Talk:Epistle to the Hebrews

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Why Not Paul?[edit]

I have exams on this unit. If Paul was the author of Hebrews, then naturally his style would be such as one learned “at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers” (Acts 22:3). It would not be in the style of a letter to the Gentiles. Therefore, if this Epistle had been in the same style of Paul's other epistles, it would be an argument against his scribeship, and not for it.

It is generally accepted that Peter was sent to the "circumsized", while Paul wes sent to the Gentiles. Yet in one of Peter's Epistles to the diaspora (= the dispersion), he tells the diaspora...the Hebrews...that Paul had also written them a letter (2 Pet. 3:15-16). If Hebrews is not that letter, then what is?

A further question I have is the evidence against Paul is cited as "In particular, Hebrews claims to have been written by a person who received the Christian message from others (see Hebrews 2:3-4)." Hebrews 2:3-4 (NIV) says "how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." This to me does not seem to indicate what is being said of it. Anyone have any insight to this? AdamWeeden 19:56, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

"...was confirmed to us by those who heard him." - Paul says over and over in other works that he heard the message from the Lord. This author is obviously second-generation Christian. — Matthew Hambrick 12:41, May 18, 2006.


2 Peter 3.15-16 can be understood to refer in general to the writings of Paul, which were no doubt circulated widely in the early church. These verses need not require Peter's readers to have personally received a letter from Paul. In addition, there IS internal evidence in favor of Paul's authorship of Hebrews, even though I do not find it convincing. Had there been no internal evidence, the early Christians would not have proposed him as the author. However, you are right that Hebrews doesn't show signs that someone tried to imitate Paul's letter style. Giffmex 00:25, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
"Had there been no internal evidence, the early Christians would not have proposed him as the author." Now, that's authoritative! --Wetman 16:21, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Here's my question: has there ever been a substantial tradition that Paul was the author? The article currently reports only those writers who doubted or denied that it was Paul. Jonathan Tweet 04:32, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes. According to Lane's commentary (Word, 1991), page cliv), the Eastern church considered it Pauline from the start (though they were aware of debates over it), while the West accepted Pauline authorship (and canonicity) after Jerome and Augustine of Hippo accepted Pauline authorship in the late 4th century. After that it was pretty well unchallenged until the Reformation (I forget where I read that). Also the King James Bible calls it "The epistle fo Paul the apostle to the Hebrews" Peter Ballard 00:35, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

EH 3.3.5 adds further detail on Paul: "Paul's fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews,(594) saying that it is disputed by the Church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul."

