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Accuracy is lost the further one strays from the actual date of the writing. According to the early scholars, particularly Eusebius (263-340 AD) and Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Paul authored the work and Luke translated it. Eusibius was a historian who spoke of fourteen epistles written by Paul. Jerusalem author, Jerome (347-420 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD) also considered Hebrews to be to Pauline origin.
There appears to be a consensus among ancient scholars that the writings are of Pauline origin. In Greek manuscripts, Hebrews is located among other Pauline epistles. In modern Christian Bibles it is located after Phulimon, and not included in the Pauline works. However, in light of the argument that those closer to the source are more accurate, one would have to consider the Greek placement of the writing to be more accurate than modern translations would have one to believe. There is a consensus among ancient scholars that Hebrews was the work of Paul, whether it is via translation, or influence and guidance by Paul in its writing. No one knows for certain, but these are the most plausible explanations for the similarity to Pauls' writing.
There are a number of other early historians who felt that there was sufficient evidence to consider Hebrews the work of Paul. They included Hilary, Ambrose, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, Justin Martyr, and Athanasius. Several ancient councils accepted the Pauline authorship of Hebrews including the synod of Antioch (a.D. 264), the council of Nicea (a.D. 315), the council of Laodicea (a.D. 360), the council of Hippo (a.D. 393), the third council of Carthage (a.D. 397), and the sixth council of Carthage (a.D. 419). These authorities round out an impressive consensus that Hebrews is the work of Paul. The views of these credible individuals obviously had an influence on the opinion that Paul was the true author, but whatever means, of Hebrews.
The early church received Hebrews into the Canon of the Scripture due to the belief that it was the work of Paul. If the work had been of other than Paul, the early church makes it clear that the work would not have been considered to be authoritative enough for inclusion. None the less, the anonymity of the book did represent an area of concern in the debate on whether to include it or not. If it were not the work of Paul, then it could not be considered apostolic. However, the final consensus placed more weight on the similarities to other works of Paul than on the differences. Paul's influence was considered to be sufficient for the work to be considered apostolic in nature. Therefore, it was included in the Canon.
Hebrews was accepted as the work of Paul by the early church by consensus of an impressive number of supporters that felt the work was that of Paul. However, this brings us to the question of whether consensus is enough to prove authorship. This leads to the question of the early councils were in error in their decision to include Hebrews in the canon of what would later become the Bible.
There was an explosion of writings about the foundations of the Christian church throughout approximately 300-400 AD. The church was still young and having growing pains. There was a desperate need to reach a consensus and establish a foundation that would carry the Christian church into a new, more stable era. Early writers were highly motivated to come to a consensus and produce a document that would unify the church. This need was not addressed in any of the writings examined by the authors consulted in this research. Yet, this cultural need for stability is apparent throughout an examination of this time period.
The early writers of the Bible were under pressure to bring stability to the Church. They were contemporaries and would have been aware of the writings of their peers. They would have been privy to the decisions of other learned scholarly institutions. It is not likely that all of these sources came to the same consensus completely independently. They would have had a considerable degree of influence on one another. This driving need for stability may have undermined the ability to one authority to question the decision of previous authorities. It might have hampered the ability of one author the questions the authority of a previous author. There were many political considerations between these various entities that may have influenced their decisions as well.
Numerous scholars throughout history agree that Paul was the author of Hebrews, including Thomas Aquinas in the fourteenth century. One can find an impressive number of supporters for Paul as the author of Hebrews. This continues up to and including the first edition of the King James Bible, which was the first to title the Book "The Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews." Once again, the church was in turmoil during this time and there was a need to establish a sense of consistency in religion. Various factions were fighting to gain control, both politically and spiritually.
Politics and religion were more closely tied than they are in today's society. This is another consideration that is often ignored by early Biblical scholars. Agreement with authorities was an important concept throughout the Rennaissance. Agreement could be construed as loyalty to a certain cause. If one were to raise a valid argument as to the authorship of the writing, it would be viewed as an opposition to the authority of the powers that be. Those that had achieved political power, had often done so by an association to the church, and therefore were considered to be closer to God. There was a perceived connection between power and Godliness.
Modern scholars often ignore he political connection between religion and power throughout the Middle Ages and Rennaissance. The early church of 300-400 AD was faced with many of the same political and structural challenges that were being faced throughout the 1400-1600s. The adoption of the King James Bible had the same effect of quelling religious turmoil that the adoption of the original Canon had on the early church. Therefore, one must question if consensus equates truth, especially in the religious climate that prevailed during this these time periods. There are an impressive number of sources that consider Paul to be the author of Hebrews, yet one has to question their motives for doing so. Were the early adopters of the Paul's letter to the Hebrews doing so based on scholarly merit, or were they politically motivated? Only they know the answer to this question.
Writers of antiquity agree that the "Letter of Paul to the Hebrews" is the writing of Paul himself. They tend to lean towards the translation theory, rather than the separate authorship theories. The following are the opinions of several modern scholars and their conclusions.
John Brown summarized this viewpoint when he wrote:
That tradition ascribes the epistle to the apostle Paul as its author.... After considering with some care the evidence on both sides of this question, I am disposed to think that, though by no means absolutely certain, it is in a high degree probable, that this epistle was written by the apostle Paul."
Robert Reymond concludes that, "there is nothing in the content of the letter that Paul could not have written." These opinions represent arguments based on the content and stylistic similarities between Hebrews and the other known writings of Paul. If one borrows from legal terminology, one would have to conclude that the preponderance of popular opinion is that Paul is the author of Hebrews. If this were a jury trial, then the verdict would have to conclude that Paul is the author of Hebrews.
However, when one looks at internal evidence one can find a different opinion. For instance, Calvin stated,
I, indeed, can adduce no reason to show that Paul was its author; for they who say that he designedly suppressed his name because it was hateful to the Jews, bring nothing to the purpose.... But the manner of teaching, and the style, sufficiently show that Paul was not the author; and the writer himself confesses in the second chapter that he was one of the disciples of the apostles, which is wholly different from the way in which Paul spoke of himself."
This opinion highlights the signals within the text that point to authorship other than Paul. The first evidence presented in this exposition pointed to references that indicate that the knowledge was handed down from an eyewitness to someone that knew the eyewitness. This evidence is ignored by those that support Paul as the author of Hebrews. Calvin points out that some support the idea the Paul withheld his name because he was hated by the Jewish community. However, this is inconsistent with Paul's teachings in other Epistles. It is unlikely that Paul would have been fearful of being hated by the Hebrews, or that he would have feared that…[continue]
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