Transformational mysticism in the liturgy of Hebrews

This paper draws on two previous scholarly insights. The first, specifically about Hebrews, assumed that the Christian document contains actual fragments of an early Christian liturgy. Championed in an intriguing monograph published in 1882 (John E. Field), this possibility was discarded after the seminal 1960 book of A. Cody which advocated the presence of a heavenly liturgy in Hebrews. The second insight draws on recent scholarship on the Dead Sea scrolls and suggests that at least some Jewish and Christian communities of the turn of the era imagined the distinction heaven-earth collapsing in their liturgical experience. I argue here that such is the case for the community behind Hebrews. In its view the Christological-heavenly and anthropological-earthly planes merge in the ritual. Moreover, viewed in this light, the epistle reveals a complex liturgical practice, in which the community imagined itself worshiping in a temple-like structure and being transformed into a heavenly priesthood.