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Thread: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

  1. #1

    Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    There's the usual theories on who it was: Paul, Barnabas, Apollos.

    But an interesting one that I came across (I forget where I read this) is the suggestion that it was Timothy. Which is unusual, since Timothy is mentioned in the third-person at the end of the book. But here's the reasoning behind this theory:


    1. There are many 'Pauline' figures of speech and concepts in the book. Timothy was a close companion of Paul, and was taught by him, so it would be natural for Timothy's style and language of teaching to reflect Paul's.

    2. The author of Hebrews excludes himself as having directly received revelation from Jesus, instead including himself among second-generation Christians, who received teaching from those directly knew Jesus. Paul emphatically claimed to have received his revelation directly from Jesus, but Timothy was a second-generation Christian, so he fits this statement.

    3. On a linguistic basis (the author of the essay claimed) there are several close similarities between Hebrews and 1 Peter. A reasonable connection to make might be that they had the same writer. Silvanus penned 1 Peter. And Silvanus (assuming it's the same individual) was a close traveling companion of both Paul and Timothy. In fact, Silvanus and Timothy traveled apart from Paul at least a few times. Conceivably, if Timothy was the author of Hebrews, Silvanus could have penned it.

    4. Contextually, the author of Hebrews is very concerned with the superiority of the new Covenant to the old Covenant. This may be explained by the fact that Timothy was brought into the Church at the height of the circumcision controversy, which may provide a motive for why the author of Hebrews wanted to demonstrate that the old Covenant system (which would have included circumcision) had passed away.

    5. The essay author presented the above, then went on to give a hypothesis for the closing remarks, where Timothy is mentioned in the third-person. In verse 13.19, it is Timothy who refers to himself as '... so that I may be restored to your sooner', indicating that Timothy was in prison at the time he wrote the book, which originally ended at verse 13.21, with the common closing doxology ('Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever'), closed with an 'amen'. Timothy thus sealed the scroll and sent it off to be read, and came to the hands of Paul.

    In this hypothesis, verses 13.22-25 come from Paul's hand as his 'stamp of approval' for what Timothy had written. Verse 13.23, which says 'You should know that our brother Timothy has been released' is Paul commenting back on Timothy's imprisonment in verse 13.19, and so Paul providing an update for those to whom he is passing on Timothy's teaching. If just these four verses (13.22-25) belong to Paul, as opposed to the entire book, it explains how the writer can say 'I have written to you briefly'. Paul is writing a brief 'letter of recommendation', so to speak, for the authenticity of Timothy's teachings.


    Like any of the other theories, much of this is circumstantial. Of course it can make sense, but just because it is internally consistent does not prove it is true. I simply thought it was interesting enough to provide for thought.

  2. #2
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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Is it still April fools over there??

    Even if it is , this post is worth considering....

  3. #3

    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Is it still April fools over there??
    No.

    I found the paper. Looks like it was from a book written by John D. Legg in 1968.

    He makes the accurate point that, given the way in which the epistle ends, the author was not intended to be anonymous, but must have been known by his readers. (This firmly shoots down the guess that Paul wrote the epistle to Jews, but left off his name because he knew the Jews would not read it if they knew it was written by Paul. Which is inconsistent with Paul's unashamed witness to the Gospel anyway.)

    * Edit: Actually, reading back through that paper, it contains many of the ideas I provided in the OP, but it lacks some of them. I think I read some other paper, which in turn cited the one linked to above.

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    The paper....didnt load for me, ill try later.

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    The paper loaded for me; very interesting read . . . thx
    Grace and peace,

    Billy-brown 2


    I Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Timothy was a half Jew, for His mother was Jewish and His father was Greek, thus it be hard for me to accept Timothy as the author, seeing that the author had a very strong and detailed knowledge of Jewish practice and traditions.

    Second reason why not Timothy is Paul's detailed instruction in both his letters to Timothy, for Paul felt strongly that Timothy would be his legacy, yet needed to be instructed not in Judaism, but in the works of Christ.

