The Conception of the Heavenly Sanctuary in Hebrews: Literal or Metaphorical?

A significant issue in interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews concerns how to understand Hebrews’ discussion of a heavenly sanctuary. Does the author of Hebrews conceive of an actual sanctuary in heaven, or should language of a heavenly sanctuary be read metaphorically? In large part the decision about how to understand the heavenly sanctuary language is determined by one’s understanding of the author’s conceptual framework, whether primarily Platonic or apocalyptic. In contrast to proposals that the author of Hebrews speaks of a heavenly sanctuary only by means of metaphor, I will argue instead that the author of Hebrews—like numerous contemporary writers in Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity—did indeed think in terms of an actual sanctuary in heaven.