Charles Hodge on the Epistle to the Hebrews

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) must be seen as on the greatest Reformed theologians from the nine-teenth century. He was a very gifted man and both an able exegete and systematic theologian. In 1820 he started his academic carrier at Princeton Theological Seminary as instructor in Biblical languages. Two years later he was appointed as professor of Oriental languages and Biblical Literature. In 1840 he became Professor of Didactic Theology (now called Systematic Theology), retaining, however, the department of New Testament exegesis, the duties of which he continued to discharge until his death. 

Hodge wrote commentaries Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Ephesians. They since they first were published been in print almost continually, what is a sure indication of the lasting value. Among Hodge’s surviving unpublished manuscripts are two sets of exegetical and expository notes on the epistle to the Hebrews. From the year of his ordination is a brief set of notes only covering chapters 2 through 5 of the epistle.

The second more extensive set of notes compromise Hodge’s exegetical lectures on Hebrews, and date from 1842. They were initially copied by a student from his oral lectures. William van Doode-waard, professor of church history at Puritan Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids, took the initiative to transcribe this last set of notes with occasional insertion of material from the 1821 manuscript where this provided helpful addition in Hodge’s insight in the text of the epistle to the Hebrews.

Together with Hodge’s sermons and sermon outlines on Hebrews these notes were first published by the Banner of Truth in 2019. Only four of the sermons were published earlier. Just as in his commen-taries and sermons that were published earlier we met Hodge here as an able expositor of Scripture with a remarkable gift to present the meaning of the Biblical text with clarity and simplicity. Together with his sermons they display Hodge adoring love for Christ, and even more, Christ love for his church. I agree completely with the comment of Charles Haddon Spurgeon written in the 19th century: ‘The more we use Hodge, the more we value him.’ This is still true in 21th century.

Charles Hodge, Exegetical Lectures and Sermons on Hebrews, Edited and Introduced by William van Doodewaard (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2019), hardcover 264 pp., £12,– (ISBN 9781848718845)

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