On the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews(Part 1): Overlooked Affinities between Hebrews and Paul -- By: David Alan Black

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 16:2 (Spring 1999)
Article: On the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews(Part 1): Overlooked Affinities between Hebrews and Paul
Author: David Alan Black

On the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews(Part 1):
Overlooked Affinities between Hebrews and Paula

David Alan Black

Professor of New Testament and Greek
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587


Who wrote Hebrews? This question has puzzled Bible readers for generations. Scholars have suggested several names as possibilities for the author of this book, including Apollos, Barnabas, Luke, Priscilla, Silas, and, of course, Paul. Generally the debate centers around Paul: Did he or did he not write the book? That he did not is a view that has dominated Protestant NT studies since the Enlightenment and has even penetrated Catholic scholarship, despite the greater regard for tradition there. Indeed, that Hebrews is non-Pauline is now considered one of the “assured results” of scholarly research.1 However, Pauline authorship was defended by William Leonard in The Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews published in 1939,2 since which time it cannot so easily be brushed aside. In this essay we will reexamine the internal evidence for Pauline authorship, concentrating on the letter’s language and style, while in a subsequent essay we will analyze the statements of the earliest Christian fathers concerning the authorship of Hebrews. The question we wish to pose here is: In view of the letter’s unique language and elegance of style, does a scrutiny of the contacts between Hebrews and the Pauline letters confirm the view, clearly voiced at Alexandria by Pantaenus and the ἀρχαῖοι ἄνδρες whose lives went back before the middle of the second century, that the epistle had Paul for its author?

The Internal Evidence

The use of internal evidence to prove the authorship of a NT book has always been a complex matter. In investigating the authorship of this epistle we must bear in mind that we are dealing with a balance of probabilities, which

means that our conclusions must of necessity be comprised at times of indirect and incidental evidences. With regard to the authorship of Hebrews, it is generally asserted that the epistle has little, if anything, in common with the Pauline writings. Although stylistic features are often taken into account, conceptual factors are generally considered decisive. Certain dissimilarities between Hebrews and the writings of Paul are invoked in opposition to Pauline authorship. These include the absence both of the author’s name and a salutation in the letter opening (

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