    Third, Paul left proselytizing the Jews and refocused upon the Gentiles, thus knowing this was also his calling, and thus Timothy to take on the faithful leadership of the church of Ephasis, teaching truth and refuting false 'christian' doctrines, and not Judaism.
    "Enter by the Narrow Gate...
    Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way...
    ... there are few who find it."


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    * All Scripture when quoted is taken from:

    The New American Standard Bible®,
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
    1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
    Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

    Italics, bold, color and/or underline are added for emphasis


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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Interesting thoughts. I'd love the scriptural reference for point 2 - that would be compelling evidence that it wasn't Paul...

    I tend to be a "Pauline authorship" guy - for the following reasons:

    In the time-frame of the letter's authorship, the patriotism of the Hebrew believers were questioned, as many were fleeing the city in light of the prophetic words of Jesus or separating from the stirred up factions of the Jews rather than join with their Jewish brothers in an un-winnable war they did not believe in fighting anyways.

    It would be easy to imagine throughout the region believers under pressure being forced to prove their patriotic allegiance to family, friends, and countrymen by submitting to the old ways with outdated eschatological understanding of the destiny of the nation. The author of Hebrews calls them to a higher allegiance to a better covenant, better high priest, and a better promise with an accurate eschatological picture and a God that speaks from Heaven – who should not be refused.

    It is also not hard to picture the great need for encouragement and leadership if this letter was written after the death of James. A weakened leadership team of a frightened church would be in great need for someone to rally them back to unshakable faith.

    It is not unreasonable to suppose that Paul, with his signature phrase (13:25) discreetly sending a letter to be circulated in their midst without his name on it to encourage them – for the last time Paul was in Jerusalem the Jews of that city united behind their zeal for his death in the very same manner they were now uniting to overthrow Rome. A letter with Paul’s name on it in the wrong hands would have been disastrous for an already unsteady church in Jerusalem. Paul was no stranger to Jerusalem or the believers there, having been there five times previously; though he could never visit that city again, he still carried deep feelings for the church there. (Consider the zeal by which he repeatedly brought food and financial aid to them in times of need)
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

  8. #8

    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Quote Originally Posted by Redeemed by Grace
    Timothy was a half Jew, for His mother was Jewish and His father was Greek, thus it be hard for me to accept Timothy as the author, seeing that the author had a very strong and detailed knowledge of Jewish practice and traditions.
    We don't know enough of Timothy's background to rule out that he had knowledge of Jewish practice/traditions. That his mother was Jewish at all lends to the possibility that he spent time at the synagogue before following Jesus.

    Second reason why not Timothy is Paul's detailed instruction in both his letters to Timothy, for Paul felt strongly that Timothy would be his legacy, yet needed to be instructed not in Judaism, but in the works of Christ.
    Not sure why this is a reason for why Timothy could not have authored Hebrews. The book has nothing to do with instructing people in Judaism, but in showing the superiority of Christ.

    Third, Paul left proselytizing the Jews and refocused upon the Gentiles, thus knowing this was also his calling, and thus Timothy to take on the faithful leadership of the church of Ephasis, teaching truth and refuting false 'christian' doctrines, and not Judaism.
    I think this is an overly-simplistic look at the book. The author makes it clear throughout the book, especially in chapter 6, that he is writing to people who are Christians, but are considering taking a step backward into non-Christian Judaism. We don't know whether his audience consisted of Jews or Gentiles or both. You're also assuming that Paul or Timothy would never write to or about Jews, even if the situation arose that required for them to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by the rookie
    Interesting thoughts. I'd love the scriptural reference for point 2 - that would be compelling evidence that it wasn't Paul...
    Contrast Acts 26.9-18 (Paul receives a revelation from Jesus), 1 Corinthians 15.3-8 (Paul says he was the 'last of all' of those directly taught by Jesus), and Galatians 1.10-12 (Paul says his revelation of the Gospel came directly from Jesus),

    over against Hebrews 2.3: 'It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard'. The author has three sets here: (1) 'the Lord', Jesus, (2) 'those who heard', the Apostles, who directly heard Jesus teach, and (3) 'us', second-generation Christians who did not directly hear Jesus teach. The author (by virtue of the word 'us' and not 'you') includes himself in the third group, which would be very uncharacteristic of Paul.

