Authorship of Hebrews

From: Alan D. Bulley (
Date: Wed Feb 07 1996 - 09:47:00 EST

On Wed, 7 Feb 1996, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> Incidentally, I want to ask Ken Litwak another question. The first time
> that you referred to Priscilla as author(ess) of Hebrews, I assumed you
> were joking. But you've repeated it more than once, and I would really like
> to know where this notion comes from if it is not the purest idle
> speculation. It's not that I have any objection to her having written it--I
> just would like to know what on earth suggests the notion that she did?

Well, I'm not Ken but I thought I'd jump in anyway.

I believe it was Adolf von Harnack ["Probabilia uber die Adresse und den
Verfasser des Hebraerbriefes," _ZNW_ 1 (1900) 16-41.] who first put
forward Priscilla's name (in desperation?) as possible author of Hebrews.
The suggestion has also been argued for by Ruth Hoppin, _Priscilla:
Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and Other Essays_ (New York:
Exposition, 1969). I imagine the argument is built heavily upon the
anonymity of the author of Hebrews, which some might read as a cover for a
female author. Priscilla has a NT reputation as a missionary in her
favour, but there would appear to be few other reasons to put her
candidacy ahead of anyone else in the running and the masculine participle
at 11:32 argues against it. An even stranger suggestion, though, has been
put forth: Hebrews was written by Mary, the mother of Jesus [J.
Massyngbaerde Ford, "The Mother of Jesus and the Authorship of the Epistle
to the Hebrews," _Bible Today_ 82 (1975) 683-694]. I can't imagine what
there is to recommend Mary as author, except perhaps access to those
little insights that only a mother can have... (just kidding!).

I want to pick up the thread on WS, Platonism, and Hebrews in another
post, now that we've gotten the fringe out of the way. :-)
Alan D. Bulley
Faculty of Theology/Faculte de theologie |
Saint Paul University/Universite St-Paul |
Ottawa, Canada
Fax: (613) 782-3005

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