Another Look at the Authorship of Hebrews from an Evangelical Perspective of Church History -- By: Brian H. Wagner

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 14:43 (Dec 2010)
Article: Another Look at the Authorship of Hebrews from an Evangelical Perspective of Church History
Author: Brian H. Wagner


Another Look at the Authorship of Hebrews from an Evangelical Perspective of Church History

Brian H. Wagner

* Brian H. Wagner, M.Div., Th.M., instructor of church history and theology, Virginia Baptist College, Fredericksburg, Virginia; and, Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina

The attempt to answer the question “Who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews?” affords a platform for dealing with a few important issues that face every Christian. Most Christians, of course, rely on secondary authorities like pastors, scholars, or tradition (i.e. pastors and scholars from long ago) to provide the confidence that each biblical book actually belongs in the present corpus of Scripture. However, as any Christian who begins to study further the background of “How the church got the Bible,” or more importantly, “Why is the Bible the Christian’s chief authority,” they ultimately stumble across the difficulties of authorship and of historical acceptance for each biblical book. Addressing these issues coherently and in a satisfactory manner will affect how authoritative the believer will feel the Bible is to him, and on what basis he feels that authority rests.

The Epistle to the Hebrews gives a unique number of issues that have left many, if not most, unable or unwilling to achieve a dogmatic or even definitive conclusion about its authorship. After their attempts, many commentators use a favorite ancient quote to help condone their not making a final choice. The quotation comes from the supposed words of the third century scholar, Origen, preserved by the fourth century historian, Eusebius: “But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows.”1 However, is this quote truly the final word on the matter?

There were scholars and pastors prior to Eusebius that gave witness that they knew who wrote the Book of Hebrews. Is it not this kind of evidence that is usually marshaled to help prove the authorships of the other New Testament books that did not include their author’s name within, such as all four Gospels and the Book of Acts? The Roman Catholic religion used such evidence from witnesses before their time to make their own definitive statements as to the identity of the apostolic writings that should be recognized by them as Holy Scripture. However, why did they eventually choose Paul over Barnabas or Luke, though both of these later

two would have resolved the issue much better than Paul does as the author of Hebrews? Moreover, between Luke and Barnabas, the evidence is strong enough, according to the following research, to regard Hebrews as a book written b...

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