The Authorship of Hebrews

 

The last few weeks have been very busy and so I’m just now getting a few things back up so there should be a bit of a steady stream of material over the next couple of months as my workload has eased up a little bit. For the next month or so there is going to be a lot of information on Hebrews as that is what one of my courses was on. However, I’m also going to supplement it with some other materials that I’ve been doing from a more personal level that will hopefully benefit people some more. This here is going to be an introductory post to Hebrews and will serve as a discussion of the authorship of Hebrews. The next paragraph is the prompt I responded to as it relates to the authorship of Hebrews.

1. Give an overview of the debate concerning the authorship of Hebrews. Who are some of the major candidates put forward as possible authors? What can we know about the author from the book of Hebrews? Why is the discussion of authorship important? If you were asked to defend a specific author for the book, who would you pick and why?

 

The author of Hebrews is not identified in the letter itself, and so there is a lot of speculation concerning who wrote Hebrews. There are several people put forward as authors including Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Clement of Rom, Pricilla, Jude, Apollos, Philip and Silvanus.[1] These authors have all been thrown out at various times. Paul is the main reason the book of Hebrews is even in the Bible. It was through early church fathers accepting Pauline authorship that Hebrews was eventually included in canon. It was from attributing the letter to Paul which caused it to be included in canon. This alone make it incredibly important since apostolic authorship was one of the requirements for the book to be included in canon in the first place. Also, if it is able to be attributed to someone that is not an Apostle, it would have eliminated the book from consideration within the New Testament. However, the message carries the same message the rest of the Bible does, and it fills a spot in scripture where it is fully appropriate for it to be part of the canon, and since it is here and I trust God to protect the revelation of who He is.

 

However, I would not attribute the authorship to Paul myself. I think it is more likely that either Apollos or Priscilla and Aquilla being the author(s). It is likely Paul was not the author because it does lack many features normally associated with Paul’s writing such as the identification of Paul as the author, the classic style of Greek instead of the simpler form Paul normally used, the emphasis on Jesus as the great high priest, and even the appeal for authority to eyewitnesses instead of the writer’s own authority.[2] However, with that being said, there are several links to much of Pauline thought, and it is likely that many of the ideas were taken from or what Paul taught, but also in conjunction with some of the other church teachings. It is pointed out that in Hebrews 11:32[3] the author refers to himself which would eliminate a woman from writing the book, but if it was Priscilla and Aquilla who are always mentioned together, and there are a few instances in which it seems as though a plural authorship would be acceptable such as in Hebrews 2:5. However, it does seem as though this book was likely written by a disciple of Paul, and by not including the name it would be likely to associate it with one of Paul’s disciples such as Apollos or the combination of Priscilla and Aquilla.

[1] Guthrie, George. The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, 23.

[2] Lea, Thomas & David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003. 497.

[3] Lea, Thomas & David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003. 497.


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