Who did write the Hebrews letter?


#1

I have been reading The Bible over and over for many years, but yesterday evening when I was reading, I read one chapter from the OT in the morning and one from the NT in the evening, I came to the letter to the Hebrews. For years I have thought that St.Paul is the author, and in the end Timothy is mentioned, which would indicate that it was St.Paul. But, the whole letter is very different from the letters St.Paul did write. The rythm of the sentences, what word is chosen, it made me think who wrote this letter? It is so different.


#2

Paul did not wite Hebrews, the author is unknown and the subject of debate.


#3

It seems to be an early epistle, perhaps pre-dating the destruction of the Temple (seems some of the text suggests the Temple sacrifices are still in force), and though it shares some Pauline stylistic elements, is probably not written by Paul. Who, then? Some scholars suggest Apollos, but no-one really knows.


#4

It is not definitively established that Paul did not write the letter; perhaps he did, but Scripture scholars cannot be sure. As St. Jerome said about it, “Only God knows.”


#5

The scripture scholars can have their debate. “Only God knows”, and that is enough, besides, it is in the canon of the bible. :slight_smile:


#6

There are two common theories that remain as to why the name was omitted from Hebrews.

  1. Apollos wrote it. Men were judged harshly by their names, and “Apollos” being a very Greek name would have been rejected at face value by the Jews who Apollos would be writing to.

  2. Another theory is that it was Priscilla (who actually taught Apollos to have greater knowledge of the Jesus) and it was omitted on the basis that she is a woman.

Here are some words in The Acts to keep in mind:

24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. **He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. **25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

It is interesting that although Priscilla was a woman, her name is often put before Aquila. Some believe this is because Priscilla had a greater knowledge than Aquila.

Keep in mind, this is all theory and nothing is 100% certain. All we can be certain of, is that Hebrews is one incredible book full of Theology.


#7

I personally believe it is a Pauline epistle but we can’t ever know for sure unless we somehow find a manuscript of it that is signed by Paul himself! :smiley:


#8

It’s literary style is completely un-Pauline, and it’s target is Jews. Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles.


#9

There are counterarguments to all the arguments in favor of non-Pauline authorship of Hebrews. The difference in style could be accounted for by the use of an amanuensis. Paul also evangelized Jews; every time he went to a new city, the first place he went was the synagogue. If most of his writings are directed toward predominately Gentile congregations, this could be his sole epistle to a Jewish audience. And so forth.

As in many issues, the Catholic Chuch has no official position on the authorship of Paul. It is something for biblical scholars to peruse. What the Church does insist upon is the apostolic authorship of all the NT writings. Traditionally, from the days of the Early Church, the authorship of Hebrews has been ascribed to Paul.

The letter to the Hebrews appears in the New Testament after the thirteen Pauline letters and before the seven catholic letters. Early tradition, in the main, attributed this text to Paul, but the western Church did not accept its Pauline authorship until the fourth century; and even in the east some (including Clement of Alexandria and Origen) had reservations about whether its literary style coincided with Paul’s.

Internal examination of the text does show that it is in many ways different from the rest of Paul’s writings. For example, it is more elegant, more eloquent, it does not carry the usual greeting and introduction, and it does not quote Scripture in the way Paul does. Its doctrine is Pauline but the way it is expounded makes it difficult to attribute its direct authorship to Paul. The letter’s canonicity is not in doubt; it was included in the canon by the Council of Trent (8 April 1546) among the other writings of Paul, although the Council chose not to state categorically that it was written by Paul.

The Pontifical Biblical Communion, in a decree issued on April 24, 1914, reaffirmed its canonicity. It answered the question, “Has the apostle Paul to be regarded as the author of this letter in the sense that not only must one hold that he conceived it and expressed it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but that he gave it the form in which it has come down to us?” Its reply was, “No, not unless the Church decides so in the future.” This is probably why there is no direct reference to Paul as author of this letter in recent liturgical books. However, Paul can be regarded as the indirect author of Hebrews. Researchers are free to explore this matter.

Some scholars think it may have been written by Barnabas or Silas, disciples of Paul; others suggest Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew noted for his eloquence (ct. Acts 18 24:28), in view of the way it quotes the Old Testament and its beautiful style and language. In any event, this is a secondary question which has nothing to do with matters of faith.
catholic.com/thisrock/1992/9211ntg.asp

To me, since it can’t be ruled out, and tradition usually has at least some basis in fact, I always refer to the writer of Hebrews as Paul. Unless the Church says I can’t (an unlikely prospect), I’ll continue to do so.


#10

Taylor Marshall in the Catholic Perspective on Paul suggests that it is Pauline in the sense that the theology originates with the Apostle Paul, but that it was actually penned by Luke.