Note 594: τινες ἠθετήκασι. That the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by Paul is now commonly acknowledged, and may be regarded as absolutely certain. It does not itself lay any claim to Pauline authorship; its theology and style are both non-Pauline; and finally, external testimony is strongly against its direct connection with Paul. The first persons to assign the epistle to Paul are Pantænus and Clement of Alexandria (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 14), and they evidently find it necessary to defend its Pauline authorship in the face of the objections of others. Clement, indeed, assumes a Hebrew original, which was translated into Greek by Luke. Origen (see below, Bk. VI. chap. 25) leaves its authorship undecided, but thinks it probable that the thoughts are Paul’s, but the diction that of some one else, who has recorded what he heard from the apostle. He then remarks that one tradition assigned it to Clement of Rome, another to Luke. Eusebius himself, in agreement with the Alexandrians (who, with the exception of Origen, unanimously accept the Pauline authorship), looks upon it as a work of Paul, but accepts Clement of Alexandria’s theory that it was written in Hebrew, and thinks it probable that Clement of Rome was its translator (see chap. 38, below). In the Western Church, where the epistle was known very early (e.g. Clement of Rome uses it freely), it is not connected with Paul until the fourth century. Indeed, Tertullian (de pudicit. 20) states that it bore the name of Barnabas, and evidently had never heard that it had been ascribed to any one else. The influence of the Alexandrians, however, finally prevailed, and from the fifth century on we find it universally accepted, both East and West, as an epistle of Paul, and not until the Reformation was its origin again questioned. Since that time its authorship has been commonly regarded as an insoluble mystery. Numerous guesses have been made (e.g. Luther guessed Apollos, and he has been followed by many), but it is impossible to prove that any of them are correct. For Barnabas, however, more can be said than for any of the others. Tertullian expressly connects the epistle with him; and its contents are just what we should expect from the pen of a Levite who had been for a time under Paul’s influence, and yet had not received his Christianity from him; its standpoint, in fact, is Levitic, and decidedly non-Pauline, and yet reveals in many places the influence of Pauline ideas. Still further, it is noticeable that in the place where the Epistle to the Hebrews is first ascribed to Paul, there first appears an epistle which is ascribed (quite wrongly; see below, chap. 25, note 20) to Barnabas. May it not be (as has been suggested by Weiss and others) that the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews was originally accepted in Alexandria as the work of Barnabas, but that later it was ascribed to Paul; and that the tradition that Barnabas had written an epistle, which must still have remained in the Church, led to the ascription of another anonymous epistle to him? We seem thus most easily to explain the false ascription of the one epistle to Paul, and the false ascription of the other to Barnabas. It may be said that the claims of both Barnabas and Apollos have many supporters, while still more attempt no decision. In regard to the canonicity of the epistle there seems never to have been any serious dispute, and it is this fact doubtless which did most to foster the belief in its Pauline authorship from the third century on. For the criterion of canonicity more and more came to be looked upon as apostolicity, direct or indirect. The early Church had cared little for such a criterion. In only one place does Eusebius seem to imply that doubts existed as to its canonicity,—in Bk. VI. chap. 13, where he classes it with the Book of Wisdom, and the Epistles of Barnabas, Clement, and Jude, among the antilegomena. But in view of his treatment of it elsewhere it must be concluded that he is thinking in that passage not at all of its canonicity, but of its Pauline authorship, which he knows is disputed by some, and in reference to which he uses the same word, ἀντιλέγεσθαι, in the present sentence. Upon the canonicity of the epistle, see still further chap. 25, note 1. For a discussion of the epistle, see especially the N. T. Introductions of Weiss and Holtzmann.

Just to summarise the enormous quotes above: Eusebius of Caesarea (4th century) thought Paul wrote Hebrews. The author of the huge long quote (Philip Schaff (1819-1893)) did not. Peter Ballard 10:27, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I added a couple sentences describing why people thought Paul wrote Hebrews. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:59, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

John Robinson ("Redating the New Testament") thinks it was written by Jude. I am not qualified to assess his opinion, but it might be pointed out. Escoville (talk) 13:08, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

It says above "That the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by Paul is now commonly acknowledged" - I do think that this could be stated more clearly at the start of this article.Vorbee (talk) 17:02, 17 July 2017 (UTC)


The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the two most consciously "literary" books in the New Testament.

What's the other? — Matt 15:44, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

I think that would be Luke-Acts. I think what the quote means is that Luke-Acts and Hebrews have the best Greek, esp. Luke's classical Greek intro. Giffmex. (can't find the tilde button on this Spanish keyboard) March 19, 2006.

While Luke-Acts might be what is meant by that statement, I Peter is generally considered to be the best Greek in the New Testament. It has in the past been thought to be written by the same author as Hebrews. — Matthew Hambrick 11:19, March 30, 2006.

Revelation. See Apocalyptic literature. --Wetman 16:21, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
Revelation? Not if "Literary" is taken to mean Greek of high literary quality. It's generally reckoned to be rather poor in that respect. I supect you are referring to the adoption of apocalyptic style which is of course a literary form. 23:05, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

How on earth do we know that Hebrews' literary quality is conscious? StAnselm 23:19, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Citations within the text[edit]

"Hebrews contains many references to the Old Testament—specifically to its Septuagint text—and references to all but two of the canonical letters of Paul."