  9. #9
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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    Contrast Acts 26.9-18 (Paul receives a revelation from Jesus), 1 Corinthians 15.3-8 (Paul says he was the 'last of all' of those directly taught by Jesus), and Galatians 1.10-12 (Paul says his revelation of the Gospel came directly from Jesus),

    over against Hebrews 2.3: 'It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard'. The author has three sets here: (1) 'the Lord', Jesus, (2) 'those who heard', the Apostles, who directly heard Jesus teach, and (3) 'us', second-generation Christians who did not directly hear Jesus teach. The author (by virtue of the word 'us' and not 'you') includes himself in the third group, which would be very uncharacteristic of Paul.
    Ah. Good verse - however, that seems (to me) different than saying (strongly) that the author is excluding himself from something. The "us" can easily be read in the royal, or communal sense in which the author is identifying with the Jewish community in a familial manner related to his humility. In other words, it could be in the same spirit as saying, "I knew a man who went to the third heavens...", when in fact, Paul himself was that man. Either way, to read "personal exclusion" (therefore, exclusion from apostleship) from revelatory experience is a bit of a stretch, and if that was meant to be communicated could directly impact the authority of the epistle itself to the brethren whom are in desperate need of apostolic authority.

    I agree that it is uncharacteristic of Paul, yet it is also uncharacteristic of him to write to a wholly Hebrew audience; and secondly, it is rare for Paul to sow into another man's field. There is only one other time in the New Testament where Paul does so - the book of Romans. In doing so, one finds that his writing is also very uncharacteristic of his "typical" style of communication because of the delicacy of speaking authoritatively into a pastoral / relational crisis in which he has no direct, given authority to do so. In other words, it takes him nine chapters to get to his main point and eleven chapters to make it; then five more to sum it all up practically
    The Rookie

    Twelve is the number of government. Thus, it is quite apropos that I am on my way towards wielding the power of twelve bars - each bar like, say, a tribe.....or a star.....or, maybe an apostle. A blue apostle. Like apostle smurfs. Does anyone remember smurfs? And all the controversy about them being from the devil? It's probably bad that I juxtaposed "apostle" and "smurf" in the same sentence. But then, I probably lost you at "blue apostle". Yes, my friends, this is what "rare jewel of a person" is actually implying. "Rare Jewel of a Person" really means, "Potentially Insane".

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    From only my armchair speculation:
    Authored by Paul, but penned by Luke or Timothy.
    I still say Luke penned it as Paul dictated the words to him to be sent as the letter it was to Messianic Jews.



    God bless.
    Last edited by MoreMercy; Apr 2nd 2012 at 08:43 PM. Reason: addition

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    We don't know enough of Timothy's background to rule out that he had knowledge of Jewish practice/traditions. That his mother was Jewish at all lends to the possibility that he spent time at the synagogue before following Jesus.
    I think Jewish history would support that a woman's role within the synagogue would be minimal at best... thus Timothy would lack all the depth of the torah and history that would be the father's role.

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    Not sure why this is a reason for why Timothy could not have authored Hebrews. The book has nothing to do with instructing people in Judaism, but in showing the superiority of Christ.
    The author of Hebrews is a Jewish scholar, for he knew the ins and out of Hebrew law and histories.

    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    I think this is an overly-simplistic look at the book. The author makes it clear throughout the book, especially in chapter 6, that he is writing to people who are Christians, but are considering taking a step backward into non-Christian Judaism. We don't know whether his audience consisted of Jews or Gentiles or both. You're also assuming that Paul or Timothy would never write to or about Jews, even if the situation arose that required for them to do so.
    KISS works for many. And I might add, if it were Timothy... you forgot to remember 13:23

    And also remember the book is written to the Hebrew Christians... there is a major distinction.



    Quote Originally Posted by markedward View Post
    Contrast Acts 26.9-18 (Paul receives a revelation from Jesus), 1 Corinthians 15.3-8 (Paul says he was the 'last of all' of those directly taught by Jesus), and Galatians 1.10-12 (Paul says his revelation of the Gospel came directly from Jesus),

    over against Hebrews 2.3: 'It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard'. The author has three sets here: (1) 'the Lord', Jesus, (2) 'those who heard', the Apostles, who directly heard Jesus teach, and (3) 'us', second-generation Christians who did not directly hear Jesus teach. The author (by virtue of the word 'us' and not 'you') includes himself in the third group, which would be very uncharacteristic of Paul.


