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View Full Version : ARCHIVE: Who wrote the book of Hebrews



ApologeticJedi
July 6th, 2005, 11:35 AM
Iíve always been fascinated with this topic. It is really the one book in the Bible that authorship hasnít been established firmly. While it is not the only book where the author never names himself (see Matthew, John, Acts, and others), it is the only one that isnít established by tradition either. Many people have submitted their guesses on this topic, and so will I. (Iím sure when we meet the real author in heaven, heíll have his laugh at our expense.)

Here are some of the clues Iíve collected over the years:

#1. Many have pointed out the continuity that exists between Peterís epistles and the book of Hebrews. This has lead many to believe that Peter may have been the author of Hebrews, and that in reality, it was the first epistle Peter wrote.

I disagree that Peter is the true author, but I think this is a key point that the author of Hebrews and Peter were very, very, close in their thought process. The reason I will dismiss Peter, is the same reason I dismiss Paul.

#2. The author of Hebrews was a second hand convert.


Hebrews 2:3b Öwhich at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that head him;

This seems to rule out the twelve apostles and Paul and anyone who got their doctrine directly from Jesus. The apostles are ruled out because they would identify themselves as those that actually heard him. They did not need to receive it from someone else who also heard Jesus. Likewise, Paul seems to completely argue against the idea that anything came to him save from Jesus directly in the beginning of his epistle to the Galations (see the first chapter and half of the epistle).

If we assume (and some may not) that the author is mentioned somewhere in the Bible then this clue would greatly narrow the list of suspects.

#3. The author was very well educated. Another reason I disagree that Peter could have written Hebrews is the outstanding literary and rhetorical style that the author of Hebrews had verses Peterís two epistles. The author was likely of a wealthy family and high standing, whereas Peter was somewhat considered ďuneducatedĒ.

#4. The author identifies himself as Jewish and seems to have a deep love of the Jews. This is a somewhat minor point as it doesnít narrow the list of suspects down very often.

#5. The author is familiar with Timothy (13:23), and even what was going on with Timothy coming out of prison. Another minor point as it doesnít narrow the list of suspects greatly.

#6. The author seems to be familiar with Rome


Hebrews 13:24b Ö They of Italy salute you.

This could be viewed either as the author writing from Italy (less likely), or the author was writing back to Italy speaking of others from Italy who were with him saluting them (more likely). In either case, the author has a familiarity with those he is talking to and likely has a knowledge of them. Another minor point.

***
Consider my suggestion on how one particular person fits all of the points minor and major. The person I believe has written the book of Hebrews is someone who was a second-hand convert. This person was a convert of Apostle Peter! (1 Peter 5:13) Tradition holds that Peter dictated to him the events of Jesus and that he wrote the first gospel based on Peterís account. Tradition also holds that he gospel was immediately accepted as cannon based on Peterís authority. This largely explains the continuity between the book of Hebrews and the Apostle Peter without making the association of Hebrews 2:3 and literary device. This person was born of a wealthy Jewish family (Acts 12:12). This person traveled with Paul for a short time, although he left Paul to return to the Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). While this angered Paul for a time, this person came back to Paul to be with him in the end while he was in prison at Rome (2 Tim 4:11). His close contact with Paul gave him close insight to Timothyís life as well.

jeremiah
July 6th, 2005, 08:43 PM
That is some very good detective work! Most people I know are very adamant that it was Paul. There reasons are more sentimantal and hunch than clear and convincing. I have ruled out Paul for the simple fact that he always identifies himself by NAME, and by some other personal characteristic, in each of the other epistles. The style is completely different, but yes, he could have changed style in speaking to his 'own' people.
My hunch for a long time has been Silas. Mainly because he shed his blood and hung in chains in the Phillipian jail with Paul. Yet they were singing hymns and praises to the Lord and were then blessed and freed by a miracle!
My hunch is that because his faith had passed the test of blood, and imprisonment, that God also then blessed him to write the book of Hebrews.
I will have to study to see if he meets your criteria, which seem preety sound to me. :up:
A lot of scholars think it was Barnabus. I think that he would probably meet more of your criteria. I will have to study up on him too. :)

Frank Ernest
July 7th, 2005, 06:32 AM
The folks who put together the ancillary material for my Crown Reference Bible opine that it could be Apollos. A. Berkeley Mickelsen is the author of the outline and survey to Hebrews.

