Re: authorship of Hebrews

From: Jeffrey Gibson (
Date: Sun Feb 09 1997 - 10:46:55 EST

On Sun, 9 Feb 1997, Juan Stam B wrote:

> More important than determining who wrote Hebrews (probably an impossible
> task), it seems to me, is to clarify it's context and mental horizons.
> Though I have recently read some sources that deny or minimize the
> influence of Alexandria in Hebrews (FF Bruce, if I remember right), and
> give Hebrews an origin totally unrelated to Alexandria, the Alexandrian
> influence seems strong. Though it's thought has basic differences from
> Philo, it is much more Philonic in language, style and thought than any
> other NT book. Is there any way to tell whether Hebrews was written from
> Alexandria to Alexandrians in some other city (Rome?), or from some other
> city to Christians in Alexandria? Is it valid to interpret Hebrews as a
> quite radical contextualization of the gospel, attempting to "reread" the
> faith in strongly Alexandrian and quite Philonic terms?
> Greetings, Juan Stam, Costa Rica

One of the major difficulties in ascribing "Philonic" exegesis to the
author of Hebrews is that he/she does not use an allegorical method of
interpretation. Rather the author respects the context of a quotation and
always seems to take it in what we would now call an "historical" sense.
For a thorough review of the alleged Philonic/Alexandrian background to
Hebrews, check out Lincoln Hurst's book _The Epistle to the Hebrews: Its
background and thought_. Hurst finds the Alexandrian hypothesis wanting,
a fact which sent Williamson (a staunch defended or Philonic influence)
nearly round the bend.

As to historical context, one must consult and consider Alexander
Nairne's older, and far-too-often neglected hypothesis that Hebrews was
written to Christians in or near Palestine in repsonse to the out-break
of the Jewish war and the "temptation" it held for Christians to join in
the nationalistic crusade. This, it seems to me, is a fruitful context of
interpretation, far more so than Alexandria. What was going on in
Alexandria that would move Christians not only to abandon their faith but
to do so in a way that its tantamount to "recrucifying the son of god" as
the author notes his readers are in danger of doing?

Jeffrey Gibson

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:05 EDT