A Call for a Retrial in the Case of the Epistle to the Hebrews -- By: Eta Linnemann

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 19:2 (Spring 2002)
Article: A Call for a Retrial in the Case of the Epistle to the Hebrews
Author: Eta Linnemann

A Call for a Retrial in the Case of the Epistle to the Hebrews

Eta Linnemann

Christian teacher and missionary
Leer, Germany


In contrast to other New Testament epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews does not name its author; it is anonymous. The one who takes the position, “The New Testament does not give me the author’s name; therefore, I do not need to know it,” is correct, and that opinion should be permitted to him.

Critical theologians, however, have not allowed the matter to rest there. They have speculated over the question of authorship and thereby impaired the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Therefore it is necessary to raise the question anew, “Who is the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews?” even though the New Testament is silent about that.

Up until the year A.D. 200, the Epistle to the Hebrews was generally considered to be a Pauline epistle. When one was still close to the facts, there was no doubt. Today, in the year A.D. 2000, fidelity to the Bible still makes itself heard primarily in the pseudopious statement of Origen, “But who actually wrote the epistle, God knows.” A clear position on the issue is thereby avoided. The ruling acts like a curtain of fog, hindering lest the arguments against Pauline authorship of Hebrews be perceived in their inadequacy and decisively rejected.

Carson, Moo, and Morris inform us that “the last major defense of the Pauline authorship of Hebrews was written more than half a century ago. Today virtually no one would repeat the effort.”2

With regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews, the illegitimate procedure has occurred that transmutes “once suspected” into “forever sentenced” without ever considering, in retrospect, that the circumstances which led up to the accusation have been invalidated. In all fairness, an open dialogue should have followed the conclusion of the proceeding—not for lack of proof but because of proven innocence. Therefore it is time to conduct an appellate hearing in the case of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which the facts will be examined and assessed anew.

I. Manuscript Evidence

In regard to manuscript evidence, the Epistle to the Hebrews is a match even for the Epistle to the Romans. Both are found in P46, one of the oldest papyri for both epistles, written about A.D. 200. There Hebrews immediately follows Romans, coming before the two Corinthian epistles, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1...

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