The Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews
Over the centuries, there have been many attempts to identify the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The nominations that seem to have more data to back them are the Apostle Paul, Barnabas the Levite, Apollos, the husband/wife team of Priscilla and Aquila, and Luke. Although little evidence exists to promote the following nominees, a simple list will be informative. It is not enough to know the major candidates for authorship. Evidence may surface that promotes or even proves that one of the following people have actually written the Epistle to the Hebrews: Clement of Rome, Peter, Epaphras, the deacon Philip or Mary the mother of Jesus. These people are all nominees for the authorship of this epistle.
Who, then, wrote the Letter to the Hebrews? The internal evidence within the letter holds some clues. The author's theology and familiarity with Timothy (13:23) suggest the author was associated with Paul's close friends and fellow workers. The characteristics of the letter indicate its author was a Jewish Christian who was knowledgeable in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. He was well versed in the Old Testament religion of the Jews and their forms of worship. He was also capable of writing the most polished literary style of Greek of any book in the New Testament. William Lane says of the authorship dilemma, "the divergence underscores the impossibility of establishing the authors identity. All that can be said with certainty is that Hebrews was composed by a creative theologian who was well trained in exposition of the Greek scriptures" (1). The best that one can do is examine the possible authors. This essay will only examine in detail the nominees for authorship of the epistle who have gained the most substantial evidence in their favor. Nonetheless, it will examine those possibilities in detail to prove which hypothesis is strongest. The theory held by this essay is that the content of the epistle is strongly influenced and quite possibly came directly from the apostle Paul. Though the content is strongly accredited to Paul, this theory will take the stance that Luke the physician, and writer of Luke and Acts, wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. Further it will determine that Luke as a disciple of Paul used exact notes taken directly from his instruction from Paul. This paper will argue based strongly on writing style, rhetoric, theological content, as well as external evidences from antiquity.
The person most frequently nominated as author is the apostle Paul. However, simply that Paul is traditionally thought of as being the author is not reason enough to believe it. In the immediate following paragraphs, much evidence is given that leads one to believe that Paul may not be the author. First, data in favor of Paul's authorship will be reviewed; they are as follows: Timothy and Paul were friends and traveled together. In Hebrews 13.23, there is a reference to Timothy. This shows that the author knows him and was thinking about him. The centrality and emphasis on Christ's person are themes in the epistles known to be Paul's as well as in the epistle to the Hebrews. Salvation is a theme that is also present both in Paul's known writings as well as in the Hebrews epistle. In addition to this, Peter knew Paul, so this association is possible. Paul called himself a "Hebrew of Hebrews" in his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 3.5). Paul truly cared about the Jews (Romans 9.1ff). Therefore, he could have written them a letter because of his great love for them. In addition, Paul wrote a great percentage of the material in the New Testament of known origin. Furthermore, Donald Guthrie in his Introduction to the New Testament gives attention to the many phrases in Hebrews that compare to other teachings of Paul. In Hebrews 1.2-6, the repeated phrase "all things" in reference to Christ's element in creation and glory...
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