Ethical Exhortations in the Letter to the Hebrews and the Writings of Seneca

Scholars have often found great value in comparing New Testament concepts with Stoicism in general and the thoughts of Seneca in particular. Admittedly, most of this work has focused on the Gospels or the letters of Paul. In his work on Hebrews 12, however, Clayton Croy reveals striking parallels between this passage and Seneca’s De Providentia. This paper seeks to continue this comparison by heuristically examining the ethical imperatives of Hebrews 13.1-8 with similar commands in Seneca. Do such striking parallels between the letter to the Hebrews and the writings of Seneca stop in Hebrews 12, or do other remarkable similarities between the two authors continue into the next chapter? Moreover, do any resemblances found in the writings reveal respective differences more clearly so that one can understand Hebrews and Seneca better? If so, then how so? In addition to answering these questions, this paper will attempt to demonstrate that a study of Seneca’s ethical instructions can help scholars fill out the pithy imperatives found in Hebrews 13 by raising new interpretative options and evincing further possible details either implied by the author or assumed by the audience.