This needs to be cited. Can anyone place the references in regard to the Pauline letters? (This comment was by User:Matthew Hambrick)

I agree. You can add a {{Fact}} tag, which is what I've done. Personally, I'd be surprised if the statement (about Paul's letters) was true. Rocksong 06:05, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Now I've removed the comment altogether. Peter Ballard 23:48, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Removed paragraph...[edit]

This paragraph made no sense to me. If it makes sense to someone else, please insert it again.

-Removed Paragraph- This is one of the few Epistles in the Bible that have no distinct author. Yet there is good reason for this. If Paul had written it was not becoming that he should write, "Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ.." in the introduction because Jesus Christ is seen as the Apostle in this Epistle. Hebrews 3:1, "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of [the] heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus."

— Matthew Hambrick 21:45, April 14, 2006.

Another Removal, clean up[edit]

I thought this paragraph was biased and therefore I removed it, but left a few aspects of it. If I was wrong please replace it.

Some, such as John A. T. Robinson, place the entire New Testament at a much earlier date. Robinson argues, for example, that there is no textual evidence that the New Testament authors had knowledge of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in AD 70. Especially in light of Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the Temple, the New Testament would be expected to reflect this. Other scholars, such as Hank Hanegraaff, have argued for an early date for the New Testament on similar lines of evidence. The exact date of authorship rarely makes a significant difference in the interpretation of a book, with the exception of the Book of Revelation.

— Matthew Hambrick 22:19, May 25, 2006.


What scholar thinks Priscilla wrote this, and why?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lostcaesar (talkcontribs) 21:38, 27 June 2006.

Adolf von Harnack. Priscilla was once thought to be from a middle- or upper-class Roman family, and therefore, she would've had the kind of education to compose a work like Hebrews; she was a close associate of Paul; her husband had a Jewish background; she had connections to Rome, etc. —Wayward Talk 18:14, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Interesting. Perhaps the article ought to give this detal about the Prussian scholar. Lostcaesar 21:30, 9 July 2006 (UTC)


"The letter has, however, always been accepted as part of the New Testament canon." It wasn't accepted as canonical by many, and wasn't included in the Muratorian Canon. I think it's Eusebius who said the authorship was attributable to Polycarp, which isn't even mentioned here. 14:08, 9 July 2006 (UTC)


The introductory material is too long and doesn't serve the purpose of an introduction. See WP:LEAD. There should be a summary of the book's content. Jonathan Tweet 04:21, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I've redone the intro now. Most of the old intro is now in the "style" section. Peter Ballard 23:48, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

List of "scholars"?[edit]

This isn't a very encyclopedic feature. Of what conceivable use to the reader is it? Can some of these Hebrews scholars be quoted or otherwise edited into the text and the rest gently let go? --Wetman 16:21, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. A bibliography is useful, a list of scholars isn't really. I've noticed this at other NT book articles too. I'll delete it in a few days if there is no dissent. Rocksong 06:08, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
No dissent, so I deleted it. Peter Ballard 23:48, 6 May 2007 (UTC)


Why the sermon on the mount, and why the long caption which is precisely the same as the illustration and caption for Sermon on the Mount? Wouldn't a better image have to do with apostasy, or some other theme from Hebrews? KillerChihuahua?!? 12:35, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

New Covenant is the key. For example: Catholic Encyclopedia: Epistle to the Hebrews: "... the Epistle opens with the solemn announcement of the superiority of the New Testament Revelation by the Son over Old Testament Revelation by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1-4). It then proves and explains from the Scriptures the superiority of this New Covenant over the Old by the comparison of the Son with the angels as mediators of the Old Covenant (1:5-2:18), with Moses and Josue as the founders of the Old Covenant (3:1-4:16), and, finally, by opposing the high-priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchisedech to the Levitical priesthood after the order of Aaron (5:1-10:18)." 07:50, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Clarrifying a point of the article[edit]

Quoted text from the article:

In light of a possibly Jewish-Christian audience, the apostasy in this sense may be in regard to Jewish-Christians leaving the Christian assembly to return to the synagogue.

