key hermeneutical and theological questions. One of the ways that this commentary, like others in the Paideia series, avoids the thicket and keeps readers on the path is the frequent use of breakout boxes. . . . Over and over, as questions and curiosities arose, I turned the page to find that the author was ahead of me, anticipating and satisfying my questions with a brief, enriching sidebar. . . . Thompson's tour of Hebrews is no cakewalk. . . . This respect, even demand, for serious study is a strength not only of the commentary but also, as Thompson persuasively argues, of the book of Hebrews itself. . . . The serious student should find this Paideia commentary a trustworthy companion and welcome resource."--Linda King, Christian Chronicle

"Veteran Hebrews' commentator James W. Thompson unlocks the secrets of Hebrews in this excellent commentary. . . . Who better to write on what is perhaps the most difficult New Testament book to understand than this accomplished scholar and teacher? This commentary is so well done that even experts in the field can benefit from reading it. . . . Thompson's masterful commentary on Hebrews will be a boon to students, preachers, and experts alike. Its clear, readable style, accompanied by a wealth of sidebars and charts, makes one of the most obscure books of the New Testament easily accessible. His exposition of Hebrews places the homily's theological meaning firmly within its ancient social and cultural context, serving as a reminder even in our own day that these spheres need not be kept separate and distinct but can beneficially inform one another."--Alan C. Mitchell, Review of Biblical Literature

"Like other volumes in the series, this commentary also has helpful boxed sections of text which summarise issues of structure, rhetorical and philosophical terminology, and background information. This makes the volume particularly helpful for students who are beginning to study using single volume commentaries and who may not have a detailed knowledge of the classical world, its philosophy, and rhetoric. . . . It will be a useful commentary for students in first degree work, particularly because of the boxed sections. Students at postgraduate level will also find it is a volume which adds to their study of the letter. Highly recommended as such for all seminaries offering courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level on Hebrews."--Fergus King, Theological Book Review

"The Paideia commentary series is . . . making a strong impact both in terms of the overall approach of the series and the quality of the . . . individual volumes that have been published thus far. . . . The commentary sections are not only full of rich exegetical insights, but they are carefully fashioned into a 'user-friendly' form through the use of illustrations, tables, highlighted summaries and asides, and a division of each block of material into three sections: introductory matters, tracing the train of thought, and theological issues. . . . Thompson packs an impressive amount of insight and scholarship into just over three hundred pages. Although the series states that it is aimed primarily at students, there is much here for readers at all levels. This is a fine commentary which brings to life the message of the epistle to the Hebrews."--Paul Foster, Expository Times

"Thompson provides a helpful theological reading of the book [of Hebrews], obviously informed by the latest scholarship. The emphasis on theology and literary form make it useful to the preacher."--Ray Van Neste, Preaching

"[A] fine commentary. . . . Thompson . . . delivers a wealth of insight into the text and its context. . . . Thompson skillfully explores the homily--not a letter, and not necessarily addressed to 'Hebrews'--against the backdrop of Greek philosophy. While scholars will profit from Thompson's insight, graduate and undergraduate students comprise the primary audience. For these readers, the clear exposition and the dozens of sidebars explaining various terms and topics essential for understanding the densely packed exegesis . . . make this an especially useful volume."--Patrick Gray, Religious Studies Review

"This commentary offers students a helpful introduction to the Hebrews, for it provides a clear and generally compelling interpretation of the thought of this difficult and complex book."--David R. Bauer, Interpretation

"This is a detailed and scholarly, though not overly technical commentary on Hebrews, drawing upon a wealth of recent scholarship, especially on studies of the epistle's rhetorical structure and argumentation. Illustrations and inserted boxes with outlines or brief factual information make this an attractive tool for students. . . . A valuable commentary."--International Review of Biblical Studies

"Thompson focuses especially on the Greco-Roman background, frequently relating the text to social, rhetorical, and philosophical movements and issues in the wider world of Hebrews's readers. This focus fills certain gaps that sometimes appear in other commentaries that focus mainly on the OT and Jewish background of the letter. . . . Thompson writes clearly, accurately, and engagingly, hitting his target audience of students quite accurately."--Douglas Moo, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"Thompson skillfully guides readers through a wide array of ancient sources and ideas as well as contemporary interpretations with the result that the forest is not lost but ever more appreciated for the trees. Thompson's own views, though present, are never forcefully made. . . . This restraint serves the pedagogical purpose of Hebrews well, simultaneously affording students a more than adequate foundation for understanding the document while allowing space for their professors, or the students themselves, to stake out particular claims. . . . Thompson's treatments of theological issues are by no means perfunctory but rather are consistently salient and subtle suggestions about what Hebrews is saying to today's readership. All along, helpful sidebars and insets provide information students might otherwise need to look up in reference works. . . . With every turn of the page, it was apparent that this is a successful distillation of decades of research, reflection, teaching, and ministry in a form that is accessible, very well-informed but not overburdened by scholarly debates, judicious in its scope and focus, and consistently meaningful for the believer who wishes to seriously engage Hebrews intellectually and spiritually."--Ronald Cox, Restoration Quarterly

"[Thompson] is a long-standing and reputed Hebrews scholar. . . . This is a clear and useful introduction to the Philonic approach to Hebrews. . . . The series . . . seem[s] best suited to undergraduates."--Michael Tait, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"Thompson's work is very readable and will be useful for both scholar and layman. I think that this commentary might be the 'first off the shelf' for the busy pastor. The commentary does an excellent job with the rhetoric of the letter, attempting to read the letter in the light of Greco-Roman homiletical tradition which was popular in the Hellenistic synagogue. He treats much of the writer's use of the Hebrew Bible as midrash, a decidedly Jewish way of treating scripture. . . . Thompson is also at home in the literature of the Second Temple Period. . . . There are numerous sidebars and occasional photographs in the commentary."--Phillip J. Long, Reading Acts blog

Praise for the Paideia series
"The Paideia commentary series has established itself as a solid series of concise works that focus on the final form of the biblical text, highlighting narrative flow, rhetorical devices and structure, and commenting particularly on relevant historical background and theological significance."--Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Journal

"[I] continue to be impressed by the contributors' skill in combining academic rigor with accessibility. . . . The [series] authors . . . combine historical and linguistic analysis with theological reflection, which makes these commentaries useful for those interested in bridging the gap between the ancient world and contemporary Christianity (seminarians, clergy). . . . Frequent inserts with asides [offer] additional explanations or attempts to relate ancient texts to contemporary issues."--Michael Gilmour, Catholic Biblical Quarterly