Suffering as Means of Moral Transformation: Hebrews in Philosophical Context

The importance of suffering in the argument of Hebrews concerning Jesus is broadly if not universally recognized. Likewise widely acknowledged is the connection made by the author between suffering and moral education, most clearly intimated by 5:7-14, with its play on mathein pathein, and in 12:7, with its assurance, eis paideian hypomenete, best translated as, “you are enduring for the sake of an education.” In this regard, scholars have recognized how Hebrews makes use of the rich range of educational/athletic metaphors common to Greco-Roman moral discourse. This paper builds on such work in order to ask about the specific value attached to suffering in Hebrews and a selection of other Hellenistic philosophers (Epictetus, Seneca, Philo). Is the value the same in each author? Does determining the specific value of suffering in moral transformation provide insight into the character of Hebrews as an example of philosophical-religious discourse of the early empire?