#11

Whether or not it was Paul, Apollos, or someone else, the second theory you propose is really unsupportable. Modern day feminists like to look for injury where there is none.


#12

I have taken scripture courses with Joseph Fitzmeyer who wrote in the Jerome Biblical Commentary. I have also taken a course from Fr. Swetnam (Sp?) who I believe taught at the biblical institute in Rome. He had the opinion once that Paul did not write Hebrews but then changed his mind and concluded he did write it. Vegas could be taking odds on who wrote it.


#13

Is it possible Hebrews was written by Peter?

Hebrews 13:20 refers to the great shepherd of the sheep and 1 Peter 5:4 mentions the chief Shepherd. I don’t think Paul ever mentions Jesus in the context of Shepherd.

Also Hebrews 13:24 Those who are from Italy send you greetings.

The author is probably in prison. Hebrews 13:19.

Then in Hebrews 12:28-29 our God is a consuming fire. There will be a final shaking of the heavens and the earth. 1 Peter 3:12 the heavens and the earth will be burned up with fire.


#14

The Douay-Rheims published in 1609 made a very strong statement concerning the Church’s feelings about its Pauline authorship…

Let the Christian reader note the corruption and impudent boldness of our adversaries, that upon a false private persuasion of their own, that Paul was not the author of this Epistle, leave out his name in the title of the same, contrary to the authentical copies both Greek and Latin. In old time there was some doubt who should be writer of it, but then, when it was no less doubted whether it were canonical Scripture at all. Afterward the whole Church, by which only we know the true Scriptures from other writings, held it, and delivered it, as now She does to the faithful for canonical, and for Paul’s Epistle. Notwithstanding the adversaries would have refused the Epistle, as well as they do the author, but that they falsely imagine certain places thereof to make against the Sacrifice of the Mass.


#15

I’m partial to the Barnabas theory myself. Also I think the notion that it must have been written before the destruction of the Temple is weak, I think it may well have been written at least in part as a response to the destruction of the Temple, which the writer sees as a confirmation of the superior and fulfilling nature of the New Covenant.

But, I like Darryl’s observations of the similarities between the book of Hebrews and 1 Peter. Intriguing!

Sally


#16

Many scholars believe that Apollos wrote it circa 74AD, in part to explain the destruction of the temple.

Alan C Mitchell, the author of the Sacra Pagina commentary on Hebrews believes this to be true and he lists many others who do as well.

Sacra Pagina: Hebrews

bks8.books.google.com/books?id=_ri-5iaSUJsC&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&edge=curl&imgtk=AFLRE73L3unaYglxiqoKfz7oje5dzZpXMWJOufTfZX-wZ4qAgZjwgVbxxxZHKGI-ke8RbH1LRQrcb-VtfuAl0-1RGfe00pbpUkQRIttcBLQtOzamnSAD8VAcCJAUopCuH4Q7qix2g8os

I’m no scholar but I find his arguments convincing.

-Tim-


#17

Scholarship has improved in the the last 400 years.

Archeology, the study of languages, computer analysis - all have contributed to a greater understanding of the scriptues than every before.

There is no doubt that it is inspired and therefor canonical, but whom the author of a particular book is, is not revealed truth.

-Tim-


#18

No doubt some things have improved, but somethings will never improve but oftentimes fall off the rails from the very heart of Christianity in the name of scholarship. Much of that has to do with philosophy and schools of thought, and some scholars, though may have great IQ’s, but go against the grain of orthodoxy. Scholarship sometimes, through pride, adavance in progress and good, but either flirt with poisonous ways of thinking or even infect those things that are good.

I’m by no means saying that taking a non-Pauline approach the Hebrews is poisonous. But scholarship is always changing theories and usually changes so much that within 50 years scholars are taking an opposite position than before.

As for study of languages, there has been advancment, but at the same time I would rather trust those like the Fathers who spoke Greek rather than some modern professor who has learned it through classes. Too many translators and Biblical langauge scholars have been given way too much trust in areas of exposition and interpretation, things that most translators are lousy at.


#19

Who did write the Hebrews letter?

St. Paul the Apostle.

He is identified as the author of Hebrews in our version of the New Testament, the Aramaic Peshitta. In our liturgy, the deacon mentions St. Paul in the process of proclaiming the letter.

God bless,

Rony


#20

From what I can see about the Letter to the Hebrews, there are two choices. Either it was written by Paul or it was written by Peter. I think it was written by Peter. Peter is often presented as a great big oaf who knew not Scripture (that might be my protestant background talking), I believe that to be a wrong understanding of Peter.

I cannot put Hebrews down to Paul. When I read Pauline books I have to read them fast to get the idea, the continuity, and side-bars. When I read Hebrews I have to read it slow, otherwise I will miss what is being said.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.