Q&A: Possibilities for the Authorship of Hebrews

Possibilities for the Authorship of Hebrews

Who do scholars today speculate may be good candidates to have written the Book of Hebrews?

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Answer

Who wrote the book of Hebrews? I think it was Origen who said, only God knows. But there have been a number of suggestions through history of Barnabas and others. One of the strongest possible suggestions is Apollos because he was from Alexandria and he was able to do the kind of things that we see in the book of Hebrews. We can be sure it wasn't Paul because it depends on Septuagint so much, whereas Paul sometimes nuances things where he knows that the Hebrew is different. There have been other suggestions. One that I think hasn't been offered as much but would also fit would be Silas who was a Roman citizen and was apparently in Rome part of these times.

I look at Hebrews 13 and it appears — you know, "those from Italy greet you," — it appears that it's probably being written from Italy. Timothy has just been released from jail. This may be, Timothy had come to visit Paul as was requested in 2 Timothy 4 and wasn't able, well, probably did meet him but then was probably arrested himself. There's no mention of Paul, so this may be after Paul's execution. But after Nero died, the prisoners probably would have been released; so, probably in the late 60s. This is probably someone from the Pauline circle, somebody who knew Paul, somebody who would have been in Rome at the time, but that doesn't tell us exactly who it is. It just tells us some things about them.

Answer by Dr. Craig S. Keener

Dr. Craig Keener teaches New Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.