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"'ο λογοσ του εου" in Hebrews 4:12-13

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image of Novum Testamentum

The well-known reference in these verses to the Word of God as "sharper than a two-edged sword" is often understood by interpreters (and translators) as referring to a fearful instrument of judgment, of punishment, even of execution. This study challenges that assumption, understanding the metaphor differently. The picture the author gives us may more likely be drawn from the medical amphitheater, in which a patient is "stretched out and naked before the eyes" of a benign surgeon who skillfully wields the sharp, scalpel-like blade, carefully dividing sinews from marrow, soul from spirit, thoughts and intentions of the heart. Analysis of the tone of the surrounding context, and the particular language of the pericope itself, leads to the conclusion that this paragraph is positive, rather than negative, in prospect, an encouragement rather than a warning.


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