Crow
July 7th, 2005, 06:38 AM
It's all speculation--I don't think that it was Paul because his primary mission was to the Gentiles.

Ninjashadow
July 7th, 2005, 06:49 AM
I've heard that it may have been Luke, but Luke was not Jewish. He did, however, have a love for the jews (I would assume) because of his travels with Paul.

I tend to think that the strongest case could be made for Apollos.

Crow
July 7th, 2005, 07:49 AM
Or it will be someone who never got a mention in scripture, and we're going to be saying "Who the heck is that?"

Sir Cast-a-Lot
July 7th, 2005, 02:10 PM
I've heard that it may have been Luke, but Luke was not Jewish. He did, however, have a love for the jews (I would assume) because of his travels with Paul.

I tend to think that the strongest case could be made for Apollos.


was apollos jewish?

Ninjashadow
July 7th, 2005, 02:45 PM
He was an Alexandrian Jew.

Sir Cast-a-Lot
July 7th, 2005, 02:47 PM
He was an Alexandrian Jew.


what does that mean?

Ninjashadow
July 7th, 2005, 02:51 PM
He was a jew from Alexandria.

Sir Cast-a-Lot
July 7th, 2005, 03:10 PM
He was a jew from Alexandria.


is that in egypt?

Ninjashadow
July 7th, 2005, 03:33 PM
Yes, it was the capital of Egypt for a long time and was founded by Alexander the Great.

Sir Cast-a-Lot
July 7th, 2005, 03:38 PM
Yes, it was the capital of Egypt for a long time and was founded by Alexander the Great.


what about Crispus and Gaius, were they jews as well?

Ninjashadow
July 7th, 2005, 04:43 PM
Not sure. I'll research it and let you know, unless of course, that was a rhetorical question.

Sir Cast-a-Lot
July 7th, 2005, 04:49 PM
Not sure. I'll research it and let you know, unless of course, that was a rhetorical question.


crispus was a jew, a ruler of a synagogue. but gaius is a mystery.

Ninjashadow
July 9th, 2005, 12:27 AM
As far as I have found, Gaius was from Macedonia and was (of course) a Christian. Since Macedonia was the northern part of Greece (at least part of it was) it's possible that Gaius was Greek.

SteveT
July 9th, 2005, 05:33 PM
I've always been of the opinion it was Barnabas, as he was a Levite and therefore the topic of the priesthood would have been particularly of interest to him. Also, most scholars agree the epistle is really a sermon, not a letter (it lacks the usual structural characteristics of a letter), and by it's theme it is clearly addressed to well educated Jews, very possibly priests and Levites, written by someone who, though not one of the twelve, had a very high standing among them. Barnabas, whose stature was great enough that on his word they allowed the much-feared Paul to meet the Apostles (Acts 9:27), certainly seems to fit the bill.

Ninjashadow
July 10th, 2005, 12:45 AM
SteveT,
I hadn't heard that before, but that's very interesting and makes sense, too. I'll have to look into that.

Chileice
July 10th, 2005, 08:31 AM
Iíve always been fascinated with this topic. It is really the one book in the Bible that authorship hasnít been established firmly. While it is not the only book where the author never names himself (see Matthew, John, Acts, and others), it is the only one that isnít established by tradition either. Many people have submitted their guesses on this topic, and so will I. (Iím sure when we meet the real author in heaven, heíll have his laugh at our expense.)

Here are some of the clues Iíve collected over the years:

#1. Many have pointed out the continuity that exists between Peterís epistles and the book of Hebrews. This has lead many to believe that Peter may have been the author of Hebrews, and that in reality, it was the first epistle Peter wrote.

