I first encountered Ceslas Spicq’s magisterial L’ Épître aux Hébreux while working through the Greek text of Hebrews as an undergrad student. Every major commentary published after Spicq makes reference to his work at almost every major interpretive crux of Hebrews. I was convinced I needed to secure a copy of this critical work for my own library. This led to an almost 10 year search, a search which took me to a number of online European out-of-print booksellers. The search was complete. But this almost 10 year search left me wondering why such an important commentary was so hard to find. How can something so heavily cited be both out-of-print and nearly impossible find? Thankfully Logos Bible Software wants to bring Spicq’s L’ Épître aux Hébreux to a whole new generation of readers.
Originally published in French, Spicq’s commentary contains a wealth of citations and interaction with both primary sources as well as key commentators on Hebrews. But unless you read French, this insightful commentary remains aloof—except for the lucky readers who understand French. Now, however, you can pre-order your own copy—in English!
Who is Ceslas Spicq?
You’ve never heard of Ceslas Spicq (1901–1992)? That’s understandable, as most of his writings have not been translated into English. Spicq was a theology professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He was also connected with the acclaimed École Biblique in Jerusalem. He authored a number of important commentaries, monographs, and a three-volume lexicon, Lexique théologique du Nouveau Testament, which was subsequently translated into English as the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament.
Spicq’s work is heavily referenced in almost every major commentary on Hebrews published after his! The following chart highlights seven major commentaries and the number of times L’ Épître aux Hébreux is referenced:
|P. E. Hughes||152|
|F. F. Bruce (NICNT)||57|
|Harold Attridge (Hermeneia)||307|
|Craig Koester (AYBC)||269|
|Paul Ellingworth (NIGTC)||402|
|George Guthire (NIVAC)||32|
|Peter O’Brien (PNTC)||102|
As you can see, scholarly interaction with Spicq is quite high. This chart doesn’t take into consideration the hundreds of times L’ Épître aux Hébreux has been mentioned in journal articles, monographs, and essays since Spicq’s commentary was published.
One of the more controversial sections features Spicq’s understanding of the relationship between Philo and the Hebrews author. In a section entitled “Le Philonisme de L’Épitre aux Hébreux (The Philonism of the Epistle to the Hebrews)”, Spicq spends 52 pages analyzing the vocabulary of Hebrews and the writings of Philo, paronomasia and metaphors they share, and an exegesis of select texts. While most modern scholars have put this thesis to rest; Ellingworth rightly notes, “it is not necessary . . . to reject as worthless or insignificant the linguistic and other evidence accumulated by Spicq” (Hebrews, 47).
Among Spicq’s greatest contributions are his detailed studies on the language and literary characteristics of Hebrews. This includes 27 pages of lexical and literary analysis. Spicq analyzes not only individual words, but also phrases unique to Hebrews.
Still unsure about Ceslas Spicq? Here’s what leading scholars say about how important Ceslas Spicq’s commentary on Hebrews is:
“[Spicq’s] work on the Epistle to the Hebrews is a monument of dedicated piety and erudition.”
—Philip E. Hughes, author of A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“Spicq’s commentary represented a major advance in the study of Hebrews. Exegetically thorough and theologically reflective, Spicq’s work influenced scholarly work on Hebrews in many languages for several decades. It remains an important resource for those who wish to mine the treasures of Hebrews.”
—David Peterson, senior research fellow and lecturer in New Testament, Moore College
“I am delighted that someone is taking time to translate this classic work, which nearly all scholars who work in Hebrews references. Thank you for taking the time to provide an English translation for subsequent students to use in their study of the book.”
—Herbert Bateman, professor of New Testament, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Ceslas Spicq’s commentary is a milestone in Hebrews scholarship and a monument of theological exegesis, from one of the greatest biblical scholars of the twentieth century. At long last, it is available in English. Once again, thanks are due to Logos for this favor and feat.
—Scott Hahn, Professor of Theology and Scripture, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Before I met Paul and all his interpreters and commentators, I was introduced to the riches of NT scholarship through Ceslas Spicq’s masterful commentary on Hebrews, in French. That was my sophomore year in college. I have read few commentaries on any biblical book since then that have influenced me as much as Spicq on Hebrews. Its translation into French is long overdue, so may it happen soon.
—Michael J.Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary & University Baltimore, MD and author of Reading Paul
The new translation from the French of Ceslas Spicq’s L’Épitre aux Hébreux (1952) is a watershed event. It is exciting to finally see an English translation of this key scholarly work. His extensive research and his articulate insights concerning the book of Hebrews have had a continual impact on the scholarship of Hebrews. While scholarship has made significant advances in the past sixty years, Spicq still holds a significant place in the dialogue. The greater accessibility of his work to students and pastors is greatly appreciated.
—Cynthia Long Westfall, Assistant Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College. Author of A Discourse Analysis of the Structure of Hebrews: Relationship between Form and Meaning
Logos is prepubbing Spicq for only $39.95! That’s an almost unbelievable price, considering that the two-volume French edition is virtually impossible to find. I was fortunate to find both copies of this work, and it cost almost three times as much as both volumes on Pre-Pub. This is one you will want to have for sure!