Thanks again for another great night at NSU in our Hermeneutics class. Your insights in our breakout time digging into Romans 12 was fantastic! You guys are really understanding on how to 1) grasp the text in their town, 2) measure the width to cross, 3) cross the connecting bridge, and 4) grasp the text in our town. I think it will begin to really cement in your mind as we continue to go along over the next four weeks.
Here’s a video of the notes if you missed tonight and want to fill in the blanks. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Someone had a great question from tonight’s discussion that I thought I would post about. We talked about how the author of Hebrews was anonymous, and the question was how do we accept the Book of Hebrews as a part of the canon of Scripture if we don’t know who wrote it.
There are a few theories:
The author of Hebrews is not known. The text as it has been passed down to the present time is internally anonymous, though ancient title headings often attribute it to the Apostle Paul. However, even in antiquity doubts were raised about Paul’s alleged authorship. The reasons for this controversy are fairly plain. For example, his letters always contain an introduction stating authorship, yet Hebrews does not. Also, while much of its theology and teachings may be considered Pauline, it contains many other ideas which seem to have no such root or influence. Moreover, the writing style is substantially different from that of Paul’s authentic epistles, a characteristic first noticed by Clement (c. 210). In particular, Hebrews claims to have been written by a person who received the Christian message from others (Hebrews 2:3–4). In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he forcefully defends his claim that he received his gospel directly from the resurrected Jesus himself.
Nevertheless, in the fourth century, the church largely agreed to include Hebrews as the fourteenth letter of Paul. Jerome and Augustine of Hippo were influential in affirming Paul’s authorship, and the Church affirmed this authorship until the Reformation.
In response to the doubts raised about Paul’s involvement, other possible authors were suggested as early as the third century A.D. Origen (c. 240) suggested that either Luke the Evangelist or Clement of Rome might be the author. Tertullian proposed Paul’s companion Barnabas. Barnabas, to whom other noncanonical works are attributed (such as Epistle of Barnabas), was close to Paul in his ministry, and exhibited skill with midrash of Hebrew Scripture; the other works attributed to him bolster the case for his authorship of Hebrews with similar style, voice, and skill.
Martin Luther proposed Apollos, described as an Alexandrian and “a learned man” (Acts 18:24), popular in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:12), and adept at using the scriptures and arguing for Christianity while “refuting the Jews” (Acts 18:27–28).
In more recent times, some scholars have advanced a case for the authorship of Hebrews belonging to Priscilla.
The last one concerning Priscilla has always interested me. They think since she was listed first when mentioning her husband, she is listed as being a teacher in Ephesus, and she is noted for teaching Apollos who is noted for being a very smart guy, that possibly she wrote it but because no one would have listened to a letter written by a woman during that time period, she took her name off of it so that people would actually read it.
Could it have been someone humble who didn’t want credit? Could it have been someone who would have been scared about the reprocussions of what was said? It definitely was someone who didn’t think that their name would have added to the message because they didn’t list it in the normal fashion.
My guess is Apollos. I think he wrote it because it is very deep, well thought out, and able to persuade Jewish people – all of those was his speciality. But whoever it was, it is a great read.
If you are doing any reading in the Epistles, and you want to get the historical and literary context of what you are reading, go to bible.org for some helps. Once again, you can’t beat a good study Bible, so ask for one for Christmas or save up your money to get you one.
Make sure you check back here this week for some Bible quizzes that I will post and some other helps. Here’s what’s on tap for next week:
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.