Who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews?

Does it have a good evidence?

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

From what has been said it follows that the most probable solution of the question as to the author is that up to the present time the opinion of Origen has not been superseded by a better one. It is, consequently, necessary to accept that in the Epistle to the Hebrews the actual author is to be distinguished from the writer. No valid reason has been produced against Paul as the originator of the ideas and the entire contents of the letter; the belief of the early Church held throughout with entire correctness to this Apostolic origin of the Epistle.

The writer, the one to whom the letter owes its form, had apparently been a pupil of the Apostle. It is not possible now, however, to settle his personality on account of the lack of any definite tradition and of any decisive proof in the letter itself. Ancient and modern writers mention various pupils of the Apostle, especially Luke, Clement of Rome, Apollo, lately also Priscilla and Aquila. Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Epistle to the Hebrews]

Is the Epistle to the Romans a work of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul? Undoubtedly it has the same authorship as the Epistles to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Galatians; consequently, if the authenticity of these be proved, that of Romans is likewise established. We shall however treat the question quite independently. The external evidence of the authorship of Romans is uncommonly strong. Even though no direct testimony as to the authorship is forthcoming before Marcion and Irenæus, still the oldest writings betray an acquaintance with the Epistle. One might with some degree of probability include the First Epistle of St. Peter in the series of testimonies: concerning the relation between Romans and the Epistle of St. James we shall speak below. Precise information is furnished by Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, and Justin: Marcion admitted Romans into his canon, and the earliest Gnostics were acquainted with it. Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Epistle to the Romans]

The Catholic Encyclopedia is an old source, last updated in 1912. It thus reflects the best scholarship of the age. Which wasn’t exactly bad, but wasn’t up to the standards of modern textual criticism, in which computers mine data from tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts and compare syntax, word usage, contemporary ‘slang,’ etc. It took St. Jerome 20 years (working late into the night by candlelight) to do what we could do in 20 seconds today (and we can do it a whole lot better). There has been nothing in modern textual criticism to question the claims of the Catholic Encyclopedia, and you will not find a single credible modern theologian of any faith who will claim that Romans and Hebrews were written by the same person. Even reading an English translation is as different as reading something by Tom Clancy and Mark Twain. There is nothing even remotely similar in style.

Nobody contests that the IDEAS in Hebrews could have come directly from St. Paul (though that’s hard to prove, one way or another). But he did not write it. That much is clear. And we have absolutely no idea who did.

I think the Pontifical Biblical Commission came up with much the same answer: The letter contains the genuine thoughts and ideas of St. Paul, but was written (= put into its current form) by one of his associates.

Popular candidates have included St. Luke (who was St. Paul’s collaborator and wrote two of the longest books in the NT canon), Apollos (Martin Luther’s suggestion), and Clement of Rome. I personally think Luke’s a good bet. :slight_smile:

Many scholars believe that Alexandrian trained Apollos wrote it.


I tried to post a quote on the authorship of Hebrews from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, but it was about 10k characters too long. The bottom line is that we simply don’t know who wrote (or dictated) the Epistle to the Hebrews. There are a lot of educated guesses (some more educated than others), but at the end of the day, they’re all still guesses.

If Luke wrote it, I think he will be the unsung hero in the Bible.
This means that he wrote the Gospel of Luke, there we see the visitation, which is a parallel to 2 Samuel 6 and the transfer of the Ark, we see how much love has for us, especially the sick.

Then you add, Acts, which tells the history of the Church.

Then you add Hebrews, which is a book in my opinion to let the Jews know, hey its ok, this Man is God this is what all the prophets spoke about.

He has become one of my inspirational saints.

Here’s Thomas Aquinas’s hypothesis.

But before we come to the task of dividing this epistle, it should be noted that before the Council of Nicaea, some doubted that this was one of Paul’s epistles for two reasons: first, because it does not follow the patters of the other epistles. For there is no salutation and no name of the author. Secondly, it does not have the style of the others; indeed, it is more elegant. Furthermore, no other work of Scripture proceeds in such an orderly manner in the sequence of words and sentences as this one. Hence, they said that it was the work of Luke, the evangelist, or of Barnabas or Pope Clement. For he wrote to the Athenians according to this style. Nevertheless, the old doctors, especially Dionysius and certain others, accept the words of this epistle as being Paul’s testimony. Jerome, too, acknowledges it as Paul’s epistle. To the first argument, therefore, one may respond that there are three reasons why Paul did not write his name: first, because he was not the apostle of the Jews but of the Gentiles: ‘He who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles’ (Gal. 2:8); consequently, he made no mention of his apostleship at the beginning of this epistle, because he was unwilling to speak of it except to the Gentiles. Secondly, because his name was odious to the Jews, since he taught that the observance of the Law were no longer to be kept, as is clear from Acts (15:2). Consequently, he concealed his name, lest the salutary doctrine of this epistle go for naught. Thirdly, because he was a Jew: ‘They are Hebrews: so am I’ (2 Cor. 11:22). And fellow countrymen find it hard to endure greatness in their own: ‘A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house’ (Mt. 13:57). To the second argument the answer might be given that the style is more elegant, because even though he knew many languages: ‘I speak with all your tongues’ (1 Cor. 14:18), he knew the Hebrew language better than the others, for it was his native tongue, the one in which he wrote this epistle. As a result, he could write more ornately in his own idiom than in some other language; hence, he says: ‘For though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge’ (2 Cor. 11:6). But Luke, who was a skillful writer, translated this ornate Hebrew into Greek.

I personally think it was Pope Clement (Phi 4:3).

I think there are similarities with his Letter to the Corinthians (1st Clement).

But that’s just me,


Just wondering. I thought nowadays there are software that can analyse writings and make predictions of similarities? Some people use it to filter out plagiarism I believe or detect writing styles. It would be interesting to find out if we can feed all the available writings to see how it segregate them. Hmmm, not sure whether these software can do ancient Greek or not…

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