The Berean Expositor
Volume 44 - Page 7 of 247
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The Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
pp. 28 - 32
One peculiar characteristic of this epistle is that it commences without a customary
salutation, or giving the name of the writer and those to whom it was addressed. This has
caused, from the earliest times, considerable research and debate as to who the human
author was, even though the epistle is accepted as canonical without question, and part of
the inspired Word of God. The A.V. heading: "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the
Hebrews" is only found in late Greek manuscripts;  it is not found in the oldest
manuscripts, which simply read Pros Hebraious, To Hebrews, and it is not certain that
even this formed part of the original document, but it must have been given to the epistle
at an early date in the second century, when it first came into public use as part of a
collection of apostolic letters.  That this title was undoubtedly right, the internal
testimony clearly shows, for its setting forth of the types and shadows given to the fathers
of Israel, finally finding their fulfillment in Christ, would have no meaning to the pagan
Gentile world to whom the Apostle Paul ministered. It might have had some meaning to
the number of God-fearing Gentiles (as Cornelius) who attended the Jewish Synagogue,
but there is no evidence whatsoever that these are in the mind of the author of this epistle.
It is much more natural to see those addressed as being a number of Hebrew Christians,
to whom the Mosaic tabernacle and Levitical offerings would have real meaning,
although their residence cannot be determined with absolute certainty.
It is a peculiar fact that, from the first, the Eastern Church decided that the epistle was
the Apostle Paul's, if not directly, then mediately, either as a free translation of his words
or a reproduction of his thoughts and teaching; whereas the Western Church did not
reckon it among the Pauline epistles or recognize its canonical authority until the fourth
century A.D.
The first witness is Clement of Rome who shows clear evidence that he was
acquainted with it, in the letter he wrote to the Corinthian church about 96A.D., but he
nowhere names the epistle or its author. The most explicit testimony is that of the
Alexandrian church preserved by Eusebius (264-340) from the lost writings of Clement
of Alexandria (about 190-203) and Origen (185-254). Eusebius relates that Clement in
his Hypotyposes (sketches or outlines) says: ". . . . . that the epistle is Paul's, and that it
was written to Hebrews in the Hebrews (Aramaic) language, and that Luke translated it
with zealous care and published it to the Greeks, whence it is that the same complexion
of style is found in the translation of this epistle and the Acts". He states further that
". . . . . the phrase, `Paul an Apostle', was not placed at the head of the epistle for good
reason; in writing to the Hebrews who had formed a prejudice against him and viewed
him with suspicion, he was wise not to repel them at the beginning by setting his name
there". It is possible, from another quotation of Clement, that he derived the idea of an
Aramaic original from his master, `the blessed presbyter', Pantaenus.
Coming to the testimony of Origen, Eusebius gives it in Origen's own words: