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

Encountering the Book of Hebrews

An Exposition

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

Cover Art Request Exam Copy

Where to Purchase

More Options


"Serves its purpose well as an undergraduate textbook by presenting current scholarship and alternative interpretations in a form appropriate for its readers."--James Thompson, Interpretation

Although the Book of Hebrews "is not exactly what most of us would regard as a user-friendly book," notes Donald Hagner, "Hebrews has always been popular among Christians." Encountering the Book of Hebrews was written to help students more fully appreciate the complexities of this favorite section of Scripture.

Hagner begins by exploring introductory issues (e.g., historical backgrounds, author, audience, date, purpose, structure, genre) and overarching themes (e.g., heavenly archetypes and earthly copies, the use of the Old Testament, the attitude toward Judaism). The heart of the book then offers a chapter-by-chapter exposition of Hebrews. Unlike commentaries, it does not try to be exhaustive--examining all details and answering all questions--but instead guides students to the issues that are most important for their study of this difficult book. Hagner concludes with a final look at the contribution of Hebrews to the New Testament, New Testament theology, the church, and the individual Christian.

As with other volumes in the Encountering Biblical Studies series, Encountering the Book of Hebrews is designed for classroom use and includes a number of helpful features, including further-reading sections, key terms, chapter objectives, and outlines along with numerous sidebars and illustrations.


"This thoughtful, well-documented, and attractively produced study should help undergraduate-level students come to terms with a writing which, as the author admits, most people do not initially regard as user-friendly."-Paul Ellingworth, University of Aberdeen

"Donald Hagner's Encountering the Book of Hebrews is a splendid treatment of one of the most important, though probably one of the most difficult, New Testament writings. It is not a verse-by-verse commentary but a section-by-section assessment of the argument and issues of the book. It reflects extensive and detailed investigation and is user-friendly in style and expression, with helpful sidebars, excursuses, charts, tables, photographs, bibliographies, and study questions. Its intended readership is upper-level Christian college students, and it speaks to them exceedingly well, but this informed and engaging exposition also deserves careful study by all earnest, inquiring Christians."-Richard N. Longenecker, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary

"I have long admired Don Hagner's ability to reflect clearly and concisely on Hebrews. In this excellent new work, he applies an obvious breadth of research in a lucid style that invites while it informs. Commentary, pictures, sidebars, review questions, beginning bibliographies, and lists of key terms coalesce in a highly accessible tool for the beginning student. I recommend it enthusiastically."-George H. Guthrie, Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Biblical Studies, Union University

"The beginning student of Hebrews could not have wished for a more thorough, balanced, and accessible introduction to the message of this enigmatic text. Hagner masterfully facilitates the student's engagement with Hebrews itself, while remaining thoroughly conversant with recent scholarship. He distinguishes himself especially in his attention to the context and background of the letter, the interpretation of the Old Testament in Hebrews, and the letter's distinctive contributions to Christian theology and life. Both student and teacher will appreciate the attractive layout and the many learning aids the author has diligently prepared."-David A. deSilva, professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Donald A. Hagner
    © Don Milici

    Donald A. Hagner

    Donald A. Hagner (PhD, University of Manchester) is George Eldon Ladd Professor Emeritus of New Testament and senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is the author of The New Testament: A Historical and...

    Continue reading about Donald A. Hagner


"This excellent introduction to the New Testament book of Hebrews is intended for upper-level college students, but will also appeal to a nonacademic audience of evangelical Christians. Hagner emphasizes that the book is an exposition not a commentary, its intent being to provide students of the Bible with an accessible, engaging overview of the text. Hagner does a particularly fine job of providing a bridge between Hebrews and the man Old Testament texts that it explicitly quotes ro to which it alludes. He offers Hebrews as a kind of midrash, a document that positions Christ within the heritage of the Old Testament while simultaneously presenting him as both high priest and sacrificial offering. This makes for a very worthy addition to Baker's Encountering series on the Bible."--Publishers Weekly

"Part of a new series intended for undergraduate students or adult biblical study groups, this exposition of the Letter to the Hebrews is a fine exemplar of how to make a biblical book more comprehensible to a modern audience. The author works his way through the letter in major segments, providing the reader with a thorough explanation of the letter's background and lead ideas, offering study objectives for each chapter, and adding in numerous sidebars extra information, suggested study questions, and bibliography for further reading. . . . This format can be a model for teachers and Bible group leaders."--Donald Senior, Bible Today

"Hagner's exposition of Hebrews is magisterial. A textbook introducing undergraduates to the literary and theological complexity of Hebrews, this book is rich in study aids: sidebars, illustrations, photographs, bold-faced key terms, glossaries, study questions, and basic bibliographies. His fair and even-handed handling of introductory matters, issues of background and setting, rhetorical features, and theological questions compresses a wealth of scholarship and exegetical experience into one short volume. Clear and readable, this book will be welcomed by its intended audience and by anyone who wants a concise, current discussion of Hebrews."--Alan C. Mitchell, Religious Studies Review

"It is particularly pleasant to see scientific books that are addressed to college and university students by such scholars as Donald A. Hagner. The book belongs in the Encountering Biblical Studies series, which has published some volumes of undergraduate-level texts from an evangelical point of view. It is very important to publish such books that are pedagogically oriented, written with collegians in mind. . . . The book will be for New Testament students a fine guide to the Epistle to the Hebrews and its theology."--Moschos Goutzioudis, Review of Biblical Literature

"Designedly user-friendly and easy to find your way about. . . . The content is admirable. Hagner's impressive familiarity both with Judaica and with post-apostolic Christian literature is brought to bear in the most accessible and enriching way. . . . It is meaty, rather than easy reading, but there is constant nourishment for the intelligent, well-motivated reader. . . . A very worthwhile and heart-warming commentary."--Dick France, Themelios

"What impressed me most was Hagner's excursus on the entry of Hebrews into the NT canon. It is a short, but well researched and documented, piece of work. Hagner distinguishes himself especially in his attention to the context and background of the letter, the interpretation of the OT in Hebrews, and the letter's distinctive contributions to Christian theology and life. He also remains thoroughly conversant with recent scholarship. . . . The book is a solid commentary on Hebrews, with an inviting presentation and format. It is ideal for college students, whom the author targets for readership."--Erhard Gallos, Andrews University Seminary Studies

"This is an amazingly engaging commentary on one of the most important books in the New Testament. It is an attractive chapter-by-chapter commentary written in a user-friendly, lucid style. There are over sixty side bars filled with information. . . . The Encountering series by Baker targets college-level Bible courses as textbooks. However, this work deserves the serious study of any earnest Christian. . . . The book of Hebrews and this commentary serve as a corrective to triumphalism, the get rich quick gospel and easy eschatology exhorting the Christian to persevere in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints."--Richard Allison, Ashland Theological Journal

"The book of Hebrews clearly calls for sympathetic introduction to beginners. And in Donald Hagner . . . and the Encountering series, it finds an approach that is truly in touch with their needs. . . . The Encountering series from Baker Academic, which already includes half-a-dozen other books of the Bible, is obviously committed to meeting today's students at their level. . . . You could almost say the attractive, generous layout coupled with the thoroughness of the exposition makes a teacher irrelevant. . . . It is [evangelical], and the general editor admits it. But that admission means neither a rejection of sound scholarship nor an exclusion of other approaches; there are plenty of RC authors cited throughout, including Albert Vanhoye and James Swetnam of the Biblicum. . . . Publisher, editor and author have worked hard to ensure that Hebrews, if obscure at times, is never dull."--Robert C. Hill, Heythrop Journal