Friday, December 19, 2008

Origen on Hebrews and Paul

Warning: This post probably only holds interests to me and maybe one or two other readers of this blog (and probably not even them). It came to my mind this morning and I wanted to look it up and post it.

Maybe of us who have studied the authorship of the various books of the Bible, whether in seminary or under a pastors teaching has probably discussed the dilemma of who wrote the Book of Hebrews. Nobody knows definitively who wrote Hebrews. There is no one’s name attached to the salutation or the benediction. Early Church theologian Origen is quoted most often saying to some effect, “God only knows who wrote the epistle.”
There aren’t too many serious scholars who believe that Paul wrote Hebrews. I do know one who thinks that Paul may in fact be the author: David Black of Southeastern Seminary. Dave is an accomplished author of Greek textbooks and a commentator who is a member of the Society for New Testament Studies. At dinner once he commented on his belief that Paul wrote Hebrews. He even referred to the quote by Origen, saying that if you read the entire context of the quote (that is found in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History), he believes that Paul’s thoughts lie underneath the epistle to the Hebrews. Here is a portion of Origen’s thoughts on Hebrews (from Eusebius' EH):

"If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the style and composition belong to someone who remembered the apostle's teachings and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore, if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this also. For it is not without reason that the men of old time have handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. Yet the account that has reached us is twofold, some saying that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and others, that it was Luke, the one who wrote the Gospel and the Acts." But let this suffice on these matters."


Origen believes that the letter to the Hebrews probably contains Paul’s thoughts written down by an unknown writer writing from recall. Origen (ca. 185-254) then actually gave credence to the thought that maybe Paul did write Hebrews.

If you ever heard the quote from Origen ("God only knows" without its full context) post briefly in the comments that you've heard it. (That is if you've even read this far).

7 comments:

matt gallion said...

i must be boring and lame. i really enjoyed that.

billy v said...

Now there are two of us that are boring and lame.

Jason said...

I've heard the quote, but I've never seen the rest of the context before. Good stuff! I fall into the "not Paul" camp, although I can't give any good alternative.

billy v said...

I love the quote by Origen that "men of old time..." considered Paul the author. Origen wrote this probably less than two hundred years after the resurrection.

Anonymous said...

old man I believe it was Paul ac blair

me said...

Yeah pretty sure I have no interest in it just by the title.. So I didn't read it but thought I should comment.. BOOOOORRRRRINNNNGGGG

The MAN Fan Club said...

Paul did have a vision deficiency. Wonder if he had an IEP that said someone had to scribe for him?