I disagree that Peter is the true author, but I think this is a key point that the author of Hebrews and Peter were very, very, close in their thought process. The reason I will dismiss Peter, is the same reason I dismiss Paul.

I find this topic very interesting and I always have. Although we will never know for sure, it is fun to speculate. However, I must challenge you on your first point. I don't know many authors who push a strong affinity with Peter. Certainly Hebrews does not go against Peter, but neither is it anything like it in structure or in the Greek that is used. What causes you to say they are very very close? Can you give me some examples? Hebrews also reflects quite a bit of Pauline thought. The way it quotes scripture and uses it is like Matthew. The writer is almost allegorical in his use of scripture. Certainly you could link him/her to many different NT authors, but I don't see the connection between him and Peter as so much stronger than the connection to other authors. And your jump to hyperspace with Mark is interesting but hardly seems to satand a literary test.




#2. The author of Hebrews was a second hand convert.

This seems to rule out the twelve apostles and Paul and anyone who got their doctrine directly from Jesus. The apostles are ruled out because they would identify themselves as those that actually heard him. They did not need to receive it from someone else who also heard Jesus. Likewise, Paul seems to completely argue against the idea that anything came to him save from Jesus directly in the beginning of his epistle to the Galations (see the first chapter and half of the epistle).

If we assume (and some may not) that the author is mentioned somewhere in the Bible then this clue would greatly narrow the list of suspects.
I would agree with you here.




#3. The author was very well educated. Another reason I disagree that Peter could have written Hebrews is the outstanding literary and rhetorical style that the author of Hebrews had verses Peterís two epistles. The author was likely of a wealthy family and high standing, whereas Peter was somewhat considered ďuneducatedĒ.

#4. The author identifies himself as Jewish and seems to have a deep love of the Jews. This is a somewhat minor point as it doesnít narrow the list of suspects down very often.

#5. The author is familiar with Timothy (13:23), and even what was going on with Timothy coming out of prison. Another minor point as it doesnít narrow the list of suspects greatly.

#6. The author seems to be familiar with Rome
This could be viewed either as the author writing from Italy (less likely), or the author was writing back to Italy speaking of others from Italy who were with him saluting them (more likely). In either case, the author has a familiarity with those he is talking to and likely has a knowledge of them. Another minor point.
These are points that I can agree with. But how could Barnabas be discounted? Or for that matter, Silas or Priscilla or Aquila or Apollos?

***


Consider my suggestion on how one particular person fits all of the points minor and major. The person I believe has written the book of Hebrews is someone who was a second-hand convert. This person was a convert of Apostle Peter! (1 Peter 5:13) Tradition holds that Peter dictated to him the events of Jesus and that he wrote the first gospel based on Peterís account. Tradition also holds that he gospel was immediately accepted as cannon based on Peterís authority. This largely explains the continuity between the book of Hebrews and the Apostle Peter without making the association of Hebrews 2:3 and literary device. This person was born of a wealthy Jewish family (Acts 12:12). This person traveled with Paul for a short time, although he left Paul to return to the Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). While this angered Paul for a time, this person came back to Paul to be with him in the end while he was in prison at Rome (2 Tim 4:11). His close contact with Paul gave him close insight to Timothyís life as well.

If you are trying to say that the writer was John Mark (I Peter 5.13) I think you are way off base. Mark is a fast paced style of writing bolting from one event to another almost without a breath while Hebrews is a well thought out treatise moving the reader through the Old Testament trying to prove the superiority of the New Covenant and trying to warn people against the dangers of falling back into judaism or the danger of being led into it by judaizers.

Although you did a nice job of putting a case for Mark on the table, you didn't take anyone elso off of it. As well, if you read Mark and Hebrews side by side... even in English, I think you will convince yourself that the same person didn't write both.

jeremiah
July 10th, 2005, 10:56 PM
Although you did a nice job of putting a case for Mark on the table, you didn't take anyone elso off of it. As well, if you read Mark and Hebrews side by side... even in English, I think you will convince yourself that the same person didn't write both.[/QUOTE]
.................................................. ............................

