The Authorship of Hebrews: The Lukan Proposal -- By: David L. Allen

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 18:2 (Spring 2001)
Article: The Authorship of Hebrews: The Lukan Proposal
Author: David L. Allen

The Authorship of Hebrews:
The Lukan Proposal

David L. Allen

W. A. Criswell Professor of Expository Preaching
Director, Jerry Vines Institute of Biblical Preaching
The Criswell College
Dallas, Texas 75246

The question of the authorship of Hebrews remains a perennial problem in Biblical studies. The dawn of the twenty-first century finds biblical scholars no closer to cutting this N.T. Gordian knot. Indeed, most appear quite content to throw up their hands and say along with Origen: “As to who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows.” It has been my conviction since I first began to study this issue in 1976 that there is substantial evidence, especially of a linguistic nature, to support the theory of independent Lukan authorship for Hebrews.

Historical Evidence

The suggestion that Luke may have been involved in the production of Hebrews has been around since the Patristic era. At the end of the second century, Clement of Alexandria was quoted by Eusebius as saying that Paul wrote Hebrews originally in Hebrew and that Luke translated it into Greek for a Hellenistic Jewish audience. Clement stated that it was this fact (Luke’s translation), which accounted for the stylistic similarities between Hebrews and Luke-Acts.1 By the middle of the third century, Origen allowed for Pauline influence on the thoughts of the epistle, but he ascribed the style and actual writing to someone else.

If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the diction and phraseology are those of someone who remembered the apostolic teachings, and wrote them down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore, if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this.. .. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it.2

The significant point to make here is that Origen knew of some who had “gone before us” who attributed Hebrews to Luke. The testimony of both Clement of Alexandria and Origen clearly links Luke with Hebrews very early in the Patristic era. By the beginning of the medieval period, Jerome’s identification of Paul as the author of Hebrews in the Latin Vulgate had carried the day, and this tradition prevailed throughout the Middle Ages. Even then, the possibility that Luke had some hand in the writing was often mentioned, for example, by Aquinas in his prologue to his commentary on Hebrews whe...

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