Ethnicity reasoning offers one way of looking at social identity in the letter to the Hebrews.
The context of socio-economic abuse and hardships of the audience creates a situation in which
ethnicity in social identity becomes an important issue for the author of Hebrews to address.
This article is a social-scientific study which explores how the author establishes the ethnic
identity of the audience as people of God. While this ethnic identity indicates the more
privileged position the readers occupy in relation to the benefits of God accessible to them, it
also provides the author with the appropriate social institutions and scripts by which his
demand for appropriate response to God and the Christian group becomes appreciable and
compelling. The article involves the definition of social-scientific criticism, ethnicity and social
identity, and discusses the social context of the letter to the Hebrews. It then explains how
some social scripts within specific ethnic institutions give meaning to the demands the author
makes from his readers.
This article represents a reworked version of aspects from the PhD dissertation of Seth Kissi, titled ‘Social identity in Hebrews and
the Akan community of Ghana’, in the Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, with Prof. Dr Ernest van Eck as