I agree with you, Chileice. He painted a nice profile of the writer of Hebrews, and then put up one of the weaker candidates, that matched the profile.
I think Apollos and Barnabas are the two strongest candidates; and my choice, "Silas" does not have much written or known about him?

ApologeticJedi
July 24th, 2005, 07:35 PM
was apollos jewish?


I believe Apollos was led to the Lord by Aquilla, not necessarily someone who had walked with Christ. The author of Hebrews seems to indicate that he, along with most of his readers, were lead to the Lord by those that heard Jesus speak.

I'm not sure that Apollos was saved by the same circumcision teaching that Hebrews characterizes, however I suppose it is possible.

ApologeticJedi
July 24th, 2005, 07:38 PM
I've always been of the opinion it was Barnabas, as he was a Levite and therefore the topic of the priesthood would have been particularly of interest to him. Also, most scholars agree the epistle is really a sermon, not a letter (it lacks the usual structural characteristics of a letter), and by it's theme it is clearly addressed to well educated Jews, very possibly priests and Levites, written by someone who, though not one of the twelve, had a very high standing among them. Barnabas, whose stature was great enough that on his word they allowed the much-feared Paul to meet the Apostles (Acts 9:27), certainly seems to fit the bill.


Barnabas was Mark's cousin I believe, so those things are true of Mark as well. We don't know anything about Barnabas' salvation, however, the Bible does record that Mark was a second hand convert of Peter's (which is significant since Hebrews follows along with the two epistles written by Peter). That the Bible would give us that clue, and leave none on Barnabas, I believe points us more to Mark as the most likely of suspects.

ApologeticJedi
July 24th, 2005, 07:48 PM
Although you did a nice job of putting a case for Mark on the table, you didn't take anyone elso off of it. As well, if you read Mark and Hebrews side by side... even in English, I think you will convince yourself that the same person didn't write both.

Despite the fact that Mark is a book of narrative stories penned (according to tradition) by Mark at Peter's dictation, and Hebrews is an epistle written about current events and doctrine, there actually are a great deal of similiarities. Of course Mark is faster paced as would be consistent with someone who is writting about something he heard verses something he saw. Mark is about story after story, where Hebrews is an epistle of theology. Yet both writers show at times that they have a wonderful grasp of the Greek and both seem to use the Septuagint as a primary souce.

I do disagree that I didn't take people off the table ... I believe Paul, Peter, most of the apostles were removed for instance. I admit that a few others remain, but none generally have the biblical evidence supporting their case that Mark does.

Psalmist
July 17th, 2006, 10:24 AM
I've heard that it may have been Luke, but Luke was not Jewish. He did, however, have a love for the jews (I would assume) because of his travels with Paul.

I tend to think that the strongest case could be made for Apollos.

Apollos, I have thought of as the G. Campbell Morgan of his day, you know excellence, spit and polish.

I have heard the same thing about Luke, it doesn't seem unreasonable, except maybe lacking of historical records . . . Then again, a gentle giving a message to the Hebrews about the evidence of faith I don't think could impossible.

Acts is the NT book not finished, no ending, because it's ending is be lived today; Hebrews has no introdutory salutation . . . Maybe Hebrews is a continuation of Acts . . . Maybe.

Nothing to get excited about, just a "I was just thinking bone" to gnaw on :think:

Totton Linnet
August 31st, 2011, 02:24 PM
The more I read Hebrews the more I think it is part of a sermon...I say part because he promises to get beyond the first things concerning salvation but scarcely does, unless in a subsequent sermon...it has all the hall marks of preaching, the constant breaking off into exhortation or comfort...so preacher Philip is a candidate, although I do not think an apostle would have written those words that have been so used to support the idea that salvation can be lost...but a preacher in the heat of preaching might have said those things.

My view...we will know when we get to heaven