Intra-divine Discourse and the New Covenant in Hebrews

Few can deny the centrality of the “new covenant” discourse in Hebrews 8–10 for understanding this epistle. The author begins with a marked summary of his argument thus far (8.1–6) that transitions into his extended quotation of Greek Jeremiah 38.31–34 (Heb 8.7–13). Then, chapter 9 elucidates the ineffectiveness of the “old” covenant as well as its connections to the “new.” This culminates in Hebrews 10’s presentation of the “new” in its own right—its solution to the problem that the “blood of bulls and goats” is unable to “take away sins” (10.1–4). Even though this prominent text receives frequent mention in scholarship on Hebrews, one neglected feature is the author’s portrayal of intra-divine discourse that takes place in these chapters. Drawing upon similar discussions surrounding the interaction between Father and Son in Hebrews 1-2, this paper will offer a summary of Hebrews 8–10 with a particular focus on the words of Scripture spoken by Father, Son, and Spirit and demonstrate how this presentation of the new covenant “in conversation” is essential to the author’s characterization of these divine participants and, by extension, his doctrine of God. This conversation begins in 8.7–13, where Jeremiah 38.31–34 is not merely “cited,” but spoken. Rather than making his own claim, the author instead presents the words of God himself as he reveals his desire for a new covenant. Later, in Hebrews 10.5–7, the Son accepts the Father’s will and enters the world as the effective new covenant offering. Moreover, this conversation, which we are fortunate to overhear via the author’s presentation, is then explicitly “testified to us” by the Holy Spirit in 10.15–17 with a repetition of Jeremiah 38.33–34. The Spirit’s testimony offers a truncated version of the quotation that includes what appear to be the most salient points for the contemporary audience. Therefore, in this unit of text, the Father, Son, and Spirit speak, offering the readers of Hebrews a distinct glimpse into the establishment of the new covenant from a divine perspective.