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ARCHIVE: Who wrote the book of Hebrews

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  • ARCHIVE: Who wrote the book of Hebrews

    I’ve always been fascinated with this topic. It is really the one book in the Bible that authorship hasn’t 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 isn’t established by tradition either. Many people have submitted their guesses on this topic, and so will I. (I’m sure when we meet the real author in heaven, he’ll have his laugh at our expense.)

    Here are some of the clues I’ve collected over the years:

    #1. Many have pointed out the continuity that exists between Peter’s 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 …which 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 Peter’s two epistles. The author was likely of a wealthy family and high standing, whereas Peter was somewhat considered “uneducated”.

    #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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t narrow the list of suspects greatly.

    #6. The author seems to be familiar with Rome

    Hebrews 13:24b … 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 Peter’s account. Tradition also holds that he gospel was immediately accepted as cannon based on Peter’s 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 Timothy’s life as well.
    A 'touchy-feely' CNN reporter, while interviewing an Army sniper asked, "What do you feel when you shoot a terrorist?" The Soldier shrugged and replied..... "Recoil."

  • #2
    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.
    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.

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    • #3
      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.

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      • #4
        It's all speculation--I don't think that it was Paul because his primary mission was to the Gentiles.

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        • #5
          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.
          says:

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          • #6
            Or it will be someone who never got a mention in scripture, and we're going to be saying "Who the heck is that?"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ninjashadow
              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?
              A wise man asks many questions. A fool gives many answers. Jesus often answered questions with a quesition.

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              • #8
                He was an Alexandrian Jew.
                says:

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ninjashadow
                  He was an Alexandrian Jew.

                  what does that mean?
                  A wise man asks many questions. A fool gives many answers. Jesus often answered questions with a quesition.

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                  • #10
                    He was a jew from Alexandria.
                    says:

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ninjashadow
                      He was a jew from Alexandria.

                      is that in egypt?
                      A wise man asks many questions. A fool gives many answers. Jesus often answered questions with a quesition.

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                      • #12
                        Yes, it was the capital of Egypt for a long time and was founded by Alexander the Great.
                        says:

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ninjashadow
                          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?
                          A wise man asks many questions. A fool gives many answers. Jesus often answered questions with a quesition.

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                          • #14
                            Not sure. I'll research it and let you know, unless of course, that was a rhetorical question.
                            says:

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ninjashadow
                              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.
                              A wise man asks many questions. A fool gives many answers. Jesus often answered questions with a quesition.

                              Comment

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