Adventures in NT Greek: Weirdness in Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11, the catalogue of heroes who acted “by faith,” is one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament, and I found it relatively straightforward for the most part. I did notice a couple strange things, however, which I’ll gladly share with you now.

  • 11:3 — when it says “the worlds were prepared by the word of God,” it uses ῥῆμα for “word” rather than λόγος. It’s a much more literal and straightforward reading of Genesis 1, reflecting that “God spoke and it was done.” More generally, I don’t get much of a proto-trinitarian feel from Hebrews for the most part.
  • 11:10 — referring to the heavenly city, it says that God it is “τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς” (architect and builder). I found the use of δημιουργὸς interesting, given the association with the Platonic demiurge who builds the universe in the Timaeus (and perhaps counts as its architect as well)? Not sure that one can make much of this, though.
  • 11:22 — when it says that “made mention of the exodus of the Israelites,” the verb is μνημονεύω, which seems to me to primarily imply memory. And “remembering” the exodus of the Israelites would make sense in this passage, where Moses is presented as already acting “for Christ,” etc. Even without that time-warp feeling, it makes sense to say that he “remembered [the promise] of the exodus….”
  • 11:23 — Moses’s parents spared him “because they saw that the child was beautiful.” This is weird enough as is, but the word for “beautiful” is not what one would expect: it’s ἀστεῖος, which primarily means “of the town” (as opposed to the country). Perhaps the text is saying that the parents somehow got the vibe from the baby Moses that he would “fit right in” in Pharaoh’s (urban) court, which would serve as a kind of training for his role of leading the exodus? I hope that if I ever have kids, my baby is urban-looking!

Again, these are small details that may be meaningless. And now I’m only two chapters away from having read through all the NT epistles in Greek — no mean feat!