Consider the fact that if a Jew were to go to the synagogue, he would do so on specific days, like on the Sabbath (Saturday). Similarly, if a Jew were to assemble with those that believed in Jesus, he would most likely do so on "the Lord's day" (Sunday). This wasn't a matter of "either-or" so to speak, to be either in the synagogue or in the assemblies of the New Covenant believers. Nowhere was there a provision in any part of the New Testament to teach Jews to leave the synagogue that I'm aware of. On the contrary, both Jesus and Paul would go into a synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus even said that believers would be beaten in the synagogues. Therefore, I don't understand this possibility that the Epistle to the Hebrews could mean this at all.

The statement is somewhat ambiguous, though. I propose that we clarify it, and perhaps state who believes it. Ideally, we might even get an actual citation that reveals such information, and we can then attribute the belief to someone else instead of how it currently is.

I hope my objection makes sense. While I care about the doctrinal importance of this statement, I'm trying to keep on the subject of the accuracy of the article itself. In that vein, I think that a clarification should be done in the way that I have written. I would like to get the opinions of others, however, first. -- DavidC99 (talk) 00:35, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Removed Reference to authorship of 1 & 2 Peter[edit]

I was just going to put "citation needed," but as someone who has undertaken a critical study of the entire New Testament, it is just too unlikely that a serious scholar anywhere has recently endorsed the view that either of those epistles was actually written by the apostle Peter. The main wikipedia page on those epistles of Peter makes this abundantly clear, so the statement would not only have been 99% wrong, but contrary to the main article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:21, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Reasons not to assemble[edit]

"Some had stopped assembling together because of persecution"

The claim of causality needs justification, or should simply be dropped.

Alambiquated (talk) 22:55, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

I've added a ref, noting the ref says this is possible, not certain. Thanks for pointing this out. Peter Ballard (talk) 10:14, 16 March 2008 (UTC)


John Robinson makes the point that this book quite particularly would appear to pre-date the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Had the Temple already been destroyed and the priesthood by implication abolished, the book would not have had much point. Or at the very least would have been written in a different way: the author could have pointed to the destruction of the Temple as confirming his thesis. The fact that he doesn't do so is strong evidence that the Temple was still standing and the priesthood intact. Escoville (talk) 13:10, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Confusion over the term "the Qumran"[edit]

New Testament and Second Temple Judaism scholar Eric Mason argues that the conceptual background of the priestly Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews closely parallels presentations of the messianic priest and Melchizedek in the Qumran.[3] While not enough is known about Hebrews or its background, its dependence on any early Jewish tradition cannot be proved. In both Hebrews and Qumran a priestly figure is discussed in the context of a Davidic figure; in both cases a divine decree appoints the priests to their eschatological duty; both priestly figures offer an eschatological sacrifice of atonement.

I do not have the knowledge to address this, but it sounds like the writer of this passage, besides not knowing when to stop concatenating phrases with semicolons, may be confusing the area of Qumran with a writing, perhaps the Quran. Qumran was where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, so perhaps they are the writings intended for comparison here. In any case, some rephrasing to clarify to what "the Qumran" is supposed to refer, either here or in the Qumran article, would be appreciated. --Joe Sewell (talk) 00:00, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

That passage was written by User:Afaprof01, who is still active on Wikipedia. Perhaps a polite message on his talk page will help. Pais (talk) 06:02, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Eric Mason was referring to the Qumran scrolls, not the Quran. The "the" before Qumran should be removed.----

Epistle vs. letter[edit]

As far as I can see, the usual term these days for Hebrews is "The Letter to the Hebrews". Certainly that is the term used un the New Living Translation 1996 and the Good News Translation 1966.

