Pentecost Lectures to be given by Fr Richard Ounsworth O.P.

“You Have Come to Mount Sion: The Christian Pilgrimage in the Letter to the Hebrews”

The 2018 Pluscarden Pentecost Lectures – to be given by Fr Richard Ounsworth O.P.
Teacher of Scripture and New Testament Greek at Blackfriars, Oxford

22 – 24 May 2018 at Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin

  1. Tuesday 22nd May at 3.00 pm
    “Potato Stamps: Reading the Old Testament in the Light of Christ”
  2. Wednesday 23rd May at 10.30 am
    “Jesus is Joshua: What’s in a Name?”
  3. Wednesday 23rd May at 3.00 pm
    “Passing through the Veil: Christ the High Priest and the Day of Atonement”
  4. Thursday 24th May at 10.30 am
    “Robed in Flesh, Our Great High Priest”

Each year the Abbot and Community of Pluscarden Abbey sponsor a series of four lectures by an invited Theologian on an aspect of Catholic Theology. Previous Lecturers have included Professor John Haldane, Fr Aidan Nichols OP, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Paul McPartlan, Fr Tom Herbst OFM, Fr Ian Ker, Professor Carol Zaleski and Abbot Erik Varden O.C.S.O. The Lectures are held on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after Pentecost in St Scholastica’s Retreat House at the Abbey. They are open to all who wish to attend and are free. Limited accommodation is available at the Abbey and those who wish to stay should book as soon as possible. There are also many places to stay in the Elgin area: contact the local tourist office: 01343 542666.

The Lecturer


Fr Richard Ounsworth O.P. was born in 1972 and studied at London University, where he gained a degree in history. He joined the Order of Preachers (Dominican Friars) in 1995 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2001. From 2002-5, he worked as Chaplain to the University of Leicester. He has been teaching Scripture (New and Old Testament), and New Testament Greek, at Blackfriars, Oxford since 2003, travelling from Leicester once a week for two years. He wrote his doctorate (completed 2010) on the Letter to the Hebrews and it was published in 2012 as Joshua Typology in the New Testament (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck; ISBN 978-3-16-151932-1). More recently he was one of five authors of When the Son of Man Didn’t Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia (Augsburg Fortress, 2016; ISBN: 9781451465549 / 978150642547). Fr Richard has been Provincial Bursar of the English Province of the Dominicans since 2012. He has given talks and retreats across the UK and further afield, including New York, Helsinki and Lisbon, and will be back in the USA in June 2018, to give a retreat to the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey. Fr Richard is an internationally acknowledged expert on the Letter to the Hebrews.

The Lectures

“You Have Come to Mount Sion: The Christian Pilgrimage in the Letter to the Hebrews”


The Letter to the Hebrews, which is neither a letter nor written to Hebrews, makes a strikingly unique contribution to the New Testament, especially in its understanding of Jesus and his saving death in the context of the High Priesthood and the Day of Atonement. This uniqueness presents considerable difficulties in interpretation, but also offers exciting ways of thinking about the identity of the Church and the manner of our salvation in Christ. At the heart of the Letter is a thoroughly typological approach to reading the Old Testament.

These four lectures will explore aspects of the uniqueness of Hebrews, concentrating upon what the Letter has to teach the Church today rather than on historical questions. Biblical studies and theology have suffered from a long estrangement, and typological readings dismissed as old-fashioned and even “supersessionist”. I hope to show that Hebrews offers Christians a very positive way of reading the Old Testament in the light of Christ, and some exciting ways of understanding Christ in the light of the Old Testament.

Lecture 1. Potato Stamps: Reading the Old Testament in the Light of Christ

Hebrews sees the whole of the Old Testament as a testimony to the Son directed immediately to the Church. Where does this idea come from, how is it used in Hebrews – and elsewhere in the New Testament – and is it an approach we can use in the 21st Century?

Lecture 2. Jesus is Joshua: What’s in a Name?

The name “Jesus” is simply the Greek for “Joshua”, so it is natural to make connections between Jesus and the successor of Moses with whom he shared a name. Although very little is made of this explicitly in the New Testament, Hebrews invites us to recognise that it is profoundly significant; in fact, Jesus’s name offers a key to unlock the Letter’s understanding of the Church and how it relates to Christ.

Lecture 3. Passing through the Veil: Christ the High Priest and the Day of Atonement

When Jesus died on the cross, we are told that the veil of the temple was torn in two. What exactly does this signify? Perhaps the Letter to the Hebrews can offer us some clues, as it explores the typological relationship between Jesus’s death and the annual entry into the Holy of Holies by the High Priest on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Lecture 4. Robed in Flesh, Our Great High Priest

There is absolutely no historical reason to believe that Jesus was a priest of the Jerusalem Temple, so why does the Letter to the Hebrews insist that he was and is a priest? As we bring together the themes of previous lectures, we begin to see how the High Priestly Christology of the Letter to the Hebrews encapsulates a theologically brilliant and always-relevant exposition of the Christian mysteries.


For further information or to book accommodation, please contact