    And lastly... would agree that this is hardly Paul, for I can't feel comfortable to declare that it was Paul, for the grammar is so different than Paul's other writings... The the author includes himself in part to many of the instructions, whereas Paul's other writings, he instructs the others with out the inclusionary reference that it also applies to his own behaviors.
    "Enter by the Narrow Gate...
    Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way...
    ... there are few who find it."


    -----------------------------------------------

    * All Scripture when quoted is taken from:

    The New American Standard Bible®,
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
    1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
    Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

    Italics, bold, color and/or underline are added for emphasis


  12. #12
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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    I think the apostle Paul wrote it.

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    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    I am of the opinion that Hebrews was not authored by Paul (I also point out 2.3 to those who disagree), but never considered Timothy. Interesting.
    analyze. synthesize. repeat.

    *It is the next chapter of my life, whether I'm ready or not. My time here in these forums has come to its close. I bless you as I go!*

  14. #14

    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Quote Originally Posted by Redeemed by Grace
    The author of Hebrews is a Jewish scholar, for he knew the ins and out of Hebrew law and histories.
    Yet, this does not eliminate Timothy. Paul, 'the Apostle to the Gentiles', regularly cited the Law and the Prophets, and at times his epistles work under the assumption that his primarily-Gentile readers would understand the references he is making. It makes no sense to say that Timothy would not have thus learned from Paul what was in the Law and the Prophets, or that he could not have learned the history of Israel and the practices of the temple. I, a Gentile, am fairly fluent in the Law and Prophets, the history of Israel, and the practices of the temple. Imagine how much more I would pick up and learn if I was a traveling companion of Paul. Timothy was in a prime position to learn everything we find in Hebrews.

    And I might add, if it were Timothy... you forgot to remember 13:23
    This was addressed in the OP. You must not have read the two paragraphs under point 5:

    The essay author presented the above, then went on to give a hypothesis for the closing remarks, where Timothy is mentioned in the third-person. In verse 13.19, it is Timothy who refers to himself as '... so that I may be restored to your sooner', indicating that Timothy was in prison at the time he wrote the book, which originally ended at verse 13.21, with the common closing doxology ('Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever'), closed with an 'amen'. Timothy thus sealed the scroll and sent it off to be read, and [it] came to the hands of Paul.

    In this hypothesis, verses 13.22-25 come from Paul's hand as his 'stamp of approval' for what Timothy had written. Verse 13.23, which says 'You should know that our brother Timothy has been released' is Paul commenting back on Timothy's imprisonment in verse 13.19, and so Paul [is] providing an update for those to whom he is passing on Timothy's teaching. If just these four verses (13.22-25) belong to Paul, as opposed to the entire book, it explains how the writer can say 'I have written to you briefly'. Paul is writing a brief 'letter of recommendation', so to speak, for the authenticity of Timothy's teachings.


    And also remember the book is written to the Hebrew Christians... there is a major distinction.
    We don't know this for sure. The author never directly identifies who his audience is, only that they are presently Christians, were considering turning to Judaism, and even have had some of their fellows who abandoned the Apostolic faith (perhaps under the influence of the 'Judaizers', which Paul saw as a threat to the Gentiles Christians in Galatia). 'Epistle to the Hebrews' is simply a traditional title for the book. If we're sticking to the traditional title, 'Epistle to the Hebrew from the Apostle Paul', we would be obligated to say that Paul was the author.

  15. #15

    Re: Interesting theory on author of Hebrews

    Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
    Heb 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and if every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward,
    Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those who heard Him;
    Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with different kinds of miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

    (imho) I think the above passage would omit the twelve and others who were around when Christ was in the flesh, as being the author. I also tend to believe it could well omit Paul, who also was a witness of Christ as risen from the cross, and bore "witness with signs and wonders, and with different kinds of miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will"

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