I am aware that historiclly the English word for an item of correspondence was "Epistle" and works dating from the medeival period, such as the KJV 1611 will use "Epistle", however I am not aware of any work penned in the last quarter century or so which describes Hebrews as an "Epistle". Philadelphia 2009 (talk) 11:05, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

This is probably right but nonetheless, before moving such an important article please propose a move and have the matter discussed. It seems controversial, at least to me. "Letter" is such an ambiguous word. Everybody knows it's from the Bible if you say Epistle, for example. (I will watch here, to keep the discussion in one place.) --Gerda Arendt (talk) 11:28, 29 October 2011 (UTC)
If you are not aware of any such work, then you haven't looked very far. A simple search on Google Books reveals The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its Background of Thought, The Epistle to the Hebrews: a commentary on the Greek text and The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian theology. This is definitely the term used in the secondary literature. StAnselm (talk) 21:04, 29 October 2011 (UTC)
The Epistle to the Hebrews - published in 1990, over 20 years ago
The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its Background of Thought - published in 1993, almost 20 years ago
The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian theology - published in 1990, over 20 years ago
Searching on Amazon I get 10,577 books when I search for Letter to the Hebrews
Searching on Amazon I get only 9768 books when I search for Epistle to the Hebrews
Not only that, the books entitled Letter to the Hebrews tend to be published more recently. The evidence indicates that "Letter to the Hebrews" is definitly the name usually used these days.Philadelphia 2009 (talk) 21:50, 29 October 2011 (UTC)
You had said "last quarter century or so." I don't know if this is off-topic or not, but if I do the same search with Ephesians, I get 2000 for letter and 4500 for epistle. But in any case, your edits were without consensus, and should be reverted. StAnselm (talk) 00:04, 30 October 2011 (UTC)


Martin Luther made many compelling arguments to suggest Apollos as a possible author of Hebrews. The Wiki for Apollos mentions this, so I thought the authorship section of this page should also reflect Luther's theory. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

This is mentioned in the article Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Maybe it could be added here (my feeling as that the authorship article should be merged into this one, it isn't so ungainly of an article...).PStrait (talk) 23:50, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

The several uses of "some scholars" may be true but is very uninformative. Nitpyck (talk) 19:38, 23 December 2014 (UTC)

Goodspeed quote[edit]

Not only is it not cited properly, it's from a book published in 1937. Scholarship has moved on. Shouldn't we just remove it? Bacchiad (talk) 16:24, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:Epistle to the Romans which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RMCD bot 16:29, 12 June 2016 (UTC)

Priscilla (authorship)[edit]

"However, the author's use of the masculine gender participle when referring to himself ... makes it less likely it could be Priscilla or any other woman."

The authorship of Priscilla is purely speculative, and while there may have been theologians who considered this as a possibility (Adolf von Harnack), there is absolutely no positive evidence for this, as far as I am aware. As long as there is no positive evidence, and as long as the Priscilla theory is not made into a conspiracy theory here (the truth about a woman author being suppressed by the bad, bad Vatican, or something like that), there is really no need to resort to original research in order to prove that Priscilla is unlikely to have been the author. -- (talk) 12:49, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

"the believers" vs. "certain believers"[edit]

Your "the believers" assumes that most of the Jewish-Christian Jesus followers were considering to go back into formal or observant Judaism to escape persecution. Without any doubt there was a certain trend in several congregations, but not all believers with Jewish family background intended to go back. The situation was far more complex... One example: In Rome lived Jewish Jesus followers in second generation. They had no Jewish synagogue to go because they spoke Christian jargon and had been alienated over the decades. I would be cautious to simplify and/or generalize the trend. --Inawe 12:40, 1 June 2017 (UTC)

Chapter on Faith[edit]

Hebrews Chapter Eleven is widely known as a chapter in the New Testament on faith, but this is not clarified in the article. I think this could receive more emphasis on the article, although I am not sure where this could go into this article.Vorbee (talk) 18:53, 18 July 2017 (UTC)